Smart Athlete

Category Archives — Smart Athlete

Should I use Gel or Mix for Bike Racing

GAME-PLAY

With all the hype about nutrition and sports-nutrition, it is hard to know what you should use to do your best on race day. My advice is always to practice what you *think* you should use on race day on your key workouts (intensity, volume, race-specific simulation). If you find you perform well and/or that you vomit then you have an idea if it works for you. There are some variables around race nerves but generally, the issues on race day are due to not practicing the type and amount of fuel you will need so that you have too much or too little on race day.

Want a book to help with what to eat on different diets to optimize health, body composition and performance?  Check out Fuel Your Ride! 

 

Remember you are Resilient and The other 23 hrs of the day

 

It is important to remember that hydration and fueling are important but we can do a lot without, so if you end up short, drop a bottle, miss a feed it is fine, especially in short events the difference is not huge, especially if you do not get stressed on it. Practicing *WITHIN REASON* some fasted rides or less hydrated rides are worthwhile if it is likely in races. It is quite common that fueling time/practices and stressors take away from overall race time.

There are a few factors but it is not uncommon for the front-runners in a race to be lighter (slightly dehydrated) at the finish compared to the slowest finishers who take on more water and maintain or even gain weight, which can have consequences at extremes.

It is also very important to consider how you eat pre, post and during the rest of your days in the months ahead of any event. Your body composition, energy, sleep and ultimately your performance is affected by this. If you only eat sugar, eat constantly (graze), get hangry, or find your sleep is off then there are some lifestyle factors that need attention much more than the order of your race day chews, chomps and waffles do.

Want to learn more -> Check out these Consummate Athlete Podcast Episodes on Nutrition

 

What to use?

 

  • Mix –  Many people like the convenience of getting fuel with their hydration. This works well for some applications but be careful in extreme conditions where the mix may become less palatable or when you need to drink more. water relative to fueling (ie. hot weather). Some people find gels hard to get down and so mix may be a better option.
  • Gels are nice because they are separate from your water consumption. So when it is very hot you can fuel with the gels and use cold water to douse yourself and to hydrate. These can be in the form of gel packets, gel flasks or ‘blocks’ and gummies.
  • Bars/solids are generally for endurance rides and long events where you are mostly under 85% (in my opinion) … some people can stomach more, some can stomach less
  • Electro tablets are nice to add some taste and light calories/electrolytes to drinks, they may help you drink more (if that is required). Many athletes make the mistake of only using this and do not end up fueling their work capacity (ie. they go slow, do not recover, risk over-training in long-term).

There are rules of thumb for fueling Hydration

(satisfy with gels, bars, mix as you like or as above situations dictate)

  •  200+ kcal an hour (50-60 grams carbohydrate (the more you can eat/absorb an hour the faster you will generally go BUT you also risk of GI issues … so there is a balance and optimal for each of us … this can be trained and is not specific to body weight)
  • Water at 16-20 oz an hour depending on heat and sweat rate … in extreme heat/exertion perhaps more but as getting to top end or higher adding salt/electrolyte is likely important/wise. (shake of sea salt is great)

Plan your event strategy ahead of time (and practice it):

  • Expected time to complete x 16-20 oz water
  • Expected time to complete x 200+ kcal

Examples:

  •  90 min XC race = ~24-30 oz (so don’t take full bottles each lap unless dousing yourself) and ~ 300kcal. This would mean 3- 4 gels and 4 bottles at ~6-8oz
  • 9 hour Leadville / 100 miler = 150-180 oz water and 1800kcal. Plan your pack size and # of bottles and feed strategy to accomplish this.

Does this fit with your strategy? What Have I missed?

If in doubt a phone/skype consultation is a great way to iron out your nutrition plan for health, performance around training adn for the rest of the day => Book a consult here

Race Cancelled? What Workout Should You Do?

Races don’t get canceled often but it does happen with bad weather and financial/sponsorship issues.

 

This is always a bummer as we all look forward to races as a test of our fitness, to see friends, and to push our limits. Getting first races out of the way is also a big reason early races are important and not ‘losing’ our peak fitness for those big A races can also be a concern if races get delayed or canceled.

(We just had the first 2018 Superfly Ontario Cup Cancelled => LINK )

How do you use that weekend with no racing?

 

  1. Use the weekend to boost your confidence. This may be another race or a group ride but for most athletes, a focused weekend to take care of elements of your performance that YOU ARE NERVOUS ABOUT is a good way to guide this ‘free weekend’.

    For early season mountain bike races, it is likely a good choice to try and get out on your mountain bike. Using your race nerves (what you are a bit scared of as that race approaches) as a guide you can then design a workout or two that will help make you more confident in that skill. If I am nervous about my start ability then a Saturday workout with 10 race start sims (10 x 30-60sec from a standing start … perhaps with a friend acting as the start-official (make a GO sound) to make it an external cue. Add a couple friends to make it a bit more competitive).  For Sunday riding your mountain bike on a longer ride will help work out kinks in your bike setup and remind you that you can ride a mountain bike.

    Boost your Log Hops this weekend with the 5 step progression

  2. Continue the progressions from the last few weeks = if you have been doing a progression of Vo2 (3 x 3, 4 x 3, 5 x 3 etc) or Sweetspot/Threshold (3 x 10, 3×12, 3 x 15)  then there is a good chance that your race did not fall perfectly to continue that progression. Finish the progression!
  3. When in doubt ask! Phone Consultations with your coach are a great option, especially if your schedule has changed and a new plan of attack, or a new progression, is warranted. Checking in with your coach often is a good idea to make sure you understand the goal of your training and so your coach understands your context (life, work, family, motivation to race, nutrition etc.)

Smart Athlete Phone Consultation is open to current clients and public/self-coached athletes

 

Can You Prepare for The Goal You Have Set?

Picking Point B – The Goal You Want to Reach

Where do you want to go? That ‘Point B’ is the big race, big ride, or new power output you want to achieve. The big Crazy Goal that scares you into doing awesome training and learning new skills and pushing your personal bests.

Read about my Big Crazy Goal to do an Ironman and in the process learn to swim and push my limits and fears ( note I didn’t do much else and had to mountain bike way less)

But do you have space in your life for the training, race week preparation and post-race recovery?

The Space between Point A and Point B

When choosing and refining that list of races, events, and rides. Make sure you have the time and energy for the training you need to do.

Can you fit 4-6 hour training rides in to be ready for a stage race or solo event?

Do you want to ride a mountain bike to prepare for a mountain bike event (and travel to the trails, technical areas, hilly areas)?

Take out a calendar and see if there are any free weekends (or months) to train for that big goal event. To put in daily focused training to have you in PERSONAL BEST condition. To be CONFIDENT on the start line.

Where do you want to go? Pick one to focus on and leave the others for next time!

Trim the events you aren’t into

Plan your big training rides. Plan your recovery days. Plan weekends when you can just ride, eat, sleep (and hang out with your family and be happy!)

Commit to that one (or two) big day of adventure so you can spend a few months getting ready for doing awesome adventures and learning about your goal discipline.

You can do amazing, BIG CRAZY GOALS, but not so many all at once

 

If you need help with this a phone consult is a great way to lay out your calendar of events and talk about the training you need to do to get there (book it here!) 

 

Foam Rolling and Low Cadence Intervals

The latest episode of the podcast has a couple interesting but not simple to answer questions.

 

These questions are really a matter of who you are, and what you are trying to do. What is your goal?

A second question is to ask what you are trying to do and what the main thing that you need to do is? If you want to mountain bike you should mountain bike. The other stuff (foam rolling, really low cadence, foam rolling, ice paths, altitude etc.) are just the extra 1% that you might add after you have done your time on mountain biking (or your goal)

Think about those ‘world class basics’ or the 80:20 concept … what makes the good people good? Is it the crazy balance exercises or the time they spend in the goal sport that isn’t as glamorous to post on social media?

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Polarized or Threshold?

A Common Question I get is whether someone should do polarized or threshold/sweet-spot training

 

I have done several articles on the different types of training individually (threshold, HIIT, Polarized) but to find your own way can be tough. We all want to be part of a ‘camp’ or club (e.g. CrossFit). For training intensity and the organization of training the concept of polarization and threshold are not so opposed in my opinion ( The podcast guests we have had agree with this in general). The important thing is you have a goal, assess where you are now and then progress logically towards that goal by following a plan that you adjust frequently as you respond (or don’t). Many times the mistake is doing moderate training daily (no-off days) versus doing 2 threshold workouts weekly.

 

Polarized vs. sweet spot 

 

I think this is ultimately a matter of planning phases of training and making sure easy days are easy, that there are off days and that the interval days are progressing (whether that is ‘threshold/sweet spot’ Or tempo or HIIT/VO2.   Using only sweet spot, or HIIT, every workout (all year) was never really the intended method of utilization but sometimes it is taken as this absolute.

 

There are several ways to plan/periodize training depending on the athlete and their experience/limiters/goals: 

 

 a) you may do Vo2/sprints to get going and increase the QUALITY of your training and then your endurance racing approaches then we would become more specific with more tempo/sweet spot work to increase the QUANTITY of work you can do. (this might be called reverse periodization)

 

 b) to Accumulate ‘fitness’ with a base phase if you have time. Perhaps by using increasing amounts of sweet spot and tempo and some endurance to build your fitness (CTL). Then you can ‘polish off’ that fitness as you specialize/taper to your event, generally with a Vo2/anaerobic/HIIT block ahead of races

 

  c) You can do a mix of interval types over 7-14 day blocks to keep all aspects maintained and shift the focus slightly as required by limiters/races

 

I personally like the 3rd option, but I use all three with clients. How we plan this depends ultimately on who you are, where you are coming from and where you want to go ( POINT A -> POINT B )

 

 

You could also get a custom plan and get 100% MADE for your goals, schedule, race dates => Apply Here

 

Any Questions please follow up!

Great June Event – Try Cycle for Sight!

Cycle for Sight is a great event I have taken part in the last 3 years and have enjoyed the big day on the bike around my home in Collingwood with some good people, for a great cause.

CHECK OUT THE CYCLE FOR SIGHT WEBSITE FOR INFO ON REGISTRATION, ROUTES, AND FUNDRAISING

It is now based in Creemore entirely and tours great roads around Creemore, Collingwood, and Stayner.

Enjoy a great finish line spread on the main street of Creemore, right in front of the Creemore Brewery!

Apps to Improve sleep by minimizing blue light from screens

A Common question is how to improve sleep, perhaps by reducing screen time or ‘blue light’ exposure. This can be an easy adjustment to make on most devices, some changes are ‘native’ while others require you to download an APP. Reducing the screen time especially, and to a lesser extent, the brightness/blue light could possibly help reduce sleep disruption from screens.

Molly and I talked about our favorite apps and routines for productivity on this episode of the Consummate Athlete Podcast

While the stimulation (or stress) from emails and other online content can be a bigger issue than light the reality is some of us need or want to be on screens later at night. To reduce light exposure try these apps. The color on your screen will change when it ‘shifts’ to night mode, but most people adjust and don’t notice after a minute or two.

I find the light to be ‘campfire like’ and as it dims around 5 pm (or sunset) it is a good ‘stop reminder’ for me to shut down for the day and focus on family/friends and getting outside for some activity.

Flu.x is a popular App for PC and available for IOS

How To Use nightshift mode on iPhone 

Open settings on iPhone, scroll to display & brightness, select “NIGHT SHIFT”,  can schedule or turn on once and select the ‘screen temperature’ (I run mine quite dim all day and very dim at night)

for Google this is another app to adjust your screen :

How to include group riding in your training (without giving up your goal)

I wrote a post for MapMyRun recently on ways to include group riding in an effective training routine.

You can read the mapmyrun article on optimizing group rides here

The trouble with group rides is that they are often not specific to the goals we set, they are often moderately hard but missing the specific work that many athletes need to do to improve. I work with masters aged athletes, most of whom have goals in the off-road disciplines (mountain bike, Cross, gravel). Most of these age-group cyclists are understandably drawn to the social and/or competitive nature of group rides; it is how they are spending their limited personal time. The trouble for these specific off-road athletes is that they often misspend their energy on-road group rides, then wonder why they are too fatigued to do an appropriate volume of mountain bike riding.

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April 2018 – MTB Group Sessions and Gravel Training Rides

Please see below planned dates for sessions and gravel training 
 *I am always open to location, date, time suggestions
 
Tuesday, March 27 – Joyride Foundational Skills – 3 pm group session, 5 pm Private session
 REGISTER

Saturday, April 7th – Don Valley – MTB Group Session – 10am – 12 noon 
 REGISTER
Sunday, April 15th – Gravel Training Ride (Kanza, Leadville etc) – 9 am Mansfield Ball Park
*CX or Gravel bike, 2-3 hr hilly ride with the option to do less
  Register

Saturday, April 21 – Dufferin Forest MTB skills – 10 am – 12 noon – Group Session
Register
Saturday, April 28 – Dufferin Forest MTB skills – 10 am – 12 noon – Group Session
Register
Sunday, April 29 – 9 am – 12 pm – Dufferin Advanced Gravel Ride 
  *option for shorter routes and/or an afternoon beg/int ride upon request

  Register

Saturday, May 5th – Durham Forest or Woodnewton (Uxbridge) OR Don Valley
– Please email to express interest in either of these areas