KOM Hunting with Pros, CX Pacing, Power and Heart Rate Zones and More – Ask a Cycling a Coach 186

Hey guys, I love the show (and the software). During this week’s podcast, nutrition during sweet spot training was mentioned. I’ve been only a podcast listener since a short time so pardon me if this has been covered before, but I’ve done my fair share of training plans and I never ate during a trainer workout.

Could you please elaborate a bit more on this and give some advice on when (or when not) to add fuel during a workout (TSS, duration, …)? When I had to pause/quit trainings in the past because I couldn’t handle any more effort, I thought I was just too weak, but now it turns out it might just be a lack of food!

Many thanks from Belgium!

Really enjoyed this episode! The way the team addressed breathing material was well done! Most importantly, I was delighted to hear that @Nate_Pearson was a tuba player! I also have a huge lung capacity, but it most certainly doesn’t help me use all that oxygen!

Former professional tubist here - recently turned bike nut. There are SO many parallels between preparation/practice/work ethic of a musician and a cyclist. It’s a natural transition!

Which makes me wonder - how many other musician/cyclists are out there?

1 Like

Chad and I are on slightly different opinions on this.

I like to fuel every ride except my 45% recovery rides (that’s just water). I like to think about my nutrition for the 24 hours before it (am I eating enough carbs via veggies, fruit and whole grain?).

On aerobic rides I’ll take in a sports drink (I like scratch). On anything harder than that I’ll take on gels or chews in addition to sports drink.

I’ll then usually do tart cherry juice after the ride or during the cool down.


Seems to me hr at threshold is much more meaningful than max hr for figuring out hr zones. I believe Friel used a 30 minute field test to estimate threshold hr. I think really figuring out a true max HR is a lot harder to test. From knowing my HR at threshold i have noticed a nearly linear relationship of HR to my power zones and even runs. (as in 75% of threshold power usually elicits a HR 75% of threshold) 85% of threshold HR is usually still considered zone 2 by HR methods, but is clearly in the zone 3 tempo area by power, so I think this also leads to a bit of the mismatching of pwr/hr.

I was also intrigued by a bit of the discussion about the science behind warming up. I had previously asked a question about starting my bike segment in a triathlon too hard and the ensuing result. It was interesting since my HR average was quite high, but NP was about 30 watts below expected RPE/HRavg. The race I did 3 weeks later was 20 watts higher NP, but almost 10 beats lower HR avg. In that race I told myself to hold back in the first 5-10 minutes of the bike. Ends up after looking at the power file, I was right around threshold for that first 5 minutes even though I was trying to hold back… the difficult part about xterras is that they usually start with a climb of some sort. The rest of the race my power numbers in the second race match closely with the numbers I generated in training.

Based on what was discussed during the podcast, it would appear that in my first race I burned up a lot of my muscle glycogen since my aerobic systems in my legs weren’t really primed for a hard effort. @Jonathan had mentioned something as well related to lactate, but I didn’t quite catch all of that.

I just wanted to share that I felt a sense of warmth wash over me when listening to you discuss CX pacing and advising road cyclists who believe they should be faster that, “maybe you’re just not that fast”. That’s what I love about CX, there is nowhere to hide, no one or no team to carry you; either you have it or you don’t.


Hi Nate,

As a follow-up on this, I have been following your advice and I must say it helps a lot.

Before, workouts were sometimes very hard and I felt “empty” halfway in the workout probably because of improper eating before (stressy job, lack of time, …) Now I’m using one or more Fruit Bars (different brands & naming, having 20g of carbs which feel like they go straight into your veins, but anything similar to a gel would do) right before and/or in the middle of my non-recovery workouts.

It really gives me an immediate energy-boost, allowing me to complete workouts or get me through an interval which I gave up on before. To me, it feels like using legal doping during training, allowing me to go further during the session, thus making me stronger and a better cyclist when not on the trainer. The extra-calories can be ignored as the prolonged workout compensates for the additional energy intake. The only thing which worries me a bit is my body getting used to using the sugars instead of fat when working out.

Thanks a lot for your advice! You really made me a faster cyclist :smiley:


Just listened to this one today as im making my way back through the catalogue of episodes. Did you take your kom back yet, @Nate_Pearson ?

No :sob: