Wednesday, June 29, 2011

results, goals and the real world

With racing season under way many folks are now starting to look at results and assessing their performance. This can be a tricky process. Whether it's simply a training race or a more important event, there are many things to take into account. And some things that should simply be left out on the course.
With times, rank in each event, your over all placing, wattage, run pace, and more, how does one analyze their results and performance correctly?

The hard data:
One of the best ways is to measure you and just you. Forget about everyone else what did you do? In the end you can only do what you can do. Sounds silly but many forget this simple fact. Measuring your wattage and running pace are very definitive ways of measuring your performance. "last yr. i did 250 watts at the Boulder sprint, this year 275!" that is progress. Your running pace is also something to look at. I would recommend going by your GPS watch however. Running courses can be off more than you think. Even at the most recent WTC, 5430 sprint tri the run course was short. This can skew times quite a bit. Swim times, be careful here as well. I have never heard of an open water swim course that was perfect. wind, choppy water, etc. can all led to very different swim times. This is why we never, NEVER, ever use time to measure our performance on the bike. MPH mean nothing. A breath of wind, new pavement, and 100 other things will affect your average speed. you must use wattage!
Even with all the correct data it is some times used wrong. I have heard athletes be angry with there run time because "it was slow." Yet they have no idea what they should be running (what they can run) coming off the bike. "well in 2001 I ran a 5k with some friends and I did 19 minutes flat! Today i'm better shape and I raced 19:50. i sucked!"
Heard this before? where do we start! First of all its not 2001. You just did a sprint triathlon not a stand alone 5k, if you PR on the run of a triathlon your not swimming or riding hard enough, or, you are much faster than you were before.
The courses could have been short, long. wind, surface, motivation, or maybe you just had a good/bad day.
find out what is a reasonable goal for YOU. not some obligatory time.

Because of issues like the ones above comparing results can be a great way to measure your performance. "but Ek I don't' race the people that win my AG, I race for my own goals, to be as fast as I can be i'm not on that level." That's great! This method is still very usable for someone in that mind set, stay with me for a bit.
This year an athlete I am working with has been working a lot on his run. However, his bike and swim have been improving as well. In the first few races this year his bike wattage has been exactly the same as last year. Effort level also the same yet his bike rank (and his over all placings) are higher. If this happened once I would think nothing of it but so far (4 races) all with the same scenario. he is going faster. A new bike and better position is proving to be gaining him more time than we thought. we'll take it!
Another client of ours just this last weekend said, "my run was awful, a horrible placing for me." really? are you sure? they placed inside the top 8 in their AG and last yr. they were 18th. also their run pace was faster and at the fast end of where I like to see athletes run in a sprint tri... so.... what was bad? it hurt? it's a race it's not supposed to be easy!

Also if your goals are competitive ones than this is realy what your aiming for right? Top 50%, Top 5% etc. At the end of the day a race is just who was best on that day, at that moment. You can work towards having a faster run, better power on the bike but,
"on race day you must race with what you have, not what you want to have"

Again I would urge caution here as well. things don't always match up 100%.
At the last race I did my swim placing was worse than last yr. but when you compare my time with the fastest swim time I lost less time than last year. ie. I was closer to the leader. My "time" (last thing we care about) was faster and the water rougher. Which is strange because a rough, slower swim would suggest bigger time gaps?? hummm...

This is why we prefer to use well executed races and more than one when ever possible. the more reference points you have the better.

In the end you need to ask your self, what are your goals? what are they specifically for this race? And what are your bigger goals for the season or year?
Your goals for this training race should be:
1. a stair steeper to build on towards the bigger goal
2. everyone should have the goal to execute the race to the best of there ability on that day! maybe you have a goal to focus on the bike portion or the run portion, maybe its simply to finish your first triathlon strong. what ever it is race execution is KEY!
~see: your first triathlon. even if it's your 101 race!!
~and the race execution seminar HERE

Most importantly realize that this event you have just done is one thing. One day, one race. you might have just had a bad day, or for that matter a good one. Maybe you got lucky? But when you have your threshold set for all 3 sports, they are better than last year, your data says you executed the race well and within the proper parameters and you're doing better against the competition at more than one event,
you are looking at the products of progress.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Train your lactate threshold without ever going there

Break that FTP plateau! Some athletes thrive on these workouts and can perform them better than steady efforts at 100% of threshold. Other suffer like never before. There is a reason weight lifters do many different types of chest exercises, all chest workouts are not created equal. Your threshold power or pace is the same way. I will frequently prescribe a 2-3 week block of threshold training for an athlete and not one of the threshold (Zone 4) workouts are the same. Why? Lots of reasons. To keep things fresh, to keep the body working and adapting as much as possible, to be specific, to “force the issue” as I sometimes say. 3x20 minutes at 90% of threshold and doing 3 min. on, 1’ off times 6 at 110% of your threshold are both “threshold” workouts, yet they can fell worlds apart.

