Now you’re probably asking, what am I supposed to do with all this data?
Golden Cheetah is an analytic software that can make the difference between simply recording and actually getting value out of data, whether it be power, pace or heart rate.
In this post, we will share how you can cut down analysis time, find free speed, assess your strengths and weaknesses and hit peak performance on race day without overtraining.
Plus, another 5 other game-changing benefits you can start using today to take your training to the next level.
Okay, so… What IS Golden Cheetah?
Golden Cheetah is for endurance athletes, coaches, and scientists looking to dive deeper into the world of training data to get the most out of power meters and other wearable devices.
Back in April 2006, before the software was even called Golden Cheetah, the idea started when runner and cyclist Sean Rhea wrote two command-line programs to download and interpret his PowerTap data.
Sean then wrote a graphical version and later that year, and Golden Cheetah was born.
Today, Golden Cheetah is an open source software managed by Mark Liversedge with over 80 passionate contributors. They’re dedicated to advancing sports science with technology and analytics, so the average athlete can reap the benefits for free.
Golden Cheetah is compatible with most popular devices and file types so it can be the one location to bring all your data sources together.
It’s desktop software, but it has integrations with cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox to pull in all your information.
For example, if you use Strava (or similar programs) in combination with Golden Cheetah, you can get a streamlined import process by simply linking them through account authorization.
But, it doesn’t stop there.
When we said all your data, we meant ALL of it.
You can complete your data picture with weight, body fat, HRV and sleep measurements by synching your Nokia Health (Withings) devices to Golden Cheetah.
How to authorize an account
1. Go to the Share tab. Click ‘Add Cloud Account’
2. Select Activities.
3. Choose a Service from the list of options.
Follow the same process as above to link a Nokia Health account, but select “Measurement” rather than “Activities” in step 2.
How to import activities
Click the Share tab
Select ‘Synchronise Activities’
Choose the location you would like to import from (Ex. Strava)
And there you have it!
All your data. One location.
#2 Never Worry About Data Recording Errors Again
It’s only natural.
We all want to believe that 2300 watt power spike and brag to our friends that we have more power than Peter Sagan, but these data errors can actually end up being a pretty big headache.
They hide your actual personal records and throw off all your charts.
Wearable technology has come a long way, but these devices still pick up data inconsistencies.
Heart rate spikes, gaps in recording and non-zero torque but with zero cadence, just to name a few.
Thankfully, Golden Cheetah’s data editor picks out all these anomalies for you so you won’t have to wonder if you could be winning the Green Jersey in the Tour de France.
How to find errors in your imported activities
Click on the anomaly icon to get a list of errors
Select an error and it will jump to that point in the spreadsheet
Click to edit the value
If you find you are making repetitive adjustments for each activity, you can set up automatic data processing upon importing.
Prevent repetitive errors in your data
If you find you are making the same adjustments for each activity, you can set up automatic data processing upon importing
Check out the steps below to change any built-in processors from manual to automatic:
1. Go to ‘Data Fields’ in Settings
2. Select the ‘Processing’ tab and choose an option from the drop-down menu
3. Fill out parameters if necessary.
Golden Cheetah gives you ultimate control over how your data is processed to get the most accurate insights from any device.
#3 Cut Down Analysis Time
Think about this:
You have data for every second, of every workout, for every week, over multiple years.
Let’s say you averaged a 1h workout, 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year.
That’s over 6 million seconds worth of data.
Now consider that for each second you have information on power, heart rate, speed, cadence, time, distance, and so on.
That is a lot of data.
The thought of finding insights in all of that information sounds daunting at best.
Golden Cheetah will make it faster to pick out smaller details from a high level with keywords and advanced filters settings
How to create and use keywords
Right now, this calendar in Diary view has a lot of blue boxes that don’t tell us much other than the fact that we did some kind of workout that day.
You can change this to get way more insight and value from the calendar in one quick glance after taking advantage of the Keywords field.
Take a look at this calendar:
Red boxes are races, orange is for training camp, yellow boxes are runs, and green marks group rides.
How do you make your calendar look this good?
Keywords for the activity, race, or event you want to label can be created in preferences under ‘Data Fields’, then the ‘Notes Keywords’ tab.
There are a few preset Keywords in Golden Cheetah, but you can change or add a colour and Keyword for any component of your training.
