Big Picture Coaching
Greenville Training Series w/ Jered Gruber Part I
By Jacob Fetty & Jeb Stewart MS, PES
Welcome to the first installment of a series of articles created by Jacob Fetty
of FS Concepts and Jeb Stewart of Endurofit. This series will monitor and
explore the synergistic effect that combining the technical and the holistic
aspects of training have on an athlete’s performance and their enjoyment of the
sport. This will be accomplished as we follow a number of athletes Jacob and I
coach through various training series, one-day races and multi-day events over
the course of the 2007 season. The goal of this discussion is to expand an
awareness of how combining the holistic and scientific aspects of coaching can
ultimately result in performance above and beyond the wildest of expectations.
Each installment will begin with a first-hand account of what went on in the
athlete’s mind and body leading up to, during and after each race. This will be
followed by the coach’s interpretations of the data and the information provided
by their power meter file and personal feedback. We will examine the many
factors that either contributed to or detracted from their efforts. Each article
will conclude with the coach’s spin on why things happened the way they did
along with a self-assessment of the athlete’s performance. The goal is to learn
as much as possible from each situation and apply that knowledge going forward
to maximize our potential as athletes and coaches.
Greenville training series
This particular series will focus on Jered Gruber’s early season progression
throughout the ever popular training race series in Greenville, SC from February
24 through March 11, 2007. This is a popular training series that offers a
variety of challenging courses over the span of a month. It occurs early in the
season and attracts many of the top racers in the southeastern United States.
Jered is one of the athletes Jacob coaches who is currently racing in the Pro ˝
category on the Time Development Team.
It is fairly easy to find an athlete’s power file for a given race. What is
more difficult to find, though, is what it took for said athlete to produce a
particular power graph. It is even rarer to see the emotion and mental growth an
athlete goes through working towards his/her goal. What follows is a three week
study of races, physical preparation and mental growth of Jered Gruber as he
works towards his goal of becoming a professional cyclist. Please read on to
find out more.
Weekend One -
Saturday's race was a real breakthrough for me in a lot of different ways. It
started the way a lot of races seem to go for me - I raced hard, made some
moves, but missed the move that counted. At that point, usually I'd resign
myself to a spot in the field and ride out the rest of the day and get pretty
much nothing out of it.
That's not the way that it's going to be with this team though - and instead
of sitting in and doing nothing and hoping for the best, we went to the front
and started working. I didn't feel especially amazing - I just felt like I had
an assigned job to do and that was all that mattered - I had a goal and a
purpose and it kept me going as the laps ticked by. I had an idea that the work
I was doing was good, maybe even great, but it wasn't until after the race that
I realized how much of a breakthrough it was.
Last year, I still couldn't ride a break all that well - I was always at my
limit or above, and always on the verge of getting hammered right out of the
break - but in Saturday's race, I was comfortable, I could continually tap
through and keep the pace-line moving and eventually get the job done - chopping
2 minutes off of the break's gap in a little over an hour.
Here we have Jered's power file from his first race of the season. For
reference, the course the race was held on was a fairly rolling, all big
chain-ring loop with 10-15 MPH winds from all sides, as the course was done
eight times. Early in the second lap, a breakaway snuck up the road and
established a 2:20 gap. Jered's team missed the break resulting in Jered's role
being to help work to bring the gap down. Over the next several laps the gap was
brought down to 20 seconds coming into the finale.
Working To Bring Back the Break
Norm Power: 381
Avg Power: 351
Avg HR: 177
In looking at this Power File the number that stands out the most to me is
the kilojoules of work done to bring the gap down and how that relates to
Jered's fitness. During the chase, Jered laid down 1541KJ in 1:13! A typical
race output for someone of Jered's body weight is usually 1000KJ/hour so you can
see why I am so impressed with this.
Over the winter Jered had been doing a great amount of Controlled Throttle
Rides where he uses RPE, HR, and Power to find a comfortable zone where he is
still applying pressure to the pedals AND having fun riding his bike. When he
started these rides in December I remember him doing 700-ish KJ per hour. The
week leading up to Greenville while Jered and I rode he mentioned he was
comfortably riding in the 800-900 KJ/hour range for hour upon hour. All of this
without even training above Threshold yet!
Now back to the chase file. The stats do not lie. 1290 kj/hr (avg 358 watts
for the hardest hour - middle of the chase). The Average Heart Rate of 177 BPM
probably (Jered - definitely) a little suppressed due to the large volume of
training leading into the race weekend. 351 average watts. Most importantly
though, he was able to complete what his team assigned him to do that day.
