Friday, January 04, 2008


So, the initial reaction is that some people are having difficulty using perspectives since an oversight on our end didn't make their old charts the default. But, here's a graphic which pretty much summarizes how it works.

I have no older charts, thus my copy doesn't contain a perspective called "My Athlete Charts".

Perspectives can be thought of as individual collections of charts. All of the charts always exist. But, the perspectives allow you to group your charts into meaningful collections.

Perspectives are unique for each athlete. This means that each athlete must have a default perspective (which is used to select the current perspective when the athlete is opened). And, it also means that each athlete may have a different default perspective.

You can view any other perspective at any time. All you need to do is choose the desired perspective name from the dropdown located on the main toolbar.

  • You have the ability to create new perspectives and to remove empty ones (using the top toolbar buttons).
  • You can move charts from one perspective to another simply by using the chart's Options Move to... menu.
  • If you want to include a chart on multiple perspectives, you first need to Options "clone this chart" the chart (which creates a copy right next to it) and then Options Move to... the chart.
  • Charts can now be directly cloned to the chalkboard now as well.
  • You may now also export the entire collection of perspectives belonging to a particular athlete. You should do this at least once anyway just to have a backup of your chart settings.
  • And, you can also import a previously exported perspective collection so that all of the athlete perspectives and charts are replaced. This is a handy way to copy charts from one athlete to another. And, it allows people to share their charts.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

*New* Elevation Tools

The addition of rTSS to WKO+ required some additional tools and features within the application. Namely, because the calculations for Normalized Graded Pace are heavily dependent upon good elevation data, we needed to provide some facilities for correcting elevation. GPS devices, while getting better, still have difficulty determining the correct elevation in some circumstances. And, if you run on a treadmill, that good old barometric sensor in your watch just isn't going to give you what you want.

To that end, we've added two new correction tools. Both are available on the Edit Corrections menu. And, you can access either by right-clicking on the range name or current selection next to the Graph View.

The first and most exciting is the support for correcting elevation data from GPS devices by using either of two web services. The first retrieves the best known elevation data from the US Geological Service. Folks with TrainingPeaks subscriptions are also given the choice of using TrainingPeaks new "Ground Control" service which is now being updated with the latest information as it becomes available. The advantage of using GroundControl is that it runs very quickly compared with the USGS system.

The second way to either correct your elevation or even add an elevation channel to your workout file is to use the Override Altitude Manually dialog. This tool allows you to set the elevation for any range simply by providing a starting elevation and a % grade.

This example demonstrates how I fix a file after running on the treadmill.

In each picture, the original elevation as reported by the device is depicted in orange. The "fixed" elevation is depicted in yellow.

Neither feature is limited to run workouts and Cyclists may find the features helpful as well.

So, what kind of effect does fixing your elevation have
on rTSS? Well, comparing the rTSS from the first graphic with the corrected graphic, we find that rTSS has changed from 66.4 to 72.9. That's almost a 10% change! So, be sure to take a look at the elevation data coming from your run workouts!

TSS for Running

I apologize for the long delay since my last post. Things have been hopping and something always seems to get in the way. Plus, I'm not always at liberty to discuss what's in the current work queue. Anyway, I'd like to share some of the new features inside the upcoming release of TrainingPeaks WKO+, especially those which pertain to running.

This past year I found myself battling the usual battles against my weight. And, being extremely time limited, I resigned myself to a running focus since I figured it was the "biggest bang for the buck" in that regard. It wasn't until the past few months that I actually started making some progress. I started off with zero fitness and decided to take a long term view of things. To that end, I started my program by simply walking on the treadmill everyday. After about six weeks, I began to incorporate short running intervals into my program. After another six weeks, I was spending more time running than walking! The reason for my conservativeness was that my starting weight had reached 278 lbs. Ouch. Since November I have managed to reduce that to 259 lbs.

Here's a Periodic chart showing my progress using normal metrics (Duration, Distance and Pace) over the past few weeks. It's nice in that it shows how I've been spending more time running and that my pace is getting quicker. Thus, I'm running a bit farther.

But, I run on a treadmill. And, I always set the incline to 1% or more. Surely, that's affecting my pace. Right? Plus, I'd like to be able to use the performance management chart in order to help me decide when to run hard, when to run long and when to just back off. Surely, those are important qualities. Not only that, but I'd like to know if my VO2max workouts are hard enough or too stressful. How do they compare with my long run?

In order to plot a run on the PMC, your training device needs to output Pace (well, speed). Optionally, it should output elevation as well. Well, no problem. I've got a Suunto T6 with a foot pod. So, I can get some good data from my treadmill workouts. With that data, WKO+ is now able to calculate "rTSS" or "Run Training Stress Score" (inside WKO+, you may also see it referred to as "TSS pace"). Basically, rTSS is similar to it's cycling counterpart in that it provides an accounting of the training dosage. Armed with rTSS, I can use the PMC to determine my Chronic and Acute training loads along with my Training Stress Balance.

Why use the PMC for running? Well, the short answer is that the PMC can help determine the best time to perform certain activities (such as particular workouts or races). Listen, it simply makes sense to perform high intensity workouts when you are fresh. And, higher intensity means shorter durations. If you extrapolate a little bit, you'll see that this means that your micro cycles should be increasing in TSS each day with the higher IF values performed while your TSB is relatively high. In simpler terms, go short and fast on Monday. Go long and slow on Sunday. And, everything in between should be following the proper slopes between. Well, that's my opinion anyway. Once your TSB hits the basement level, it's time to rest. And, you should rest well. For me, that means up to 3 days off!

Here's a similar looking chart that shows my weekly rTSS scores along with the related Intensity Factors. There's also a new item on the chart refered to as Normalized Graded Pace (NGP). NGP is pace adjusted for changes in grade.

