Theory

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When Should You Start Training for Your Goal Race?

When clients are looking at starting with coaching or getting a training plan, they will often ask … “When Should I Start Training?”

It is a reasonable question  … Why start training now for something so far away, like Ironman, Leadville, Breck Epic, Road Stage? You have lots of time to get fit and to prepare for this goal. Or, at least, it seems like that now.

I usually respond with, “Why Not Start Training Now?”

If you had to be somewhere in an hour for something really important, wouldn’t you leave with a little extra time? You could always grab a coffee, or go for a walk if you get there early. Now If you are like me, the ‘being early’ thing is tough. It rarely happens, even though I leave earlier then I think I need to. Detours, traffic, and gas-station lines seem to always conspire to make time tighter than I thought. So… it is nice to have that time in order to deal with those delays and detours.

In athletic training, it is the same: if we know we are going to have to complete a task, a goal, a race, a tour, a challenge of some type, then why not start preparing now for success? It would be very rare for training to go exactly as laid out. There are little injuries, illnesses, work trips, bad weather, winter and other little ‘stops’ that we will have to add into that perfect event preparation we envision.

I consider all of the clients that I work with as athletes. That means that there should be a year-round focus on improving some aspect of our game. In September and October, that may be improving our ability to have fun on the bike, starting to cross-train slowly and work on any mobility/injury aspects we have. Heck, we might even try some meditation or yoga to work on the recovery or mental side of sport and performance. Working on nutrition (Great book = Fuel Your Ride)  or dealing with those pesky saddle sores are other areas that work well during this ‘off-season’.

Check out a book to help with Saddle, Sores and Other awkward questions you might want to ask about Saddle Sores.  

The months go quickly.

I like the idea of ‘big scary goals‘. Sometimes we need to do something beyond what we think we can or different than we have in the past. I signed up for an Ironman last year, having never done a triathlon or really swam. I committed to it about 12 months out. I started researching and going to swim lessons and getting the gear I would need that month (goggles, road running shoes, etc). Even though I started early, there was still a crunch on time given the usual work and life responsibilities that popped up during the year! I definitely enjoyed having some extra time to let my feet adapt to running on pavement, train my brain to learn how to swim and not panic in open water, and to deal with a couple of small injuries along the way. The event went really well!

Training has many elements.

If you are doing a big race like Leadville and Dirty Kanza, and even stage races on the road and MTB, you may not do 6-hour rides in October, but you certainly could do a couple hours on the bike that you think you will race, with the gear you currently have, in order to see where the weak points are. There are lots of areas in our race day performance we can work on year-round:

  • Perhaps get a friend who has done the event to come out with you and tell you about it while your ride. This insider info is valuable to add to your own experience.
  • You could take care of any bike skill issues like cornering, flat-change, or log hops to make sure you stay upright on event day (and in training).
  • Get started strength training now (perhaps with this quick routine) will let you learn the movements and become resilient before you start being concerned about your on bike numbers again.

When considering when you should start to prepare for your event remember that it is nice to take your time and not be rushed in many aspects of life. Training is no different.

An Example: 10 months Out From August Marathon/Stage/Endurance race

( I like examples! )

  • October – Preparation phase – start strength training, assess body composition and improve if limiter, assess injuries and improve before starting training, assess skills and develop! Try Yoga
  • November – A few rides outside, start prepping further for cross-training (ski, hike, run etc.), ease slowly into these, strength progresses to moderate loads/reps. Weekend cyclocross course.
  • December – Strength is heavy and the focus this month, if no injuries are present. If you are injured, focus on injuries. Intervals should focus on most limited ranges. Take 1-2 weeks low focus/intensity/volume at holidays.
  • January – Resume training with lighter endurance, a traditional base-1 phase as the New Year kicks off. Show up daily. Keep strength/mobility progressing. Sleep a lot.
  • February – Work on limiter intensity 1x weekly, work traditional muscular endurance 1-2x weekly (tempo/threshold), build endurance time in low-end ranges (cross-train)
  • March – Progress from last month, keep showing up and progressing intensity/volume, keep sleeping. Strength should be mixed up, if adapting well some power/jumping/Olympic may be added.
  • April – Depending on early season race goals, this may include more intensity and race-specific focus. Strength in maintenance.
  • May – Start the final build for big race. Building muscular endurance, some shorter early season races, a long weekend block to provide extra endurance boost
  • June  – Building muscular endurance and race-specific preparation, equipment mostly finalized. A bigger prep race (1/2 distance, 100km for a 100 mile etc)
  • july  – Final Prep / Build – long rides with a few blocked weekends around the long weekends, planning for reduced life/work stress around the event. Final travel preparations.
  • August – Race!