Click the ‘Field’ drop-down menu. We used the Keyword field, but you can categorize your activities by sport, route or any other fields seen below.
Select the workout in the sidebar in Activities view, then select the Details tab and fill in the Keyword field (or whichever field you selected above) with the Keyword that applies to the activity.
Now you will have a scannable calendar to quickly pick out workout type, races or other events in the big picture.
How to create and use filters
The second way to find insights faster is with filters.
Filters can be created and managed by selecting the drop-down arrow beside the funnel icon in the top right corner.
The default filters available will sort your data by sport.
For example, to analyze power bests for individual disciplines, apply the Swim, Bike or Run filter in the Critical Power Chart to only include swimming, cycling or running data.
To demonstrate how to create your own filters, let’s use a simple example: finding all rides over 100km.
To create the filter you must define 3 things:
Field name (Ex. ‘Distance’)
Operator (Ex. ‘>’)
Value (Ex. ‘100’)
In the Summary tab under Trends view, you can see this quickly reduced the number of activities from 689 to narrow in on the 53 that are over 100km.
Using the Search / Filter page of the user guide, you can check out more advanced options such as combined queries and special functions.
For example, you can create a filter using the ‘BEST’ function to find all activities where your 1 minute mean max power was over 600 watts. Here’s what that would look like:
BEST(power, 60) > 600
By using a function instead of a field name, you can pick out more specific insights just as fast.
Combining keywords and filters
To get a visual representation of the filtered data, you can look at it in the calendar in Diary view like we did with Keywords.
All the activities that meet the filter criteria are highlighted in dark blue so you can get a sense of how these activities are distributed across your season.
Here’s how it looks with the Distance>100 filter:
Reviewing a year’s worth of data to plan for the next season is a big task.
Together, keywords and filters will let you see how the type and amount of training you’re doing aligns with your race schedule to tweak your training year to year in way less time.
#4 Find Free Speed
If you seek speed (and who doesn’t?), there are a few things standing in your way:
Rolling resistance, change in elevation, acceleration, and air resistance are all forces you must overcome.
To go faster, you have two options:
Produce more power,
Reduce the resistance.
When cycling on a flat road, up to 96% of your power output is used to overcome wind resistance.
If you want to improve your time trial result, you could train all year and maybe gain 30 watts on your threshold, OR, you could use Aerolab, and in just a few weeks you could save those watts and get the same boost in speed, with a lot. less. effort.
But words are cheap, here’s where the magic happens:
Designing an Aerolab test
With Aerolab, you can test the aerodynamic differences between different riding positions, wheelsets, TT helmets, clothing and more, all without ever setting foot inside a wind tunnel.
With just a power meter, a speed sensor, and the open road you can start to see how small tweaks can add up to a big impact on your aerodynamic efficiency.
The tricky part is finding a good loop for testing.
To get the best results, tests should be done on days with little to no wind on a shorter loop (1-5km) with low traffic and no stops signs.
The loop doesn’t need to be flat, in fact, it’s actually better if there’s elevation change.
In these tests, you need to keep your riding position constant and avoid braking.
Whichever positions you decide to test, ride a few laps in one then a few laps in the other.
An example of a quick test you could do to test out the program is riding three laps in the drops followed by three laps on the hoods.
Then it’s time for the mathematics magic to happen.
Aerolab uses your speed and power data to calculate the forces working against you while riding. That information is used to plot an estimated change in elevation for each lap and produce a “Virtual Elevation” profile.
You will see two lines in the Virtual Elevation profile:
The green line is the actual change in elevation and the blue line is the calculated virtual elevation.
How to find the right “fit” for you Virtual Elevation profile
In order to build the Virtual Elevation profile, Aerolab makes a guess at two numbers that help define the forces working against you while riding: your CdA (coefficient of aerodynamic drag) and Crr (coefficient of rolling resistance).
You can tune the estimates of these constants to get the virtual elevation that Aerolab is calculating to match the actual elevation.
When you get them to match, your CdA is correct, and that defines how aero you are.
Using the sliders, you can manually tune the CdA and Crr or use Aerolab’s built-in function to automatically find the optimal elevation profile fit by clicking ‘Estimate CdA and Crr’.
