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Masters Racing (All Disciplines) Race on the track or road or on your mountainbike in the Masters Category? Want to talk tactics, strategy and training with your peers?

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Old 04-29-14, 01:37 PM   #1
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Performance now, compared to when you were in your 30's?

Old guy getting back into racing after a long layoff. At 61, I am missing about 150 watts, compared to when I was competitive at 30. (30 power estimated from TT times)

I have only been training seriously since August last year, 11 years off the bike with perhaps 300 miles a year during the off years.

I need another 50 watts added to FTP, to get into cat 3, cat 4 is hard but I can hang in most of the times. At this stage it is just about hanging in. In the Masters 55+ I am doing better, depending on who is there.

Not sure if this (+50 watts) is going to happen? Any masters experience from those who were competitive during their young days will be appreciated.

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Old 04-29-14, 06:36 PM   #2
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I think we are somewhat in the same dilemma, although I stopped racing only 10 years ago... But still continued to ride as if I still was racing until 2006..... Although I still have ridden on average about 1000 miles a year... Got into Tennis as a 4.0
My advice ( judging from my own experience ) would be to give yourself more time than you think... It has been mentioned before but Joe Friel's book is really (IMHO ) the best program / plan out there for Master's... I think that with today's overemphasis on digital readouts, we sort of throw the baby out with the bath water. What worked 20 years ago still works today, difference being that now we have more accurate tools to monitor and implement our training regimen...
Still when my HR is 10-15bpm's over the norm at rest, no device is going to help other than easing up and listening to what your system is telling you...
I haven't been here long but i see way too much advice on pushing the limit without the necessary base fitness. That doesn't show up negatively right away but sometimes during the season it will.. Plus at this point in time, most of us do not have the luxury to say, I'll stay home from work or just relax..

My performance compared to my 30's really isn't relevant... That's 27 years, not going to be anything but misleading if you are comparing those parameters to present times... We age, we slow down and we do not have the same capability of recovering as quickly.
Which is not to say that Masters 45-60 aren't fit... It's a different kind of racing for sure, one based more on brain than brawn, but there is still the horsepower to give you 2nd thoughts about entering this race was a good idea (lol)... There are plenty of positives about racing past 45 and well into your 60's if not later...

Give yourself time, but most importantly, develop a solid adaptable training plan and stick to it. I know that if I end up entering races later on this summer / early fall, I will treat them as training races designed to carry me into the winter season with a solid base....
I'm convinced that it is going to take me 1 year to get back to an acceptable racing fitness, weight and equipment is also part of this equation..
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Old 04-29-14, 07:36 PM   #3
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I haven't been here long but i see way too much advice on pushing the limit without the necessary base fitness. That doesn't show up negatively right away but sometimes during the season it will.. Plus at this point in time, most of us do not have the luxury to say, I'll stay home from work or just relax..
Curious as to where you are seeing this 'here'? I suspect there is some misinterpretation happening, stemming from the fact that many of us know what we each have been doing, since we've been discussing it here for quite awhile. So I'd sure like to know how you are drawing that conclusion.
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Old 04-29-14, 08:28 PM   #4
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To address the specific question of can you get back 50w the best answer is a question. Where are you now, where were you then, and where would you like to be exclusive of a number. If you were a decent Cat 3 30 years ago the likelyhood of you mixing it up in a Cat 3 race at 61 is not great. The curve goes down as we age. I started late (mid 40's), made Cat 1, could impact Cat 1/2 races (and win) for several years.

At 54 with some physical issues I can still hang in a 1/2 race without much trouble, but winning is a much bigger ask. But your FTP question might be the wrong question.

Getting back an estimated FTP from 30 years ago may not be the best goal, vs. viewing it as something that might come along with the Happy Meal. FTP is overrated unless you're time trialing. Good triathletes have nice 20/60m power but are usually useless in a race unless you need someone to chug down a break or sit behind in a break before you win the sprint.

What mostly kills is speed and recovery from effort; aerobic meets anaerobic and shakes hands. If you're climbing it's w/kg. To a point FTP underpins both these, but there is another point where these things disconnect.

My standard question to non-time trial folks who want to raise their FTP is if they want to win races, or put up pretty numbers.

I'm a big advocate of "horses for courses". Look at the races you'll be doing in duration and intensity. Write down the tools you need to be successful. Train accordingly. At 61 doing 5 hour base rides to do 40 minute crits might not be the best use of time and the most important age limited resource (recovery). It probably isn't even if you have a goal of a 40k.

Friel's book is quite good, but it's geared for elite athletes; the philosophies and overall plan need to be tweaked for master's, who run a gauntlet of issues that simply don't show up for younger racers. It's also geared for John Doe. Specificity get lost because that's the nature of a John Doe book. Joe would be the first one to tell you that if he didn't already in the forward. The guy is the biggest brain with the least dogma around.

Old school training has been superseded by specificity. Using the pros as an example the stage race guys have a different program than the classics guys and the track guys are wayyyyyy over there somewhere. But the biggest step in improvement has been maximizing time utilization. Which for us old farts is the magic stuff.
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Old 04-30-14, 05:18 AM   #5
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Curious as to where you are seeing this 'here'? I suspect there is some misinterpretation happening, stemming from the fact that many of us know what we each have been doing, since we've been discussing it here for quite awhile. So I'd sure like to know how you are drawing that conclusion.

My statement was more in reference of this Forum in the general sense, not specifically addressed to this section...
I should have clarified myself...
And Yes... I'm glad there is this section of former / returned / never stopped Masters racers who have a bit of an idea of what's up...
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Old 04-30-14, 05:39 AM   #6
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Huh. I generally see the opposite 'here.' That is, guys doing endless miles of noodling around in what they call base.
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Old 04-30-14, 06:29 AM   #7
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Now I take offense to the " Old Farts " moniker... I prefer " Young at Heart " (lol).

Today is a good example ( for me ) as in I'm finally entering the periodization phase... Very glad I no longer have to go out and ride in 35F and snow... However it is pouring rain today, Wednesday is my free day... No classes ( Yes I am back in college after all this time ) thus I can have it scheduled as my long day... However Raining and 39F is not enticing even though the forecast is for mid 40's later... Then again, today was going to be a 3-4.5 hour ride in the hills... NE corner of CT, thru U-conn, willington, Woodstock, Pomfret...

Both my Polar HR and Mavic Computer decided to go on holiday at the same time this past couple days, so If I do get out it will be on feel rather than monitoring feedback.... I'm so retro again...
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Old 04-30-14, 06:38 AM   #8
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Huh. I generally see the opposite 'here.' That is, guys doing endless miles of noodling around in what they call base.
Yes... without a training plan aimed to achieve a certain goal there is the tendency to just plod on... I don't think that is a big percentage of people here, certainly not likely with the one's that were Cat I/II/III's or former Pro's..
But nevertheless there is still that need to put in the miles. Strictly for my own view, I cannot race a 65+ mile race if my longest days have only been around the 70 mile mark.. It's physical, but it's also mental, knowing that I can ride at tempo a 100 miler just gives me that psychological edge when I'm at mile 50 in a race, things are not going well and I need to push thru ...
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Old 04-30-14, 06:48 AM   #9
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I think it's important to train for what you're doing. Not a lot of 65+ mile NE RRs for old guys. Sure, if you want to race with the kids.
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Old 04-30-14, 06:55 AM   #10
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Ahh... There you go, that is part of my plan... Which I'm sure I will rethink once in the melee...
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Old 04-30-14, 07:22 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the input.

This is my approach, for what it is worth.

1979, my best 40km time trial effort on a relatively flat course at 1700m above sea level was 51.59 minutes. Using a bike calculator Bike Calculator that relates to an FTP of 376 watts and in imperial, that gives an average speed of 29 mph. ( Time trialing was not my strength, stage races were great though)

In December last year entering base 2 (first time training properly since 2001) using a Cycleops 420 trainer with a power meter, my FTP was 221 watts. Needless to say, for me that was pretty disappointing, but understanding that I have been out of this for a long time I started setting goals.

