Pacing Strategy is Essential in Ironman Competitions

Improving a three time ironman’s endurance sounds difficult, but that is exactly what my job is with Dave Simonson. He performed four maximum power tests last week and you can see the results below:

Test results – Week 1 (Dave Simonson)

Maximum Power Tests 5sec 1min 5min 20min Body Weight
Week 1 (Watt) 850W 450W 290W 219W 90.6kg/199.8lbs
Week 1 (Watt/kg) 9.4W/kg 5.0W/kg 3.2W/kg 2.4W/kg

Comments from Jesper Therkildsen:
When I look at Dave’s power profile I can see that his performance at 20min critical power is too low compared to his 5min maximum power (MP). When I look at his 5min MP I would expect him to do 20Watts better in the 20min MP. Thus, the primary goal for Dave is to improve his power in long intervals. This goal is achieved by learning to control the pacing strategy and by increasing his physical performance at these challenges.

Dave will train 6 to 7 hours per week and have to work with intervals three times a week. There are three kinds of intervals that he will use: Short 3min intervals to build VO2max, repeated 6min bouts of high aerobic intensity and finally long 15min pacing control intervals.

By doing the intervals very frequently he has a good chance to get familiar with pacing strategy and that is especially important at his competition pace.

Triathlon differs from regular cycling in that way that the pace is almost 100% controlled by the athlete. It is not about tactics at all. It’s a question about self control and physical performance.

Power meters are very useful for long endurance competitions like ironman triathlons since it is possible to plan a pacing strategy based on your previous rides. I hope that Dave will improve his performance at long distance through better and more efficient pacing.

I expect that these intervals will increase his performance at 5 and 20min maximum power (and his 112miles ironman avg. power.)

3 comments… add one
  • Thomas Davis

    At first glance, the numbers seem pretty low for someone of Dave Simonson’s size and ability but when one takes into consideration that Dave was working on a Cycleops Pro machine which is a triathlon set-up exercise bike with a power meter, it makes sense why the numbers here might be lower than expected. I’d put my dollar on higher numbers on a real roadbike with a Powertap/SRM from him. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his 5s power on that bike closer to around 1050-1200 watts or more, same with every other measurement.

  • You’re right about the 5sec power. The maximum powers performed at 5min and 20min is not much influenced by the fact that it is a stationary bike.

  • It’d be interesting to see how you set up his training plans during the week. How long between each day of intervals, how many rest days? I feel that my profile is similar to Dave’s. I have a relatively low threshold. I posted on here before, but I’m just finishing a study at the University where I held 200W for 22 min, then 190W for 19min and 180W for the last 19min. It felt hard, but I would guess my threshold is around 190-200W. They were trying to have me ride at 75% VO2 max. I would like to get my threshold much higher than this.

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