Ask a FasCat Q & A #10 with Podcast Link 🔊

Greetings Coalition Members!

Let this thread be the place for you to submit your questions for our upcoming Q&A Podcast. Let’s get your questions submitted here by Noon this Thursday June 11th.

All questions will be considered to be answered on air as long as you get them in early to give us time to organize and think about!

Here is our last Ask A FasCat podcast from April 2nd for your reference - thanks!

We will ship FasCat T-Shirts to the top 3 most thoughtful questions!!

Comparing the same power and cadence while climbing on my road bike to TTing on my TT bike my HR is higher climbing. Further, I can hold relatively high power for much longer on the TT bike compared to climbing. I estimate for me 10% longer. Again same power and cadence. I understand the answer may reside in muscle fiber makeup and how muscles apply force differently through a TT pedal arc v. climbing pedal arc.

Regardless of the physiology, I’ve become really good at applying high power on the flats through various durations. But, when it comes to climbing, I just can’t push the power compared to riding the flats.

If I think back in time I was way better at climbing when I was a mountain biker. Even though I live in an area without long climbs close by we did a lot of high power low rpm climbing. Something about having to muscle over the top I think translated to the road very well. Over time, I got away from mountain and focused on road. Now going back to gravel (80’s mountain biking) I’m getting a little better climbing.

I know this is long I’m almost there…riding the G bike I’ve realized (theorized) the increased Crr of a 40c tire and riding dirt mimics the lack of inertia on a trainer. Ta da! My question:

To become a better climber in an area with short climbs (I rarely have time to ride/drive to longer climbs) do you recommend repeats on a shorter hills (less than 5 minutes)with high torque low rpm, do some sustained efforts on a trainer that mimic climbing (higher torque low rpm), move back to Colorado or something else?

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I’ve got bad spring allergies and struggle to FTFP from March thru May. Having already established some base, I started FasCat 18 week plan in February with week #5. Then March arrived and I couldn’t FTFP due to allergies. Was allergy sick during weeks #9 and #10, only managed 6/4 hours and 296/248 TSS those weeks. Instead of picking up regular training again at week 11, I decided to restart training at week 9.

Question: do you have any general guidance for dealing with “life happens” situations like this, when there is a week or two interruption in FTFPing?

p.s. Despite consistency issues from allergies, I achieved excellent results following your intermediate Sweet Spot plan! Great job with the plan Coach Frank! :+1: Bought SSB 4 and your coaching subscription to get help going forward, keep up the great work!

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Hi thanks for the great plans and podcast. I have loved incorporating more yoga and it’s helping with recovery, comfort on the bike, and power. My question is the TSS value of yoga? If I do 30 minutes or even 60, should I assign a TSS score in Trainingpeaks? Thanks!

Can you talk about the principle of specificity as it relates to cadence? For instance, if your event demands high torque, low cadence efforts, should your intervals be executed that way? Or are watts watts?

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Do ultra long travelling cyclists build a huge aerobic base? E.g a 3 year around the world or Alaska to Ushuaia, going long and slow day in day out.

Ramp test vs 20’ field test… I’ve taken many a test and the ramp test has always been fairly accurate, or at least accurate enough to set my training zones and allowing for retesting more frequently, if needed. I have a couple of friends whose numbers have been weird, as in they are able to complete way too high a percentage of FTP during workouts, which lead us to the obvious conclusion that his FTP was incorrect. I had them perform the 20’ field test and their FTP both “jumped” 16-20%, which isn’t really possible given they are fairly experienced athletes. I’m fairly confident the new FTP is correct based on IF of their recent workouts. They have been focusing on long distance tri the last couple of years, but so have many other people I know and the ramp test works great for them. Any idea why a ramp test would work fine for some people and be way off for others?

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Hi Frank and Jackson!
Since our race year looks different this time I have a couple of other highlights. I´m want to ride from work to home (actually 450 km and about 4000 vertical m) at least one time, do an everesting with some friends, half an Ironman and maybe another long rides. What would be a general training recommendation? In the last weeks I tried to ride 100+ km after work and 30-50km before work. Since I can´t start in the evenings before 18:00 it´s not that easy, but last week I managed to ride 30 km in the morning in 202km (w. 2000 vert. m, and a pace of 31 km/h) in the evening/night.
I try to go fast in climbs and hold a decent tempo in the flat. I haven´t done any intervals this year…

Thank you in advance and best wishes from an half chilean half german cyclist
Diez and Grafing, Germany

Nice question! I’m curious what @frank would say here but here’s my input…

This boils down to your power profile (i.e. are you better at short punchy and/or sprints vs sustained efforts) and the testing protocol (power increments and duration). You have to be careful about what you’re measuring with a test. When you do a ramp test you’re trying to measure your maximal aerobic capacity and relate that to a sustainable intensity, but to do that you are going well above threshold because of the short duration. So that begs the question: why are you setting zones based on that data point? Sure, many protocols will apply a multiplicative factor to give you a sustainable, i.e. functional threshold, value, but why even guess if that factor is correct? IMO, the best approach to measuring your anaerobic threshold is to perform a 1 hour field test. This is a very difficult test, but there is no guessing about multiplicative factors. You are literally measuring what you can do for 1 hour, which is the definition of functional threshold power. While not perfect, the second best is a shorter, e.g. 20 minute field test; then you need to exercise judgement about your own strengths to determine what factor to use, but at least the anaerobic contribution is much less than the maximal efforts in the ramp test. Multiplying by 0.95 is common but if you are a strong punchy rider that may be too aggressive and 0.90 might be more appropriate. This is what I do. Why be conservative? Because if your FTP is set too high your easy rides will become too hard and you will not be able to perform the hard work at the appropriate intensity because of fatigue. Over the course of a season, burnout will be an issue.

To address your friend’s experiences, this makes complete sense given the above. If they are focusing on long triathlons they are unlikely to generate a lot of power above threshold so they will not be able to get those high values in the ramp test before fatiguing. On the contrary they should be able to sustain a higher percentage of VO2max due to their training focus, availing them of the larger FTP based on the 20 minute test. I have the exact opposite problem; I can easily generate 20% more power in a ramp test than a 20 minute test, accounting for the traditional multiplicative factors of 0.85 and 0.95 respectively. I’ve calibrated my 20 minute test using a 1 hour test and settled on 0.90 as my factor. So it does take some fiddling to do this right!

Best bet: #FTFP! Fascat plans are based off of 20 minute results so stick with that.

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Athlete coach-ability

What are the most sought after traits in an athlete as it relates to their ability to be coached? The obvious one is FtFP, but I believe there is more to it than that when you are really diving into the subject.

Maybe make it a 5 or 10 item list of things you would love to see in an athlete. Maybe this will make us all easier to coach!

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Hi!
With hot temps and high humidity starting to show up, whats the best way to “coordinate “ training with summer weather? I can see value in Training in the heat of the day, to be use to it come race day,. On the otherhand, if youre doing, something like 2 minute full gas intervals in the inferno of a summer afternoon, its seems like interval intensity and repeatability kinda suffers, along with just taking a bigger toll on the body. When i mean summer weather, im talking 90+ degrees and high humidity …thick air :hot_face:.

Thanks
jon.

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Some tips on leaving good workout feedback was given in a podcast but I agree that it’s always a welcome topic to hear about - tips on taking better notes, etc along with the obligatory winning in the kitchen and #ftfp

I just finished 18 weeks of Sweet Spot and I have started the 6 week marathon mountain bike race plan today. My A race is 6 weeks away. I think it will be pushed back to late September but no final word from the promoter yet. I should find out the final date this week. If the race is pushed back to September(I don’t see how it happen in July due crowd size limits), would it be good to take 4-5 days off and then start up again with a SS plan followed by the marathon plan? I feel like I could switch back from race to SS without a break but late September is a ways out and I’ve been #FTFPing for 28 weeks now with 10 weeks of resistance and 18 weeks of SS. Wise to take a break for a few days or just switch back to SS?

Thanks again!

Aaron

What is the relationship / formula between CTL and weekly TSS (how much TSS is required to keep CTL level or how much to increase CTL), and how does it change as a rider’s fitness increases. I found it much easier to go from a CTL of 70 to 90, then it was to go from 90 to 100, and so on up the fitness ladder. Is it an exponential relationship between needed TSS load and CTL increase ? How do I find the time in a week to rest enough to recover from the hard workouts necessary to continue my CTL climb ? It seems that as my CTL climbs overall, each rest day I take drops my fitness score more than before, making for a difficult balancing act between fitness gains and proper/necessary rest. Is there a max achievable CTL for a rider, and does that level decrease with age ? Thanks for your great mix of science and experience, helping to turn us regular folks into ‘FasCats’.

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2nd Question: It gets brutally hot down here very early in the am. Rolling out at 4am with temps in the 90’s get’s really hard with career and family. My career is one that doesn’t have a set schedule. So, one day I’m working early off early. The next day starting late and ending late, etc…

Is it better to compromise sleep (get up early when tired not enough sleep) at the expense of FTfP? Or is it better to compromise FTfP at the expense of getting more sleep.

Hi Frank and Jackson,
I have a quick question relating to SS4. Having completed the 18 wk SS plan I have this week started SS4. At the end of SS4, should I build in a recovery week or should I just fire straight into the climbing intervals plan? My PMC shows a slight reduction in my CTL so I am guessing I should be fresh enough to keep on FtFP’ing!
Thank you!
Phil

Most of the existing tips and videos across the web on things like “cycling efficiency”, pedaling form, etc are super basic in nature and don’t apply to those of us who are solidly “intermediate”. Would love to hear some discussion on working form/efficiency drills into our non-base training rides and mental-checks to smooth out pedaling and overall body mechanics checks on the road for those of us with a few years of riding who don’t really have a practical way to be observed/corrected on the road by a coach or fitter.

For example, “pull your belly button to your spine” is a quick one-liner that can correct a lot of postural deficiencies with that one mental check, it sounds funny but it works well especially when I’m starting to fatigue on longer rides because I’m not doing Foundations enough :flushed:

I’ve been winning in the kitchen and now implementing the fruit and almond snack routine. I’m down from 198 in January to 170 in June. I’m happy to say I’ve kicked the sugar addiction but, can I win in the kitchen and still work in a reward treat or snack? Is it better to stay away entirely or work in a treat every so often?

Is it possible to increase your ftp from 263watts to 300watts in just 16 weeks?

RE: FTFP, TP, W, &TSS

Hi guys,
I’m currently back into the 18 weeks of sweet spot and I have a question regarding wattage prescribed by Training Peaks on longer zone 2 rides. My zone 2 covers a range, yet Training Peaks prescribes a specific wattage. Provided that I stay within zone 2, is there any disadvantage to riding at the highest wattage in order to achieve my TSS for the workout? I understand that the adaptations are a little different within the span of the zone, but sometimes it helps to finish the workout in a little less time. Also, on the subject of TSS - does this also serve as a way to quantify the amount of recovery required for a given workout?
Thanks,
Morgan