My last FTP test two weeks ago put me at 256 watts, so while I am happy with the progress, as my target was 250 watts I am still far from where I want to be.

My goal is to crack 300 watts, March next year. It may happen, it may not, but I am training the best I can to try and get there. I will probably take a 4 week break of the bike July/August and focus on weight training for a while, then a specific program on the bike and the trainer to try and peak in March 2015. According to Coggin's tables, that would put me at 3.79 w/kg right in the middle of Cat 3.

Again using Coggin's tables, my current race performance in cat 4 relates pretty accurate to the lower end of cat 4.

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Old 04-30-14, 07:54 AM   #12
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Again using Coggin's tables, my current race performance in cat 4 relates pretty accurate to the lower end of cat 4.
You can throw that out the window, those tables are just about meaningless.

It doesn't sound like you are currently getting dropped from races because you run out of gas sitting in the pack, so FTP is maybe not the right metric to focus on.

From where I sit, it sounds like you have a history of being a super-strong young guy that didn't have to think too hard about conserving energy in a race, recovering between workouts, nutrition, and what part of your power profile to work on. Your path to success as an older guy is maybe not to chase some FTP number that reminds you of the past, but instead to focus on all of the other stuff that you never had to worry about as a young buck.
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Old 04-30-14, 08:39 AM   #13
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You can throw that out the window, those tables are just about meaningless.
I'm an Engineer, with a high level of math education and too old to change my ways. Those numbers seem to track pretty accurately right now, putting the academics and actual field experience pretty close. Newtonian fundamentals are hard to argue with.

If you had the oppty to get onto my trainer bike, hooked up to a computer, I should be able to predict your time up a 1/4 mile 10% gradient pretty accurately, same goes for a 25 mile TT circuit provided I profiled it with my Garmin.

Let's agree to disagree.
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Old 04-30-14, 08:43 AM   #14
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Let's agree to disagree.

Miscommunication! I'm a mathematician. I believe in physics. I thought you were referring to the infamous "e-wang" tables that relate (w/kg, time) => racing category. Those are the meaningless tables.
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Old 04-30-14, 08:50 AM   #15
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Miscommunication! I'm a mathematician. I believe in physics. I thought you were referring to the infamous "e-wang" tables that relate (w/kg, time) => racing category. Those are the meaningless tables.
Thanks for the info. I have no idea how Coggan compiled those and his PhD steered me towards taking note. You make me feel better, because his numbers are pretty demotivating for an old guy like me.
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Old 04-30-14, 09:28 AM   #16
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In my opinion the number one reason why local racers don't do well in races is because of intensity and variation, not FTP. I have an FTP on the weaker side of the guys I race against, but I can do well because I train for variation in speed and high intensity. After base miles I start putting in all out efforts from 15 seconds up to 3 minutes a couple of times a week on low miles/time to focus on my lactate and ATP systems and not my aerobic engine. I still tweak my aerobic engine a couple of times a month, but since I do crits and track work, my long rides are 2 or 3 times a month at 2 1/2 to 3 hours, most days are 75 to 100 minutes and either zone 2 recovery or zone 5/6 and hard. I do very little zone 3 and 4 work.

I am still just 43, but I left the sport for family in my mid 30s and came back 2 years ago, but my numbers based focus has been on the 5sec to 5 minute power numbers, not FTP. You need to have the power to move up in the group and get away, but most local races will allow you to ride below threshold for most of the race by following wheels, so that is how I train.
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Old 04-30-14, 09:31 AM   #17
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By the way, with structured training this year I am planning to eclipse my peak times from my 20s and 30s this year. So while I was faster and had time to burn back then, I did not train smart and I did not reach my full potential because of poor training.
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Old 04-30-14, 09:49 AM   #18
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My goal is to crack 300 watts, March next year. It may happen, it may not, but I am training the best I can to try and get there. I will probably take a 4 week break of the bike July/August and focus on weight training for a while, then a specific program on the bike and the trainer to try and peak in March 2015. According to Coggin's tables, that would put me at 3.79 w/kg right in the middle of Cat 3.

