Posted by: 4pack | October 29, 2008

Lance Armstrong Training Update: Lactate Threshold Power Improving With Workouts


“… I say “estimated lactate threshold power” because we haven’t gotten him into the lab yet, but with 15 years of data and Lance’s knowledge of his own performance, our estimates are typically within 10 watts of his actual LT power…”

One of the most difficult aspects of launching an athletic comeback is managing the transition from your out-of-competition lifestyle back into your pro-athlete lifestyle. When Lance retired from cycling in July of 2005 he didn’t stay idle. He rapidly replaced his training, racing, and team obligations with activities related to his family and foundation. If anything, he’s been busier in the years since he retired than he was while he was racing.

When Lance decided to return to professional cycling, he could not simultaneously flip a switch and erase all plans he had made for the late summer and fall. There were meetings and events on his schedule that had been planned months in advance, and he wasn’t going to back out of them simply because he’d decided to race his bicycle again. This made his training schedule for October more of a challenge than usual, but he still managed to get on the bike for 20-24 hours a week throughout this month. Here’s a look at an outline of his training plan for the month:

Lance’s Training Outline for October 2008
2 x per week 5-5.5 hrs endurance pace
2 x per week 3-4 hrs endurance pace with 2 x 20minutes at just below LT pace (380-400watts)
1 x per week Tuesday-nighter
1 x per week 3-4 hrs with 2 sets of 4 x 20seconds max effort x 40 seconds recovery
1 x per week day off-travel, rest.

Overall his training is progressing quite well. His performance during his longest endurance rides has stayed pretty consistent over the past few weeks, but these rides are taking less and less out of him. That indicates he’s adapting to the increased training volume and it’s time to incorporate more intensity. He’s been doing relatively long intervals just below his estimated lactate threshold power to start building his sustainable power at threshold, and some efforts above threshold to bring up his power at VO2 max. I say “estimated lactate threshold power” because we haven’t gotten him into the lab yet, but with 15 years of data and Lance’s knowledge of his own performance, our estimates are typically within 10 watts of his actual LT power.

In addition to putting in the miles and starting on some structured intervals, Lance spent some time out on the road with aerodynamics guru Steve Hed. After more than three years off a time trial bike, we didn’t want to just throw Lance back into the same time trial position he used in 2005. Although we’re not starting from scratch, the time off actually allows for greater opportunities to make significant changes to his TT position. The time with Steve was quite successful and we expect to see very good (meaning low) drag numbers when we go to the wind tunnel on Monday, November 3. The next day we’ll test any tweaks we make to his position using a power meter in real-world conditions to confirm that changes made in the wind tunnel actually make him faster on the road.

If you want to receive updates from Lance and I, we’re both on Twitter now. Simply go to to start following Lance’s updates, and go to (ChrisCarmichael was already taken) to follow mine.

Honestly, once Lance gets a bit faster on the road, I’m going to have to start getting in the car earlier during his training rides. Last weekend I rode with Lance and Taylor Phinney during the Livestrong Challenge in Austin, Texas, and Lance dropped the hammer with about 15 miles to go. Mini-Phinney stayed with him, not surprisingly because he has a phenomenal engine, but this old man was jettisoned like last week’s leftovers. I can handle getting dropped by those two, though. I’m happy to be in the shape I’m in and though I considered a comeback myself (just kidding), Lance better be able to drop me or I’m not doing a very good job as his coach.

This coming Saturday, Lance will compete in a relatively short individual time trial at the Tour de Greuene in Texas, and with his good friend John Korioth, aka “College”, in a 44-kilometer two-man team time trial on Sunday. He first did this event as an exhibition with Eddy Merckx in 1996, while he was still battling cancer, and Lance and Kevin Livingston finished second in the two-man time trial in 1997. It’s a far cry from a Tour de France time trial, but I think it will be a good training event for Lance. From a coaching perspective I’ll be less focused on his power output and more interested in his attitude and his impression of his performance.

Once Lance gets through mid-November, his schedule will open up considerably because he’ll be done with most of the events he put onto his schedule before announcing his comeback. Then he’ll be able to further increase his focus on training and preparing for his return to elite-level competition. This will include some long motorpacing sessions in December to expose him to long periods of time at race speed, and an Astana team camp early in the month.

August to January is a short time to go from a fit-but-retired athlete to an elite-level pro, but Lance is well on his way to doing just that. He’s making great progress, especially considering the extremely high number of commitments he’s had to juggle for the past few months. The lives of pro athletes are somewhat simpler than most people’s, and while Lance’s life will never be as simple as it was back when he was a young pro in 1993, I’m looking forward to the days when he has a little less on his plate. They’re coming soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: