I’ve just gotten an upgrade and gone from near top of one cat, to near bottom of the next…how can I get competitive again?

https://soundcloud.com/thenevergoingpropodcast/episode-3-it-never-gets-easier-you-just-go-faster


Available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud


Show Notes:

Performance Management Chart (PMC) background + Differences in training between athlete levels:

-TSS = Training Stress Score = Developed by Dr. Andy Coggan + Hunter Allen: Allows athletes to objectively quantify their workouts based on their relative intensity, duration, and frequency of workouts. Example – 100 TSS at 100% FTP at 60 minutes. Using RPE – Think of intensity as an RPE value on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the hardest. If you exercised at a level 5 for two hours, then you would accumulate 50 TSS/hour or 100 total points.


-CTL = Chronic Training Load = Fitness = an exponentially weighted average of your last 42 days of training stress scores (TSS) and reflects the training you have done over the last 6 weeks. However, the workouts you did 15 days ago will impact your Fitness more than the workouts you did 30 days ago.


-ATL = Acute Training Load = Fatigue = An exponentially weighted average of your training stress scores from the past 7 days which provides an estimate of your fatigue accounting for the workouts you have done recently.


TSB = Training Stress Balance = Form = Yesterday’s Fitness (CTL) – Yesterday’s Fatigue (ATL) represents the balance of training stress. A positive TSB number means that you would have a good chance of performing well during those ‘positive’ days, and would suggest that you are both fit and fresh. They’re “On Form Today!” means high fitness + low fatigue.

Long story short, there is no short cut to fitness and becoming competitive ‘quickly’. “It never gets easier, you just go faster”

Greg LeMond

Personal Insights:
-The more fit you are, the greater the training stimulus needs to be to continue to improve. Also, the more fit the athlete is, they typically have a better handle on nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery, etc. i.e. if you want to get to the “next level” you can’t be living the “dad bod” lifestyle.

-Higher level athletes tend to become more specialized and hone in on a certain discipline, then again at a class in that discipline, and more importantly they train what makes them good in that class. I.e. a IM triathlete wouldn’t do well against a track pursuiter (typically), and vice versa. VERY FEW athletes are good at everything – and they can thank their Mom and Dad for that ability.

Helpful Links:
How to Plan Your Season With TSS –
www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/how-to-pl…-stress-score/

Response to Training Differences –
link.springer.com/article/10.2165%…-198805020-00001

Episode Transcript:

Ken: You know, I got a story I wanted to tell you guys.

Shayne: Oh yeah?

Chris: I’m all ears.

Ken: Yeah, did you hear about the time I overdosed on Viagra?

Chris: Gosh, no.

Ken: That was the hardest day of my life, man. All right and here we go.

Shayne: [inaudible 00:00:21] that’s perfect.

Chris: Now there’s only six people listening.

Ken: Now there’s only six people left. Welcome to the never going pro podcast by dads inside riding trainers featuring GC coaching. It’s a podcast about riding bikes and parenthood and trying really, really hard at both. I am your host Ken the badger [Knowles 00:00:47] and with me is Shayne Gaffney owner of GC coaching and Chris Gorney fellow team dirt made passionate cyclist and all around outstanding dad. So how is everybody doing this week?

Shayne: Doing well man, doing well how about you?

Ken: Good. Going through Tour de France withdraw. What an exciting year it was to watch the tour.

Shayne: For sure. That mudslide was insane the last one on the ultimate climb-

Chris: The act of God clause in the contract.

Ken: Not sure it really would have changed the outcome much, but still it made for some good dramatic television and some good debates among my cycling friends.

Shayne: And the French don’t win again, unfortunately.

Chris: Hey man the French have not won in my lifetime.

Ken: Yeah it’s been 33 years, you’re a youngen.

Chris: I know. It’s close, it’s barely but now I’m kind of rooting for that. I want to see how long they go without winning now.

Ken: I mean pretty good at putting the race on. You think they could win it every now and again.

Shayne: I’m from the Boston area so I went through the Red Sox not winning the World Series for however many years that was. So we’ll see if they can maybe match or beat them.

Chris: The curse of the Bambino.

Shayne: That’s right, the curse of the Bambino, yep exactly right.

Chris: This is the curse of the, I don’t know.

Shayne: Galla Phillipe or something.

Chris: Yeah.

Ken: Who knows man.

Chris: We’re all idiots.

Ken: Chris you were telling us that you went to Bentonville, Arkansas to go mountain biking.

Chris: Yep, rode with some people from my office there. We have a little satellite office in Bentonville and one of the guys was riding a hard tail and crashed on his way to the trails and got terrible road rash down his arm and his leg.

Shayne: Oh, no.

Chris: Ironically rode the trails wonderfully and just tore it up, but tore himself up on the turn on a sidewalk. He looked like he powerslid into home with his bike. He just hopped right back up.

