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Polarized or Threshold?

A Common Question I get is whether someone should do polarized or threshold/sweet-spot training

 

I have done several articles on the different types of training individually (threshold, HIIT, Polarized) but to find your own way can be tough. We all want to be part of a ‘camp’ or club (e.g. CrossFit). For training intensity and the organization of training the concept of polarization and threshold are not so opposed in my opinion ( The podcast guests we have had agree with this in general). The important thing is you have a goal, assess where you are now and then progress logically towards that goal by following a plan that you adjust frequently as you respond (or don’t). Many times the mistake is doing moderate training daily (no-off days) versus doing 2 threshold workouts weekly.

 

Polarized vs. sweet spot 

 

I think this is ultimately a matter of planning phases of training and making sure easy days are easy, that there are off days and that the interval days are progressing (whether that is ‘threshold/sweet spot’ Or tempo or HIIT/VO2.   Using only sweet spot, or HIIT, every workout (all year) was never really the intended method of utilization but sometimes it is taken as this absolute.

 

There are several ways to plan/periodize training depending on the athlete and their experience/limiters/goals: 

 

 a) you may do Vo2/sprints to get going and increase the QUALITY of your training and then your endurance racing approaches then we would become more specific with more tempo/sweet spot work to increase the QUANTITY of work you can do. (this might be called reverse periodization)

 

 b) to Accumulate ‘fitness’ with a base phase if you have time. Perhaps by using increasing amounts of sweet spot and tempo and some endurance to build your fitness (CTL). Then you can ‘polish off’ that fitness as you specialize/taper to your event, generally with a Vo2/anaerobic/HIIT block ahead of races

 

  c) You can do a mix of interval types over 7-14 day blocks to keep all aspects maintained and shift the focus slightly as required by limiters/races

 

I personally like the 3rd option, but I use all three with clients. How we plan this depends ultimately on who you are, where you are coming from and where you want to go ( POINT A -> POINT B )

 

 

You could also get a custom plan and get 100% MADE for your goals, schedule, race dates => Apply Here

 

Any Questions please follow up!

Great June Event – Try Cycle for Sight!

Cycle for Sight is a great event I have taken part in the last 3 years and have enjoyed the big day on the bike around my home in Collingwood with some good people, for a great cause.

CHECK OUT THE CYCLE FOR SIGHT WEBSITE FOR INFO ON REGISTRATION, ROUTES, AND FUNDRAISING

It is now based in Creemore entirely and tours great roads around Creemore, Collingwood, and Stayner.

Enjoy a great finish line spread on the main street of Creemore, right in front of the Creemore Brewery!

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?

 

 

 

 

I Quit Coffee: Convenience, Routine & Dominoes

This post has been updated in November 2017 as I undertake another break from Coffee. I hope you find it useful in motivating a small tweak of your own — PG


The key takeaway:

Small changes can sometimes have large, domino effects that we can’t anticipate or foresee. Given enough time, these changes can be meaningful and paradigm-shifting. I am not suggesting you stop drinking coffee, but rather, I am sharing this story of my last month in hopes that you will tinker with small changes in your life to see if something better is possible.

Coffee had become central to my daily routine, many friendships and to my identity as a coffee lover (my twitter profile pic has coffee in it). As May came to an end, the time seemed right to tinker with this apparent touchstone in my daily life and central tenant of my identity. Between two of my biggest coffee-loving friends moving away, the 3-day stomach virus that had me off food/drink for 3 days, and no major events ‘requiring’ caffeine for a month, the time was right to take this out and see what changed. Despite being a coffee lover, I had generally rotated my stimulants and dosages daily (green tea one day, coffee the next, nothing another day). I was able to avoid caffeine and vary dosage with stress (e.g. travel, high training load). I have periodically stopped for days and weeks to ‘come down,’ for convenience or to try for a performance bump. With all that said, these periods without coffee were rarely more than a couple of weeks and seldom without decaf coffee.

Changing habits is tough. Getting started and interrupting the routine is a big part of that. I have had good success changing habits personally by using sickness as the jump-off point. Basically, whenever I get sick, I try to change something (e.g. bedtime, cutting out a certain food etc.). This past month, I turned a stomach virus and 3 days without food/drink into the first 3 days of my coffee abstinence. Like any addict, I insist that coffee doesn’t affect me and that I don’t need it, but if I am honest there was a low-grade energy dip for the first 1-2 weeks followed by the expected, and clichéd, sensations of steady energy, focus and clearing fog (that, or I was recovering from a 7 day stage race and 3 day flu). What I did not expect was how other habits and routines would change with the exclusion of my coffee habit.