The Over under or Crisscross interval is one you may have heard of or even done before. If you’re a cyclist you have defiantly done this maybe without even realizing it. There are many differ ways and variations to this workout. They are an interval with a given amount of time under your threshold, power or pace, and a given amount of time over it..

Here are a few of my favorite types of over under intervals 1. Bike: for time trialest or triathlete. 2x25 min. (4 min rest) done as, 4 min. zone 3/ 1min. in zone 5. Repeat for the length of the interval.

2. Bike: For the roadie, 2x25’ (4’rest) maybe done on a climb. Ride in zone 3-upper zone 3, every 3’ do a 20” kick spiking power to 10 watts per kilo of body weight then push Zone 5. Repeat for the 25’

3. Running. 30”on, 30” 0ff. on time is 5k pace or faster, off time is zone 2/ endurance pace. Repeat 20-30 times.

How they work:

What this does is it forces the body to recover from the harder effort while still working at a non recovery pace. By doing a short effort above your lactate threshold you start to build up lactate on your muscles. If it’s not too much you can recover from this by working very easy for some time. But with these intervals you keep the effort going at a hard but sub threshold, aerobic, pace (zone 3/ tempo). Now your body is trying to filter the waist, while keeping energy production fairly high! Also the repeated nature of these hard efforts will soon have you thinking efficiency. How can you hit that wattage or pace with as little wasted energy as possible? Believe me you will figure it out or pay dearly!

All of our training zones are related. Some more than others yes. “If your foundation is to small you can’t build a big, tall house.” Right. Well, if your roof is too small you can’t build a big main floor without it filling up with water, same thing. I have seen many athletes come to me and others pounding away at their threshold getting little results because their abilities above threshold are inadequate. Yes , you ironman triathletes still need to have some kind of minimum ability above threshold. These intervals are a great way to work that upper end a little bit while having an overall endurance flavor to your training session.

There place in the real world.

Train your weakness! This is The foundation of the ETG. If you’re looking at this thinking I don’t have to do that in a race why should I train that way? If you have been thinking this way for a few years chances are this type of thing is a weak area for you. We all have our strong points and weak ones, however, If a weakness is weak enough it will hold EVERYTHING back.

At bike race or a mtb race much of the time it feels like the winner still blows up just not as badly as everyone else. Or they are the ones that simply blow up last. When attacks are going in a road race it’s not the base pace that gets people dropped it’s the accelerations. The same can often can be said on climbs for the leaders. Mt bikers. This is your playground! Long hard steady efforts are what mt. bike racing is all about but you are constantly forced to deal with the terrain. That hill is steep! Any slower and you will have to put a foot down. Those little efforts to get over a rock or a log. So you Find yourself keeping up with every one for the first lap but then every one of those little tiny efforts you seem to lose more and more ground? These intervals can be your secret weapon to preparing for the final finishing climb. Or to simply get ready for the first races of the season.

For the TT guru or triathlete these can be a great threshold workout to add to your arsenal. Accelerating out of corners and not paying for it can mean an extra few seconds at the state TT championships and the difference between 1st and 4th place. In triathlons we try our best to be steady eddie on the bike. But its tough some times. This can provide not only some great training at your VO2 power but give you a little insurance for the mistakes we all make when were in the heat of battle.

Replace your next few boring threshold workouts with some of these interval sessions. See what happens.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Get Tough! Getting the most out of a coach is your responsibility

I have seen many articles and blog posts in my day about what makes a good coach. What he, she should be doing, not doing, etc. And, for the most part, they are all pretty valid. The topic is also one sure to attract lots of attention. Picking a coach is tough. I know, I have done it myself!

But what about being a suitable and good client? In my many years coaching I have seen such promise in athletes that simply was never tapped into. why?
So, you have done your diligent searching, interviewed your possible coach and asked them the big 10 questions and now you’re under way. Now what. How do you get the most out of your coach? Guess what it’s your responsibility!

Do the work And do it right.

