Analysing a workout ride file
17 October 2017
When analysing a ride file it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the numbers, graphs or metrics and struggle to learn any actionable information from it. This article aims to empower you to analyse your ride files in a systematic and quick way that allows you to harness the power of your training data. The most important thing to remember when jumping into this article is that a simple file analysis only needs to take a few minutes to be of benefit.
When approaching file analysis it’s important to know what you’re looking for and where to look for it. Every file is different and you don’t need to utilise every single tool to analyse a ride file.
With file analysis you need to keep in mind the reason you’re performing it in the first place…
Did you achieve the goal of the workout?
Step 1- Define the goal of the session
The whole point of a file analysis is to find out if you achieved the goal of that workout. To answer that question you need to clearly define what that goal was. Knowing this will tell you what tools and metrics to look at. The key here is to remember that EVERY workout has a goal no matter how small or insignificant you might think that workout was. For example even a short recovery workout can be analysed so long as you know what to look for. In a recovery style ride there will be little value in looking at a peak power curve except to ensure that you did NOT hit any peak powers. Instead you might want to look at your time in zone charts to ensure you’re spending most of your time in zone 1-2 without hitting higher intensities.
To provide some examples of the goal of a workout see the below table:
[table width =”100%” style =”” responsive =”false”]
[row_column]Set a new peak power
Repeat multiple high power efforts at a high % of previous best
Perform high power efforts under fatigue[/row_column]
[row_column]Hit a new peak power
Improve your pacing throughout the intervals
Lower HR for the same power output[/row_column]
[row_column]High % of time in the correct training zones
Achieve a new longest distance/duration
Improved HR response (efficiency or aerobic decoupling)[/row_column]
[row_column]Correct time in zones without over-doing the effort
Improved HR response (efficiency of aerobic decoupling)[/row_column]
Once you’ve defined the goal of your workout you can move onto the most important aspect of file analysis…
Step 2 – Did you achieve the goal of the session?
In the previous step we’ve identified exactly what we’re looking to achieve. Now is the time to utilise some of the tools available to find out if we achieved the workout goal. This whole step can take as little as a few seconds if all we want to know at the end of this is a simple Yes or No.
So how do we know if we achieved our workout goal? The tools you want to use to answer this will depend on your goal. A couple of key pages you’ll want to keep in mind though:
Activity summary information such as T-score, distance or duration(among others) are also examples of simple workout goals that you might be targeting.
When you have answered YES or NO to this question you don’t need to go any further if you wish. If you achieve the goal of your workouts with a high level of consistency and as part of a well-structured plan then your performances will no doubt improve.
If however you’re interested in digging a little deeper – then here is some questions you can ask yourself to help guide your next training decisions…
Step 3 – How can I use this information to guide my training?
Depending on whether you achieved your workout goal then you’re able to ask yourself a range of really simple questions to help you learn more about your performance and potentially discover hints in your data that can allow you to tweak your training or approach in the future.
If you answered YES!
How can I improve further?
You achieved the goal of the session but could you have done anything better? Could you have employed a better pacing strategy or fuelled differently to elicit a stronger result?
Did you achieve the workout goal in spite of other factors that could have held you back? Identifying what went right but also what could have been better will contribute to your self-management as an athlete and future improved performances
Have I set any new benchmarks?
Do you need to be aware of any new personal best efforts you set to gauge your future performances by? Have you improved a threshold value or set a new peak power? Perhaps your power has remained the same but you’ve lost a kilogram which will affect your Watts per kg curve. Knowledge is power and an awareness of what you’re currently capable of will help you in breaking down those barriers in the future.
What can I learn from this ride?
What do you believe contributed to the success of your workout. Did you try anything new or adopt a particular approach to this workout that you feel helped?
Continual long-term improvement doesn’t come from achieving a target then resting on those laurels. Strive to look for improvement in success and you’ll find yourself achieving even greater performances with time. It’s a good idea to make note of any lessons you learn in your workout notes (on the activity summary page) so you can refer back to them in the future.
If you answered NO!
If you weren’t able to achieve the primary goal of this workout then this is a great opportunity to drill a little deeper and potentially learn more about yourself as an athlete than you would if you’d executed the workout to perfection. Here are some questions you should ask yourself if you don’t quite get the results you were looking for?
Why was the goal of the workout not achieved?
Not achieving a workout goal could come down to any number of factors or a combination of many. The first point to remember though is:
A workout is only a failure if you fail to learn from it!
If you weren’t capable of achieving the workout targets then why was this the case? Did you push too hard above the workout targets at the beginning? Did you have adequate fuel and hydration? Perhaps you just slept poorly last night or maybe you weren’t mentally prepared for this workout. If anything stands out then you should keep this recorded in your workout notes so you can refer back to it and learn the lessons that this is offering you.
Was there a mechanical issue that prevented you from completing the workout? Is this something that could have been prevented?
Sometimes the truth in this can be hard to face but being honest with yourself (and if applicable your coach) is the most important factor in your growth as an athlete.
How can I do better in this workout?
The answer to this will largely be guided by the above question. Addressing the factors that contributed to this workout not being performed as well as it could have is critical and an important part of this is keeping track of your mistakes then implementing processes to ensure you learn from them. When you approach a similar workout in the future you can look back to your workout notes and ensure you adopt a strategy to improve your performance.
What positives can I take away?
If you look hard enough you should be able to find at least one positive in any workout. Find this positive and use it as motivation to nail your next workout. It may be as simple as mentally pushing through and completing a ride despite not producing the numbers you aimed for. Maybe you managed to achieve a part of the workout goals while falling away at the end. Perhaps there were other positives in the workout that were unrelated to the actual workout goals. Armed with those positives along with the lessons learned from your struggles you can mentally reset and move onto tackling the same workout in the future and executing the goals with precision!
If you have any questions about defining a workout goal or what to look for please don’t hesitate to contact our in-house coaching team on our support line.