Triathlon Training Explained | Bike Pacing For Triathlon And Time Trialling

Triathlon Training Explained | Bike Pacing For Triathlon And Time Trialling


(upbeat instrumental music) – Welcome back to triathlon
training explained, powered by Training Peaks. This week we’re gonna be
looking at bike pacing within a triathlon. – Yeah, we’re particularly
talking about non drafting triathlon here, where
an evenly paced bike leg is thought to have the best
end result, but as we all know that is easier said than done, even with the best intentions. – Yeah, I mean, you train
hard, and then you rest up for race day, so it’s
understandable that you’re gonna have that fire in
your belly on the day, and that can end up
leading to you over biking. So, maybe going at it a
little too hard at the start, or putting in unnecessary surges. – But how much is this
really costing us if the two are compared to
an evenly paced bike leg? What’s happening to us
physiologically, and how can we prevent it, and
plan our pacing for the bike better? Now, that’s why we’re here today. We’re at this closed road cycle circuit. We’re gonna be investigating
those pace changes, but then I’m gonna be
chatting to a physiologist, and then we’re gonna be
chatting to an expert in bike pacing. (upbeat instrumental music) – The difference between a well paced, and a poorly paced bike can
be very little when you look at the overall average power. In fact, sometimes it can
end up looking identical. Although, it is thought
that a poorly paced bike will mean a worse performance, especially when you get onto the run. – So the plan for today is for us each to complete a couple of race pace efforts around this cycle track. We’re gonna start with a well
paced, an evenly paced bike leg as to control, and
something to compare against. And then we’re gonna do
another that’s poorly paced. – So we’re gonna be riding
round this one and a half K loop, it’s got several
corners, so we’re gonna be using those to put in power surges,
and basically pace it badly. And then we’re also gonna
start off on the poorly paced leg going at it a little too hard. Basically doing all the
things that we shouldn’t do, but we are sometimes guilty of. – Yeah, so for each of
the efforts we’re gonna do four laps of the track,
so around six kilometres. We’re gonna track our
power, our heart rate, and of course our speed and our time. And we’re gonna aim to
hold the same power between each effort, or as close as we can. But obviously, how we
get to that end power will be very different
between each effort. – Yeah, and then at the end
of it we’ll upload it to Training Peaks, and
have a look and analyse. But I think it’s time to get riding. (upbeat instrumental music) – All right, first run, evenly paced. Heather, you ready to go first? – Yeah, I’m good. – All right. Three, two, one, go go go go go! (hard rock instrumental music) Okay, my turn now. Ready, let’s go! (hard rock instrumental music) Whew! How’d you find that? – Yeah! It was all right, how was yours? – Yeah, it’s quite hard to keep
the power nice and constant, ’cause there’s a lot of
bends here, so I felt like I was gonna surge on … – [Heather] Exactly, the same. And it’s also, it’s more
of a slope than it looks on camera I think, so when
you’re going down there, you’re finally at, you’re
about to drop in, and then coming up the gate like too high so my average was pretty good, I
was 199 and I aimed for 200, but it’ll be interesting to
see how little the surges were. (overlapping voices) – Likewise, I tried to keep
it, the change as little as possible. But before we crunch any
data, should we get stuck into a badly paced effort? – Yeah … (overlapping voices) – Maybe a little break first,
and then we’ll get into it. – Sounds good. All right, I think it’s
time for another four laps, but this time we’re gonna
be putting the pow down out of the corners, just
doing a little bit of surging, and basically riding how we shouldn’t. – Like a bat out of hell. (laughing) – Oh yeah. – Three, two, one, go Heather! (chill house music) Watch out for the flames. Ready, go! (chill house music) – How was it? – Ouch. Yeah, definitely noticed
how many corners there are. – Yeah? Did you reach some good highs? – Um, I didn’t quite catch
them all, but I definitely started going over 800 a
couple times, so a lot higher peaks than the previous run. How about yourself? – Yeah, same. I actually quite enjoyed
it, ’cause it felt like it was kind of bike racing
rather than triathlon racing, so you could like, get at the
saddle, and give it a bit. And then I was like, to make
sure I was staying close to my average I was kinda
chilling out down the hill. So, it felt harder
physically, but I kind of enjoyed it mentally, if that makes sense. – Well, it’ll be
interesting to see what our normalised powers are, and
our variable index, so … – Yeah. – We should go and crunch some data. – Yeah, let’s do that
over lunch, good idea. Right, well we’ve come down to Team Bath, and we’ve downloaded our
numbers onto Training Peaks so we can have a little
bit of an analysis. And we’ve actually, just
to make it a bit easier, written them down comparing
yours and mine in both our first run, and our
second run, which is on with the surges. – Yeah, so first thing’s first, our average powers are more
or less the same between each of the runs. Yours was 200 for the first
run, 201 for the second run. Mine was 300 versus 301, so … – [Heather] Pretty accurate. – Yeah, barely anything in
it, more or less the same. But I think it’s fair to
say it felt very different between these runs. – Yeah, it’s quite amazing
how you can still get the same numbers from such
different efforts, so to speak. – Yeah, so I think what
we need to look into now is things like our normalised
power, our variability index, so yeah, let’s take a
look at those numbers. – Yeah, so I mean, you talked
about normalised power, we’ll come onto the actual
numbers of that in a moment, but before we go there,
can you explain exactly why normalised power is
different to average power. What is it? – Yeah, so very, very broadly
speaking, and brushing over this simplistically, normalised power looks at
those that differences in power, so you might head out
for a ride and hold 200 watts very evenly paced. But then you might head out
for a ride and you’ll surge in your power, go 300, 400 watts. But then you’ll ride at 100
watts on some of the ride. Still come back with an
average power of 200 watts, but you’ve actually worked a lot
harder on that second ride as did we on our second effort. So that’s where normalised
power, it takes that into account. So you found your normalised power on your first run was 204. Your second run was 212. So, a significant difference. – [Heather] An eight
watt difference, yeah. – The same for myself,
305 for my first run, 316 for … – [Heather] You had an even
bigger difference then, 11 watts. – Yeah, so that’s where it
sort of taking into account that effort change, the
differences in pace. And that also shows this
in the variability index. – ‘Kay go on then. (voices overlapping) – Again, variability index
just takes into account those pace changes. It’s a nice figure that just
shows that really easily. The perfectly paced ride,
evenly paced, would be a figure of one point zero
zero, and then it would very incrementally go
up as the paces change. So it’s very minute. – Well, we were both one
point zero two on our perfect pacing rounds. There was a hill, and there
were corners, so I think that’s not bad considering. – Yeah, and then your
second run was one point zero five, and I know that sounds tiny, the tiniest amount, but you would only see points of a difference change. Mine was similar, point zero four for my second run, one point zero four. So, it is showing a difference,
a change, but I do think if we were doing this
over something longer than six K, you would see … We would probably be one
point one, one point two. So, definite difference. – I mean, we can analyse
these numbers all day, I mean we’ve also got,
obviously, a maximum power there was sort of
significant difference on … (voices overlapping) – About 300 watts difference, yeah. And also, our heart rates. I thought this might be an
interesting, but actually I think given that … – It was good enough. – Yeah, six K we saw one
or two beats difference between our first and second runs, so yeah, really interesting study. I think now we should go
and find out about pacing from an expert in this area. – So we’ve popped down to
the lab to catch up with the lead Applied Physiologist
here, Jonathan Robinson. Now, Jonathan, now you’ve
had a chance to quickly look at the numbers, and there is
a difference with the surge, our heart rate’s a bit
higher, our normalised power’s higher, but what’s happening
physiologically to us when we’re doing those
surges within our ride? – I think when you’re
kind of moving away from steady state exercise, so
holding a certain power output to the more
intermittent style exercise, you’re going to, in order
to generate that higher power, you’re gonna probably generate maybe a little more,
lactate start to work more anaerobically, and the body
can handle that for a bit, but it you keep doing
it, you’re going to build up more lactate within
the blood, and probably start to deplete some of
the buffers that you’ve got in the blood, and in the body as well. – Even though, I mean we were
keeping a similar average power, so we were kind of
compensating for our surges by backing off more on the other bits. So hence why average was still similar. Is that still, it’s not
gonna make the difference? It is still gonna give
your body a chance to actually build up the lactic, is it? ‘Cause you’re not gonna
have a chance to recover in those periods. – I think it would depend,
probably, on the frequency, and the intensity, so if
you’re conditioned enough and you’re used to doing
that within your training, your body can probably
adapt to some of those, and be able to maintain it, whereas if it’s constant
on every corner, or every hill climb, or
whatever, then the body’s gonna get to the point where
enough’s enough, really. – [Heather] Okay. – [Jonathan] You’re gonna
have spent a little bit too much energy. – And so when it comes to
a race situation, and you see athletes doing this,
they might be okay on the bike, but then later on
when it gets to the run, their performance will drop off. So, you know, they’ve been
out there with the bike, and it looks like it was
fine, it didn’t affect them at the time. Why will it necessarily
affect them later on in the race. – [Jonathan] I think there
can be a number of factors, so maybe it is a, kind of
a build up of lactate, and they might finish the bike
stage ahead, but they’re gonna pay the price afterwards. Or maybe they’ve used up
some of their carbohydrate stores, or some of the natural
