Month: June 2019

Intervals and the Lap Button


When you start a race, like the young cyclists above are, someone presses a ‘go-button’ on a stopwatch. This may be a high tech ‘laser’ timing system or literally someone pressing ‘start’ on a stopwatch (like this one)

This is an old stopwatch, it says GO!

By pressing start, the athletes in a race will know how long they took to do the race and how that compares to the other athletes in the race and perhaps to their past/future attempts on the same course. They might also press a ‘lap-button’ to divide each athlete’s race up into segments so we could analyze how the race unfolded and how each athlete progressed through the race. Did they fade, or did they get faster?

Use the Lap Button

Most stopwatches, GPS watches, Heart Rate Monitors and Power Meters will have a lap or interval mode and associated settings.

When you train it is important to have a similar pattern of pressing a ‘go-button’ to track your intervals. This might be to divide your warm-up and cool-down from a long endurance ride. It also might be to divide a work interval from a recovery interval during a specific workout or ‘drill’. For many new and intermediate cyclists, this can be a barrier that prevents better workouts and progression of fitness and results.

Garmin says GO!

Using the lap button is not necessarily for your coach. Rather use the lap button so:

1)You can see easily see how long the interval is. Trying to do mental math to figure out where you are in a workout based on the total ride duration is not a great idea generally. Focus on the interval work!

2) You can see your lap power, lap heart rate, lap Speed, lap distance or other metrics that are relevant and helpful to your workout of the day. This is HUGELY motivating. Push to match your last repetition and on *some days* to beat personal bests.

3)You get a sense of ‘game-on’ or ‘race start’ – practice your ‘pre-race routine’ and you may even have some nerves/excitement!

4) You do the work – If you do not use the lap button it is very easy to not do the workout that is assigned. (this seems odd but is VERY common – press lap = DO WORK!)

Apple Says GO!

If you need help with your devices or understanding the importance of intervals and the lap-button please feel free to reach out and book a call or to use the contact page

Q&A – Fueling in Heat, CTL in season, strength and Fading/Pacing in Intervals

Topics Covered in the latest Q&A episode from the Consummate Athlete Podcast. In this episode, we answer questions from Smart Athlete Clients and listeners of the show!

– Fueling in the heat

–¬†Cyclocross bike fit + numb hands¬†

– Fueling after Late night training

– Race season Training Load (CTL) Decrease, Will I lose all my fitness?!?!

– In season strength options

– Is it bad to Fade in intervals (or races?), when to fade when to go steady?

Self Talk and Enduring Pain

I am always impressed and humbled by the amount of work that Smart Athlete Clients get done in a day. YOU do so much each day and it takes constant work to stay focused, motivated and positive.

Staying positive doesn’t mean that you have to be all cheery-rainbows all the time, but it does mean staying focused on the next step and your own improvement. Watch for feelings of frustration, negative-self-talk or other signs you are getting off track so that you can then actively work to pull yourself back to working on what you can work on right now.

In training, we are working towards personal bests, but not every day is a personal best. Effective training will push you mentally and physically to grow.

A great quote from the below episode highlighted by

The below episode of the Consummate Athlete Podcast with Rebecca Rusch (A.K.A. The Queen of Pain!) has been really popular and for good reason. Rebecca is a very hard working person. She started into cycling late, as many endurance athletes do, and she still embraces multiple sports/movements while balancing racing, work, family and, increasingly, her own series of events/camps. Just like ‘the rest of us’, Rebecca has to work on what she says to her self (self-talk) and actively work to stay positive during rides. Just like ‘the rest of us’ she has setbacks and last-minute changes of plans (like not being able to start this year’s Dirty Kanza because life was too busy! Yes, the Queen of Pain had to DNS! And it is OK!

Focus on Feeling vs. power

It is also important to embrace and work actively to hone your FEELING (or RPE-Rate of Percieved exertion). By learning to deal with both your expectations for how hard something will be and how it feels in the moment you can unlock a huge amount of mental toughness and performance (if not also happiness!).


If you have found yourself upset or frustrated with a workout or race then it is likely there was a disconnect between how it felt and how you expected it to be.

It can be helpful to reflect on why something SHOULD feel different at this time? Or why does how you are feeling make sense? Were the intervals/workout type new to you? Were you possibly pushing too hard, maybe you could have completed the set by backing off a bit?

or maybe the workout/race you are in is REALLY hard and meant to push you to your limit! AND maybe you did have had a tough week and the workout SHOULD feel harder and maybe not be your best. You might need to back off a bit or do shorter reps or fewer reps … and that is ok too!
(see Bernstein’s Myth of Stress for more on this ‘Should’ concept and associated exercises)

You may remember THIS POST on ‘Holding Your Hand in the Fire’ and how in training we are ultimately aiming to become more and more comfortable and skilled while in the ‘red zone’ (or the fire I suppose). So in your intervals when your mind is saying “stop you suck” try sitting with the discomfort and seeing if you can tell yourself “I can do 10 more seconds here” or “keep pushing this is just like those hard last moments in a race”. Attaching those feelings in training to the ‘critical moments in racing’ is a huge boost to your training.

