Talking about training in terms of different intensities dates all the way back to the ancient Greek. But with the advent of heart rate monitors and power meters, several decades ago, we needed a way to structure the data. Training zones gave that critical structure, providing context at a time when our tools for analysis and monitoring were limited.
That is no longer the case. Modern training software and even the devices we take on our rides, runs and swims, can give a plethora or highly individualized information, both in post-workout analysis and in real time. So, all of this begs the question, have we outgrown training zones or is there still a place for them?
We addressed this question in episode 72 with the originators of the popular Coggans zones, Dr. Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen. But a lot has changed since then. So in this episode we talk with elite coaches Neal Henderson from Wahoo and Frank Overton, owner of Fascat Coaching, about what the original role of training zones was, how they are currently using training zones, and what they think the future holds. Will there come a day when training zones are truly replaced?
We also hear Joe Friel’s thoughts on zones and perceived effort, while Dr. Stacy Sims talks about some of the issues women have with training zones. Dr. Inigo Mujika gives his insights on where he believes zones still have a role and where they don’t.
So, find the optimal zone for your listening experience, and let’s make you fast!
RELATED: How to Use Data to Make Better Training Decisions, with Tim Cusick
Quotes from the Show:
- “I think we have to consider human nature, there is an infinite number of ways that we can describe intensity, an infinite number of discrete wattage is that you could work at, and we love to put things into nice, neat little boxes, tie them up with a cute little box. “
- “There is nothing magic physiologically about the zones. It’s not like you train right in the zone, and you’re gonna get this magical response. Zones are a communication tool, it just made it much easier for coaches and athletes to work together and for the coach to give that athlete guidance. And that’s more of how you really should be looking at them.”
- “I think that the future is that there’s multiple levels associated in a prescription that you can make an adjustment based on how you’re responding on the day. So based on the output and your heart rate response, that you may have that floating target being adjusted for a given workout target or based on the output, you have in your first couple efforts, that it may adjust upcoming efforts in that way that there’s kind of that utilizing your individual previous results and capacity to then adjust on the fly what you’re doing now, from multiple different angles, rather than just one single that multivariate power, heart rate, or muscle oxygen or all these other things and proceed effort, get that cytometer in there.”
- “We have been trying to take external measures, and have them define internal physiological events. And I think, especially for aerobic longer durations, sustainable sort of workloads, when we’re monitoring that. I think that’s something– Neil– you mentioned before continuous lactate monitor, we have to be close to the technology that allows us to understand what’s happening and relative real time to the biomarkers inside of us. And I would love to go out and do a ride where I was keeping my lactate between 1.2 and 1.5, mmol”
- “I’m gonna go a slightly different direction just to be a little bit of the old school church in sort of in sort of No, oh, so I still think to the end of time, one of the most important things for an athlete is to learn the field is to learn the feel of a steady ride to learn the field, the different types of intervals and to really understand when their body is functioning well, when their body isn’t functioning well to understand how different intensities should feel. And I don’t think anything on your wrist or on your handlebars can can replace that if you don’t have the feel.”
Introduction to Today’s Episode
Rob Pickels 00:00
Hello and welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance! I’m your host Rob Pickels here with Coach Connor. The Ancient Greeks trained by feel. Fast forward almost 2,000 years to 1977 and the heart rate monitor was invented to better quantify training intensity. Modern coaches prescribed training in “Zones” based on percentage values of metrics such as maximal heart rate and later – once the cycling power meter was invented- in terms of FTP. Those simple recommendations were easily extrapolated to large groups of athletes- giving them critical guidance to their training. Our technology has continued to evolve. Modern training devices and analysis software have given us the ability to understand individual athletes and create custom training recommendations on a per person basis. So we have to ask: have we outgrown zones? Dr. Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen tackled this question 4 years ago in episode 72. Today we’re having an updated conversation with two coaches who are part of the data revolution: Neal Henderson of Wahoo Sport Science and Frank Overtown of Fascat Coaching. Joining our guests, we also hear from coaches Joe Friel on zones and perceived effort, Hunter Allen on the classic zone implementation, Dr. Stacy Simms will addresses issues women have with zones and Dr. Inigo Mujika talks with us about where zones still have a role and where they don’t. So, find the optimal zone for your listening experience and let’s make you fast!
Rob Pickels 01:42
In our newest release of Craft of Coaching with Joe Friel, we explore the art and science of coaching masters athletes, thanks to Joe Friel and many other coaches, there are more masters athletes than ever before and they’re taking on challenges once thought out of reach. Check out the Craft of Coaching module 11, Coaching Masters Athletes for guides to help masters athletes stay fast for years to come. Check out the Craft of Coaching at fasttalklabs.com.
Trevor Connor 02:09
Well, welcome everybody to another episode. This is one of those episodes that I get kind of excited and scared about at the same time because this is one of those episodes where I actually, as usual, went and looked for a bunch of research.
Trevor Connor 02:26
Rob did none. So Rob is less scared than I am and there’s very, very little. I can find a ton on training intensity distribution, which is the are you polarized? Are you high intensity? Are you pyramidal, but research that looks at the various zones and says, “Here are effective zones, here are ineffective zones. Here’s why we have these zones.” There’s actually very, very little of that. So this is really more let’s talk from experience episode and there’s really one question that we’re going to try to answer in the show, which is absolutely zones, when they were invented served a really important purpose. There was limited ways for coaches and athletes to communicate with one another. We now had heart rate, we now had power, we had to figure out how to use it and the simplest way was to say, let’s break this into zones. So we can say, “Go out and train in zone 2 today or train in zone 5 today.” But with the sophistication of the tools now, with the sophistication of the software, with the amount that we can individualize and with the increasingly improving communication between coaches and athletes, or simply athletes being able to look at their own data better themselves. The question here is, do we still need zones? Has their purpose been filled and we need to move on and prescribe training a different way? So that’s the question. I’m not going to give the answer because I’m not sure there is an answer. That’s why we’re here to discuss it. So with us today. Thank you, Frank Overton for joining us. Thank you Neal Henderson for joining us. I think this is going to be a lot of fun.
Rob Pickels 02:26
Frank Overton 02:31
Definitely, thanks for having us. Appreciate being here.
Trevor Connor 03:57
So and Frank, sorry you have to join us remote. Frank, unfortunately, came down with a slight case of COVID.
Frank Overton 04:15
Yeah, dodged the bullet for three years and then bragged about it last week and then got it.
Trevor Connor 04:21
Frank Overton 04:24
Yeah, the wife brought it home and then yeah, I tested positive Saturday morning.
Trevor Connor 04:30
So let’s start with what I’ve already touched on and I’ll throw this to the two of you because I really want to hear your opinion, but what was the historical role of training zones?
