A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY XERT
On April 25th, 2018, I received an email from a past client. Joe had mostly come to the Cycling Center Dallas Studio for weekend FLASH rides, when the weather was too poor to ride outdoors. He was always a good cyclist, but beyond the 2 hours here and there, I did not know much about his ability as a cyclist or a competitor. Joe had not been to my studio recently enough to learn about my infatuation with Xert, the cycling fitness assessment model that has led my clients to such recent success.
"Can you get me ready for 'Bike the Bricks'?"
BIKE THE BRICKS
Bike the Bricks is a Criterium bike race, held on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, in McKinney, Texas. It is usually the first day of up to five days straight of bike racing. Bike the Bricks, however, is the most popular and exciting, as it winds it's way through a bootleg-shaped course, in the middle of downtown McKinney. It's VERY spectator-friendly.
Four weeks is a really short time to prepare ANYONE for a competitive event, but I had another idea in mind.
"Maybe? What type of Power Meter do you have?"
"A new Quarq."
"Excellent. What type of head unit do you use?"
"I have a Garmin 520."
"Okay - let's meet and assess your current training values, and then let's chat about the best strategy to take so you're best prepared."
ASSESSMENT AND TRAINING - NO, ASSESSMENT AND TEACHING XERT!
Now, anyone who has ridden or trained for a bike race knows that unless the athlete is already somewhat fit, not even a miracle can leave them prepared for the demands of a bike race, in such a short period of time. Yet I had a different idea in my head; if I could use the information offered up through Xert, then we could help the athlete BETTER UNDERSTAND his fitness, the dynamics of the race, when and how to attack, bridge, or recover, and even when a breakthrough might occur or be appropriate.
Per my directions, the athlete showed up early, got a proper warmup, and using his verbal claim of Threshold/Critical Power, I plugged him in to PerfPro Studio, and gave him some of my nastiest intervals. Then, his Xert Fitness Signature was properly set. Over the next three weeks, I looked at the information that his power meter and head unit provided. It gave me the ability to better understand his fitness. I was better at planning the strategy of the workouts. Finally, I was better at helping him understand just what the head unit was telling him, through the use of the Xert Fields.
Ironically, the traditional fitness signatures used by Xert DROPPED over the next three weeks...
FINDING THE MOST ACCURATE FITNESS SIGNATURE
Now, an athlete might believe that this was a sign of less fitness. However, I believe it was a sign of a MORE ACCURATE FITNESS SIGNATURE! He DID achieve fitness breakthroughs, but the Xert Signatures, which used data from his winter and spring training, was tuning itself to the short, hard intensity intervals that I was providing the athlete.
On the Tuesday before the race, I had the client come in for a final Fitness Signature Assessment. The result?
A GOLD MEDAL, and a final fitness signature that looked like this:
- Peak Power: 1227 Watts
- High Intensity Energy (HIE): 21.7 KiloJoules
- Threshold Power: 270 Watts
DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW TO APPLY XERT IN THE RACE
Additionally, armed with this knowledge, and confident that it was accurate, the athlete and I then discussed how to use it in the upcoming race.
- We used ONE FIELD - Watts/MPA.
- When Watts turned black, he was above Threshold, at 270-383 watts.
- Above 383 watts, his watts were YELLOW, and he was on BORROWED time.
- If watts turned RED, he was above 770 watts when fresh, and he would not be able to sustain this power for more than 30 seconds.
- As the race wore on, fatigue set in, and MPA dropped, he could expect the colors on watts to turn yellow and red at LOWER intensities.
- He was to try and avoid a breakthrough for at least the first half of the race, and hopefully marshall his resources so he could use them in the last few laps, or at the finish.
- IF he saw yellow watts for too long, he should back off, and try to find a wheel to draft behind.
- If he was fresh, and the pack was slowing, he could take risks, or attempt a breakaway.
To sum it all up; it all depended on the color of the watts, and the MPA values. He had learned that MPA was the key; if it dropped, he was riding VERY hard. If it rebounded, he was recovering. HE could make the race. Armed with this new knowledge, HE could attack, bridge, recover, lead out - anything. It was HIS fitness that mattered, not the random surges and recoveries of the Peloton.
Next, we discussed hydration, staying cool in the heat and humidity, diet, carbo-loading, and teamwork, and I sent him off with my usual "Good Luck, but you don't need it! YOU HAVE SKILL AND TALENT AND KNOWLEDGE! USE THEM!"
Unfortunately, I left the next day to attend a wedding in Northern Wisconsin, and was unable to attend the event itself. Because of poor cell coverage, I waited all day Friday for a text, and finally, in the late evening, it arrived.
13th Place, 40 finishers, 80 starters, and 2nd teammate of his club.
Because of this KNOWLEDGE and APPLICATION, he had finished with the leaders. Joe had survived and done his part to activate the race. As a result, an Xert novice had used his knowledge on-screen and in the event, to help himself and his teammates. The cyclist had also achieved another breakthrough.
There was no way that we could expect a podium. Thus, Four weeks of training had led to greater knowledge. It had not, however, been adequate to boost Anaerobic Capacity, or HIE to a significant degree. Perhaps more importantly, it led to a SMARTER RACER, and a SMARTER RACE. I think that's my most profound observation. The athlete, using Xert Fields and Fitness Signatures, was better able to RACE THE RACE, within his limits. He may not have been the most fit athlete out there. But he WAS the SMARTEST racer he could be, at that moment.
For all the reasons I've mentioned above, I continue to be amazed. I am convinced that the Xert fitness signature and modeling are the most accurate system available. I've tried them all, I've used them all, and my athletes are now using Xert to greater and greater effect. You don't have to be a racer to enjoy Xert's fitness benefits. Understanding the fields, and the system behind those numbers, is very, very powerful. Perhaps most importantly, with this athlete in particular, we now know exactly where his strengths and weaknesses are. We will be addressing them throughout the summer. When the Fall Crits or the State Championship roll around, he will be even more prepared and confident in his fitness and capacity.