I used to think that my coffee habits were part of my routine and that they helped me get my daily work/train/recover routines rolling. I thought that they helped me get out the door and enjoy long drives. I now believe that my coffee prep was actually delaying all these things and taking time from working, training, recovering and fun. I remember when I started drinking coffee, I never prepared it at home. I would have a cup with friends at a coffee shop, on a long ride or at a friend’s house if they had a superb method of preparation and good beans. This slowly transpired into me owning a large percentage of the methods for coffee preparation and making coffee (several times) daily just for myself at home often, when I could have been recovering, relaxing, napping, working, socializing or riding. Somewhere along the line, the original purpose of the coffee, klatching, was lost. Having coffee at home was not accomplishing what I originally started using coffee for.

Interestingly, this past month, without a conscious choice, I fell into a routine of going to bed early (9-10 pm) and waking with the sun (6-6:30 am usually) feeling well-rested and motivated to work. I would do my normal morning routine of HRV testing/meditation, bathroom, maybe start some slow-cooking breakfast and then with a big glass of citrus water with sea salt. I would sit down to my biggest, most daunting task of that day, which I chose the day prior. I would spend 30-75 min on that task (pre-determined time/deadline) and bust it out. Then around 7-7:30 am, I would have a relaxing breakfast before resuming work on the other tasks, which were so much easier. It seemed that coffee was like the first hard-to-move domino that started a chain reaction of positive choices. Being up and getting the big task done, no distraction from emails, coffee prep/cleaning seemed to set the rest of the day into motion. All of the other daily tasks (email, work, train, eat, nap, work, train, eat, house stuff) seemed to fall into place much smoother.

Stopping this month, locking up the coffee-making tools, made me realize that the time spent making/prepping coffee and cleaning a white kitchen could be spent on way more productive things that then domino into bigger and better output and better life experiences. If nothing else, it is simpler, and this lessening of ‘to dos’ is certainly a nice feeling.

As this month away from coffee ends, I celebrated with a glass of decaf espresso while recovering in the Porter Airport Lounge from a somewhat stressful ‘country boy’ journey to the Toronto Island Airport (too many modes of transit/not enough parking on grass). The machine and beans were ok, the price was right, my first ‘business’ flight experience was worth enjoying and I had some good conversation with some ‘fellow’ businessmen, which made the situation a great time to indulge. This was a good afternoon and didn’t dirty my kitchen or take time away from my day/large tasks. While this coffee experience was good, it pales to how good my days have felt after getting a big task done (e.g. this new website), or getting in a ride with a friend, or having time to relax and go for ‘beers on the beach.’ The domino that is coffee just isn’t the life I want. I will still partake when the company, location, beans, and method align, but I don’t see coffee coming back into my life beyond those good times.

Looking for help with changing routines and integrating training into your life?

Wondering what tweaks will help your training?

Book a Skype Consult for only $25!

Thanksgiving Survival

With the upcoming Canadian Thanksgiving and the American Thanksgiving not too far off (not to mention Pumpkin Latte Season …) it is a great time to share ideas for keeping your nutrition and fitness goals on track this fall.  Feel free to put yours in the comments below.

  1. Focus on the social side of events. Whether that is a coffee date with a friend or family Thanksgiving, you are there for the people.
  2. Don’t drink your calories – Cliche advice, I know, but it is unlikely your Thanksgiving memories revolve around alcohol or a glass of sweetened-milk disguised as coffee.
  3. Exercise that day – You will feel healthier if you move that day. Try the new Anywhere Core Video if you are unsure of what to do.
  4. Bring a dessert that fits in your goals – fresh fruit, paleo styled recipes like Apple Crumble (with nuts, not grain) and my favorite the Paleo Pumpkin Pie made with nuts, dates, and pumpkin. You could also bring main dishes or variations on parts of the meal you like. Molly at theoutdooredit.com has a few of our favorite dishes including Pico-de-Gallo, Guac, and Kale Chips
  5. Skip the white buttered-bun and any foods you don’t like that are not great choices anyhow (ie. don’t add gravy if that isn’t your big holiday treat)