So, from this chart, I can see that I am truly increasing my training load from week to week and that my average intensity is increasing as well. Additionally, I can quickly tell the difference in weekly paces adjusted for grade variations. OK, grade changes on the treadmill for me aren't that big of a deal. But, if I took it outside and ran up and down the hills in the neighborhood, I'd like to know that I was comparing apples to apples. This chart does that.

Finally, this brings us to the Performance Management Chart. Here, I can immediately tell whether or not I am improving as the "bests" are moving along to the right as I perform workouts. The TSB (gold line) clearly indicates when I'm fresh and when I'm fatigued. Seeing as I'm still in what many might consider the "Prep" or early-"Base" ATP phase of my training schedule, my intensity is still pretty low. But, since I'm running most of the time now, I'm interested in maximizing my training time. And, that means that I need to be performing higher intensity when I'm fresh which up until now I haven't been doing well at all. More importantly, being early season, my biggest concern is in building up my CTL. And, since running is rather injury prone, I want to make sure that I am increasing volume and intensity gradually.
More later....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can O' Worms (Part IV)

So, I was unable to stop myself yesterday and I continued on with some of my investigations. Yesterday's ride was done with all PMs in place and I just rode around on the CT however I felt like I wanted to at the time. While letting my mind wander, I realized that the reason the SRM creeps higher on me is due to heat. That is, the BB itself heats up during a trainer ride. So, how much? And, can I correct for it?

Well, the how much is certainly negligable. We're taking about a 3.5w drift over the course of twenty minutes. That's not enough to effect anyone's training.

As for correcting it? Well, yes. You can see by the second graph that you can create a simple linear regression based upon the torque values calculated by WKO+. If you then recalculate the watts based upon torque (WKO+ calculates torque for you whenever both Watts and Cadence are available), the difference goes away.

Miraculously, when you compare the predicted SRM watts to the Ergomo (used only as a comparison here), you see the two line up very well in terms of consistency. Yes. The SRM is reading higher. But, that's not my point as I can correct for that by adjusting the Ergomo's K-Factor upwards.

This also means that SRM users should follow the advice provided by the manufacturer. That is, perform the Zero Offset (ZO) anytime the ambient temperature changes as well as at the beginning of your ride. And, I would add that you also consider performing the ZO about 20 or 30 minutes into your workout as well.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can O' Worms (Part III)

Last night, I found what I was looking for.... The Computrainer has a Potentiometer screw that allows for adjustment of the resistance (thus allowing someone to raise or lower the reported watts). Now, be warned, if you move the screw and return the load generator to RacerMate, you will be charged for recalibration against their dyno. Fair enough.

The truth is, there probably isn't any reason to turn the screw anyway unless you're bothered by looking at results compared against another Power Meter and even then as you're about to read, it still might not matter.

So, this morning, I rode using the SRM, Ergomo and the CT. I didn't follow any protocol. I just rode the bike. In my haste, I forgot to perform the zero offset on the SRM. Well, I figured that since the bike hadn't been removed from the CT since yesterday, and the temperature is stable ... well, what would have changed to give me unexpected results? I did ride for 10 minutes in Ergo mode and then performed the RRC.

The results? Well, for some reason, the SRM was 12w higher than the Ergomo - the result from not performing the zero offset I presume. But, the slope still showed a positive bias meaning that I probably still need to lower it some more.

What about the CT? Well, the good news is that the slope of the differences between the CT and Ergomo was -0.004. In my mind, that's closer than anyone could hope. And, I feel vindicated in that the differences that I sensed between my CT and Ergomo were in fact real. More importantly, it shows that the differences are steady. The bad news is that my CT now reads (even after adjusting the potentiometer screw all the way left (raise watts) a clear 36-38w too low.

But, wait. Ergomo's and SRM's are supposed to read higher than a CT. In theory, drivetrain losses (chain, derailuer, hub, spokes and tires) will lose some power. So, the next question is exactly how much should I have expected to lose and are there things that I can/should do to the bike to salvage some of that loss?

I don't know the answer to those questions yet. If/When I find out, I'll write about it.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can O' Worms (Part II)

Yesterday, I set out to adjust both my SRM and Ergomo Powermeters so that they both at least showed similar readings. Without having the benefit of first calibrating my SRM externally (using the Mfgr protocol), I set out to just "eyeball" the differences.

The SRM allows for the adjustment of Slope - that is the response to torque. When you do the zero test, you are setting the Offset (or Y-Intercept). All of this comes straight from your Intro to Statistics class.

The Ergomo allows for the adjustment of K-Factor. Unfortunately, I don't know what K-Factor is. I think it's actually closer to being a Y-Intercept.

Yesterday's testing showed that my SRM consistently tracked higher across a range of wattages. However, the differences grew as watts increased. Thus, the slopes of the two devices are/were different. So, I began to adjust the SRM's slope in the hopes of finding something where the differences tracked evenly across various wattage ranges. This morning I continued this approach until I reached a trend in differences that was very close to zero.

However, this still left the ergomo consistently reading about 10w lower than the SRM. So, I began to adjust the K-Factor on the Ergomo by small amounts and repeat the protocol.

You can see by the graph above that I think I ended up being pretty successful. The difference between the two is 0.5 - 1.8w depending upon how you look at the data.

Another question, though, that I wanted to answer, was how much does a simple change in K-Factor effect watts? Well, I was able to gather a small set of data and do a simple analysis. The end result was that for me, increasing the K-Factor by 1 unit results in an increase of 3.6-4.2w for the cadence zones that I'm interested in (80-100 rpm). Obviously my sample set is very small, so your mileage may vary.

So, what have I really learned from all of this? Well, not much except that two of my powermeters now read very closely. Unfortunately, I don't have the means this moment to say that they are both reading "correctly". Nor am I all that worried about it either. Funny thing is, they're both on the same bike. So, why does it really matter? :P

I did notice that the SRM is quicker to record/capture spikes that occur when a rider quickly increases cadence. And, some of the differences are clearly due to the Ergomo's dependence upon the left leg's input. All in all, both of these seem inconsequential to anyone doing Time Trial riding. If you ride the track, maybe you'd feel differently.

One feature that I'm sure that everyone with multiple Powermeters would crave is having the ability to just raise or lower the displayed/recorded data if for no other reason than giving us a warm and fuzzy feeling when we switch bikes. Unfortunately, there isn't consistency among the manufacturers. So, this becomes such a difficult task (whether you own different brands of PMs or not).

Now, I've still got two more PM's to try and bring into sync. So, wish me luck!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Can O' Worms

One of the benefits of my job is that the very best training equipment and devices often find their way into my world. In short, I get lots of toys. One of the worst things is that I have to use them all within my own little world of training too. Of course, I'm not actually complaining about getting to play with all these power meters and HRMs and GPSs. But, sometimes the data that I get from them is well .... how do I say it nicely? .... "Suspect"? No. That's not correct. Sometimes the data from one makes me question the data received from another.

Stop reading right now if you think this is going to end up being an article that claims one PM is better or more accurate than another.

We've all seen the posting where one guy claims his original power meter is, has, and will always be the most correct and then he laments how the new one that he just purchased reads way too high or too low. I've been there. It's frustrating. I'm pretty sure, though, that 90% of the time, the poster is either just plain wrong or, more likely, he's trying to ask the right question, but doing so the wrong way. What he really wants is to know how to get the new meter to display and record the same watts as the old workhorse so that he can count on some level of consistency. Amen to that.

Well, our lamenting forum poster often has one disadvantage. That is, he's got PM's on different bikes, usually with different positions (road vs. TT, road vs. MTB, etc.). Hmmm, well.... I'm not really sure what to say or do about that. But, I might have something in the near future.

I have sort a unique situation in that my TT bike sits on a computrainer and has both an SRM Pro and an Ergomo Pro power meter on it. Yep. 2 PM's simultaneously helping me crank out the horsepower (how come I can't go twice or thrice as fast?). And, like our lamenting forum poster, I too become distracted (for lack of a better word) at having not two, but three numbers in disagreement in front of my face when I'm training.

So, today I decided to take matters into my own hands. My goal was to get all three to essentially agree. But, how do I do that? Folks, I'm just winging it.... I'm lost this minute on what to do about the Computrainer. But, I know that both the SRM and the Ergomo allow a bit of tinkering. So, that's where I'm heading first....

Given the 3 devices, ideally I should start by externally calibrating the SRM using weights and a calculator. Or, some might suggest using the CT as the benchmark. Unfortunately for the CT, it's reading 40-60 watts lower than both the Ergomo and the SRM. So, it's "Wrong". :) Next, I'm not completely convinced that SRM's published calibration routine is completely correct (especially if you expect someone like me to follow along). And, more importantly, I have lots and lots of data based upon my ergomo. So, ideally, I want that one to more or less become the benchmark.

During my exploits today, I was happily changing slopes and offsets and k-factors on both units. At first, I tried to eyeball the numbers and then I eventually broke out the spreadsheets. In the end, I think I've got my Ergomo Pro and SRM to be really close. Close enough until I get more time to narrow it all down even further, that is. But, in the end, it all of a sudden struck me that the best results ended up coming from my PM's when my Ergomo was restored to it's original K-Factor setting (the one that I've been using for the past year or so). So, I feel a little vindicated even if I haven't yet "proved" to myself that the slope adjustment on the SRM *should* have been changed.

In the end, however, I realized that everyone with multiple PM's needs more data. So, this task of "calibrating" is really turning into a session of "Hey, what happens if I do this?" and eventually someone can create a handbook of "how to get your multiple PM's to agree".

So, what is the result of today's exercise? See for yourself. This graph is just a very small sample. But, it shows that both the ergomo and the srm read very closely. You can also see that slope adjustments on the SRM have some effect. Note how the dashed-green line moves slightly upwards from lower watts to higher watts (meaning that these settings give the SRM a bias for under-reporting lower efforts and over-reporting higher efforts). This indicates that the SRM is still giving a bit too much value to higher torque. (My SRM is three or four years old and hasn't ever been back for factory testing of the slope. It's slope is marked as 21.0. But, for this testing I had dropped it down to 14.0 and should still probably lower it by 1.0 to 13.0 instead).

One thing that becomes very clear from this exercise is that both the SRM and Ergomo Pro track together very, very nicely. But, I have no idea as to which one is more correct. +/-3 watts is close enough for my needs.

Also, this analysis is done on the downloaded information and not the subjective measure of the displayed watts. Both the SRM and the Ergomo display differently than what is recorded. To help equalize things, I had set the Ergomo to update it's display every pedal revolution. I believe that the SRM updates it's display every 1+ seconds. So, close enough. And, before analyzing this final set of data, I did have the feeling that the ergomo was reading a bit higher in the low watt ranges and a bit under on the higher watt ranges.

Next time..... I am hoping to figure out something for bringing the CT into the mix. Or, maybe a little experiment to show the effects of changing K-Factor on the Ergomo. Oh, you better believe that I'm looking for a PT too.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

No Sweat...

Yesterday, I had what I consider to be an extraordinary opportunity and I just couldn't pass it up. One of the nation's top riders needed a short homestay and some logistical help for his visit to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Seeing as I live only a few miles away (less than 7 actually), and since I've always been curious as to what goes on there, I enthusiastically volunteered to help.

