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
15:39

Using Moxy to Determine Whether You're Fresh or Fatigued

Last Tuesday, one of my clients came to the studio for a class, and opened our conversation with “Man, I had a killer workout on Monday. I hope I’m ready for this.” We began to talk, and it was obvious that he was fatigued, both mentally and physically from the previous day’s effort.

Now, this cyclist is a top-tier mountain biker, who has properly allowed himself some “Down” time, to enjoy other pursuits. When he was on-form earlier in the year, he was literally unstoppable. He only got FASTER as the fall season progressed, and it was exciting to follow. But let’s face it - getting a power meter on a mountain bike is a chore, and honestly, I don’t like all of the options that are out there right now. It’s expensive, and when people have to choose between an expensive power meter, and 4 months of coaching or more, well, the bikes are expensive enough already. Furthermore, given the stochastic, punchy nature of Texas mountain biking, I often wonder if a 1hz reading from an MTB power meter is adequate to capture the nuances and accelerations that are necessary to properly analyze a ride.

But sometimes - Physics just doesn’t correlate with Physiology. While the computer or the prediction algorithm says you “Can” do something, it doesn’t account for all the things that may interfere, like sleep rhythms, recovery from a previous workout, hydration status, all of it. That’s where the Moxy Monitor comes in.

I honestly should be using this device more, but knowing how to use it does require a bit more attention to and knowledge of “what’s going on”. But with this conversation up, I decided to take a look at Randy’s SmO2 values, and try to help him do what was best with the time he was spending at the studio.

SmO2 image 1
Now, we have to review a bit, but here’s the summary:



SmO2 values will tend to hit ‘Floors’ which align with Lactate Deflection Points 1 and 2, when properly placed on a client’s Left Lateralis. MOST of the time, we’ll see cyclists hit a “Max Active Saturation Point”, of about 85-90%, and MOST of the time, LT1 will correspond with about 40-45% SmO2, and LT2 will correspond with about 25-30% SmO2. If you get down in to the teens, or single digits, theoretically, you’re nearing necropsy.


But it was immediately obvious that something was ‘off’. Nothing about Randy’s values were normal. I checked the position of the monitor, but it was good. There was no light pollution, either. His SmO2 during intervals that were supposed to be in the Vo2 range of intensity, were wayyy too low; like near 10%. When his recoveries between intervals occurred, he hit the regular ‘max’ 80% saturation around the first two efforts, but for the entire second half of the workout, his ‘recovery’ SmO2 never cracked 65%, and his interval minimums dropped down TOO low at first, and then, again, never really recovered. Here’s a better look at the chart.

SmO2 Image 2

Here it is with power added in…

SmO2 image 3

The translation, for me as a coach? THIS GUY WAS KNACKERED! THIS GUY WAS EXHAUSTED. We were lowering his intensity well below his Critical Power early and often, he wasn’t keeping up with load, and his SmO2 minimums were STILL down in the 20% range. The recoveries never rose up much past 55%. His range was diminished, his power down significantly. He had no business attempting a hard interval set like that.

Now, let’s fast-forward to this morning. It’s been two days; he had a massage and slept a good chunk of the day after the massage (some massages are actually therapeutic workouts, and the relaxation is done AFTER the therapy). He got nine hours of sleep, was hydrated, rested, recovered, and caloried up.

Here’s his chart from today…

SmO2 Image 4

It’s a little bit harder to see, but the results were MUCH, MUCH better. Maximum SmO2 was up above 90%. Minimum SmO2 actually never went below about 40%. WE RAISED HIS CP to try and get one specific area of the intervals to sort of ‘sit’ around 50%, and it never really dropped below about 58%. It was a complete reversal of fortune. He worked hard, left with great confidence, and honestly, we probably could have gone a bit harder, though I didn’t want to try that too much, and instead focus on the success of the day, and grow it from that point.

SmO2 via the Moxy Monitor allows you to see a workout from the INSIDE-OUT, and allows you to train via your Physiology, and not just your Physics. You’re not ‘on-form’ every day. Things happen. Diets fail. Work creates stress. Maybe the music isn’t just right. Maybe it’s the holidays or EOY junk. But it helps to have a place to go where you can get a great workout that’s JUST RIGHT for YOU, and YOU only. Matching the watts to the load is just part of the story. Moxy helps you accomplish that at Cycling Center Dallas. Come visit and we’ll show you how.