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Season (this is my very rough directions – a full on recipe is linked below) 


a) in bowl slice/mash dates (with a bit of water if not fresh Medjool dates) then add 2 cups pecan (or choice nut flour) … pecan seemed to work better and not burn vs. almond/walnut mix of past
b) put in the oven for 5-10 min to ‘dehydrate’ or if you are kooky and have a dehydrator … do your thing
c) while dehydrating make the filling by combining about 2 cups pure pumpkin puree, 3 eggs, a lot of cinnamon unless you don’t like cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and nutmeg if you have it (i didn’t!) . Some maple syrup sweetens further to your taste, The dates and pecans add a fair bit of sweetness. 
    = For true chefs = a recipe that is close  https://blog.paleohacks.com/pumpkinpie-recipe/

The 3 Essential Cyclocross Skills (VIDEO)

I worked with Canadian Cycling Magazine on 3 videos to help enhance your cross experience. These 3 foundational skills critical to review and practice frequently if you want to have a great cyclocross season. The dismount and mount are also very important for mountain bike bikers and triathletes.

Having trouble? Learn about Skill Session with Smart Athlete

 

Email to setup with Contact Form HERE

 

Check out the Cyclocross Mounts and Dismounts Course I did for Ryan Leech Skills Website HERE

 

 

1) HOW TO DISMOUNT YOUR BIKE

– read the full article – http://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/news/how-to-dismount-your-bike-for-cyclocross/

2) How to Mount Your Cyclocross Bike

– Read the full article –  http://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/news/mount-bike-cyclocross/

3) How to Shoulder Your Cyclocross Bike

– read the full article – http://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/news/how-to-shoulder-your-bike-for-cyclocross/

 

 

 


Want to re-energize- Unplug, put airplane mode on, and immerse in nature's finest.

 

 

 

Pick a Big Crazy Goal

What is Your Big Crazy Goal this Season and Why did you pick it? 

I did an Ironman last weekend. It was my first triathlon, which is sort of a crazy way to start doing a triathlon, but I like a good challenge and I had a lot of relevant experience that made an Ironman a doable but still Big Crazy Goal.

 

I thought a post on WHY a mountain biker would decide to spend time away from his mountain bike to learn to swim, ride hunched over in aero position and run for extended durations on the pavement.

IMG_1162

Why and How can we pick BIG, CRAZY GOALS that will serve us well in the run-up to the event, provide a great experience during the event and provide skills/experiences we can use in life and future adventures?

 

Do our goals serve to let us grow or do they create stress at home because we miss too many important family parties, picking the kids up at daycare, missing dinner with your family? Do our goals move us further away from other bigger, longer-term goals?

 

For me, this meant considering if the time spent on swimming/running would hamper my ability to qualify for races or take me further away from being a ‘Consummate Athlete’, or have too much risk to health (ie. long term ankle/foot injury from running).

 

Crazy GOALS TO BOOST YOUR GOAL FITNESS

psyched for triathlon - peter with speed concept

For a mountain biker, it might be worth scaring yourself by signing up for a big 200km Gran Fondo. The time on the road building endurance and speed skill will boost your fitness off-road. For a road cyclist looking at Leadville or a marathon MTB race the pedal stroke, technical skills and time spent climbing will often make road riding seem more comfortable and easier to focus on the steady road efforts.

 

MEDIUM VS. LONG TERM

Goal setting can be belabored, it is easy to spend too much time dreaming of ‘when we get there’. A goal in the long-term, dream stage might be intimidating but if success is achieved along the way, as a consequence of striving for excellence there are many wins before the ‘big-crazy-day’.
Giving thought to the process that you will take to get to the big-crazy-goal will help you decide if it is a goal worth chasing. It is, after all, largely about the journey.

 

WHY did I choose Ironman as my Big-Crazy goal? 

 A) scare myself into learning to swim, not just ok but sufficient that I could swim for extended periods, save my life, adventure at something like a Mudrun/OCR, Otillio Swim-Run, go surfing or just float down a river. Swimming WAS a basic human movement I lacked and one I wanted to really learn … anything short of an Ironman didn’t scare me enough to learn.

 

DSC05040
Molly on bike during Ironman Canada

 

B) Molly (my wife) wanted to do another Ironman. She had done one about 5 years ago, but very narrowly avoided DNF and was a wreck for much of it and for a while after. She was a second test subject to design/adjust training for, and since we had a similar goal this also meant we could do more adventures (err… training) together.

 

The social side of the goal and the fact we were stacking some learning/coaching with some social/relationship time made this big-crazy-Ironman goal make sense. We were able to go to the pool together and take over a lane, do a lot of running/walking together, some strength and a little bit of riding. This is not to mention the comfort of traveling to and navigating the hectic race-week environment and logistics!

 

Most importantly I was able to run and swim with a few friends in preparation and we have made a big summer trip out of MTB Nationals, the Ironman and a CX clinic in Virginia that we have been planning and looking forward to for many months. This is a big part of why goals and goal-setting with consideration on the process are important!

 

 peter aero (2)
C) To Refine my aero position and look into tri/TT possibility and also understand demands for clients doing either discipline. Aero is becoming big in many disciplines, including mtb-xc, so why not force me to learn more. If a 2nd go at Leadville is in the cards–I am not saying it is–this will be very important as well.

 

** BIG thanks to Trek Toronto for helping get me on a very fast SpeedConcept for the event, I am going to have a post on all the gear I used in the coming days (will link here)**

 

IMG_5542
Getting my position assessed and working on aero with Scott Kelly / Dundas Speedshop

 

D) Coaching I like to know what athletes are going through. I can’t know every event but I pride myself on the range of movements I know well and this helps me build better training for clients. With more clients coming to Smart Athlete from the Tri-world to develop their bike/run I wanted to immerse myself in the training, literature, tools, tactics and race environment.

 

Through the Consummate Athlete Podcast, we had several guests provide really great information about doing your first Triathlon, going faster in one of the sports or learning the sports. Carolyn Gaynor talked about guiding visually impaired cyclists through Ironman, Rich Pady walked me through each sport and transitions, Terry From Total Immersion talked about learning to swim for beginners and

 

   Check all the episodes that mention Ironman HERE

Being able to chat with new coaches I wouldn’t usually chat with (i.e. swimming or tri specific) was a great experience. There are always concepts, technologies and, well, awesome people, in areas outside our usual. Pushing our boundaries in sport and being open to learning is awesome if you think about it this way.

 

tribike pumptrack
Specific Ironman Bike training in Bromont, QC

 

So that is the story. I did it, I am done with triathlon but the year of adventures, skill acquisition, reading, new contacts/friends and training methods I can carry forward into new adventures, challenges and projects made this Big-Crazy goal well worth the investment and discomfort. Hopefully, this post will help you choose a great-big-crazy-goal this coming year.

 

So what is your next Big Crazy goal (and what are the benefits of completion and the process)? 

Feel free to tell me about it here, if you have questions or doubts. With some planning, many wild goals become much more accessible than you may think!

Troubleshoot Popular Power Meters

One of the trade-offs with power is that we must deal with having electronics strapped to bicycles that undergo tremendous forces and extreme conditions (temperature, precipitation, altitude, dirt, sweat and a few other possible bodily fluids …) You wouldn’t expect your iPhone to survive so be ready to deal with some device troubleshooting and do your best to protect your power devices.

Trouble-Shooting for Power Meters

  1. DO NOT take it into bad weather – cold and rain especially, just leave it at home.
  2. If it gets wet dry it out ASAP, take any covers off and put in front of a fan for a few hours.
  3. Calibrate daily – yes daily.
  4. Change the battery
  5. Calibrate again
  6. Calibrate with another device (use a friend’s)
  7. Connect it to the internet and see if there is an update to the firmware.
  8. submit a ticket to the company to have it refurbished (usually not that pricey)

Power Tap Wheels

Power Tap Wheel Links / Support 
https://www.powertap.com/support/faqs/hubs-wheels
 
Manuals for Power Tap Hubs => https://www.powertap.com/support/user-manuals#hubs-wheels
 
Send back to Powertap => 
  1. Call or email PowerTap Customer Service (1-800-246-5975 or support@powertap.com)
  2. Warranty Info https://www.powertap.com/support/warranty

Stages Crank Based Power Meter

1) have you re-zeroed torque and got offset number?
 
2) updated firmware?
 
3) replace battery
 
4) Submit a ticket for repair/refurbish