Again using Coggin's tables, my current race performance in cat 4 relates pretty accurate to the lower end of cat 4.
I'm confused here.... Your season in the Carolina's isn't that different then for us up here in the North East...

(1) I get resistance / weight training, I plan to use it again next winter but ... That is during the off season, build muscle strength without undermining cycling specific form... In other words if you stop cycling for a 4 week break in July/August which is peak season ( or should be ) unless you are planning to be Down Under, and take on a weight training phase, you will lose aerobic fitness, you will lose cycling specific musculature but you will then gain a musculature which is completely different... You risk / will be adding bulk which on a bike is just baggage.
Strenght training to build specifically for cycling, most definitely but there is a point where less is more..

(2) This to me is the puzzle, where training needs to be cycling specific, base, buildup, periodization, all of it is geared to compliment and improve performance on the bike come race season... Weight training plays a part, a plan to cross train would be beneficial... but it still has to compliment the cycling goal....

(3) i understand the linear thought process and the numbers but all the graphs and projected results could be misleading...


" Again using Coggin's tables, my current race performance in cat 4 relates pretty accurate to the lower end of cat 4. "

(4) Is that on hilly races ? Are you lacking the ability to stay in contact when the road goes up ?
That is not all muscle, You may be strong enough to keep up according to the data, But on the road if you cannot breathe or more to the point your aerobic system isn't capable of complying to the demand then that is what you should work on.... Hill work at tempo, Not above AT but training to ride more efficiently uphill.

IT may very well be required that you rethink your gear choice, You can push a bigger gear standing up and you generate more watts, but it is not sustainable and it requires more energy expenditure which you'll need later..
To stay in serious contention may very well mean that you also restrategize as how to race / ride more efficiently during competition...
Don't just think about the numbers, think about what is happening on the road... Having raced before your intuition should lead you to correct assumptions and accurate assessments...

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Old 04-30-14, 10:34 AM   #19
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Thanks for the info. I have no idea how Coggan compiled those and his PhD steered me towards taking note. You make me feel better, because his numbers are pretty demotivating for an old guy like me.
It's a survey of a lot of WKO files from a bunch of different people of different categories. It took a range of the best duration bin numbers for those people and put them up on a chart. Pretty numbers. Pretty meaningless when it comes to racing in most cases. Very meaningless when it comes to age brackets.

I know a lot of people who fall outside that chart either high or low at various durations who race well above or below the category those numbers at the elite level, never mind age group. At least three of them here above.

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training needs to be cycling specific, base, buildup, periodization, all of it is geared to compliment and improve performance on the bike come race season... Weight training plays a part, a plan to cross train would be beneficial... but it still has to compliment the cycling goal....
Yep. Worth factoring in that as we age up we lose muscle mass and bone density; keeping after exercises that minimize this pays off down the road.

Coming back from a long layoff, a traditional "periodization" program might not be the best way to go. At minimum folks should look at cycle duration, most older masters do better on a 3 week rest/work cycle vs. 4 week cycle, especially during "build". And newer or comeback folks often improve faster by abbreviating and shortening the traditional cycle, knocking off the second strength/base/build cycle and rotating back to ground zero.

I use this program for folks who are new enough where planning an "A" block is essentially silly, or for folks coming back from injuries where there isn't time to do a full periodized program. The best analogy is there's rain coming and you need shelter. You can build a hut and stay dry or try to build a skyscraper and end up wet. You build the hut with a skyscraper in mind later.

Beyond physical progress the former yields a good mental outcome for newer or returning folks; they can see improvement in a shorter time period which helps with motivation and discipline. It answers the question of "Am I improving or doing this wrong?" in a shorter time period.
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Old 04-30-14, 10:51 AM   #20
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I'm confused here.... Your season in the Carolina's isn't that different then for us up here in the North East...

