Analyzing race performance - What do you look for?

We all know the feeling of having completed your A race and diving into the data the next day or even right after. I’m curious, what do you guys look for? What does this tell you? What software do you use? etc…

I go first:
Completed A race for the season this Sunday. It was a flat XC Marathon. Spend the first two hours sprinting out of every corner trying to get into a good position.

Set NP goal of ± 290w (IF=0,82), only got to 270w for 2 hours and than I basically died. The last 1:15 I basically died. See power profile:

How to determine If I started too hard?
How to determine if I should have pushed out my Time to Exhaustion (TTE) more instead of Vo2 workouts?
How to determine if my Aerobic base is sufficient?

For the last question I looked at my power curve >3000 Kj, this one seems to be an all time high:

What do you guys and girls look for, and what can you derive out of it?

Im pretty weak on analysing and mainly look at feel v results. If you blew up before the end you started too hard and more training without overload isn’t a bad idea unless an overload is what is causing you to blow up early. Conversely if there’s too much in the tank at the end its likely you didn’t push hard enough.

You can’t IMO compare your powercurve from all? 2019 to this one ride which suggests you were stronger in 2019 for 5 mins; it could be that the majority of 2019 efforts were shorter ones where burning out wasn’t an issue. At the end of the season or using season match you can compare a whole period to another period and make an educated guess. Even then you have to be careful what you read into it. My curve says I am about 20w more powerful over 2h this year but this is the first year I’ve done a 2h TT and I suspect over 2h last year I would have been stronger :wink:

I don’t use any software. I set myself a couple of ‘goals’ before the race and check myself against those afterwards. Just simple things like making sure I’m eating and drinking. My position(s) during the race and how well I communicated with team mates.

Most importantly, I ask myself, (a) did I enjoy that experience and (b) what did I learn?


I don’t look at the power curve. The type and duration of your event will impact how you choose to use your power (are you going to do a max 5-minute effort during a 6-hour race?). NP is OK, but there are different ways to get to the same NP that require very different efforts. Think of riding at a steady 200w vs 30/30s at 300w/100w for example. NP is the same in both cases (200w), but the 30/30 efforts will be more taxing.

In your case, you had hard efforts early (“sprinting out of every corner”) and, of course, being an XC race the course itself will have dictated certain efforts. You say that you died the last 1:15, but is that what you felt or just what you see on the curve? Ignore the curve.

In my race last weekend, I decided to risk it for the biscuit. In my A race a few weeks prior, I got to the finish line feeling like I had more left in the tank. It was a long race (10+ hours), so I paced conservatively. For last weekend’s race, I just decided to take some chances knowing the race was short enough that a bonk wouldn’t be the end of the world. Looking at power and HR for the race over race time (not power curve duration), I saw that after 3 hours, I rode the next hour at .68 IF with my HR pegged at threshhold. Put a fork in me, I’m done. The earlier hard efforts (punching up short climbs, bridging gaps, etc.) had used up what I had to give. I also think I may have been slightly dehydrated. I didn’t feel bad, but I did end up drinking much less than planned (but eating was good). FYI - I look at my data in TR and Strava (subscriber).

Ultimately, the goal is to go faster (it’s bike racing, not power curve racing). Could you improve your cornering to reduce the need to sprint? If you let go of some wheels early, would you have had more power later in the race to finish faster overall? Was there a critical sector late in the race where you would have benefited from more power if you had conserved earlier? Try something different next race and see if it’s better or worse.

1 Like

Place & speed. That’s it.

This is not correct. Average Power will be the same in both cases. Normalized power will be different. Normalized power is a weighted average, where the higher efforts are given a a higher weighting.


You’re right about the math. That’s AP, not NP. However, my point is the same… you can do very different efforts to get to the same NP… but that doesn’t mean those efforts were similar in how they affect the athlete.

TrainerRoad Normalized Power Blog Post

Looks like you’re using Are your eftp and w’ values dialed prior to the race? If so you can guage your depletion efforts and see if you went as hard as you thought you did, and if it was a recovery issue or can be traced back to training/nutrition

I look for a couple of things, a) average/normalized power for an hour if on flatter course, to see if my fitness is higher than last FTP estimate, and b) specific on-course efforts that I might want to target in training for next year (assuming its an annual A race).

That’s true to a certain extent. But keep in mind the goal of NP is to account for this. When NP works as intended, it gives you the equivalent steady state power for the same duration, that would yield a similar training load.

Which is why in the example of a VO2 interval exercise with the same AP as a Z2 ride, the VO2 workout would have a much higher NP.

I definitely look at how well I did and how good I felt. If I had good legs and could move when I wanted to, I’ll pay careful attention to what I did in the week leading up to that (in addition to the lead up weeks to other A races) and look for patterns.

Thanks for the nice respons(es).

I was trying to set an example for the topic to learn what others do to analyze their races. Since i’m cycling to get faster (I enjoy the process, the training, the (XC) technique and the occasional fun ride) at the moment I try to figure out where to work on, or what to change next race/plan/season.

