EnviroNorm® means more accurate analysis, higher quality training, and better race results.
How Your Environment Impacts Your Performance
Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, elevation, wind, and terrain have a significant impact on your athletic performance. These factors generally fall into one or both of the following two categories based on the type of impact they have on your performance:
- Internal These factors have an impact on your physiological ability to perform (elevation – less oxygen; heat – blood required for cooling)
- External These factors have an impact on the realized results of your effort (topography, wind speed, wind direction, wind exposure, surface conditions, water current, water type – buoyancy, pool format, equipment—bike/wetsuit)
Temperature and humidity are the two most significant internal impact factors as they affect your ability to dissipate heat to regulate your core body temperature. The more blood that flows to your skin for cooling means less blood is available to carry oxygen and energy to your muscles. The decrease in blood available to transport oxygen and energy will diminish your physical performance ability.
Elevation is a good example of a factor that can have both internal and external impact on your performance. Oxygen is required for aerobic activities, and there’s less oxygen available in the air at higher elevations. Therefore, your aerobic performance ability is diminished at higher elevations. However, the air is less dense at higher elevations which will reduce wind drag. Depending on your cycling speed, the net benefit of reduced wind drag may be greater than your diminished performance ability due to the reduced oxygen availability. The net performance impact for different individuals in the same high-elevation environment may be very different depending on their velocities and drag coefficients.
Other external factors such as wind, terrain, and equipment don’t typically impact your physiological ability to perform, but can have a substantial impact on the realized results of your effort as these factors change.
Training Without EnviroNorm
Training without environment normalization has substantial harmful consequences and corrupts both the prescription and analysis of training. It both reduces your performance improvement and increases your injury risk.
For example, if your run FTP was 7:30 per mile and you were prescribed a 30-minute run session at a 7:35 per mile pace on a cool morning at 55° F and 40% humidity it would be a completely different training experience than if you performed this same session in the afternoon or on a warmer day at 90° F and 80% humidity. The morning session might be prescribed perfectly and effectively drive the desired training adaptations while the same session done in the afternoon might not even be able to be completed or at a minimum cause significantly more training stress and injury risk than desired.
Analyzing and managing non-environment-normalized training is highly ineffective because training results are clouded in the noise of environmental impact. Generally, the performance variations resulting from environmental impact are far greater than those from the training itself making it difficult and often impossible to discern cause-and-effect relationships between specific training stimuli and responses as well as the overall effectiveness of your training program in general.
The noise of environmental impact can be limited to some degree by creating a controlled environment such as cycling on an indoor trainer or running on a treadmill. However, most athletes enjoy training outdoors and a substantial portion of your training needs to occur outdoors. Mixed-environment training means that these training sessions can’t be accurately compared or evaluated without environment normalization.
Chronic use of non-environment-normalized training will significantly reduce your performance improvement and increase your injury risk due to the inability to measure, manage, or prescribe the appropriate training stress.
Because controlling your environment on race day isn’t possible, environment normalization is necessary to plan your optimal pacing before the race and to evaluate your normalized results afterwards. Not properly accounting for your race-day environment can lead you to pace yourself too easy or too hard and either leave unrealized potential out on the course or blowing up on the run (and never knowing exactly why). Without environment normalization, you’re unable to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of your training, compare race results from one race to another, or even set meaningful finish-time goals.
What is EnviroNorm?
EnviroNorm® is a patents-pending technology that normalizes the internal and external impact factors related to your training and race environment. It’s a key component of nSight Optimized Training™ and race execution including the TrainX®, Normalized Training Stress™, RaceX®, and Virtual Simulation Race™ algorithms, among others.
EnviroNorm’s high-level process is simple. When you complete a training session or race, nSight “normalizes” your performance data based on your environment making it useful for analysis and optimization. As you are prescribed future training sessions or RaceX optimized pacing, your training intensities or race pacing is “localized” for the appropriate environment.
Training with EnviroNorm
Your training sessions are created specifically for you to elicit desired training responses by prescribing the proper environment normalized training intensities given your training environment. If you need to move your training session from a cool and crisp morning to a hot and humid afternoon, your training intensities will adjust automatically.
After your session, your location and other environmental data from your training device is used to normalize your results and produce your TrainX Score, Normalized Training Stress, and other metrics and training optimization drivers.
There may be small discrepancies between your prescribed training intensities and those used to analyze your training afterwards due to subsequent changes in the actual weather. If your device captures inaccurate environmental information, you can manually edit this after the session and the session will be re-evaluated. It’s most important to analyze your training using the most accurate environmental data available, even if it doesn’t exactly match what might have been prescribed.
Racing with EnviroNorm
When EnviroNorm is used for training it’s primarily focused on the internal factors impacting your performance ability (temperature, humidity, and elevation). What are most important in training are the intensities and durations of your training efforts themselves and not the outcomes of those efforts such as a splits or distances.
However, things are different when EnviroNorm is used for racing. Both internal and external impact factors are extremely important and for more than just comparing one race result to another or setting appropriate finish-time goals. They are critical considerations when optimizing your race pacing necessary to realize your full performance potential.
The internal factors impacting your physiological ability are important for racing in the same way that they are for training. If you’re able to push 74% of your FTP for a specific race, you need to localize that FTP to your race environment prior to calculating your 74% target power so that your target power isn’t too low or too high for what you can optimally sustain for the race duration.
At the same time, by also considering the external factors using EnviroNorm and RaceX, you’re able to accurately predict your splits given the elevation gains, temperature and humidity changes, wind speed and direction shifts as your own bearing and drag profile change along the course, and much more.
Without EnviroNorm and RaceX, athletes typically set their target power for races based on the race distance (i.e. 74% of FTP for a half distance bike split). While you might be able to hold a target power of 74% on a flat course with cool temperature and light wind taking you five hours to finish, this same target power over the same distance but on a hilly course with hot, humid, and windy conditions taking you six hours will certainly be overreaching and have a harmful effect on your run.
Clearly your target power should not be the same for a five-hour race as it would be for a six-hour race. With EnviroNorm and RaceX, you have environment localized projected splits for both your bike and run accounting for both internal and external factors. This allows your target power as a percent of FTP to be further optimized to ensure your race pacing is spot on!
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Frequently Asked Questions
- What if a session is done indoors?
If a session is completed indoors, be sure to check the "indoor session" box. This will override the forecasted conditions with your default indoor conditions, which can be edited in your settings.
- What about the swim?
Air temperature and humidity are largely irrelevant for swim intensities, so only elevation will have an impact on your pacing. Swim sessions do not need to be marked as indoors.
- Do heart rate zones change?
No, your cardiovascular system naturally adjusts for changes in your environment. Your heart-rate zones will stay the same, but your power or paces will change relative to your heart rate.