Well of course. It’s your fitness, it’s your big race, your goals, your body. You have to work hard, get up in the morning and follow the plan you and your coach set out to do.

“wait wait, what did you say EK? Me and my coach?” yeah. The grand plan, the here we are now, we want to go there, this is the path I think we should take. You need to have a common understanding of where you’re going. You don’t say to your buddies “hey lets go to the movies! Sweet see you there.” What movie? what time, what day, what theater!!?! For those of you that hired a coach, said, I wana do IM lake placid and off you went… its likely you and your coach are on a different bus there. Have a long talk with your coach about the BIG PICTURE.

This conversation should boil down to training phase’s, month to month, week to week and then, the day to day. “Ok cool we are taking this path. And this month it means this” your training plan.

On to executing the workouts. Before my clients do any workout they need to know 3 things. If you (the athlete) don’t know these, you need to ask!

3 Keys to knowing your workout:
~How to do it. 3x15’ in zone 4 with 4’ rest can be done a few ways. Uphill, flats, rd bike or TT bike. After a warm up or after 2 hr’s riding? What cadence. The workout is 3 hr’s what do I do the rest of the time? Etc. I have prescribed all these variations before, anyone can write down 3x15’. You have to know all the details

~Why you’re doing it. You have to know why. What’s the purpose? What is the physiological adaptation I am looking for here? This will help you focus on that. Doing workouts blind is a waste! And it’s your fault! There is no magic workout! “why is Joe a becoming a better runner than me? We do the same workouts?” He does it better, harder and smarter than you, that’s why.

~How it pertains to you and you’re a race: Ok, you got the above down. But why are you doing run intervals on a hill in Z4 while training for an ironman? When we get down to specific workouts, you should be taking apart certain aspect of the race or discipline and training each separate part. We talk about this in the off season training articles and the fall training seminar. When you do this you can get pretty non-specific. Know where you’re going with everything you do. Your car runs on gas but there’s a reason you have a big battery in there.

You, the athlete, has to take action. Coaches don’t read minds. No coach is going to wake you up in the morning, ask you how you slept, etc. If you’re tired you have to communicate that. If you don’t have time to do 3 hr’s next Sunday, if you don’t know the 3 keys to knowing your work out you have to ask! I once heard at a stage race “my coach sucks! I haven’t talked to him in 2 weeks!” I said “that sucks, does he just not answer his phone?” “ohh I don’t know I haven’t called him.” Are you serious!! I quickly told Mr., I need more attention, that before you go telling people your coach sucks maybe you should make a call first. You have to communicate with your coach. You have to ask questions. If you don’t want to, are going to wait for them to call or don’t care, don’t get a coach and save yourself and them some time.

Take control!
If you read nothing else I write read this.

Things don’t happen to you, you gotta MAKE IT HAPPEN. We have all heard it’s not the cards you’re dealt its how you play them. Life’s gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then get some vodka, get some more lemons and tequila, get all your friends together make sure the unleaded lemonade is clearly labeled, collected all the car keys and have a party! “The glass is half full or half empty?” I say neither, he glass is too big. Seems like a pretty fixable issue, get a smaller glass and move on!

Things don’t just happen to you. Take control of your life. Take control of your training! Own your training it’s your body.
Its cold, it’s windy, I was at work late, lunch didn’t sit right, I have an early flight, it’s too dark. Yeah these things happen, but when they “happen” all the time there excuses. Fix it.

“Adapt, improvise, overcome!” ~Clint Eastword in heartbreak ridge.

Your race won’t be easy. No one is going to hand you your goal on a platter you have to go get it.
Stop saying whoa as me, and start saying whoa, I feel sorry for my competition.

You have to do this and you alone. Your coach can’t teach this, and many will be unlikely to tell you get tough so I’ll say for them. Suck it up and get tough!

I have an infinity symbol tattoo. Its broken however, it doesn’t connect. Every now and then someone takes a close look at it and asks “why is your infinity symbol not complete?”
I say “I am the completion of it. I have to go out and make life happen.” If I sit in the house all day and wait for my business to grow and my legs to stronger and meet new friends guess what, none of that will happen. In fact it won’t be long until the opposite happens.

The best way to do this, Plan ahead.