Another related podcast from the Consummate Athlete is ‘Endure’ with Alex Hutchinson. We discuss many factors around endurance and learning to endure longer while in discomfort. Find, read the show notes and find links to Alex’s book Endure on the show notes page and listen below!

Did this post help you? Any other ideas I missed? Feel free to use the Contact Page to let me know what you are up to or book a call to discuss your goals!

Peak – Nutrition and High-Performance w. Dr. Bubbs

I was quite happy to have Dr. Marc Bubbs on the Consummate Athlete Podcast recently. You can listen below on this page or check out the show notes here

My Key Take-a-ways:

  1. Do not underestimate the value of quality daily nutrition and sleep
  2. Rather then tracking/stressing on macro-nutrients, especially if this approach has never worked for you, try counting the number of different foods you eat … aim for 50 in a week?
  3. A mistake most people make is trying to improve their performance while trying to get leaner = Pick goals for different times of the year
  4. Canadian Basketball is doing really well!

Need help with your training and performance? Book a call – quickly and easily with this link

Training in the City

I was recently interviewed on the Canadian Cycling Magazine Podcast (Full Send, No Send) about ways we can maximize less optimal training environments.

We discuss ways to use loops and hill repetitions as well as your cyclocross, gravel or mountain bike to slow down and make your rides more steady and also to provide options to ride on grass or dirt path to avoid busy sections.

Check out the whole interview for some great insights from Haley Smith of Norco Factory (hot off her podium at a 2019 MTB World Cup) and my interview, which starts around minute 24

You may enjoy this post on “How to Train in The City” from the Smart Athlete Blog

Using HRV to Guide Training

It is hard to organize all the data we can collect these days in a way that makes decisions easier to make. The recommendations of a system like HRV4Training make interpreting the data much easier and as a HUGE BONUS, it makes integrating highly valuable ‘subjective measures’ into these recommendations much easier.

HRV can be a huge asset when adjusting training based on an athlete’s recovery. I have pulled a few examples for today’s post.

The Hrv4Training App is one of the apps I personally use daily and one that I recommend to many of my busy-adult clients to save them time and to try and coax them into paying attention to their body/stress and communicating with their coach!

Read my post on how I use HRV4TRAINING to get these comments and subjective measures into training peaks

Monthly HRV in return to fitness

One way that I found HRV to be helpful was in monitoring my return to form after a long period of illness/injury in late 2017-2018. In the above image, I have annotated a by month look at RMSSD (read about RMSSD here).

I was able to get relatively fit (~100-110 CTL and Cp20 @ >5 w/kg ) in Feb/March after volume/endurance. Along with general feeling on the bike, the return of my ‘normal’ riding HR:Power (efficiency) and resting HR/HRV values made for great indicators that my form had returned and that it was time to try some intensity and racing in May.

Check out Consummate Athlete episodes on HRV

Are you recovered? Effects of racing and travel

The above athlete’s HRV is shown as school ends and we tried a big volume block with the newly available time ahead of a recovery week and a stage race. HRV seemed to reflect a good response to training and also matched a decent recovery/form for the stage race. Post-stage race recovery coupled with some crazy travel days made for a bunch of yellow days with low HRV that can help guide the recovery strategy in the week(s) after the race.

Adjusting training for Lifestyle Stress

This athlete above has been fairly consistent until this spring when lifestyle stress + poor weather made for a period where HRV dropped (see above red arrow) which I noticed due to the HRV drop and then this started the discussion of what was up with life-stress and how we could adjust training to match.

How to use HRV – The Basics from HRV4Training Blog

How is sleep?

This client had a very big decline in sleep quality around the first arrow from the left. This change in HRV and the daily recommendation from HRV4Training (and reported low sleep) helped start a discussion and provide support to reduce training and a guide along with sleep/feeling (and a doctor) to return to training.

The above graph is sleep hours as reported by the client in the HRV4Training each morning. This started a discussion about why sleep had declined by 1hr in the spring (group rides and weekly races …) and how we could adjust things to prioritize sleep.

Need Help with your Training? Book a Call!


Check out this latest episode of the Consummate Athlete Podcast discussing FOMO (fear of missing out) on big training days and fun looking races. We also discuss several fueling topics, how to deal with imperfect training conditions (weather, lacking hills, etc).

As I look through the episode notes and re-listen to the episode it strikes me that a lot of these concepts come back to paying attention to your own performance and response to the training and daily habits. If you are finding that you are struggling on hills then are you making sure that your habits/training line up with this? If energy on rides is tough are you trying and tracking different strategies?

Check out the show notes and links mentioned in the episode: