Best Practices for Building a Training Camp

Coaches Ryan Kohler and Trevor Connor discuss tips, tricks, and the underlying principles to help you design a training camp.

Training camps can be a highly beneficial part of a training plan, helping you raise your fitness in a short amount of time. How do you build one? Which types of rides should you include, and in what order? How much is too much?

In this workshop, Coaches Ryan Kohler and Trevor Connor detail recent training camps. In Trevor’s case, with his flexible schedule, it meant high volume and a more traditional approach. For Ryan, a time-crunched athlete, he needed to be more creative. Both coaches offer several tips and tricks to help you design your own training camp.

The pair also discuss what signs to look for during a camp to make sure it remains beneficial training, as well as the rules to follow and the rules to break during a camp.

Video Transcript

Chris Case  00:16

Welcome to Fast Talk Laboratories, your source for the science of endurance performance.


Trevor Connor  00:27

Welcome to another workshop, I’m here with head Coach Ryan Kohler today. We are going to talk with you about our training camps and hopefully give some good information and how to design your own. So, you’re seeing my screen right now here is the camp I did for my N1 challenge just a week ago, still trying to recover from it. As you can see here, this was a big camp, 30 hours on the bike, about 1600 TSS, I was pretty tired by Monday. So, we’ll go through my camp and then go through Ryan’s camp that he did at the same time, but before we get there, let’s just talk a little bit about what a training camp is about.


Purpose of Training Camps

Trevor Connor  01:10

So, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on the purpose, one is, it’s a very effective way to produce a big training stress, which as we talk about all the time on the show, the way to adapt, the way to get stronger is you have to produce a training stress and then let your body rest and recover from that. So, getting four or five good hard days in a row is a great way to produce a stress that’s going to produce an adaptation. Another thing I like about camps, and this is why I was doing mine to basically end my base season is you always have to ask the question, what energy systems am I trying to target? And it’s great to do a lot of high intensity, but that might not be exactly targeting the system you want. I particularly really wanting to build that stamina, build that endurance, and that takes just those long, slow volume rides, and what you’ll tend to find is one long, slow volume ride isn’t always enough to get an adaptation. Do four, six-hour days in a row, even going slow, you’re gonna be pretty tired by the end of it, and I will tell you, I was pretty tired by that Sunday. So, it’s a way of hitting that energy system and making sure you’re actually producing the adaptation in the system that you want, Ryan, any thoughts that you have?


Ryan Kohler  02:27

Yeah, thinking about this camp coming up from my N1 challenge, the goal was really to do very much the same thing. I had this mindset of, I’m going to be riding for six days straight, so let me start to transition out of the previous training I was doing, which had some more rest days built-in, and really just look at riding consistently day after day, and like you said, this wasn’t terribly structured for my week, some of it was because I was doing some coaching along the way, but most of it was just riding day after day, some intensity, some of what you suggested just that long, steady distance very aerobic, but under fatigued conditions. So, it felt like that really the first step in starting to prepare for those feelings that I’ll get in the Breck Epic.


Trevor Connor  03:19

Right. Get that fatigue, get up in the morning, say I don’t want to be on the bike, and get on the bike and still go hard.


Breaking the Rules During Training Camps

Trevor Connor  03:26

The other really important thing to point out about a camp is this is where you break the rules. I get my athletes rules about how much they want to fatigue themselves, what sort of work they should be doing, that applies to most of the weeks. When we get to the camp, that’s where I say, “yeah, throw a lot of that out.” Really what we want is by that final day, you are ready to sit on the couch for a while.


Trevor Connor’s Training Camp

Trevor Connor  03:47

So, let’s dive into my camp first. I was the one who said okay, I’m going to take two days off work, make this a vacation, and do the sort of camps I used to do when I was racing full-time, and certainly did that, I was certainly feeling it. So, it started on the Wednesday, you could see Monday and Tuesday I didn’t do anything hard, I did a very easy spin on the Tuesday, got to the Wednesday, we started with some intensity. So, I went out with Chris and Jana and we did the 40P Test. I was just looking for some intensity my legs were actually not great, so I didn’t do too good a job on the efforts, but still got the efforts in. So, here you can see there’s my five-minute effort, here was, I’d like to say my 20-minute effort but my power was so bad I quitted at 18 minutes.


