This is a great article written by one of the giants in a scientific approach to endurance training, Doctor Edmund Burke. He is surely missed but his works live on.
Read this carefully and think about where you want to be at the end of 2017. Set those goals and make them happen!
Starting the Year Off Right
By Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D.
Most of you could ride almost as well as Miguel Martinez or Alison Dunlap.
You probably couldn't ride their times or beat them in a race, but if properly trained, you could approach your potential as they have theirs. While we each have different genetic gifts for off-road cycling, most of us have the ability to fully realize our promise if we go about our training with intelligence and restraint.
Whether you choose to try and maximize your talent or simply to obtain the greatest possible fitness benefits from your riding, the results will depend largely on how you train.
As we begin the New Year, let's explore some of the key concepts used by many great athletes in designing their overall training program for the year.
Much of what separates the good cyclist from the back-of-the-pack cyclist is their individuality, consistency, slow progression, fulfillment and goal-selection concepts from which we can all benefit.
First, you must plan your training to your needs, abilities and routines.
While we must listen to the training programs of elite riders, read books and articles on
Let's face it...cyclists are not always embraced by the other road and trail users. While we can all do our part to make sure we're portraying cyclists as responsible citizens (follow traffic law, yield to other trail users, etc.), it's still not a guarantee that we won't get some grief from a driver or other individual. So it's always nice when you see another rider and you get the friendly, "Hey Man," to let both folks know we're really a family all looking out for each other.
The characters at GCN have a great short little video about this very topic.
Some of you are coming into your big events of the year, some are just beginning to throw down, and the 'cross specialists are working on their base. Either way, your intensity is increasing, and for many, the volume is going up a bit, too. In order to get the most from your racing and training, make sure you take some extra steps to give yourself every advantage possible.
1. Drink enough fluids during the day. I use a gallon jug of water at work to be sure that I'm taking in enough water. Sometimes trying to count bottles or glasses can be misleading, and it's better for the environment to refill. Everybody has different hydration requirements but it's widely agreed upon that athletes need more water during hotter temperatures.
2. Drink enough during training and racing. It's hot...you're going to sweat more. It's impossible to "stay ahead of it" as we often say, but you can minimize your losses.
3. Eat enough during the day and during rides. The hotter weather sometimes suppresses your appetite, so watch your intake.
Side note--check out this article:Lose Weight by Eating More
4. Take advantage of the neutral support in races and rides. Stop at the aid stations, top off your bottles and/or hydration pack, dose yourself with some cool water, and get some calories if the duration warrants. Just do watch your time if you're in a competitive event. It's not a smorgasbord...get in with a plan of what you're going to grab, grab it, and get out.
5. Don't hesitate to stop on a training ride to refill. You can often find delis and the like that will gladly refill your bottles with another purchase. If you live in super hot areas like Flagstaff, AZ, there will be coolers of ice cold water outside of each restaurant--it's the law apparently! No matter what, carry some cash (some small shops still have a minimum purchase for credit cards) and fill up. Again, you can be efficient and not lose too much time.
6. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. This should be the case year round, of course, but the summer offers us some great treats. Watermelon is very high in potassium, which is great to fend off muscle cramps. And the water content of most fruits and vegetables is very high and will serve your body well.
7. Cool yourself during and after workouts and after races. The recovery process is sped up the faster you can cool your core. It's also great for the joints and muscles. A cold shower, or a sit in a cold stream can do wonders. The stream idea can be used mid-ride, too. If you have access to a cold plunge, that's the DEAL! I've found these techniques to be VERY effective.
8. Apply lotion and sun screen. If your body's resources are being used to heal damaged skin, it's less energy that you can spend on repairing the damage done by racing and training.
9. Eat foods that agree with you. Find those trigger foods and avoid them when in the height of training and racing. Again, if your body doesn't digest well, it can't use those resources and nutrients for your cycling goals.
10. Take time for yourself. Try to eliminate stress as much as possible and take a little time for yourself each day. You can't add hours in the day, and stressing over not being able to train like you would to won't change anything.
11. Keep smiling and have fun! Remember why we ultimately all do our great sport!
Work hard and enjoy!
The Red Hook Crit Series is four unique events held in Brooklyn, London, Barcelona, and Milano. The inagural event was held in, you guessed it, Brooklyn in 2008. It was in Brooklyn alone for 2008 and 2009, then added Milano in 2010, and has now expanded to four events in four cities. The video below is from Equinox's Furthermore which also had a nice article about two of the competitors in the race. If you want to race your fixed gear bike on city streets, start training now and get ready for the intensity!
Back in January, I presented at Cycle Craft's Winning with Power night. I had a request to revisit this topic and wanted to post up on my Blog.
I thoroughly believe a power meter is one of the best investments you can make in your training. When coupled with a structured training plan, can take you to new levels of fitness and cycling achievement. Reps from the major players in the power meter world were also present allowing participants to investigate the options in detail.