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Coach Wharton
14:55

Thoughts On What Might Be Happening With A Cyclist's Blood and Muscle When Unfit, Dehydrated, and Fatigued.


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Coach Wharton
14:14

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!

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Coach Wharton
15:31

More Ways to Use the Moxy to Interpret A Workout at Cycling Center Dallas

Leonardo Spencer - 2015-01-29T09-56-33 - Snapshot

I keep finding out more and more about this Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensor, and I can't wait to share it!

Here's an image of a longtime client and his workout from a few days back. He's always good about getting in early, getting a solid warmup, and he drinks his hydration like a saltwater fish. The squiggly red line is his Hemoglobin count, and the light blue line is his Muscle Oxygen. This workout consisted of six 5-minute intervals at 107% of Critical Power, with just 2.5 minutes of recovery. He. NAILED. IT!

How so? Well, first, I'm not showing his actual wattage line, but we did not need to, because it was so consistent. Every interval was 107%. The consistency of the wattage is also reviewed in the consistency of the Muscle Oxygen. See the green line hidden beneath the light blue? That's W', and after the first 15 minutes of warmup, you'll see that the value stayed rather static, and actually remained above 60% reserve after the first interval was completed. The ONLY trouble I see with this workout is that after interval #4, Leo's ThB values began falling. I'm interpreting this as a sign of fatigue, and maybe his dehydration was outpacing his rehydration. He is an incredibly heavy sweating individual, and I suspect that he loses maybe 2-3 Kg over the course of an hour. But here's my takeaway from this image...

If we looked at this, and it repeated itself in other workouts, it would be a sign that Leo had adapted to his CP value at 209w, and a retest might be worthwhile. How so? Well, look at his SmO2 in light blue... it was consistent. REALLY consistent. My analysis leaves me believing that he can successfully handle this load, and while his RI (Relative Intensity) was at 93%, which signifies a pretty hard 60 minutes, we need to 'Go Up'. Had SmO2 dropped significantly, well, that would have indicated that maybe he wasn't ready for six intervals at low Vo2 range. 

If you want to get a different look at the file, here's a link... http://ppst.co/18CzDsv

Here's another example, taken later that night. 

Jim Porter - 2015-01-29T19-16-48 - Snapshot_copy
Jim has been coming in consistently now for several weeks, and while we're still about four weeks out from an official Critical Power test, it might be time to RAISE THE NUMBER! Once again - look at his SmO2 values in light blue. They were rather consistent. Now, look at the white line, which indicated Critical Power. We raised his numbers about 5%, and the SmO2 values didn't change. In the middle of interval #4, we raised the CP again, and Muscle Oxygen still didn't decrease! You can't get as good a look at the ThB values because of scaling, but they did not change all that much. But again, the important thing is that, as he raised his intensity on the intervals, metabolically speaking, nothing much changed. He hit his wattage goals, and while he was highly fatigued, did NOT lose much else. Here's the link to his file: http://ppst.co/18CzHsq

I'm starting to believe that this little product is going to really help my athletes and myself as we continue to focus on ways to help THEM improve their performance through proper intensity. Moxy allows me to see what's going on intrinsically, while wattage reveals what's going on extrinsically. If we get consistent wattage results, but SmO2 begins to drop, well, I read that as strain that is adequate to affect a response from the body. But if it's static or within a range, well, then we need to test, because the subject has adapted to the load. The result? MORE POWER and more POWER-TO-WEIGHT. 

This device could be revolutionary. Let's see what else it can tell us over the next several months! If you're interested, Moxy monitors can be purchased through Cycling Center Dallas for $1000, and we'll help you with setup. 


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Coach Wharton
17:39

Increasing Intensity in PerfPro Studio to Get The Proper Training Effect With Moxy


Moxy and PerfPro at Cycling Center Dallas

This is a GREAT example of why I'm so excited about the Moxy Monitor, and what it can do to help cyclists at Cycling Center Dallas get MORE out of every training session. 

Take a look at the image above. The blue area is the load, and in this case, these are 3-minute intervals at 110% of Critical Power. The white line is Critical Power itself, and if you own PerfPro, you know that you can raise or lower the intensity of a workout just by increasing or decreasing that value with the "+" and "-" keys on the handlebar controller. The smoother red line is Paul's Heart Rate, while the squiggly red line is Total Hemoglobin, or "THB". The Green line is W', or a rider's Anaerobic Work Capacity, and the light blue line is the rider's Saturated Muscle Oxygen, or SMo2.