Just like the commercials of Chris Leigh suggest, this place really is a laboratory. And, for a geek like me (with a background in laboratory devices), it was almost better than picking out toys for Christmas. Almost.

The purpose of the visit was fairly straightforward. All involved just wanted to double-check the nutrition needs of the rider during simulated racing conditions. So, after a short tour and the mandatory bodily functions checks, they locked us all in a very warm, high humidity room, put the bike on the Computrainer (they have many of those around the facility) and let the rider "race" in rather hostile conditions while the lab techs took measurements and gathered samples. The large overhead projector proved entertaining for the rider.

I will add that some of the devices in this particular room looked a bit frightening (and feel free to choose from an exciting menu of choices for probes).

Anyway, in the end, this all reminded me of something that we all easily forget. Whether or not you are lucky enough to get into GSSI for testing, endurance athletes do need to frequently work on their nutrition plans.

Friday, February 09, 2007

WKO+ on Vista

So, the early adopters have found out quickly that Microsoft has changed things around with their newest operating system. We're receiving lots of questions from people wanting to know if WKO+ runs on Vista. The short answer, YES! But, you'll need to take an additional step during installation until we change things around.

And, before anyone asks. Yes, we'll be changing things around shortly and moving the location of your .wko files.

Basically, Vista no longer allows programs to store their data inside the C:\Program Files subdirectory. Of course, WKO+ still does this and so, you'll need to grant it access to its files. The workaround (<cough>hack</cough>) is simple enough. You'll simply need to grant the USERS group read/write/create/delete/execute privileges for the C:\Program Files\CyclingPeaks WKO+\ subdirectory. Now, even if you are running with Admin privileges, you'll still need to take this step. Alternatively, you could simply run the PeaksWKO.exe as an Administrator - but even I won't suggest that. Anyway, here's a quick shot showing how to make the configuration change.

And, just to prove that WKO+ does in fact run under Vista .... (the quality of the image on your own screen if you have a high resolution widescreen monitor is pretty sweet) ... sorry, these images a dummied down just to save on a little bandwidth.

Device Agent for OS X

Well, we've been busy lately. Shortly, we'll be releasing a new application for subscribers called "Device Agent". Sure to catch some attention is the fact that DA will be released for both Windows and OS X operating systems. Here's a screen shot just to prove that it does in fact exist.

For those seeking technical information, I'll give you this:

- It is a Universal Binary which means that it should run on either Intel or PPC processors.

-It is designed to run on OS X 10.4 and newer.

-At first, we'll only support the Ergomo Pro, SRM PCV and complete model range of PowerTaps (including the Pro300 PT spin bike). Additional devices will be added in the future.

- To connect an Ergomo or SRM or a PowerTap (using a serial cradle), you'll most likely need a USB/Serial converter cable. While all three have their own solutions, I've found it most painless to simply use a third party cable from Prolific or Keyspan. Just be sure to install the driver software for the cable of your choosing and all will be fine.

- To connect a PowerTap (or the Pro300 PT) using the USB cradle, you'll need to contact CycleOps and install their driver (if you haven't done so already).

At this point, we are about to begin a short testing phase for the products. During this period, we'll also be adding support to WKO+ so that all of this information can be easily brought in for further analysis.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Weekly schedule for '07 Base period

One of things that I noticed happening a while back was that my PMC was being heavily dominated by my running effort. Hardly surprising, since I was trying to re-establish a foundation (any foundation) for the resumption of regular running. My goal for 12 weeks was really just to run (any duration or intensity) most everyday. I found myself only hitting the bike afterwards about two times a week and the quality of the cycling workouts was suffering. In the end, it was a nice block of training but it's time to get a bit more serious and balanced.

My previous blog entry told of my forecasted PMC for the upcoming season. Now, what are the details for making that happen?

Step 1: Prep (pre-base)
The main objective of prep is to become ready to train. That is, ready to hit all of my workouts. I'm old, lazy and weary of injuries. So, prep lasts 6-8 weeks and is basically over once I actually begin to make every workout that I schedule.

Step 2: Base
The main objective of base is to remain consistent between disciplines for a period 6-12 weeks. During this time, I am trying to lengthen my long run as well as perform a decent interval session on the trainer (bike) and then combine the two into a weekly brick. Form work in the pool. Other than that, make the easy workouts easy and the hard ones hard.

My schedule looks like this and will likely remain this way throughout the winter (or until I stop seeing the results that I expect):

  • Monday: short easy run (30-45 minutes); quick cadence and avoid walking. Include low grade hills. Follow up with a lunchtime swim of 30-60 minutes (10-20x50 form focus).
  • Tuesday: BT Cycling interval session (1 hour). 4-8x5' @ threshold watts (2.5' endurance watts). Remainder is endurance.
  • Wednesday: short easy run (20-45 minutes); quick cadence, walking allowed. Include steep grade hills. Follow up with a lunchtime swim of 30-60 minutes (10-20x50 form focus) or pyramids (100, 200, 300...200, 100).
  • Thursday: BT Long run (extend by 5 minutes every week up to 1.5 hours while indoors). quick cadence, no hills. Stay in Z2 or drift into Z3 due to overheating.
  • Friday: short recovery ride (30 minutes). Recovery watts, high cadence. Use spin bike.
  • Saturday: BT Brick (indoors). 1x60' @ 80-95% threshold after warming up and transistion quickly to treadmill for 30' of tempo running. A CT course may be substituted. And, it's acceptible to ride longer (w/less intensity) so long as a similar TSS is reached.
  • Sunday: Recovery ride for 30-60 minutes.

You'll notice that duration ranges may be listed above for the running. The plan is to start with the minimums until the long run reaches the max goal. Then, each of the others will be extended. Again, only one gets extended by 5 minutes each week until it reaches the max. At which point, the next one gets extended.

