Coach Blogs: Winter Training for Spring’s “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”

(The following was originally posted at

By Daniel Matheny, CTS Expert Coach

Follow Jonsey….the Target!

Well in Round 2, Jonsey ended the post with the question of “why” and a mention of his BHAG or “big hairy audacious goal”. For those of us Coloradan cyclists, this is sometimes one of the more difficult rounds we battle as this time of the year is usually marked with sporadically cold days (and luckily the welcome warm ones too), shorter days where the front range quickly eclipses the afternoon sun prematurely, and ultimately the dilemma of inevitable indoor trainer rides or numb extremities due to starting or finishing a ride in the cold when you can squeeze it in outdoors. Some athletes decide to dive full steam into cowbells clanging through barriers on cyclocross courses while others start battling the I-70 hustle to hit the slopes in search of early season blue-bird powder days.

Luckily we’ve discussed and agreed on a BHAG (along with some underlying goals) and Jonsey has taken his stance, pulled the bow, and is taking aim at the target for spring. I find it amazing what an individual can accomplish with a challenging goal that guides them in their daily aspirations; and conversely the resultant short-comings of shooting blindly without such a goal. So mutually we’ve seen some gains (a 16% increase in threshold power) from his initial testing in late summer, but I consider that “low hanging fruit.” Although I say this at Jonesy’s expense of hard work to this point, so he may say otherwise. Now one of the goals is to squeeze another 10-12% by racing season. This isn’t the only goal since we have some other challenges in the mix as well to keep him on his toes, but I let Jonsey show you those come race season and let his competition sweat a bit as they read this!

So to see what I’m tracking and monitoring, I’ve compared a route that Jonsey frequents that most of you may have love-hate relationship with…High Grade! I’ve overlaid two dates from Aug 21st to most recently Nov 13th. You’ll see the highlighted text below the graphs of power, HR, and cadence respectively of some key points; the absolute work completed is the same of 490 kilojoules, the average power is 14 watts higher while the average HR is 1bpm lower, and the duration is ~2 minutes shorter now, so ultimately this all means the average speed is higher by 0.3mph. Going 6% faster and thus improved time for a given distance is the key take-home performance marker if you get lost in the graphs and numbers. It doesn’t matter what all the numbers say if you aren’t going faster, right?

Going forward the plan at this point is simple; keep the goals in mind so daily work is focused on progress to ultimately reach the goal. This doesn’t mean that Jonsey is only riding his bike or skipping out on other life activities; especially as I’m still crossing my fingers to score some elk steaks from his recent gaming trip. My coaching style isn’t a static plan that you’d see in training books because there’s a difference between what works in a controlled lab setting and what works in real life. It’s dynamic. The ongoing plan will focus on maximizing Jonsey’s time with a balance of volume and intensity to cause the stress necessary to make the body adapt. It’s not all “base miles” or “LSD” as the common winter plans sometime mentions, but it’s not all HIIT training either. At times my intent is to really bury Jonsey in a few days with overloading workouts, so he can recover through a heavy work engagement or backing off a build after the demands of dragging 500lbs of elk out of the forest. It just has to flow as he’s not a pro cyclist and doesn’t bring home a paycheck from this passion! That’s the case for most of us, so a healthy reminder is to approach your goal with a realistic balance.

So keep reading and your eye on fellow TE member as he makes gains. If you’re lucky, he’ll be your lead-out train come season!

Daniel Matheny is an Expert Coach based out of Colorado Springs with Carmichael Training Systems. For more information visit, e-mail, or follow on Twitter @danielmatheny.”

Comments 3

  1. highgrade john; In this case, the % gain could always be effected by day to day differences since we are not in the lab with all things controlled. But I chose these specific cases because they were both at the end of a similar training blocks where the accumulated fatigue was similar. And there were other performance markers along the way that support this example.

  2. Nice work jonsey,

    In his Aug to Nov improvement, how much of this 6% could be individual intravariability from day to day due to hydration status, sleep, recovery, freshness, glycogen stores?

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