Since we used a loop, the distance and elevation change should be consistent for each lap shown in the plot. You should also see the correct number of laps.
When all the laps for one position line up, we can determine the aerodynamic drag. If there is a difference in air resistance between the two positions you are testing, the second set of laps will align at a different CdA value.
In Robert Chung’s example, there was a position change for the last 2.5 of the 7.5 laps. You can see the first few laps “line up” when CdA = .375 and the last 2 line up with a slightly higher CdA of 0.4.
This tells us that the first position generates less aerodynamic drag than the second position.
In our suggested example, you will be able to see a similar change in the elevation profile after the third lap when you sit up out of the drops.
Try it out for yourself.
Chung lays out specific recommendations for running field tests here, and in addition to his article, take a look at the Science section on the Golden Cheetah website for more details on virtual elevation.
#5 Reach Peak Performance On Race Day Without Overtraining
Golden Cheetah provides the tools you need to quantify your training and get your build up to race day dialed in.
Understanding Training Load
Training load is a way to measure how much training you’re doing.
Instead of only using hours, training load incorporates both hours and intensity to provide a score that represents how much training was done.
Why is intensity so important?
If you’re only considering hours, a hard 1hr workout is treated as equal to a 1hr recovery workout, but these are very different efforts and will require very different amounts of recovery.
Training load metrics, such as TSS® (power) or TRIMP (heart rate), provide a more accurate representation of how much training was done because they also consider the intensity of the hour trained.
This means the hard 1hr workout will get a higher score (ex. 90 points) than the easy 1hr workout (ex. 40 points).
How can you use this information to peak and remain injury free?
The Performance Manager Chart
The Performance Manager Chart or PMC uses training load metrics to model the positive long-term effects of training versus the negative short-term effects.
For example, we all know that a good workout will help you improve in the long run, but you might actually feel worse off the very next day!
When you feel worse, sometimes you question whether or not you overdid things in training.
With the PMC, you can see how each day of training builds on what you’ve done in the past and how it’s affecting your body.
With that information, you can better gauge your training load, recovery, and timing of peak performance.
The great thing about PMCs is that they aren’t tied to any single Training Load metric, and Golden Cheetah provides many to choose from so you can compare how different metrics represent your season.
TRIMP, TriScore, and TSS® are just a few examples of the training load metrics you can test out.
Although different metrics may use different terms, a PMC generally models the following 3 concepts: Fitness, Fatigue, and Form.
Looking at all your workouts over time, the long-term trend in Training Load is called the Chronic Training Load (CTL), and models an athlete’s “Fitness”.
The short-term trend is called the Acute Training Load (ATL) and models an athlete’s “Fatigue”.
The yellow line on the graph is called the Training Stress Balance (TSB) which is the difference between Chronic and Acute Training Loads. This models an athlete’s “Form”, or “Freshness”, which is the term we’ll use from here on out. “Freshness” gives you an idea of how ready you are to train or race on any given day.
How to peak for a race
It’s important to understand that high “Fitness” doesn’t equal increased performance.
In order to set yourself up for peak performance on race day, you need a combination of Fitness AND Freshness.
There’s no point racing with a very high Fitness but no Freshness.
You’re better off resting up before your key event, losing a bit of “Fitness” but gaining the Freshness needed to unleash your best effort.
Wait, did we just say to lose Fitness?!
Yes, but there’s no need to panic.
Fatigue is much more sensitive and will drop more quickly than your Fitness. This decrease is more than worth it to produce the Freshness you need for race day.
In the picture below you can see how when an athlete begins to rest (taper) for their ‘A’ race, the blue Fitness (CTL) trend is barely affected relative to the purple Fatigue (ATL) and yellow Freshness (TSB) trend.
This taper period produces exactly what we want: an increase in Freshness (TSB) which will have you feeling ready to unlock your full potential on race day.
Optimal race Freshness (TSB) is different for each individual and the type of event they’re preparing for (usually between -5 and +15), but by using the PMC you can find the right balance of Fitness and Freshness for you.
How to avoid overtraining
By looking at your training through the lens of the PMC, you can monitor how quickly you’re increasing your Fitness over time by the slope of the CTL line.
You want to use a ramp rate that will provide enough physical stress for adaptation, but you can still recover from normally without getting sick or injured.
