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Polarized Training a Dialectic

Below, in the spirit of the great continental philosophers, is a dialectic that attempts to synthesize the typical arguments that arise when debating a polarized training approach.

It is not intended to serve as an introduction to Polarized training, there are many of those in-print and online. I think that Joe Friel's blog post is a good intro for us amateurs.

For Synthesis Against A Elite athletes have been shown in a number of studies to train in a polarized manner - 80/20 split of workouts targetting polarised zones 1 and 3 [1][2][3]

There is variation across sports in how that ~20% is split between time in Z2 and Z3 [1] There is more than one way to skin a cat and coaches will adapt general principles to specific needs of the sport.

The key message remains: Elite athletes adopt plans that include high-volumes of low intensity and low-volumes of high-intensity. Elite athletes have also been shown to train in a pyramidal manner [13] B Polarized Zones are between LT1…
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Elite Coaches Interviews

Best Practices in Planning MethodologiesAs part of the planning and design of planning functionality in GoldenCheetah I interviewed a number of elite coaches working with athletes in Olympic and Pro-tour cycling teams.

Whilst there are some differences in the overall philosophy to training, how to manipulate training volume, intensity and density or the relative importance and focus of different types of workout in developing skills or capabilities, there was a lot of similarity in the methods they followed.

I thought it would be valuable to capture some of these themes as they may prove useful to other coaches, if only to validate what they are already doing.

1. Understanding the individualThe age of the athlete and their training history, their type (sprinter, rouleur etc.), their genetic disposition such as work capacity and trainability, their weaknesses and desired changes are all commonly measured and monitored by the elite coach.

Special attention is paid to the timing and demands …


Our lovely family dog has passed. We miss him.

Impossible twice before breakfast

I've been working on a workout editor over the Christmas break. Its not done, but lets you edit ERG files and get the MMP and W'bal plotted as you go.

I've just re-used the sustained interval algorithm to find aerobic efforts that are impossible (at least according to the model anyway). It highlighs sections that are impossible with a red line along the x-axis.

Because it is so fast we can search every time the user drags a point. Really pleased with the results and TBH feels like the best use of the algorithm !

GoldenCheetah Download Stats

I recently looked into the number of times the release binaries for GoldenCheetah were being downloaded. Until we shifted to hosting at Github it has been tricky to find out. But we can now get stats going back to 3.0SP2.

It is clear that v3.1 is very popular, but v3.2 has only been out for 3 months and downloads are running at about 250 per day at present. The numbers below for all releases change, I find it surprising that 1 or 2 people will download 3.0 every day (!)

I wish there was a way we could estimate the number of real users from these stats...

Release Builds (via
v3.0-SP2: 26,865
v3.1: 73,875
v3.2: 15,619

Development Builds (via forum announcements)
v3.2-RC1X: 146
v3.3-DEV9: 67

Finding TTE and Sustained Efforts in a ride

Defining the problem
Any given training ride or race will contain periods of sustained effort, sometimes to exhaustion. Perhaps during the last sprint, or over a long climb, bridging a gap or chasing on after a roundabout or corner.

Being able to identify these efforts is rather useful.

The trouble is, deciding what represents a maximal or sustained effort is often discussed, and generally has fallen into discussions about intensity and FTP or Critical Power. These discussions have tended to then focus on trying to account for the interval duration, periods of freewheeling and applying smoothing etc.

But we already have an excellent description of what constitutes a maximal effort. It is the primary purpose of any power duration model.

Power duration models estimate the maximal effort you can sustain for any given duration through to exhaustion. So if you want to identify maximal efforts its your friend.

Using the model below we can see, for example, that the athlete it represents co…

W'bal optimisation by a mathematician !

So the integral computation for W'bal was expensive.

I tried to optimise from a domain and  programming perspective, where Dave Waterworth, a mathematician found a much more elegant and fast reformulation.

This means W'bal can EASILY be computed as you ride.

To explain the math here are his words;

I posted a comment on you Blog post on optimising the Wbal model. I've done some more thinking and I defn think it can be done without visiting the previous samples as the Skiba formula can be decomposed further, i.e. From your blog I believe the integral part of the equation is:

Basically this takes a weighted sum of preceding W'exp samples where the weight decays at a rate determined by tau, older samples are weighted less than newer ones. We can approximate as a sum provided tau is large compared to Ts (the sample rate):

Basic properties of exponential functions allow the for…