If you recall from my previous post, I mentioned that we can use Moxy information to learn a lot about warmup, bonking, fatigue, dehydration, etc. And we're still learning more EVERY SINGLE TIME WE USE IT. This morning's ride is a perfect example. 

Paul came in this morning after having done a hard interval workout the night before. He also said he had not had much sleep (he has four kids, and his wife had been out of town). But, Paul is one of those perfect clients that is rare in our world. He's consistent, he loves the workouts, and he's hungry to understand. He wrote us something a while back about how we literally saved his cycling soul, and I felt like getting it framed. But after a quick chat, we both agreed that he should just take today's workout one interval at a time, and see how it went. He lowered his Critical Power by 50 points, continued his warmup, and we installed the Moxy Monitor on his left Lateralis. 

If you follow the red squiggly line, this is the fascinating part. Throughout the warmup and first interval, Paul's Total Hemoglobin remained low, and his SmO2 was at or near his 'Active Resting SmO2' level. But, predictably, after the first interval was over, both ThB and SmO2 both rose, indicating that the muscles were relaxing and opening up for wider flow of oxygen and nutrients, and purging of waste materials. 

We raised CP about 10 points and did the next interval....

SmO2 dropped, down to a level normally associated with his Vo2 or Maximal Aerobic Power plateau, and ThB, which had dropped immediately during the beginning of the interval, began to RISE over the course of the three minutes, while SmO2, again, plateau'd. Watts were perfect, and the rise in HR, which is certainly predictable, was not as high as possible, nor was his 'range' of HR. Immediately after the interval, however, ThB and Smo2 both rose, but NOT to the levels that I was expecting. I racked this up to his fatigue from the night before, and we discussed leaving the CP intensity at that level, and just turning the workout in to a less intense, more aerobic ride. But Paul, himself a PhD and a scientist, wanted to study more. 

We raised CP another 10 points, and did the NEXT interval!....

SmO2 dropped to about 30-35% of saturation, in line with the previous intervals, and ThB again plopped, then rose steadily, just like HR. Watts were perfect. He felt better throughout the interval. His head was in it, he knew his numbers, he was watching and listening, as was I, and he nailed his third interval at this 'new' level of intensity.

But it was what happened after that really wowed us. 

Look at the ThB and SmO2 levels after interval #3. Paul's now 20 minutes in to the workout, plus the extra 15 he did at low intensity, and NOW, his ThB and SmO2 levels spike to NEW HIGH'S! MORE Oxygen and MORE nutrients, and a BEAUTIFUL little Skateboard-ramp of an HR plot after the interval to show that NOW the Heart is Ready, NOW the legs are ready, and NOW the VASCULAR system is adequately dilated and prepared for the challenges to come. 

WE RAISED CP ANOTHER 10 POINTS, to near his original Critical Power, and did the FOURTH Interval....

BOOM! GREAT WATTAGE PROFILE! GREAT HR PROFILE! GREAT SmO2 Profile revealing a floor at an appropriate level of intensity, and BOOM! A great ThB profile that mimics the previous two intervals, showing a rise in ThB throughout the three minutes, as if the blood was pushing GOOD STUFF in, and BAD STUFF OUT. And just after the interval ends? Check out the new high's on that ThB!! 

What does it all mean? Well, I can't emphasize it enough, but I REALLY believe that this is telling us good information about proper warmup, proper interval dosing, and psychosomatically, proper ways to get the most out of every workout, and interval. I LOVE wattage and power meters, but the power meter is the LAST BIT of information you're going to get, because it's OUTSIDE the body. It's the RESULT of the brain telling the muscles to GO, and the heart responding after a period of time. IF we had just relied on HR, well, we'd be missing a bit of the picture. IF we just used watts, or cadence, or energy expenditure, it's all just slices of a pie. But NOW, we've got ANOTHER PIECE OF INFORMATION! TWO, REALLY! And we just used that information to help a fatigued cyclist properly warm up, properly dose his intervals, and properly approach those intervals once he had the confidence of knowing that he was READY. 

Don't leave anything to chance. Your time, your life, your passion, is SO PRECIOUS. Micah McKee, my first ever cycling coach, gave me a quote that I'll never forget.... 

