Fenner’s Total Performance Training Blog

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Archive for March, 2008

24 Hour National Solo Championships 2008

Posted by fenner on March 25, 2008

Well the race has now come and gone and it’s time to recover and reflect on what could have been. I finished the race in 4th overall, with a gold medal in my age group, not the position I had gone to get but as is always the way with 24 hour races there is a lot that can happen in 24 hours. I am in a philosophical mood at the moment and am quite happy that I did my best and that I was I the race for over 12 hours of what I can only describe as being the fastest most full on 12 hours I have ever been involved in. When things don’t go according to plan it can often lead to our best learning and I believe that this will be the case this year. I am now in the process of dissecting every bit of the race piece by piece to better understand where I can make gains for the Worlds later in the year.

Just Before The Start

The race took off from the get go with XC type speeds with averages of over 21km/h. I wanted to be in the race so I covered the early move from John Claxton (Giant), Joel Donney (Giant) and Jason English (BMC). It took a few laps but I began to gradually pull them back and I worked with Troy Bailey (BMC) to do so. As soon as we were on Claxton attacked and took off, the rest of us let him go thinking that he was simply going to blow later in the event, such was the speed at which he attacked. For the next 2 – 3 hours the race was a bit of a yo yo with all of us swapping off from 3rd to 5th place and maintaining a high tempo. With Claxton starting to make a bit of a gap Jason took off in pursuit and bridged the gap to Claxton. These two riders were about to begin one of the best races that I have ever been witness to as for around 12 hours the continually swapped turns, attacked each other and chased each other down. Quite simply 24 hour racing was taken to the next level.

Early In The Race

With 12 hours done I was feeling strong in 3rd place and had a good lead of over 15 minutes, and then the lights went out!!!!! On the backside of the course I suffered a battery failure. I always carry a small petzil headlight and so I limped back and lost around 10 – 15 minutes. Battery changed I got back on it. Dan Mackay was now much closer and so I made a big effort, a big mistake. I hit a bad spell at around 2 am and it just kept going on and on. Usually a bad spell comes and goes so I struggled on. It didn’t end and by 4 am I was in the box, tapping out 34 – 36 minute laps with enforced breaks stretching a couple of laps out to 41 minutes. It was game over and into damage limitation time. Jason and Claxton were still at it and smashing each other, Dan was being super consistent having not got involved in the early race. Joel and Troy were out of it with the early pace basically closing the lid on their race this year.

Chasing Troy

I started to rally a bit as the daylight approached then the lights went out again! @$#^@*!(. I limped home and lost another 10 – 15 minutes and my capacity to deal with the setbacks. I struggled on for the remainder of the race and sat out the last hour as I was not going to catch Dan. At this stage of a 24 hour I would rather look after myself and start to mentally regroup, rather than continue to smash myself for the sake of 2 or 3 more laps on the results sheet.

The Top 5

I would like to thank everyone for their help and support leading up to the Nationals. Sally my wife was outstanding in the pits never getting any sleep and looking after me so well. Josh and Nick were also outstanding in their support thanks guys you rock.

I would like to thank my great sponsors Simon and Jen at Total Rush; my 2008 S-Works Epic was simply superb and never missed a beat throughout the race. The Specialized Fast Track LK tires were awesome as well, rolling super fast and gripping like a limpet on the loose dusty Majura dirt. A big thanks to John Hill at Fastgear and HIGH5, the 4:1 energy source is quite simply the best tasting easiest to drink energy product on the market. Combined with the gels and bars my feeding was the best yet. Daniel at HID technologies was let down by his battery supplier so I didn’t receive my new units, this lead to one of the batteries failing and unfortunately it got put back in the mix with a burn time of 2.5 hours instead of the usual 5 hours. The rest of the time the HIDS cranked out the Lumens and lit up the track allowing me to complete super fast night laps. Finally I would like to say a great big thanks to my newest sponsor Skins. Their gradient compression garments reduced muscle fatigue in my upper body throughout the race and I never once suffered a sore back or arms (a first for me). It is now Tuesday and I have been wearing the full travel and recovery longs and sports skins long sleeve since the race and I was able to do a 2 hour ride today and I feel ok, I have no soreness in any part of my body period!

So now it is all about a easy week and then the build for the World Championships. I am looking forward to riding full time and not having to work 60 – 70 hour a week, I only need to improve a few percent and I will be in the reckoning. Stay tuned for all the training updates and race reports in the coming months.

Fenners race stats

Distance, 42 laps (400km).

Total Kcal, 17217 Kcal (Polar)


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T – 4 Days

Posted by fenner on March 18, 2008

The taper is going well and I can feel the freshness coming as my body goes about its business of repairing and renewing. With only 4 days left until the 24 Hour Nationals at the weekend I am “FROTHING” For those that know me I am mad enough when I am tired so I am quite literally bouncing off the walls at the moment getting right on Sally (my poor suffering wife) nerves.

Josh one of my coached riders came over last night and we lit up Coondoo Road for 2 hours and 5 laps. We were going well and it was great to open up on a couple of laps in the dark and really get the night vision and reactions up to speed. We managed a couple of 23 minute laps only a minute or so off the daytime lap record so things are looking good.

 Sally and I will depart for the race om Thursday arvo and get set for the weekend. A big and special thanks to all my sponsors TOTAL RUSH(Simon and Jen) you are stars I couldn’t do it without you. John Hill at Fastgear (HIGH5) the best energy products out there period. Daniel at HID Technologies and Skinsthe pre/during and post race advantage.

Let the race begin!