Historical Role of Training Zones
Neal Henderson 04:40
I mean, we could go super way, way way back like maybe over 2,500 years and think about some of the earliest prescription of exercise for health wellness. There’s a few different things if you even think of probably like the Hippocrates as the father of medicine. Part of his prescription was about exercise and activity and so there were different ways of describing the kind of exercise, the effort, what we would consider intensity, nowhere near the degree that we can do now with external output or a physiologic response, like heart rate or even something like muscle oxygen or all these other variables, but I think there’s been some way of talking about how hard we should be working to elicit appropriate changes or responses that we’re looking for that predate a lot of our newer technologies, for sure, then the realistic aspect of what we consider zones now did not come into rigor into the 1900s, mid 1900s really is what I’m more aware of.
Rob Pickels 05:46
I think too, that we have to consider human nature. There is an infinite number of ways that we can describe intensity, an infinite number of discrete wattages that you could work at and we love to put things into nice, neat little boxes, tie them up with a cute little bow, it makes our life easier to talk about three training zones or heaven forbid, five or maybe seven training zones if you’re getting a little crazy, but that helps, I think, understand and grasp the concept, but I will say that tends to create thinking that there’s a discrete change as we change from one zone to another, but the physiological side of this is really it is that infinite variable continuum, that it’s existing on.
Trevor Connor 06:38
This is a good place to cut in with a comment from Joe Friel pointing out that zones are not magical and perceived effort still has its place.
Training Zones as a Model
Joe Friel 06:46
Zones are simply just a model is all they are. They’re not the end all, be all of training, they’re just a model. Models are never perfect. We’re never going to come up with a model for how you gauge intensity that’s perfect. It’s just not going to happen. So we have to come up with something’s imperfect and we’ve got this thing now blooming we call zones and I see no problem with using it, even though I know it’s not perfect. There are lots lots of problems with it. If you use heart rate zones or what happens if you have coffee before the workout, you have too much coffee before the workout. Now what happens? What do we do? After a while it gets really confusing and how do you focus on what you should be doing? When I was a young athlete—now I’m going back to the 1950s and 60s, when I was young athlete—we had none of these devices all we had, we didn’t have a stopwatch, the coach had the stopwatch, all I had was RPE. I could say all we talked about was it hard or was it easy. That was basically starting point or it was really hard or it was really easy or it was kind of in between, it was moderate and then that became our system of talking about it. It wasn’t perfect, but we could communicate about how we responded to it. Looking back now, sometimes I think that was actually better than what we do right now with all the data we collect on an athlete, not only their their heart rate and their power outputs, but their pace and their speed and their lactate threshold. You know cumulating the blood and all these things that we’re going into anymore, we’ve kind of gone over the edge, I think to some extent and we need to be very cautious with all this stuff, but would I give up using zones because of that? No, it’s just a model and it works. Maybe you want to modify it for the athlete, based on what you discover about them, how it feels. You know, going back to the age old way of doing this, how it feels and modify their zones, but you know, there’s nothing wrong with having zones. It’s just a model and we need to get over it and relax on this topic.
Trevor Connor 08:47
I got to just interrupt here and I thought you originally said 25,000 years ago. So I had this picture of a guy running away from a woolly mammoth with another guy yelling really, really fast.
Neal Henderson 08:59
That’s pretty good. That’s the 2 zone, all in none.
Rob Pickels 09:05
That’s the fight or flight.
Frank Overton 09:06
You don’t have to outrun the bear, you have to outrun your friend.
Neal Henderson 09:10
Whoever’s with you.
Trevor Connor 09:11
So Frank, any thoughts here?
Training Intensity Distribution in Zones
Frank Overton 09:12
I’ll just take the polar opposite and you know, when heartrate monitors and power meters came along, sounds became a way to use those devices to modulate how hard or easy you should go. I think everyone quickly found out there was a lot of modulations and you know, that’s like the seven zone system and then like zone 4, A, B and C and all of that came along and we’ve shifted away from that. At Fast Cat and a lot of coaches I know, we really just kind of gravitate toward just a standard 5, 6 zone system. Zones 2-7 and seems to be working pretty well.
Neal Henderson 09:59
It’s kind of interesting though as you mentioned in the introduction about some of the things of looking at training intensity distribution, even thinking of like 80 20. Well, that was actually with three zones and so there is some aspect of where those cut points or what created those delineations of one zone or one range to another. I a lot of times do think of zones as ranges anyhow, but are they anchored based on a physiologic actual some sort of a change in what’s happening and how we deliver that energy or how the physiology responds to that or is it just some other organization that we’re using that splits things out in a 7 zone. We’ll use a lot of times a 7 zone with power, but 5 zone with heart rate because the heart rate can’t really reflect some of the higher power zones and so the heart rate response is not really then quite useful in that same regard and so, thinking about even in those lower couple zones, there’s actually not a lot of physiologic difference between what I would consider on like a 6 or 7 zone, like zone 1 and 2, in terms of is there any real change in the physiology? Your heart rate is slightly elevated, in both cases, zone 1 and zone 2, lactate levels are going to be fairly stable in either one of those. You might have a little bit of a shift in substrate utilization, but there’s not going to be a lot of any other differences, the muscle oxygen levels like all these different things are going to have very minimal difference and so it’s just kind of a trying to often put, maybe from zone 1 to zone 2, I think about that, as it’s that zone 1 we put a ceiling. So you try to stay below that for active recovery, just to promote speeding up recovery from one session to the next so the harder days, you can go harder in that way.
Trevor Connor 11:44
I’m not going to take credit for this idea—we’ll put this in the show notes, I can’t remember exactly what episode this was—but we had Hunter Allen and Dr. Andy Coggan on the show and we were talking about zones and I’m paraphrasing them a little bit, but this was the gist of it. They said there is nothing magic physiologically about the zones. It’s not like you train right in this zone and you’re gonna get this magical response. They said zones are a communication tool. It just made it much easier for coaches and athletes to work together and for the coach to give that athlete guidance and that’s more of how you really should be looking at them. Let’s hear from Coach Hunter Allen himself from a conversation we had about how zones are just a guide. So tried and true basic zones are good enough for most of us.
Hunter Allen 12:29
I think that like classic Coggan power based training zones or levels are probably good for 80 to 90% of the folks out there. There’s a 10 to 20% that need the customized individualized levels or zones. Those are the folks who have larger VO2 maxes or a higher anaerobic capacity than would normally just kind of fit made a cot in the classic ones. So absolutely, you need to kind of test yourself. I think that’s where you have to test yourself, you got to see these different ranges, you got to gather enough data, look at the power duration curve and then see, should I really use individualized zones or not? We need software to do that and so that’s really a great benefit of having software to be able to do that. So that’s great. Absolutely. Both things are valid, you got to have both. Some people need them, some people don’t.