Step 3: Build
Build will begin once I resume training outdoors on a regular basis. The only change will come from extending the long bike on Saturday and looking for a place to incorporate some higher intensity running during the week.

Step 4: Peak
Peak consists of a controlled reduction in ATL with an emphasis on race-like bricks of decreasing duration (but near race pace) every 2 to 3 days. If I get there intact, I'll write about it then.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to see more balance on the PMC between sports. Really, I want to see Cycling and Running close in terms of their contributions to CTL and TSB. So far (while I'm in prep), that seems to be happening.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Plan for 2007

Well, like many folks, I'm busy trying to figure out which events to plan for. Right now, I've got two that I'm about to register for. The first is a sprint triathlon in central Illinois in May (May Madness) followed by the Cutting Edge Half Iron triathlon in June (same link). I have my eyes on some cycling camps and a possible fall 1/2IM as well. But, those will be a challenge once boating season resumes.

So, to plan my season, I plug in the dates and ask myself the most obvious question. Can I taper for both races? To the right is my projected PMC. Notice the nice high spikes in TSB. We're seeing that the best performances come from a TSB near +30.

The next question is "can I actually handle the volume required to get there?". Well, I think so. Obviously, the chart is drawn as a best case scenario. But, the underlying idea is pretty simple. I've created a manageable schedule to lead me through the winter. During that time, my long run will grow in duration but I won't be having those wild TSB mood swings. I'm hoping this will enable me to enjoy the training and see some respectable results. The real challenge will arrive in the spring when I begin my build period. This is where I will accelerate the driving up of my CTL and along with that comes the wild swings.

The reason for driving up my CTL is simple. First, I need to have enough fitness to survive each race without compromising the workouts leading to the next. Second, I need to have enough headroom in my CTL to allow for a taper (rising TSB) without losing all of that hard earned CTL fitness. After all, I want to feel fresh and frisky for both of these races. So, basically, I need a plan that can absorb the training of each race so that I end up with a TSB (after the race) that is above my own personal -30 limit.

In my next post, I'll layout my weekly schedule.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thought it's about time that I updated my blog and proved that I am actually continuing to train. As you can see, we're starting to see a bit more of the blue bars since my CTL is continuing to rise in a rather nice manner.

These past few weeks have been challenging. Until now, I've been taking weekends off from training as I enjoy family time down at the boats. But, it's after labor day now. So, I once again have weekends available. Thus, you might notice that my daily TSS points are actually a bit lower since I am training everyday.

The next challenge has been due to my threshold in cycling changing a few weeks ago (for the better!). The challenging part of that, however, is it means that TSS points are harder to come by. So, if you want a rising CTL then you need to work even that much harder and longer.

Not to be outdone, my running saw an improvement a few weeks ago as well. And, dummy me, I raised my threshold there too. As a sidenote, I've started wearing a new device (can't divulge until after Interbike) on the treadmill. So, I'll be able to show changes occuring in my Mean Min Pace too.

The result was that try as I might, I just couldn't get my TSB down all the way given the time constraints of my workouts (and the willingness to fight through fatigue was lacking a bit too, I must admit).

You may notice that my NP60 shows a bit of a decline during the past few weeks. That's because 1) I'm tired (from running faster/harder and cycling harder/faster) and 2) I never set out to ride hard for an hour. In fact, my only ride lasting that long over the past few weeks was on a Computrainer that wasn't quite calibrated correctly on a day that I probably should have just rested instead. No biggie.

If you recall, my goal was to reach a CTL of 50 and then start swimming. I figure that I've another two weeks before I start spending my lunch hours at the pool.

Anyway, lots of new toys coming in just before the trade show. So, I have to keep training just to generate the data to write the supporting code.

Happy training!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A time efficient workout

I had two really good workouts on the trainer this week. Both were done after my regular daily treadmill session.

This first session (left) was a simple ride at/near FT until you are too tired or time runs out sort of ride. To be honest, I haven't done a 20' interval in a very long time. And now I remember why. It's boring.

Still, I was very pleased with the results.

This morning I performed a slightly more interesting workout (right). This time, I set out to ride 1' in increasingly harder gears while maintaining a steady cadence and then returning to my starting level. Repeat again using a slightly quicker cadence. and so forth. (The abrupt end was due to reaching my goal TSS for the workout).

Anyway, due to the reasons shown on the graphic, I'm fairly convinced that my FT has now risen to 345w!

Plus, I have finally ascended from the Power Profile's "untrained" category and am now firmly planted in the Cat5 category for Time Trialists. Woo Hoo. 'bout time already.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Splitting them out

As you can see, I am still on the program! More importantly, I'm feeling strong, fit and most importantly, healthy. This old dog might just be doing some racing next season. woo hoo!

Having restarted from zero, I'm making a conscience effort to do this correctly. Since running is my weakest sport - mainly because of my weight - it is the cornerstone of my program this time around. Frequency and consistency lead the way. I run every day during the week and then ride trainer sessions somedays afterwards. The large TSS spikes are the few times that I managed to get up early enough to ride outside with some friends. I'll start dieting once boating season ends. :)

To the right are three PMC charts depicting an overview of my training. The top chart being the combined program. The bottom two being only running and cycling respectively.

I believe in the fundamental premise that fitness is always either increasing or decreasing. So, (referring to the top chart) I am ramping up my CTL while staying below the 5 TSS/d change per week limit that many are starting to recognize. But, you'll notice that to get those 5 TSS/d, I am driving my TSB down (to my self imposed limit of -30) and then recovering back up to near zero. Why do I make my TSB roll? I believe that Dave Harris over on the wattage list knows why. Take another look at the first sentence of this paragraph again to see my reasoning. Just remember, there are two parts to a workout: the training stress AND the recovery. The only reason that I can think of to actually stay at a low TSB for any length of time is to delay a peak (since you can't control the date of a race).