Plan ahead:

Ever said this to your coach? “Oh yeah, I didn’t do any of the workouts last weekend, I was away.”
really? REALLY? Did you wake up sat at 3am and decide you needed to fly to Canada that morning? Training properly takes planning. And your coach still can’t read your mind. Your month should go like this: Communicate (getting tired of saying this but so few do it enough)

~Communicate your (athlete) sch. For the next month. I need these days off. Away for work here, group ride I would like to do here, etc.
~Look over your training when it’s all set. Make sure it works with your sch. again. Double check.
~Make sure you know the 3 keys to a good workout for every single workout!
~Plan ahead. You may have to get up early for that workout, pack clothes for that, eat pasta for breakfast that day ask to move that workout as the weather looks bad. All this leads to better quality training and better performance on race day.
~Prepare!! Remember things don’t happen to you. Make them happen! stretch, eat and hydrate well before those tough workouts, get pumped up, whatever it takes to get it done.

Listen to others, don’t react.
Its ok to read training articles, listen to others and what they do. But before taking action ask your coach.
Its only a matter of time before people start telling you what workouts you should do, how many hr’s you need to train, how fast you have to go to reach a goal. Go ahead listen, take it in. Realize that everyone has an opinion. And for many of us our local sporting team is the only place we can express those feelings in a place where people will have a clue what we are talking about.

If something sparks a question in your head, ask your coach! See communication again. You need to have trust and faith in your training. You can’t be second guessing yourself all the time. If you hopscotch around form training method to training method you’ll fall very sort of your goal not to mention waist your money if you’re doing what you think is best instead of what your coach has taken the time to lay out for you.

“hey coach, what do you think about this?” Seems like a pretty easy question to me. I get it from my clients all the time. I encourage it. It makes for smarter, better athletes and it pushes me to be a better coach.

Know thyself.

Communication again!! Is it sinking in yet?? Listen to your body. Your coach doesn’t know what “I felt horrible” really means. Horrible to him and you may be two different planets. Horrible how? Tight, empty, weak, tired, good at first then bad. What? If you know you just can’t do it today you have to communicate that. Figure out why and move forward. The answer is probably right there. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees some times. One reason for having a coach is this objective point of view but you have to tell them what’s going on. Every athlete is different. “hey coach I think I can go faster. The Z4 int. are feeling almost easy and I am in the upper end of the zone” that’s a pretty quick e-mail. If you’re too busy to e-mail, too busy to take control and own your training, your too busy to train, organize your life.

Here’s the deal gang. Whether you have a coach or not you have to own your training. Plan ahead. The best results I have seen form athletes all have a common thread. They missed very few if any workouts. Why? Because they don’t have jobs? No because they communicated and planned ahead. Tock steeps to ensure there training was at the highest quality possible. Everyone has set backs. Everyone has tough times and bad workouts. The more you take control, the more take responsibility the better you will be on race day.

Train smart, train safe.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

its the Off season... what the heck does that mean.

It’s the “Off Season” what do I … not do?
article one in our 3 part series.

I get this question often this time of yr. “how do you NOT train?” Especially for the competitive cyclist or triathlete who has been racing all summer, sometimes every weekend, not training hard and racing all the time can feel very strange.

The Off Season:
First off I want to stress the word “OFF” in off season. Off means Off! The first and most important aspect of your next season is being totally fresh and completely motivated for next season. Now is the time to start that process.
Less is better here. Catch up on work, family, and drop off the bike at the shop for a tune up. Have them check it over for cracks in the frame along with full safety check. Racing is very hard on your equipment. The key with this phase is to make sure you are 110% ready to start training come the start of your program. The under trained, over motivated athlete will beat the perfectly training under motivated athlete every time! Come the beginning of “base training” you should be itching to train. It should be all you think about, so when its 20 degrees and freezing rain, your pumped up and ready to put in a solid training effort! This is also the best time to sit down with your coach and/or teammates to discus what your goals will be for next year. How did you perform this year? What was good? What was bad? What will have to be different with your preparation for 20, etc

Here are three easy steps for an effective off season.
1. Off time: Take an extended time of ZERO training. This will be deferent for every one. 2 weeks for some, 2 months for others. How ever much time you need to be totally rested and motivated to train again.
2. Recovery: Any lagging injury’s? Bike not working quite right for the last 2 months, been wanting to get that nagging cough looked at. Do it!! Get a message go to the doctor, dentist, what ever you need to do to feel 110 percent physically and mentally for the next season. This is active recovery, taking aggressive action towards healing. These are the most important aspects of off season training.
3. Maintenance training: After this you may be ready to train but your program doesn’t start for another month. What to do? Many pro’s and age groupers alike will take part in “unstructured training”. Its best to make is something different than your primary sport, try something new. It will most likely improve some skills needed in your primary sports. Just stay active, (cross training) will maintain your base fitness and, depending on your activity, can address your weakness leaving you fit, motivated and with stronger limiters than you had last year. A perfect way to start your next season!!

