Using Data to Customize Training with Cycling Coach Damian Ruse – EP003

 In Podcast

So you’ve reached a plateau in the course of your training, and you’re thinking about hiring a coach to get you to the next level. How do you choose the right one? What questions should you be asking? The best coaches customize a training program specifically for you based on relevant data, and today’s guest is an authority in the use of technology to boost training efficiency.





After winning the Australian National Mountain Bike Championships in 1998, Damian Ruse retired from cycling to purse a degree in Psychology and even try his hand at music. But in 2006, he returned to racing. The road back was not easy; Damian was unable to finish C-grade crits in 2007. So he hired a coach, optimized his life around training, and focused on recovery and nutrition, and by 2009 he was finishing in the top ten in A-grade competition. He went on to win the B-grade Club Championship and score a number of top ten finishes in the Open category of MTB marathons.

During the course of his comeback, Damian learned to get analytical and use data to train as efficiently as possible. Today he leverages those skills as a coach with Semi-Pro Cycling, an online program that focuses on science-based information and actionable advice, designing training sessions around data. He is also the founder and co-producer of Your Cycling Questions Answered, the top cycling podcast on iTunes. Damian joins Ali to discuss the process of choosing a coach, the components of his training model, and the value of rest and recovery. Listen in as he explains the technology he employs to measure health metrics and design customized training plans around the data.

 Topics Covered

[1:12] Who benefits from having a coach

  • Absolute beginners (learn bike skills, race craft, etc.)
  • Athletes who need help getting to the next level
[3:32] How to know if a coach will work for you

  • Self-reflect on your ability to surrender control
  • Examine your ability to take guidance and trust the process
[4:59] How to choose the right coach for you

  • Rapport
  • Philosophy
  • Experience
  • Tools (technical equipment)
[6:36] The components of Damian’s training model

  • Consistency
  • Linear training load (add volume, intensity as race approaches)
  • Accountability
  • Education (understand personal adaptations, the art of cycling)
  • Endurance training
  • Functional strength
  • Science (technology to enable ride analysis)
[8:48] The tools Damian employs to design a training session

  • Power meters
  • Training Peaks
  • WK04
[10:14] The specifics of WK04

  • Desktop software
  • Links to Training Peaks
  • Customizable to workflow
  • Algorithms model FTP, calculate VO2 max, etc.
[11:32] The level of scientific detail a coaching client needs to understand

  • Basic understanding gives context, provides incentive
  • Damien takes more time with clients who ask for additional info
[12:51] The health metric data Damian studies to customize training

  • Heartrate variability, general fitness tracker numbers
  • Performance management chart (CTL, ATL, TSS)
  • Max weekly TSS score (carefully nudge without overtraining)
  • TSB (keep in neutral zone of -10 to +10 TSB during rest week)
[16:00] The importance of recovery

  • Main role as coach (hold people back)
  • Adaptions happen when you rest
  • Gains far greater after recovery period
[20:34] Damian’s evolution as a coach

  • Early approach hyper-focused on details
  • Now he looks for bigger trends
[21:51] The elements of ‘life outside cycling’ Damian needs to understand about his clients

  • Time available for training (windows of opportunity)
  • Support network
  • Goals
  • What they do outside of cycling (might affect training)
[24:30] The relationship between high-level performance and health

  • Spectrum with health on one end and performance on the other
  • Never seen someone at top of game who is 100% healthy
  • Health includes eating well, relationships
  • Low percentage of elite athletes are truly healthy
  • Perhaps a temporary lack of balance is okay while focused on goal

 Learn More About Damian Ruse

Your Cycling Questions Answered Podcast




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