What is the Lactate Threshold in the Zone?
Rob Pickels 13:27
One thing that’s hard, and I think that Neil was talking to this, but I also think it breaks down a little bit on the communication side is what is the zone anchored on? We can say this traditionally the upper end of zone 4 which is the break point between a Dr. Seiler 3 zone, zone 2 and zone 3 is “lactate threshold?”
Neal Henderson 13:52
Rob Pickels 13:52
Is it though?
Neal Henderson 13:53
Or break point of maximal lactate steady state or federal authority threshold.
Rob Pickels 13:56
Frank, your lab for a long time you guys were big. I’m not sure where you are now with testing, but you were a big maximal lactate steady state lab and that number is different than when Neal and I were testing together and we would do four minutes stages, 20, 25 watts, depending on the athlete and that’s different than when I was testing with Dr. San Millan, who would do five minute stages until and then 10 minutes stages with a five minute in the middle and so this is where I think zones can in some regard make communication more difficult because every time I say a zone, I have to quantify what system I’m talking about because zone 2 is either the Dr. Seiler gray area tempo is bad or it’s exactly where you should be spending all your time because it’s the base, less than one and a half or less than two millimoles of lactate. There’s so much nebulous information that I find zones, sometimes really confusing.
Trevor Connor 15:02
So I wrote an article on identifying your threshold and part of the purpose of that article, I kind of decided how many different definitions are there and put the time into researching it and came up with close to 30 different definitions. All of them calculated a different way, all them giving you slightly different numbers. Then completely confused, I did an interview with Dr. Inigo San Millan and said, “So what do you define as threshold?” And he just looked at me and goes, “There’s no such thing as threshold.” And I just threw my hands in the air went, “Okay, so forget this article.”
Understanding the Lactate Curve
Neal Henderson 15:39
That’s a tough one yeah. There are packages right now for interpreting lactate curves. So again, let’s assume somebody is using the right equipment properly and getting good values. Even from that from that same curve, if you gave it to 10 people who are trained and have done different types of analysis—we’ve all done that to some degree here—then we put in these different algorithms, these different ways of defining that lactate curve, we’re gonna get a lot of different answers and it just depends what you’re trying to establish with that. So that definition of what are you talking about at this point, is really important. When I’ve had athletes say, “Oh, I heard I need to do this. Oh, and I need to do that, or can’t do this or shouldn’t do that.” It’s like, okay, let’s stop. Who said what? What are the reference points because I need to know that, I can’t give any kind of an informed answer until I have an understanding of how many potential zones are there and what are they using to set those up just discrete points from one test value or something else.
Rob Pickels 16:23
This is something that I’ve shared previously, where everything matters in the system of the person that is prescribing it. Like I’ll say this, I think that Frank, you and I our coaching philosophies are different in the whole scheme of things. Yours works really well for you and mine works well for me, but if I took Frank Overton’s playbook and I was like, “This guy is good at what he does, I’m going to cherry pick some pieces and move it into my system,” that athlete is screwed. It’s not going to work for them because what you do works in your system, what I do works in my system, but Neal, that I think is just a corollary to exactly everything that you’re saying. You have to understand what the athlete is talking about and you can’t just say, “Well, that’s too hard to do a zone 3 effort.” I don’t know what that means.
Trevor Connor 16:44
Back to your point—so I just found this—when I was researching all these different thresholds and looking into zones, I ended up taking a whole bunch of the different zone models and calculating my zones and each one and here’s what you have: Zone 2, USA Cycling: my zone 2 is 114 beats per minute to 126. The Dr. Coggan zones: it’s 119 to 143. British Federation: 121 the 140. Here’s the one I love because remember USA Cycling zone 2 ended at 126, Norwegian Federation: 140 to 158. Yeah, that’s interesting and I can keep going. So when you say “I’m going out and doing a zone 2 ride,” here’s the physiological response, I’m going to get. You go, “Which zone 2?” Because that can be a very, very different ride.
Neal Henderson 18:33
Absolutely. Yeah, it is wild. I mean, we use a few different things, so I do think that heart rate and power output as kind of two of our more primary ways of prescribing our different intensities right now aren’t on the same. Zone one is not equal in both zone five is not equal both because like I said and our heart rate, we use just five zones and then we have a six and a seven, but the five is not related to the five. Yeah, so we use actually different targets and power output in that way. So like your mean, maximal power for endurance is going to be related to say, an FTP, kind of sustained power, threshold power, lots of different names. Again, we could get those 20 or 30 Different names to define that point, but even within that, we may have really, what is zone one recovery, zone two endurance, zone three tempo and zone four threshold, all related to that one target. Then as we start to go to the higher levels, we do use a max aerobic power target more analogous to like a five minute mean maximal power. We then go into an anaerobic capacity, which is closer to a one minute power, but the way we do that in our testing method, we do a single session and that one minute power is the very last thing that somebody does. So it’s not equal to their fresh one minute power. So an anaerobic capacity workout that I would prescribe based on that value is different than somebody if they think oh, Neal uses a one minute max power, they’re going to be actually overshooting because we’re probably 10% less than that actual value because there’s that fatigue. Accumulation of work prior to that effort and then that neuromuscular power is the absolute kind of peak five second power, but even sprint efforts, in most cases, we might think of those as being some lower percentage 60, 70% of peak neuromuscular power for 15 second intervals is actually pretty darn hard. Where 60 to 70% of FTP is not very hard relative to that FTP. It’s quite sustainable for many, many hours and it was really.
Are Training Zones becoming Antiquated with Technology?
Trevor Connor 20:34
So I mean, it sounds like we’re all saying a pretty similar thing, which was probably that the key role of zones was to give guidance, to give structure to training, but there’s nothing particularly magical about the zone. Saying I’m going out and writing zone two or I’m writing in zone four, can mean a whole lot of different things, depending on who you’re working with and doesn’t, in and of itself necessarily mean it’s going to be a successful ride. There’s more to your workout than that. So the second question that I have for us to discuss here is our zones becoming antiquated with the sort of software we have now with what you can get on the computer that you have on your wrist or on your bike? Do you really need those and I give you an example. I think right now in WKO you get this amazing power duration curve that shows you your your strengths and weaknesses, your profiles and athlete, there’s a particular version that will show you, it’ll tell you, you’re weak in this area, you’re strong in this area and you can use that to zero in and saying, it’s telling me I’m weak at this kind of one and a half minute effort.
Rob Pickels 21:42
Yes, you are.
Trevor Connor 21:44
In my case, super weak. Amazingly, shockingly weak, but you can get it fine tuned down that much for you. So does that somewhat antiquate zones? Do we still need them?
