From the Coaches: Pacing for Performance

Great read Sir Neal. I’m about 30 seconds off the best time on this local 10 minute climb. I’ve struggled to pace this as the first pitch gets pretty steep, followed by a longish flat section, then the final pitch. With no power meter I’m going by RPE. In my last attempt I pushed pretty hard on the first pitch, then took a little breather in the beginning of the second pitch before getting into TT mode and pushing fairly hard. When I got to the last pitch I just pushed with whatever I had left to get to the top. I think I’m following your philosophy, but any input would be welcome.

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Hi @Sir.Jeff.Kerr! From what I see here, on the profile - here are some thoughts:
Mile 6.5 to 7 - lower grade, so don’t push quite as hard here…maybe just below threshold.
Mile 7-.5 - steeper grade. Since you still have a ways to go after this section you need to go harder…but not completely blow up and NEED a breathing from 7.5 to 8.3 miles. My approach would be to start at an effort that feels like threshold (RPE, HR and breathing as a guide) and then steadily increase the effort every minute or so in that section so that you are hitting the highest speed at the 7.5 mile mark where it gets easier…but you’ll hit that section at a higher speed so that you can reduce your effort for the next 0.8 miles to catch your breath and drop back to just below threshold - but never completely resting/recovering.
8.3 to finish: It looks like it gets steeper here - so this is your ALL IN moment. For that, it’s VO2 max effort…above threshold…but you need to sustain the effort all the way to the end. Also, if you use a Wahoo Bolt, you can use a favorited Strava segment and see your pace relative to either the KOM or your PR so see if you’re ahead or behind of your previous best. Hope that helps - good luck getting that KOM!

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I have an ELEMNT I use most of the time. I’ll look and see if I can set this up in RideWithGPS. Now I’m motivated to crush this climb. Thanks!

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Not sure if RideWithGPS has that feature or if it’s exclusive to Strava live segments…

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Brilliant! I’ve never thought of varying my effort for a big climb but this makes perfect sense! So thanks for writing this Sir @Coach.Neal.H I’ve vEverested Alpe d’Huez in that other place and am planning on doing the same with Ventoux. For the Alpe I just tried to keep a steady Low Zone 2 but for Ventoux, I’m gonna study the gradient chart and see about going up a bit more, still in Zone 2 but higher, for the steeper bits and lower for the less steep. Of course losing 5-10 kg would make it all a whole lot quicker :thinking::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: This doesn’t change how I feel about you by the way. #everybodyhatessir@coach.neal.h

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Everesting … jings … this seems like a challenge so out of reach as it’s not a ‘time’ challenge … long time on bike = fine, but this one needs power and lots of it !! how long did it take you sir?

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For the Alpe I did 9 full reps (including descents) as I was hoping to get a 10K done. Had to bail at 9400 metres. I was just spent. It was 16.5 hrs moving and almost 20 elapsed. When I did it in November 2019, you still had to stay on the bike during the descents so my breaks had to be after the full descents and I NEEDED them to stretch, change kit, refill water etc. Sooooo satisfying to complete. There’s a few Sufferlandrians that have taken to Everesting and at least 2 I know of that have done them outdoors as well (my Mt. SUF for 2021)

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Yeah, RWGPS doesn’t have this. I’m too cheap to buy a power meter and too cheap to spring for the premium Strava memership too. :wink:

While I wait for the right time for my local KOM attempt, how about dissecting last year’s Mt Washington climb? I’ve put my HR and the gradient overlayed on the elevation profile. With your custom training plan (and a borrowed lightweight wheelset) I was able to target 1200 VAM and hit my target time of 1:25. The last pitch of 50m or so is 28%. It is a mental as well as physical challenge. I may be able to have held a higher effort from mile 5.5 on, but we had a pretty good headwind to deal with on the day, and I was trying to hold a little in reserve for the last pitch.

Any thoughts on improvement? The announcers always say “don’t go out too hard and blow up”, but it’s hard to find that sweet spot of hard but not too hard.

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Absolutely impressive Sir @Glen.Coutts! I’ve managed over 4,000m on a couple of rides…hard to imagine more than doubling that in one ride! With Everesting (as far as I’d recommend), the variations in pacing could still occur…but the goal average power would be much lower, and therefore the variations should also be a tighter range overall since it’s all about maintaining the effort over the long haul. This May I had visions of riding 1/3 of the laps it would take to Everest on one of our local climbs, Flagstaff, on the day that Ruther Winder (current US PRO champion) set her Everesting record…which would have been 5 laps (Ruth did 15). I managed 4 laps and was completely undone. Who knows, though, maybe I’ll get the itch sometime in the future to give it a whirl!

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Hello @Sir.Jeff.Kerr - looking at this graph, if I assume your heart rate is the blue…it overall looks like a pretty solid pacing, though it seems like you’ve got a bit of a drop from the 5.5 mile mark until just before the end. If that’s the case, then riding those first 5.5 miles just slightly easier (likely 2-4 beats/minute - or likely about 5-10 watts) might be helpful next time…though keep in mind that there’s day to day variation in heart rate to consider relative to heat/hydration/anxiety/caffeine/etc. that makes it hard to completely pin down. A powermeter would for sure give much better insight into exactly how you paced things relative to your output. Congrats on a great ride, though - Mt. Washington HC sure is a bucket list ride/race!

