Smart Athlete

Category Archives — Smart Athlete

Learn How to Hop Cyclocross Barriers! (VIDEO)

I am very excited for this polished video highlighting 5 steps to learn to bunny hop over Cyclocross Barriers. I also share the key training tool you can use to learn to flow over things (and eventually jump, unweight and bunny-hop too!)

Want More?

Don’t forget to refine your Dismount and Mount Skills as those skills are still imperative for Cyclocross = Check out previous free videos here or take the intensive Cyclocross Mounts & Dismounts Course from RLC HERE


Let me know what you think and if you are having trouble feel free to reach out via the contact form -OR- check out the Bike Skills Sessions page 

Do You Need to Run for Cyclocross?

This is a great question and one that becomes too polarized. I believe that many cyclists, especially non-elite/age-group/masters aged athletes who have to balance work, family, health, and travel with their training can really benefit from being able to run.

Should you run? or do you want to run? Or do you need to run?


  • If you struggle to get enough workouts in or to maintain your training discipline/routine with travel, weather and other challenges than running can be a very effective and something I personally use and believe has greatly enhanced my performance as a cyclist. Uphill running especially I think offers a potent stimulus for trained cyclists who may struggle to push hard enough on the bike.
  • If you are traveling I think it makes sense that some of the short-term causes of detraining (e.g. plasma volume) can be mitigated if you can do something.
  • Past injuries may inform if you should run (and perhaps if you should ride cyclocross) I believe many people can get to some form of running but it takes time and focused work ( run:walks, mobility, skipping and eccentric-strength work, mixed-soft surfaces, walking and hiking and footwear are among considerations) 
  • Do you live in a wintery or less-than-ideal cycling location? I grew up and live in Canada. If you don’t have other activities to do you can not train without going crazy on the trainer, yes even with ‘smart’ trainers. Running is very flexible to weather and terrain but pole-running, hiking, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat-biking and other options do help, albeit generally require more specific conditions, terrain or equipment than running.


Specific considerations for the ‘should I run for cyclocross’ question


  • are you losing time in running during cyclocross, and are you sure it isn’t a mount/dismount skill deficiency? (see the Online Mounts and Dismounts Course if so!)
  • Does it make sense to run without your bike if you only will have to run with your bike?
  • Does it make sense to jog vs. sprint uphill?
  • To start why not go for more walks during your day with your family? (is walking as similar to uphill, offroad cyclocross running as JOGGING on flat pavement for 20min?)
  • Why not do more running in your cyclocross specific workouts and incorporate hike-a-bike into more rides in summer/fall?
  • Bill Shieken of CxHairs was also on the podcast and I was really happy to talk about this and other issues since he has watched so much cyclocross (and has a book about it). He felt that the one thing that running might do is help with confidence in that if you do run periodically than you may not be able to list that as a, “I can’t run” limiter.

In the episode I linked above, Molly and I broke down our thoughts, experiences and a few of the pros/cons to starting to run for Cyclocross. We also looked at the broader, and I believe more relevant and long-term question of whether you should consider adding running to your training routine year-round.   Check out the Show Notes and download in other formats by visiting the Consummate Athlete Page.   


I would love to know if this question is one you struggle with. Do you run for cyclocross specifically? Do you run to boost your training frequency/volume?


Thanks for reading!



5 Articles to Help You Get Faster (even if you aren’t in the ‘perfect’ spot)

These are 5 articles I have written for MapMyRun/MapMyRide recently that address common barriers to training for certain elements of cycling. If you want to get faster at cycling than you often think about getting faster on hills, or for time-trials, or in corners but your surroundings may not be perfect for this or, they may be quite different from the goal race you are taking on this year. Whatever your ‘big crazy goal’ is this year these 5 articles will help you think about your skills, fitness and other abilities more creatively and arrive at the start line ready for a personal best.

5 Secrets to Get Better at Climbing Without Climbing Hills

If you live in a predominantly flat area but want to go on a bike tour to check out some classic European climbs, or you have a hilly race like Leadville on your bucket list, it might seem impossible…

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Cyclocross Mounts & Dismounts Course Goes Live Thursday Sept 6th 2018

I am so excited for the launch of the ‘Cyclocross Mounts and Dismounts course’. It consolidates many of the drills I use to help clients learn to get on and off their bikes for cyclocross, mountain biking and other disciplines. It is also meant to help overcome bad habits and compensations that might be slowing you down after years of racing cyclocross.

Learning to Dismount and then Get back on your bike smoothly, is something that changes cycling profoundly. Mounts and Dismounts are essential skills that I believe transfers to many other areas of riding, such as cornering and wheel lifts.

Check out the Preview video below and Click Here to sign up for notifications of its release and to get more information

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.

First off, why not get an account with training peaks if you don’t have one. You can link to my coaching with this link, or get your own at 

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 smart phone 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 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? More questions or issues with posting? Let me know!

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:

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