I don’t care who you are, it’s impossible to see a file like this and not let
your jaw drop. The power Jered put out and the amount of work he was able to do
for this race was incredible. To make it as a decent cat 1 racer you need to
have at least 5w/kg at threshold. Well, as you can see, Jered’s 20 minute power
is well above that at 5.6w/kg in this race and his normalized power for the
entire race was a whopping 5w/kg! At 158 pounds, 375w at threshold is more than
enough to make just about any break in the pro field these days, or chase one
back, which ever the case may be. My bet is that as Jered grows into and gets
comfortable with his new-found fitness, that he will start to make, rather than
have to chase the break as the season goes on.
Jered has always been a hard worker and a rider able to apply a lot of pressure
to the pedals. The limiter he battles, however, is self-confidence. In reviewing
this file with Jered and pointing out the stats both Jeb and I commented on, it
is my goal to show him that he not only belongs in the race but belongs up the
road—WINNING THE RACE!
An athlete can complete intervals all day long but there is no substitution for
believing in your self. With this power file it is easy and effective to show an
athlete that they actually do have the goods to contest the finale.
Progressing to the next weekend I expect Jered to take some time to let this
accomplishment mentally sink in and for him to absorb this breakthrough. Our
next goal, to discuss between race weekends, is how to apply the power he now
knows he has and to read the race to select a time/spot to “make the break” and
ride for the win. Now the athlete (Jered) knows the ability is within him; the
next step is to use his fitness in an attempt to win the race.
Having ridden and raced with Jered last year, its mind blowing to know he’s
putting out these kinds of numbers. It just goes to show you that winning bike
races quite often isn’t about being the strongest rider. More often than not,
it’s about being the smartest competitor. This is typically the one who uses the
least amount of energy until the critical point in the race by making good
The good thing is that Jered is now able to deliver this kind of performance.
Often, I tell my athletes to ride “stupid” early on to help get the rust off,
get it out of their system, practice new tactics and to build their confidence.
Not that Jered rode stupid, he had to ride this hard because it’s what his team
needed him to do this day, and doing so showed him what he was capable of and
that is the point of training races in my mind any how. However, until an
athlete delivers a performance like this, they often cannot believe in their
capability to get the job done at the highest of levels. Now that Jered knows
what he is capable of, he is much more likely to apply this knowledge and power
successfully going forward.
Knowing Jered as a racer last season, I knew that this was what was limiting
his potential. I knew he was much stronger than I was, and that once he realized
this and rode to his strengths, that he would simply walk away from guys like
me. Now that Jered knows he has the power, it will be interesting to see what he
chooses to do with it.
Mentally, Saturday was a huge day for me: it gave me the confidence that I can
ride the break, because even though I missed it, I was there doing basically the
same thing as if I was riding the break, except I was bringing it back. Most
importantly, I know I have the fitness to move into my next phase of training -
work well over threshold: VO2Max and Anaerobic Capacity. This work will
hopefully ensure that I'm not chasing breaks in the future, but rather, driving
them. Of note though - I worked really hard on Saturday. I pushed myself pretty
much as far as I could go and then some, and it was evident in the following
race the next day - I was wrecked - I pretty much had nothing.
Just looking at the numbers - those were the highest values I've ever seen on
all levels, and at the bare minimum, I know that my threshold is probably around
375, which is a full 30 watts higher than I started the winter at, which at that
time was the highest threshold wattage (60 minute power) I'd ever produced. I am
convinced that the Controlled Throttle Rides really made the difference - I
didn't train as much as last year, but I trained smarter across the board - I
got the same work in terms of kilojoules done, in a lot less time. I also
managed to do what I couldn't do three different times last winter - I stayed
healthy, and I started the season healthy.
Norm Power: 370
Avg Power: 328
Check back in next edition as we keep chronicle Jered’s
progress throughout the Greenville Training Series and on to the Tour of
This series is brought to you by the minds of
Jacob Fetty and
Jeb Stewart, the
owners and head coaches of
FS Concepts and
To find out more about the authors, their philosophies
and the services they offer, check out their web sites by clicking on either of
the above links. Be sure to join their newsletters and check out all of the free
information and resources available on their sites. Jacob and Jeb will be
hosting a training/coaching discussion forum right here on the Daily Peloton
starting in June. Be sure to mark your calendar, stop by to participate in and
learn more about the ideas brought up in this series. Until next time...train
smart and have fun!