This Week: The implied flaw of performance testing. Tri Town staff racing success.
Image: Tri Town employee Ben Elumbaugh on the top at the Baker City Classic.
Here is your weekly Tri Town Times newsletter:
Weekend race report:
The crew at our shop had a great weekend of racing:
- Professional triathlete Travis Wood won the Pacific Crest half distance triathlonon a cold Sunday in Bend, Oregon.
- Tri Town mechanic Ben Elumbaugh won the Cat 4/5 road stage race at the Baker City Classic.
Events I'm looking forward to:
70.3 Coeur d'Alene is this Sunday, June 26th.
Training thoughts and updates:
Many athletes assume cramping is caused by dehydration and/or electrolyte depletion. From my experience, cramping is more often caused by:
- Poor pacing early in the race
- Your training did not prepare you for the racing demands:
- Lack of training at goal race pace (you're simply racing harder than your training prepared you for)
- Training distance and intervals to short for racing demands (your long workouts were not long enough, and you completed mostly short intervals when long intervals would be more specific to the racing demands).
- Diluting your electrolyte stores by over-hydrating (nervously drinking too much water before an event). Often results in cramping early in a race.
A promising new study looking at marathon runners found muscle damage biomarkers were the primary difference between the those who cramped in races and those who did not. Hydration and electrolyte levers were not significantly different between the two groups. Most interesting, the non-cramping athletes were 2x more likely to include strength training in their build up to the race. More research is needed in this area, but this study can be added to the large body of research supporting strength training for endurance athletes.
You can read my personal notes and resources on strength training for endurance athletes here.
Quote that struck a chord:
Measuring and predicting athletic performance is a key objective of the training process. This is often done in the context of a test workout or short race. When done well, the results guide your future training and racing, while adding context to the big picture.
When done poorly, the results consume you and shift your focus away from the big picture and towards improving the results of the test.
I often see this with FTP testing. An athlete becomes obsessed with improving their 20 minute bike power, while losing sight of the fact that they're really trying to improve their 56 mile power (as an example for the half ironman athlete).
Consider dovetailing Drucker's insight with Goodhart's Law:
"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
Goodhart's Law implies we should give serious consideration to that which we choose to test and measure, while not allowing the desire to do well on these tests to direct our focus away from the big picture.
We've all heard of training heroes and racing heroes. Training heroes are the ones who allow targets to consume them at the expense of the big picture.
Racing heroes understand that no workout or race defines them as an athlete. When they look at their training, they see the whole body of work, not just a single workout. They test themselves regularly and thoughtfully with well designed workouts that guides their future training.
Train smart, and have a great week!
Tri Town Bicycles
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