Riley is a hard-working and dedicated athlete willing to put in the work to achieve his goals and is a pleasure to coach. He recently moved from Boston to Bend, Oregon. I started working with Riley in February of 2020 and began diagnosing his physiology from past training logs. As a coach, it is essential to go into the diagnosis process with an open mind, and with no preconceived interpretations of the athlete’s training.
One of the first things I noticed was a significant amount of high-intensity training on his calendar that began shortly after a long racing season. I also noticed that his power duration curve dropped significantly after 40 minutes, I thought this could be the result of the lack of volume on his calendar or other underlying issues. Testing would need to be completed in the coming weeks to better understand Riley's physiology.
During the first few weeks of working together in February of 2020, I placed several workouts on his calendar to establish training zones. They included a 2K swim time trial, functional threshold power (FTP) test, and a run test to set his run lactic threshold (LT). Additional testing was conducted to establish his functional reserve capacity (FRC) or the time he could spend above threshold. The following week Riley put a note in his calendar that said, “super tired and cranky. I slept through my alarm this morning and got the test swim in. ” The next day during a run workout, Riley wrote, “developed sharp knee pain during the run, had to stop after fifteen minutes." It became apparent that Riley’s body needed a break.
Riley made doctor appointments to determine the extent of the injury. We pulled runs off his calendar, dropped the intensity on the bike. However, after several weeks it was necessary to pull the plug on all training and take a break to allow Riley to completely recover from his injury. The good news was the doctors determined there were no major underlying issues with his knee. For any athlete, an injury is often difficult to accept, but for a motivated elite athlete, injury can be emotionally devastating. With the disrupted racing calendar in 2020 due to Covid-19, time was on our side, and Riley remained positive throughout his injury.
When Riley started training again after several weeks of rest, the primary focus was to improve fatigue resistance on the bike, work on run economy and swim when he could. Riley's swim workouts were limited to local lakes in the Boston area due to pool resections resulting from Covid-19. Even though Riley has a power to weight ratio of 4.6 W/kg, his fatigue resistance dropped 20% after 1k kilojoules of energy output. Several factors can contribute, and they include nutrition and muscle fatigue. With the injury only a few weeks behind us, this period became a positive because it gave us the time to build a considerable base keeping training between 56 -76% of FTP on the bike and HR zone two on the run.
After several months of low-intensity training, Riley’s power duration curve has flattened out to 3.5 hours. His fatigue resistance has improved from -20% after 1K kilojoules to -8%, and his run times are improving with long runs out to 15 miles. Riley is training hard for 70.3 St. George on May 1, 2021. He recently gained access to a 25-yard private pool to spend the next eight weeks working on his swim times.
Injury can be stressful for an athlete, but Riley’s positive attitude and willingness to turn a negative into a positive has made him a more resilient athlete.
Please join me in wishing Riley good luck in his 2021 racing season. I’m very proud to be called his coach and admire his Desire, Determination, and Discipline.
Coach George Epley's first commitment to an athlete is to optimize through customization. He strives to understand what makes you unique, and then finds the best way to fit those elements together to help you reach your full potential.