Training

Tag Archives — Training

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?

 

 

 

 

Cross is Coming: What Workout Should You?

Inevitably or eternally, #CrossIsComing, so when you decide it’s time to get ready for CX season what workouts are best for you to do?

The best workouts for one athlete may not be the best ones for you. Your friend, or your favorite pro, may be very good at high power, sprints and spend the summer racing road while you may be a time-trialist all summer with limited time to train. You may be much older or younger, or you may have a background in BMX-racing or no cycling background at all! We need to consider many factors when choosing our key workouts to get ready for cyclocross to ensure we have worked on our limiters.
Below are three general scenarios that athlete ‘types’ that you may fit into. I have included some workout ideas that you may want to include as cyclocross season approaches. I am not suggesting all of these be done in a single week, but you may very well find yourself spending a month on each of these ‘scenarios’ as you go through the cross season and your abilities and strengths evolve.
pary barriers
1) Technically limited, struggle with continuous but undulating efforts of cross
If you haven’t spent much time off-road, especially racing off-road than cross practice will be your friend, and getting skill coaching will also be valuable. If you can get riding on a cross course frequently, or setup some obstacles around your house, this will be very helpful.
Workouts that require you to alternate your output and skills will also be great. Micro-intervals where you ride hard and easy (15 seconds hard /15 seconds easy and 30/30 are most common). Most often these are done for 10-30 minutes and should feel very much like the unrelenting hard work of cyclocross!
Including running in these micro-intervals can be another way to simulate race situations and improve technique (once you have the basics down at slow speed with low fatigue). Try building a short loop that makes you ride hard for ~30 seconds, recover on a descent or set of corners, then dismount for a barrier and do a run up a steep hill, then do a bunch of corners back to the start of the short loop for a 1-3 minute repetition.
I usually do 1-5 x 1-2 min rounds together, take a 5-10 minute break then do another 2 sets. Mix very short and maximal efforts with longer efforts in another session in the week to get really fun and specific workout.
 
2016 0813 Eager Beaver 100 2.0

2016 0813 Eager Beaver 100 2.0

2) Struggle with ‘going all in’, starts, attacks, sprints 
This is common in endurance mountain bikers, gravel-grinders, Fondo-riders or time-trialists. Putting yourself into some criteriums, hard group rides or short cyclocross practice races will be helpful in developing the love of going hard!
Many times cross practices will include some start repetitions, which really help develop your ‘starting routine’ and your starting power. On your own, you can do this by practicing 6-10 short (10-20sec) start efforts from standing at the beginning of a few workouts each week.
If you are not a sprinter or struggle with maximal short efforts, it is worth putting a focus on this by doing a focused workout on sprinting or very short efforts with full recoveries (8+ minutes). It is quite valuable to get skill-coaching for standing and sprinting as your power can increase simply by learning the technique of sprinting.
These start efforts might be paired a workout that puts you on your limit and then makes you attack over that intensity. These might be called ‘over-unders’ or ‘threshold with bursts’ depending on the coach but basically, we want to ride at a hard pace and then surge for 15-60seconds before returning to that hard pace.
Start at 2-3 reps of 11 minutes (1 minute hard/4 min threshold/1 minute hard/4min threshold/1min hard). Use longer recoveries 5-10 minutes of light pedaling to ensure you will push the pace. While it is tempting to do this on cyclocross course it is best done on the road to ensure your power output is hard alternated with very hard, and to track your progress.
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3) Great technical skills, low fitness, or tired/sick from a lot of summer racing
Did you spend the summer in the bike park, racing BMX, winning every criterium, or were you off the bike a lot for injury or vacation? If you believe you will be limited by your engine more than your driving skills then bias towards extended road-endurance sessions 2-3x a week. If your technical ability is sufficient this can be polished or maintained around the focused intensity days and/or at a weekly cross practice, which could be included after intervals, or for fit athletes with a lot of cyclocross skills, after some endurance road riding.
*If you are racing twice on a weekend during the cross season this can also be a nice way to spend your weekdays to provide enough recovery between weekends while maintaining some training load.
Once you are back to feeling good on the bike during these endurance sessions you can start to include 1-2 sessions of threshold intervals per week. Progress a set of 3 x 10 minutes towards a burly 2 x 20-minute session over 4 – 8 weeks keeping an eye on your intensity (more is not more). Recovery is 5-10 minutes typically.
sarh cross racing
In all of these scenarios, the focus/interval days will vary but these in all cases these couple of days should be surrounded by sufficient rest, cross-training and low end, steady endurance. 1-2 days of focused training (intervals/skills) with lower intensity and recovery will ensure you make progress in the desired areas. Work hard on the hard days then recover and allow yourself to improve!
Have a great cyclocross season!
Want to re-energize- Unplug, put airplane mode on, and immerse in nature's finest.

