Thursday, February 20, 2020

Plan 2020 - Physical Goals

2014 New Britain, standing

Power makes the world go 'round. And on the track, power makes the wheels go 'round.

Peak Power

Like horsepower in a car, ultimate power doesn't necessarily make you the faster. You need to apply it efficiently, in an efficient position, and actually use the power available to you. The quick lessons I've gotten on power is that it certainly helps to have power but it doesn't necessarily make you fast.

Having said that, having power is not a bad thing.

Using the reliable SRMs, my absolute peak power has been in the 1700w range, with several repeated efforts in the 1500w range, and somewhat easily repeatable 1300-1400 watt efforts. By "easily" I mean I can go and do an effort and pretty much know I'll be able to hit 1300w, but it's not easy by any means - it's a 100% effort.

I can make such efforts with no weight lifting, no non-cycling training. With that thought in mind, I plan on using weight lifting and possibly plyometrics to improve my power.

500m Specifics

When approaching the short, standing start time trials (500m, 1000m), a huge change in the last 10 years has been the emphasis on the start. Before that, sustained power was the thing. You got going and then sustained some insane power to the end.

Problem was that once up to speed, it took a lot of power to go just a teeny tiny bit faster.

The easiest place to make improvements was at the beginning, when you were accelerating.

Because of that, now the emphasis is on getting through the opening phase as quickly as possible, then hanging on for dear life until the finish.

Therefore my goal will be to really work on the start, both in terms of pure power but also in terms of technique.

Best power - 1700w

Goal power - 2000w

Keep in mind - avoid injuries

Sustained Power

Based on the best times in the world, for M50-54, the 500m time trial should take about 35-38 seconds. Any longer than that and it's probably not worth showing up. Obviously those times are incredible times, very, very fast, and involve very powerful starts.

(And yet those times are relatively slow - on the way to a record 1000m time - go to 20:30 into the linked clip, one rider put down a 30.1 second 500m, and he was only halfway through his effort! The Elite guys are crazy fast.)

Now, for me, I rarely make 35 second efforts, so that's going to be the first challenge. And second, my best power numbers for 20-30 seconds usually involve pedaling toward a sprint and then sprinting, so a mid-upper power leading into peak power and quickly tapering off.

The 500m is a different creature, with peak power coming early in the 35 second effort, then as power drops the effort demands leg speed. This is a very tough effort because contraction fatigue (based on number of contractions) is more crippling than effort fatigue (based on pure muscular power). Contraction fatigue is why I shift during a sprint, to keep contraction count down. I can do a double or even triple peak sprint if I shift two or three times. But on the track it's one gear - I'm going to have to learn how to deal with contraction fatigue, meaning I have to be able to pedal hard really fast as I'm blowing up.

I'm still not sure how to train for this but I have a feeling it's going to hurt.

Best 35s power - 735w

Goal 35s power - 850w


One thing I really haven't tested is my top sustainable speed. It's one thing to accelerate to a speed, it's another to sit down and sustain it for 200-250 meters. Although I make short 30-32 mph efforts somewhat at will, sustaining 37-38 mph for any length of time will be hard. To sustain such a speed after accelerating from a standing start will be... challenging.

I'll be working on speed, both in terms of pedaling speed but also experimenting with gearing so I can optimize cadence and speed. In other words, if I'm really good at 125 rpm, I want to gear myself so that I'm at or maybe just over that when at top speed. I want to bisect top speed and cadence. Realistically I'll trade a bit of optimal rpm for quicker acceleration, so I may target a slightly higher sustained cadence. This way I use my "best" power/cadence for acceleration, then use a slightly less optimal cadence to hold on to the speed.

I'll practice by accelerating up to speed and holding it for a brief time - that will teach me the first half of the effort. The other thing I'll do is get a boost up to speed (MOSS or Maximum Optimal Spring Speed) and then work on sustaining the high speed for a certain period of time.

Goal: Not clear but first sustain 37 mph from a standing start. It may morph into "hit 40 mph from a standing start".

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