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How is your IT band? + Leg Pain

This is a new, updated version of an old post responding to the below question about IT-Band Pain. I have adjusted the content to be more general to leg pain common to cyclists and endurance athletes generally. 

It is OK to get Help! 

Try some of these modifications and ideas but it is rarely a bad idea to go see a local, trusted practitioner who has helped you or similarly athletic friends – this could be a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Osteopath, Massage Therapist, Kinesiologist or other practitioner. These sessions can provide some ideas for reducing pain now and progressing back to your sport gradually. The benefit of seeing someone is also in the psychological benefit of talking to someone about your concerns and perhaps having the benefits of touch generally.  

How Did It Start?

  • Consider things you have done that are in exceess of your usual or very different in terms of volume or intensity (ie. did you do a really long ride? or Lift really heavy weight?) 
  • Read: Are you Training to Much on the SmartAthlete Blog
  • Your Training Log can help (ie. Training Peaks? or something in one of those wearable watches?) 
  • Position? Did you change the position on your bike (and then do something listed above?) Be cautious with changes to your position / movement by reducing the volume/intensity. A New position, bike-part, whole bike, cleat/pedal setup (or old parts) can be part of the issue! 

Listen to Greg Lehman talk about pain science on the Consummate Athlete Podcast and how psycho/social aspects can influence our pain sensation

Rest – Sometimes We Don’t Need to do anything! 

  • While it is  tempting to roll, stretch, ice, get massage, get chiro, get supplements, get cremes, get braces … sometimes we just need rest and to leave that ‘hot’ area alone. 
  • Can you (have you) taken a few days to let your body recover? Often we can treat our pain and soreness with adequate rest. This can be a complete off day or even just a day (or three) where you do a different type of activity or movement (ie. swimming or pilates instead of cycling).
  • Move differently is a solution sometimes but complete rest (again) can be under-appreciated. Dr. Stuart McGill in his books (including ‘Back Mechanic’) discusses how surgery often ‘works’ because we are forced to take time off. If you have an ongoing/chronic issue consider a ‘fake surgery’ where you skip the scalpel and just take 2 weeks off before gradually easing back into your sport. 

Change Something

As a Registered Kinesiologist, I love the idea of foam rolling, stretching and movement but we need to be careful thinking we can spend enough time stretching each day to compensate for hunching over our desk, bike and dinner plate and also need to be careful thinking movement is the only thing that influences pain (ie. we may just need to rest and relax!). 

Sleep, Nutrition, Lifestyle factors (stress) can all influence our sensation of pain (read more about Greg Lehman’s ‘Cup’ Analogy)

Are you doing something in your daily life you could modify? This could be a nutrition, stress reduction techniques or more movement/posture oriented changes like a pillow between the knees or under the low back, or cruise control while driving or a walk at lunch to change up our routine, enhance digestion and reduce stress. 

‘Easy’ Habits

I like things we can do once and they are set. The Shoes we wear, beds we sleep in, seats we sit in, and options for movement we setup (ie. book into a class or lunch massage) are ways we might shift loads and stimuli we are exposed to each day without adding another thing we have to motivate ourselves to do each day. Many of my clients have pushed ‘walking meetings’ and phone calls to get outside and move more. Often the meetings seem to go better! 

Listen to Katy Bowman talk about how ‘movement matters’ On the Consummate Athlete Podcast. Those little movements each day can add up! 

Try to Add Variety into your day – while it is tempting to say ‘stop sitting’ this is very challenging for most of us (and frustrating!) Thinking of ways to sit differently and vary position is perhaps more workable. 

WHAT TO DO WITH PAIN NOW: 

  • You can ice that ‘hot spot’ to reduce pain. This is not a long-term strategy but can reduce pain initially. 
  • You can roll above and below the area (or stretch/move those areas) … try to think above and below more then right ontop of the sore/painful area (give that spot a break!) Mobility Wod on Above/Below concept
  • Ensure your bike-fit is suitable. Generally, front of knee pain comes from a saddle that is low or too far forward. Back of knee pain from a seat that is too high or too far back. Mark your current position then make a small change and see if its better!
  • Try to avoid painful ranges/sports/movements for a few days and see if you can focus on moving in different ways. This might mean using a different bike (clueing you to a bike fit issue?) or a different sport like going for a walk, swimming, upper body strength etc.
  • Your Knee alignment in the movements you do *may* be a way to influence your pain. Hip and foot exercises can help enhance your athletism, which may then also influence the knee position. mobilitywod video discussing this knees out in stair climbing

 

If you do not have a local therapist, or you are visiting Collingwood, Ontario we can work together in person or consider a phone/skype consult. Booking is here. 

 

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Take Action on Tired Legs

Take Action on Tired Legs

This is a post from the Smart Athlete Newsletter – Get all the articles and updates on clinics – upcoming events and podcast info by signing up here

We are through some of the first big races and anyone who was stranded indoors in the ‘suffer-festival’ has been freed for long enough to accumulate some fatigue.

