Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton

A Successful Use of W' in REAL-TIME, During a 20 Minute Test at Cycling Center Dallas

This is just a quick video recap of an exciting result we got last night at Cycling Center Dallas. Using a Client's Critical Power Data, we calculated her W', or, Anaerobic Work Capacity, using PerfPro Studio. Then we underwent an 8 week block of MAP/Vo2Max training. We are testing this week, and did some 'Pre-Test' work last week. Using this Cyclist's most recent 3,8, and 20 minute Mean Max Values, we predicted a Critical Power of ~175w and ~18,100 Joules of AWC. For the Test, I had the client focus on keeping W' as 'Full' as possible for the first half of the workout, and to work on increasing the RATE of use, until, at or near the very end, she was either completely spent, or even below her AWC. On PerfPro, this is depicted on the dashboard as "100% down to -X%", and when you dip too far below Zero, it's usually a good weathervane telling you that you've adapted and have a higher Critical Power, a Higher AWC, or both. This client followed my instructions perfectly, and per her 'OLD' Critical Power, set a new 20MMP of 200w, and hit a "-22%" on her W' during the test. When I entered her new 20MMP, and kept the older 3 and 8 minute mean max numbers, her Critical Power jumped up by 10 watts, but her AWC/W' dropped by about 3200 Joules, or 3.2 KiloJoules. However, MORE IMPORTANTLY, when I applied the NEW CRITICAL POWER and AWC/W' values... the AWC values ended up PERFECTLY ALIGNING, and she ended the test at.... 0% W'. She literally "Left With Nothing Left!", which, as you know, really is my motto. I'm more convinced than ever that this model for Anaerobic Work Capacity (W') works, and that we as coaches are on the leading edge of a training breakthrough. We'll be better able to help our clients understand how to handle any ride, any challenge, any hill, any climb, any long endurance ride, and any race condition, if that's where their spirit takes them. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, has applied this knowledge and information like we have, and I'm incredibly grateful for Drew Hartman, Philip Skiba, and all the other Scientists and Coaches who have brought us to this frontier. Watch the video for more.

Coach Wharton

Quantifying Sleep Quality, and How That Translates in to a Better, or Worse, Workout the Next Day

I first started following sleep studies when one of my mentors, Dr. Allen Lim, began discussing the issue in his work with one of the teams he was supporting -- I think it was Garmin. Lim used an ANT+ product called the ZEO SleepCoach, which used a measuring device on a forehead, and transmitted that to a bedside clock that had a memory chip in it. The chip recorded...

  • Time required to fall asleep.
  • Time spent in Light Sleep 
  • Time spent in Deep Sleep (helps with muscle recovery and adaptation).
  • Time spent in REM Sleep (helps with mental recovery and freshness).
  • How many times you awoke throughout the night.
  • Total time spent sleeping. 

It also had a great alarm system that allowed a certain window, so you could get those extra minutes of sleep, in certain states of sleep, in order to wake up refreshed. 

Sadly, they went out of business several years ago, and no one has purchased the company out of receivership. So, I used it for myself, and except for the realization that the clock was not atomic, and drifted out of sync with the real world every few weeks, it did a pretty neat job of measuring things. All of the information could be sent to a database, and you would receive a score, based on a scale of 1-100, compared to age and gender, along with coaching to help raise the quality of your sleep. I started going to bed earlier, quit watching Television so late at night, quit drinking caffeine after about 3pm, and tried not to eat so late. Sadly, my schedule of getting up around 4am really affected the quality of my days, and when combined with the breakdown of my first marriage, I began gaining weight. Ironically, the sleep was an indicator of bigger things going on in my life, sort of a "Canary in the Coal Mine". My REM sleep was inadequate, my Deep Sleep was inadequate, and my mood was chronically shot, along with most of my workouts and fitness. It wasn't until I got divorced, and moved in to a tiny apartment for about 6 months in 2012 that I was able to reset everything and move on. 

But fast-forward to late 2014. I got a random feed on Facebook about the Resmed S+ sleep monitoring device, and when I looked in to it, it really did seem to provide accurate measurement and record-keeping over time. It uses a subsonic system to monitor your sleep, and in conjunction with a smart phone, it's noninvasive and does everything that the ZEO SleepCoach system did, including the smart wake-up alarm. Resmed has a long history of sleep research, and for $130, it was reasonably priced. I started using it, but I never got in to the whole sleep/diet/alcohol/exercise connection until just recently. The results have been fascinating, and here's what I've learned!

Far too often, we look at our day in terms of a routine that centers around meals, work, exercise, and sleep. But what we don't tend to do is think about that circadian rhythm as to how it works in terms of PRE-paration for the next day, as well as RE-paration from the day's activities. I think modern Western Society is arguably in a bad spot, as for the most recent 10,000 years of our history, we tended to go to sleep with the sunset, and get up with the sunrise, more or less. Eventually, candlelight was replaced by electrical light, and now, we have all these extra stimuli around and jobs that never seem to end with the traditional 9 to 5, or 8 to 6, or whatever kind of working tradition we as a culture were used to. Heck, we didn't even celebrate weekends for several thousand years, and we never had days of rest, or vacation. I think that word may even be a modern construct, but that's beside the point. What IS important is that we need to probably RE-THINK our Circadian Rhythm. Instead of looking at bedtime as the END of the day, look at bedtime as the BEGINNING of the NEXT day. How you SLEEP will actually determine the QUALITY of the upcoming 18 hours, and the 1-3 hours that most of you may dedicate to your exercise routine! I THINK I can now quantify what an evening of food and recuperation through sleep can offer for an upcoming day's exercise, and I THINK I can do it using the Moxy Monitor, of which I've become a real, true fan, as well as the traditional wattage and heart rate measuring devices. I THINK that proper recovery can show lowered heart rate, raised power output, and less strain on the muscles and blood. It's still early, and it may be hard to explain or elocute, but I'm going to try. I may have to follow this up with other posts or rework it from time to time, so bear with me. 

Here's the example:

Feb 6 SMo2 and ThB 10 minute sub CP

Click on the image to go to the more detailed link of the Analysis on PerfPro's website. 

On February 6th, I performed a couple of 10 minute efforts to try and burn off some kilojoules, and also to try out some different CompuTrainers that had just been calibrated. I set the WASP devices in the studio (ANT+ mega-transceivers), to pick up the data off of my Rotor Power Meter, while also receiving the HR data off my chest strap. Here are my average Muscle Oxygen values, as well as my average Hemoglobin values for each interval. If you look closely, you'll also be able to see my average recovery values as well. 

Now - here's the data from the ResMed S+, recorded the night before...

Feb 5 Sleep Score Image 1

This first image shows that I honestly had a pretty good night's rest. REM is represented by the battery on the left, and Deep Sleep is represented by the battery on the right. Total Sleep was almost 7 hours, and it took me just 8 minutes to fall asleep. However, I spend about 40 minutes throughout the night awake, and that happened three separate times. 

Here's a more detailed look at the night, broken down in to roughly 5 minute intervals...

Hypnogram from Feb 5 2015

I've highlighted and tagged some of the important stuff.

  • Blue is Deep Sleep.
  • Green is Light Sleep.
  • Yellow is REM Sleep.
  • Red is Disrupted time when I was awake. 

The red dots represent the ambient room temperature, and the yellow dots represent how much light pollution was present. We DO have a pretty dark, quiet house, but there are times when the neighbor behind us may leave the back light on, or a charger is left on in the room somewhere, and that can pollute the darkness of the bedroom. I also like to use an included white noise generator to put me to sleep, and that's the lavender colored column near the 10:30 mark. The rest of the night was pretty quiet, and I really DO sleep better with the bedroom a little bit cooler.

Anyway, despite the good Sleep Score, I think it was the disruptions, specifically where they were placed, and the generally less-than-optimal Deep Sleep, that led to the next day's results. Go back up to the workout values, or click on the link so you can see it on a separate web page. Basically, with a decent but not optimal night's rest, I got muscle and ThB scores that were the following:

  • First Interval: 244w for 10 minutes, 35.1% Smo2, 11.75mmol of ThB, HR 161bpm.
  • Second Interval: 246w, 36.0% SmO2, 11.72 ThB, HR 161bpm.
  • Third Interval: 247w, 36.6% SmO2, 11.73 ThB, HR 167bpm.

Now - what does that mean? 

Generally, for a sub-Critical Power workout, when I warm up, I can get my SmO2 on my left lateralis, to read between 86 and 90%, and my ThB peaks around 12.25. For this workout, given that I felt rested, I was minimally dehydrated, and I had eaten, I think this was actually, MUSCULARLY, a kind of tough workout. How do I know? Well, let's look at another workout, a few NIGHTS and DAYS later...

Here's the workout from Monday, February 9th...

Feb 9 6 minute intervals

Click on the image to go to a detailed analysis of the workout, via PerfPro Analyzer's website. 

This was a couple of 6 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries, and again, my own goal was to stay below Critical Power. It happened to be the workout of the day for everyone else, though, so their goal was to get as close to 105-110% of Critical Power as possible. If you look closely, you'll see that while my first interval was about 91% of Critical Power, as was my second, and even my third, but by the time I got to my fourth and fifth intervals, I had to dial it down. The GOOD news, is that my Muscle Oxygen rate was higher, which to me is an indicator that I may have actually adapted and built some mitochondria, and my ThB values were a little bit higher, indicating maybe I was better hydrated, but why did I back off for intervals #4 and #5? Well, once again - let's go back, to the night before!

Hypnogram Feb 8 2015_copy

While the workout 'Felt' good, looking at my sleep pattern from the night before indicates that it really was NOT the best rest I could have had, and while my mind may have been ready, my legs certainly were not. Here's the second part of the report.

Sunday Feb 9 Sleep Report

Deep sleep was just 12 minutes. As a result, my body just wasn't ready for much of anything over Critical Power. Instead, I kept it in the 90% range of CP, got some calories burned, and used the workout as a way to get some rest on MONDAY night, so I could try the workout again. 

Here are the results...

Monday Feb 9 Sleep

Look at how much extra time I got to spend in DEEP sleep, and in REM sleep! Now - here's the EXACT SAME WORKOUT, ONE DAY LATER. Specifically, I want you to look at the Average SMO2 and ThB values for the ride. Monday I averaged 74.10% and 12.13, respectively. On Tuesday, the values were 77.90% and 11.75, though in fairness, I didn't get the Moxy on until after a few minutes on Tuesday. But if you tease in to the data, what impresses me most about this thing, is that I spiked a freaking 12.72 ThB Content, and a whopping 91% in recovery. 

Tuesday Intervals

Click on the image to get the detailed analysis. 

The point I'm trying to make in this whole endeavour is this: If you want a good workout, if you want to improve, you have to look at everything. Sleep, Diet, Hydration, Intensity, Calories on the bike, Calories pre-and-post workout, fatigue, all of it. The discussion about sleep is prescient, because, honestly, I don't think I get enough of it, and I think that MAY have something to do with some recent weight gain and poor performance. After the "No Country for Old Men" event in Alpine, TX, I completely refocused on the business, and pretty much stopped cycling at any volume. Well, that led to a drop in energy output, a rise in stress, and a corresponding rise in body weight. A lack of consistent, deep sleep, contributed as well. Now, however, with the ResMed S+, combined with what I'm learning about Muscle Oxygen and Hemoglobin, and how that might relate to the quality of a workout, I'm more convinced than ever that the most important first step in any workout, to get that quality out of an hour or more, is to get a solid night's rest the night before, and the night after. Even now, I'm starting to realize that most Sunday nights are just a bear for me, as I prepare for the upcoming week. SO, I probably shouldn't try to get too hard of a workout in on Mondays, as I'm already handicapped by a lack of quality deep or REM sleep.

We'll keep investigating the Sleep/Moxy/Wattage connection as Spring hits, but for now, think about adding these tools to your arsenal of performance, and monitor your sleep as well as your power, hr, cadence, and even Specific Gravity. It all helps, because it's data, and data can translate to knowledge. Think about your training as a journey, and each piece of information that you collect will help you piece the map of performance together.

Until later - RIDE ON!