Shayne: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: So anyway.

Ken: So for those of you in our listening audience, Bentonville, Arkansas has become a mecca for mountain biking. The Walton family, the Walmart people they’ve put like 80 million dollars into the trails down there?

Chris: Something silly.

Ken: Yeah something ridiculous like that and it has become pretty incredible.

Chris: One of the guys I rode with said that Slaughter Penn is trash and you should ride the new trails at [Koler 00:03:24].

Ken: Okay. So you’ve all heard it.

Chris: Well it’s not my opinion. I’ll blame, I’m going to leave his name out of it. But it was not me. So anyway.

Ken: Well I’m glad you got some trail time in.

Chris: Just so fun.

Ken: Yeah that’s a good deal. So a couple things that we’ve got going on this week. We’ve got a dad interview with one of our teammates, his name is Graham [Partaine 00:03:52] he lives down in Florida and he’s a guy I met online. As a matter of fact what he did is he gave me a PC to set up in my shed, a very nice gift from him and we’re going to put him on here in a few minutes and listen to what he gets out of training inside with a big group of like minded people. So I hope you enjoy that. We also have our focus question for the week. Shayne would you like to introduce our focus question?

Shayne: Sure. Let me just find it quickly. Oh, there it is. So the focus question is, I’ve just gotten upgrade and gone from near top of one catch to near bottom of the next. How can I get competitive again quickly? Competitive again quickly? So you can’t, but I’ll explain why.

Ken: You can’t get competitive again quickly.

Chris: I reject your answer immediately, podcast done.

Shayne: More donuts for Chris Gorney that’s what you need.

Chris: Dude, I had some amazing ice cream last night that replaced, anyway keep going.

Ken: So it’s a conundrum and for one a lot of us feel ourselves tickling up against the edge of the next cat up and it just feels like we will get lost in the bottom of the next wrung and I went through that. When I started racing C and I started winning some races and I got categorized up and and it was Zwift power and here I am. I’m at the bottom of B and I suck all over again.

Shayne: Yep and we should define categories for Zwift too before we go further. So there’s A through D, so D is one to 2.4 watts per kilo. C is 2.5 to 3.1. B is 3.2 to four and then A is four to five. There’s also an A+ category on Zwift power which I believe is-

Chris: What? I did not know that.

Shayne: Five plus. It’s either 4.5 or five plus I can’t remember.

Ken: I think it might be 4.5 and above. I don’t remember. But yeah you’re right.

Chris: All right we need to call confess what grouping we are in so people can know that and judge us about it and then look us up later and see if we’re lying.

Shayne: Okay. You go first.

Chris: Ken what are you?

Ken: Come on man.

Shayne: I will if you will.

Chris: This is good. I’m upper B towards the lower of A. That’s where I’m at.

Ken: Okay.

Shayne: I am the same. I am upper B towards low A. Previous A+ though.

Ken: No kidding, you made it all the way up there?

Shayne: I did, I did but then I had a kid.

Ken: Yeah baby will knock you back a couple of categories.

Chris: Think you’re a dirty, dirty liar.

Ken: Yeah I’m starting to race in the upper level of the B as well. Haven’t quite made that consistent 4.0 watts per kilogram.

Chris: I have a friend who was racing Mr. Dustin Elliot out of Philadelphia to give him a little shut out, shut out and shout out, both of them. It’s been a long day. A little shout out. He is the guy I’ve had in mind as we’ve been talking about this topic for the last week because I … well it was probably about six months ago he went from B and got into A and started just like racing against a whole other class of guys and he was kind of demoralized. He was winning races all over the place and then all of a sudden we’re rolling with these guys that were putting out 4.8 watts a kilo for an entire race and he’s just gassed. So it was pretty frustrating. He actually kind of worked himself into a hamstring injury.

Ken: No kidding.

Shayne: Oh, that’s not good.

Chris: Yeah. So his legs just fell straight off.

Ken: Wow. I was wondering what happened to Dustin.

Shayne: You only have a span of six watt per kilo in C. Eight watt per kilo in B and then a whole, sorry I should say .6 watt per kilo in C, .8 in B and then you have a full watt per kilo in A. That four to five is a humongous difference in talent and ability versus 3.2 to four isn’t that much difference. But four to five is like going from a cat three to a cat one. So that’s a different category too so maybe we should define those two. So the road category is USS cycling has cat five which is entry level beginner to cat one and then they have continental pro and then they also have world tour pro. World tour pro is the Tour de France guys you see on TV. So those guys are the best of the best.

Chris: That’s like the badger.

Shayne: Just like Ken the badger.

Ken: Pretty much. Yeah when I was younger five years ago. So one thing that I found interesting is the disparity between the different categories and how much training volume they’re putting in. So what Shayne does every week for our audience is he puts up some notes and some case studies and we get to look through it and pick out and decipher as much of it as we can. I was just amazed. These cat one, two guys are training what are we seeing, 14 to 20 hours a week annual training stress of a lot. Yeah.

Shayne: Yeah.

Chris: Does anyone else hope that those guys just have no friends? When I hear that people ride that much I’m like I just want there to be one thing wrong with them. They can’t be great people, they can’t be great dads and they can’t be freaks on a bike. They need to at least be the guy who doesn’t mow his lawn or something you know what I mean?

Ken: Yeah.

Chris: He’s got to be something.

Ken: Yeah well this podcast isn’t for them.

Shayne: Yeah I would probably argue not dads of young kids.

Chris: That’s true. If you’re an A+ rider please stop listening right now.

Shayne: I do work with one A+ rider now with a kid, but he’s a genetic superstar and he’s got a huge volume of training in his history. So he can get away with six to 12 hours a week.

Chris: He can keep listening.

Shayne: But yeah, most of those guys or gals are typically kidless or older kids and they have the time to actually train those hours. So if we run through the hours quickly, so a cat five which again entry level you’re talking three to eight hours per week on average. A cat four is six to ten. Cat three nine to 14 and then as Ken was saying cat one/two is 14 to 20. Then typically what I’ve seen is continental pro is 25 and the world tour is 25 to 35 per week give or take. So as you need to increase your fitness you have to increase your training density like we’ve talked about a couple times not on this podcast. So the easy way to do that is just by making more time to train. So that’s why you should see that disparity between the categories.

Ken: Sure and I guess the thing that amazes me is that you could even ride a bike and absorb anymore training at 25, 30 hours a week or more.

Shayne: For sure, yeah.

Ken: What is going on? What is the nuancy stuff going on with the body at that point that is even yielding any sort of benefit from riding that much?

Shayne: Yeah. That’s when you get into nature versus nurture argument.

Ken: Okay.

Shayne: So a lot of those world tour guys are genetically designed to ride a bike where the average person wouldn’t be able to A, tolerate and absorb that much training stress and B, they’re response to that training wouldn’t be nearly as good. So which we can get to later in the podcast because I have research on this too. But trainability is a big thing where if you give 10 athletes the same program you’ll get one athlete that responds ridiculously well, one athlete that responds not at all and you’ll get six or eight that respond somewhere in that bell curve even though they’re all doing the same amount of training and the same training stress. So you have to have a good setup to that.

Chris: Where would you if you were saying we’re taking cat five through pro, where would you say the line per, this is going to be purely subjective I’m sure. Where do you think the average line if you’re going to compare that to Zwift categories. Clearly the upper one, two pro all those guys are going to be A+. But in your opinion where do you think B lands? Is that cat four do you think?

Shayne: I think that’s cat four and bottom three. Then A is like you were saying one, two. Then C, D is typically four, five.

Ken: Sure.

Shayne: That’s what I would say. ‘

Ken: Sure.

Chris: So let’s come up with a case study here. So you are let’s say a guy is C category and he’s been doing pretty well, been winning some races, feeling good at it. He gets online and goes, oh, surprise I’m now looking at Zwift power and I’ve been bumped to B and now he’s in the B races getting up early, racing those he’s just dogged. What do you say here? He’s like how do I get back to the top of the heat?

Ken: Lose some weight.

Shayne: That might help yeah. Lose some weight. But to a point because Zwift tends to penalize people that are lightweight, at least in my experience where most of Zwift races are relatively flat. So you want to have semi-weight behind you so you can keep the momentum going. So for me I’m only 142 pounds, so if I do volcano flat I have to put out four watts per kilo plus to stay with a guy that’s putting out 3.2 watts per kilo that’s 60 pounds heavier than I am.

Chris: You only weigh 142 pounds?

Shayne: I do, yep.

Chris: You’re like a small little, very cute.

Ken: For our international audience what’s that in kilos?

Shayne: 64 kilos I think.

Chris: Ken, how much do you weight? What’s your kilo?

Shayne: Yeah 64.4.

Ken: Just a few tenths below 70 kilos right now. So 154, 155 and I’m carrying a little extra weight right now. I’m trying to get back to that race weight which is closer to 150.

Chris: Well I am the Clydesdale of this group. So that’s good.

Shayne: How much do you weigh?

Chris: I’m like a buck 60, buck 65.

Shayne: That’s not bad. That’s not bad.

Chris: I like to think I’m more powerful than both of you though, so.

Shayne: Yeah you’d probably smoke us in a flat race you know?

Chris: Yeah we’ll see, we’ll see. That’s a weird conversation. A bunch of men talking about how much they weigh.

Shayne: Well that’s very appropriate for cycling though.

Chris: Very appropriate.