Now, some people might be confused by looking at my top chart and seeing a pretty high NP5 happening when I am supposedly pretty fatigued. How can that be? The PMC must wrong. Or, maybe I should be using different time constants. Nope. Look at the cycling chart. My Cycling TSB is rising due to the focus on running. My CTL is also still relatively low. So, my running fatigue isn't yet greatly effecting my cycling in a negative way.

OK, a few questions have been flooding my inbox lately.

How do I create a PMC? Easy, go to the athlete's home page in WKO+ v2.1 and choose "Options Add a chart to this page Performance Management Chart". Use the default values for everything except dates unless you have less than six months of history. In which case, you have some work to do for now. I'll discuss what to do then some other time.

How do I tell WKO+ about my running and swimming TSS? Easy. Add the workouts the normal way. Then, select the workout in the athlete's calendar and right click the mouse. Use the "Override values..." menu item.

How do I calculate a TSS for running and swimming? Good question. We don't have an official response yet. Of course, we're working on it. :) Actually, I use a trivial home-brewed spreadsheet that's highly inaccurate but serves my purposes very, very well. No, I won't post it right now (because I don't want to defend it's use). But, if you send me a nice, thoughtful, comforting e-mail and ask nicely, I'll send you a copy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A new start

Well, I'm once again on the training bandwagon and this time I thought that I might share what it is I'm doing. I don't have any goal races yet as I'm simply looking to return to some level of fitness first. It was a rough winter and spring for me as I had to battle some illness brought on by having a very worn down immune system.

This time around, however, I have a new secret weapon. The upcoming release of WKO+ contains a new feature called the "Performance Management Chart". There are lots of forthcoming articles and details surrounding the exact function of this and I'll leave it for the experts to profess the details. But, the general idea is that it is a tool for managing your long term (chronic) and short term (acute) training loads. The difference between the two is referred to as the "Training Stress Balance (TSB)".

The idea is simple. As you increase your training loads, the ATL exceeds the CTL and creates a deficit in the TSB. That simply means that you're not going to be setting any new records for the time being. But, as the race gets closer, you reduce the training loads so that your ATL is below your CTL and thus the TSB begins to rise (duh, you're tapering).

To the right is my present Performance Management Chart. I've highlighted a few items of interest. First, I'm glad to report that my Functional Threshold has officially risen 4.5% in the past month! Woo hoo! You can see the values (circled) and plotted on the PMC.

The blue bars indicate that my training volume has been growing. So, it's no surprise that my FT is rising. What's even more encouraging, however, is the fact that my TSB from this morning was still well below zero. Whereas, last month, it was zero and rising (meaning that I really had full potential to perform well).

The PMC has more usefulness than simply predicting the potential of race day performance levels. Of significant interest to me is establishing levels of fatigue that are compatible with the rest of my life. Through a little trial and error, I've decided that a TSB of -30 is about the most fatigue that I'm willing to put up with right now. Using the PMC, it becomes very easy to determine whether or not to do that extra workout or even cut something short.

So, rightly or wrongly, at the moment, I'm using the PMC as a guide to drive my TSB down to -30 and then slowly recovering my way back to something closer to (but still below) zero. My underlying goal is to achieve a chronic training load of 50 TSS/day. That is the equivalent of roughly 30 minutes of activity at threshold every single day. Once I reach that goal, I'll decide on what to do next.

Now, there is a small caveat to this if you do more than cycle. TSS is the primary input into the system and if you train with a power meter, you may already be familiar with this metric. But, like most triathletes, I also swim, run and lift weights. We've added the ability to over-ride (or manually input, if you will) a TSS value for any workout in WKO+! Unfortunately, we do not yet calculate a TSS for sports other than cycling. For those wondering, I simply established my own scoring system based upon heart rate. It's primitive and subject to lots of interference, but it works very well for my needs right now. You are free to construct your own methods for the time being.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

WWDC 2006

Well, Gear and I just returned from an exciting week in San Francisco where we attended the World Wide Developers Conference for Apple developers. We definitely learned quite a bit and will be digesting the information for a while. But, we did leave with some definite ideas regarding what we could and could not do for our OS X customers.

More importantly, we have some ideas about how to deliver bits and pieces of functionality (while we hone our skills) rather quickly. This should come as good news for many, since we really want to avoid having our Mac customers wait for a complete development cycle for WKO+ and the rest of the product line. What does that really mean? Well, it means a full blown version of WKO+ on OS X is still a long ways off. But, we do have the beginnings of a plan to deliver support for uploading various devices and some charting and graphing natively within the Mac. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

We also came away with many UI ideas that will benefit Windows users as well. This is important because our current list of coming features is both big and powerful.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's coming!

Here's a little tease just to show what's been in the works lately. But, by all accounts, if you are a cyclist using a power meter then you are about to receive another reason as to why you need to be using CyclingPeaks WKO+.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Boulderado!

I write this this morning from inside my room at the beautiful Boulderado Hotel in downtown Boulder, Colorado. The company has gathered together to discuss strategy, products, features and new technologies. The great thing about this group is how most everything we do is designed to improve our customers' experience. It is exciting to work with a group of individuals who really complement each others' strengths and weaknesses.

Yesterday, we were excited to have Dr. Andy Coggan join us to explain some of the new stuff to the rest of the group and then brainstorm on how nicely it all fits together. That's Andy, Hunter Allen and Joe Friel in the picture to the right.

The picture at the right is very representative of the relationship between art and science in the realm of coaching with Dr. Coggan representing the scientific aspects and Joe Friel representing the art portion. Thankfully, you don't have to be too smart to figure out that the two aspects go together very well. Oh, Hunter in the middle represents the pragmatic use of the two. :)

Next I unveil to the world our world-renowned customer support in action. :) Here's Gear pleasantly working with a customer after our meetings had ended. I think we had sent Joe out for more beer. The customer, by the way, has an athlete competing in France for the next few weeks.

Rest assured, that even if you're competing in your first 10k or sprint triathlon, you receive the same careful attention! Though, I must admit, I would have never thought of sending Joe out for beer. That just doesn't seem right. I was out of cigarettes but you had better believe I wasn't going to ask him to pick me up a pack. Nope. I can't even get myself to order a latte from Starbucks when he's around.

Anyway, exciting things are happening. I can say that there is a new release of WKO+ that will be coming out any day now which will make many of our customers very happy. This one is going to surprise alot of folks. Then, in another few weeks, we'll be announcing the addition of a few special new features that should give the wattage-list folks lots of things to talk about. I am also expecting a few more toys upon my return. So, there will be a rush to get support for some new devices out into our customer's hands. All in all, it's very exciting.

Train hard, play harder!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Auto Split is here!

If you're anything like me, you need to warm up a bit when you start off running. The Garmin GPS products contain an autolap feature. But, my 'miles' start off at specific landmarks along my routes. Plus, I'm not always very good about hitting the lap button.

Therefore, we added the autosplit feature. Simply select a range, any range, using your right mouse button. When you let up, you'll see the autosplit menu item. Select it and the range will be split into mile or kilometer chunks (depending upon your preference settings).

When your done, simply link the autosplit ranges in order to make comparison easy!


Monday, May 15, 2006

CyclingPeaks WKO+ is going live

Well, barring unforeseen circumstances, WKO+ v2.0 is going live today! But, I wanted to be the first to highlight some of my absolute favorite features.

We've added support for the Garmin Edge and Forerunner products. The Forerunners, typically used by runners gave us a fantastic opportunity to move a little bit of our technology over to their world. The coolest, is the idea of Mean Minimal Pace. What is it? Well, it's your quickest pace for every duration. Cyclists familiar with earlier versions of CyclingPeaks will notice the striking similarity to Mean Max Power. Mine is on the right of this text. (Don't laugh, I'm slow and haven't had much time to train lately - for obvious reasons).

So, what can I do with the chart? That's easy. Use the chart to dictate your optimal pace for your anticipated event duration. You think you can run that upcoming 10K in 30 minutes? Better check the chart to see if you've ever done that in training.

Existing CPS users will recognize another new feature. There are two lines on the chart. In this case, the solid line is my MMPace for the past 28 days. The dashed line is my MMPace since the beginning of my season. Before you ask ... yes, WKO+ will do this for all Mean Maximal Charts. Meaning that, your power charts can now compare timeframes as well. And, the timeframes for the lines are user configurable.

This exciting feature was added because of the age old question "did I get faster (stronger)?". Now, you have the evidence.

Another bit 'o fun for the Forerunner and Edge device user, is the ability to seamlessly view your routes (or portions of your route) in Google Earth. Simply right click any range on the graph (even just a current selection) and choose the "Export to Google Earth" menu item. Google Earth will be launched automatically (if you have already installed it!) and you'll be flown to that portion of your route.

Well, that's all I want to talk about right now. Look for more tidbits shortly.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A new Functional Threshold

For the first time in forever, I was able to get outside and ride with a group of friends this weekend. The task was to get in a solid 3 to 4 hours of riding. My longest ride to date this season has been a single 1.5 hour trainer ride months ago. Otherwise, I've been living with 30-45 minute trainer rides all winter. Afterwards, I realized that my indoor threshold figures are no longer valid as the ride moved my Mean Max Normalized Power curve up another notch.

You can see, the highlighted area estimates my new FT somewhere near 330-335 watts. Seeing as this wasn't a formal test, I need to use other means in determining the correct figure.

To justify the need of changing my threshold (and thus my zones), I took a quick look at the distribution of both my Heart Rate and Power in relation to my training zones. I'll spare you the pictures, but the power zone distribution clearly showed lots of efforts higher than their corresponding heart rate zones. Thus, my power zones are understated.

Lastly, the ride itself scored a TSS of 297 with an IF of .908. The ride was tough. But, it felt more like a .8 IF. 275 watts * .9 / .8 = ~310 watts

Clearly, I have evidence enough to adjust my threshold settings from 310 to 335. So, split the difference until I can test further. (335+310)/2 = ~320 watts

Now, if I can only drag myself to the pool, I might have a chance at a decent showing next month in Effingham.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

First outside ride of the year!!!!

Oh yeah! Last week we have snow, sleet and rain. Today, it's 72F outside. Winds at 5mph. Welcome to Chicagoland. That's it. Time to get outside at last since I've been stuck on the trainer since Spirit of Racine (July '05).

Anyone who trains indoors constantly wonders what will happen when you finally get outside. My training this winter/spring has been very low volume and consistently inconsistent. But, I did manage to get in a few 4-6 weeks blocks of decent quality.

So, how does that translate to the road? Well, today's goal - just ride around and make sure that all the equipment works (race wheels, shifting, etc....) - was met with flying colors. It was a short ride full of hills and sprints and lots of coasting. The results? I moved my Mean Max Normalized Curve!!! The solid yellow line represents my new MMNP curve. The dashed line is my old indoor one.

The surprising part is that this wasn't a gut wrenching, all out ride. In fact, this was almost an easy ride. Well, we'll see what the rest of the season has in store.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My favorites CPS charts

The questions come often as to what charts are the most useful or "how can I see this or that". So, I thought that I might take a moment and show off some of the charts that can be found on my
athlete home page. Let me preface by stating that I am not a coach. And, I'm not a particularly good athlete. But, I do have a pretty decent understanding of training methods and tools.