buffers within the body which would help them. So, it’s probably a, a
kind of a balance of pacing and, you know, you might
want that advantage, but don’t go too hard, and have
it as too much of a cost when you get onto the next
stage after that, really. – Okay. – All right, so now I’m
joined by Ryan Cooper, chief scientist of Training
Peaks and Best Bike Split. Now, we’ve talked about
evenly pacing your bike, and that’s all very well,
but when you get out onto the race course, we all know
that probably doesn’t happen, particularly when we got
hills thrown in there, different conditions with the wind, so that’s where I’d really like
to pick your brain, Ryan, and utilise your expertise. Now you, you’re kind of the
man behind Best Bike Split, which is a fascinating tool. So I’d like you to kind of
explain how it works, what it is. – Sure, so basically Best Bike Split is a, it’s basically a race planning tool. And so it’s specifically for triathlon and time trial events. Given a certain goal
time, or a certain kind of normalised power target, a
lot of times people go back to the old Joe Friel
percentage of FTP, kind of baseline and say oh for
nine min, and they do 75% of FTP. So, if you use that as your
goal, you can plug those numbers, along with some
aerodynamic numbers, some numbers about your bike and your weight, and we take the course into account, including the weather, so
your hills, your wind, your tailwind, your headwind,
to give you kind of a power plan of how you
should ride the race to get the biggest benefit. So, the biggest, kind of best
time for the given power, and your abilities. – So what it’s doing, so
it’s not necessarily gonna chuck out 300 watts for
two hours, it’s actually gonna say “okay, so for
the first 10K when you’re on the straight drag into
the headwind, you should be holding X amount of
watts, and then you’re gonna turn this corner, hold
a different amount of watts and so on. – Exactly. Yeah, so normally the
kind of rule of thumb VI wise is to stay
below one point oh five. So, the kind of thought
is that you wanna keep your normalised and your average
power as close as possible. And that’s true to some
extent, but then as the terrain varies, or as the wind
changes, you actually can gain a little bit of advantage
by changing that, within reason. So, you’re not gonna
go out and sprint every straight section, or every hill. – Pretty much what we were doing. – And, you know, vary the
effort a little bit within reason to get kind of a
bigger bang for your power. – Yeah, so I guess if
we take this back and look at what we did on our efforts, I mean we were literally
sprinting out of the corners. Probably not the smartest
thing, and we did see that variability index change,
and in the region of what you said, but we weren’t
utilising anything. We weren’t utilising
wind conditions, or any downhill sections. So that’s where Best Bike
Split really comes into play really, it’s powerful … – Right, well we tend
to see is that people, especially in hilly
conditions, they will take the hills too hard. And so even though Best
Bike Split would say push your power up on
a hill, for instance, it’s what people actually
do, and what we see, is that they push even harder
than what we would say. So they find themselves
like dialling it back. You know, if they follow the plan. On some of these hills, if
you’re looking at Cone, and you’re goin’ up to Havi, a
lot of athletes will find themselves actually dialling
it back, if they’re using the plan, then when they
hit the turnaround, then they have quite a bit more
energy to actually pedal down the hill. As opposed to just coasting,
and then fighting the cross winds coming back. – Super. So, in terms of the events
that Best Bike Split works with, obviously it works
by I assume GPX files or something that are uploaded pre … Of athletes that are previously ridden, or raced on the course. So that features quite a few
of the Ironman events and challenge events, I believe. – Correct. So, we kind of crowd source
our courses, we allow anybody to upload a course from … Then drawn with rider GPS,
or any of the other tools. Or, if they’ve ridden the
course previously, we’ll take that data in as well. But there are certain courses
we’ll go in and make sure that they’re accurate in
terms of elevation profile, the distances, the directions, and so for most of the Ironman events,
challenge events, we’ll go in and kind of verify that
those courses are correct before we put ’em out in the wild. – Brilliant. Well, sounds like a really valuable tool. So, thanks very much, Ryan. – You’re welcome, thank you! – Well that was really
interesting from Ryan. I do know it is all too
easy to get a little bit carried away on race day, particularly when you’ve got other
competitors around you. – Yeah it is. I mean, knowing that, and
knowing what’s happening physiologically from
Jonathan, hopefully when adrenaline starts to flow,
you’ll know deep down that “no, I need to pace
it”, and as a result, you’ll get a better overall performance, and most importantly be able to feel
good when it comes to the run. – Well, if you’d like to
see more videos from GTN, you can click on the globe, and subscribe. And if you’d like to see
a recent video of ours on how to pace a hilly triathlon,
just click down here. – And if you wanna catch
up on some of our other triathlon training explain
videos, they’re just here.