If you haven’t balanced your hard and/or long training with sufficient nutrition and/or recovery than your body will rebel in a number of ways, often resulting in that feeling of tired legs. It may be you haven’t increased your nutrition to match increased training or that your life has not provided sufficient sleep and down time to absorb your hard training.

Here are 3 things that you can TAKE ACTION ON to ensure your season stays on track:

1) Add Protein and Carbohydrate to each meal – if eating 3 or less meals add 1 more meal with a whole protein and carbohydrate source. MyFitnessPal is an app that can help you quantify your rough numbers but I prefer clients work from their ‘normal’ and try a week eating a bit more at each meal OR adding a meal.

2) Take 2 days per week completely off and walk for at least 30 minutes. Plan your hard training the day after so you are well rested.

3) Sleep – This is becoming almost as cliche in the media as ‘sitting is like smoking’ but if you are having trouble with energy, tired legs, heart rate depression or similar symptoms try going to bed 30 minutes earlier in a dark room with ear-plugs and an eye-shade. Those that listen never go back and see huge difference – TRY IT!

Improve your Cyclocross Mounts and Dismounts

The Cyclocross Mounts and Dismounts Course has launched!

Learn to dismount and clear Cyclocross Barriers then jump back on your bike without any stress, lost energy, or crashes!

This is a foundational skill that will help your cornering, standing, and balance as well as make any mount you do during the year, on any bike, smooth and efficient.

For only $19 you can gain access to the course (or $19 monthly gets you access to all the RLC Bike Skills courses).

Click Here to Learn More and To Signup For the Cyclocross Mounts and Dismounts Course

 

 

Featuring multiple athlete examples, written and video instructions and unlimited coaching feedback so you can submit questions and your own video for feedback.

Click Here to Learn More and To Signup For the Cyclocross Mounts and Dismounts Course

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

5 Little Things that Make a Big Difference

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

Read on for the 5 areas:

Continue reading

Did you do your ride right?

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

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

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

3 Drills to Improve Balance on the Bike

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

 

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

Let me know what you think of these 3 drills!

Learn to Log Hop – Three Drills to Try

 

This is a video with three drills to try that I find help riders break through plateaus in their progression towards Log Hops, Bunny Hops, and Jumping.

The Three Drills include:

  • An off-bike drill that helps you feel what it is like to push into the handlebar and front wheel
  • A manual practice focused on moving your hips down then back in an L shape
  • A front wheel ‘tap’ drill that is functional for getting over logs but takes the first off-bike drill and applies the concept of pushing into the bars into this ‘level 4’

For a progression of the 5 stages of log Hopping check out my video that Canadian Cycling Magazine produced HERE

 

Should I use Gel or Mix for Bike Racing

GAME-PLAY

With all the hype about nutrition and sports-nutrition, it is hard to know what you should use to do your best on race day. My advice is always to practice what you *think* you should use on race day on your key workouts (intensity, volume, race-specific simulation). Race nutrition, in very simple terms, can be tested by asking if you achieved your goal, if not then perhaps you need more. If you felt sick then perhaps you did too much fuel (or not enough water). There are some variables around race nerves and hot weather, but generally, the issues on race day are due to not practicing at your race intensity, in race-like conditions (heat) and with the same fuel type, amounts as you will need on race day.

Book: Fuel Your Ride = Get Help with Your Cycling Nutrition 

 

Remember you are Resilient and The other 23 hrs of the day

 

It is important to remember that hydration and fueling are important but that we can do a lot without, so if you end up short, drop a bottle, miss a feed it is fine. In short events the difference is not huge, especially if you do not get stressed about it. Practicing *WITHIN REASON* some fasted rides or less hydrated rides are worthwhile if it is likely in races. While we stress about getting that sugar-high it is more common that riders loose time trying to get bottles out of cages, carrying heavy and bulky hydration packs and just plain thinking too much about food/water and not about racing. Focus on the race when you are racing. Your training is meant to make all these practices automatic and normal, do not do different things on race day.

There are a few factors but it is not uncommon for the front-runners in a race to be lighter (slightly dehydrated) at the finish compared to the slowest finishers who take on more water and maintain or even gain weight, which can have consequences at extremes.

It is also very important to consider how you eat pre, post and during the rest of your days in the months ahead of any event. Your body composition, energy, sleep and ultimately your performance is affected by this. If you only eat sugar, eat constantly (graze), get hangry, or find your sleep is off then there are some lifestyle factors that need attention much more than the order of your race day chews, chomps and waffles do.

Want to learn more -> Check out these Consummate Athlete Podcast Episodes on Nutrition

 

What to use?