Paying close attention to your TSB in relation to how fatigued you feel can help you figure out how deep “in the hole” you can go before a recovery week is needed.
In the example below, the athlete did a short, 1-week bout of training which buried them all the way to -105 TSB, but with a few days on the couch, they were able to recover the following week.
Everyone’s body can handle different amounts of stress and requires different amounts of recovery.
For example, you may start to realize that around -40 TSB you’re consistently getting sick and need to take time off. With this information, you can balance your training to make sure you are pushing yourself appropriately, but not past the point where you can regularly recover.
Planning your training
The Golden Cheetah PMC allows you to dig deep into in past data, but it does not provide the tools plan ahead.
Planning functionality has been in the works for Golden Cheetah for a long time, but for now, it is still best used in combination with another program to plan your training.
It can easily integrate with other applications so you can still take full advantage of the analytic platform.
For example, you can use Golden Cheetah for in-depth data review, workout design, and execution, while laying out the training path to hit your goals and stay on track with the planning functions in Bereda’s Annual Training Plan product, the functionality in which will soon be move over to our Peer-to-Peer Coaching platform for Endurance Sports.
#6 Spot Trends Earlier And Keep Making Progress In Your Training
The best way to track your improvement over time is to compare your current efforts with those in the past. You can do this by looking at power output, heart rate levels, speed or any other metric you use to assess your training.
Have you ever felt like you’ve hit a plateau?
You probably have.
When you’ve been in a sport long enough, at some point most people will experience the feeling that their progress has started to slow.
Good news: you can catch early signs of a plateau in your data using Golden Cheetah’s Compare Pane and start making adjustments to your training right away.
Comparisons can be done on several levels: within a workout, between activities, season to season, or across multiple athletes.
You can take advantage of any of the above approaches to find out if your training is getting you the desired effects or not.
Compare intervals and workouts
First, we’ll take a look at comparisons within a single workout.
The following athlete completed a 4 x 400m workout in preparation for a steeplechase race a few days later.
We can overlay and analyze each individual 400m effort from that one workout all in one graph.
Whether you’re running 20 x 400m to improve stamina, 8 x 400m to improve speed or 4 x 400m for race tune-up, some variation of a quarters workout is likely to pop up multiple times during a season.
In the compare pane, you can drag and drop 400m intervals from different workouts and see how your speed, cadence, or heart rate compares.
If there’s a workout you use as a benchmark, you can also compare the workouts as a whole.
Through the compare pane, we can understand even BIGGER ideas, like trends across multiple seasons.
For that, we’re going to review Bereda CEO, Dennis Cottreau’s 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons to see how different training approaches had vastly different impacts on each season.
In Golden Cheetah, we separated the data into three date ranges: 2013, 2014, and 2015.
To create a season, phase, or event, select the hamburger menu in the top right corner of the ‘Date Ranges’ box.
You can then open up the compare pane by clicking its icon in the toolbar.
Drag and drop the intervals, activities, or date ranges into the compare pane at the bottom of the screen.
You can add as many as you like, but things start to get messy with more than four.
Then, simply turn on compare in the top right corner of the compare pane.
You can flip through the chart tabs at the top of the screen to get different comparison metrics, but we are going to take a look at the PMC.
As you can see, each line from the typical PMC view is broken down into a separate graph.
We unchecked the box for 2015, to start by looking at the PMC for Dennis’ 2013 (purple) and 2014 (blue) seasons to compare training load and the resulting changes in Fitness (CTL) and Fatigue (ATL).
In 2013, Dennis was doing a decent amount of training while in engineering school and raced the spring Collegiate series before doing the local race season throughout the summer.
In 2014, while still in school, Dennis had to balance an increased school workload with the prospect of doing his first professional races later that June.
Each year the school team did a 1-week training camp in South Carolina the first week of March, which is highlighted below.
Both years Dennis came into training camp with a similar CTL level, but in 2014 we can see how he really spiked his training with his first pro race in mind… an unfortunate and recurring theme that season.
In both years Dennis’s CTL dropped down after the training camps (so he could recover) and then leveled out throughout the spring collegiate race series.
In 2013 Dennis was able to increase is training during a lighter final exam period before going home for a solid block of training throughout May that set him up for a breakout season.
