Ironman Increased Threshold Power with 62 Watts in 12 weeks

Image by Unplug
Image by Unplug.

Dave Simonson had finished 3 ironman competitions before he entered the power meter project back in 2007 so I knew he was a very experienced athlete. If you don’t have a clue on training it is very unlikely that you can finish three ironman competitions.

The reason Dave entered the project was because he recently had purchased a power meter. He had bought a Cycleops Pro 300PT (Powertap indoor) and wanted to learn more on power meter training and get some experience.VO2 max also improves your performance at lower workloads.

Another reason for doing intervals close to race speed is to learn the pacing strategy which is made easier than ever before by the development of power meters.

Thus, Dave’s program was a combination of 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 had a good chance to get familiar with the pacing strategy.

Optimizing of physiology for an ironman athlete

The goal for Dave was to increase his average power output on long distances (112miles/180km). This is often trained with very long rides at a comfortable pace, but I believe in building up this endurance with intervals close to race speed and even intervals performed at VO2 max once in a while. The reason for these tough intervals is that a higher


Bike training with high intensity does not require the same amount of time as training with lower intensities. Dave performed 6 to 8 hours weekly training and that was enough to significantly improve his 5min and 20min maximum power output. It is also worth to remember that these increments are achieved with solid indoor training.

Have a look at these numbers that illustrate his impressive progress:

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  
Week 6 (Watt) 978W 512W 326W 264W 90.0kg/198.4lbs
Week 6 (Watt/kg) 10.9W/kg 5.7W/kg 3.6W/kg 2.9W/kg  
Week 12 (Watt) 894W 498W 346W 281W 89.8kg/198.0lbs
Week 12 (Watt/kg) 10.0W/kg 5.5W/kg 3.9W/kg 3.1W/kg  

Interview with Dave Simonson after the Power Meter Project
After the project I asked Dave a couple of questions to get his opinion on power meter training:

Your 20min maximum power went from 219Watts in week 1 to 281Watts in week 12. What impact has this increment had on your performance?

Dave: “My improvement has made it much easier for me to gauge my effort on long rides. Also, I am able to ride long distances faster with less exertion.”

How will you describe your progress through the project?

Dave: “I was surprised that I made the progress I did only on 7-8 hours/week of training. The training program you created for me really enlightened me to the need for specificity for each workout.”

Have you adapted some of the ideas from the power meter project into your daily training?

Dave: “I have adapted your training plan to my continuing training and now exclusively measure my training performance and training progress using power. I download my power data into CyclingPeaks software and evaluate my progress and plan my training from a power perspective.”

7 comments… add one
  • massarob Link

    What about CP30 and CP60?

  • @massarob – These values were not tested. There is a strong correlation between 20min power and CP30/60, so thesenumbers were probably also significantly better in week 6 and 12.

  • Stefan Link

    Is there any chance we can see the program?

  • Agree,

    Would be great to see the program.

  • Dave Simonson Link

    Hi All –

    As I recall, my CP60 went from 185 to 240. I did not measure CP30. My computer hard drive fried last year so I am unable to retrieve the actual power data.



  • Russ Link

    How did this increase in watts effect your IM bike?


  • Dave Simonson Link

    Hi Russ,

    I was able to to ride more comfortably and keep my bike pace even. This made the run easier for me. For me, the advantage of increased watts happened on the run.



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