Rather than cramming in training, enjoy the never-ending process of improving your fitness and bike skills. Indeed, the preparation is often the most fun and remembered part of big events! 

So… Why Not Start Now?

 

 

 

 

Why Do You Ride – Avoid and Overcome 'Post-Event-Burnout'

This was a recent newsletter. Get the most recent content by subscribing HERE

*See the articel and all the other content in it at this link http://eepurl.com/bwMvaH

 

WHY DO YOU RIDE?

As big races come and go we will realize one day that we no longer HAVE to wake up early to ride and gaining a few pounds won’t matter because we don’t have plans to climb massive hills anymore. It is easy to go back to ‘normal life’ and forget about ‘training’ and for some athletes this is fine. Their goal was not to be a cyclist, or get healthy, or find adventure. For some athletes the goal was to simply complete ‘x’ race–they move on to another chapter of life post-marathon, post-Ironman, post MTB-Stage race.

Today my thought is more to those athletes WHO DID WANT TO BE HEALTHY. Too often the ‘TRAINING’ process and pressure around a race ends up sending athletes down a less then healthy path. Bad habits are formed and resuming riding, following healthy nutrition and lifestyle  is difficult.

Understanding why you ride is important. Social, personal improvement, health, excitement, exploration are all common reasons that should be kept central irregardless of whether you are training for a big event or ‘just riding’. Too often we loose focus on why we ride and, consequently we loose the fun.

So how do you avoid post-event retirement?

1) Plan for life-long adventures. Be excited for your big event(s) each year but also be excited to go ride your local trails, join in the weekly races, do a big loop near your home. Let your focus ebb and flow with the close-ness of your race but arrange your rides so that you are able to keep in good shape just by riding and putting in a bit of effort each week. Finding a mix of groups/friends to ride with so that you are challenged but also made to feel competent weekly.

2) Ensure your build up to your big event(s) are filled with friends, fun and adventure. Any workout can include friends in at least the warmup, cooldown, post-ride coffee and many workouts can include friends in much of the workout. Hill intervals can be done on small loops where no one gets dropped and longer flat tempo is a great time to let a friend sit on and keep you company. Meeting friends after the main set to ride is one of my favorite ways to motivate me to get my intervals done on-time and get a big long ride in with help from friends for motivation while tired.

3) Take time off from structured training, make sure you are healthy first BUT strive to keep routine and healthy lifestyle as a central tenant in your life. While some post race festivities are great, rarely is their cause for the party to extend beyond the night after the race.

Feel free to repy with Questions or ideas !  Or comment on facebook!

How to Describe Intensity

 

Today my goal was to discuss a few common stumbling blocks that coaches and athletes hit and suggest some possible ways to avoid.

How to Describe Intensity

1) Using ‘Race Pace’ as an intensity level .

Referring to race pace is most common in running where we can suggest that a run be done at a certain pace (e.g. 10km pace). It becomes more vague to suggest an athlete do a ‘race pace’ effort if their race is more variable (i.e. MTB or Cross). There are higher and lower intensity periods in both race types. It is perhaps better to use a HR or Wattage or RPE metric to explain whether the effort should be a steady/longer interval or a harder/short term explosive interval. The difference between a 2 x 20min interval set and a 5 x 2 interval set is fairly significant and the feelings associated with both in training are not that dissimilar from a race while executing the set.

karlee sprinting - climbing 2014

Practicing Climbing, sprinting and accelerating will have you ready to do so in races during the critical moments

2) Max effort, Maximal, Max out, All Out … Any reference to ‘max’

I use Max efforts fairly often in my prescription (and my own training) but as a coach I try to do some work upfront to explain that max does not mean DNF. So if we are doing 5 x 2min hill intervals then 3 x 2 min and then crying and riding home is not what is being suggested by Max. I am resistant to avoiding the use of max because I think learning to ride at ‘max sustainable’ pace is important to success in racing. Learning to ride our limits and build/maintain pace at different duration is important. Best results are found by not rushing into workouts that say ‘max’ and building pace through each individual interval and also as you appoach the end of the set. Empty the tank on the last few intervals and rarely will you be disappointed in the results.

peter-winning

Short or Long – There will be moments in any race where you have to go ‘max’ but it is always relevant to the duration of the effort

3) Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and Feeling.

Feeling is important to develop. I find the various RPE scales frustrating as an athlete and coach. I have gone from using 6-20 scales to 1-10 scales and then refined what the 1-10 scale meant as I learnt more about it. Establishing some qualitative metric of the work you do can be helpful in tracking improvement and fatigue. Having a scale can also help you understand pacing and this whole topic of intensity and zoning.

Using the 5 x 2 min interval set again, the first 2 might be done at a 8-9/10 effort and then the last 1-2 at 10/10 effort (RPE) but the distance covered and wattage might be very similar.

4) Critical Power (CP) and Threshold (FTP)

A final common way to prescribe work is relative to a test result. FTP and Critical power are most common and can be very useful. Do your 2 x 20min sets at CP30-60 and your 5 x 2min at Cp5 or Cp6. This can help reduce the vagueness of ‘race pace’ we talked about earlier, especially when combined with RPE, Heart Rate and a general understanding that not everyday should/will be a best day of wattage.

In closing I think the biggest breakthrough I have had in my thinking is to take whatever the interval set is we are doing and assume it is best sustainable pace. With few exceptions (i.e. tempo) this makes everything very simple. If we need to ride up a hill 5x today then we will do it the fastest we can without failing to do so, we do not need to cloud this by saying ‘faster than race pace’. Further, keeping an ongoing discussion of the goal of the workout, the week and the block of training helps athlete and coach stay on the same page.

Using Sick Days and Injured Days to Your Advantage

As I come off a couple days where I have been forced off bike and forced to modify my training plan I thought it was worth discussing how I deal with these days personally and how I have helped clients be ready to react to these inevitable changes to the plan.

THE PLAN SHOULD CHANGE

One of the concepts that I try and instill in coaching clients is to use the training plan as a ROUGH PLAN. This is the direction we are heading, the rough progression of intervals/volume/workout types that will move us towards our goal but on any given day we might do less/more or completely different workouts. Embracing this concept helps us avoid over-training and also under-training and the frustration caused by both.

WHEN THE PLAN CHANGES – PICK A FOCUS

Once we have our working confines for the day then we need to be ready to focus on 1 or 2 key things and do a fantastic job practicing them. As an example if you decided to go with a classic 5 x 2 minute hill interval set then you might focus on maintaining a strong posture for the intervals and perhaps on pushing a little extra at the point our mind/body/legs want us to stop or back off to edge ourselves towards a bit more performance. On the flip side, if we decide that today is an off day due to injury/illness we might focus on doing several short sessions of meditation, mobility and/or getting a massage. We could do some work on our bike, we could do annoying phone admin work like hotel booking and insurance selection and focus on being ready for the next day. Selecting 1 or 2 ways we can achieve a daily goal and make progress, just like we do on our training days, makes these off days part of our journey towards our goal rather then a step away from it.

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FOCUS ON RECOVERY

On training days and on off-days try to program and set goals around a recovery technique. Sleep, Mobility and Walking are two key ones I focus on. For sleep ensuring we fit in naps, especially if not getting >8 hours or not a ‘great’ sleeper. Bedroom should be quiet, pitch-black, cool and free of screens/electronic/lights. Try to include some meditation/mobility/quiet time before trying to sleep. Mobility is a broad term that can include stretching, yoga, gymnastics, calesthenics, walking, playing with your kids, gentle swimming, massage and several other kooky practices. Basically keep your body moving through the ranges of motion you were given before you decided to be an adult/athlete. A good, very broad, direction to start is to spend time daily squatting low, lunging to at least 90 degrees at both knees with upright torso and putting your arms over your head–you decide how/where you do it.  Finally walking is something I have done a ton of and I find the more I do the better everything else in my life goes. Walking serves to help open up tight hips, gets us out moving outside of our ‘workouts’ to get blood moving and add to our daily activity and also can serve as a quiet time, technology free time, family/relationship time. There is very little downside to adding walking to any person’s daily routine. For my business-people clients adding walking meetings and calls to their daily routine has been huge. Getting outside for walks on those days you are feeling tired, tight, sick can be a game changer–gentle movement and sun rarely does harm.

