From 1st Cat to Elite #12. Motivation

When was the last time you got motivated to do something you really didn’t want to do? What was it that spurred you on? In this blog i’m going to explore that and try to figure out what it is that makes you ‘flick the switch’ and find an extra gear even when you’re totally exhausted.

It feels appropriate this week to talk about motivation as I had an almighty burst of it on the 2nd January. A few days prior to that, a friend of mine broke my very own lab record for highest peak ramp power and highest threshold. He is a monster of a man, in more ways than one, and achieved an anaerobic threshold of … wait for it… 445 watts!!! He also completed 3 minutes at 500w at the end of his ramp test. Insane numbers from a huge athlete.

Being somebody that prides myself on having all the watts I had to do something to redeem myself. Ain’t nobody upstages me in my own lab! Now even though I don’t weigh as much as him, I had the great idea of doing a 20 minute wattbike test and trying to average his threshold of 445 watts.

This is 30 watts higher than my most recent test and would be an all time personal best. It’s been years since i’ve beaten my best on the wattbike, but why is that? Well, mainly because I haven’t done one! doing them outdoors, or completing a far less painful ramp test have given me a convenient excuse to not bother with a 20 minute torture fest.

I think if you peel back the layers on those excuses it boils down to the fact that it hurts, it’s difficult and I don’t like it. So why do one now? What on earth could motivate me to put myself through that when I don’t need to. Beating my mate, that’s what. Different things motivate different people, but a bit of friendly competition to be the biggest name on campus does it for me.

So i blasted out of the blocks all guns blazing at 445 watts. 10 minutes in to the test it didn’t feel like such a good idea! I rattled through the halfway marker with an average of exactly 445 watts but then with 8 minutes to go I started falling off the pace and truly suffering.

Some of you have been there i’m sure. That moment where your legs are saying no, your lungs are saying no and your heart is saying no… but for some reason you carry on. The exact moment in this test that i’m really interested in comes at 2.5 minutes to go.



With 2.5 minutes to go I was in agony. But for some reason I got a sniff of the finish line, got my head down and managed to lift my effort. Perhaps it’s purely the fact that I knew it would be over soon that allowed me to really empty the tanks. Or perhaps it was the fear of failure, watching the average wattage fall away that flicked a switch and made me push harder than I thought I could only one minute earlier. The final minute of the test averaged 473 watts. Ouch.

If I could bottle that up and give it to my athletes… that would be illegal! I’m not Dr.Ferrari, but helping my riders tap into that part of their brain which says keep going, which refuses to stop, which has absolute confidence in it’s own abilities is something I aim to do everyday.

Usually I wouldn’t reset my training zones based on a 20 minute test because it sets them way too high for me. But using the Golden Cheetah critical power estimator based on my best 3min effort and new 20 min best i’ve reset my training zones based on an FTP of 411w. This is a big leap up from the 380w I had it set at previously. I don’t believe this is realistic but i’m going to give it a try. Note that this is 92.7% of 443w, and not following the generic 95% rule!

Setting training zones too high is something i’m very wary of as it’s so easy to over train as a result. It does something that you may forget about when looking at your performance management chart, it lowers your TSS for each ride. If i look at my TSS this week based on my new higher FTP I have done 405TSS. But if I calculated this based on my old one it would be 468TSS. This means my form will be higher and fatigue will be lower than where i’m used to it being for the same TSS. So i have to re-calibrate where I think my limitations are in terms of the lowest form (TSB) I can tolerate.

Thanks for reading this week! If you want any help with your winter training or for me to take a look at your data and see if you’re on track then please drop me an email at

Peace Out


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