From the Coaches: Pacing for Performance

Yeah, RWGPS doesn’t have this. I’m too cheap to buy a power meter and too cheap to spring for the premium Strava memership too. :wink:

While I wait for the right time for my local KOM attempt, how about dissecting last year’s Mt Washington climb? I’ve put my HR and the gradient overlayed on the elevation profile. With your custom training plan (and a borrowed lightweight wheelset) I was able to target 1200 VAM and hit my target time of 1:25. The last pitch of 50m or so is 28%. It is a mental as well as physical challenge. I may be able to have held a higher effort from mile 5.5 on, but we had a pretty good headwind to deal with on the day, and I was trying to hold a little in reserve for the last pitch.

Any thoughts on improvement? The announcers always say “don’t go out too hard and blow up”, but it’s hard to find that sweet spot of hard but not too hard.

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Absolutely impressive Sir @Glen.Coutts! I’ve managed over 4,000m on a couple of rides…hard to imagine more than doubling that in one ride! With Everesting (as far as I’d recommend), the variations in pacing could still occur…but the goal average power would be much lower, and therefore the variations should also be a tighter range overall since it’s all about maintaining the effort over the long haul. This May I had visions of riding 1/3 of the laps it would take to Everest on one of our local climbs, Flagstaff, on the day that Ruther Winder (current US PRO champion) set her Everesting record…which would have been 5 laps (Ruth did 15). I managed 4 laps and was completely undone. Who knows, though, maybe I’ll get the itch sometime in the future to give it a whirl!


Hello @Sir.Jeff.Kerr - looking at this graph, if I assume your heart rate is the blue…it overall looks like a pretty solid pacing, though it seems like you’ve got a bit of a drop from the 5.5 mile mark until just before the end. If that’s the case, then riding those first 5.5 miles just slightly easier (likely 2-4 beats/minute - or likely about 5-10 watts) might be helpful next time…though keep in mind that there’s day to day variation in heart rate to consider relative to heat/hydration/anxiety/caffeine/etc. that makes it hard to completely pin down. A powermeter would for sure give much better insight into exactly how you paced things relative to your output. Congrats on a great ride, though - Mt. Washington HC sure is a bucket list ride/race!


I may have to ask Santa if he can get me a pedal based power meter that works with SPD-SL cleats… I think it would take some magic to pull that off


Nice. Sounds like a similar boat to me then time wise. I know a fair few full in ‘club level’ folk and of course they get it done in 12 hours … then I looked at it and though more like 18 :slight_smile:

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I did a v10K in 14:40 and IRL 5K in 8:30 ten days apart. My pacing was essentially “ride as easy as possible” where the slope, gears and cadence dictated the speed.
The 10K was long, but I finished strong. I can’t bring myself to say it was too hard riding it in an air conditioned room, watching TV and strolling to the kitchen on the decents…hats off to IRL Keepers Of The Cloud.
The 5k IRL was difficult in its own way, mainly because of the heat and humidity, and the effort to descend. There are also logistics involved and these prevented a full Everesting that time, but it’s on my list…


Some great insights and advice here. World class advice based on real world results!

I’ve only really applied myself to training the last 6-8 months (for an event that of course was postponed for another year) yet have been riding and taking part in sportives for 10+ years. I can honestly say I’ve never been stronger and better prepared on a bike than I am now, despite now officially being a MAMIL.

With these kind of inputs and the science and coaching staff behind it all, and if it’s applied the way it should be, how could anyone not become a better athlete? (I’d settle with just being considered an athlete!) I already feel ready for my event next year - London to Paris - and I’m just going to get stronger!

This is why I love the Sufferfest and why I will never leave… I know I can’t anyway!!


I made a reply to this thread in the Sufferlandia page on Facebook. I stated that I had a local segment that I was going to try and pace which I usually don’t, I just go full gas till I can’t which leaves me sucking wind at the top or I run out of segment. Prior to Sufferfest I was left sucking wind at the top since suff fest I run out of segment while still sucking wind. I would look back at my results have been seeing that I would get close but no cigar kind of thing for getting my next PR. My goal has been to try and get this segment under 3 minutes consistently. Plus I always finish this segment feeling like I could give more.
So I after reading @Coach.Neal.H article about pacing I decided to give it a go to see if it would help me out. This segment for all intents and purpose is basically flat, mathematically! In reality its about -1.2% down and maxes at 2% up so not a lot of variation but I feel just a enough to really home in on the idea of what pacing really is. However with the variation so tight I decided that a conservative even pace all the way around would be the best option so same speed down as up. I aimed for a 23 mph average around even though I went into it thinking I might have set this a bit high. When I reached the end of the segment it actually felt like I was just getting started and I was not sucking wind at all. I actually felt pumped and primed. My goal was to maintain an average speed all the way around which I did but I did not feel like I PR’d the segment because my breathing was too controlled. After looking at my Strava results, which I have decided to provide, boy was I surprise to see that I nailed it by 6 seconds. Maybe if I get this pacing thing down, because you know us attackers are not known for that steady pace, I can creep up on those guys on the leader board. I think I am going to try and aim for 24 mph and this time maybe I’ll remember my tickr, lol! Thanks @Coach.Neal.H for this thread its been a tremendous help!


Congratulations @BykeRyder18 - and great first name to boot! :wink:


Hey Sir @Coach.Neal.H, just thought I’d follow up on using a pacing strategy for my vEverest of Mt. Ventoux. First, I succeeded so yay me, lol! Second, I tried to use the pacing strategy using the gradient profile for the 19.1 km climb where the first 4 kms are in the 5-7% range, the next 10 kms in the 10-11% range and the last 5 kms are mostly in the 6-7% range if memory serves. While these markers may not be exact, what is clear is that there is about a 10km section of 10%+ that is just a grind and I tried to keep my effort up during that section while “relaxing” a bit in the opening and closing sections. The strategy definitely worked. My NP for the whole ride was about 10 watts higher than when I did a vEverest of Alpe d’Huez and another vEverest of London’s Leith Hill. I am super pleased with the results given that I was probably about 4 kg heavier going up Ventoux than both the Alpe. All that said, make no mistake, I still hate you :slight_smile:


Wow, Sir @Glen.Coutts! Congratulations on another vEveresting.

That’s super impressive, Sir.


My thoughts exactly. Well done Sufferfest.

This is a great article and clearly demonstrates the massive benefit of training through Sufferfest.
In my case, my motivation to commence structured training this year, was my very average performance in my first big sportive last year. - the Sean Yates Spring Classic. I started out too strong, ran out of steam, cramped and came home in a disappointing time. I achieved my objective for the day - but I had set my self a modest target for my first event.
Since then, I have completed the Hilly Gran Fondo 12 week plan and after a summer break, am now embarking on my second 12 week plan. My FTP has increased by 30 watts and my understanding of myself as a mature cyclist has grown. Armed with a sensible pacing strategy, I am targeting a Gold standard time for my age group next Spring (assuming it runs).
This is an excellent article which has really helped me to think through how best to incorporate pacing into my training. Thank you.

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Great to hear how you’re progressing! I’ll see you on the Sean Yates next year hopefully - it’s a tough one!

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Thanks. I’m really pleased with my progress under Sufferfest. I’ve been cycling for about 5 years but until this Spring, I have been riding, without any particular training structure. Looking forward to next Spring.


This is really interesting, thanks for writing it! I’m just curious about how you would set your pacing targets over a half Ironman course? I’ve never raced using the science of power meters and a kickr in training before, so finding this whole process fascinating.
So, I’ll use 200 as FTP as an easy figure. Given you’ve done 35 mins of swimming, what percentage of your FTP would you drop to account for that effort? And would you lower your percentage over the last 10km or so off the bike to help prepare for the run, or would you just work out your percentage for the whole 90km? I have a toddler at home so nearly all of my bike work is on the trainer, so I won’t get much practice on the road to try it all out before race day in 12 weeks, but I’d love to have some science to trial when I can escape outdoors!!

Very interesting article indeed! Will definitely experiment with GAP variations prior to my TT goal this year. I have always tried to keep calm in the initial uphill section of the course, but now I may trial and error a bit with GAP variation when spring comes to select the best and fastest strategy for the race.

Additional motivation!

I have a question @Coach.Neal.H;
If considering the <30 min event duration: Is there any rule of thumb on what will be determining which end of the rather wide GAP range you would target, as well as what +/- variations to select? Would that possibly be a function of your MAP vs FTP? E.g. If your MAP is 110% of FTP, you could select GAP to 105%, whereas if your MAP is 130% FTP you would select GAP to 115%.

Or would it be something each person needs to do iterations of trial and error to decide? Bit of both?

Suppose the technicality and terrain of the course will influence as well.

Hi @Magnito - not sure how I missed this one earlier…but as you suggest, there’s both a combination of some trial and error that is useful to determine your tolerance to efforts significant above GAP and they might be related to your 4DP profile/rider type. Have you found anything consistent in that regard for you?

One thing I consider is that when going uphill at slow speeds, speed is directly proportional to power. When going fast on the level or descending where resistance is dominated by aerodynamic drag, speed goes as cube root of the power. So, at high speeds it takes a heck of a lot more power to go only slightly faster. On hilly rides that start and end at about the same elevation, I work hard on the climbs where I’m spending more time, and work easy and recover on the much shorter duration descents (after accelerating over the crests).