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ADJUST THE PLAN

On these days you are off training this is a great place to start adjusting the rough, long-term plan again. Give yourself sufficient time to get back riding and be patient, usually 1-2 days more off/easy after we feel ready to go is wise so build these into the rough plan. Having this rough plan as an evolving map of where you are now and where you want to go will serve to keep you motivated and invested in the process.

peter and evan on beach oxnard 2014

 

Exploration – A Bike Skill to Practice and Coach ?

I talk a lot about this idea of skills. I use skills for traditional ‘bunny-hop’ type skills and also more practical or theoretical tasks we must accomplish while on bike, such as drinking, eating, pacing. One skill I have been working on more and more with clients is exploration.

IMG_8438  A Group of Awesome, Smart Athletes Have finding endless trails and gravel roads to explore getting ready for Leadville

Exploration, as I am using it, encompasses training and moving in a fashion beyond intervals and numbers. It includes a willingness to be a beginner, get lost, to have an ‘imperfect’ ride, to ride longer/shorter then the plan and to think about navigation and where we are in the world. The more I see athletes explore their movement and their environment the more I see them finding additional reasons to ride/train/race OUTSIDE OF RESULTS. Navigating new areas, learning new skills, enjoying an adventure with friends all improve wellness, fitness and–I am suggesting– performance.

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Team Quebec Touring the Best Roads in Oxnard, Ca 

Health and Wellness for athletes has been the main goal behind ‘smart athlete’ since I started out on my own as a coach. While I have always loved adventure and ‘crazy’ trails/rides this is not something I have really taught or encouraged much. Over the last year it seems the more I share my own personal love of exploration and help others start exploring the more they start ‘enjoying the journey’. By Exploration I mean taking new routes, trying new skills, doing the same workout a bit differently. So this applies to both movement practice (skill work) and actual route choice and training-partner inclusion in training.

DSC00331

Three of my favorite adventure buddies, Mitch,  Adam, and Eric, and I exploring around Monteray, Ca

 

Tools for those who want to use Tech to ease into Exploring:

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Talking about the adventure is at least half of the enjoyment!

I find that athletes, especially those with training plans, coaches and/or goals often loose the fun in riding/moving and focus too much on ‘training perfectly’; they become very externally focused on numbers/results. As this exploration and socialization is lost the ability to go out and ‘train’ everyday eventually becomes very difficult, even for the most introverted and dedicated athlete. We can ride the same route–or the trainer–for a year and do ‘perfect’ workouts but this monotony and singular focus will eventually lead to burnout. There is a time for very focused workouts but it is not nearly as much as we think. I have moved more and more in my own training towards being about 80% ‘perfect’ most days and aiming to be a bit more tight in the final weeks before a big event.

group ride scott cooney jamie smart athlete 2010

Group of Smart Athletes Getting a Tour of 3 Stage

 

3 Ways you can add more exploration to your training

1) Take a different route, even just trying a new road or path as an out and back, every time you ride. You will quickly learn to connect different areas and expand your options.

2) Try different lines, especially on familiar trails … often there are older less worn in routes, more technical routes or even less efficient routes that challenge your movement ability.

3) Look at a map before and after you go – right out some road names and try exploring. Just leaving the house without a direction can be good but often leaves us doing the same old thing. After you have an adventure make sure you pull out a map and figure out where you were so that your own mental map is improved.

4) Join a group ride or let a friend do the navigation, even if they don’t know where they are going. Often fresh eyes make awesome discoveries … even a dead end can be an awesome spot to be.

5) Try taking a skill session or getting a tour in a new area or even in an area near your home. Riding with others can open up new trails very quickly.