Rob Pickels 21:57
Well, before the guy who works for a company that is really good at this jumps in, I do want to jump in real quick and say, I think that we’re well past the point of establishing one value in our physiology and then trying to derive everything else off of that, meaning whether or not you view that as critical power or FTP. That’s a totally different argument I don’t want to have, just saying, well your upper end of your base zone is 70% of that value for everyone. I think that we’re past that at this point.
Frank Overton 22:31
I’d agree with that. Yeah, I mean, there’s so much we can do with data these days. That’s above and beyond training zones, but for the sake of zones, it’s like the software back then, let’s say 20 years ago, it was all shiny and new and we could look at time and zone and all that. Now, 20 years later, we can look at the power of big data and optimal training loads. We can look at wearable data and how that balances out with your training stress and training loads and a lot of more powerful software analysis tools than just training zones. I think we’ve all got training zones, we can tell an athlete, you know how hard to go ride and they can go do it and we can see it in the software and it’s as simple as that.
How Many Things can Impact Training Zones
Neal Henderson 23:17
Yeah, I think where some of this is going is, you know, looking at that combination of the external output as well as the physiologic response. So like your power output is just that, external power output, that’s the work, you’re doing physiologic response. Again, heart rate being that simplest thing that we’ve had most access to for a long time, there are those other newer tools, muscle oxygen and probably continuous lactate is coming before long, I would not be shocked to see that as something that you’re going to see on a bike computer as you’re riding along and other physiologic response, but there’s one other element here, is what’s going on between your ears, what that feels like that perceived effort is one of those things and are these things syncing up, matching up is going to be something that’s kind of a little bit of an interesting aspect of that even, we could probably agree if we think of a categoric one to 10 scale on perceived effort that break point, whatever we want to call that is probably around the seven out of 10, but if you’ve ever done a straight hour of power, if you’ve done an hour on the track, do you think that holding FTP after 30 minutes or 40 minutes is the same seven out of 10 as it was in the first two minutes, it might be a three out of 10, 15 minutes in it might be a five out of 10, 30 minutes in it’s seven out of 10, 45 minutes in your at 11 out of 10 and 59 minutes, you’re at 15 out of 10.
Rob Pickels 24:41
I wouldn’t know. Never been able to make it that far.
Neal Henderson 24:43
Exactly. So basically, you look at those different things between your external output, how your body responds to that a strain, maybe physiologic strain or stress response and then actually what you’re perceiving. An internal strain. I think we often call that from the psychological perspective and so, FTP threshold, whatever output that is, is some value normally we would say on a one to 10 categoric scale of RPE, that’s around a seven znd heart rate under normal circumstances is maybe 150 beats per minute, but you can have these things that impact heart rate might be temperature, it might be caffeine, it might be stress, anxiety have a major play impact there, your perceived effort might be in line, but then when you have that opposite, where your stress level anxiety is different or if you sustain that output for nearly an hour, it’s not a seven out of 10, 59 minutes into an hour long effort at FTP, I guarantee you that is pretty close to a 10 out of 10, at least and every time I’ve tried it.
Trevor Connor 25:45
The message we’ve been combined today is that many things can impact zones. So let’s hear from Dr. Stacey Sims, who does think zones are antiquated and explain some of the issues female athletes have with them.
Dr. Stacy Sims 25:56
I personally am not a fan of training zones. I think that we’re looking at it and pigeonholing people into specific zones with heart rate and that kind of stuff. There are too many other confounding variables that affect heart rate. That affect breathing rate and often that’s ignored. So if we’re looking at sticking with rating of perceived exertion or you have something that’s really objective, like watt or cadence, then it can be useful, but when we’re looking at heart rate training zones, the menstrual cycle definitely changes heart rate and respiration rate, see an increase in your sympathetic drive in the high hormone phase. So that can definitely affect how those heart rate based training zones can work and people are like, “should I be training in Zone One?” and it’s like, Well, depends, like, what was your sleep? What’s your resting heart rate? What’s going on because if you’re looking at specific numbers for zone one, that actually might be too high.
Trevor Connor 26:52
Hey, listeners, this is Trevor Connor, co host of Fast Talk and CEO of Fast Talk Laboratories. For years, we’ve been sharing our training, coaching knowledge and experience through the Fast Talk podcast. We’ve been able to connect you with some amazing experts in endurance sports base like Dr. Stephen Seiler, Joe Friel, Dr. Stacey Sims and Dr. Inigo San Millan. Help us keep bringing you world class experts by supporting us through Patreon. Just log on to patreon.com and search for Fast Talk podcast. Thanks for your support and of course, thank you for listening.
Trevor Connor 27:28
My nephew is about to run a half marathon as his first time ever and he doesn’t know pacing very well. So he told me yeah, I’m gonna start out a little bit easier and then the second half, I’m just gonna kill it and I looked at him went, if you do it right, here’s how it’s going to work. You’re going to start out with what feels like way too easy and thinking you should be going faster and if you are smart and sustain that and then get halfway through the half marathon and then pick the pace up and kill yourself. You might maintain the same pace.
Defining Power Ranges and Training by Workload
Rob Pickels 28:01
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s gonna get harder and harder, you’re gonna go the same pace. When I was doing a lot of testing, this was something that was difficult to explain. We could have very clear power ranges, we could have very clear heart rate ranges, we could define those zones, the person would look at it and they’d be like, but riding outside those numbers, they just don’t make sense and it goes back to a lot of what Neal was just talking about. You take a slightly higher heart rate average, maybe because the terrain is undulating, you’re not writing a perfect ergometer, you get some dehydration, you get some radiant heat stress, all of these things are going to be affecting up or down and I think that this is if somebody is still working with zones, this isn’t a very important point that Neal, you taught to me, it’s not about being at the perfect upper end of that zone. If your base zone goes to 225 Watts, perfect training is not 224 it’s some measured back down within that because we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if that’s exactly the breakpoint in the continuum or not and chances are if you’re riding the line, you’re actually riding over the line. Frank, you looked like you you had like a big like oh moment in there. So I was like, did Frank agree with me or is he like, going to come in like the you know, hammer a God now?
Frank Overton 29:26
No, no, I love what you just said, we actually tell athletes, we have them go out and do rides where they’re not training by zones. We’re like, Alright, go out and ride and train all zones and I can give you a couple of examples. So like, we can give them a workload, we say go out and ride this much, whether it’s kilojoules, TSS, OTS and technically it’s zones, two, three, sweetspot and then sub threshold, so it’s not as hard you can go, it’s gonna last two to five hours, maybe six and yeah, we don’t even mess with training zones. On the other hand, we have rides where we’re like, now we want you to go out and ride for two hours,but we do want you to go as hard as you can up the hills and so now they’re incorporating zone four and zone five and anaerobic work into this. So, I’m sure you’ve all seen the kitchen sink ride and it’s got like a little bit of zone six, one minutters and then some, maybe like two by three, some VO2 and then it’s got some threshold and those are great, but we definitely tell athletes, this is an unstructured ride and you’re riding it by field, but you’re recording the data and we’re going to bring that into the software, we’re not going to really look at time in zones, but you’re going to get in some great training and so Rob, I was just kind of agreeing with you.
