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Thread: Test results and using them

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    New England
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    Default Test results and using them

    I had posted a thread about the accuracy of the Zwift ramp test compared to a real lab test. I just realized that I should have put that thread in the Oxygen Depraved section and didn't...oops.

    In doing a quick scan I didn't see a thread that focused on how any of these test correlate to real world training and racing. There is likely a thread buried deeper in this section than I bother to looked.

    Back in the day when I did a fare amount of coaching I used to find myself in conversations about testing protocols, how the results are best used, what tests are better, what numbers are better, etc, etc.

    First off I will have to quote the famous @SteveP when it comes to numbers, "the only numbers that count are what place you came in. I don't care about your 300 watts or 1600 watts. The numbers I want to know about are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd".
    For those that don't know @SteveP started and has overseen one of the strongest ongoing east coast U23 teams that has produced a number of domestic and world pros.

    The answer to the questions about testing protocols and what numbers were the best to base training/racing on was always "it depends".
    It depends what you are trying to ultimately do.
    A 1600 watt sprint didn't mean much in the MTB world in the 90s when our races were 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours long.
    Being able to hold 300 watts for 5 hours doesn't mean much to a crit racer.
    Being able to do 400 watts for 10 minutes 4 hours into a road race doesn't mean anything to a cat 5 CX racer who is on course for 35 minutes.

    Lets say you do the Zwift step test and you get a result of 250 watts. Can you do the test again right after you do their warm down and get the same number? Can you do it a third time? Four times in a row?
    If person A can only do the test once, the number is still 250. If person B can do the test 4 times, their number is also 250.

    The lab tests are great for getting physiological information but those number do not equal what someone should do for training. The same could be said for the Zwift step test since if seems to correlate nicely to a real lab test.

    20 minute test, 60 minutes tests, lab tests, Zwift tests, Trainer Road tests, ...
    There are all interesting and one way to track progress because you can replicate them several times over a season/year/decade. They are also good when establishing training.

    The challenge I see is that taking tests, grabbing online training programs, and plugging in your numbers is a very generic way to go about improving. While much better than not having a plan and just pounding yourself into the ground everyday, it is not the same as working with someone to come up with a plan that aligns test results, personal goals, efforts required to reach those goals, the reality of reaching those goals, available time, etc, etc.

    My 2 cents.
    In other words, testing is not training. And training is not racing.
    Brian McLaughlin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Test results and using them

    You kinda boxed yourself into a corner by answering with succinct well reasoned conclusions. No argument here.

    I've stopped coaching as of last year so HEY I'm at liberty to play fast and loose with my observations.

    "Guys" like you, Brian, with the gift train differently than we the unwashed ;)

    After a month or two of coaching someone I could tell how they responded to structured coaching. That was a imprecise observations, mostly a intuitive response to how well athletes were able to perform and recover blah blah blah.

    To your point, yeah tests are not throw away(s) nor should they be taken as gospel. Sport science is as much "science" as it is good old fashioned "craft", the craft of managing everything which makes for a successful athlete. It's complicated therefore professional coaching or second best or third best good tools / advice.

    Me personally??? I LOVE data and will always use power numbers to assure I'm exercising NOT TOO EFFIN' HARD or to baseline my current abilities. Since I absolutely will never do a 20 min. test again my numbers are sliced out of daily training.

    When I see that I'm approaching or exceeding benchmark numbers I make a mental note but that's all baby ;) I'm out, no more "training" for this knuckle dragger.

    *PS Some folks are really bad at tests. During my paid coaching career I almost always took data from actual training and ignored the "tests" which I gave to athletes because they requested/expected benchmarks vs "showing progress" over time. Not everyone was like that but most want to slay the dragon thus "tests"....oy.
    Last edited by Too Tall; 12-24-2019 at 08:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    no shore, mass
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    Default Re: Test results and using them

    Training is not racing and it's not supposed to be.

    I sometimes see " Strava " mixed up with training and " numbers " mixed up with training fitness.
    They are a distraction from real training and real racing only.
    Real training involves discipline and looking toward racing results.
    More and more folks use these tools these days and they have value...
    They are not to be confused with race results though.

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