"Enthusiasm Without Knowledge Is Like Running In the Dark!"

ENJOY your CYCLING, but ENJOY IT MORE when you train with us. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS - THEY DON'T LIE. Let US do the Analysis, you just perceive and focus, based on what we reveal and learn together. I'm convinced that this will be the next paradigm shift in cycling and coaching. I can't WAIT to learn more.

If you'd like to try out any of our services, please feel free to register for a class at either of our locations. We have Moxy's at each studio, and they are for sale for $1000, or roughly 2/3 to 1/2 the price of a power meter. Integration and Awareness will help us, help you, enjoy your body and bike to a higher degree. That's a promise. 

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Coach Wharton
11:52

Using Saturated Muscle Oxygen and Total Hemoglobin to Measure the Need for Calories

A few days ago, I posted about all of the things I think I'm seeing when I put a Moxy Monitor up on a client's leg. Well, here's an example.

Mike Brandley is a client who focuses on mountain biking, so his season and schedule can be a little bit different than others. He came in early one morning this week, and while excited to be working out, during our warmup and bike prep, he revealed that he'd forgotten to eat on his way over. I told him I wanted to try the monitor on him, and that it might tell us some things that he and I might not otherwise know. 

Here's a cut from his workout. Unfortunately, we still need to get a broader range for the red line, which indicates Total Hemoglobin, but I'll provide several images to enforce my point, with details...
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-45-28 - Snapshot

Now, if you look first at the warmup, the green line is the SmO2, and the red line is ThB. Follow the red line out to about the beginning of the third green spike, and notice the little red notch. I was looking at the rider's dashboard, and I noticed this immediately. Also notice - the Rider's SmO2 was NEVER that high to begin with during the warmup, and it began to crater in to the SINGLE DIGITS during the first two intervals!

But wait - there's more. Notice how each time the rider recovered from an interval (Remember, the green line when it's low indicates the interval, and high indicates the recovery) at a HIGHER level? This is where my two terms from the previous blog post come in to play. I believe that Mike's "ACTIVE RESTING SmO2" level is pretty low - around 35-38%. However, IF WE HAD PROPERLY WARMED UP, USING A LONGER PROTOCOL AND SOME SHORT, SHARP INTERVALS AT HIGHER INTENSITIES, then we would have found that his "MAXIMAL SATURATED SmO2" would be around 60+%. This would have made for a BETTER WORKOUT, because we could have combined what we know about his SmO2 levels, with his wattage intensities, and adjusted things accordingly. 

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE!!!

Remember that little knock in the ThB Red Line that occurs around the recovery time after the third interval? Here it is in a close-up. 
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-19-54 - Snapshot

THAT, my friends, when combined with a LOW SmO2 during a Vo2-themed 2-minute interval... IS A CALORIE-RELATED BONK!

Look back up at the first graphic. After that little knock in ThB, it never really came back up. HOWEVER, after feeding him a BONK BREAKER, around 300 Kcals, and forcing him to drink a water bottle with an appropriate amount of OSMO Active Hydration in it, here's what happened....

SmO2 did NOT really recover to near the previous 'Maximal Active Saturation' level, but the "MINIMUM SATURATED SmO2" level, or the 'Vo2' Plateau that I believe leads to the best biological response for the rider on THAT given day, bottomed out at a HIGHER level for each interval, around 10, then 12, then 14 percent. Now, let's add wattage back in to the picture. 
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-45-41 - Snapshot

Mike's Critical Power, on paper, is about 255 Watts. These were two-minute intervals, based on slope, and I wanted him to finish the intervals with an average over the two-minutes at 110-120% of Critical Power. I don't have the CP/FTP line on the chart, but you can see that he was able to rally, and completed the entire workout, performing rising-intensity intervals, at the appropriate training dose. 

What's the moral of the story? 

