We're now deep into the March Challenge, for which many Purple Patch athletes are chasing a month of strength-endurance focused sessions. These sessions are all in line with our ‘regular programming’, but we shine a spotlight on each session to:
- Amplify the technical instructions
- Empower Purple Patch athletes to appreciate how to execute other sessions just like this
- Share and discuss really powerful training sessions that align with the time of year
High, high value all around. Really powerful.
We line up the chance to execute the session via Video-on-demand (Netflix style, choose when you do the session no matter your timezone or location), or Live with me (just like Live TV, you need to be on at 7 am PST each Thursday, and the feedback is bi-directional!). These are, by far, the optimal ways to execute the session and yield the optimal results from the sessions.
In week one we had a lot of discussions, even confusion and debate, on the best way to execute these sessions. We are, collectively, blinded by all the gadgets, apps, tools and paraphernalia we have at our disposal. So many options that many ended up trying to choose all of them! I wanted to take this opportunity to outline the premise and best practice for these sessions, and hope it helps.
A little history.
We are now almost a full year into running the bike classes. They began from our living room, with a cheap set up and a few friends. In the early months we embraced a small group of folks who went through the rigors of all sorts of testing, some of which proved to be disastrous! We tinkered and evolved. We actually began with a premise of likely leading bike sessions on a 3rd party app, seeking to layover video and audio, and various other tricks. We tried all sorts of routes, and gave the beta group options. It was a serious case of good, bad and ugly. Over three months, one thing became very clear, and this was the simplicity rules. Layering complexity proved to be a less optimal experience and a source of distraction for athletes. We kept trying, various ways, and continually returned to the most simple solution:
Voice commands with athletes keeping up in erg mode.
The most ardent supporters of trying to build the sessions around ‘structured workouts’ universally became converts to simplicity.
Now that we are 8 months into real classes, and 5 months from the center classes, this simple solution has been proved correct.
Clear the decks and the mind -- don’t confuse worlds. I like beer. I also enjoy coffee. I don’t put beer in my morning coffee.
The mission is these sessions is for it to be fully immersive. To draw optimal benefits you want to show up primed to give us your best focus and execute the session as we design. This goes well beyond hitting a specific power, or keeping up with a pre-designated programmed power. Success is:
- Riding to the intended effort.
- Executing this effort with the proper cadence (rpm)
- Maintain and focus on great posture and pedal stroke aligned with the cadence / intensity
It is a constant game of being coached. Not just working hard, but truly being coached. You are not a robot, you are an athlete!
You also retain autonomy, and the need, to manage the power relative to what the body gives you on the day. This amplifies the correct dose of work relative to freshness or fatigue. Over the sessions you learn how to feel, how to manage, how to nail training within context of life.
Your best set up. If you have a smart trainer, then the ideal scenario is that you follow along with the video (live or on-demand), but utilizing the associated app with the type of trainer you have. You want to ride in ERG mode. This is when you set the watts in the trainer's app, and no matter your cadence (rpm) the trainer will keep you at that power.
If you are on an old-school trainer without power, or if your trainer isn't cooperating with its buit-in app in ERG, then follow along using gears (and then heart rate and/or power) in free-ride mode. You do not need or want any third party app.
This leaves you to immerse yourself in the instructions on screen and execute as intended.
Are we anti-Zwift? No. I like Zwift, Trainerroad, Rouvy and beyond. These apps have their place, and in some instances are the best solution. An indoor ride that forces terrain management and a great simulator of outside riding. This is super, and high value. It has its place. But, these sessions are different. They are immersive coaching experiences, and adding third party apps will only layer complexity that isn’t needed and is a distraction. Treat them as parallel experiences and different tools, like a hammer and screwdriver. Just don’t try and persuade me that a simple structured workout on Zwift is superior to an immersive video-coached session. It isn’t. And it isn’t even close.
My take. I hope that helps.