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The countdown to the Nationals

Posted by fenner on March 12, 2008

Well I am finally into my taper before the national championships over the Easter weekend. Monday and Tuesday were the last big days with a 4 hour Tempo/SST road ride on the Monday morning. This ride was at a normalised power of 270 watts and was the fastest I have ever completed on rolling terrain. I managed to average over 34.5km/h and it felt real purposeful. I made sure I hydrated and fed well during and after the ride to make sure I was ready for the evening session (awesome HIGH5 products). This next session was to be a 2.5-3 hour MTB night ride to sharpen up the skills when tired and was completed on courses similar to the nationals. My mate Paul joined me and we completed 2 laps of Coondoo Rd a lap of Butterfly and a lap of the Superbowl with the riding to and fro along Forest Rd. Again we were not hanging around and I was feeling good. In total the TSS for the day was over 400 so it was a tough day at the office.The next morning I was up early and back out for a 4 hour endurance ride over the mountains with 3 x 20 minute SST intervals at around 300 watts included. I was a little tired but handled the session well and as these were my last big sessions I was over the moon. At the end of these sessions my CTL was up at 118 points, this allows me a nice taper without losing too much of my hard earned fitness.

The next 10 days taper will see my overall time/duration come down as last week I was up at 16 hours my biggest week this season. I will reduce the volume but maintain some intensity aiming to complete about 8 hours with several SST/FTP sessions. I plan to reduce my daily TSS to around 60 – 80 points with shorter harder sessions; this gives me a very quick positive rebound on my TSB. I use a spreadsheet to forward predict a TSB of 0 – +10 and structure my taper to deliver me at this point for my peak events.

All has been planned and so we will see how it goes come Easter weekend :o)

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The new FTPTraining website is nearly finished

Posted by fenner on March 4, 2008

Well its busy busy at the mo, with hard training and prop for the 24 Hour National and Worlds, looking after the Total Rush team riders training programs and working on www.ftptraining.com but it is super exciting. The feedback from the team is that they are getting stronger and stronger so look out for the pink Total Rush train out on the road and in the results sheets in 2008.

Once the website is up and running all the ftptraining training program packages will be on offer and I will be working on training camps with sports science testing, power meter hire, seminars, massage the full works so watch this space.

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“Rome was not built in a day”

Posted by fenner on March 2, 2008

“Rome was not built in a day”

Quote from the new 2008 Australian road based champion, Matt Lloyd.

“Something I’ve both learned and been taught a great deal over the years are not to force and push progression.  You see loads of riders, at every level, going out and trying to create miracles overnight, and it just does not work, or at least it’s not sustainable.  Progression and building is a long game, and the foundations need to be solid-just like the proverbial pyramid syndrome; build it and force it too high too fast then it all crumbles at the slightest tremor and it’s pretty tough to rebuild without that strong foundation to start from.

At times the temptation can be to go out and dramatically increase your training loads and intensity in the belief that you will suddenly make big improvements, but it’s tough mentally, and is really not good for your body and development; and all too often the physical and mental stress just blows the whole thing, so I really believe strongly in the steady and sure building and development process”

We have looked at two different training philosophies and examined briefly the pros and cons of each method, but how using these methods do we increase our fitness over time?  In this respect every training program has the same basic structure and again, these basic principles are often overlooked.

The basic principles of training are that we create a continually increasing physiological load overtime, interspersed with recovery, to allow for optimal physiological adaptation.  This physiological load should be specific to the demands of the event or the activity performed.  Eg to get good at riding a bike – you ride your bike.  This means the basic principles are specificity of exercise, progressive overload and recovery.  Create a plan with these simple principles in place with the correct dosage and the athlete should get fitter, stronger and faster.  

Unfortunately , by its simple definition progressive overload is open to misinterpretation and what may be progressive overload for one person may constitute overreaching for another and when carried out over a number of months may lead to overtraining.  As Matt Lloyd alludes to in a quote from Cycling Australia, it is fundamentally important to build slow and strong and trying to dig too big a hole for oneself in terms of diving straight into 4-5 hour rides at the beginning of a training program, allows no head room and progression throughout the program, and can often lead to burnout (both physical and mental), illness or injury and in worse cases glandular fever, shingles and immune problems.

As a coach the biggest problem I face is educating riders on the benefits of the long haul and the simple analogy that “Rome was not built in a day”.  Magazine articles and pro riders’ diaries paint a picture of long and hard training days and massive power outputs. The fact is professional riders have been riding for many years and when they started they were not cranking out massive Km’s. Even those who have made it into the pro ranks are held back and looked after by the best managers, so as not to push the rider too hard too soon. The Tour is often the last of the major races for an aspiring pro to race; again this is just an example of progressive overload.

The use of power meters and the fantastic analysis tool of Training Peaks, has allowed us to quantify training load relative to an individual’s Chronic Training Load (CTL) which is the accumulated load over months of training (This has a default setting of 42 days). This CTL is built up/made up of the riders Acute Training Load (ATL) which is the riders’ most recent rides (This has a default setting of 7 days). Now it’s quite obvious to most people that if you ride hard for 7 days straight then you will be fatigued, do this continually for months on end and you are likely to be overtrained. When designing a training program I look to increase CTL by around 4 – 7 points/week, this sort of increase I have found to be manageable by most riders and doesn’t lead to burnout and illness. My upper limit is about 10 points/week and I have found that I can only sustain this for about 3 weeks followed by a recover week.

The next thing to consider is then the different workouts to structure into a program to elicit a 4 – 7 point/week increase. It can be done with lots of volume or smaller amounts of intensity. It can be built with big weekend rides and maintenance through the week, or consistent workouts throughout the week one method digs bigger holes and needs more recovery built in and one method is more consistent and builds without the need for as much recovery built into the program.

The big question is how do we put at all together and what method is best for what riders?????? Next month we will investigate putting it all together and creating a program for a sample/generic rider.

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