Shayne: More [inaudible 00:15:09].

Chris: So what do we do here? I’m 160 pounds, I just got into B and everything is terrible.

Shayne: Yep.

Chris: So losing weight is not really an option.

Shayne: Yeah losing weight’s okay but it depends if you have weight to lose honestly. The most hard part is what we’ve already spoken about is just don’t let the psychology of losing races get to you because you’re at a new category and a new level of fitness. So that’s probably number one, don’t beat yourself up about it if you’re getting dropped consistently. Then number two is as you get more fit, as you get to and the cream continues to rise people will typically specialize in their role for a team or what events they compete in. So that’s why you have domestiques, you have rollers, puncher, you have the GC guy, you have the climbers, the sprinters. You have those guys that train for their ability and that’s really what they specialize in. So as you get closer to B and A you may want to start to target and actually train your strengths and actually race the races that will adhere to those strengths best, as opposed to be 160 pounds and doing Alpha Zwift you’re probably not going to do very well there. But you may do really well at volcano circuit or something like that.

Chris: I’d like to tell the world that when I got married to my wife I weighed 145 pounds and she made a comment that I was scrawny. So I started doing CrossFit for like four years just to gain weight. So I feel less scrawny, but I’m a little slower on a bike.

Ken: Yeah well you can throw your bike a lot farther than you used to.

Chris: Yeah that’s true when I get mad it’s perfect. I just crush my bike in half.

Ken: So Shayne one thing I’m looking at here is I’m looking at these volume guidelines for cyclists and I think that there’s probably some wisdom that can be gained from this. You probably got up to a category C by riding your three to eight hours a week and now you’re tickling at the bottom of a cat B and you’re frustrated. Well one thing that I did when I first did my first couple of mountain bike races and I just got hammered by these guys is I peeked at all of their Strava profiles and I was like, huh every single person that beat me rides a bike more than I do. Yeah so I think that this specialization is certainly one piece of it, but also getting right sized with how much training volume you’re doing. I feel that it’s realistic if this is important to you and it’s a hobby you find worth pursuing, I feel that the average parent can find six to ten hours a week if they’re dedicated, if they’re willing to turn Netflix off and get into bed a little bit early to set the alarm a little bit earlier and just to make training a priority.

Ken: You can do that without taking away from the other important things in your life, but there’s almost always slack and fluff in everybody’s lifestyle that they can get rid of to find something more meaningful.

Shayne: That’s the thing too. This podcast is geared toward parents that tend to be time crunched. So it may just not be in the cards right now for you to actually train that nine to 14 hours per week which is okay. You may just have to deal with being at that category for a little bit longer, or just maybe expect the gains and the changes to happen a little bit slower, not as rapid as they did when you first started training which I think is true for everybody. The more fit you get, the slower the changes become and the more you have to work for those changes.

Ken: Gotcha. So we talked about the volume piece here from going from category from a category C to a category B. Well what about the intensity factor?

Shayne: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You mean the training stress?

Ken: Right. So in other words so maybe you take a good look you’re like okay I’ve been a cat C and I’m already riding eight hours a week, now I need to take a look at what I’m going within those eight hours and seeing how can I make that eight hours more fruitful?

Shayne: So yeah intensity factor is one where you can generate more TSS per hour. But like we’ve talked about I think the first episode where if you’re just grinding yourself down day in, day out that’s not really good for longevity in training and also in the sport where you tend to see more burn up that way. So typically I’ll see once athletes get to a .85 to .87 IF average for the week that’s basically all the intensity that they can tolerate. Very few can tolerate a .90, .92 IF average for eight hours per week. That’s basically doing VO2 max intervals every time you get on the bike which are horrible. So it takes a very special person to do that.

Ken: Right, right, right.

Chris: That’s the only way I ride. Just get out of my house, I just sprint as hard as I can until I pass out. That’s all I do.

Shayne: So intensity if one way to do it, but it’s okay to do it. But it’s not going to be able to maintain for awhile because you’re just going to get burnt out because VO2 max intervals are horrible. That’s why people do them usually once a week, not five days a week.

Ken: Gotcha.

Shayne: So you know the true best way to do it is by increasing volume.

Ken: So we’ve talked quite a bit about training stress and we’ve defined it, or TSS and we’ve defined it as your training stress score. But you actually broke it down further in your notes for this week’s podcast and explained exactly what that is relative to FTP and I never knew this. So if you wanted to tell our audience about just exactly what it is I think it was definitely illuminating for me to read it.