(1) I get resistance / weight training, I plan to use it again next winter but ... That is during the off season, build muscle strength without undermining cycling specific form... In other words if you stop cycling for a 4 week break in July/August which is peak season ( or should be ) unless you are planning to be Down Under, and take on a weight training phase, you will lose aerobic fitness, you will lose cycling specific musculature but you will then gain a musculature which is completely different... You risk / will be adding bulk which on a bike is just baggage.
Strenght training to build specifically for cycling, most definitely but there is a point where less is more..

(2) This to me is the puzzle, where training needs to be cycling specific, base, buildup, periodization, all of it is geared to compliment and improve performance on the bike come race season... Weight training plays a part, a plan to cross train would be beneficial... but it still has to compliment the cycling goal....

(3) i understand the linear thought process and the numbers but all the graphs and projected results could be misleading...


" Again using Coggin's tables, my current race performance in cat 4 relates pretty accurate to the lower end of cat 4. "

(4) Is that on hilly races ? Are you lacking the ability to stay in contact when the road goes up ?
That is not all muscle, You may be strong enough to keep up according to the data, But on the road if you cannot breathe or more to the point your aerobic system isn't capable of complying to the demand then that is what you should work on.... Hill work at tempo, Not above AT but training to ride more efficiently uphill.

IT may very well be required that you rethink your gear choice, You can push a bigger gear standing up and you generate more watts, but it is not sustainable and it requires more energy expenditure which you'll need later..
To stay in serious contention may very well mean that you also restrategize as how to race / ride more efficiently during competition...
Don't just think about the numbers, think about what is happening on the road... Having raced before your intuition should lead you to correct assumptions and accurate assessments...
I have a 6 day stage race overseas (South Africa), starting March 1st 2015. As this is the most important on my calender, I will end my season here in July, take a break and start again, with about 7 months preparation. That allows some recreational riding with our local club, August/September onward to fit my program.

Thanks for the detailed questions.

In cat4, I am able to place in the first 10 for a while, this is the safest and easiest place to be, and experience allows me to creep through the gaps and pretty much maintain my position. But to do that every time there is hard acceleration, I have to dig deep into anaerobic. After a while I end up somewhere in the middle. At the end of the race I am normally hanging on for dear life in the last 3rd part of the bunch. Once I have gone anaerobic too many times, my acceleration out of corners are gone. No problem with climbing. I have been here before years ago after a layoff and learnt that with every race as the season progresses it goes a bit better, up to the point where it is possible to contest the sprint. Based on past experience, what is missing is power output enabling an easier pace to stay in position, not having to dig too deep often. Most of us can only go anaerobic so many times, then it is as if the hand brake is applied.

In terms of gear choice, naturally I have low cadence, but because of that I really focus on spinning. My FTP is developed around 100-105 RPM and in racing I normally stay high cadence. I ride a 39/53 and will change cassettes to match the circuit.

In terms of cardio, or breathing, I have never had problems. Natural low heart rate. My legs just pack up, in the past it would take me about 3 years to get my legs back. In recreational rides with other Masters, my heart rate is normally 20-30 beats lower than the other riders. At 48 max was 185, now at 61 max is 167 and I have to be fully recovered otherwise going above 150 is really hard. Again, my legs are just not there. I can get cardio fitness fast as always, but getting my legs to match takes a few years.

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Old 04-30-14, 11:03 AM   #21
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After base miles I start putting in all out efforts from 15 seconds up to 3 minutes a couple of times a week on low miles/time to focus on my lactate and ATP systems and not my aerobic engine.
That and doing a set of them up a short 10-11% incline has always been the ticket for me. I believe the latest research also points in this direction.

If there is no week-end racing on a Sunday, I will normally put in 4+ hours with our local club and most of it is zone2 riding.

Last edited by ColnagoC40; 04-30-14 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 04-30-14, 11:34 AM   #22
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Coming back from a long layoff, a traditional "periodization" program might not be the best way to go. At minimum folks should look at cycle duration, most older masters do better on a 3 week rest/work cycle vs. 4 week cycle, especially during "build". And newer or comeback folks often improve faster by abbreviating and shortening the traditional cycle, knocking off the second strength/base/build cycle and rotating back to ground zero.