 

 

Peter

P.S. If you are looking to ease into Coaching Check out Pre-Made Plans on Training Peaks OR get a 100% Made for You Plan at SmartAthlete.ca

 

Question Via Email – Fueling Before, During, After

Before Rides and Races:

Stick to your normal. Don’t eat to excess the day or morning before.

Leave 2-3 hours before the race without eating and use 16-20/oz of water per hour and 200-300kcal / hour (divide into bottles and/or laps as needed)

(for me) I will add more rice and less veggies then I usually eat and generally less meat. Most people can/should just eat what they normally do. Especially for shorter races like Ocups. Excessive ‘carbo-loading’ is not generally recommended for most people. What is more key is that you don’t go too long without food on day prior especially after training. (recovery snack and fueling in workout + regular meals/snacks)
*watching fiber/spicey foods is a good idea.

During The Rides/Races

Doing what you do every key workout. Game-play your pre-ride meal daily, especially for key workouts.

Most people do some sort of sandwich or oatmeal/cereal. Carbs and a bit of protein is general recommendation. Again not a ton of food just enough to top up.

I do not use different things in my bottles as it complicates things for the feeder. I will generally do sea salt and water, often with BCAA.

I use mostly gel in a Hammer Flask for fueling for all but longest races. (>4 hours) . I rarely use bars or mix in races. . Separating fueling from hydration lets me drink more water if hot but not affect my fueling schedule and also I can use my water to douse myself if hot or my drivetrain if very muddy.

Many people use a carb solution (like Hammer HEED or Accelerade) … if doing this I would likely just put all the fuel you need and skip gels but you might do a mid race top up with caffeine or a ‘gel on the line’ within 15min of start.
** AGAIN THIS SHOULD BE GAME-PLAYED in training**

If fading in races is an issue (ie. long races > 2 hours) then fueling may need to be increased (kcal/hours) .

After Rides/Races

Aim to eat within 30min. Most people do not need any magic potions or vitamins just eat something.

If training/racing later that day or the next day or you are very busy with podiums and/or shuttling kids around then a product like Recoverite or a smoothie with Whey protein may be a good solution.

More Reading and Watching:

-> Bike Skills project on fueling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH-SyPWpLws
-> If you need Hammer product use ‘Glassford15’ at shophammer and get it delivered to your door at 15% off! **
-> How I Fueled My Long Weekend Game-Play for Transylvania Epic http://eepurl.com/bjKUAf
-> Faster at Leadville without any extra training -> http://peterglassford.ca/leadville-without-training-more/#sthash.RNSFiCLm.dpbs

 

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5 Ways to Improve your Race the Weekend Before Paris to Ancaster

With Ontario’s Perennial spring classic, Paris to Ancaster, only a few days away the excitement is extremely high.

Twitter and Facebook groups are busy with questions and answers and training rides are being done in hopes of mimicking the demands of the race.

5 of the most common suggestions I make to help clients avoid the common mistakes with Paris to Ancaster are below. I hope they help your last prep rides this weekend and your race next weekend.

1) Stop thinking about the Distance : Match the Terrain & Skill Demands

PICT0088    paris to ancaster w. rupel cheeering

The race is won on a pot holed start, a loose gravel uphill (often with running), 4-5 x 5-10min hard efforts (often through Forest trail as on left above) and accelerations out of forest/paths. If you can get through all that then you have the infamous Mud Shoots and the final ‘Martin Rd’ Climb (video) (strava) to deal with. The endurance is important but your technical skills,  ability to stand up, choose a line and ability to shift are going to be much more helpful then riding exactly 70km this weekend. Focus on the terrain.

2) Remember to Enjoy your training and Race Day – Smile – Recruit Friends 

Mitch and Peter post paris to cancaster 2014 - mitch hip - head shot

It is cliche but RELAX and ENJOY. You will survive and you will have a smile at the end and some great stories. The reason to race is to push yourself to new limits and situations AND MOST IMPORTANT to make great friends to share the journey with. I always look forward to chatting with old friends and making new friends at races. The shared experiences are something we will chat (and exaggerate about) for years.