Shayne: Sure so TSS is an important metric to understand if you are looking to get a little more serious and train with power especially. So TSS like Ken said is training stress score. It was developed by Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen. You probably all know Hunter Allen from Peaks coaching group. He’s a celebrity type coach and Andy Coggan you may not know. If you don’t know him he’s a great google. He’s done a lot of the grunt work and the science behind the cycling. So he’s a great google. But anyways TSS is a way for athletes to objectively quantify their workouts. So you do this based on intensity, duration and also frequency. So if you were to ride 100% FTP for 60 minutes that would be 100 TSS for that hour. You can also think of it as rate of perceived exertion or RPE where if you exercise at level five for a couple hours you would accumulate 50 TSS per hour or about 100 TSS in total.

Ken: Gotcha. So simply put the 100 TSS is one hour at FTP. Yeah, good luck with that right? It’s much easier to do a 90 minute or two hour long workout and try to accumulate that same training stress. I don’t know anybody that can really hold their FTP for an hour. We spoke about that earlier. You’re like wait a minute functional threshold power, you should be able to do that for an hour, but that’s not exactly how it works.

Chris: Right.

Shayne: Correct, correct. Yeah so the true definition is FTP is your maximum power you can maintain in a semi-quasi steady state for approximately one hour. That’s the true definition. So the other thing is time to exhaustion or TTE. So that’s how long you can truly hold your FTP for. So you can do that through WKO with the model say, or you can see what you’re FTP is and then see how long you can hold it for. That’s truly what your TTE is at FTP. Some athletes are 30 minutes, some athletes are 45 minutes. Like you said very few athletes are over an hour.

Chris: That’s crazy. That just makes me want to … just remembering doing FTP tests is the worst thing in the world.

Ken: So coach Shayne how do you test your athletes? I think I’ve seen you basically say that there are shortcomings with doing a ramp test and a 20 minute power test like the 20 minute power test it’s hard to pace it. With a ramp test it may benefit certain physiologies more than others. So how do you run somebody through? So say for instance I call you up, I’m like, “Shayne let’s do it. I’m going to sign up to have you for the next three months. What’s day one look like?”

Shayne: So day one will be typically an FTP test if you haven’t done one in awhile. So I like to test one minute, five minute and 20 minute power all in the same session. So the one minute power gives me an idea of what the athletes anerobic capacity is, or their FRC which is their functionally reserved capacity. The five minute power gives me an idea of what their VO2 max is and then the 20 minute power is at the end on purpose because I’m trying to reduce their anerobic contribution to FTP which is what I spoke about in my article is what I’m testing and things like that. So you’re trying to pre-exhaust the athlete a little bit that way their FTP test is being generated aerobically as much as possible. So reducing anerobic capacity or sorry reducing anerobic contribution doing FTP is crucial.

Ken: So that’s similar to I think I’ve seen that the suffer fest does something along those lines.

Shayne: Very similar.

Ken: Gotcha. So with that data, so you’ve got the one minute, the five minute and the 20 minute power test. Like how do you determine the FTP from there?

Shayne: So I plug it into WKO and then WKO plugs me a modeled FTP.

Ken: Okay.

Shayne: Then I judge that against other charts and other models in there and then if that looks all good and it all jives then that’s what the athlete’s modeled FTP is. Like I said WKO also gives me what their TTE is or their time to exhaustion. So I’ll know approximately how long they can hold their FTP for. So I think that the question is going to be if they can’t access their WKO what would they do?

Ken: Gotcha.

Chris: Right that’s what I was going to ask.

Shayne: So if they don’t access the WKO then you want to do an either longer duration FTP test. So that was my next thing. If I have athletes that are doing iron man or doing really aerobically based stuff, I won’t test one minute power because I don’t really care too much about the FRC and if anything I’m trying to reduce their FRC because I’m trying to up regulate their aerobic capacity. So I’ll do five minute and then I’ll do a 30 or even 40 minute long FTP test and then vice-versa for the track athletes I don’t really care too much about what their FTP is. I care about what their pursuit is or their sprint is or whatever. So I’ll do a 15 second test, I’ll do a 30 second test. I’ll do more testing in the short ranges to build up power duration curve better. So the testing has to meet the demands of the athlete. But most athletes can get away with one minute, five minute and 20 minute tests.

Shayne: If the athlete doesn’t have access to the WKO then make sure you’re doing a hard effort before you do the FTP test. I think Zwift has a three minute effort at 115% FTP before the FTP test and that effort is there to basically decrease the inter contribution you have to the FTP test.

Chris: Interesting. I’ve always wondered that because the first time I did one of those I just looked at the profile and saying bad words to myself. Like I’m about to do this 20 minute effort but that actually is trying to give you a more honest 20 minute effort.

Shayne: Exactly yep. So your FTP is comprised of anaerobic and aerobic energy sources. So you might have on one minute 80% anaerobic and 20% aerobic and then as it goes out you’re going to get less and less anerobic contribution and more aerobic contribution. So the key with FTP test is making it as aerobic as possible. So that’s why you do that initial effort that is quite challenging because you’re trying to fatigue that anerobic system. So you want to start the effort slightly tired, but that’s good because that means you’re going to get a more accurate FTP test.

