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10 hours ago

Spin Doctor Coaching

A quick post today about a tale of two riders doing the same ride together, and how different the intensity of the ride was for them.

The ride was a hill session that included 5 of the 9 hills of the Buderim 9, a charity ride on the Sunshine Coast that is held on the last Sunday before Christmas. The ride was 54km in distance with almost 900m of vertical elevation. So a pretty decent climbing session. Most of the hills have a variable gradient, with pitches in sections at 20% separated by relatively flattish sections. Not smooth climbing by any means. As one of the riders was unfamiliar with the route, the other rider waited and played tour guide throughout the ride.

Summary Stats:

Athlete 1 0.74 (intensity factor) 127 (TSS)
Athlete 2 0.94 (intensity factor) 209 (TSS)

The Intensity Factors (IF) for the two riders were very different at 0.74 and 0.94. An IF of 1.0 equates to 60 minutes spent at FTP. Athlete 2 spent 2 hours and 20 minutes at the equivalent of 94% of FTP. Keep in mind this is normalized power (not raw power) because of the downhills. Athlete 1 had a relatively light IF of 0.74.

The effect of this is a huge difference in training load with Training stress scores of 127 compared to 209. A TSS of 100 equates to 60 minutes at threshold. Most endurance training rides of 2 hours duration will give you a TSS of 80 to 100. With a few efforts thrown into the mix, up to 120. A solid hills session gets up to 160. Athlete 2's TSS for the 2 hours was just on 190, very solid.

So the message here – it is not the elevation of the hills you do, but the way you do them. Hills need to be done at an intensity that will lead to adaptation. For Athlete 1 today that was not the case. But for Athlete 2 it sure was. But Athlete 1 will be able to go out and do a ride of reasonable intensity tomorrow, whereas Athlete 2 would be best served with a recovery ride.
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