Dennis had the same strategy in mind for 2014, however, he wasn’t able to do anywhere near the same amount of training throughout his final exam period. This lead to a big difference in his Fitness CTL’s leading into May between the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
With the 2014 pro races on the horizon, he went home and did what we call “panic training” to get his fitness to where he raced the prior year (~85), but he was starting from a much lower CTL value and had a shorter period of time.
You might see where this is going…
Dennis’ ramp rate was in the danger zone (7.0 for 4 weeks) in May 2014, which can be seen with the steep CTL line compared to the more gradual increase in 2013.
He gave himself a week to recover before starting into the pro race season, and at the time he thought he had recovered well enough and produced good personal results in his first pro races, but not quite to the level he was hoping for.
Something still felt a bit off.
And it was.
In July, after all the pro races were over, the effects of overtraining caught up with him. Dennis was deeply fatigued resulting in him being sick for 3 weeks and had absolutely no energy on the bike.
In late 2014 he was able to recover and came back into a bit of form, but by then, the season was basically over.
Looking at Dennis’ 2013 and 2014 season we can learn a lot about the training load he can handle and the recovery time he needs to prepare for a race season.
In 2015, Dennis dedicated a full year to cycling to see if he could “make it”.
To prepare, he closely planned out his training loads in comparison to the past two years. In doing so, he was able to make sure he was not over- or undertraining.
After a long consistent fall of aerobic training, Dennis completed three consecutive blocks of training before starting the race season: an indoor month in January before two team training camps in California in February and March.
Below we can clearly see three blocks of training, with a consistent ramp rate and deliberate recovery period between each.
With this approach, Dennis was able to reach a significantly higher Fitness (CTL) leading into the 2015 race season, with the same kind of Freshness he experienced in 2013, which set him up for success.
Comparisons for coaches
As a coach, you can extend the comparison possibilities to multi-athlete comparisons.
Which athletes are experiencing the most success? What does their training look like compared to athletes that aren’t performing?
What long-term trends exist? How can that inform the planning of year-long training cycles?
Compare race efforts within a team. Who had to work the hardest? Who’s still fresh? How can we adjust race tactics going into the next stage?
The compare pane can help answer all of these questions.
Two athlete comparison example
If you are using multiple athletes, open each profile in a separate window. Then drag and drop whichever interval or activity you wish to compare into the compare pane of one athlete’s window and proceed like above.
Below we have selected Climb 5 of a Gran Fondo race to compare between two athletes. We dragged both items into the compare pane of Athlete 1.
Looking under ‘Duration’ in the compare pane, we know Athlete 2 was almost two minutes faster.
How did Athlete 2 gain so much time?
Looking at the speed chart (middle graph), we can see exactly where Athlete 1 lost time.
For example, one major difference is the speed at which each athlete came into the climb. Athlete 2 approached the climb significantly faster averaging 36 kph, while Athlete 1 averaged 28 kph.
During the steepest part of the climb, Athlete 2 maintained a slightly higher speed (15 kph) than Athlete 1 (13 kph).
In the last kilometer where the hill starts to level out, both Athletes averaged 32 kph.
As you can see there are endless options to compare your data, with each way bringing a new perspective and deeper insights.
What will you discover? Has your training hit a plateau? What changes will you make?
#7 Find Your Stengths And Weaknesses
Are you a sprinter? Climber? All-rounder? Time Trialist?
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as an endurance athlete will give you insight on how to train to improve your weaknesses, and race to maximize your strengths.
So, how do you find yours?
Golden Cheetah has two values that can give you insight into your unique physiological abilities: Critical Power (CP) and W’ (pronounced W prime).
Defining Critical Power and W’
Critical Power is a physiological marker for your anaerobic threshold.
It’s often referred to as your “threshold power” and is trying to measure the same physiological concept measured by the popular Functional Threshold Power (FTP) metric in cycling. The two numbers are often very close and often interchangeable, but the difference comes from the way that they’re measured.
It doesn’t really matter which value you use in your training, just pick one and be consistent.
When you increase how hard you’re working, your threshold power is the point at which, once you cross it, lactate will start to build up in your legs, and eventually you’ll have to drop below your threshold power in order to recover.
How long and hard you can go above your threshold power before you’re out of gas is quantified by W’, which represents your anaerobic capacity.
Think of it like a battery, once you go above your Critical Power, you only have so much energy to spend before you’ve hit zero and need to recover.