The chart to the right displays my weekly TSS (total stress score) along with the actual duration of workouts for the week. The red line indicates the average IF (intensity factor) of my cycling workouts. The black line on top indicates my weight.

You will notice mid-way through the chart, the black bars (duration) become taller than the TSS. This is due to a return to running.

The chart itself is used to monitor my progression of training stress. That is, as I return to training regularly, I can use the chart to make sure that I am adding training stress in a controlled manner.

Like any cyclist, I want to know whether or not I am improving. It's not all about spending alot of time riding. It's about being able to see improvements. The chart on the right shows my Mean Max Power for various timeframes on a week by week basis. It doesn't tell me whether I've grown stronger, per se. It tells me that I've touched certain levels during the week. If I see that a certain level hasn't gone up in a while, then I'll make an attempt to hit it during the upcoming week or as soon as my training schedule allows.

Obviously, I have more charts and metrics that I put on my athlete page. But these are two of my favorites.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Getting closer ...

So, I've been asked to update my blog a little more often. It's not as though I have much to tell folks ... well, I do but that's besides the point. Most of the stuff that someone might want to know from me, I am obliged to not speak about .... yet. But, that shouldn't prevent me from speculating too much.

Rumor has it that a well-known cycling software product will be releasing a new version shortly. What will be the new features? Who will really be interested in knowing about this product? Stayed tuned...... At first glance, long time users may not see much difference. But, there is a lot more going on. The list of supported devices is growing bigger everyday. The introduction of features written about in Hunter Allen's and Andy Coggan, PhD.'s book are there. Bug fixes. Helpful tools and features..... Lots of fun stuff to keep you entertained or focused on your training results - depending upon which camp you might fall into. Make no mistake, this is serious software for folks interested in truly maximizing their athletic potential. But, it's simple enough to let you get started without requiring an advanced degree in I.T. -'nuff said. will be releasing an upgrade to it's free Messenger product sometime within the week. We've finished making some last minute changes. And, personally, I am very happy with the results. Among the best new features are seamless login from the desktop to various website destinations, support for the nutrition scanner, support for all Garmin Edge (205 & 305) and most Forerunner (201, 301, 205 & 305) GPS models. We've also added support for Polar S series heart rate monitors along with support for the Cambiatta data recorder. All from the desktop and all tightly integrated with the web site. New customers can even drag & drop their existing .hrm files into Messenger and the application will deposit the files into your account at without haste.

Anyway, as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to write to me directly at the e-mail address shown on my profile.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

A bit crowded

Sometimes I have to laugh. Do you think we take this a little too seriously? Look for this setup at a race near you this summer.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

How to configure your Ergomo Pro ....

So, the question comes up alot. But, since the code is frozen, I thought that I might provide this to help anyone out.

Most folks, I imagine, will skip much of the documentation and go straight to mounting the device on their bike. Out of the box, however, you might have difficulty getting your initial information. So, before giving up, try following these steps before going on your first ride.

While it makes sense to me to configure your Ergomo Pro/Spin computer using the new features in Ergoracer (CyclingPeaks) before installation, it's perfectly fine to go ahead and install the BB and speed sensor first. You can use the Ergomo computer on it's own to configure the information. But, you have to be careful to initially setup all of the information before hoping to retrieve any ride data.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So, there's no particular purpose to this picture (other than I like it). I have a fun tri season planned for 2006 and I'm just starting to think about motivation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

How did I get here?

Stare closely at the picture ... If you look hard you'll see my buddy Wes Hobson, Simon Lessing (5-Time World Champion), Siri Lindley (ranked #1 ITU at the time of the photo), and Ryan Bolton ('00 US Olympian, winner IMLP). Oh yeah, that's world renowned coach Joe Friel in the back (second from left).

Twice I travelled to Las Vegas to enjoy Wes' camp. Both times were great! The camp has since been turned into a DVD available from Endurance Films.

Oh, I'm in the back, far right.

About a week after returning from Kona, I discovered that they let anyone do this sport. After making a committment to myself to try it, I managed to train for about a week before realizing that I don't know what the hell I'm doing. That's when I discovered

During my first month or so with, I entered into a business relationship with them regarding PDA software. During a conversation with Dirk Friel (Joe's son and damn fine pro cyclist), I asked him a question about tying my shoes to my bike in transition. Dirk said he'd have a friend of his get back to me. Moments later I received an e-mail from Wes. Well, I have nothing but kind words for and about Wes. Feel free to give him a shout at

IM Coeur d'Alene - June 2005

This summer I had the great pleasure of racing in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Sadly, I didn't win the race. But, I finished in good shape - equaling my time from 2 years earlier at Ironman Wisconsin. I can't complain. It was rough training over the winter and spring.

I actually ran into David Harju at Starbucks the next morning. Dave's won IM Wisconsin twice. Super friendly guy. I asked him about the pro men's race since I didn't get to see any of that from where I was on the course.

.... it turns out that I beat Dave .... and Simon Lessing. :)

IM Wisconsin - September '03

My first ironman! The disappointment of not actually winning the race was easily overshadowed by the sense of accomplishment that I felt from finishing.

It was long journey getting there. I lost 112 lbs about 1.5 years earlier. While vacationing in Kona, I noticed that triathlete's riding along the Queen K Hwy. I decided then and there (in the taxi cab from the airport) to investigate triathlons. I had no desire to race the Ironman distance at the time. Though, I did recall seeing the famous telecast on Wide World of Sports about 20 years ago. All I knew was that it seemed like a good way to keep the weight off.

It's alive

I guess I'm venturing into new territory today. Welcome to my new blog.