Let’s break some basic components of Endurance performance by comparing them to a car engine.
Maximal Aerobic Power = Max RPM (revolutions per minute). What is the maximum RPM your car can hit? This value acts as the ceiling for your aerobic power production. A Formula1 car can hit 15,000, while most commuter cars max out around 6,000.
Threshold Power= Redline RPM (revolutions per minute). You can only remain above that Redline for a limited amount of time. This is the balancing point between a sustainable output and a non-sustainable output. Two cars can have a Max RPM of 5,000, but car A might have a redline RPM of 4,800 while car B could be 4,000. In cycling terms, that would mean two people with the same MAP, but one has a significantly higher FTP than the other.
Economy = MPG (miles per gallon). How many miles can you travel for a single gallon of fuel? In this analogy, our fuel is oxygen. How fast/far can you go for the oxygen you are taking in? If you put that F1 engine inside a school bus, you will end up burning more fuel per mile traveled. At the same time, you can improve your miles traveled per gallon by sacrificing speed (driving well below Max RPM).
Ultimately your performance will be limited by a combination of these factors. The tricky part becomes recognizing which components will be the most limiting based on your goals. Are you looking to ride your best 10 mile TT, taking on a 200 mile Gravel Race, or set a new PB on your favorite climb? The “optimal engine” is different for each of these goals. And while you and a friend might be training for the same goal, your starting engines aren’t identical. The changes, your engine needs will be different compared to the changes your friend needs to make. Your training should take your starting engine into consideration when laying out the exact work that needs to be done to ensure you get that “optimal engine.”
This is why our training plans are based on your Rider Type and Weakness. For example, all of the 40k time trial plans have the same end goal. Getting you to that “optimal engine” for 40k TT, which is increasing your redline RPM (FTP) as much as possible. If your redline RPM is almost equal to your Max RPM (MAP), then the starting focus should be increasing your Max RPM, which means plenty of MAP sessions. If your redline RPM is 20% below your Max RPM, your training should be more focused on sustained threshold efforts.
At this point, it’s crucial to recognize that we are not just engines getting pumped out of an assembly line with identical specifications. We each have our own unique engine. Just look at how different and unique you are as a person, from height to eye color, arm length, foot size, hair type, etc. With all of those things being different, it makes sense that our insides, our engines, are just as unique. That is why it’s essential to get to know your own engine. Why you should check up on it from time to time to see how it has changed.
So for those who haven’t checked the engine in a while… you should start planning for your next Full Frontal!