4. Cross Train! Go Mt. biking , running, play basket ball, tennis what ever you like and have put off due to you strict cycling training. Cyclist are notorious for having weak abs and core muscles. Working on this will help keep you injury free next year.

5. Most important have fun! Do those old training rides you did when you first started riding. Plan a trip. I have done a few long rides with friends in the fall that have proved to be lots of fun and great endurance training.

Eric is a full time triathlon and cycling coach. He is the owner of EK Endurance Coaching and works with athletes of all levels. To learn more about Eric and what he can do for you, go to

Monday, September 27, 2010

Off season Training article #2

Time to lay out the plans…

Your thinking “its the holidays! What could I possibly do for training??? Turkey Carving is some of the best deltoid training there is! This will make you more stable on the bike and resist fatigue longer! Don’t miss the opportunity. Actually I am kidding. Thanksgiving marks the beginning on the holidays and the beginning of the long difficult road to start training again. I myself, have fallen victim to the following scenario before. First its time to rest, then turkey day comes along, then Christmas, Hanukah, etc. which slams full speed into new years. Throw some travel for work in there, a vacation and maybe a wedding (went to a new years wedding a few years back. Best time ever) and the next thing you know its February, your turning 29. Again. And you are barely going to get in 6 weeks of base training before spring.

Sound familiar…

Its time to plan. The answer here is this is not the time to stress about training but to plan ahead. And before we can plan ahead one must look back at the past. Looking at your past year or more of racing and training can be the best thing you do in planning for the next season.

Here are some steeps to get you on the road to success.

1. Write down your general goals. Things that you want to focus on in general. Ie. Become a stronger runner, spend more time training on the bike.
2. Then write down specific training objectives: these can be precisely measured. Increase threshold wattage to 300. Run sub 30:30 minute 10k, etc.

3. Then write down your goals, “win the state championships”. For races write down there dates and rank them in priority.

4. Most importantly identify your weak areas.

Finding these can be harder than it seems. Here are a few methods for analyzing your season and finding your weakness to get you started right in 2009.

Step one: Analyze Your Season

Did you meet your racing goals and training objectives? Did you peak when you wanted to? Did you go as fast as you predicted? These should be pretty simple yes or no questions. Look then at your training objectives as stated above. . They should be measurable goals that are stair steps to you major goals. If you did not meet your major goals of the year the answer, or at least part of the answer, to why may be right there. As you keep looking into why you did or did not meet your goals look at everything: job, personal life, relationship, etc. Stress out side of the athletic world is the number cause of people under performing. If you’re a lawyer working 60+ hours a week and training 20 hours a week as well as being a mother or father, you may be setting out about things in the wrong manner. There are only so many hours in the day!

Note what worked for you and what did not. The things that worked you will want to keep in your bag of tricks as these things will likely work again. The things that didn’t work, get rid of them! We’ll come up with something better!

Step two: Finding Your Weakness

There are 2 ways to look at this. A good starting point is finding your weakness by the numbers. On the bike, the easiest way to do this is test your power profile. Test your maximum power out put for 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and your threshold power.

A power profile chart can show you where you are lacking. This is particularly good data for the rodie. Is this written in stone? Is this the end of the road? No, but it is a good starting point. A similar method would be to get tested in a lab. Even if you don’t “need” the areas you are weak in they may still be holding you back. For example, an ironman triathlete having a weak 5 sec. and 1 minute power. They don’t need that ability but if it is weak enough it is something that will hold your other abilities back. If it is an A race specific weakness (going to the Gila and your not climbing well) then you have work to do!

Part two of this is comparing your weakness to your competition? “But Eric I don’t race other people I race my self.” That’s great and I applaud that self motivation but if you want to improve the best place to look is to the people that are better than you. For example, in your triathlon results if you’re coming in 50th on the swim 50th on the bike and 450th on the run time after time again working on your running would be a good place to start. If you’re getting dropped on short hills in bike races, short hills or 1 to 5 minute power outputs might be your weak point. Before you make the decision as to what your weakness is make sure you have more than one or two examples that show your weakness. Your ranked lowest in the run, you % loss is highest in the run,you’re your brick runs always feel “off” compared to fresh runs.

Look at this deeply. This is very important. Are you not running well because you’re and bad runner OR because your swim and bike are not up to par and you’re paying for it on the run/ at the end of the race? Are you getting dropped on the hills because you’re a bad climber or because the hills are at the end of the race and you have trouble there because your threshold power and endurance is not as good as your competition? Take some time with this, consult a coach and or trusted training partner or both.

All of this may look straight forward on paper but it’s harder to implement than it looks. Getting some one else to give you a good objective look at your self could be the best thing you do this fall.

Lets Put it to work!

Now you know where you want to go and have an idea on how to get there. You are now armed with essential tools for planning and training for your season.
1. You have you goal races down in the calendar.
2. You should know what key skill and abilities you will need to meet your goals at these events.
3. You should know what weakness you have, how severe they are and if they are specific to your main season goals.

Our next training article will address common week areas and discuss workouts to address them.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Off season training article #3

Putting it all to work.

By the time we rest get re-focused and on track again it’s winter. Don’t despair! Before we get to specifics lets go over a few points so we don’t get side tracked this winter.

We all have different ideas on winter training. For some it is a vital time of year, laying the foundation for a big race mid summer or tuning speed for the early season du-athlons/ Crits. For some, winter will be a success if we gain less than 10 pounds. What ever your motivations for this winter; balancing a structured plan with a good dose of spontaneity will get you in the best form ever, physically and mentally.

Out look:

If you live in the northern states or anywhere that snows in the winter, and you’re not a pro, you simply can’t train as much in the winter. With darkness coming around 4:30pm, fridged morning temps and icy roads it just not possible. We won’t even get into jobs, girl friends, kids, wives, the patriots game schedule, etc…

So now that we are at peace with the fact that we simply can’t put in as much time as we may want, We can focus on what to do with the time we have.

Getting started:

Find a routine. With cold temps, warm beds and stale indoor air it is easy to get “off track”. Try to find some kind of routine. This could be one workout or rendezvous with a friend per week. ie. “every Wednesday morning John and I run together, no matter what.” “Thursday night I do the spinning class at my gym.” This one appointment can be the back bone of your winter success. Find something that works with your schedule so it will be easy to keep this date and not get side tracked.

This can work for you in a great way if this one workout focuses on your weakness. I have known athletes to turn there swim that puts them 5 minutes down to 1 minute up, over the course of one winter!

The bike:

These time constraints really hit hard when trying to work on your bike, especially if you are training for an early season race that’s long. First thing to do is invest in the proper warm clothes. Water/wind proof booties and gloves. Warm tights, thermal cycling jacket, hat or helmet cover. Investing in proper cycling winter gear will make your cold rides more enjoyable, more effective, and maybe a bit longer. One trick for cold feet is to use shoes 1 size to big and put in two insoles. And don’t jam your feet in there with to many socks. You’ll restrict circulation and have lumps for wood for feet in less than an hour.

The trainer can be your worst enemy and your best ally all at once. If you are going to improve your riding regular visits to the trainer will be a must but they don’t have to be torture.

1. Don’t do the same thing day in day out. Mix it up with different workouts and the amount of time you spend on it. Try something new once every 2 weeks or so. Like watching football with your buddies 3- 4 hr’s with big gear climbs every commercial, sprints every field goal, and hard tempo every time your team is on offence would make even Mark Allan slump over the handle bars by the final 2 minute drill.

2. Keep your mind busy. When you’re not with your friends watch TV, listen to the radio, etc.

3. Stay focused. I have just given you ways to distract your self from your work but the best way I find to make time fly is to have specific workout and stick to it. To the second. Warm up, cool down, some 10 minute strength intervals, rest intervals. You’ll find that riding for less than an hour becomes pretty difficult.

Take care:

It is important that you take care of both your body and your equipment with the same care as you would in the summer months. Proper nutrition and stretching is vital to staying healthy and on the upward path. Care for your bike and trainer is also a must. Just because your not out in the rain and dirt doesn’t mean you can just get off your bike and be done with it. Salt will build up on your bike and trainer and will destroy both if you don’t clean them. They will surely fail you when you need them most.

Getting to you, training your limiters:

Now that you know what your weak areas are (from fall training article #2) we can get right to it! Trying to improve any weakness is not going to come easily or quickly so now is the time to start correcting them.

The key to training your limiters is two fold.

  1. Break down the task at hand.

a. There is more to having great endurance than just pounding out the miles on the trainer or the swimming pool. Are you training at the optimal intensity? Make the workout Quality before Quantity.

b. Endurance (for example) has 2 parts being able to resist fatigue (pounding out the quality miles) and efficiency. How much of each pedal stroke is pushing the bike forward and how much is just moving your leg? If you are .001% more efficient per pedal stroke, x 90 RPM’s x 60 minutes in 1 hr. for a 5 hour bike leg or race. That’s 27 % more efficiency!

OK, there is some fussy math in there but you get the point. If endurance is some thing you’re working on you don’t necessarily have to ride the trainer until 11pm and swim until your whole body prunes. Incorporate drills into your training. Lots of drills.

To address this issue FP drills are key.

Workout #1: 3x5’ F.P. Pedal as fast as you can while still being in control. 110-120 is a great range .take 3’ rest. Build up to doing these at the end of your ride.

Notes: This will work your Neurological durability as well as your general “endurance” as most people think of it. Also when on the trainer realize you have no 0 time. In a bike race you may only avg. 70ish rpms per minute. And have 1/3 of your time at 0 watts or in a recovery zone! That allot! On the trainer doing the workout above you could avg. 100+ rpms and have 100% of your time in zone 2 and 3.

Recently I compared a team training ride with a ride a friend did the day before. “I only had 90’ to ride” he said in disappointment. After comparing his data with mine I noted that if you tock out the nearly 2 hours of 0 and recovery wattage time in my ride he had done the virtually same training as me! 90’ in zone 2 and 3. You could say mine was better because of the fatigue from the longer duration, or… one could say his was more effective because his effort was a continuous effort while mine had several “rest periods”… a topic for another time. This is a great example of maximizing your time.

Workout #2. Zone training. Do 45’ or more in zone 3 after a good warm up/at end of your ride. Build up to 90 minutes of zone 3 time.

Notes: Bump up the intensity! Do your “endurance” work in zone 3. Riding sub threshold has the same physiological adaptations as riding in zones 1-2 but they happen faster. The cost is greater fatigue and decreased reputability. But if you can’t do 3+ hours every day then do it up! The key to this is doing your Z3 work as one steady interval and staying in your zone(no coasting)! Having detailed and accurate training zones is vital for this. A power meter is king here. This will rack up your kilojoules (total work) must faster than riding in a group or doing zone 1-2 and will give you maximum return on your training time. By riding in your zone you could twice as much “work” in the time given than on along group ride. Two tips for ,making this work.

1. Don’t go out to hard

2. don’t spike your power on hills, when you stand, etc…

2. Stay true to the grand plan.

Lower intensity “endurance” training will most likely take up much of your training time in winter. So when training your limiter keep the intensity down! If you are working on your hill climbing go easy. Find a hill with a low grade so you can work on your climbing pedal stroke.

If you are working your sprinting power or anaerobic endurance, work the cadence aspect of it. Short, high cadence, spin ups are great for this. Make recoveries short but not to short. Let your HR drop to Z3 or Z2 and keep the gear easy. With will allow you to work the neurological and technical aspect of these skills with out the cost of excess muscle damage and lactate build up.

Eric has coached over 200 athletes of all levels in triathlon, cycling, mountain, biking, Cyclocross.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Surviving the Gila.

Intro: The Tour of the Gila stage race is one of, if not THE premiere amateur race in the US. Especially if you’re a category 2 rider. As it is one of the few races in the country with a cat 2 only race. Almost every category fills and every one brings there A game. Are you ready? This 5 stage event has something for everyone and has everything possible to make this one the hardest races you’ll ever do. Silver City, NM (the host city) sits the mountains of southern NM at about 5500 feet. If you hadn’t spent time training and living at that altitude you’ll know it. You may get away with a good ride on day one but you are sure to feel the low O2 crunch as the race goes on. Many of the roads are “chip seal” making them slow. The wind is always a factor and can change at a moments notice. And then there are the hills. We’ll get into those in a minute. Get to know this site. Neutral support was great I did the cat 2 , 07 edition of the race with no team support on the road side, plenty of good water bottles being handed out by volunteers at every feed zone Be sure to check details and bring enough food on each stage!

Stage one, Mogollon RR, up hill finish: This stage will cause some big time gaps. The road of the finishing climb is bumpy, steep and relentless. It also comes after relatively flat but many miles. 90 or so if you’re a cat 2, 1 or pro. 75 if any other category. Its enough to cause significant time gaps but the race is not over. Ideally plan to have some one pick you up or arrive a full day early so you can drop a car at the base of the finishing climb. its 75 miles out side of town! Leave food and water with the car, while there is some support at the finish, food and water, but there is no stores or anything really until you get back to town. There is an area to park, afe and there will be other cars there. Bring light wheels and a 25 or 27 tooth cog for the finishing climb it a beast!
Training: be sure to have a good power to weight ratio and feel comfortable going all out up hill. Also be sure you have a few races in the belt and are comfortable riding at a fast pace for miles on end. Hit the local group ride and finishes your self off with some hill repeats at your FT.

Stage two, Inner loop RR: One of the tougher 65 mile races you will do. Relatively straight forward. 2 Climbs back to back in the beginning and one big one towards the end. There is 5+ miles down hill and flat after the last climb so it will most likely come together. And the long flat road over the divide is a good rest for people under pressure. Areas of Note: the decent off of climb 2. is very steep and twisty. Tack caution. It ranks in the category of so dangerous that it becomes… really not that bad. Nothing sneaks up on you, and with so many turns you can’t quite get to mach 1. Just pay attention! The star and finish are at the same place. About 4 miles from town. Easy, quick drive.
Training: Again good pack riding and climbing FT power will get you the finish line. Want to win? The sprint in a long slightly up hill drag. Have some good 1’ power. Start finish are at the same location so check it out!

Stage three, TT 16 miles hilly: pre riding this course could be the best thing you do to prepare for the Gila! Wind can make or break your performance so get it dialed in if you’re riding for a personal best! 16 hilly, solo miles on stage 3 will create some big time gaps again. Depending on your category you’re looking at a 35-45 minute effort. Depending on the wind the last down hill 4 miles could be a 40+ mph affair or feel your still riding up hill! Bring the 54-11 gear combo or bigger! Bring the aero wheels but the disk may be to much of its windy. And it will be!
Training: Practice your Time trails! No secret there but this course is tough, up and down no flat road to speak of. Gauge your effort well. Don’t go out to hard. Easy to do on the gradual uphill start. Long FT intervals on your TT bike will get you ready.

Stage four, down town crit: The downtown crit has lots of fans and hug support! With a long wide finishing straight and wide turns it’s a safe, fast course. There are 2 short, steep rollers on the back side. Nothing major but again if the wind is blowing get to front and stay there. If you have to ride in the wind a few times and hammer the hills it could have you on the defensive. Training: Good anaerobic endurance and crit riding skills will make this a short sweet event and make your day more recovery than anything else which you will need! If your looking to finish well get to the front and stay there! With the wind and the rollers on the back moving up can be difficult. Some descending intervals, racing a few crits, and strength work will have you well prepared.

Stage five, the Gila monster, 100+ miles, sever course, up hill finish: This stage would make Lance Armstrong do a double take. Depending on your category you could be in for over 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing! The course also retraces some of stage 2 in the opposite direction. So don’t think your hallucinating, although you may be by the finish. Areas of Note: The final climb. It starts quickly. Its steep and twisty. (scary descent for day 2) get to the front! Trying to come around 50 people will put you in the red zone fast. The steep section gives way to some false flat for a long while. DO not think you are done! The course then dips and turns sharply for a few more miles. Pay attention here! One moment of lack of attention will have you closing gaps to what’s left on the peloton if not going off the road. By the time you start the final climb the lead group will be around 15 riders or so. Maybe smaller! The last climb is not hard but after 5 days and 10,000 feet of climbing that day if could break anyone. Arrange a ride for this finish. Its about 5 miles from town. I have ridden back but avoid it if you can. There is some water etc at the finish but not much food. There is however a restaurant. The best BBQ pulled pork sandwich you’ll ever have! Its worth carrying a 5 or 10 spot in a baggy if you don’t have the car. Bring the climbing wheels plenty of food and 27 cog for this beast of a ride.
Training: good climbing FT power again will do you well but make sure you can handle the volume of the day! long tempo rides (2-3hr of Z3 riding) in the hills is best but if you live in a flatter area nock out the tempo at your lower climbing cadence. Try to arrange to stay over that night. Traveling after a race like this can ruin your season, trust me I have seen it happen. Congratulations you made it!! Pat yourself on the back, but keep up the good recovery methods for a few days and take some time off! You need it.