3) Intensity – Experience the race before you get there. 

matt-f-paris-to-ancaster

Matt F. is in full race mode on Martin Rd. at the end of a great Paris to Ancaster effort. You can see he is standing and emptying all his energy at the end of the race. This took much practice on his race bike being ridden on similar hilly, gravel terrain. Find a big hill and ride up it, maybe find a few and put one or two at the end of your ride this weekend. Push to that ‘race pace’ where you are noticing your breathing and ride there for a while (5+min) … remind yourself that it is ok to be in a bit of discomfort and try to relax while pedaling hard/going quickly. Experience the race before you get there.

4) Prepare your Race bike for the race NOW – and ride it on similar terrain this weekend. No changes next week

slash and super fly washing pre paris to ancaster (1)

I always shudder when changes are made to the race schedule or bikes in the weeks before a race. Set up your race bike as if the race was this weekend and use all your gear, fueling, preparation in that key workout/ride. This is so big for confidence and also greatly reduces the chance of something small and silly ruining your first race. Worn pedals, loose bolts, leaking tires, seized cranks, slipping bars/posts, loosening cranks, broken chains and faulty tools are among most common ‘silly’ little things that stop us from JUST PEDALING on race day.

5) Dismounts and Mounts – Keep Moving Forward. 

PICT0010-282-29

I am pretty (really) crazy about mountsbike carry-remount for all my athletes. While the importance in many races is minimal if any, there seems to always be those few critical moments after a crash, or small mistake/’dab’ where our ability to keep moving forward off-bike or transition between on/off bike becomes critical to finishing well or at all. For many P2A athletes that first right hand turn off the rail trail will require a run-up … how fast you get off your bike, grab that top-tube and then at the top remount can make the difference between making a group that will carry you to a personal best finish or fighting in no-man’s land all day. Some of the forest trails are hectic and brief un-clipping or mount/remounts are required to keep moving forward. For some of us that final climb on Martin Rd. will be too much and so these ‘off-bike’ skills are important to maximizing our efficiency.   ( check out these videos to learn about mount and dismount )

Thanks for Reading

Peter

*** Fully Custom 3 Month Training Plans Made for Your Goals and Your Life LINK ***

3 Ways to Use Long Weekends to Get Faster

On long weekends we often want to make the most of our weekend. With a break from work or school, why not ride as long and hard as we possibly can ? But should we always ride as much as we can on a long weekend? I am not so sure everyone should.

I see 3 ways we can use a long weekend to get faster:

1) STICK TO YOUR PLAN – Go Hard, Recover Harder

karlee sprinting - climbing 2014

Use hills and friends to push your limits – then recover like a pro

Stick to your normal training plan/routine and enjoy the extra recovery and family time. Spend more time preparing and recovering from your workouts and make sure you do the best job you can on them. Focus on the quality or intensity of your workouts and absorbing as much as you can. You might find you can squeeze an extra repetition or an extra watt out of your legs on a weekend like this.

 

2) ADD VOLUME 

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Practicing my aero-tuck before Leadville 2011

Plan for mini endurance block to boost your endurance, add some training stress and/or game-play for an upcoming long race. The key word is plan. I like to use these weekends for the Leadville and Stage Race Clients I work with. We do 1-4 big rides and include a bit of focused interval time (i.e. 6 x 10 min at 80-85%MHR ) and often some ascent (meters climbed) goals. We will definitely be overloading but in a way that fits in the progression of our plan and does not exceed our current ability to recover. Biggest mistake I see is clients trying to go from 8 hours a week to 8 hours a day just because they can. We can’t cram training in and multiple short quality rides will almost always create better results then a huge ride, with much less risk for injury/illness.

 

3) RECOVERY BLOCK

peter and evan on beach oxnard 2014

go for a hike with a friend, you will likely find something cool worth watching

This is the least used option for long weekends and for many of us would actually be the best use of our time. Take the long weekend off or mostly off. Spend your 2-3 days walking with family and spending time. Don’t just sit all weekend and binge-watch T.V. but rather, prepare some great food and recharge your physical and mental reserves so you can restart training and work/school with huge motivation.

3 ideas for your long weekend. Enjoy and let me know if you need help planning your summer.

Peter