Question about Coach Jonathan's recommendations for pacing endurance events

In recent podcast (sorry, don’t have the episode number) the team was responding to a listener’s question about pacing to keep from blowing up on hills during races. I think @Jonathan said he targeted .80 IF for a distance event, and that he limited his hard efforts to .95 IF.

My question is about “how do you know…” Coach Jonathan, do you have a field on your head unit that displays IF for the ride and another that should real-time IF? Do you know your target numbers and just monitor by a power metric like current, 3-sec, 10-sec?

I’m thinking for the hard efforts adding another element of cognitive load would be more challenge (having the target numbers in your head and then figuring out where you are) but I’ve also heard you say in podcasts that you prefer not to have a whole lot of data displayed when you’re racing.

Curious minds and all… :slight_smile:

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Not sure if IF is the correct measurement for short segments/climbs (not a full ride). but in the end it’s just NP percentage of FTP. So you could also look at avg power, NP or some smoother actual power numbers and crunch it to percentages of FTP

Garmin also has %FTP: “The current power output as a percentage of functional threshold power.”
But I don’t know how that’s smoothed, not very usefull if it updates every second…

I have added an IF field for the entire ride this year…will only use it for longer endurance events. First test will be Saturday for the Rapha Day in Hell. Will probably shoot for a .75 IF and see how that feels. A “C” event for me, so just looking to log some miles. (Weather looks like crap, though.)


I can def agree with the 0.8 IF thing, while I wasn’t intentionally doing the following at 0.8 IF when I set out for the day, it’s what I hit during this solo ride last year

Hoping to do it again this year at 230-240w NP

0.8 IF or 0.95 IF are just percentages of np compared to ftp.

So if you have 3/5/10 second power displayed, and you’re pacing a hard climb in the middle of an endurance race, then simply try not to go above 95% of FTP.

I’ll display normalized power for the ride, and then pace to that. So an hour in, my np should be around 80% of FTP if that’s what the goal is. If it’s too high, then I know I should dial the pace back just a bit and not go so hard on the climbs/flats and maybe recover a bit more on descents. If it’s too low, then I know I should go a bit harder the next few hours. But they’re pretty minor changes, and it’s also based on feel.

The goal isn’t to make the Garmin say 0.8 IF though. Maybe the first 30mins of your race is a descent. You might be at 0.2 IF after the first 15 miles and have to ride the entire next climb at/above FTP to get it back to 0.8if…and that effort would crush the next 4+ hrs of your race.

These are the fields I might choose from to meter a hard effort to around .95 IF on a Garmin 530:

  • Power - %FTP
  • Power - Lap
  • Power - NP Lap
  • Power - watts/kg/Lap
  • Time Power Zone 4
  • Power Graph (color coded)

Or you might simply develop a feel for threshold and that’s good enough.

Also, I know that the bottom third of threshold, from 90-95% of FTP, is 245-260 and I see that on my head unit during training and its burned into memory (another reason why I use my head unit even on indoor training).

There are some nice Connect IQ fields that might also help. I’m using feel and the colorized real-time power graph that shows the last 2-minutes.

I have 3s Power, NP, and Distance on my display for racing.

I know prior to the start what IF I want to aim for and what that would be as an NP. Then I just need to make them both stay around that number as much as possible.

Then I know what my upper limit for long climbs are and don’t want to go over that.

It’s essentially the same thing but I think having IF isn’t as easy to directly use/compare real time to a Power Number.

It really only requires remembering two numbers (and I typically spend a lot of time training at 90% so that number is usually ingrained by race day anyway).

Great theory, real data from sea Otter has Alex Wild doing 0.92 IF for third place (ref: His instagram story) He obviously should have aimed higher, like Keegan who won with an IF of 0.98.

Pass the salt please

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@liam_mail by that I mean take it with a grain of salt.

I’ve been able to express ~1.0 IF in races outdoors that are 3-4hrs long. But agree that aiming to pace at a lower level is more likely to be successful.

There’s just such a difference between indoors and outdoors, bike 1 vs bike 2, race Adrenalin vs training day, tapered and in peak performance vs being in the middle of a training block.

Using a “c” race to experiment with what works for you as an athlete is a worthwhile investment. Perhaps you’ll validate your new ceiling by trying a higher than conservative IF pace, or perhaps you’ll explode. Both are worthwhile learning experiences.

4.5 hrs with .99 IF :exploding_head: isn’t uncommon from my files


No problem. I should also clarify my post. 0.9 is my limit for long climbs in a long race and I meant ingrained as in I remember it. I then only have to memorise the other number (say 250W or whatever my target is lol)

Not quite your answer, but I left IF displayed on my head unit at sea otter this weekend and had a really tough time easing off enough to get down to .8 like I wanted. I was at like .98 through the first loop and finished up around .9 for 4.5 hours.

I know I’m echoing what has been previously stated, but here’s my take on it anyways. As a new racer and TR user I really liked what Jonathan had to say on this subject.

Intensity Factor is the same thing as Normalized Power–they’re just used differently. IF is a “big picture” thing–It is useful for gauging a whole race effort, not real-time power output. (I don’t think there is such a thing as “real-time IF”). NP is useful for gauging a “lap effort”–e.g., your effort for a long climb, or an XCO lap, etc.

So, for an XCO race I’ll display Elapsed Time, IF, and maybe Lap-NP. No need for real-time power in my opinion.

I haven’t tried this yet, but for my next XCM race that’s several hours, I’ll add distance (so I know how far until the finish, if it’s distance based) and I’ll use the lap-NP for known climbs that require pacing.

Wow! Can that be real? Isn’t that supposed to mean that a 4.5 hour ride at steady state power of 99% of FTP would have been equivalent?

This post has made me rethink my strategy! I am racing with power for the first time this weekend. I think the race is going to take around 3 hours. I use the same powermeter inside & out. So shouldn’t see inflated numbers due to equipment! Was thinking 0.75 to 0.80 would be good targets!

I’d be careful about taking too much from that one example.

  • He noted the Inside vs Outside aspect, which can be HUGE for some riders while more balanced for others. The FTP in use for the event matters and should be directly related to the event, bike, conditions in order for the typical rules of thumb to apply.
  • Add in the delta that can exist between bikes as noted, and you get more potential for misleading FTP to IF in this and other cases.
  • Also look at the Variability Index present between the NP and AP for that effort. 1.27 in this case, and I suspect that the further it strays from the 1.0 ideal, it may skew the IF expectations.

Rather than proving that it’s possible to ride 4+ hours just under FTP (0.99 IF), I think this shows the FTP in place at this event is not appropriate and well under what it should be given the conditions, to get more accurate, useful and representative data and takeaways.

In short, there are a number of factors in play so it’s important to consider that no single example proves or disproves the general recommendations here. Like much around here, starting with those rules of thumb but adding in your experience are a bit of a necessity to see what really works best for each rider.