Rob Pickels 30:53
Yeah, but I think you’re actually Frank raising an interesting point, where because we’re discussing the larger concept of zones being important in training and in some regard, I think that riding at particular intensities to hopefully elicit a particular adaptive response, it is probably good training, but at the same time, we all know that just going out and racing also has a big improvement in our fitness and our performance and Frank, in a lot of regard, that’s exactly what you’re describing here because in racing, you’re going to go with the attack, you’re going to go with the pace of the peloton up that hill, or you’re racing your mountain bike, you don’t have a choice, you got to go all in just to make it up this climb. So it’s actually it’s really interesting how you’re using that in your training, that’s your prescription is to go by feel, to go by what the terrain dictates, to go out and have fun and engage with the activity that you’re doing.
Frank Overton 31:50
Yeah and bear in mind, that’s not like five days a week. I mean, you mix it up with some days you’re doing structure where you are maybe emphasizing a particular zone and then other days, it’s maybe this unstructured work and what’s nice for athletes is they get that on their training plan and they’re like, Okay, I’m gonna join this group ride and it’s fun and it’s flexible and then when they see the structured workout, they’re like, well, Coach maybe knew that I didn’t have a group ride to go to that day and that’s my one day I like to really be efficient and jam it out on the smart trainer and get in my specific work in a time efficient manner and so we just kind of blend both together. I’m sure like a lot of folks do.
The Importance of Having a Structured Training Plan
Neal Henderson 32:40
Yeah, definitely, I think it comes down to having purpose and what you’re doing for any given training session. So like, when us as coaches, when we’re prescribing what we’re laying out training, there’s absolutely elements where we have that structured workout that has very, very specific purpose in whatever way, whether it’s like getting ready for a specific event or trying to address a certain kind of physiologic response that we want to stress at that point. Any of those different ways that purpose in that structured workout is there. The unstructured side of sometimes just accumulate a distance, a time volume, maybe have a ceiling to stay below X heart rate or have a basement of stay above XY power. These different ways that are somewhat unstructured, but still guided with purpose is part of it. The worst thing that potentially if you’re just all over the place and have absolutely no idea of, are you doing a little bit more training, are you able to do less, is if you have absolutely no purpose, no structure ever and just randomly hitting whatever comes your way, riding every group ride, especially the groups that are faster than you if you do that all the time. Most cases, you may learn to tolerate things, but you’re not really actually addressing things that will help you be a better athlete.
Trevor Connor 33:54
I’m a little disappointed you didn’t cut in there with Hey, FTFP.
Frank Overton 33:59
Well, I have my stickers over here. FTFP is about developing good training habits, as you know and it’s nice to for us coaches to be able to design a training plan, explain it and then have athletes go off and do it, but training has got to be flexible and also, even the best thought out training plans need to be flexible with how the athlete is recovering and if they’re not recovering like you’d expect the training plan should adapt accordingly and one point I was going to make about zones and one thing that we’ve been doing lately is because we were kind of touching on all the different, Trevor, you’re talking about all the different ways we design zones. One thing we tell athletes who have been trying to keep it super duper simple lately and we tried to get away from FTP this and all the other things. We talk about going as hard as you can and then not going as hard as you can and having them use their power meters or their heart rate monitors to do either or and so we tell athletes zone four, five and six hard as you can and then zones two, three and sweetspot, not as hard as you can and use your power meters or heart rate monitors accordingly and of course, you have to coach them on what that actually means you don’t want to go do the first one minute interval as hard as you can and crater on the next ones. So there’s some coaching and some data analysis within that, but when you do explain it to an athlete that’s new to training, hard as you can, not as hard as you can. They get it and it’s sometimes it’s fun to have them kind of train that way.
Trevor Connor 35:48
Very similar. If I prescribe a one minute, it’s one minute as hard as you can, but you’re doing six of them and they all have to be the same intensity.
Frank Overton 35:55
Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Rob Pickels 35:57
I think that that’s a big takeaway too, even just from doing all the lactate testing that I’ve done in the past is that information I found to be very valuable for defining a base zone, a tempo zone, maybe even a sub threshold zone, but once we got above threshold LT2, whatever you want to call it, lactate was sort of out the window for me and it was very much just about effort and ability at that point, but something that I wanted to bring up that I think Frank you were alluding to and then Neal you as well, the purpose of why you’re doing and then the infinite number of possibilities that you need to be considering when we’re talking about prescribing workouts and this is an area that I’m in right now with Melissa, my wife where she was injured last year, she has not raced in a long time, I’m writing workouts and I’m including some things like pace or heart rate in there, but in all honesty, I don’t know if that’s the right pace or not for her. The weather’s bad. She’s on the treadmill and so I’m providing very clear descriptors of how it should feel, what it’s equivalent to, what the purpose is what we’re trying to achieve and I say, this is more important. If you’re not running exactly 5:45 miles, that’s okay, that’s secondary to all of these other pieces. I’m putting the zone second in the overall purpose of why she’s doing that workout today.
Trevor Connor 37:30
This is a good place to hear from Joe Friel, again, who talks about the importance of learning the feel of a particular wattager zone.
Comparing Data with Athlete’s Perceptions
Joe Friel 37:37
One of the things I used to do with athletes, when you got a device on your handlebars, it’s got your power and it’s showing you your heart rate and your speed and all this data up there is I was occasionally sign a workout to an athlete and I would tell them, I want you to put your power meter in your back pocket or put a piece of tape over it. I don’t want you to look at the entire workout, but I want you to do the workout as we do as I described, it may be intervals and maybe a tempo sort of thing. It could be a race type effort, it could be lots of things you’re doing here and then we get all done, I want to be able to take the data and compare it with what you were experiencing. That’s a great thing to understand is how does it feel when the athlete is at this power or this heart rate or this speed or whatever it may be this pace, how does it feel to them, that’s a great place to go back to and the forces the athlete to go in to think about their training as opposed to going out and looking at something on their handlebars or on their wrist. They’ve got something here which is now internal and that is really the most important thing is what’s going on within that athlete and how they feel about, that’s the most critical thing. So sometimes if we can remove the data and but still compare later on, as I’ve done with my athletes over the years, is compare the data with their perceptions. It provides great information, great feedback for me as a coach and also great feedback for the athlete. So there’s so many things we can do with all this data, but we are afraid to become too focused on the data.
