In the old days, training advice was wisdom passed down the generations, adages harkening back to Eddy Merckx’s “ride lots” and Eddy Borysewicz’s Eastern Bloc advice. Training was much more art than science, our efforts gauged in speed or crude measures of exertion, our knowledge of what efforts racing required of the body expressed in vague terms. Then technology crept into the sport – first heart rate monitors that told us how hard our bodies were working, and then, finally, power meters that told us what our bodies were actually doing with that exertion. Training could be more objective, focusing on the real and measurable demands of racing. TrainingPeaks has been at the forefront of this revolution in training since it began. Founded in 1999 when only a few athletes were using power meters, TrainingPeaks has developed several groundbreaking tools that have helped coaches and athletes work together to create breakthrough performances. TrainingPeaks is the marriage of their desktop-based power analysis software WKO+ with a web interface that enables communication between coach and athlete. Though TrainingPeaks has a wide variety of applications, including most sports and even extending to communication between nutritionists and physical therapists and clients, it has proved most useful for the Boo-TrainingPeaks riders in the analysis of data from training and racing. The demands of cyclocross are very unique, even if you take out the dismounting, running, and remounting that separates it from other disciplines of cycling. Riders must put out power well in excess of their functional threshold power (the hardest effort they can sustain for 30-60 minutes) for short periods of time as they accelerate out of corners, punch their way over steep hills, and navigate momentum-sapping sand and mud. Interspaced with periods of high power are numerous periods of zero power as riders navigate technical features of the course. Even for coaches with a strong understanding of the sport, the physiological demands of cyclocross can be surprising.
Rotem Ishay, one of the Boo-TrainingPeaks riders and an exercise physiologist at the Durango Performance Center, has used TrainingPeaks throughout the season to analyze power data from races and fine tune his training. “The sheer amount of short sprints caught me off guard – you’re either full gas or coasting,” he said after looking at his first power file from a race. “Being able to use TrainingPeaks to distinguish all the power requirements of cyclocross will definitely help me improve my training.” The data collection continues, with teammate Skyler Trujilo using a power meter to record data from Jinglecross’ Sunday UCI C1 race. Each race file will be uploaded to TrainingPeaks for analysis, as will training rides during the week. With insight stemming from such powerful tools, all three team members are bound to keep getting faster as the season goes on!