Question: I am participating in my first 10km time trial in 8 weeks. It’s flat. I hope to finish it in 15-17 minutes. What sessions should I include in my training plan? Do you have any tips about pacing?
It takes about 6 weeks to realize specific changes in fitness. Adding a power meter to your training will add another dimension of accuracy to your training and race plan.
To optimize your results in your upcoming time trial, improving your aerobic capacity and increasing your FTP is paramount. For the latter, spending time at or near your FTP is critical.
In the first workout, after warming up, you should perform repeated 5-minute efforts with 1-minute of recovery. But the trick to this session is that within the 5-minute interval, you should start the effort at around 90% of your FTP and gradually increase the power over the 5 minutes, finishing at 105% of FTP.
Follow the interval with a 1-minute recovery and repeat.
Start with 3 of these intervals over 6 weeks and eventually build up to 6 of these 5-minute intervals. These training sessions will look similar to the graph below.
Because these long intervals begin at low threshold power and end at high threshold power, they help you gain a feel for pacing that will help in your TT race.
Another way of improving TT power is to perform multiple, short, and high-intensity efforts. This improves your VO2 max and aerobic efficiency for time trialing.
Complete multiple 30-second efforts at target of 120%-140% FTP with 15 seconds of recovery. For example, you perform 3 sets of 10 x 30 seconds on with 15-second recovery. There is also a 3-minute threshold effort to add a little more lactate to the interval.
Since the precise interval workout is necessary for this type of workout, performing this workout on Zwift is the ideal. On Zwift, you don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a suitable stretch of road. ERG mode eliminates the need to hit the target power for a short duration because it automatically adjusts the resistance to hit the target power.
The power-duration curve from your power meter quantifies your best 16-minute power. This number is a good starting point for your TT race plan.
As you get closer to your event, spend some sessions training at this power and get a feel for how long you can maintain it. On the race day, you should have a target power for the time trial.
Make sure you don’t start too hard! The post-race goal is a nice plateau of power output. The opening 3-4 minutes should feel hard, but manageable. Maintain that output for the next 8-10 minutes and go harder, if possible. The goal for the final 2-5 minutes? Avoid a decrease in power. And if you have a little more fuel left in your proverbial tank, go harder.
If you feel like you have the energy to perform a sprint across the line, you didn’t go hard enough at the end of your TT. You shouldn’t have anything left when you cross the finish line.