Trevor Connor  04:44

So in terms of getting some good numbers out of me, this wasn’t a good test, but in terms of what I want to accomplish, which was to start getting that, building some fatigue in the legs, it was a good hard workout. So, I’m actually going to switch software here to show you all this in WKO. So, here you can see the test again, here’s the heat map of it, so you can see there’s a five-minute power, where I’m over threshold, and then you can see, here’s the, what should have been the 20-minute test, but it was actually a little below my threshold, just wasn’t able to put out the wattage. So, I knew it was gonna be a tough camp, and first day, I was already feeling it, and again, if an athlete had come to me and said, I tried to do intervals last night on a typical week, and I couldn’t execute them well, I couldn’t quite do them right, I would be saying you need rest. Let’s take a couple of days off, and then come back to this. So this is a classic case of dirty camp, you break the rules because I would have turned my week into a recovery week based on how I felt that Wednesday.


Training Camps Are All About Volume

Trevor Connor  05:47

So, we get to Thursday, Ryan’s gonna show us up that similar because we did a lot of this together, this was actually kind of a unique day, I wanted some more intensity. I don’t over-structure my camps because it’s really all about the volume, but I tend to try to get in some intensity in those first few days, and then it’s about the volume. On my final camp of the bases in which I couldn’t do this year, I do like on that final day or the second to last day to throw in a race, to get that feeling in my legs of having to perform in a race when I’m exhausted because I’m a stage racer, I’m focusing on a four-day stage race. That’s how I’m going to feel on the last day, I’m going to be exhausted, and I have to go on perform. So, in the camp, start with some intensity to get the fatigue, have some good long days where you’re just doing volume, and then maybe one of those last days throw in a race just to really hurt yourself. Any of my athletes who are watching this and say I’m mean to you see I’m pretty mean to myself too. So, this day, it was a lot of fun, but we were filming the whole thing, which was pretty cool. So, it was not actually a typical camp day, you can see the heat map of it. So, we started with a climb called sunshine, took that at a decent pace, as you can see, then did some descending, filmed that, so you can see there was like a kind of back and forth to get some filming, and then we went to South Boulder and did team time trials. So, some of this was filmed, you can see it was really the last four where they got pretty hard. Let me zoom in here.


Team Time Trial

Trevor Connor  07:29

But this is something I love to do during a camp, I got it from my old coach, the had we done it the traditional way, it’s a four-by-eight-minute team time trial, and so you have a team of four, where the first rider comes through, they push the pace, 30 seconds, they pull off, next rider comes through 30 seconds, and you do that for eight minutes, and you take a two-minute break, and then you do another eight-minute one. And the pace should be Imagine you’re in a race, you just broke away from the field, it’s 45 minutes to an hour from the finish, so you have to go really hard to keep the hold off the field. But he can’t be putting out your 10-minute wattage, because you still have an hour to get to the finish so hard, it should hurt, but not all out. If you look at the last four here, that’s where we’re really doing that pace, and you can see kind of ups and downs in the heart rate as I was getting to the front, my heart rate will go up and then I get a bit of a rest in the group until I was back on the front again. So, that day was six hours, 320 TSS, so off to a good start legs were certainly still fatigued.


Steady Wattage

Trevor Connor  08:36

The Friday of my camp, this was the start of just my steady, let’s get some volume. So, you can see this is six and a half hours, also just shy of 320 TSS. But I want to show you this is not intense, so if you really look at my heart rate here, this is my AET zone. So, the top end is on a three zone model, top end of my zone one, so getting right up towards that aerobic threshold, and you can see for most of the ride, I just sat right in that range, which is a pretty narrow range. So, for me that tops out at 145 beats per minute, bottom end is about 134, and I was just trying to hold myself there. So, to give you a contrast my threshold heart rates about 174-175, you can see the same thing in the in the power heat map. You look down here, and you can see that’s pretty steady wattage the whole way through, and that’s really what I was trying to get to. So, it was just a good decent steady ride, and up here you can see here’s the distribution of the workout on three-zone model, you can see almost nothing above threshold in terms of power. Yes, there was some power that was a little above my aerobic threshold, but it was generally just above, but the bulk of my time ride right in that zone one.


Ryan Kohler  09:54

And you still climbed a lot on this one right? It looks like you went up into the mountains.


Trevor Connor  09:58

8000 feet of climbing on this one.


Ryan Kohler  10:00



Trevor Connor  10:00

So, my whole week was 38,000 feet of climbing. So yeah, that was fine, I basically rode up to Estes Park, got up to 9000 feet on a peak to peak right around here, and then dropped back down.


Ryan Kohler  10:13



Trevor Connor  10:14

So it was good. And then also on Friday, you can see here every day I was stretching, Friday evening, I hit the weights, that was definitely not my best weight session. That was a bit of a struggle. But you could see I was doing all that support work, so here’s the stretch, particularly on the weekend, you can see here’s an hour stretch, here’s a 45-minute stretch, so I was doing a lot.


Trevor Connor  10:39

Saturday, now we get into my two epic days. And this was again, I wanted to fatigue myself at the beginning, and then see what I could do to push myself afterward. I couldn’t go to a race, so I actually had a friend named Kyle, who I got to join me, and I knew showing up on Saturday, he would have good legs. So, I said let’s go and do a bunch of climbs. So, we hit Sunshine again, then Flagstaff, then Four Mile Canyon, so that’s two category one climbs, then an HC climb, climbed all the way almost up to 10,000 feet, then dropped back down into Boulder and threw in a category two climb called, two or three called Old Stage, just to make sure we fully finished ourselves off. So that worked out to 12,000 feet of climbing on the day, almost seven hours, and I think this day was close, so about 377-376 TSS. And you can see we hit those first two climbs, I told Kyle, don’t be kind to me, let’s hit him hard. This is where you see all this yellow here, that was getting up towards my threshold power, not, you know, just lower end of it, but certainly getting up towards my threshold power. You can see I’m starting to see a little bit of heart rate depression by this day, so my heart rates really not coming up. But these two climbs hurt, he just rode away from me and I was doing my best to limit it. So, we got to the longer climb over here, so that was about an hour and a half climb, put in the big gear, and really grounded out just get a little more abuse on my legs. This little bit here, Kyle and I decided to race each other a little bit along a road called 36. So good hard day, I was definitely limping at the end of that one.


20-Mile-an-Hour Average

Trevor Connor  12:29

Then last day, so this one was also six-and-a-half, 350 TSS. So, you can see none of these days were particularly easy. This was our flattish day, so I think I only did 6500 feet of climbing on this one. We started in Boulder, so the mountains are all over here, this is kind of the flatlands so it has rollers. Kyle joined me again and we headed North, went up to Fort Collins, north of Fort Collins, and came back. I don’t know what possessed me, but this is the day that I would have liked to have had my race. So legs felt awful, 30 minutes into the ride, I was like, I’m not sure I’m going to make it to an hour. I was glad I had the company, Kyle kept us going at a decent pace, we hit one, probably 10-minute climb, which is this one right here, another probably six, seven-minute climb right there. But by the time we got into Fort Collins, so about the three-hour mark, I had a 19 mile an hour average because we had a tailwind, and not sure again, what possessed me but I just said to Kyle we are getting 20 miles an hour average today, knowing that we’re about to turn into a headwind. So, start taking it up to about 21-22 average wasn’t coming up high enough. So, you could see right about over here, I just got on the front took us up to 40 kilometers an hour, which is about 23-24, Kyle said I was doing a whole lot of grunting and did 45 minutes of basically what was a breakaway pace, so there was my race. And we got the 20-mile-an-hour average, so I was very happy. But it was there was a purpose to it, was that on that really tired day when the legs weren’t good, let’s see if I could do a race pace, which was that I was trying to accomplish. So, that was my camp. I was very fatigued by the end of it, and the last thing I want to show you were on the Friday of the week after, here is how much training I’ve done since. A little bit of stretching, stretching and some core work, basically I did an easy ride on Wednesday, and we are now on Friday. I will do an easy spin tonight, that’s about it so far.