Some people have more threshold power, while others have a greater anaerobic capacity.
The relationship between CP and W’
The relationship between CP and W’ is best explained by looking at a generic power-duration curve for efforts between 2 to 40 minutes.
For any time on the x-axis, the corresponding point on the curve gives the theoretical power output or pace that could be sustained by that athlete for that given period of time.
As the time period gets longer, the power that the athlete can output decreases but starts to level out for longer durations.
The level (or asymptote) that the curve approaches defines the athlete’s Critical Power:
Any power output at or below CP is generated by the athlete’s aerobic system, and once you go above that you begin to tap into your anaerobic capacity.
Your anaerobic capacity or W’ is a fixed amount of available energy that is measured in kilojoules. For any point on the curve, if you draw a rectangle down to the CP asymptote, that area represents W’.
Using the analogy of W’ as a battery being drained:
You can drain it quickly by going very hard (tall skinny rectangle),
You could drain is over a longer period of time at an intensity closer to CP (long but short rectangle).
Like we said above, some people are more aerobic than anaerobic. Identifying CP and W’ values will give you information on whether your strengths lie in the short bursts or the long steady efforts.
Those values will allow you to tailor your workouts and plan your race tactics for your strengths.
Golden Cheetah is able to calculate your CP and W’ from your activity data.
But first, we have to understand mean maximal power (MMP).
Mean Maximal Power
A mean maximal power chart takes all available activity data for a given date period and plots the best ever power (or pace) outputs for every single time duration ranging from a few seconds to several hours.
This is what the chart will end up looking like:
The arrow points to this athlete’s power output for 26 seconds, which is 877W. That is the best power output they have ever done for that time period.
This graph holds ALL your bests for ALL periods of time.
On its own, the MMP chart provides rich insights on power (or pace) for any given time, but we can overlay different training models on top of the MMP chart to get even more information.
The 2-parameter model
Mathematical models are used to fit various curves to the MMP data to produce the variables that map to an athlete’s underlying physiology.
These curves provide an estimate of the maximal amount of power that an athlete can sustain over any given time period.
You’re probably thinking: this sounds very similar to the MMP chart.
That’s pretty understandable, but what you have to remember is that not all the points on the MMP chart are actual all-out efforts. The model finds the values that are actually the best MMP points for the curve to “sit” on.
For example, you likely haven’t gone out and done a 42 minute and 14-second all-out effort, but the model tries to predict the power you could sustain based on the best points used for the curve, such as your 3 and 20-minute bests.
As you can see below, the Critical Power curve then gets “dropped” onto the MMP chart.
From all your MMP data, Golden Cheetah finds the best of the best: one point on the shorter side of the spectrum, one on the longer, and uses them in the model to output the value for CP and W’.
Here’s what our CP asymptote would look like on the MMP Chart with the 2-parameter model.
The 2 parameter model is excellent at predicting performance between 3 minutes and 45 minutes, but as all models have their limitations, others have been developed to try to account for longer (and shorter!) durations.
In Golden Cheetah you can choose from 5 different power-duration models to find the representation that works best for you.
For example, the Extended CP model takes longer durations into account to better estimate extended aerobic performance.
Using your strengths and weaknesses
Using any of the models, you will be able to see where on the power-duration spectrum your strengths and weakness lie and understand what type of rider you are.
If you know you have the ability to put out an awesome 10-second burst of power, in road races you want the pack to stay together and hold out for the final sprint.
If you’re a climber on a hilly course, you want to put everyone else over their threshold on the climbs to thin out the group for the finish.
Whatever your strengths are, finds events that align with them so you can achieve the greatest success.
#8 Design Structured Indoor Training Workouts (and execute them!)
Golden Cheetah’s analytic tools should provide lots of insights to your training.
But, what about turning those insights into actions?
Train view lets you be very intentional about the time you spend on the bike. If you want to train a certain way, it’s going to help you nail it.
Why design your own workouts?
You have the ability to customize workouts to both your physiological abilities and the demands of your race.
Translate all the new information you have learned from comparing past performances, rider type, and PMCs into custom, zone-specific workouts.
Get feedback while designing workouts
As you’re designing a workout, you will receive immediate feedback about how hard (or impossible) the workout will be based on your CP and W’.
