Competition Winner – How Did the 3 Months Go?




Competition Winner – How Did the 3 Months Go?


Annual Competition

For the last few years, I’ve been running a competition to win 3 months of free coaching. It’s a good way for someone who may be interested in coaching to experience it, with no risk.

3-Months is a fairly long time in some ways…but actually, for endurance gains, it’s a drop in the ocean!! However, it does allow the winner to really see what my coaching is all about and I’m pretty confident that they’ll see progress in that time.

I’ve written previously about the 2022 winner here:

Case Study – When Coaching Really Counts

And also a follow-up a year later here:

Case Study – Follow-Up

I actually launched the 2023 competition a little later than planned in March/April time, but actually had a good few more responses this year, which is great.

Summit Cycle Coaching

Where to Start?

There were 2 winners this year and this is the journey of one of them:


57-year-old male cyclist with a long history of training and racing. He commonly competes in local circuit, road races, the occasional TT and has done long road races abroad. Has been coached a few years ago, but more recently self-coaching and using Trainer Road.

First Thing First

Once a few forms are filled in so I have a good idea of the goals and training time available, it’s time to chat through it all and begin getting to know my new athlete.

This is really one of the most important things. I always see the whole process as a team effort, we have different roles, but we are in it together.

There were some nice road race goals including some National Masters racing and some performance goals, which gave us something to get our teeth into during the 3 months.

Also during this time, I usually get stuck into a bit of their training data to see:

  • Where they are at now fitness/freshness wise
  • What has their recent training has been like
  • And if they have historical data, I like to see where they’ve been previously.


Reviewing Recent Training

As I said, if they have good training peaks/similar data going back years, I like to have a look and see what we’ve got. I don’t go into massive detail with it, but I like to review peak performances, highest training loads, how the off-seasons look. There’s loads in there to look at.

Then, there’s a bit of a need to really understand the immediate past, as I really want to get to grips with the new plan…but you need to know how fatigued they are at present, what has the recent training focussed on and are there any elements that need to be addressed.

In this case, it was clear there had been a recent emphasis on high-intensity training and that volume was quite low.

It’s good when you’ve done a bit of digging into the data to get some context from the athlete…how did they feel when CTL was super high a couple of years ago?

It was useful in this case as the athlete came out to Switzerland to do some bike fitting and testing, which meant we got to know each other a lot better, and I’m 100% sure this speeded up the process of getting into a good training groove.

Though volume was low, the athlete was actually feeling very fatigued from the training, probably due to the intensity, so a gradual increase in volume, with lots of Z1 was our first goal.

With a very busy job…volume can be very tricky, so keeping the intensity under control is key…it’s an easy mistake to think that volume is low, so you up the intensity…progress has a very limited time span with this strategy.


With recent weeks and months being a mixture of VO2 and Threshold sessions, it was clear to me we had to get the Z1 % up. Competing in local races once a week meant that the high intensity was covered and that the rest of the week could be dedicated to getting Z1 sessions and focus on volume.

Summit Cycle Coaching

Though there was probably a little too much high intensity recently, it’s not for nothing…as long as we get things back in balance, some of that work will carry over and we can build on it.

As you can see from the rough plan I made, we had chance for a couple of blocks of focused training prior to the goal race. The first month was dedicated to lots of Z1, then a block of VO2max sessions (2 sessions a week), but still with plenty of Z1. Then a block of threshold where we mixed in some TT’s.

How did We Progress

As we discussed, first lets see where you are, then make the next best step.

A typical week prior to beginning coaching looked like the image below. 4 hard sessions, though some differences in intensity, the TSS is very similar and there is something to be said about training monotony, which Stephen Seiler and Alan Couzens talk about a lot…and that it ultimately limits progress.

Summit Cycle Coaching


So…my first goal was to really take out a lot of intensity and vary things up a bit…more recent weeks are far less regimented, this is partly due to the time of year and racing but is also deliberate. Fitting training in where there is the best chance of adapting to it, which means working around life/work stresses.

Summit Cycle Coaching

You’ll notice that there isn’t a big difference in TSS in the new plan, though frequency is up, volume is up and from subjective feedback from the athlete, there is less fatigue associated with the current plan.


Below we have training volume prior to coaching:

Below we have recent training volume:

Summit Cycle Coaching

Below is FTP, TTE and CTL for 3 months prior to coaching:

Summit Cycle Coaching

Below is FTP, TTE and CTL during the 3 months of coaching:

Summit Cycle Coaching

Looking at the Numbers

On the left we probably have the best illustrations of the 3 months in numbers.

At the top, you can see the training volume in hours for the 3 ish months prior to starting coaching. When you compare to the second image with weekly volume since starting coaching, the first thing that strikes you is the increase and consistency in volume.

This was only possible due to the drop in intensity. 1 hard session a week or a race was our starting point…then in later blocks, we had 2 hard sessions a week. The rest of the time we are really working on low intensity and keeping the Z1 base really topped up.

Interestingly, we did some lactate testing in the early phase of working together and my hypothesis of too much high intensity was illustrated by the shape of the curve (which at present I’m not going to share). The great thing about this is that it gives a real confidence boost to both athlete and coach that the plan is correct and training for the. next block will be productive.




So How was the Progress?

This is the crux of things really…it’s all well and good having a theory, but in my experience…we both want the athlete to go faster, have more power, have greater durability…etc…so how did we do?

We can split the 3 months roughly in half…starting with base work and a VO2max block, which in this case we can see as preparation for the second phase, a threshold and racing block.

As you might expect, during the first phase there wasn’t much increase in FTP, but you can see a steady rise in CTL (blue line) and a few little. FTP changes.

When we started, FTP was at 232 watts, but by the end of the coaching period, we were up to 257 watts…very happy with that.

Not only is it nice to see the numbers going up, this is a sustainable plan that isn’t over-training the athlete and is allowing them to be nice and consistent, which means that there will be more growth in the future as the current workload can be built on and won’t require a massive rest to dig out of an over-training hole!!!




What the Athlete had to Say

I’ve been coached before and felt strong using self coaching and Trainer Road, picking up a few wins and many top 10’s in races. However, I went into the 3 months with an open mind and looking forward to seeing if I could improve more overall.

You can see from the numbers, by the end of the 3 months I feel much stronger and riding and competing at the front end of the races, picking up an age group race win and road bike TT win in the last few weeks.


Summit Cycle Coaching







Summit Cycle Coaching


Like I said at the start, 3 months can be seen as a long time…and some changes can be made, it’s certainly satisfying to see FTP going up and good race results. However, endurance performance has a long time horizon and with the right training, improvements can be seen over years.

It’s been a fab 3 months of coaching and it’s gone so fast!! I’ve only done the competition twice and have been so lucky to work with such nice and motivated people.

I plan to run the competition earlier this year, as I think it will be better for the athlete if it’s more in the base build phase…if you want a chance to win, follow me on Facebook and keep an eye out for the next one 🙂


Any questions, feel free to comment below or email




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