Chris: Well that’s what we’re here for is accuracy.

Ken: Right and some ways do you think that in the cycling world that it seems to me that we’re falling short by not spending more time talking about time to exhaustion.

Shayne: Yeah I mean it depends on the goal. If the goal is to do time trialing then TTE is really important. But if your goal is to increase your 20 minute power then that’s totally fine. Some athletes goal is to make their FTP higher and what’s wrong with just basing FTP off of just the 20 minute number? So that’s when you get into the argument of how serious do you want to get into this whole ecosystem? How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? You can go really far down the rabbit hole or not.

Chris: Really what you’re doing is based on the athlete’s priorities. You’re saying let’s come up with a standard unit of measure, use that and judge everything against that. If you’re just trying to get stronger on Zwift with FTP it’s okay to listen to everything you say, say hey that’s really interesting, put it on a shelf and go take a 20 minute FTP test and just use that as your comparative. And yeah see I’m thinking about our audience and what people are talking. If I’m saying I’m going from C to B and my FTP is I don’t know, my FTP is 300 or whatever, I have no idea what my FTP is right now. You’re saying well hey as long as you know that’s your standard and you’re seeing that go up appropriately than it’s fine to use that even though that’s not super accurate. If you’re a professional but for us dads that’s fine.

Shayne: Yeah exactly. I mean I’m not going to train my pros the same way I train my cat fives. That would be kind of foolish. So the different strokes for different folks and I try to mold myself to the needs of the athlete not the other way around. So I try to treat everybody as individual as I can because if I gave a cat five a 45 minute FTP test they would not work with me very long, and also it wouldn’t be worth it. It would be just way too much … you can get away with a much fun way to test it which is one minute, five minute and 20 minute power.

Ken: Right and that’s the whole point of having individual coaches because they drill down exactly on what you need rather than the commodity style downloading a training program online or which works well for some. But not well for everybody.

Shayne: Yeah I’d say it works well for the majority of the population.

Ken: Sure.

Shayne: Then you can just critique it or tweak it if you need to see something different.

Chris: Or skip the hard workouts is what I just heard you say.

Shayne: Yeah, right.

Ken: So Shayne when you work with the pros are they mainly … I mean do a lot of these folks have day jobs or just jobs that have a lot of flexibility or they’re getting paid just to ride bikes or do triathlons?

Shayne: A little bit of each. Some you’re getting paid just to ride a bike. Some are getting paid to ride bikes and also work and some have very flexible jobs. So a little bit of each.

Ken: Right so I know a lot of fast, competitive runners that they might be considered pro but I’m not sure. But they work in running shops and stuff like that or they work as running coaches and that seems to be they’re always in that ecosystem. They have something to do with the fitness industry that keeps them close to the ability to train.

Shayne: They’re more ingrained and down the rabbit hole you go, typically the more you absorb the culture and you become totally enthralled with it. Kind of like Zwift, people get obsessed with Zwift and they become enthralled by it. So it’s the same thing with the IRL guys too I guess.

Ken: Sure.

Shayne: But typically the athletes that are getting paid to do their sport are technically professional and the level of when you get paid to do it is I guess different. But technically if you’re getting paid to do it then you’re a pro, you know?

Ken: Right. Right, I guess for all of us that have read cycling on $10 a day by Phil Gaimon just the brutality of working from the college ranks all the way up to the pro ranks and that he was at one point making a few hundred dollars a month and I don’t know how he was feeding himself. But it was just insanity. He got free bikes and kits which would be amazing, but definitely not enough to live on.

Shayne: No. It’s not a sport you want to make your millions off of unless you’re the top one percent of the world tour guys. Otherwise you’re not getting paid much money. But one of my favorite sayings ever is it never gets easier, you just go faster. So it’s true. It never gets easier. Each category upgrade or each workout or each FTP bump it never gets easier, you just go faster. So it’s the same amount of work if not more work.

Chris: That’s a good life motto also.

Shayne: Yeah for sure.

Ken: Yeah that was Greg Lemond if I’m remembering.

Shayne: Yep.

Ken: Well thank you for all your feedback and research on that stuff. I think that you’re seeing how it plays out and I’ve seen folks that have become masterful in staying just within their category. So there’s definitely some tricks around that and the main thing that I can tell you is stay in the pack. If you want to win without busting category then learn how to sprint.

Chris: Or just continue to change your weight and never get high enough where they have to actually test your weight in person, which I have for sure seen some people who’s weight … you look at their weight listing you’re like how did that change so quickly? You’re seeing it go up and down just a little bit. I think we’ve all probably seen that on there. It’s a little shady. A little dirty Zwifting.

