The need for a good coaching tips
For this week’s ride I hooked up with Jakub Pieniazek a professional cycling coach living here in Mallorca. Jakub became a USA cycling certified coach in 2006 while residing in the Sates as an Amateur. He is currently the sports director of the Verva ActiveJet pro continental team and the coach of the Polish National hand cycling team. He also offers personalised cycling training to a number of our Marsh-Mallows guests and people living in Mallorca. Before we went out for a ride with his pro team, I grabbed 5 minutes to probe him a about training techniques.
DM – Tell me a bit about training with training zones
JP – When it comes to training to ride a bike, understanding your own training zones is key for someone training for a cycling challenge. Training zones refer to the intensity at which you are riding at and give you the ability to target specific improvements in your form. The figures for each of the zones are different for each individual and will again depend on that person’s state of fitness. Riding at different intensities brings about different physiological adaptations
There are different theories with regards to the number of training zones, but the basis of all training zones is what we refer to as threshold. There are actually two different thresholds: aerobic and anaerobic threshold.
With the knowledge of the training zones for each of my riders I can work out a detailed plan to make sure they are on right track for their races or challenges.
DM – How do you find the training zones for each rider?
JP – To find the training zones, I need to test rider in real riding conditions or send the rider for laboratory test. In Mallorca lab tests are available at BiciMetrics Bike Studio. In other cases a rider needs to complete an outdoor test. I run two different tests depends of how “fit” rider is. Beginners go for 8min maximum effort (usually uphill) and experienced riders complete a 20min maximum session.
The data from test is helping me to find training zones. It is best to take the data from a power meter and heart rate Monitor… but just heart rate is enough to kick things off with.
DM – What is the difference between power & heart rate training?
JP – Training with power and heart rate is a little different. I prefer to have both sets of data from a rider’s training – it is a great way to make comparisons overtime. For beginner power based training might be a little confusing. That’s why always is better to contact experienced coach to guide you – even just to start off with. Training with heart rate is little easier from data reading point of view. The problem with the readings from a heart beat is they are not consistent with the effort you are exerting. For example, for a number of reasons, your heart rate may change from one day to another day. It could be air pressure, dehydration, too much coffee, infection and so on. So training based on heart rate zones is prone to errors. Power, on the other hand, is a stable number.
It is based on the force and velocity at which you push your pedals..so the number on your screen shows exactly what your legs are doing. If power meter is correctly calibrated, the athlete is confident about the training he/she is completing. For beginners the biggest advantage coming from a power meter is their ability to accurately to track their improvements. You can’t see this from heart rate readings. Thats basics.
DM – How do you track what your riders are up to?
JP – With all my athletes, I can see their data through TrainingPeaks. This is an internet based platform and as long as I have internet access, I can access this from anywhere in the world. It’s essential with communication between coach-athlete. I go into the system, review the training that is completed and then make any relevant amendments to their training plan
DM – what should beginner riders be focusing on at the moment?
JP – At this time of year you should be getting some base training in – this will build fitness and form for next year. It teaches your body to utilise oxygen as efficiently as possible. Base training rides are typically long and at a medium intensity. Winter is therefore the perfect time to build you base.
This week’s route
Our start point was The Barceló Pueblo Park Hotel in Arenal. In December and January many of the pro teams stay in this area. The hotels are switched on to their needs and it is a good location for them to get the base miles in (with the odd climb for interest).
Our destination for the ride was Felanitx and the climb of San Salvador – a favourite during the winter months. With steep sections of over 10% and an average gradient of 7%, it feels longer than 4.6km. Along with the speed, the big difference when you ride with a group of pro riders are the roads you cycle on. You are in a group (two by two) and are riding at a constant 35-40km on the flat, so you tend to avoid the smaller country roads. It is much more about getting the job done. We head inland from Arenal on Ctra Militar and turn right onto the MA 19A. This is a straight 11km stretch of road to Llucmajor that rises 150m (and today is into the wind). Sitting in the group life is much easier and we rarely drop below 40kph. The pace doesn’t drop and there is no picturesque stops in the square of Llucmajor or the cobbled streets of Porreres. At Felanitx, again we skirt the edge of the town and head straight up to the top of the climb – The San Salvador Monastery. The guys take the climb at different paces depending on their training plan, I sit at a steady 300 watts and am soon passed by all of them. The last section of the road, connecting the village to the monastery was built in 1961. It winds through the trees and you are rewarded with some spectacular views across the south of the island. At this time of year, there is little time wasted at the top, we quickly turn and head down for a coffee in Felanitx. We follow the same route back to Llucmajor where there is a split in the group, with the main bunch turning right and climbing to Cura via Randa. I continue with 4 of the guys, including Jakub, along the quieter Cami de Sa Torre passing the Hilton before turning right and heading into Arenal.
Ride Distance – 107km Vertical metres – 690m
Strava segment– “S Salvator”
Distance 4.6km, Avg Gradient 7%, Highest elevation 456m, Elevation difference 322m, Category Climb 2, 25,579 Attempts By 14,193 People, KOM – Tomasz Marczyński 12min 31sec, QOM- Mavi Garcia 14min 46sec