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.

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

Washington Saddle, Sore and 'Training For Busy People' Talks at Rose Physical Therapy Group

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This past weekend we were on the road for a few clinics and conversations.

First stop was in Washington D.C. for a very well run event at Rose Physical Therapy Group where we had been invited to talk to a group of women from the Washington Area. There was a great mix of goals ranging from riding more, commuting, first races, better group rides all the way up to IronMan racing ! I always find it cool to see how certain issues are common between goals and how different goals can have different solutions that another group might benefit from hearing. Learning to hop up on a curb might become important to a commuter who never thought of bike skills before a mtb rider mentioned it as something that changed their riding. A triathlon racer might have a saddle or short they love that changes a commuter to a regular rider when comfort is improved.

molly talking washington shaving and waxing women's only night clinic conversation
Molly lead off with her “Saddle, Sore” Conversation, which went amazing. The group did a great job contributing their experience and taking in some of the new ideas Molly has to share from her book and from other conversations. Being able to get the conversation going, infuse some ideas and let a group run(bike!) on with new comfort, performance and enjoyment is huge part of what we are aiming to do with this tour of events.

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I was the ‘closer’ this week, going after Molly. I added some ideas about training and riding to the group.

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There was amazing food provided (cooked even!) by the Rose PTG team and also some ‘Shake Shack’ dessert.

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More talking, possibly about Snot rockets, Sweet Potatoes, training for a goal (i.e. what would you do if you only had 3 x 15min training sessions each week ? do you ever do that now?)

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Amazing setup for this event … so many little finishing touches that make this a great way to spend a Saturday in D.C.

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Rose Physical Therapy Group donated to the local club WABA – Washington Area Bicycle Association.

Pictured is Nelle of WABA and Clair of Rose PTG exchanging the donation and holding one of the cool signs that were made up for the event!

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After the event a quick tour with Claire and Damon (Rose PTG owners)  and a super dinner in Capitol Hill capped off a great day.

Peter

=> Check out the new, instant pre-made plans level from Smart Athlete – Plans built towards goals like Leadville 100 for less

How to upload Garmin to Training Peaks and Strava Automatically

This is from the latest Smart Athlete Newsletter – Don’t miss content like this – Sign up HERE 

Link to the Newsletter and the extra content / upcoming clinic-session info

As I work through the end of season reviews and new client intake forms one of the big topics is always communication. To maximize the time and money spent on coaching and training we need to make communicating part of our daily routine. As technology advances, we are more and more able to automate our processes and reduce the work we need to do IF WE ARE WILLING TO INVEST TIME UP FRONT!!Let’s take some time, now that it is off-season to review our processes and try some new things!

1) REMEMBER TO FILL IN THE TRAINING DIARY / LOG / COMMENTS

The first step is to get using training peaks comments daily. Tell me about everything, just like a diary (food, sleep, social, and everything about your ride)
=> Training Peaks Mobile App for your smart phone (HERE) makes this easy to do

2) UPLOAD TO TRAINING PEAKS AUTOMATICALLY WITH GARMIN CONNECT

Next is to get uploading your files. Most clients use a Garmin device now and a new ‘hack’ has made uploading almost mindless … just plug in your device.
a) download Garmin Express HERE
b) Get a Garmin Connect account HERE
c) Connect Garmin Connect to Training Peaks HERE
d) Test it out byPlugin in Your Garmin!

3) NOW CONNECT YOUR GARMIN CONNECT TO STRAVA!

Strava is another great tool
-> you can also allow Garmin connect to send to strava automatically and save time

=> Basically click ‘upload’ in strava, then select ‘get started’ under the Garmin logo and enter your GarminConnect Login.
-> DC Rainmaker did a How TO HERE in more detail.

4) MYFITNESS PAL CAN FILL IN TRAINING PEAKS NUTRITION TO KEEP IN ONE PLACE (or for coach info)

MyFitnessPal is also now sync’d with Training Peaks and is the nutrition tracker I use and recommend
=> Sync your accounts now.

5) If you have old Training data in Strava you can export it as a GPX and then drag it onto the trainingpeks.com calendar.
Peter
PS. Remember you can book a call with me easily w. Front Desk and I can help you or even do these tasks for you.