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Hasselt - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Greipel Andre - Prof. Dr. Bert Op’t Eijnde pictured during medical testing of Lotto Soudal Team at the Hasselt University , Belgium - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2015

Toolbox: Season Training Review

An annual season review process builds consistency in identifying performance limiters and reveals areas of improvement needed in an annual training plan. The first step is to analyze your racing data. The second step is to go through your overall training data. Here are examples of some things to look for to improve for 2017.

In part one , we covered the first part of an annual review: reviewing race and performance data in order to understand an athlete’s performance strengths and limiters. Once you complete this review and have identified the strengths and limiters, it’s very important to go on to the next phase, the training review.

Hasselt - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Greipel Andre - Prof. Dr. Bert Op’t Eijnde pictured during medical testing of Lotto Soudal Team at the Hasselt University , Belgium  - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2015

In this stage you will determine the specific relationship between training load/content and the strengths and limiters we identified in the first part of the review, as there is usually a cause-and-effect correlation between the two.

The process is simple enough in writing, but it takes time and patience to look deep into the data and review, one by one, each learning point gained from the race/performance review. For the sake of keeping this article short and concise, we will drill down into one specific example.

As you’ll remember from part one, our race review of Ed JouleRider revealed the following:

Key Learning Limiter: The athlete’s power increased, but his poor fatigue resistance/endurance negatively impacted his performance. This is demonstrated visually by the analytic chart below that displays his race performance after a certain amount of work (measured in kj) has been expended.


Now that we understand this performance limiter, we can review the two key elements of training that can affect performance like this: training load and training content. The process should be one of drilling down by starting with the overview data and then looking more and more specifically as we search for a cause or relationship between this specific limiter and Ed’s training.

First, let’s take a look at Ed’s training load. The best place to start is the Performance Manager Chart in WKO4, seen below.


This is a pretty typical season for a category racer who works full time and has a family. A strong build in the spring once the weather breaks is typical, but we do notice a decline in Chronic Training Load (CTL, the blue line) after that early build push; this created some fitness limitations that were carried through most of the summer race season. The good news is that we can see the return to a nice steady build starting in July (still tracking the blue CTL line).

Key Insight: Ed had a good early training/fitness push, but “life happened” in May and June and interfered with his ability to build on that fitness.

Let’s take this key insight and look deeper at the content of Ed’s training to figure out whether the issue was related to a lack of general fitness (driven by a training slowdown in May and June) or to something deeper.

To do this, let’s create some custom analytics to help us understand Ed’s training content in relationship to fatigue resistance. It is important to look at individual workouts to understand both the duration and the specific content of his rides. Let’s start with duration and work.


This chart visualizes several factors about Ed’s daily training. First, as you can see by his average training duration, Ed has some time limitations and is actually forced to ride the trainer a fair amount in the early mornings and evenings, even when the weather is great. This clearly can affect his fatigue resistance, but let’s look more specifically. He rarely is able to ride longer than four hours (only seven times in the 2016 season), and he did only one ride during which he actually pedaled for more than four hours.

We can see that he did sixty rides with over 1,000 kj of work (the base fatigue rate we used in part 1 of this article series), but since we know his limiter is performance after 1,000 kj, we need to gather more information. There are only thirteen workouts in which Ed expended over 2,000 kj of work, and when we eliminate race events from the list, we can see that he did only three training rides over 2,000 kj.

Key Insight: Ed did too few training rides targeting 2,000 kj and above. To improve his fatigue resistance, he needs to do higher work rides.

Staying on this track, let’s drill even deeper. In order to perform well in most races, we need to be able to go hard late in a race after we’ve accumulated some fatigue. Great training is about specificity and training specifically for the demands of the events we enter. We know Ed has struggled late in races, and we now have some specific insights into his training load and general content, so let’s look at his training after 1,000 kj. In this analytics chart, I have excluded all races and events; all the data shown is from his training only.


This chart tracks Ed’s 5-minute and 20-minute peak performance in training. Take a look at the frequency of peaks after 1,000 kj. His peak 5 minutes was achieved only once, and his peak 20 minutes was not achieved a single time throughout his training season.

Key Insight: Ed’s training content and prescription was not focused on his limiter or the specific demands of his events.

Now that we’ve collected these key insights, we know what to do to empower and equip Ed for better performances next year.

Solution: We need to implement training strategies that require intervals and peak performance after a select amount of work to better mimic race demands and focus on this limiter.

A season review is one of the most important things we can do to improve our next season. We can work hard all year long, but if we want the best results possible, we’ve got to know we’re focusing on the things that make a difference.

Want to learn more? Watch this recorded webinar that demonstrates the ultimate season review:

About Tim:
Tim Cusick is the TrainingPeaks WKO4 Product Development Leader, specializing in data analytics and performance metrics for endurance athletes. In addition to his role with TrainingPeaks, Tim is a USAC coach with over 10 years experience working with both road and mountain bike professionals around the world. You can reach Tim for comments at [email protected] [email protected] To learn more about TrainingPeaks and WKO4 visit us at TrainingPeaks.com.

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