For my example race I posted the power chart, but I should have maybe only posted this part of it:
Screenshot 2022-09-27 at 11.46.21

2:00 hours 270w
3:00 hours 250w

That is what I meant with ‘basically died’. I have the feeling that indeed starting too fast caused this, but was wondering if somebody had a good way of validating that via power data. I felt fine for the first 2 hours so it sort of hit me by surprise during the race. (I fuelled with ± 100 grams of carbs per hour, maybe 110 but certainly not less, 70-80 mix, 1 35gram gel)

Things I thought about myself:

  • minutes spend above FTP?
  • time spend above FTP vs total duration as a %?
  • Kj’s spend per hour (vs maximum rate?)

What would I do with this info?

  1. adapt racing/pacing strategy for my next race
  2. adapt training focus

For example: I believe my current set threshold is quite high given the TTE (progression level 3.0, ± 8m threshold intervals). It might be true that for that reason 0.82 IF was too high of a goal and would be more realistic for someone with a TTE/Progression level of 8 (30+ min threshold intervals) and a 0.75-0.78 would be more realistic.

I progress relatively easy through VO2 work (progression level 4.3 currently) but have been subsidizing some sweet spot / low threshold work for more endurance type of riding due to life constraints. I therefore now believe that a useful focus would be more SS/Threshold extension of Time in zone (TTE/progression levels).

This topic was created to discuss the reasoning/validation to shifting these kinds of focus points in training. Maybe I’m taking it a bit too far, but i believe you can only improve what you can measure :slight_smile:

BTW: I had fun nonetheless :wink:

What is your TTE and what is the demand in terms of steady threshold efforts of your races?

Completed Cedric Wright as last threshold workout at 3x 8min @ 95-99% FTP (357w) on 15 September.

Normally XC marathons require around 1 to 10min efforts slightly above or at FTP to get up the climbs here in NL/BE/DE. Longer is an exception, shorter is more for XC races. My race in 2 weeks will be exactly like that. The race i analyzed did not have any climbs, it was more of a 3+ hour crit on the MTB with a 1min @ 400w sloped section in the middle. This was not my typical race but more an exception. I’m looking to perform better in normal XC marathons.

Might be a good question for the pod:
I’d like to hear what they say.

I’m no expert, so for me it’s just trial and error. I do think you are interpreting the curve incorrectly.

My race last weekend shows a drop in power after 35 minutes:

This doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to keep making power at that point… I crested a hill.
Race hill

My strongest 14:45 effort was on the second climb, strongest 15:00 on the first climb, and strongest 15:35 on the second climb. The power curve rearranges the data such that is doesn’t tell you much for a single effort. In your case, it does not necessarily show your power dropped off 2 hours into the race. Was the strongest 2 hours the first 2 hours? Was there a change in the course (a descent?) that would cause power to decrease naturally there?

The question is how did you feel and/or perform. In my case, I was unable to produce watts at the end.

189 watts at 163HR from approx hour 3-4. I would either expect to be recovering at that power or be able to put out far more power for that effort. Eating was good so either 1) my early efforts were too hard, 2) I did not hydrate enough, or 3) I was still fatigued from the 10-hour race 2 weeks prior. I don’t know there is a way to know for sure which of those it was, but I’ll be sure to be on top of my hydration at my next race. As I mentioned in my first post, I was a bit reckless with early efforts during this race as kind of a “what if” scenario. Would I burn out if I was aggressive early? Turns out, the answer was yes. :joy:

Might be a good question for the pod:
Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast - TrainerRoad
I’d like to hear what they say.

I’ll post the question!

I’m no expert, so for me it’s just trial and error. I do think you are interpreting the curve incorrectly.

I understand your point that the power profile just finds ‘best periods’ for the associated time. But in this case my 2:00 hour correlates exactly with the period from start of the race to the 2:00 hour mark.

Was the strongest 2 hours the first 2 hours? Was there a change in the course (a descent?) that would cause power to decrease naturally there?

So the answer to the above question is yes. There was a quite long patch of singletrack in each round (the race was 3 rounds of the same course) where power would be relatively low since it consistent mostly of flowy corners.

The question is how did you feel and/or perform. In my case, I was unable to produce watts at the end.

I agree that’s the most important question. The answer is I felt pretty strong for the first hour. When the group I was in blew up I decided to lower the pace from 300Np to 290 (my goal). After a while I found somebody that was willing to pull with me to make it to the next group. This part I took turns at around 320w for a minute or so at a time until we made it. This took around 30min or so, felt pretty good still. Then when the second hour passed at around the 2:15 hour mark I basically hit a wall, started to feel my legs where not producing power anymore. Not long after I felt they where going to cramp if I pushed them too hard. Eased up quite a lot and after around 30 minutes or so they where improving a bit again, but not anywhere near ‘normal’. Finished the race refusing to give in to the feeling that my legs where hurting and I should just noodle around.