Above, we told you to think of W’ like a battery, but what happens when all the energy is depleted?
Like your cell phone, it needs to be recharged.
How do you recharge your W’ battery?
You need to drop your effort level below CP (or FTP) and stop using anaerobic energy to allow it to recover.
Most of the time, we will not use up our entire battery in one big effort. Instead, workouts or races typically consist of multiple bursts of high-intensity effort separated by periods of recovery.
To model this draining and recharging, Dr. Phil Skiba and his colleagues, developed W’bal (short for W’ balance), which models the depletion and reconstitution of W’ during exercise to determine how much W’ is remaining.
Check out this example of how W’bal is affected during a workout with high-intensity intervals:
When working below CP (dotted yellow line), W’bal (red line) remains fully charged.
Focusing on the red box, you can see as soon as each 1-minute interval begins and power output goes above CP, there is a corresponding drop in W’bal. When the athlete finished the effort and their power drops back below CP, W’bal is able to recharge before the next interval.
But, the rest between intervals is not enough to fully replenish W’. It’s not until about 5 minutes after the last interval that W’ approaches starting levels.
How to build a workout
Now, we have to remember that this is a model and that it definitely has limitations; specifically around the rate at which W’bal recharges.
But in most cases, it can give you a pretty nice representation of what’s going on inside your body as you take it to the limit.
That becomes particularly helpful when you’re designing a set of intervals, and need an idea of what’s realistic and what will set you up for failure.
In the following example, we have increased the wattage for an interval set and you can see the orange and red lines appear with corresponding huge drops in W’bal (top red line) suggesting the athlete will not be able to complete this workout.
Before you start building a workout, we recommend everyone resets the layout to make sure you have access to the most up to date interactive workout wizard.
In Train view, go to the View tab in the menu bar and click reset layout.
Once updated, you should be able to click directly on the graph to design or edit your workout.
In draw mode, click and hold to create a bar, single click to create a new point or click and drag to adjust the slope.
Use the select function in combination with the arrow keys to make micro adjustments. You can select individual points or multiple at a time.
To increase the wattage for all intervals in a set, select all the bars and use the arrow keys to increase one watt at a time.
With this technique, you can fine-tune the intensity based on the orange or red bar to train right on your limits.
The quick code method
Alternatively, you can use the quick code method by clicking the properties icon.
For example, to create seven 3-minute intervals with 3-minute recovery, the quick code should look like the following:
Underlined in red is the number of intervals. Yellow shows the time in minutes and power output for the work interval. Blue shows the time and power output for the recovery interval (r).
Add the ‘L’ to the end of the main interval line to add the light blue lap counters as seen in the image below.
This is how it should look in the workout builder with a 20 minute gradual warm up and 20-minute cooldown:
Try playing around with both draw mode and quick code together to create your own workouts or adjust imported workouts for your individual training needs.
What happens if CP or FTP changes?
Workouts are saved with your CP at the time it was created. So, as you get faster it will scale the workout to the new value.
Coaching multiple athletes?
Use the same workout and it will update to fit each athlete’s training zones.
Create it once and get specific training every time.
How to execute workouts
Once you have the ideal workout, you can stay right there in Train View to execute it.
Golden Cheetah will control your smart trainer so you can nail the workout you just created.
To get other on screen, real-time feedback, sync your usual training devices (HR, power, cadence, etc.)
Interested in more entertainment?
Import videos to the built-in player to watch while you ride.
Time to hop on the trainer and hit play.
#9 Become A Metrics Mad-Scientist
It’s important to emphasize that things like Training Load metrics, PMCs, and Critical Power are not always “right”.
They’re just models.
Here’s the thing: all models are wrong, some are just more useful than others.
Golden Cheetah comes preloaded with a standard set of training metrics, but if you find they’re not quite working for you, you’ve got the ability to go completely unhinged mad-scientist with your data and create your own.
Golden Cheetah allows you to create ‘User Defined Metrics’.
Ask anything about your data and this platform will help you figure it out.
These custom equations can incorporate built-in metrics or they can be entirely your own creation.
You can apply user-defined metrics to your data the same way any built-in metrics are used.
This includes all charts across the Golden Cheetah platform.
Using the existing charts you can fine tune your personal metrics until you get the representation of your past training that makes the most sense to you.