 

  • Mix –  Many people like the convenience of getting fuel with their hydration. This works well for some applications but be careful in extreme conditions where the mix may become less palatable or when you need to drink more. water relative to fueling (ie. hot weather). Some people find gels hard to get down and so mix may be a better option.
  • Gels are nice because they are separate from your water consumption. So when it is very hot you can fuel with the gels and use cold water to douse yourself and to hydrate. These can be in the form of gel packets, gel flasks or ‘blocks’ and gummies.
  • Bars/solids are generally for endurance rides and long events where you are mostly under 85%  … some people can stomach more of this while others will need to be careful.
  • Electrolyte tablets are nice to add some taste and light calories/electrolytes to drinks, they may help you drink more (if that is required). Many athletes make the mistake of only using this and do not end up fueling their work capacity (ie. they go slow, do not recover, risk over-training in long-term).

There are rules of thumb for fueling Hydration

(satisfy with gels, bars, mix as above)

  •  200+ kcal an hour (50-60 grams carbohydrate (the more you can eat/absorb an hour the faster you will generally go BUT you also risk of GI issues. Elite Ironman athletes will push this up much higher (4-500kcal/hr). There is a balance and optimal for each of us … this can be trained and is not specific to body weight).
  • Water at 16-20 oz an hour depending on heat and sweat rate … in extreme heat/exertion perhaps more but as getting to top end or higher adding salt/electrolyte is likely important/wise. (shake of sea salt is great)

Plan your event strategy ahead of time (and practice it):

  • Expected time to complete x 16-20 oz water
  • Expected time to complete x 200+ kcal

Example Race Day

  • 6;30-7:30 (6hrs prior) = breakfast – eggs/rice, pancakes, cereal/eggs, etc.  nothing ‘big’
  • coffee/water / electrolyte w. water on drive
  • 9:30am-11am  (3hrs PRIOR TO RACE/WU) – eat a pre-race meal (cereal, rice/eggs, whey+cereal, banana and Clif bar, pasta/eggs, Peanut butter and jam/honey sandwich)
  • *rare to use meat/veggies/fat/fiber in the prerace meal              ** thinking about pre-race as ‘breakfast’ may be helpful
  • 12:30 warmup (some people use to mix in warmup, some don’t )
  • 1:30 race  – Gel 5-10min before start – start with a very little amount of clear water in a bottle (empty bottle on you to cool you and to wash down gel  avoid ‘choking’ on gel on lap 1 effort
Examples for Different Race Start Times
  • For Leadville or early endurance races – many people don’t eat 3hrs prior (they sleep!) and will eat a bar or gel on the line and then start fueling early.
  • For a shorter, harder race that is in the mid-morning like Paris to Ancaster (10 am start) you might have cereal with almond milk and a banana and hard-boiled eggs
  • For a noon-early afternoon start, you could have a small ‘second’ breakfast or a portable snack 2-3hrs prior. A Bar and a Banana, cereal/milk, PB&J sandwich and then you may fuel in warmup and/or on the start line

Does this fit with your strategy? What Have I missed?

If in doubt => Book a consult here <=  to iron out your nutrition plan

Race Cancelled? What Workout Should You Do?

Races don’t get canceled often but it does happen with bad weather and financial/sponsorship issues.

 

This is always a bummer as we all look forward to races as a test of our fitness, to see friends, and to push our limits. Getting first races out of the way is also a big reason early races are important and not ‘losing’ our peak fitness for those big A races can also be a concern if races get delayed or canceled.

(We just had the first 2018 Superfly Ontario Cup Cancelled => LINK )

How do you use that weekend with no racing?

 

  1. Use the weekend to boost your confidence. This may be another race or a group ride but for most athletes, a focused weekend to take care of elements of your performance that YOU ARE NERVOUS ABOUT is a good way to guide this ‘free weekend’.

    For early season mountain bike races, it is likely a good choice to try and get out on your mountain bike. Using your race nerves (what you are a bit scared of as that race approaches) as a guide you can then design a workout or two that will help make you more confident in that skill. If I am nervous about my start ability then a Saturday workout with 10 race start sims (10 x 30-60sec from a standing start … perhaps with a friend acting as the start-official (make a GO sound) to make it an external cue. Add a couple friends to make it a bit more competitive).  For Sunday riding your mountain bike on a longer ride will help work out kinks in your bike setup and remind you that you can ride a mountain bike.

    Boost your Log Hops this weekend with the 5 step progression

  2. Continue the progressions from the last few weeks = if you have been doing a progression of Vo2 (3 x 3, 4 x 3, 5 x 3 etc) or Sweetspot/Threshold (3 x 10, 3×12, 3 x 15)  then there is a good chance that your race did not fall perfectly to continue that progression. Finish the progression!
  3. When in doubt ask! Phone Consultations with your coach are a great option, especially if your schedule has changed and a new plan of attack, or a new progression, is warranted. Checking in with your coach often is a good idea to make sure you understand the goal of your training and so your coach understands your context (life, work, family, motivation to race, nutrition etc.)

Smart Athlete Phone Consultation is open to current clients and public/self-coached athletes