Shayne: Yeah for sure. My favorite recent one is the height thing. Did you see that? People were adjusting their height.

Chris: Really?

Ken: So tell me about how height plays into the algorithm? I was talking about this earlier but it makes a big difference in your drafting doesn’t it or aerodynamics?

Shayne: Huge difference, yeah. The shorter you are the more aerodynamic you get on Zwift and then vice-versa. The taller you are the more drag you experience. So people were instead of changing your weight because weight has been tracked on Zwift power for a long time, they would just change their height and get away with it Scott free. So people would be like two feet shorter for some races than they were other races.

Ken: Yeah that’s a big difference. So it looks like a bunch of five foot tall body builders that are all 160 pounds.

Shayne: Yeah.

Chris: Well that is one advantage that I have.

Shayne: Now they’re all being tracked on Zwift power.

Chris: I am short. I might not be as light as you guys, but I am short and compact.

Ken: Well there you go, you’ve got the draft advantage.

Chris: I love it. That’s good, so summarizing. If I went from C to B not going to get any easier, I’m just going to have to keep working harder, take my time, be patient if I don’t have more hours.

Shayne: Yeah that’s right.

Ken: Yep.

Shayne: Then ideally increase your hours first and before you increase intensity because intensity is a little bit of a fickle beast where you can do it, but you can’t do it for a long time and it stinks doing VO2 max workouts every day of the week or races every day of the week. So try to increase volume first if you can.

Ken: Right. Gotcha and I think for a lot of folks out there and I think racing all the time you just getting the same stimulus over and over again and eventually you’re just not going to make those improvements. So for me when I took a step back from racing three days a week to doing three training workouts a week I started to just see big improvements in my fitness.

Shayne: For sure.

Ken: Yep.

Shayne: That’s where a sweet spot comes in which is my favorite thing for our time crunch guys and gals.

Ken: Yeah and that’s mainly what I do sweet spots and over/under and that’s about it.

Shayne: I love it. So I will link all those articles and pretty charts and stuff to the show notes like I did last week.

Ken: Great.

Shayne: If anybody is curious and wants to learn more about it.

Ken: Sounds good.

Chris: Does this put us into the dad story Ken?

Ken: All right. So this is the never going pro podcast and we are interviewing one of our team dirt members and his name is Graham Partaine, he lives in Florida. So Graham and I met on Zwift and we’ve done a lot of racing together and we’ve become pretty good friends. One of the reasons I wanted to reach out to Graham is because we’ve talked a lot about balancing work and fitness, family, business. Graham has his own business and often times keeps regular hours, has some travel involved too. So we’re going to get Graham to join us and tell us a little bit about himself. So Graham hello where you joining us from today?

Graham: Hey, yeah in my office at home in Gainesville, Florida.

Ken: Fantastic. So I hear you got the day off today?

Graham: Well I’m running into vacation. We’re getting ready to leave for a trip to head up to Atlanta to go to the Atlanta Aquarium and then Great Wolf Lodge.

Ken: Awesome.

Graham: So preparing.

Ken: So basically Great Wolf Lodge is a giant indoor waterpark and hotel right?

Graham: Yeah it is one heck of a workout too.

Ken: Yeah I think I remember after you said you felt like you had done a triathlon the last time you went.

Graham: Yeah you got to run up and down stairs all day and there’s really not any lines, so there’s no break and the kids are so excited that they don’t slow down. I don’t know where they get their fitness from but they challenged me.

Ken: Sure. Well so how old are they?

Graham: My girls are nine and 11.

Ken: Nine and 11, man I bet they are wide open.

Graham: It’s such a fun age, it’s the best.

Ken: Yeah gotcha. Well so I guess some of my questions for you are so how did you get into riding Zwift and what does it add to your lifestyle?

Graham: You know it’s funny. I’ve always been into the gaming stuff a little bit. I mean growing up and I always thought it was interesting. So I remember seeing on Strava some guys I know it looked like they were riding in the middle of the ocean somewhere on this island and I was trying to figure out what’s going on and where are they? This is when Strava, I mean Zwift was still really new and was still in Beta. So I got in touch with one of the guys and he started telling me about it. I was like man, I got to try that. So I had a dumb trainer with a power tab wheel set up this funky rig in my garage and started doing it. It just fit and I was at a time in my life, you know this was probably five years ago when I was trying to figure out how to stay fit, how to get rides in, how to work and be a dad and it was this awesome thing. I just started having fun with it. Been there ever since.

Ken: Yeah I think I feel part of the same thing. Part of my story was I was always a gym rat, I did a lot of CrossFit and after an elbow injury it just left me so I couldn’t go to the gym. The summertime wasn’t a problem. I would ride my mountain bike before work and then after that happened and it started getting dark and cold outside here in North Carolina I was just really struggling looking for something to do and that’s when I got set up on Zwift. But for me a lot of it has been about meeting this group of people, most of them obviously dads inside riding trainers and it became this huge and unexpected support network for guys that are really going through a lot of stuff. Whether it’s changing jobs, newborn kids, going through a divorce. I mean we see a lot of it.

Graham: Oh, for sure and that was part of it for me. I’m on my second marriage and my first marriage ended I would say is my selfish attitude about my fitness. I was doing iron mans and training like crazy and there’s a lot that went into it. But it was a big blow going through that and I realize now this opportunity I’ve been with my wife now 12 years. But five or six years ago I was running into the same problems and I realized if I go down that path again I cannot imagine going through that with my girls and being responsible maybe with my selfish attitude which I tend to have. So I was not only going through refocusing on my marriage, but I was spiritually trying to refocus myself in a way where I could be a better dad and this all fell into line. It was interesting, when I ran into [inaudible 00:41:10] riding around on Zwift, like “hey man join our team. Bunch of dads riding bikes.” All of a sudden this community came around me that were all trying to do the same thing. We’re imperfect people trying to stay fit.

Graham: We do want to stay fit, it’s great. We want to ride our bikes, but also man being a dad is like the hugest privilege and a lot of work and I found this community that they are doing it with me and I got all kinds of cool support and met great people, met you. It just grew from there. I immediately became attracted to the group.

Ken: That really I think has been the story I’ve heard over and over again. It’s funny to me when you say you were selfish in any way because I’ve never seen that side. I mean you’ve always been willing to put it all on the line for the sake of the team and have always been in that helper role in a lot of ways even though you’ve got the engine, you can definitely win some of these B races. You’re often taking one for the team and I think that is a really cool thing, even if it is just a video game. It is fun to have that opportunity.

Graham: You kind of forget it’s a video game sometimes.

Ken: Yeah, right I know.

Graham: We get so serious. We’re on our headsets, my wife comes out of the garage and talking to each other and it sounds really weird from her side of it. But it’s really great, you know? It’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely made me stronger on the bike. I mean it’s no doubt. It’s up to my fitness level because we’re burying ourselves for each other trying to win races in this awesome game.

Ken: So it is true. So I have a couple of questions for you. What is your next big fitness endeavor? I hear you’re doing some running.

Graham: Yeah there’s some guys that are runners. It was funny when they discord they started a running channel on our discord channel I was like this is a horrible idea. Nobody is going to be okay with that and all of a sudden we had an opportunity to start conversing about the running side of our fitness. I’ve always wanted to run a sub 25 5k and I came three seconds close to it 15 years ago. I was like you know what I want to do this. I started talking with a couple of the guys and one of the guys is a running coach and I was like I really want to try to do this. I’ve actually lost some weight thanks to your help and some of your advice on nutrition. Down 15 pounds.

Ken: Wow.

Graham: Was like this is an opportunity to really go for it. So my goal is this winter to run a sub 25 k. I just got done with some intervals this morning, it’s hard.

Ken: Well if you stick with it you certainly have the aerobic base from all your Zwift training.

Graham: Let’s hope.

Ken: So well Graham best of luck with your 5k and thanks for jumping on with us today and we will see you in Watopia.

Graham: I’ll look forward to it, thanks buddy.

Ken: All right thanks Graham. Thank you again Shayne and Chris for joining us tonight. Shayne really appreciate all the research that you do for these articles and also again thank you for dirt dad Graham Partaine for sharing a little bit about what his experience is like training indoors. I also want to give a shout out to a gentleman named David who is on our team. He put a lot of work into getting our dirt in real life kits put together. We now have a pack Temo store. I think I’m pronouncing that name right. Anyway you can go to indoorspecialist.com/store and pick out all kinds of variety of different branded clothing with our dirt team name on it. Anything from arm warmers to nice cycling bib shorts and jerseys. So check that out. We need to get an order in by August the 5th, so a little bit of urgency there. Check it out. I think you’ll like what we have to do. Thank you everybody again for tuning into the never going pro podcast and we will talk to you again in two weeks. See you in Watopia.

Shayne Gaffney

About the Author Shayne Gaffney

Shayne holds a bachelors degree in Health Science in Professional Development and Advanced Patient Care, is a licensed physical therapy assistant in Massachusetts, a USA Cycling Level 1 (expert level) certified Coach, a USA Cycling Power Based Training certified Coach, Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified Coach, a US Military Endurance Sports (USMES) affiliated Coach, and USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport certified. He is the owner and head Coach of GC Coaching, Workout Content Editor at Zwift, the creator of P2 Coached Computraining, and the creator of Zwift’s “Build Me Up” Flexible Training Plan. He has been published in Bicycling Magazine, the TrainingPeaks blog, and Zwift Insider. He can be contacted directly via info@gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

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