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+1

Personally, after doing this for so many years previously (I may be totally wrong) my body tells me with pretty clear signals when I am fatigued and when my form is good allowing a high suffer score training session. With me, due to external factors, work, sleep, etc., it is random. Sometimes I can have 4 hard weeks and all is good, sometimes one hard week and I need to back off the next. For me the signals to back off is difficulty to get my heart rate/power high based on perceived effort and I do not sleep well when fatigued.
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Old 04-30-14, 12:11 PM   #23
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Now I understand why your break is in July. That was the only thing that made sense, racing on another continent.
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Old 04-30-14, 12:56 PM   #24
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It's a survey of a lot of WKO files from a bunch of different people of different categories. It took a range of the best duration bin numbers for those people and put them up on a chart. Pretty numbers. Pretty meaningless when it comes to racing in most cases. Very meaningless when it comes to age brackets.

I know a lot of people who fall outside that chart either high or low at various durations who race well above or below the category those numbers at the elite level, never mind age group. At least three of them here above.



Yep. Worth factoring in that as we age up we lose muscle mass and bone density; keeping after exercises that minimize this pays off down the road.

Coming back from a long layoff, a traditional "periodization" program might not be the best way to go. At minimum folks should look at cycle duration, most older masters do better on a 3 week rest/work cycle vs. 4 week cycle, especially during "build". And newer or comeback folks often improve faster by abbreviating and shortening the traditional cycle, knocking off the second strength/base/build cycle and rotating back to ground zero.

I use this program for folks who are new enough where planning an "A" block is essentially silly, or for folks coming back from injuries where there isn't time to do a full periodized program. The best analogy is there's rain coming and you need shelter. You can build a hut and stay dry or try to build a skyscraper and end up wet. You build the hut with a skyscraper in mind later.

Beyond physical progress the former yields a good mental outcome for newer or returning folks; they can see improvement in a shorter time period which helps with motivation and discipline. It answers the question of "Am I improving or doing this wrong?" in a shorter time period.
Well said.
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Old 05-02-14, 10:25 AM   #25
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In cat4, I am able to place in the first 10 for a while, this is the safest and easiest place to be, and experience allows me to creep through the gaps and pretty much maintain my position. But to do that every time there is hard acceleration, I have to dig deep into anaerobic. After a while I end up somewhere in the middle. At the end of the race I am normally hanging on for dear life in the last 3rd part of the bunch. Once I have gone anaerobic too many times, my acceleration out of corners are gone. No problem with climbing. I have been here before years ago after a layoff and learnt that with every race as the season progresses it goes a bit better, up to the point where it is possible to contest the sprint. Based on past experience, what is missing is power output enabling an easier pace to stay in position, not having to dig too deep often. Most of us can only go anaerobic so many times, then it is as if the hand brake is applied.
This is typical Cat4 stuff. Too much braking leads to repeated hard accelerations, which tends not to favor us more mature racers. It's a big reason many of us 4's enjoy the age group racing more than racing the 4's. It's a lot more fun (and personally I am far more competitive) racing masters. So much smoother; so much easier to relax into the flow. Stuff still happens, of course, but you are far less likely to have someone do something totally off the wall, unpredictably stupid.

And on the FTP topic, I also had a goal of getting it above 300, and got close: my max from a test was 297. Two crashes, and a shift in focus, has it well below that now. Yet as I shifted away from that being my focus (thanks coach!) I became both faster and more competitive, including in road races (40-60 miles). We are working it up to a more respectable number right now, but so many other factors are more important. As has been pointed out, repeated hard efforts with short recovery is great way to crush souls, and it's always surprising how many people get their Offthebakistan visas stamped when it gets fast for a bit, even on a flat course. I'm no sprinter, and one of my biggest goals is a better top end, but I just love speed, and I never hesitate to heat it up if the pack gets lazy. Some folks smile, and others say "Oh ****". Best to be smiling.
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