Advanced Metrics

Advanced Metrics

Following again the concepts of my mentor Joe Friel, we evolved into the advanced metrics.

Like all science, everything measured can be compared. Therefore, the more metrics we use, the greater the chances of observing improvement in athlete performance.

“It would be far better to measure progress rather than to accept progress on blind faith”.  Joe Friel

Input-Output measures

Before understanding the advanced metrics, the video below will demonstrate the behavior of the input and output measurements. 

Output measure performance

Input measure effort

At the end of any race, the winner is the person with the fastest time, not the person who worked the hardest. This is why using output-based metrics is the better way to measure your training and racing. Because metrics like Threshold Pace for swimming and running, and FTP for cycling will tell you what intensity you are swimming, cycling and running at, from a performance standpoint, which at the end of the day is what we are out on the course for.

Relation between those metrics

Let’s follow an example of a triathlete who goes out for a run on their favorite routine terrain near home, which is 10 km. Notably, he ride this loop once a week as hard as he can go to see how their training is progressing. With this intention, let’s assume he generate the follow data over a 4 week training block:

HR (avg)
week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4

We see the output metric (pace) remaining fairly consistent while the input metric (average HR) is steadily dropping for each session. 

Comparatively, this trend is showing the athlete has become more fit over this four-week period. Furthermore, the output (performance) stays relatively the same, with the input (effort required to generate the performance) is decreasing! Therefore, performing the same output at a decreased input is particularly critical for long course athletes.


Normalized Power (NP)- Advanced Metrics #01

Normalized Power (NP) is the adjusted pace reported from a global positioning system (GPS), or other speed/distance device, that reflects the changes in grade and intensity that contribute to the physiological cost of running on varied terrain. 

Normalized Graded Pace (NGP)-Advanced Metrics #02

Likewise, this metric follows the same concept as the Normalized Power for cycling. However, in this case, she sets up for the race pace.

In a more simplified way, it would be like assuming the condition that running on a terrain with several elevations and descents, requires a greater physiological expenditure than an athlete running on a flat terrain without changes according to the figure below.

Efficiency Factor (EF)-Advanced Metrics #03

NP or NGP : HR = EF
  • ○  Ride #1: 190w (NP) ÷ 125 bpm (avg) = 1.52 EF

  • ○  Ride #2: (x days later): 200w (NP) ÷ 122 bpm (avg) = 1.64 EF

  • ●  EF Improvement = 8%

  • Run # 1: NGP 5:00/km HR 170 bpm

Convert:  min/km to meters/min
(1000m/5min)= 200
05:00/km = 200m/min

Divides that result by average heart rate. That produces EF.

200:170 = 1.17 

EF = 1.17

  • Run # 2:  NGP 5:00/km HR 160 bpm

Convert:  min/km to meters/min
(1000m/5min)= 200
05:00/km = 200m/min

Divides that result by average heart rate. That produces EF.

200:160 = 1.25

EF = 1.25

EF#1 = 1.17 EF#2 = 1.25

  • ●  EF Improvement = 7%

Intensity Factor (IF)- Advanced Metrics #04

In essence, for any workout or part of a workout, the ratio of the Normalized Power to the rider’s functional threshold power, which gives the user a relative intensity in relation to their threshold power. Therefore, IF is used to calculate TSS.

Given this points, Intensity Factor is simply how intense a workout was relative to our threshold and can be read as sort of a percentage of 1 with 1.0 being your threshold. In that case, if the Intensity Factor for your workout was .80 then we could say that you performed that workout at 80 percent of your threshold.

Athlete’s FTP: 200 watts
Workout with Normalized power: 180 watts
IF = 0.9

Most Common Races Intensity Factors

Race type
Intensity Factor
Ironman(age group)
Ironman 70.3 (age group)
Olympic & Sprint triathlons


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