Recovery Has to Be Commensurate

Trevor Connor  14:48

So, remember if you do a big camp recovery has to be commensurate, so make sure you aren’t trying to go and train hard the week after, you really need to take an easy week. So that was a 30 hour week was my camp, for this week, I plan just over five hours, and it will probably be less than that. Ryan, any thoughts?


Ryan Kohler  15:11

So, you mentioned heart rate in I think your Saturday ride where you’re seeing that heart rate depression. In a camp situation like this, are you letting that heart rate inform anything or knowing that this is a camp week, when we break the rules, you just say, “Okay, I know I’m tired, I see the heart rate reflecting it, I’m gonna keep pushing on?”


Heart Rate Depression

Trevor Connor  15:29

So this is exactly that, this is break the rules. If I saw heart rate depression in an athlete on a regular week or myself, we would modify the week, it would turn into a rest week, let’s get you back to a good place. During a camp, I actually want to see that heart rate depression. What I don’t want to see is if you’re doing a five, six-day camp, I don’t want to see it on day one or day two, I’m okay with it on one day or on the last day, for somebody has a lot of experience, I’ve done this a ton, I’m okay with myself seeing it for a couple of days, I don’t want to see it for much more than that. So, if I had started to see it on Thursday, I would have been concerned. Saturday was right on time.


Ryan Kohler  16:07

Yeah. Great.


Trevor Connor  16:09

Any other thoughts?


Ryan Kohler  16:11

I wish I could do that much volume, my camp is not nearly as impressive as that.


Trevor Connor  16:17

Well, this is just volume, you did some intensity. So, let’s talk about your camp, and when you don’t have that sort of time, how you how you still make a good camp.


Ryan Kohler’s Time-Crunched Training Camp

Ryan Kohler  16:25

Alright, so let’s talk about our time-crunched camp that I went through the last week. This one I even had a hard time calling it a time crunch camp, it was almost more like an overload week, I started to think of it as that because it just didn’t feel as much like a camp with everything else going on. So, I started to think of it as an overload week, and yeah, let’s look at that. So, definitely quite a bit different from yours, Trevor, but as you said, I brought more intensity into this because I was limited by volume.


Goals for the Camp

Ryan Kohler  16:54

So, I had a few goals for this camp. One was to just go above and beyond what my normal training volume was. So, looking back since the start of the year, about 12 weeks, my average training volume was about seven hours a week, and distance I was just shy of 100 miles per week, so that’s even including all the Zwift fake miles and everything, I was still under 100 a week. So, really not a lot of training going into this. So, one goal was to just go above and beyond this, I didn’t really have a plan as to how much but just wanted to do more. The second big goal was to do this while not annoying the family too much, so the trick was figuring out how to incorporate it into daily life. And the third was to really come out of it feeling that fatigue, like we talked about seeing the heart rate depression, and some of those indicators that suggest we’ve reached that overload, that was the other goal is to know alright, with less time, can I still achieve that and feel like I got this camp effect?


Ryan Kohler  17:54

Alright, so we’ll start here on Tuesday. So, and this again, going back to the lifestyle piece of it, luckily, I coach, a junior team, where it coincided perfectly with the start of camp, where this is our first week of team training. So, this worked out well, so thanks for scheduling it this week.


Trevor Connor  18:13

Happy I could do that.


Differentiating Between Intensity vs. Base Riding

Ryan Kohler  18:14

Yeah. So we train twice a week, and we ride about two hours per practice. So, this was the perfect training to start to incorporate into camp. So, this is Tuesday, you can see here, it was about just a little over two hours, two nineteen, and what we’re what we did here is some warm-up, we did a couple sprints, and the focus of this ride was one just get out and start putting miles in, but then we did some threshold intervals along the way. I mentioned this was all on dirt, so it’s not going to look nearly as smooth as what you see in Trevor’s data, so it’s a little bit more stochastic here. But you can see the heart rate values here popping up as we were doing some of these threshold intervals along the way, so we finished that, and then we just continued to ride and you know, looking at some of the heart rates here, it was just a good base effort. So, part of this ride was hit the intensity, but also now that the kids are getting back into the training mindset again, we also wanted to differentiate really well between intensity and then not intensity just base riding. So, this this ride, worked out well got just shy of 30 miles a little over two hours, it was a great start, and it felt okay after it. I knew this was a little bit more than I’ve been doing, and I felt some of that fatigue, but by no means was I stretched too thin by that point. So that was day one.