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I may have to ask Santa if he can get me a pedal based power meter that works with SPD-SL cleats… I think it would take some magic to pull that off

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Nice. Sounds like a similar boat to me then time wise. I know a fair few full in ‘club level’ folk and of course they get it done in 12 hours … then I looked at it and though more like 18 :slight_smile:

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I did a v10K in 14:40 and IRL 5K in 8:30 ten days apart. My pacing was essentially “ride as easy as possible” where the slope, gears and cadence dictated the speed.
The 10K was long, but I finished strong. I can’t bring myself to say it was too hard riding it in an air conditioned room, watching TV and strolling to the kitchen on the decents…hats off to IRL Keepers Of The Cloud.
The 5k IRL was difficult in its own way, mainly because of the heat and humidity, and the effort to descend. There are also logistics involved and these prevented a full Everesting that time, but it’s on my list…

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Some great insights and advice here. World class advice based on real world results!

I’ve only really applied myself to training the last 6-8 months (for an event that of course was postponed for another year) yet have been riding and taking part in sportives for 10+ years. I can honestly say I’ve never been stronger and better prepared on a bike than I am now, despite now officially being a MAMIL.

With these kind of inputs and the science and coaching staff behind it all, and if it’s applied the way it should be, how could anyone not become a better athlete? (I’d settle with just being considered an athlete!) I already feel ready for my event next year - London to Paris - and I’m just going to get stronger!

This is why I love the Sufferfest and why I will never leave… I know I can’t anyway!!

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I made a reply to this thread in the Sufferlandia page on Facebook. I stated that I had a local segment that I was going to try and pace which I usually don’t, I just go full gas till I can’t which leaves me sucking wind at the top or I run out of segment. Prior to Sufferfest I was left sucking wind at the top since suff fest I run out of segment while still sucking wind. I would look back at my results have been seeing that I would get close but no cigar kind of thing for getting my next PR. My goal has been to try and get this segment under 3 minutes consistently. Plus I always finish this segment feeling like I could give more.
So I after reading @Coach.Neal.H article about pacing I decided to give it a go to see if it would help me out. This segment for all intents and purpose is basically flat, mathematically! In reality its about -1.2% down and maxes at 2% up so not a lot of variation but I feel just a enough to really home in on the idea of what pacing really is. However with the variation so tight I decided that a conservative even pace all the way around would be the best option so same speed down as up. I aimed for a 23 mph average around even though I went into it thinking I might have set this a bit high. When I reached the end of the segment it actually felt like I was just getting started and I was not sucking wind at all. I actually felt pumped and primed. My goal was to maintain an average speed all the way around which I did but I did not feel like I PR’d the segment because my breathing was too controlled. After looking at my Strava results, which I have decided to provide, boy was I surprise to see that I nailed it by 6 seconds. Maybe if I get this pacing thing down, because you know us attackers are not known for that steady pace, I can creep up on those guys on the leader board. I think I am going to try and aim for 24 mph and this time maybe I’ll remember my tickr, lol! Thanks @Coach.Neal.H for this thread its been a tremendous help!

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Congratulations @BykeRyder18 - and great first name to boot! :wink:

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Hey Sir @Coach.Neal.H, just thought I’d follow up on using a pacing strategy for my vEverest of Mt. Ventoux. First, I succeeded so yay me, lol! Second, I tried to use the pacing strategy using the gradient profile for the 19.1 km climb where the first 4 kms are in the 5-7% range, the next 10 kms in the 10-11% range and the last 5 kms are mostly in the 6-7% range if memory serves. While these markers may not be exact, what is clear is that there is about a 10km section of 10%+ that is just a grind and I tried to keep my effort up during that section while “relaxing” a bit in the opening and closing sections. The strategy definitely worked. My NP for the whole ride was about 10 watts higher than when I did a vEverest of Alpe d’Huez and another vEverest of London’s Leith Hill. I am super pleased with the results given that I was probably about 4 kg heavier going up Ventoux than both the Alpe. All that said, make no mistake, I still hate you :slight_smile:

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Wow, Sir @Glen.Coutts! Congratulations on another vEveresting.

That’s super impressive, Sir.

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My thoughts exactly. Well done Sufferfest.

This is a great article and clearly demonstrates the massive benefit of training through Sufferfest.
In my case, my motivation to commence structured training this year, was my very average performance in my first big sportive last year. - the Sean Yates Spring Classic. I started out too strong, ran out of steam, cramped and came home in a disappointing time. I achieved my objective for the day - but I had set my self a modest target for my first event.
Since then, I have completed the Hilly Gran Fondo 12 week plan and after a summer break, am now embarking on my second 12 week plan. My FTP has increased by 30 watts and my understanding of myself as a mature cyclist has grown. Armed with a sensible pacing strategy, I am targeting a Gold standard time for my age group next Spring (assuming it runs).
This is an excellent article which has really helped me to think through how best to incorporate pacing into my training. Thank you.

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