Phil's Training

The word from Brady Irwin, Expert Coach, Carmichael Training Systems...

Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race, has been preparing for months to complete his Ride Across America, an event that he has designed to raise as much as 1 million dollars or more for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A great deal of time, energy and work has been put into organizing this event, but one of the key factors to making this a success is the hours Phil has spent on the bike. Though he had been training for quite some time, as the event neared Phil began to feel he'd benefit from guidance and he looked to Carmichael Training Systems for help. There is no denying that Phil was in good shape before he turned to CTS, but he fell into a very routine that's common for many athletes: he was not allowing nearly enough time for recovery. His mileage and saddle time each week were fairly significant, but his recovery was minimal if not non-existent because days off of the bike were filled with taking care of life and work responsibilities.

This is where I came in. After spending some time on the phone and communicating through e-mail, we scheduled several days in a row off of the bike to allow for recovery before Phil began a solid block of training. Since this was something different for him, Phil's told me, "I am nervous, but I am trying to trust you." As the weeks have gone by I have continually put Phil to the test with longer rides as well as some intensity; but because I've also included adequate time for recovery he has bounced back each week feeling stronger. The one thing that we did not change was his weekly track session because it was something that he did not want to give up and it was something that he really enjoyed. After all, what fun is riding if you aren't having fun!

Recently Phil joined Chris Carmichael and me in Colorado Springs and performed a lactate threshold and VO2 max test. The test ended up going very well and in the data recall we confirmed that his numbers for power at threshold were very similar to what we were already using in his training. We had used the CTS Field Test to establish his training intensities, and some athletes gain confidence by seeing that their lab-tested numbers are consistent with their field test results. During the VO2 portion of the test I learned one thing about Phil that I know will help him get through his ride across America: his undeniable ability to suffer. In this portion of the test he continued to push even after his numbers began to decline, far longer than we typically see people go. I was very impressed with this mental strength and it explains a lot about many of the other events Phil has completed, whether it was hitting a golf ball across Scotland or skiing behind a reindeer (I know it sounds crazy!), or simply the way that he lives his life.