My presentation covered the most utilized metrics in cycling and the pros and cons of each. I went into detail as to why a power meter provides the "best" possible data to accurately measure your ride. Next, I covered the types of power meters along with their pros and cons.
Below you will find a summary of the slides I presented. If you or your club/team would like to schedule to full presentation, or you would like to discuss other cycling and training related technologies, please send me an e-mail.
Reading the Race: Bike Racing from Inside the Peloton by Jamie Smith with Chris Horner is a must read for any and all road racers out there. Road racing is often described as chess match on wheels, and the strategies and subtle nuances that take place during can be mind boggling. Reading the Race helps to clarify what is going on, and help the reader become a more smart and efficient racer.
Not only is it extremely educational, it's an enjoyable read. Jamie Smith writes in a such a way that is engaging, lively, and clear. His dry sense of humor was greatly appreciated, as well as helping to keep things in perspective. In addition, there were many anecdotes from Chris Horner and his amazing experiences of racing around the globe. There is even a section on time trialing which I found very interesting.
This book is appropriate for the Cat 5 toeing the line in their first event, to the Cat 1 with decades of race experience. While I'm far from being a master race tactician nor do I claim to know all the ins and outs, I've been road racing since '96, I've spent hundreds of hours listening to Paul and Phil break down pro races from around the globe, and my stack of Velonews was quite a sight . Despite this experience, I gained new insight and perspective throughout the book, and had many fundamental practices reinforced.
This is definitely one for the bookshelf Check it out at: Velo Press.
Enjoy the read,
I've linked posts to videos from the great folks at GCN before, and this one does not disappoint. As racing really starts to heat up around the region, it's important to stay fueled up during your events. To gel or not to gel? Check out this video on making gels work for you.
Lately, there's been more and more online and computer based training tools specifically geared towards your indoor cycling workouts. Several decades ago, Computrainers ruled this domain on a NES like system. Despite the blocky graphics, the data provided was very scientific and helpful when analyzed by a trained professional. Today, there are many online and computer based options. Some are helpful for passing the time and motivation, others are for data collection only, and some are a mix of the two. Currently, a very popular choice among cyclists is Zwift. Zwift was launched in the Fall of 2014, and has continued to grow as a rapid rate since then. What is it? Here's what Zwift has to say about Zwift:
CYCLING IS SOCIAL.Here at Zwift we believe that the best parts about cycling are the places you go and the people you go there with.
Outdoor cycling is great. But weather, traffic, time constraints and distance from other cyclists can take the fun out of it.
That’s why we’ve created a new destination that places you and your bike into immersive, detailed, 3D landscapes with other cyclists from around the world.
Now you can ride with anyone at anytime.
Packed with real-time stats, stunning lifelike graphics, and the latest in massive multiplayer online gaming, Zwift has kicked up the indoor cycling experience.
We think it’s the greatest innovation in cycling since the bicycle.
Kevin E., a BJL Coaching Athlete and Cycle Craft Employee, wrote a super blog post about Zwift. Check it out here:
Kevin's Zwift Review
Maybe it's the "old school" mentaility of someone who's been riding indoors while staring at the TV screen on those super cold days and dark nights since 1995, but I haven't ventured to Zwift Island yet. I imagine next winter I'll be checking it out and enjoying myself and looking for you on Zwift!
Until then, get OUTSIDE and ride your bike!
"It's hard to hit the ball when all you can think about is striking out." ~ Unknown
If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you spend hours and hours on your bike, both inside and outside, training to reach your goals. We upload our data to Strava, Connect, and Training Peaks, looking at the metrics that are important to us. Most likely, you know your weekly volume and/or distance, and may go well beyond this with your average speed, maximum speed, elevation gain, average power, normalized power, kilojoules, average cadence, intensity factor, training stress score, variability index, and on and on.
When was the last time you sat down and trained your brain? We ride hard and purposely go out in adverse conditions and call this developing our "mental toughness." And while this is true and can help us to cope with difficult events and less than ideal environmental conditions, most of us can spend more time training one of, if not the greatest limiter: our brain. At some point, and unfortunately for most, it's at many points in our cycling career, we experience times of self doubt and mentally "cracking."
And the list goes on and on.
I found a great resource to at least get you started on properly training your brain. Sports Psychology for Cyclists is a wonderful read, co-authored by Dr. Saul Miller and Peggy Maas Hill. It's not just the theory behind what is becoming more and more popular in all levels of sports these days, but techniques with drills to practice these techniques. It takes time and effort, and is perhaps not as much fun as going out and riding your bike, but the results will speak for themselves. The book has a great flow switching back and forth between the authors, with many anecdotes to help the reader see the connections.
If you find this intriguing, there are also some great resources available on Youtube that are worth checking out. Here's a few for example:
It's All About the Mind: The Psychology of Cycling
Applied Practice in Sport PsychologyThe Psychology of Suffering - How to Handle the Pain
Take your next rest day to train your brain!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.