Trevor Connor 39:08
So I’m going to flip this question around, I started with the question of are zones antiquated and throw a question out to you that I think you guys have started to answer which is where do you still use zones now? Is there a place where you say these are still really valuable? I still like giving my athletes zones. I still like prescribing by this.
Analyzing Zone Data after an Exercise
Neal Henderson 39:27
I would say probably at this point, the way I look at zones is more just in the analysis afterwards was, did they follow what was prescribed in that way? Are they able to accomplish what the goal of that was? Did they stay about at the right range and again, that sometimes is going to have to be a cross range check of okay, the power was here, but the heart rate was there. Okay. The heart rate was in the range even though the power today was a little bit low. So maybe what was going on and that can lead to a little bit of that discussion of like, do we need to make any further adjustments and upcoming sessions for them based on how they responded to that. So if people are blindly following the output exclusively, and then they ignore their physiology, that’s where I find a lot of athletes get into trouble, they’ve had these targets set and it’s really nice now on a computer to have those goals shown there, but they don’t show the flexibility as much. The way we’ve we’ve implemented that with our Wahoo computers now, with the workouts that sank, they do have a power target, but it’s actually a range a little bit lower and a little bit higher because we do know that A: some people can produce a little more power outdoors for that same effort, actually, some people can produce a little bit less because the variability is greater. Any given day, you have a little bit of a plus and minus and so kind of building that little bit of tolerance is helpful, rather than, must be 300 watts and if you’re at 299, you’re getting like bad message like you’re you’re not hitting the goal. So having a little bit bigger range is kind of helpful in some aspect there.
Rob Pickels 41:01
Now, this might be giving away the secret sauce, but in your experience, if I’m going out and I’m doing I’m just going to say a sub threshold workout, I’m going to do some long climbing intervals and my power, spot on certain range, but my heart rate, it’s a little bit high or maybe my heart rates a little bit low. How do you expect athletes to adjust? Do you say my heart rate is a little too high? My power is good, I feel good. Do you say oh, no, no, no, no, no, you’re exceeding a zone with one of your metrics, you better pull it down, even though your workload maybe isn’t quite as high as it could be.
Neal Henderson 41:39
Yeah, I use more than the two out of three. So that perceived effort in conjunction with the external output and the response. So if your perceived effort, it feels like the appropriate effort that was prescribed and the power is there, but the heart rates high, just keep an eye on that. If you have the opposite, where your heart rate is high and your perceived effort is high, but the power is off, then it’s okay, now back off the effort to keep two out of three in line. Three out of three is ideal, but two out of three is better. One out of three is typically you’re ignoring something that you should have paid attention to.
Rob Pickels 42:19
Two out of three ain’t bad.
Going as Hard as you Can
Frank Overton 42:20
What Neal was talking about with not a set number, but arrange, it kind of reminds me of the discussion that we have all the time, to ERG or not to ERG and this gets me to the thing that the way we advocate zone four, five and six intervals and the reason why I like as hard as you can go because the athletes self adjusts to their current state of fitness and recovery and if they’re tired, they’re still going as hard as they can go. If they’re on a great day, they’re not going to let a range limit what they can achieve in training and therefore they get more stimulus out of the workout and then this also kind of negates the need to test so frequently because the data can just say, Oh, you’re you know, you’re knocking it out of the park and your thresholds probably increased, great. We don’t know what it is, but it’s probably gone up and we can just tell because your VO2 Max intervals are averaging much higher than they were a couple of months ago, but the whole ERG mode thing is kind of funny because we always tell athletes, please turn it off, especially when you’re doing your as hard as you can intervals. It’s wonderful for your sub threshold intervals, where you do want to kind of keep it in check and so the one thing I was going to say back to Trevor’s question, as hard as you can, I love zone four, five and six intervals. Set times hard as you can go, but for the aerobic work, when they’re building we tend to prescribe zones 2 through sweetspot. 56 to 97% and let them hit all of that in arrived and I guess you could say it’s a zone, it’s a range, it’s a wide range. It’s all aerobic and it’s fun. Generally, athletes will get tired while they’re doing that and they’ll slow down so they self govern themselves, but they can generate large train loads and get a great workout or great build workout out of that way.
The Problem with Using Training Zones
Trevor Connor 44:21
So me personally, I was actually surprised to realize this about a year ago, when I started looking at my athletes training plans. I had stopped using zones and the prescriptionm. I used to. Now whenever I write up a workout description, I’m like, here’s what it feels like, here’s how you should execute it and I’ll tell them, I want you to be in this power range or this heart rate range, but I’ll come up with that number. I don’t necessarily look at the zones and actually ask myself as to why am I still worried about zones if I’m not really using them for prescription and Neal, I’m the same as you. It’s more in the analysis and actually some of my favorite charts I use WKO for my analysis, are the ones where you color code the zones because an athlete can do a workout where you have two workouts that are the same average power. So let’s say I’m having them go out and do a long base miles ride, really good executed base mile ride, it’s just gonna be green the whole way across or somebody else can average the same thing, but it’s red and yellow and green and blue. It’s just all over the map and averages out the same, but it’ll give and go, that was not the same workout, that’s not going to be the same response.
Neal Henderson 45:33
Yeah and that goes to like, way back. I mean, we would have athletes that we’d be like, Okay, we want you to do an endurance ride and many they’ve had summary data, oh, my average power was 140 and okay, that’s right in the middle of the range and then you actually look at what they did and be like, you literally spent zero time anywhere between 120 and 160. You were way below and way above.
Rob Pickels 45:56
Half the time was 180, half of the time it was 100. Averages at 140.
Neal Henderson 46:00
Exactly. I was like you did zero of the work. In fact, you think on average you did, but in fact, you in reality, you did 0% of the workout at the right range, even though the average says you did, you didn’t. It’s actually what did you do, but again, that’s years and years ago before everyone else had the analysis software and that ability to actually see what was done.
Trevor Connor 46:23
Finally, let’s hear from Dr. Inigo Mujika, who still uses zones with new athletes, but takes a different approach with elites.
Dr. Iñigo Mujika 46:30
I think that general training zones is something that we can only apply if we are dealing with low level athletes or moderately trained athletes and we have to cater for those kinds of clients simultaneously. When we are working with highly trained or elite athletes, we absolutely need to individualize those training zones and we need to update those training zones because they are going to be changing throughout the season. So I think when we deal with that type of athlete, it has to be absolutely individual.
Trevor Connor 47:05
How do you individualize it? Is testing required or do you have techniques, particularly if the athletes operating somewhere and you can’t get them into the lab?
Dr. Iñigo Mujika 47:15
Testing is required likely.
Trevor Connor 47:18
So shall we move on to the final question for this or is this kind of a two parter, but I think we’ve already started to touch on this. Are there better approaches now than using zones?