Ryan Kohler  19:43

Day two, you’ll see two things here. So, morning commute and an afternoon commute and I’ll just open up the morning one. This one I had power for so you can see here, intensity factor .64, not very high, and it wasn’t very long. So, this is again, broken up into essentially a two-a-day session due to commuting. So, it’s about 40 minutes that it takes me to commute, and you can see here, heart rate averaged 121 maxed out at about 145, not a very difficult effort. Cadence was a little bit on the low side, this was again on the single speed, on the way in it was just a pretty chill ride, what I like to do on the way in sometimes on the single speed is practice some neuromuscular work, so I’ll do some cadence drills, things like that. So, that’s where you might see some things here where cadence is hitting in the you know, one-teens, one-twenty or so, and that’s just kind of a fun way to do that. But overall, pretty light effort. So, the afternoon, very much the same, on the way home get a bit more of a climb to look forward to. So, this is a great opportunity to work on a little bit more of that torque, get out of the saddle, bring in some skills. I also had my backpack on with the laptop and some clothes in it, so there’s a little bit more weight. So, I look at this day, as you know, the heart rate response was fine, there wasn’t a lot of stress, but this was a good day to just work on some skills, get a little bit of that neuromuscular piece, and really just not frying myself before what we have coming up.


Trevor Connor  21:21

That gets us to the fun day, Thursday.


Ryan Kohler  21:23

Thursday, another two-a-day. So, this one started off with our camp ride in the morning where we did our filming, and this was the day I dipped into the valley of despair, things just went completely off the rails. As soon as we started and you and Chris were heading up and I saw myself drifting backward, I knew it was not going to be a good day. So, you can see here, power was maintained pretty steadily throughout, but you can see as we get higher and higher, and especially toward the upper end of this climb, I was above threshold, I was pushing into zone five easily, I was dripping buckets of sweat, it was not a great effort, beautiful day, great ride, the effort was horrible.


Trevor Connor  22:11

Should have said something to us, we didn’t know.


Ryan Kohler  22:13

They were in a training camp, that’s breaking the rules. So, we got this effort, we did a couple things here and then back down the hill, and I have a little snippet of that afternoon session where we did the team time trial, I was only able to join for one lap, and I think luckily only one lap because even their heart rate still was high, and I was feeling it this day. So, not to jump ahead too much but later, I took a look at my heart rate and power relationship, and I found this day in particular, at a set heart rate of 143 beats, which is a target that that is consistently, I consistently use to look at my power output. Normally, I’m somewhere between about 220 to 260 watts or so, this relationship today it was 165 watts. So very low power, heart rate was sky-high. This was a rough day.


Trevor Connor  23:07

That’s probably something we should mention. So, I just talked about heart rate depression where my heart rate was very low relative to power. You just talked about heart rate being high relative to power. There’s a lot of explanations, but the most common, so the heart rate depression that I was seeing that’s called neuro neurological fatigue. So, it’s just my sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are having a harder time responding to anything. So, you just get this sluggish heart rate, it means that resting heart rate is going to come up, but your max heart rates are going to come down and you’re just going to sit in this narrow range, and that’s a bit more of a long- term fatigue, that’s why I’m taking a whole week of rest. Sometimes, when you see that low power, high heart rate, that’s because of more acute damage, muscles are really hurting you recruiting more muscle fibers to do the same amount of work, and the more muscle fibers you recruit the more stimulus there is on your heart rate, so the heart rates gonna go up. So, my guess is that’s what you’re seeing as you already had some damage going, so you just couldn’t produce the power, but heart rate was quite responsive.


