In this blog, Sport Scientist Dylan Lindsey shares how he coached Sarah Gigante towards the National TT Championships. He specifically dives into the benefits of using the Lactate: Recovery & Accumulation graph. Ready to learn how to become a national TT champion? Let’s start!
After a long hiatus from racing due to travel and outdoor riding restrictions, our preparation to defend Sarah’s National Time Trial title was exclusively relying on training, with no racing, let alone time trialling, in sight. In order to create a training program fit for a national champion, we needed a robust and reliable testing platform that would inform all of my decisions and provide us with a greater sense of direction.
THE LACTATE: RECOVERY & ACCUMULATION CHART
By using the INSCYD Lactate: recovery & accumulation chart, we were able to move away from a more generic “cookie cutter” training program to one that targeted specific outcomes within each session, provided adequate recovery between intervals and developed a pacing strategy for a race without needing to ever physically visit the course.
Prior to using INSCYD, all training intervals were based off a percentage of an athlete’s estimated anaerobic threshold. However, its significance pales in comparison to the most powerful graph within the INSCYD metabolic profile for creating optimised interval sessions: the Lactate: recovery & accumulation chart (see image below).
With this graph, the focus shifts from output and instead concentrates more on understanding what is happening during each particular effort. Like many coaches, I often tell my riders to focus on the process, not the outcome, so in a way, using the Lactate: recovery & accumulation chart has enabled me to follow my own advice.
Whilst the session may still be laid out to the rider through specific power targets, its planning is built around reaching certain lactate levels and providing a specific duration to then recover.
PREPARING FOR THE TIME TRIAL: INTERVAL TRAINING
Leading into the 2021 Nationals, we had a combination of both intervals which were designed for the rider to be fully recovered for each effort and those which purposely did not provide adequate recovery, meaning that the final effort would be done with lactate not completely cleared and levels far from baseline.
A constant fixture in Sarah’s pre-Nationals training program was a 4 x 5 minute VO2max session, in which Sarah would reach her maximum lactate level above baseline of 10 mmol/l in each effort, with a full recovery period of 10 minutes at 150 watts, which allowed her to combust the excess lactate and return to baseline.
In a contrasting yet complementary manner, we also incorporated “over-under” style intervals, in which the recovery blocks between sets were limited, therefore not allowing lactate levels to return to baseline. Whilst peak lactate levels were not reached in the first set, the aim of the session was to begin each interval with a progressively elevated lactate level to then reach its peak in the final moments of the final set.
PACING STRATEGY FOR THE NATIONAL TIME TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
With no sight of an end to Melbourne lockdown on the horizon, we needed to think creatively to best prepare for a very diverse Nationals Time Trial course.
Generally, a time trial course in Australia is a relatively flat, out and back course, however the Nationals TT course has a bit of everything, with varying gradients and technical aspects making a pacing strategy increasingly important.
In prior years, we would have made the trip out to regional Victoria to recon the course, but having INSCYD up our sleeve this time round, I assured Sarah that we’d be able to refine our pacing strategy even more perfectly, exclusively using the test results, my coaching and her at-home ergo.
“Having INSCYD up our sleeve, I assured Sarah that we’d be able to refine our pacing strategy even more perfectly”
The 28km course was broken down into 12 segments, and a workout file was created from the Lactate: recovery & accumulation chart which provided an informed decision on power outputs throughout to provide an optimised race simulation. Due to the varying nature of the course, with gradients of up to 15%, the pacing strategy was very aggressive, so it was important to give Sarah the trials and the science leading into the event to build confidence that she could do it.
It takes a lot of commitment to go so far over your threshold a mere 1.7km into a forty minute time trial. Using the chart, I explained to Sarah that the course required her to reach 10mmol/l above her baseline in two key sectors of each lap, both when summiting each of the key climbs.
For such an important event, which was not only prestigious but was also a stepping stone to selection for the Tokyo Olympics, rehearsal was the piece of the performance package that was going to provide us with the biggest return.
I am pleased to report that Sarah was successful in her defence of the National TT title, perfectly executing what she had already achieved in her training trials in the months prior.
She not only came away with the green and gold stripes, but also knocked off two minutes from her time in 2020, and was later selected for the Tokyo Olympics.
I am a very proud coach and we are both glad to have used the INSYCD technology!