Rob Pickels 47:31
Yeah, I think that this is a great time to ask about Frank, you threw out a term earlier that I wasn’t very familiar with and so I’m sure the listeners aren’t and that’s OTS and I think that that’s going to get to the future Trevor question that you’re asking here. So Frank, what the heck is OTS?
Optimized Training Stress
Frank Overton 47:47
OTS is optimized training stress. It is a power based and heart rate based metric that calculates the workload that the athlete does, the stress and it’s a duration times intensity metric. It takes TSS in training peaks and improves it three ways. So number one, it’s an exponentially weighted moving average. It’s not based on normalized power. Number two, you don’t get credit for coasting. So when you go climb lefthand Canyon and you descend for 20 minutes, you’re not racking up TSS. Yeah and the third thing, which is in development, that we’re working on two more things. So like, when you do a five hour ride, the first hour, two hours, feels different than the fourth and the fifth hour, just like Neal was talking about this, RPE of seven, for going as hard as you can, but when you do that for 60 minutes, the end of the 60 minutes is a 10 out of 10 every single time. So I think we’ve all done the four and the five hour rides and the stress in that fourth and the fifth hour are much greater than the stress in the first hour and so OTS takes that into account. The final improvement is carbohydrate consumption. So if the athlete does a nice job of fueling their ride, they minimize their stress and if they don’t fuel enough, there’s more stress incurred on the body and so that’s a little bit tougher not to crack, that’s coming down the software development path, but for now, OTS is a way that we prescribe training for workloads and we say, go out and do a 125 OTS ride. So zones two through sweetspot. It’s a set amount of work and then the way that I describe that is when you get sick or you go to the doctor or the doctor prescribes you medicine, says take five milligrams of this per day. We can do that with training, we can prescribe set amount of workloads per day. That’s like the goal of their training. So go to a 200 OTS or 300 and we know from analyzing power data from certain races, like unbound, that’s a 600, 500, 700 OTS day, it’s a gigantic day, but if you’re just doing like the Border Rutabaga Road Race, that might be like a 200 and so you can tailor training based on the workload. They can ride in all zones, mix it all up into one and yeah, that’s what optimize training stress is.
Trevor Connor 50:27
Really glad to hear you take that approach. We heard from Dr. Seilar multiple times, his criticism of TSS, which is exactly that. If you go out and do a five hour ride and it’s the same power all the way across, the TSS score is going to be the same for the final hour as it was for the first hour, but the stress in your body is completely different in that fifth hour.
Rob Pickels 50:49
I also think Frank, the fact that you brought up the carbohydrate side of things because when you are on your fourth point, I think about how hour three or whatever feels different than hour one. The thought that I had in my head was right now I’m practicing shoving as many carbohydrates in my body as I possibly can, as I get ready for this Trans Portugal race and my thought that I had my head was, it’s actually so much easier in hour three when I’m consuming a lot of carbohydrate than when I’m not and you immediately went to carbohydrates being a factor in this. So I think that that’s really insightful, that you guys are already looking at that.
Frank Overton 51:27
Yeah, the science is there and the challenge is getting the athlete to report an accurate amount of carbohydrate that has been taken in. This is actually a cool thing with CGM, so you can bring in that data and then you don’t have to worry about the athlete forgetting how many gels they had. So there’s a lot of things to work out and everything, but I think we’re we’re at least thinking about it and then the thing I like about carbohydrate reporting, it gets athletes to really be more aware of their carbohydrate consumption and it can help them can help the technology teach athletes how you do need to eat we’re talking 60 to 100 grams of carbohydrate per hour, not 20, not 30 and then it shows them the additional stress they had when they don’t eat enough.
Trevor Connor 52:22
They have this amazing picture of Rob where he was out for a long ride and completely bnonked out of his mind.
Rob Pickels 52:30
Trevor I was an hour and a half into that ride, Trevor.
Trevor Connor 52:33
Trying to be nice. Bonked out of his mind, finds this little stand on the side of the road selling honey.
Rob Pickels 52:41
Yeah, man you know that honey stand? You guys have definitely ridden by it. I forget what Crossroads it’s on, but yeah.
Trevor Connor 52:46
We have this picture of Rob holding this jar of honey honey dripping off of his face. The biggest smile I’ve ever seen, honestly.
Rob Pickels 52:56
I wrote down Neva road just like dipping my hand into this honey and like eating it off my fingers. It was amazing.
Trevor Connor 53:03
Sunil I’ll throw this to you because that was a great answer from Frank, any thoughts that you have on are there better approaches to from zones.
Understanding the Interrelationships of Stress Zones
Neal Henderson 53:11
For zones? For sure. There’s a few things I think number one is, rather than looking at a singular data type point, whether it is a heart rate response or power output, it’s really the interrelationships there. We don’t have a psychometer yet in terms of being able to directly feed in what our feelings are into these devices, but that integration with a future psychometer I think would be a really nice way of getting those three different ways of assessing that stress in the future future, I guess, for that side of things. One other area that we’re doing actually a little bit more work on is actually even in that external output, it’s a net product right of torque and cadence and so, when we start to look at training response for even for a similar power, if you are varying that cadence to a significant degree either low with high torque or high cadence with low torque, you can stimulate different types of stimulus. You can generate a different kind of stimulus for the same output or you can also vary the power output in addition to that cadence and have that torque profile, cadence profile basically being aspects of being able to create an even more individualized specific training stress that you can then quantify with those additional variables, pull out the constituent components.
Rob Pickels 54:33
It’s funny, sometimes people say something and it just makes me go like, Huh, interesting. So literally what I just did.
Neal Henderson 54:40
So, so cool. If you do have a wahoo bolt computer, you can look at your current torque, you can look at lap torque. So I did a series, I did a normal workout and then at the end of it I did for one minute intervals, where I was just looking at the torque. So I knew what I did in the first portion of the workout. My intervals were around 35 Newton meters torque for those little bit longer intervals, I said, Okay, I want to try to do a little bit progressive torque, I didn’t look at the power, but I looked at torque and so I tried to do 40, 45, 50 Newton meters and see if I can hold that and I think I may have even done the 55 and the last one, just increasing that. Yes, the power was higher, I was varying the cadence a little bit, but it gave me a different way of thinking about that workout and accomplishing the work in a different way that I knew was going to stimulate that kind of stress. Which, interestingly, some of the torque went to on some of those, what we would consider, like near FTP efforts, but at a low cadence, kind of typical high torque efforts often are pretty close to the actual torque that is sustained then during like Max aerobic power type of effort and intensity. So, I think there’s some interesting aspects there that you can again, just play with and make the specificity of those different sessions very, very targeted.