Stages of Fatigue

Ryan Kohler  24:15

Yeah, yeah. And I think the first two days we did some good intensity with the team on day one, followed it up with the two back-to-back rides on day two, and then this one we started right up and above category climb where I immediately felt it in the legs, and I knew that it just things were not there. So, yeah, yeah made sense, and it was an acute fatigue with this was what we accumulated, I think about 4500 feet almost on this morning ride. So, it was pretty much straight up the hill.


Trevor Connor  24:42

Yeah, we had some fun.


Ryan Kohler  24:44

Yeah. So so it was a lot, yeah, and that acute response is really prevalent here. And yeah, like you said, even by the end of the day, I was still hitting in the low 170s for heart rate, so it was there but then later is when that heart rate depression really occur.


Trevor Connor  25:01

So, it’s a strange thing, but yeah, when you’re going through the stages of fatigue, first, you’ll see a high heart rate relative to power, often, and then you’ll see that depression.


Ryan Kohler  25:12

Yeah, so we’ve got to find some of that here. So, the same day, Thursday, this was the afternoon ride, I was back to training with the team again, and we went out, we were pretty limited on the locations we could ride, just because the trails weren’t great yet. So, very similar locations, we went out and we did some more efforts, this one was a series of loops near this great location called Martial Mesa, where we were able to go up this semi-technical climb and has some good bits in it to challenge your skills. And then we cruise across the top, work on some skills on the descent, and then repeat that. So, we did a few laps there, and you can see here heart rate is in the 160s effort didn’t really change much. Unfortunately, I don’t have power on this bike, but it would have been great to see the power heart rate relationship today. But I can say, on this day, I was feeling the fatigue coming in, and I think this is where I’m starting to feel the effort rise, and that heart rate was just not doing what it would normally do. So, that was the afternoon I think for the day ended up with, yeah, around five-and-a-half hours or so. So that was really, for the background that I was coming from, that was a huge, huge day that one hurt. I slept well that night.


Trevor Connor  26:29

Yeah. We as you said, we didn’t go easy up Sunshine.


Doubling the Training Volume

Ryan Kohler  26:33

No, not at all. Yeah, and coming from an average of seven hours a week, and looking at this, this entire week for me was just shy of 14 hours, nearly doubling the training volume is pretty significant. So and it’s all relative, I think that’s a big take-home point is no matter where you’re starting, you know, if you’re doing five hours a week, you don’t jump to a 30 hour training week, you might do eight to ten hours, and that’s enough, you know, doubling this was pretty significant. I’m still tired this week.


Trevor Connor  26:59

Yep. About doubling your training, so my typical weekly training volume is about 14-15 hours, so that was I also basically did a double.


Ryan Kohler  27:07

Yeah, so a good kind of take-home there to be aware of how far you’re pushing yourself in these in these weeks. So, then we came up on Friday, and Friday, I decided to take out the single speed bike, this one has power, and Friday, I was feeling spectacular, thought I’m gonna go and chase some Strava segments and just kill it today.


Trevor Connor  27:27

Ten kilos we’re kicking in.


Ryan Kohler  27:29

They were doing their thing. So yeah, went out and just hit it right from the start pretty good. Average, Yeah, a little over 200 watts there, my normalized power is a little over 200 watts for two-and-a-half-hours, hit about 32 miles for distance, and you can see you know, there are some good segments here where the heart rate is spiking, I was just kind of hitting the hills and, and attacking hills a little bit, and it really felt pretty good. Toward the end, this is where it gets kind of fun. Just going to zoom in on this return trip.


Trevor Connor  28:02

Hard effort?


Ryan Kohler  28:03

It was a hard effort. Yeah, this was a this was sort of like my race effort. So, all around this loop, everything felt spectacular aerobically I felt like I could ride for days. So, I think, yeah, those painkillers, were doing their thing. But then as I got home, there’s this little climb up the bike path into Davidson Mesa, which is just a nice dirt area, and there’s a nice little bit of single track, and I know there’s a little Strava segment through there on the short uphill. So, you know, you go as high, everything was feeling good, and I decided to just do whatever I could up this hill, so just attack the hill. Let’s see how long that was, almost four minutes.


Trevor Connor  28:44

Good power?


Ryan Kohler  28:45

No, 290 watts.


Trevor Connor  28:48

Not good power.


