One of the great things about collecting data from training is that data always tells the same story, with the same details. Ask a friend about their best time, or a great season they had, and the chances of them remembering and telling the story as accurately as they used to, is highly unlikely. It’s natural for athletes to embellish a bit. So a ride where an athlete averaged 290 watts might actually become 300 a few seasons or months after it, if left to them telling the story. But if we refer back to past data, especially power and pace data, it will tell us the real story.
Athletes often get hung up in where their fitness is in a single moment. This is especially true after a few months of working back at training. Athletes can get impatient, wanting the fitness to get back to top form ASAP! They might even think the prior season they were much fitter than at the current moment in time, but is that really the case?
I hear many athletes ask questions like:
- Where was I at in my training and fitness last year at this time?
- How did my fitness look in the early months of that great season I had a few years ago?
- How am I doing right now with my fitness, compared to earlier this season?
With WKO+ software, we can actually get a direct correlation and comparison of where fitness is right now, and compare it with where we were at any other point in time, such as the exact moment last season.
How can we do this? One of the easiest ways to do this is with the Mean Max Curve graphs, for power or pace.
What is a Mean Max Curve graph? You’ve probably seen the graph within WKO+, or even within TrainingPeaks.com, on the dashboard. It’s a graph which plots out the best average performance for watts or pace, over time. Time is on the x-axis, (bottom line), and output of pace or watts on the y-axis, (left line).
The trend for the mean max curve for power will show it start high, then drop and flatten out. This is because we can hold higher output values for short periods, like 1 to 30 seconds, than we can for hours at a time. (See figure below)
The trend for the mean max curve for pace is opposite, with a lower starting point, which rises and plateaus. This is because the faster paces are at the bottom, and again, we can only hold faster paces for shorter periods of time.
If you place your cursor over the curve, you will get a yellow info box which tells you the data of that specific point, such as time elapsed, mean maximal output, and the date this performance was accomplished. (See figure below)
The Mean Max Power and Pace Curve graphs can be modified. If you click on “Options” on the graph, and select “Customize this chart”, a new window opens. (See figure below). In the window, you can see two date ranges allowed. Chances are, the date ranges are currently set to the same dates, so the graph is actually two lines, exactly the same, overlapping each other.
Want to see how you did in the second half of the season this past year, compared with the first half? Change the top date range for the second half dates, and then modify the bottom to be the first half. When you select “OK”, you should notice a new dotted line, along with a solid line in the graph. The dotted line represents the date range from the first half season, while the solid represents the second half. You can see certain time ranges where your performances were better or worse, comparatively.
You can compare the off-season you’re in now with the off-season from last year. The choices of what to compare are endless, and can teach athletes and coaches a lot.
Using these graphs to get a better sense of where your athletes are at a point in time, compared with another point in time, is valuable for gaining confidence, recognizing weaknesses, and planning training.
To see other articles in this WKO+ series, click on the following links:
You can also find webinars on WKO+ and advanced charts and tracking at: http://www.performancewebinars.com/Performance_Webinar/Jim_Vance.html
Best of luck!
Jim Vance is a USAT Level 2 and Elite Coach for TrainingBible Coaching. You can follow his writings and training advice at his coaching blog, CoachVance.blogspot.com. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.