No matter what endurance sport you do, it’s a good idea to know what shape you’re in before the season begins. Here’s why…
The first half of the summer race season is an exciting time because it’s when you find out if you improved over the winter or not. In my early years as an athlete, I used to get really nervous before the year’s first race because I had no idea how I’d perform. It was like waiting to see if your lottery numbers came up. After the first race or two, I chilled out a bit because I knew how fit I was (or wasn’t) and what to expect all season.
Importance of testing fitness
This lottery approach is not the way forward though, and I’ve since learned the error of my ways. The best athletes always have a good idea of how fit they are, long before the season even starts. Take Tour De France and Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins for instance. In his build-up to the 2012 season he and his coach (Shane Sutton) and performance analyst (Tim Kerrison) looked at a variety of performance measures to identify areas for improvement and also to give an idea of the realistic intensities he could maintain during a race. They measured things like Training Stress Score, power to weight ratio, VAM (mean ascent velocity) and power to drag ratio. Wiggins went into the Tour de France armed with all sorts of useful data. For example, he knew that he could ride for an hour at an earth-shattering 470 watts of power output.