Ryan Kohler  28:49

No, and heart rate was at 132 at the beginning, and it only topped out at about 165. Normally, for this type of effort, going as hard as my perception was telling me I was going I would be doing nearly 500 watts, probably a little bit over and heart rate would be up in the 170s. So, when I saw this, I was able to continue pedaling, but and I was glad that I can do it, but performance-wise, nothing.


Trevor Connor  29:18

We were done.


Ryan Kohler  29:18

It was, yeah, there was nothing there. But I was a bit stubborn and went along and said, “Okay, I could do a short sprint.” So, hit the single track off Davidson Mesa, there’s this nice little downhill that brings you into this short, steep uphill, hit that little sprint and really went for it. I topped out at 755 watts, normally for a sprint, I can go north of 1300 when I’m fresh. So, this was when I saw that, I was like nope, I am fried, done this is it. So that was the take-home that I needed, and even after the sprint, heart rate barely got above 160.


Trevor Connor  29:56

So, there’s a loss and power, painkillers are flowing, so you felt good, but the power wasn’t there.


Ryan Kohler  30:02



Trevor Connor  30:02

That is one of the indicators, I’ve seen that in a few studies that if you’re doing a training camp or a fatigue block when you can’t generate the power anymore, that’s when you shouldn’t continue much longer.


Ryan Kohler  30:15

Well, that’s a perfect segue into the next morning.


Trevor Connor  30:17

Uh oh.


Ryan Kohler  30:18

So, you’ll see this one was renamed into easy road pastry ride, for good reason. So, I woke up this morning, that morning, and I had this vision of this epic ride pretty much I was your typical rides, where I’d be up in the mountains, some big loop 80 so miles, and I didn’t get up at five or five-thirty like I planned, and then six o’clock rolled around, I still didn’t get out of bed, seven o’clock rolled around, I stayed in bed. And then finally, I don’t know what time it was, it was probably eight-thirty or nine when I finally got on the bike, and I decided, I’m just gonna go do a small loop, finish at Moxie Bread, get some pastry and ride home, and the camp was over. So, that’s what this day was, and it was just a road ride spinning around town, just some bike paths. You can see here, heart rate, Max was 134, not that I was trying to put down any pressure on the pedals, but it wasn’t really going very high, and that heart rate power relationship I mentioned before that 143 beats, I didn’t even get a reading on that because my heart rate couldn’t even go to 143. So, this day, it was pretty much just do a little loop, and it was sort of mentally just double-checking to make sure I was done, this verified it, picked up the pastry, and put the bike away.


The Point of Training Camps Is to Produce an Adaptation

Trevor Connor  31:37

So, I think you bring up a couple of good points. One is this is really important when you’re designing the training camp, there is no magic number, the whole purpose of the training camp is to produce an adaptation. So, the right amount of volume, the right amount of work is when you hit that point where you say, “I am fatigued, it’s time to quit.” And Ryan, being a good coach and being very self-aware, Identified that moment, as much as I was telling you my camp, I was fatigued, part of that test to my final day of trying to average 20 miles an hour was saying, “I can still put out the power.” If I couldn’t have done that I would have turned around and gone home that day, Ryan saw that he couldn’t put out the power and said there is no point pushing this, I’ve already gotten the level of stress I need, so let’s grab some pastries and call it a day, that’s all I need. So, be careful about that and looking at a camp and going I must do x volume otherwise it’s not a successful camp, it’s a successful camp when you start seeing those signs that you are fatigued, such as can’t generate the power, some heart rate depression, it’s time to call it.


Ryan Kohler  32:41

Yep. And yeah, it worked out to be a good five days of work, and you know, the timing worked out where it was gradual fatigue building in, this was a big day, one more final push, and then we’re done. So, it worked out well. I look back, I’m going to switch over here to another view. This is looking at the weekly max training load, from the yellow lines are showing the same timeframe last year in 2020, to the green showing this timeframe currently. So, you can see this, this one over here, this yellow, huge training load, that’s an anomaly that I fixed, but it didn’t change. But you can see here pretty consistent from 2020 to 2021, but then there was the thing with this is what I tried to do, in part to get ready for this, this camp approach is to start to get a few bigger weekends, and you can see there’s a gradual progressive increase here on these weekends where I was able to do a little bit more, and then by the time I got to this camp, it was a huge jump from those previous weeks. So, this was really in order to get to this point, I took the last three to four weeks and said, alright, let’s do some, you know, one, one ride that’s bigger, it doesn’t have to be six or seven hours but it has to be bigger than what I’ve been doing, and I just gradually built on that to give myself a little dose on that week and then go back to normal, and that really helped to I think really accumulate nicely as training load here.


Preparing for a Training Camp

Trevor Connor  34:15

I think that’s really good and actually, so I’ve got my screen shared here again, and you can see I took somewhat of a similar approach of that building up. So, here’s been my Winter you can see I did sort of a camp in January, but so the green here is the volume. You can see it wasn’t that big, add another camp here, so this one actually went into the Monday the following week. So, this week actually, the recovery should be smaller volume, but you can see it progressed up, I didn’t start with a 30-hour camp and you can also see again, and you can see it in yours as well, after you do that big volume and beat yourself up, you really bring it down, you particularly see that my training stress. So, here’s the last camp, then a tiny week, here’s this really big camp and you can see it’s barely a blip on the training stress score for this week, right?


Ryan Kohler  35:10



Trevor Connor  35:11



Ryan Kohler  35:12

Yeah, it’s a good take-home too, you know, you see, you know, these see these, and it looks great, and we want to think about, oh, let me go do this big camp, but we need to plan for this too. We need to make sure that if we’re doing five, six hours a week, we don’t just jump into a 12-hour week, we might do, let’s do a weekend where we add a four-hour ride that puts us at eight hours, and then we work we can work up to that we have to do it smartly, too.


Consequences of Not Properly Recovering After Training Camps

Trevor Connor  35:34

Yep. I used to go to this, I went once with to this training camp in North Carolina, with the team that I used to coach up in Toronto, and the first I had just started coaching the team, the year I went, and it was a big camp, it was same thing. It was 30 hours in about four or five days, so we’d finish on Sunday and they would come back. But what would kill me is I would look on Strava and see a lot of these people that were at the camp would be at the Tuesday morning training race, and be as a Thursday morning training race, and the people who did that who didn’t take the week after seriously and recover, you would notice their racing would actually decline. That that camp would almost be the end of their seasons because they didn’t get the rest from it. They took a camp that should have been a functional overreach, and with that week after by not recovering, turned it into a non-functional overreach, and they were just never the same again.


Ryan Kohler  36:33

Yeah, we had a great comment on the forum about that, actually, from one of our members where that was a pitfall he ran into, and he said he basically did his camp, and then treated the following week as if the camp never happened.


Trevor Connor  36:46



Ryan Kohler  36:46

And it’s a big mistake.


Trevor Connor  36:48

Yep. You got to recover. So, we’re on Friday, and I have done an hour on my bike since I finished on Sunday.


Ryan Kohler  36:55



Trevor Connor  36:55

So you need the rest.


Ryan Kohler  36:57

Yeah, that’s key. Train hard, rest hard.


Trevor Connor  37:01

And, again, they’re indicators, and the one I look for with my athletes is on the recovery week, it’s never the day after the camp, it’s usually three, four days later, there’s a morning where you wake up, and you feel like you got hit by a bus. And you want that because when you’re doing that camp, as Ryan saw, painkillers are really getting get flowing. So, he had that day where he couldn’t put the power, the power, but you thought you had great legs. That’s the painkiller. Your body can’t recover well when those painkillers are flowing, they actually dampen your body’s ability to adapt. So, you want those painkillers to disappear, and your body’s not going to do that right away. So, the first couple days after the camp, you’re actually gonna feel pretty good and go, don’t feel like that camp did much to me, I feel like I could keep riding. That’s the pain killer speaking, you need to have that day where the painkillers disappear and that’s the morning you wake up and go, “Oh my god. I think a bus just ran me over.” I had that day yesterday, and unfortunately, we had an 8:00 am recording. A tough morning.


Ryan Kohler  38:03

Alright, thanks for joining us for another workshop, and we hope to see you again here soon.