Blowing past FTP on race day

Hi all,
On September 5 I raced the Dakota Five-0, an infamous (around here anyway) XC Marathon race in the Black Hills of SD: 50 miles and ~5800 feet of climbing. This was my first XCM race, and my first A race since taking up structured training with TR in January. :+1:

Looking back at my Garmin Connect data, I’m noticing that I set a bunch of personal best power numbers that day, most noticeably 1-hour power at 300 watts, 2-hour power at 276, and NP at 290.

My FTP going in to that race was 270, based on a ramp test before the previous training block. Following the race, I had a rest week and another ramp test where I scored 276.

So, on to my question: What am I supposed to do with this information?

Is it possible I have a higher “outdoor FTP”? Should I use a different FTP setting for indoor and outdoor workouts?

Or, to look at it the other way, does the competitive atmosphere actually reveal my “true” FTP, and I should use that number for all training from now on? (300.)

Thanks for any insight.

I blew my FTP out of the water on a float day on a pancake flat, perfectly smooth and untechnical course in perfect temperatures. Add any one of them (or their opposite to be exact) and my lower FTP is more realistic/ repeatable.

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It’s not uncommon for people to be able to put out higher power outdoors for a number of reasons, but generally speaking you should test in as similar conditions as possible to the environment you’re training in- so the higher number from your race might work better for outdoor workouts if those are of interest to you, but by the same token if your current ‘indoor’ FTP has you working at what you feel is an appropriate level of difficulty then I’d stick with that.

I’d frame this slightly differently.

Knowing the effort you put into your event, do you think you’d be able to repeat that effort both mentally and physically, day after day? If the answer is yes, you could always try bumping your FTP a little, say 5-10 watts and see what happens.

If you’re completing Mid Volume Plans, riding 5-6 days a week and still hitting your marks, maybe you need to look at another FTP testing method.

Just keep in mind that there’s nothing to be gained from over training :+1:


Do outside FTP test and use this number for outside workout and then do a ramp test and use this number for a indoor workouts.

If you want to track TSS correctly You can “hack” TrainingPeaks and set different FTP for MTB and for Cycling and then use one for indoor and one for outdoor rides (just change the type after the ride) and TP will automatically give you right TSS for your rides and then you can manually override TSS in TR also.

BUT one thing bothers me… if your outside FTP is 10% higher does this means that you are undertraining indoors?! Like you are undertraining at elevetion when you cannot produce the power?! Because at 10% of a diff you can easily switch vo2 for FTP and be doing 4x4min at FTP…

That does seem to be a big jump in FTP :+1:

I’d echo what the others have said regarding keeping the conditions of the test and the training consistent but that does seem like a big difference.

Are you using the same power meter both inside and outside? Cooling OK indoors?

I would trust yourself (and adaptive training) to set your indoor workouts to the correct level based on your perception of them.

Did you use the same power meter to check your FTP? Maybe that is the difference?

That’s a huge discrepancy!

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That’s exactly why I haven’t upped my FTP by significant amounts the odd times I’ve smashed my FTP. Relatively recently, my worst 20min tests have been around 250w and my best 20min tests would be around 280w. So I used 250w erring on the side of caution and avoiding over training. I went out on my first 25miles TT of the season in perfect conditions (a float day on a pancake flat, perfectly smooth and untechnical course in perfect temperatures) and buoyed up by the atmosphere did my fastest time of the season off 292w average (296w NP).
I decided that was too big a jump and at first upped my FTP by 5w saw how I got on and then another 5 watts and decided that was about right (RPE/ HR and repeatability etc) and left it there, as you say:


I agree. If you’re training outdoors, you should test outdoors. The ramp test works for a lot of people (not me) but I’m a firm beleiver in learning how to pace a longer sustained FTP effort. I also don’t think there’s much wrong with the 2x8 version especially for mountain bikers. I go so far as to only test offroad, but I acknowledge that not everyone has that luxury of a long enough sustained climb. Yes, test on a climb if you’re MTB.

All that said, when I have a long block of indoor training on the horizon, I test indoors and expect to see a lower number. It’s just how it is, I say this specifically for mountain bike racers in particular.

Hmm, it’s interesting that this was on the mountain bike. I always find it impossible to hit sustained power numbers on the mountain bike because of all the coasting involved. Not to mention that my power on the mountain bike might not be the same as on the road bike. That aside, it’s also curious that your normalized power is so close to your average power. Given the aforementioned coasting and the surgey nature of mountain bike climbing, My NP is always way higher than average as well.

Thanks EVERYONE for the replies.

It seems to be the consensus that this discrepancy is somewhat normal, and when committing to a training block, I should try to keep it all indoors or all outdoors, if at all possible, including my preliminary FTP test.

I don’t see over training as a real threat as I’ve always done low volume. I’m more worried about training the wrong zones. A VO2 effort at 108% would actually just be a really short threshold effort if my FTP is off my 10%.

Regarding different PM’s, my indoor tests were done on a bike w/o a PM, on a KICKR Core. Outdoor data was acquired on my Epic with a Quark PM.

There’s your answer.

There’s also no reason to not have two FTP settings, especially in your case since you’re using different PMs. I would consider using a longer testing protocol in either case since testing outdoors will require that. Be prepared to receive advice counter to this too, but in my case, as a mountain bike racer who supplements my outdoor training with indoor when needed, this has worked well for me. Learning to pace sustained efforts will serve you well for XCM racing. (I suspect you know that, and nice work on hitting those PRs, very solid numbers!)

Was going to challenge this, but after looking at the profile for the Dakota 5-0 I find the NP/Average to be quite surprising as well.

@jesse_v how long was that first climb? Looks like the only sustained climb the whole day maybe?

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Thanks. I think I was looking for some justification in have two FTP’s. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

That first road climb lasted around 20 minutes, then singletrack. Climbing didn’t let off until the 54 minute mark. I think there’s some confusion about my average power for the whole race: 229 watts. (NP was 290. Finishing time was 4:42. The records I mentioned above are 1-hour power @ 300; 2-hour power @276.)

Going forward, I want to incorporate more outdoor training anyway. (When I began 10 months ago, I didn’t have a PM or head unit.) My second and final A-race is approaching (the OZ50 in Bentonville), followed by some silly local cyclocross to keep me busy till Thankgiving. I’ll take December off, then begin an XCM plan in January, emphasizing outdoor training. (I do the winter fat-biking thing so I like the cold.)

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Ah, gotcha - thanks for clarification and again, nice work!

Sounds like a great plan. I lock into indoor training in late December (I’m in the SE and a little spoiled with mostly decent weather) and focus on base training indoors, then try to get outdoors as soon as it’s reasonable. Enjoy the rest of your season!

Congrats on the good race!

Simple solution to your curiosity is to pop your MTB into the trainer for your next TR ramp test (or whatever protocol you use for indoor testing on the smart trainer). Pair your mtb pm to the head unit and the smart trainer to your computer. Observe the difference in watts after the test.

I did this once before (stages L side only / cyclops hammer trainer). The powers are stable on each, but at certain power levels one meter is higher. This changed as power increases. For example, 200w on stages = 210w on hammer but 1000w on stages = 950w on hammer, etc (I’m making a generalized guess here, these #s aren’t from the actual data)

Couple thoughts from my experience and not directly related to your situation/question:

  1. I ALWAYS outperform my training on race day if I have properly executed my training and preparation for racing. There’s a few reasons why- I’m better rested/less fatigued on race day, more awake (e.g. not working out 30 mins after waking up), more motivated to push, properly warmed up/primed, and I use fueling/performance aids that I rarely if ever use in training (caffeine, gels/sports nutrition, AMP human). Reason for the last being that I’m cheap, I really don’t like taking gels/straight sugar unless I have to, and I don’t consume caffeine at all outside of racing. In my experience, my FTP is probably 5% higher than I can hit on a sustained effort in training, and my running threshold pace is ~15 second/mi faster than in training. Personally I think it’s a huge motivator knowing that I have more in the tank on race day and can blow past what I’ve been regularly doing.

  2. A proper warm up for me makes a huge difference especially in running. I don’t do this for most workouts because it’s too time consuming, and I would rather be running/riding. But for me, that’s probably 10-15’ easy activity, followed by a couple threshold pushes, dynamic stretches, muscle activation, and a few strides/sprints/openers. Followed by 10’ of easy movement before getting ready to go, and a gel top off 10’ pre-race. All in 30-45’ of prep, which gets cut out for every day workouts because I’m not a pro with all day to fit in 20+ hour weeks.

  3. NP is useless for measuring FTP on anything that involves extended coasting or huge spikes. It works great on gently rolling terrain where you have a consistent effort with slight variations. Not so much when you have huge spikes above FTP, especially when combined with coasting/recovery periods. I had a 300NP for 3:30 off 310-315 FTP on a long mountain fondo this year, before I kinda cracked and could only hit 260s or so for hours 4-5. Also had 350NP in a circuit race for 30’ trying to split the field. There’s NO way I could hold either of those powers consistently for that duration on flat ground without recovery coasting.