Rob Pickels 55:58
This is an area where that reductionist thinking of zones, making it as simple as we possibly can so that we can really wrap our mind around it, ultimately is doing us a disservice because we’ll say, Hey, your power zone and we’ll limit it just to power is between this and this range. Every single person knows that the body responds differently to say 200 watts at 60 rpm, 200 Watts at 120. Exactly. Your heart rate is different. Your respiratory rate is different metabolically, it’s different because your gross efficiency is different. The muscle recruitment, we talk about muscle recruitment and motor units all the time, that recruitment is different. It’s interesting that you’re thinking that deeply about it.
Trevor Connor 56:45
Hey, listeners, this is Ryan Kohler, coach, physiologist and owner of Rocky Mountain Devo. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or a fitness focused individual, Rocky Mountain Devo has a place for you. We provide coaching, nutrition, lactate and metabolic testing and training plan guidance so that you can get to where you want to be. Check us out today at rockymountaindevo.com.
Trevor Connor 57:10
So one final question to throw it all of you and this is the the hopeful side. Think about the future, get excited. Where do you think the future of workout prescription is going? Where would you like to see it go and who wants to dive on this one first?
Future of Workout Prescription
Neal Henderson 57:23
I mean, I think that future is that multivariate that there’s multiple levels associated in a prescription that there is then an adjustment based on how you’re responding on the day. So based on the output and your heart rate response, that you may have that floating target being adjusted for a given workout target or based on the output you have in your first couple efforts, that it may adjust upcoming efforts in that way, that there’s kind of that utilizing your individual previous results and capacity to then adjust on the fly what you’re doing now, from multiple different angles, rather than just one single. That multivariate power, heart rate or muscle oxygen or all these other things and proceed effort, get that psychometer in there.
Neal Henderson 57:51
You’re going to like plug that into your ear. How does that work?
Neal Henderson 58:18
Rob Pickels 58:20
Frank, what do you think?
Frank Overton 58:21
Yeah, I mean, I think we’re already getting away or when I say we, as the coaching community is getting away from just training zones exclusively and one of the things that we think about is like, Okay, go out and run an hour and a half today and then maybe try to achieve 10 hours of riding this week and then in the next three months, let’s get your training load from here to here. So we’re really thinking about bigger picture prescriptions that aren’t necessarily zone base three by 10. While those are good, those fit into the bigger piece of the puzzle and so the other thing that I think you’ll see in the future is gamification of data and where like Zwift or level 50 and level 60. I mean, that’s fun. I mean, athletes really respond to having a target and maybe it’s a little more physiologically specific than whatever 25, 55, 60 is, but bringing training load and down into the gamification and the bigger picture using the data. You just have an athletes go out and ride. Be consistent. Make it fun, make it flexible, getting maybe a little bit further away from just the FTFPing. We’ve harped on FTFPing so hard for the past five years and we have so many use cases where it just doesn’t apply anymore. So maybe it’s like well, let’s come at this the other way and and look at the bigger picture.
Rob Pickels 1:00:00
Real quick, Frank, can you for listeners define what FTFP is?
Frank Overton 1:00:04
Can we curse on this show?
Rob Pickels 1:00:06
We can beep it. I just want to hear you say it
Frank Overton 1:00:10
FTFP is Follow the … Plan. Yeah. Yeah. It just kind of got started five years ago when athletes would say, oh, you know, I miss my workout last night. What should I do and after you answer that question six or seven times, then you come up with a more curt response. Follow the plan and then we realize it was really just about athletes developing good training habits and that’s what successful athletes bring to the training, but it doesn’t need to be your pro or it is any athlete of all abilities. It’s your mindset. It’s your habits. Do you have your act together? Can you organize your day and time management and can you commit to carving out 75 minutes a day? That sort of thing? So that’s what FTFP became.
Trevor Connor 1:01:07
I listened to two episodes of your show with you talking about FTFPing and I was sitting there going, is there a new alternative to FTP, I haven’t heard of. Until finally, the third episode, you defined it and I was like, oh, makes sense.
The Future of Monitoring and Data Feedback
Rob Pickels 1:01:24
Well, for me to follow the plan, I’m going to have to continue wrapping this up because I gotta ride after this, guys and Trevor, for me the future is we have been trying to take external measures and have them define internal physiological events and I think, especially for aerobic longer durations, sustainable sort of workloads when we’re monitoring that. I think that’s something– Neal– you mentioned before continuous lactate monitor, we have to be close to the technology that allows us to understand what’s happening in relative real time to the biomarkers inside of us and I would love to go out and do a ride where I was keeping my lactate between 1.2 and 1.5 millimole. I know that comes with its own set of problems, there is complexity there without question and I would love to go out and do long climbing intervals at 3.8 millimoles of lactate and then take my external power meter and correlate that and say, Hey, I did more work for the same lactate level. Now we’re going a step deeper than I did more work for the same heart rate level. So to say, I think that that’s the future.
Frank Overton 1:02:46
I think in the next three to five years, you’ll be able to just put one on and just kick it off the tricep. Glucose, lactate power, hydration, who knows what else? Yeah, all the data.
Trevor Connor 1:02:59
I’m gonna go a slightly different direction just to be a little bit of the old school. Sort of and sort of no. So I still think to the end of time, one of the most important things for an athlete is to learn the feel. Is to learn the feel of a steady ride to learn the feel of the different types of intervals and to really understand when their body is functioning well, when their body isn’t functioning well, to understand how different intensities should feel and I don’t think anything on your wrist or on your handlebars can replace that if you don’t have the feel. So I think that’s really important, but I see the future as is increasingly sophisticated analysis of the rides to say, here’s what you did well, here’s what you didn’t do well, to help you learn that feel, so you can look and go, Oh, I was feeling this and it’s telling me that about that moment in the ride, that’s interesting and can help you the next time you do it improve what you’re doing.
Rob Pickels 1:03:58
Kind of like a biofeedback sort of situation so that you can, yeah interesting.
Neal Henderson 1:04:02
I think ultimately, I mean, it’s more feedback rather than data or just a series like lots of different numbers. So making sense of all the bits of information that we can put together, to truly be able to then change your behaviors, actions, etc. and adapt, adjust.
Rob Pickels 1:04:23
Adapt? Who needs to adapt, Neal? God, it’s overrated.
Neal Henderson 1:04:27
Failure to adapt is fatal.
Rob Pickels 1:04:29
Is adapting to fail?
Neal Henderson 1:04:31
Maybe that’s a fail. There you go.
Rob Pickels 1:04:36
That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk, wherever prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual as always, we love your feedback tweeted us with @fasttalklabs or join the conversation at fourm.fasttalklabs.com. Learn from our experts at fasttalklabs.com keep us independent by supporting us on Patreon for Neal Henderson, Frank Overton, Joe Friel, Dr. Stacey Sims, Hunter Allen, Dr. Iñigo Mujika, and Trevor Connor I’m Rob Pickels. Thanks for listening!