Last weekend, TriDubai was lucky enough to welcome sports scientist and endurance performance coach Garth Fox back to the UAE (after an extremely successful camp in Hatta last year) – this time to Jebel Hafeet for a Power Performance Camp.

The LONG and winding road.... better down than up!

After an initial chat first thing on Friday morning up at the Mercure Hotel at the top of Jebel Hafeet (and a weigh in – several participants were seen rushing to the toilet beforehand to present as low a weight as possible…), our first session was to do some 5 second, 1 minute and 5 minute tests on our bikes.  All athletes were required to have power meters on their bikes – which would then measure the maximum wattage that riders could maintain for each of those intervals.  After a warm up, we all did three 5 second tests (each with a 5 minute rest interval), then a 1 minute test, which was then followed (after a 15 minute rest interval) with a 5 minute test.  Warning for those at home:  1 minute and 5 minute tests REALLY hurt!  It may not seem like much, but this was a solid session for all!

Working hard up the hill...

After lunch at the Mercure (cold but sunny outside) we then headed out for our 20 minute test.  Once again, we followed a warm up protocol, and then started from the bottom of the hill and spanked it for as hard as we could for 20 minutes.  After stopping for a quick collapse immediately after, we then continued to head the rest of the way up the hill (its about a 45 minute climb from bottom to top) at our own pace.  Some of us then headed back down the mountain for a second ride up (whilst others – who shall remain nameless – had to drive back down to pick up their cars as they hadn’t fancied riding down the hill in the first place [come on TriDubai!  Grow some!!]).

Everyone looking happy (NOTE: this was BEFORE the 20 minute test!)

Back at the hotel, we all gave our 4 numbers (5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and 20 minute max average powers) to Garth, before demolishing the all you can eat buffet.  Garth then gave us a presentation setting out the various power number of the camp participants, the critical power numbers of those individuals, what those disparities meant in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and from looking at those differences what needed to be done from a training perspective in order to improve race performance.  All the explanations were given with a huge dose of evidence from sports science research, whether that be in relation to the latest thinking on polarized training or how best to incorporate strength training into our training programs.  Many eyes were opened!  As an example as to the improvements that could be made by training according to these methods, in 18 months Ian’s 20 minute power had increased by over 18% and his 5 minute power had increased by over 30%.

It might look flat... but its not!

That night we were ranked into 3 groups which were roughly equal in terms of their critical power watts per kg weight – which was to come into play the next morning as those groups then had a “cat and mouse” game up the hill.  Each member of the group would spend 5 minutes leading the group up, going as fast or as slow as they wanted, with the leader being able to score a point if they managed to get more than 30m ahead of the other riders in their group at any point during their 5 minute turn.  Would you use your greater 20 minute power to try to set a strong pace that your fellow group riders couldn’t handle, or did you have a higher 5 second peak power that could be used to try to sprint away from the others?  Good fun, a useful exercise to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and great training to boot.

Keep on pushing...

After lunch Garth then spent 15 minutes with each athlete going through their individual strengths and weaknesses, talking through what training they needed to do to deal with their limiters and thus ultimately to improve their race performance.  Again, this was hugely illuminating, and got many people to have a really good think about the training they were currently doing , and what they could do to improve it.  This was then followed up a couple of days later with Garth emailing everyone with a power report setting out their results, their power training zones, and their immediate training objectives.

Huge thanks from all the athletes to Garth for an excellent and informative camp.