In this modern era of coaching cycling and bike racers, it’s more necessary than ever to both stand out from the crowd and deliver the best possible coaching product to your client-athletes at all times. The amount of information available to the sporting world is amazing, and both athletes and coaches are becoming smarter and more capable than ever before. Combine that knowledge with the improvements in data collection devices (such as power meters of all types), and it’s easy to see why it’s so critical to be a “better” coach for the success of both our athletes and the business itself.
The launch of WKO4 software in 2015 opened the door to me as a coach to really step up my game, as well as to make drastic improvements to my athletes’ performance. No longer is the high-end digestion of data and training and racing review limited only to the big-budget professional squads or the secretive, national team programs of which we all wish to be part. WKO4 allows private endurance coaches to really make a paradigm shift in both athletic performance and customer service.
As a full-time cycling coach, I am lucky to know a lot about bike racing and the tools and requirements needed to get the job done, at both the age group level and the elite or professional level. However, in the past it was difficult to demonstrate clearly to athletes what they needed to do beyond telling them all to go “wicked hard” for random lengths of time.
Filling in the Blanks
When working with my elite road and cyclocross riders, I have found that the single best tool to use is the Power Duration (PD) Curve. I am certainly no math expert or statistician, but I know the Curve itself shows an algorithmic graph of average power over a span of time, while the more exacting Mean Maximal Power (MMP) line shows the exact power numbers above and below the Curve, basically showing where and when the rider meets, exceeds or misses the PD Curve.
When we design training plans for our athletes, we know what kind of power is needed for them to excel at the type of racing they have on their schedules. We know thatcyclocross and criteriums require short-duration, explosive power and that hilly road races might conversely require longer, sustained applications of power. Therefore these two riders shouldn’t be trained the same way; but each still needs to be trained to the highest level possible for them to succeed.
Here is the Power Duration Curve chart for one of our female cyclocross riders who will be competing at the World Cup level this coming season. You can see at the sport-critical 40-second mark she is at a crushing 9.3 watts per kilogram, above the curve and very strong.
It wasn’t always like that of course; as the road season wore on and the focus started on the second half of the year, we began to develop workouts and training to fill in the gaps where her actual MMP fell below the PD Curve and boosted it at those sport-specific critical time spots. You can also see how her longer-duration power eases off very steadily, because quite frankly, we aren’t concerned about that time frame until next spring.
By using WKO4, our coaching level and focus is greatly improved, as is our ability to provide legitimate customized coaching to our clients.
Out With the Old
One of the changes I have embraced in my coaching services since starting to use WKO4 is moving away from training zones completely dependent as a percentages of the all-important Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and moving more toward a new style of training. The old six-zone formula works perfectly for most of my athletes, and is a fantastic system to which I cannot thank its creators enough every day (cough cough, Hunter and Andy).
However, with the elite-level or discipline-specific racer, the new Coggan Individualized Power Levels (or iLevels) have completely transformed how we provide training plans, goals, and service to our elite and professional athletes. These new zones are based on both the modeled FTP for the sub-threshold zones and an algorithm of the high-end power for new, completely performance-based zones, including FRC and Pmax.
By using the WKO4 software, we can really dial in an athlete’s specific areas of needs and work down to the actual watts and seconds of duration needed to perform at the highest level. Whether it’s sprinting at the end of a brutal criterium or surviving a mountainous road race, iLevels really allow us to change and adapt our coaching to meet each athlete’s individual demands.
One of the best things about iLevels is the PD Interval Targeting chart pack (included in the WKO4 chart library) that actually shows me where and when I need to have my athletes work on their specific training zones. No more “one minute at maximum” or “sprint hard” instructions in workouts. Now the athletes wince in terror when they see me write things like “1,110 watts for 7-10 seconds please.” Sometimes being a coach is a wonderful job.
These levels work for all ages and categories of bike racers, too, of course; they just don’t stay novice long enough with this awesome level of coaching to even mention them!
Helping to Provide Excellent Customer Service
One of the other great features I like about WKO4 is how its simplicity allows me to really improve the level of customer service I provide to all my clients. For instance, the Modeled Functional Threshold Power metric gives me a realtime idea of my athlete’s’ training ranges every single day. This is great when I’m sitting in the office working on plans, because I can make sure that the athletes are using up-to-date power zones. Likewise, I can comment to clients about how they’ve improved their mFTP, or perhaps even provide feedback about focus and maybe alter the plan if that mFTP starts to falter a little bit.
With some riders, it’s also important to show changes in the different types of metrics and how and when those metrics are important for the different disciplines of cycling in which they’re competing. Again, we use WKO4 to provide superior, unique, and real-deal customized coaching for bike racers.
WKO4 is an awesome and powerful tool to use for analyzing, working in conjunction with an athlete’s training, and developing plans because absolutely nothing is set in stone. Although there are tons of amazing charts and graphs available in the provided library, all of them are unlocked and available to be customized however the coach wants them to be.
My ability to provide necessary information for athletes of all levels and abilities has really improved since starting to use WKO4. The changes in my style of coaching and the results I’m getting from my athletes have truly made me more unique in the industry and hopefully will pay off with improvements to my business and, much more importantly, to my client-athletes and their racing.
If you’d like to try one of these WKO4-inspired workouts for free and/or export them to your compatible device/app click here.