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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!
Today my goal was to discuss a few common stumbling blocks that coaches and athletes hit and suggest some possible ways to avoid.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tools for those who want to use Tech to ease into Exploring:
- Strava Heat Maps (see where others ride the most)
- GPS->GPX Converter (take googlemaps link and make a file for your garmin)
- Googlemaps to look at routes
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 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.
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
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) .
Aim to eat within 30min. Most people do not need any magic potions or vitamins just eat something.
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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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
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
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. 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
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.
I am pretty (really) crazy about mounts–bike 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
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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
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
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
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.
This time of year is tough for athletes and coaches as we try to follow or create plans based on extremely variable schedules, temperatures and ability to do certain sports (i.e. snow available for skiing?)
The big take-a-way is to be adaptable and excited about whatever weather you have. Use your context. If on trainer keep working on quality if outside find hills and technical situations, if on ski or snowshoes enjoy the final(?!) days on snow for 2015.
The following are solutions I have used personally or with clients to get more training hours or more quality training in.
– you may have to ride trainer more. Try rollers and mixing strength into rides to mix it up.
– get your kids/significant others walking, hiking, tobogganing, skating orJOYRIDING … just move.
– schedule short lunch workouts ( have you asked?)
– get up earlier and go to bed earlier ( reduce TV/Sitting!)
– Arrange ‘child care swap’ with another athlete friend.
– Think outside the box – pole running, hikes, combo classes etc.
– Borrow from a friend
– look at gear from other sports – re-purpose warm clothes/gloves
– Start building your gear collection, late winter is great time to get tights, fenders, skiis, snowshoes etc.
– Try a class like my Strength for cyclists OR ‘Pedal Performance’ At Active Life
– Ride outside for some or all of your workout (try joyride 150!)
– Worth repeating = do combo of outside AND INSIDE WO
– Commit to ride with a friend, decide on a minimum time and tough it out together.
– Get out door, just start and see
– Do intervals inside / then crosstrain or ride ‘winter bike’/mtb outside
e) TOO COLD
– Wear more clothes (overdress & get good at taking layers off. Gloves and hats and vests are easy to put on and off for changing weather/wind.
– wear clothes from other sports – doesn’t have to be cycling specific
– MTB on road/gravel/paths = keeps you warmer, safer and is goal bike for many!
– Some clients are in the city but not at ski slopes. Use your mtb and ride city paths, roads as possible. Find hills and practice hill climbing.
– do point to point to visit relatives for weekend = makes you finish ride AND access different terrain/weather.
What are your challenges this spring? How have you overcome?
The time has come, almost irregardless of where you live in the world the weather is changing and some modification to your habits, expectations and preparations must occur. This transitional time of year–say September to December– is always a tough time of year as athletes come of the highs of final races and memories of sunny days and dry roads. To help you in this transitional time here are a few ideas that will help us get into off-season mode.
1) Habits and Preparations
Get your clean ‘road’ bike setup for the trainer. A good trainer tire helps make the trainer feel much nicer and every year the trainer/roller technology is advancing to have a better, more road-like feel (less muscular). The more we can be prepared the day before workouts, and ideally in the weeks before resuming training after some time off, the better we will transition. Athletes should spend time easing into cross-training before the weather gets really bad (e.g. 20min run a couple mornings a week in late August/September). Being ready to cross-train gives us options to add to our indoor training, which ideally we will also set up so that we can easily get on bike and not use setup as an excuse. Similarly, having your gear for riding and cross-training setup in a clean and organized fashion makes starting each training session much easier. Similarly, signing up for classes, such as these ones at Active Life, can help commit you to completing training. For many athletes a head-lamp and warm, ‘rain/cold proof’ coat can help make early-morning and evening workouts easier by allowing runs to be mixed in with trainer workouts or as standalone workouts. Strength Training, such as these 5 cyclo-cross movements, can be a great way to mix up your winter training too!
Setup an Amazing training environment that you can just put your leg over and spin – Every little bit helps
It won’t be warm and riding outside won’t be the same as summer. Indoor riding and cross-training are a big part of off-season so we must embrace it and find things to enjoy about these activities. Many athletes embrace the time of year to watch TV series seasons, listen to new albums and/or watch movies. I have always enjoyed the chance to explore the forest without concern for trails while snowshoeing and back-country skiing. For riding outside we must not expect that our intervals will be doable, that we will be comfortable or that we will be able to have all our usual data. It can be helpful to think about outdoor winter riding as more of a cross-training activity, like skiing, so that we avoid comparing rides and data to summer rides. One of my favorite things last winter was to put on trail runners and ride my ‘beater’ MTB around town with flat pedals. I could work pretty hard but also got to work on drifting corners, bunny-hopping on flat pedals and developing pedal stroke on snowy trails. Often I will combine many activities, with very quick pre-setup transitions, to make a long workout. Something like 30min trainer/90min back-country ski/60min trainer to get 3 hour endurance day in.
Be Prepared for bike cleaning – local car washes can be a big help for condo-dwellers!
XC skiing can be a huge boost to a cyclist’s training regimen
The advantage of this time of year is that we are able to focus on several components of our performance. Even without power we can setup a reliable speed/cadence sensor and track or daily workouts fairly reliably. We can work on getting that cadence up and building our fitness with specific intervals uninhibited by traffic, weather or group rides. Cross-training and off-season training are important components of many successful athletes (avoid typical off-season mistakes) . The change in training stimulus helps keep your fitness improving by stressing your body differently (ie. skiing uses more musculature and is potentially more challenging to a cyclists cardiovascular system) . This variation in training load and type is an important, albeit often forgotten, part of periodization.
I hope this helps you get rolling with your Winter Training . Enjoy the Weather
P.S. If you are preparing for an event and looking for some training guidance Smart Athlete Training Plans might be the perfect thing for you *new event specific plans up now*