Weekend Reading: Why You Should Do Physiological Testing at the End of the Season

Everybody seems to understand the rationale for lab testing or field testing at the beginning of a training program, but I also think that testing at the end of a season can be extremely valuable.

At the beginning of the season, the purpose of field testing was to get a snapshot of your fitness and establish training ranges so you could accurately apply workload to your physical systems. As you gained fitness throughout the season, additional testing was useful – in conjunction with data from actual events and competitions – for monitoring your progress and adjusting your training ranges so you continued to make progress. So, now that the summer season is winding down, what’s the purpose of one last test?

Now’s the time to set the bar for 2014. You’re strong, lean, and powerful right now. You have an entire summer’s worth of fitness at your disposal, so this is a great time to quantify the progress you’ve made through the spring and summer of 2013! My goal with athletes is to make them incrementally better season after season. I don’t want to tread water and get an athlete back to the same level – even if that is a really awesome level – two seasons in a row. I want progress. You want progress. Continued progress is the only thing that keeps an athlete returning to the top of the podium.

In order to be better in 2014 than you are in 2013, you need to know what level you’re reaching for. Many times, athletes are careful about defining benchmarks early on in the year, and good about using testing for adjusting ranges during the season, but then they define success only by race results. That’s understandable, because at the end of the day we compete to win, or participate in events to achieve personal goals. But sometimes those results are out of your control; you could be more fit than last year but get a flat or crash in the event you’re using to compare one season’s success to the previous year. The way I see it, success is best measured as a combination of real-world results (wins, goals achieved) and controlled data (testing). I believe this approach provides broader perspective on the work you did throughout the season.


  • DVD BLOWOUT SALE! All Train Right DVD Titles are just $9.99! Sale ends Monday night! Stock up for your winter training!
  • Fall Coaching Offer: ENDS MONDAY EVENING! Try CTS Coaching Risk Free. New 12month coaching signups pay nothing for the first month. Available online, by calling 719-635-0645, or emailing athleteservices@trainright.com.
  • La Ruta de los Conquistadores: Join Chris Carmichael for this epic race through the jungles of Costa Rica! Big challenge, impeccable support, just $3500 including race entry, meals, lodging, transfers, and race support.
  • NEXT WEEK! Giro Women’s Camp: A great weekend of riding, learning, and incredible gear from Giro. All athletes get a free Giro helmet! October 3-6 in Santa Ynez, CA.
  • Fall Mileage Cycling Camp: Great riding at the heart of harvest season in California’s Santa Ynez Valley from October 16-19.
  • Triathlon Fall Endurance Camp: Triathlon training and testing in sunny Arizona from November 13-17.
  • El Tour Endurance Camp: Weeklong endurance training camp culminating in El Tour de Tucson event (entry included) in Tucson, Arizona from November 18-23.

What if you’re peak fitness occurred weeks ago? Do the test now anyway. Your results may not reflect your absolute peak, but they’ll give you a reasonably high marker to shoot for. And if you have race or even interval data from your 2013 peak, that information should serve as another data point in your roadmap for 2014.

For those of you who don’t remember the specifics of the CTS Cycling Field Test or the training range calculations associated with it, you can download CTS Field Test Information information.

If you’re looking for a great way to put that late-season fitness to work, check out the cycling and triathlon camps we have this fall in Tucson, Arizona and Santa Ynez, California. The Giro Women’s Camp in Santa Ynez next weekend will be a great learning experience and challenge for women cyclists of all levels. The Fall Mileage Camp in the same location from October 16-19 would be great for piling on the big miles and enjoying harvest season in the Santa Ynez Valley. And then both triathletes and cyclists have separate opportunities to visit Arizona in November for a solid block of endurance training with the Triathlon Fall Endurance Camp and El Tour Endurance Camp (with includes an entry into the El Tour de Tucson event).

Also keep in mind that the Fall Coaching Offer ends on Monday! There’s still time to sign up for 12 months of CTS Coaching – at any package level – and get the first month for free. But there’s not much time. Sign up online this weekend, email AthleteServices@trainright.com, or call Athlete Services at 719-635-0645. If you leave a message over the weekend, we’ll contact you Monday and get you taken care of.

Have a Great Weekend!
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems