Smart Athlete

Category Archives — Smart Athlete

How and What to Post to Training Peaks (training log)

One of the biggest sources of friction in coaching is communication. I have never blamed athletes for this. At best it is clunky to communicate through apps and training devices … but all this is slowly changing as things happen automatically. There are a few newer features and apps I think you should check out from and HRV4Training.

How did You feel represented by 5-options of smiley, or not so smiley, faces!

This should now pop up in the mobile app and on the website when logging a workout … go with your gut feeling on these ratings. First feelings/thoughts not what you think your coach wants to hear!

RPE … how hard was the workout

You can also rate this after you finish the workout in the workout pop-up window and a slider scale from very easy -> moderate -> All Out!

To Augment your comments – use the Training Peaks Mobile App and ask yourself


Telling your coach (or your future self) what you did on that day, where you rode, who you rode with, how many reps, what strategy/goal did you have, how you felt and any other things that are relevant like gear, stops for lunch, blips in your device files, or saddle sores and other ‘niggles’ that might be important for future injury/illness decisions.

Use HRV4Training to get resting HR, HRV **AND** post ‘metrics’ and ‘annotations’ to Training Peaks

This app is great. It works. It is simple and has been around for ~5 years. I have used it for over 3 years. The data is good and it just requires your smartphone camera and your finger. While HRV and HR is great to have the added bonuses of 1-5 minutes (you choose duration) to meditate each day AND send metrics/comments to your training peaks account to sit with all your automatic training file uploads is HUGE.
Here is the link  to the website:
Link to 2 podcasts with Marco the HRV4Training creator on Consummate Athlete: LINK
Make sure to turn all the metrics on and fill it out each morning – above screenshot shows key spot in HRV4Training APP
This is the metrics window where you, or your coach, can see how you are doing each day.
The annotations (notes) is a huge win for communication if you make  the 2min habit each morning

Was this helpful? Do you have other questions or issues with posting? Let me know!

If you would like to get a account linked to my coaching account you can do this at this link.

2018/2019 Cyclocross Races Ontario and North American UCI

So many Smart Athletes are interested in Cross so it is with great joy I put up this list of races! Get planning and get committed to these races!

Find the full Ontario Race Schedule via the Ontario Cycling Association 

Find the UCI Cyclocross Calendar HERE (or enjoy this list of North American Cross by cyclocross magazine here)

USA Cx Races (sorted from link above for USA)

For weekly practice (the best part of Cross!)

  • Midweek Tuesdays – Centenial Park Toronto (pending info – website)
  • Sunday – sept 30 – nov 25 – Various eastern weekends
  • Wednesdays Aug 22-Oct 31 – Nordic Cats – Thamesford (~Woodstock)
  • Wednesdays – Sept 19 – Nov 7 – Durham Shredders, Whitby

Races within ~8hrs for Southern Ont Cyclocross

– below are the events within driving distance

  • Sept 8/9 – Rochester C1/C2 – Rochester, NY
  • Sept 15/16 – Nittany Lion Cross C2 – Breinigsville, PA
  • Sept 21/23 Trek CX CUP – C2 –  Waterloo, WI
  • Sept 23 – We need more Cowbell – OCUP – St Catherines
  • Oct 6/7 – Charm City Cx C1/C2 – Baltimore, MD
  • => Oct 6 – Batty Cross – Regional – Brooklin, ONT
  • => Oct 7 – Hardwood Cross – Ocup – Barrie Ontario
  • => Oct 13 – Durham Shredders Cross – Regional – Brooklin, ONT
  • Oct 20/21 – Sherbrooke Cx – C2 – Sherbrook, QC
  • => Oct 20 – maD Cross – Regional – Pittock Conservation
  • => Oct 21 – Dam Cross – Ocup – Pittock Park Conservation
  • Oct 27/28 – Cincinnati Cyclocross Weekend – Cincinnati, OH
  • => Oct 27 – KWCX – Regional – Kitchner, ON
  • => Oct 28 – Baseball cross – Ocup – Barrie, On
  • Nov 3/4 – Siver Goose Cx / Pan Am – C2/CC – Midland, ON
  • Nov 10/11- Canadian National Champs C2/CN – Peterborough, ON
  • Nov 17/18  – Super Cross Cup – C2 Suffern NY
  •  => Nov 17/18 – Provincial Champs (ontario) Belleville, Ont


Now How do you train for all this? and How do you recover between all these races?

Check out this 16 week pre-made plan ready for you NOW on training peaks



Q & A Podcast August 2018 – How to race two times on a weekend, transition to Cyclocross, Paleo + Vegan Diet

This week we talk about paleo and how it applies if you are a vegan (or does it) + Paleo for endurance athletes (cycling) and more about getting ready for cyclocross season and racing twice in a weekend.


July 2018 Q & A


Cyclocross 16 week Plan to get you ready and all the way through your season -> Get it Here instantly

Community in Sport – why we do it
Next episodes coming up
Q1 – How to Use Paleo Diet/Template with a Vegan or Paleo Diet
Q2 – What is Peter Eating / Paleo for Endurance Athletes
Q3 – How to race 2 days in a row – Mindset and pacing
Q4 – MTB / Road seasons … how to transition to Cyclocross?


Should I Train in the Heat?

Yes, Train in the Heat


Unless a doctor told you not to, it is wise to train in the heat. As with any training stimulus (intervals, altitude, strength training, crosstraining etc) you should gradually increase the loading/exposure. So if it is suddenly hot where you live don’t do 5 hours of intervals in the heat of the day. Scale down your training and ride easier and consider riding earlier in the day or partially inside in air conditioning and then over the course of several days-to-weeks you will see your body adapt and you will be able to do a more normal week of volume/intensity.

There are lots of benefits to riding and being hot. Exercise makes you hot and makes you sweaty and uncomfortable, so does hot weather and heat ‘training’ methods like saunas and hot-tubs. There are a few common sticking points that athletes have with heat.

  • Race day is often hot. Do you want your first exposure to that element to be on race day?
  • Be ready for your performance to be lower (just like at altitude) you likely won’t be able to ride as long or as hard. This is normal. Ease into it! I like to consider this as free or ‘bonus’ training time. Training should not always be perfect, a personal best or ‘easy’. There should be hard days (and very easy days).
  • Your Heart rate will very likely be higher. This is normal as your heart as do more work to send blood to your skin to cool you!
  • You will be sweaty and uncomfortable. Embrace this as this is much like a race.
  • Use the hot weather as an opportunity to practice your cooling and pre-cooling strategies (cold/frozen bottles, ice socks, electrolytes etc.) and ensure that you are cooling down and hydrating slowly over several hours after your session.

We talk about heat training and altitude on this podcast episode with Stacy Simms (check out her book Roar!)

How Cyclists Can Sleep Better

Sleep is a problem for many athletes. Sometimes this is just after a hard workout or race but sometimes sleep disruption is more regular and requires some concerted effort. These are a few things that can help.

Sleep after a hard race or late workout

Many athletes like doing a weekly hard race or group workout. If you find that you can no sleep because you are wound up than trying a cold shower, more food (or less food) and/or some foam rolling and deep breathing (or meditation) can help improve this. If you find that this is a consistent trend than you may be wise to avoid these late night events most of the time to preserve sleep, especially if you can train earlier without as much travel. This is a difficult situation but may help you achieve your main season goal so maybe worth considering if the cold showers and tweaking of pre/post meals and bedtime routine do not help.

Or Are you just a ‘bad sleeper’?



If your goal is to stop tossing and turning it may be that a pillow under your knees for back sleepers, between your knees for side sleepers or under your shoulder/flexed top leg for stomach sleepers can help put you in a comfortable position that you won’t need to adjust from to get out of a position you can’t maintain. For many cyclists laying on your back with your hips open results in some sort of movement to let the pressure off the low back. Check out this mobility wod talking more about sleeping in extension and considering a softer mattress or foam pad if finding it hard to get comfortable.
I like the sleep posture that is proposed in this image for stomach sleepers especially. It can also help with neck pain from twisting your head into an odd position relative to your torso.


  • Clean your sheets and vacuum and dust your room today. Do it again or a week or so. Clean sheets (and a clean room) can be a nice way to go to sleep.
  • Winding down – You could try yoga and journaling before bed if you find you are waking up a lot (does not seem like that is the case from your watch ‘awake’ time) = This ‘awake’ time is when you move around a lot and go to bathroom etc (ie. watch shakes a lot) 
  • Make your bedroom dark and try to minimize bright lights in the couple hours before bed. Dimmers and room shades are handy.
  • Brush your teeth right after bed so that is done and starts you on the bedtime routine early.
  •  Having earplugs/eyeshade/dark room and cold room (SLEEP HYGIENE) may also help to avoid extra wakings or a disturbed sleep.

               ** PRO-TIP FOR TRAVELING = Use earplugs/eye shade every day so you are ready to be comfy when traveling **

  • I also believe (but admit it is kooky) that having wifi/phones ON in room (and perhaps just in the room as a temptation) has an effect … so TURNING THEM OFF is also wise
  • Using any screens with low brightness (also use night shift on iPhone and an APP called F.LUX for PC/Mac computer to take some of blue light and brightness out of any screens you need later in day 
  • Try to eat at regular intervals during the day to avoid a huge evening meal and try to have that meal a few hours before bed. A common recommendation is to be done eating by 7:30 pm and be in bed ahead of 10:30 pm.
I find the bed-time function on the iPhone (in timer/clock app) is nice as it reminds me to get ready for bed about 45min before and helps illustrate how long I will get given my wake time. The F.lux app has a similar reminder about the fact you are waking up in 8-9 hours so you should go to bed!


More Resources

1) Amy Bender on Sleep on the Consummate Athlete Podcast

2) How sleep relates to your cycling performance

This is an article I wrote for Canadian Cycling Magazine with some basics on sleep and quotes from the podcast we did with PEAK PERFORMANCE AUTHORS BRAD STULBERG AND STEVE MAGNESS 

3) insomnia Guide from

If your sleep is really disrupted definately go see a doctor. To help you start to understand the issue and perhaps find a few other ideas that you can review with your doctor check out this guide from Paul Ingraham of He put together an article about his insomnia and does a good job of working through many of the factors that can contribute to insomnia.

Read his Insomnia Guide HERE

5 Little Things that Make a Big Difference

As an endurance athlete, you are always looking for that little bit extra speed, comfort, safety and/or power. You want to get faster at cycling. While huge changes, fad diets, and crash-cycles of superhard intervals are tempting, it is often the small changes done over time that elicit the results we want. These 5 areas are relatively simple to change and make improvements, especially if you use them for long periods so that the small benefits can compound. This compounding concept is important to understand when looking at your habits and training. Not every interval will register its benefit immediately today. Often it is the consistent practice at a relatively low and manageable level that gives us results, not one hero day or super strict week of dieting.

Read on for the 5 areas:

Continue reading

Looking for a Summer Goal?


Many athletes are looking for a late summer cycling goal in Ontario. Some have missed the Leadville Lottery, while others have waited to see what spring fitness is like and now are looking for something to build towards this summer.

May I suggest the new improved Crank the Shield, which is back after a 3-year hiatus!


This new edition moves from it’s Haliburton roots northward to Sault Ste. Marie/Algoma Country and includes a scenic train ride to kick off the 3-day weekend, where you will experience some of the best scenery Canada has to offer. The route includes a chance to climb one of Ontario’s highest peaks, King Mountain, which is a bucket list accomplishment in itself!

Below is a preview video AND be sure to check out for details and to register

How To Train for Cycling in a City

If you are trying to train for cycling in a city you have likely become frustrated by traffic lights, pedestrians, lack of cycling routes, and/or lack of hills. You may have even decided that cycling indoors is the only way to keep up with your country or mountain dwelling competitors. While the city presents challenges it is not impossible to do much of your training within the city.

These are a few of my favorite tricks for training in the city:


Bike Choice and Setup

Consider riding slower tires or bikes. I often ride my mountain bike with slow tires in the city.  This lets me use all the paths and trails and hills available and has the benefit of increasing resistance so I am not going very fast by people.

Hill repetitions

Whether you are doing hard intervals or not start climbing more and you will find your cycling improves. Wanting to climb better is very common for cyclists generally, but especially for city-dwelling-cyclists. Include a couple extra reps up the hillier parts of your ride and you will find those hilly weekend rides and races are not so hard anymore.

Small loops

Rather than looking for a 20-minute loop try looking for a one to five-minute loop to do longer steady intervals. There are often parks that allow cycling, industrial areas or developing areas that you can go to and safely do longer muscular endurance (e.g. threshold) workouts.  I have a few athletes who use grass or wood chip sections (e.g. around soccer fields) to do intervals when they can’t get out of the city, this may not always be desirable but it is worth a try, even one or two times a month if you have such a spot!


You can use tools like Strava heat map (use the ‘my routes’ function then turn ‘heat maps’ on from the left toolbar). Strava also can let you see where other people are training. Find some of the top riders in your city and download the .GPX file for their routes or just get a sense of where the best loops are. Local Crit series locations may also provide a spot to go after work hours for quiet riding.


Did you do your ride right?

If you are new to Cycling Coaching or following a Cycling Training Plan, it can get confusing, if not overwhelming. There are lots of new words like Functional Threshold Power, Zones, Intervals to learn; PLUS you have to motivate yourself to ride a functioning bicycle AND ride that bicycle safely and skillfully over whatever terrain you navigate to on that day’s training Ride.

This post helps you understand what is important in your training and a little bit about how to use tools like your bike computer and Training Peaks to quickly assess your ride goals.

It is tempting to sit and stare at your computer for hours but that is not cycling training
  • Your job as an athlete is to be motivated, prepared and focus on pushing hard when you need to push hard and riding steady and easy (enough) when it is endurance time.
  • You want to be very focused on the feelings and skills and routines you execute and use the day’s workout to develop those things. Stressing over ‘perfect’ workouts is not required.
  • Try to set up your bike computer (i.e. Garmin or Wahoo) so you can see your Lap Averages and Ride Averages.
  • Set up your device to upload automatically to Training Peaks (and Strava if you do that) => See how here
When you go on a ride, set your intention (goal)
  • If you have hill intervals planned … know what your range (zone) is for that day. This may be a distance you have covered, a Heart Rate, an RPE (Feeling), and/or a Power Number
  • It is good to attach some ‘defining moments’ from your races to these key weekly workouts … if you are getting dropped when the attacks start, practice pushing a bit harder/longer each workout. Visualize yourself riding in the race as you do these intervals and as you feel the tension in your legs and as you breathe deeply to find relaxation in the discomfort.
  • When you come in make sure your files upload and that you do a nice training diary log in training peaks or whatever you use. Note the WHO/WHAT/WHERE/WHY/HOW MANY ETC.  Thinking about what you want to work on next time is how we get better next time. Make a note that you can pull back for the next session.
To assess the ride Many athletes can benefit from putting some time into their bike computer (Garmin/Wahoo etc) Screens and Setup
  • Put a screen as ‘ride summary’ and then you can see your average HR on the ride summary screen in %MHR  (you can set avg HR by BPM or %) … so if endurance ride you can see if you averaged 65-75%
  • You can also setup a lap screen so you can assess each lap as you go. If you have a sweet spot interval you can see if you averaged the prescribed Heart rate or power zones quickly
In Training Peaks You can See your HR or Power (or other) Metrics overlaid with other metrics and also over your zones (These need to be set up and maintained for accuracy) 
  •  There is a graph view where you can view the HR tracing on top of HR zones and hide the other metrics (circled in blue below)
Also in Training Peaks, you can use the pop-up window from calendar view and navigate to this view below to see time in zone and peak HR (or power, or pace) data. 

3 Drills to Improve Balance on the Bike

This post will provide you with 3 drills to improve your cycling skills and balance. While they are not presented in the order I would always use and certainly a step (or three) beyond what a beginner may be comfortable doing they do provide you with some ideas and variations to scale back from, work towards or challenge yourself with today!


Covered today
1) The Outrigger – Putting a Foot Out for balance and to ‘dab’ versus falling over or putting out your arm
2) Ratcheting – use a partial pedal stroke and move your body around while STANDING
3) The bump and run – a fun challenge that progresses your ratchets and moves you towards the track stand

Let me know what you think of these 3 drills!