Race Day Plan Help

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    Hi there! Home stretch, finally in taper and the obsessing has begun!

    I would love some help setting expectations for how I should plan to race my bike split b/c I’m a bit uncertain.

    I have had my training zones set based on a FTP of 176. All workouts on the trainer have been challenging but manageable and I have felt myself getting stronger throughout this program on the bike in general. Z3 intervals are hard. As they should be.

    But I never tested outdoor zones and I def. will do so in the future because I think my outside zones are totally different. I think the heat difference alone is substantial. It’s always like a sauna even with fans on when we ride on the trainers, especially together.

    Snapshot of last 4 outdoor long rides (starting with most recent) in which I have not followed the intervals, but tried to keep it easy – while following (see: drafting) my much stronger riding husband. I realize this was probably not ideal for either of us, but I don’t want to ride outside alone, and so the only way we could do long rides together was this way. Him in his lowest Z2, me in upper (but really X). And it felt, has felt, very manageable every time. I’ve had legs to run off these rides for bricks and not been destroyed in the days proceeding these workouts.

    2:42 (56 miles) / 150AP / 161NP / 3.01wkg / 2067 elevation / 20.9mph
    2:01 (40 miles) / 153AP / 165NP / 3.07wkg / 2123 elevation / 19.6mph
    2:53 (56 miles) / 151AP / 165NP / 3.03wkg / 2067 elevation / 19.6mph
    2:18 (46 miles) / 166AP / 171NP / 3.33wkg / 879 elevation / 19.9mph

    In this 46 mile flat course ride – I went out on the hubs wheel (164AP / 1168NP / 20.3mph – and returned on my own as he went on for more distance – 171AP / 176NP / 19.7mph). I tried to just ride same effort.

    The only outdoor data I have riding SOLO (no draft lol) in which I tried to stick to workout zones was early on, 2 months ago. It was very chill:

    2:41 (49 miles) / 144AP / 155NP / 2.89wkg / 1027 elevation / 18.2mph

    I just dont know what average power I should be aiming for on race day and what type of speed I may see. Additionally, how much slower am I going to be? I’m so used to riding so fast with him, and just wondering what to expect the offset of his draft will be.

    *i do not ride with race wheels – but will be renting them for race day. hopefully that helps*

    In Augusta I have ridden 2:57 and 2:55, so about 19mph. So this feels like my baseline – i’d expect to do even better on this course b/c I’m better trained and it feels like a comparable, if not faster ride.

    Lastly, I know I’m not supposed to get hung up on speed – but this will be the first time I’ve ever raced with power. So it’s all new to me.

    Would love any and all advice on pacing/expectations etc.

    THANK YOU!! This program has been so great for me.

    David Warden


    Great stuff here, we’re excited for your 70.3 and hope you’ll report your results back here.

    This is a great example of the difference between indoor and outdoor zones. Your FTP is 176 indoor, but you can pull off 171 for 2 hours outside. Some comments and then my recommendation:

    – Note the difference in AP and NP when drafting. The delta is up to 15 watts when drafting and no more than 5 when not. You can never get a true measure of output when drafting.
    – The 2-month old ride is too old to use.
    – You’ve brought up an important point about AP vs NP. When setting an NP goal for an event, that is your power target when actively pedaling. That is not the number you are trying to achieve as an average power. I recommend athletes remove their average power display from their unit completely for a race or brick, and just focus on hitting the NP goal for 3 and/or 10-second power.

    I think you should target 170 NP (when pedaling) for your 70.3. I could probably argue for 172, but 170 is an easy number to remember and I typically give athletes NP in increments of 5 to keep it simple on race day.



    Thanks David – I will certainly report back! Eager to see how it goes.

    Re: the delta between AP/NP drafting vs. not, I’m not seeing that.

    The only solo efforts recorded outdoors with the PM I have to go off are the following (both on a flat no hills course).

    2 months ago – 2:41 (49 miles) / 144AP / 155NP / 2.89wkg / 1027 elevation / 18.2mph – so 11watts diff here. no drafting.

    and this guy: which was a 2hr+ ride in which I drafted out with him, but rode on my own on the return leg. not much differential either leg in AP/NP.

    total ride detail
    2:18 (46 miles) / 166AP / 171NP / 3.33wkg / 879 elevation / 19.9mph

    drafting out 1hr+
    164AP / 1168NP / 20.3mph

    return solo 1hr+
    171AP / 176NP / 19.7mph

    Irregardless, I think the 170NP is a good target and interesting your points about setting to NP vs AP. Would you recommend focusing on an NP target over say 5 mile lap avg of AP – regardless of the type of course (hilly/rolling/flat)?


    David Warden


    The 11 to 14-watt gap in the 2:42 and 2:53 rides are the primary examples. Drafting will naturally lead to less consistent pedaling, which broadens the gap between AP and NP.

    The NP target is simple: when pedaling, target 170. Don’t worry about any averages of NP or AP, don’t even have averages on your screen. Only use real-time NP (3 or 10-second power or both).

    Average power only tells you where you have been, not where you are at. In a race, you only want to focus on the moment or the future, not the past.

    In hills, you can go 10% higher on NP target. This assumes that you’ll be able to coast on the downhill to make up for it.



    Interesting. To make sure it got this right:

    Let’s assume an athlete has an FTP of 250 Watts. That would mean
    Zone 2 is 175 – 208 W
    Zone X is 208 – 228 W

    Assuming the goal for a 70.3 is to ride in high Zone 2 / low Zone X (I guess that’s what your chart about pacing says), would that mean that you’d recommend this athlete to ride at a NP of e.g. 210 W maybe 205 W(3 and or 10sec Average)?
    Not focusing at actual power (3sec Power/average power) at all?
    Should this be the same when doing a ride like CAe8?


    David Warden

    My “Only use real-time NP” is misleading, should just be “Only use real-time power.”

    So, yes, I want them focusing on actual 3s or 10s power only, not average power.

    Let’s give an example of why:

    Alexey comes out of T1 with a 200-watt target. The first few blocks are a bottleneck and he’s caught behind some slower riders for a minute or two. When he gets in the clear, his average power is 130.

    Panicking, he increases his power to 220 to “make up” for the lost time and spends 10 minutes at 220 until his average power comes back up to 200.

    Alexey’s course is much more technical than he thought. Many turns. At each turn his average power drops and he is now at 195 average power. He surges to 220 again until his average power is back up to 200.

    After a long climb, Alexey’s power is over 200 at 205. No problem, part of the plan is 10% higher in hills. Cresting the hill is a long low grade descent. He tucks in aero, and as he should, is cruising at 30mph for several minutes, still pedaling lightly to maintain balance with a bit of a crosswind.

    After the descent, Alexey sees his average power is now 190! Again, he surges to 220 for 25 minutes until his average for the ride is back to 200.

    Alexey enters T2 slightly ahead of his bike plan, only to find that at mile 18, he crashes on the run and misses his goal time by 15 minutes.

    Disappointed after the race, he looks at his data to find that his average power was 200, but his NP was 213, well above his target.

    The moral to Alexey’s story is that only real-time power matters when racing or when race-simulation training, like the CAe workouts.

    Some units boast an NP field, or even the ability to remove 0s from the average and claim it is NP. I don’t trust these fields, but even if I did, it would still be a distraction. Where you have been in a race is not relevant, where you are and where you are going is all that matters. AP or NP fields temp you to “make up” for lost power.

    I coach several athletes who don’t follow this advice, and they race just fine. It’s not an essential practice. But, most athletes who use this method instantly realize the value and never go back.



    Good stuff David. I got it right then. I always focus on my actual power (like 3s) and try stay in the zone that is prescribed. I still have my unit show the average power as I kind of want to know – I’m a numbers geek….


    great example!



    It was pretty incredible.

    Based on all my data, I ended up landing on the following target for my race:

    150AP / 165 NP – and to keep my HR below 155


    Swim was 1.4 with no current!!!! I had a leaky goggle that filled constantly the whole swim, had to stop and clear it several times. It was awful and felt like an eternity. – :40

    Bike was awesome. I rode 153 AP / 169 NP. Race photos just released….turns out….I rode this great 2:46 bike split with my helmet on backwards. BWAHAHAHAHAHA. Notes to self: practice transitions. Who knew Giro Aero Attack was reversible! BBS predicted a 21mph ride. So, one must ponder if this cost me precious time? lmfao. Only one huge hitch in this ride – I lost a full bottle of calories.

    Entered in run and hit proverbial wall immediately. Ran with a hydration pack of fuel so I started loading. Ate everything on course (unplanned of course) and prayed to gods.

    Held a run/walk 11m/m pace for the first half. By some miracle I came back to life. At mile 6 my run truly began. The second half was exactly how I had hoped and trained for. Too bad an hour late. – 2:16.

    Finished in my ultimate goal of sub-6 – with 5:54. 29th AG. 18th Bike!

    Despite being so disappointed that I didn’t have the complete race I had hoped for – I truly believe that my training and fitness allowed me to pull it back in the road when everything was looking/feeling quite grim.

    NOW. If I could just figure out how to get more competitive in my run. Was projecting about a 9:30/9:45 pace – which was totally doable. But I’d really like to be closer to 9!!!

    David Warden

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing here. Your backwards helmet made my day. You probably lost a bit of time on the bike, but you gained the hearts of hundreds of athletes and spectators. Well done.

    Consider switching to a dedicated HM plan for 15 weeks, invest in a heavy and dedicated run plan to get you over that 9:00 mark for the next event.



    Thanks David!

    If my goal is in improving my HIM run….should I backburner another 70.3 this fall? Because I’d be looking at starting another training program now for that.

    And just focus on running and pick a fall (oct/nov) HM? I usually trail run/race in the fall. But after this 70.3 and seeing how competitive I ‘could’ be with an improved run, I really want to work on this.

    I’ll be headed to Montana for the summer where all I do is run/ride…trying to pin down what I should be focusing on!!!

    David Warden

    Hmmmm, it depends. Working on weaknesses is an investment. If you delay the 70.3 and focus on your run, you’ll become a much better runner. But, then you lose a race.

    So, I think the better option is to pick up the 70.3 again this fall, and do dedicated run training over the winter.



    Perfect. Thats what I was thinking.

    Do the run programs translate to improving TRAIL racing/running as well? I didn’t notice any trail specific. Basically trying to figure out how to both continue trail running this fall, while improving my road speed for HIM so that I can go back to Chatty next year – kick some 45-49AG’er ass – and get the true benefits of an aero helmet worn correctly *unless your wind tunnel tests show the reverse aero GIRO is in fact more aero – in which case, I should be the new GIRO poster child*

    Thank you as always for offering your input!

    David Warden

    Our 5K to Marathon plans assume a “typical” road surface. Mostly concrete and asphalt, some trail. Our Ultra plan assume the opposite, mostly trail and some hard surface.

    In either case, it’s not problem to simply introduce the surface that best represents your race. If your 10K is a trial event, perform a significant amount of training on trails. It’s just the principle of specificity. See https://www.8020endurance.com/adjusting-your-8020-training-plan/

    So, yes, you’ll get better at trails with our plans is you train on trails.

    I officially recommend you wear your aero helmet backwards…during your next running event. Please, oh please.



    Awesome. THANK YOU!

    Don’t tempt me…

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