Sometimes, the wattage doesn't give us the complete picture. Having onscreen Muscle Oxygen and ThB gives the smart coach an extra tool to determine what's best for a cyclist on any given day. In this case, we were able to more quickly determine that Mike's fasting from the night before could lead to a failed workout. Had we been using wattage alone, we may have collectively ended up beating our heads against a wall as we tried harder and harder to accomplish something that just wasn't feasible. Instead, we rectified it immediately, got him fed, watered, and salted, and he was actually able to IMPROVE the quality of his intervals, and later, ACHIEVE THE GOALS SET OUT FOR HIM, without throwing in the towel. His Muscle Oxygen range helped him get the proper training dose, in conjunction with wattage, and the ThB values gave us a really good clue about how much was in the tank, and how quickly it was depleted. It's hard to show in this blog, but for the savvy reader, if you download and purchase a copy of PerfPro Analyzer, the 'Analyze' tab includes max,min, and average Smo2 and Thb PER INTERVAL. I've taken the liberty to export the chart to Excel, where I made a simple graph. 
Mike Brandley ThB Lap Averages

What you see is that after the initial 'Bonk', he ate and drank, and had a ThB Rebound. Later, it tapered off again, AS HIS POWER CAME BACK UP, and for the last 10 minutes of the workout, which was two, separate 5-minute intervals AT CRITICAL POWER, well, the ThB continued to rise. 

I'm convinced that this tool, in the right hands, can complement our goals of helping recreational cyclists accomplish their goals, each and every workout, through the combination of watts, heart rate, and now, muscle oxygen and total hemoglobin. Here's my takeaway from this client and his workout, some of it's simple, some, notsomuch. 

  1. ALWAYS show up for a ride or training session properly rested, fed, watered, and salted. That's what Grape-Nuts and Greek Yogurt is for. 
  2. EAT and DRINK throughout the workout. I don't care if you're trying to lose weight. Training to raise your Critical Power will help you burn more KiloJoules, ergo, KiloCalories, and you'll end up losing the weight anyway. Eating and Drinking a light-sugar solution like OSMO, will help keep the ThB Levels and SmO2 levels higher. I THINK having a higher value in both, is optimal.
  3. IF you know an athlete's SmO2 levels for "Maximum Active Saturation", you can then modify a workout and train for DOSE, instead of training for a wattage output goal. We know more about Mike's Max Saturation, and per the later intervals, his appropriate minimum saturation. We'll train for DOSE, and use WATTS as the resistance, while setting a general FLOOR for SmO2. We'll also track his HR, which I bet, I bet I bet, will drop as he gets back in to his training regime. 
  4. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS WARM UP! Starting a workout cold or unprepared can hurt you physcially as well as mentally, so ALWAYS give yourself 20-30 minutes to warm up, and ALWAYS include several 20-40 second pick-me-up intervals at high intensity, with adequate recoveries, so that you will begin the intervals with the highest SmO2 and THB levels possible.

That's it for now - I'll try to write more in the upcoming days, but until then, don't forget - if you haven't come in for a first ride, download the App and let's get you in. The upcoming season is nigh upon us, and in Texas at least, it won't be cold for long!!!

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Coach Wharton
08:12

Information Overload? TMI? Are You Kidding?

Watts, Cadence, Heart Rate, Muscle Oxygen, Iron Count, Anaerobic Work Capacity, KiloJoules. ALL of it matters!

I've been accused of a lot of things, but when it comes to the collection, assessment, and conversion of data in to knowledge and coaching for cyclists, DON'T YOU DARE ACCUSE ME OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD!!! IT IS MY JOB, IT IS MY PASSION, IT IS MY EQUIPMENT, AND YOU GET THE BENEFIT OF USING AND LEARNING FROM IT IN YOUR EFFORTS TO BECOME A BETTER, STRONGER, MORE COMPETENT AND CONFIDENT CYCLIST. You don't have to be a PRO to get PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT and ATTENTION. I think a lot of the comments are masked envy, but everyone is welcome at my studios. You have to bring a beginner's mind (I certainly do, I'm not that smug), but for $25-30 per session, and 60-90 minutes per session, NO ONE can give you a better workout with more specific acute goals designed to help you accomplish a long-term goal. It boggles my mind that more people don't take advantage of it - YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW ANY OF THIS, OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT IT WILL HELP YOU BE A BETTER CYCLIST OR TRIATHLETE!!!!!!! AS THE ATHLETE, YOUR JOB IS TO PERCEIVE, THE COACH'S JOB IS TO ANALYZE AND PROVIDE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, AND ADJUST THE EFFORT TO PROVIDE A PROPER TRAINING DOSE. 

The result is looking back at where you have been, what you've accomplished, acutely and long-term, and realizing that anythings is possible. 

You doubt me? You hate me? You doubt yourself? I care. I give my life to caring about others. So comment, challenge, sound off, but unless you ENGAGE, you are NOT GROWING.

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