Category: Coach’s Corner

Right Versus Left Side Power…..A Study

October 26, 2016

Our friends at Verve hooked my training rig (CAAD10) up with a 175 mm InfoCrank set in January of last year.  The InfoCrank is a hyper-accurate crank based power meter with independent right and left power readings.infocrank-compact-m30-centered

The initial experience was an eye opener; the left leg was pushing 40-45% of the overall power while the right side was doing 55 – 60% of the work.  As a cycling coach this situation offered a unique opportunity to see how much performance can be gained simply by evening out power in the right and left sides.  It took a full year to get within a couple of percentage points of 50/50!     MORE

You and Your Junior

October 12, 2016

 

Photo courtesy of Snowy Mountain Photography

 

The Chicago Cyclocross Cup, with exceptional help from people like Paul Swinand and Lou Kuhn from the PonyShop, has done something spectacular.  It is not unusual to see 100+ juniors line up at any given race!  It gives a lot of hope for the future of our sport and CX is finally feeling a little less fringe.

According to Paul Swinand “Kids want to have fun.  If it is not fun they’re gone”.  The Pony Shop crew doesn’t have structured training for their juniors, but rather rides and events.  It keeps them interested because it keeps it fun.

Chris Lombardo, father of the fastest kid to come out of the cup, shared much the same sentiments.  “Even when David was showing a strong interest and ability in the sport we kept it light.  We did do training at intensity at a certain point, but we’d be laughing while trying to beat each other up a hill”. Chris also points out that too much intensity can actually stunt a child’s ability to grow and develop to their full physical potential.  And not only is David Lombardo an amazing bike racer, he also goes through life with proper balance and that is a testament to parents who helped him keep the big picture in mind.

Oh ya, they’re serious

Interest is at least as important as talent.  Odds are that the most naturally gifted endurance athlete in the world is hanging out somewhere right now not thinking about endurance sports. There are many at the top of their respective game though that were mid-pack in the beginning.  Music, academics, sport….whatever.  Kids that love something can become great at it.

One of the challenges you face as a parent is that there are not always a group of fellow juniors to ride with.   In this case you’ll walk a fine line between fun, encouragement and preparation.  We’ve created a schedule for this very situation that blends skills, fitness and fun together.

Monday – off

Tuesday – skills.  Easy ride with some work on starts, barriers and cornering.  All fun, no hard efforts unless they want to do them.

Wednesday – bandit CX if available.  Otherwise just a fun ride on a challenging course.

Thursday – off

Friday – off

Saturday – Kid Opener.  Essentially the same as Tuesday’s skills ride.

Sunday – CCC race

 

Keep in mind that this is an example of the most training that we would recommend in a week.  Wednesday turns into more of a fitness oriented effort and Sunday is the hard ride. Two days with some intensity is plenty and keep them fun.  Regardless of the schedule that you have in mind, an important part of the mix is to listen, learn and change things up if that is what your child needs.

Kids are awesome!

 

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High Intensity Interval Training

September 28, 2016

 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), also known as Tabata, has had resurgence within the fitness realm. Among other benefits, HIIT may improve VO2 Max as well as Anaerobic Capacity. HIIT is particularly good for cyclocross training because the efforts mimic the hard punches out of corners, attacks and the first lap of a CX race. HIIT is also beneficial when you have a busy week of “real life” without much time for training.

I use the term “Tabata” when referring to the HIIT workouts. Japanese Professor Izum Tabata incorporated high-intensity intervals when he trained speed skaters. The muscles that are put to work when skating are similar to the muscles used in cycling. Izum Tabata had his speed skaters use exercise bikes for their short interval training.

Tabata intervals should be performed at maximum effort. They hurt, in a good way. Burning legs, a fiery chest and a pukey feeling at the end of a set are all signs that you are doing this right. You may implement Tabata on a hard training day (3-5 sets), or throw in one or two sets on a medium-intensity training day between your Z2-Z3 efforts.

Here is a good go-to Tabata workout, but keep in mind the length of the intervals and recoveries may be adjusted:

  • Warm up for at least 20 minutes. Implement two 15 to 30 second hard efforts in the last 5 minutes of the warm up.
  • As mentioned above, 3-5 sets will make for a hard workout when done right.
  • Start each interval like you’re on the start line of a CX race. Since you’re going all out right off the bat you may as well work on your race starts as well.
  • One set is a 4 minute session of riding for 20 seconds at maximum effort with a 10 second recovery before hitting it hard again for 20 seconds. Repeat until your 4 minutes is up.
  • Keep your legs spinning during the 10 second recoveries. Complete recovery between sets, which usually takes 3-5 minutes depending on your fitness level.
  • Warm down for at least 15 minutes, eat and stretch.
Post Tabata

Post Tabata

 

Give Tabata a try! I won’t take it personally if you curse me during this particular workout.

 

Peter Kelley

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Plan Your Week

September 14, 2016
CX is Back!

CX is Back!

Setting up your week of training for the race season is one of the many important aspects in accomplishing your CX goals this year.  Too much volume and intensity will result in a tired body on race day (per Rob Nichols – “don’t use up your race legs on Wednesday!”), while too little will undermine your ability to go deep into the season and get better as it goes along.

You need to work on intensity, skills, endurance and recovery in a way that allows you to bring it all together for race day.  Keep in mind that going hard on any given day will actually make you slower for the next 24 to 48 hours at least.  It is the “supercompensation” that can only come after a tough ride followed by proper recovery that makes you stronger, and more on that from the Master here.

A typical week

Monday – off, or strength maintenance in the gym

Tuesday – easy active recovery ride.  1 – 1.5 hours in zone 1-2 heart rate/power.

Wednesday  – tough ride.  This is a great day for anaerobic intervals or bandit CX.

Thursday – active recovery and skills.  Have a nice easy warm up to give the legs a chance to recover from the Wednesday ride.  Hit some turns at speed, do a few short starts, mounting and dismounting….etc.  Get the reps in while maintaining an easy to moderate effort.

Friday – off completely

Saturday – Opener.  1-1.5 easy ride with a few short (30 – 60 seconds) and intense efforts.  Do a few more short starts and easy barriers as well and get a good long warm down in.

Sunday – Race

If you are racing on Saturday then simply take Thursday off completely and do your opener on Friday.  Recovery weeks are also a necessary piece of the puzzle, but more on that later.   You may respond better to a hard day on Thursday rather than Wednesday, and the only way to figure that out is to try both.  The most agreed upon gap between a hard workout and your best performance is 72 hours, but with at least one race every weekend in this series save Thanksgiving my opinion is that an extra day of easy prior to the weekend is best.  It also seems that the younger you are the more likely you’ll be feeling good again after 72 hours of recovery.  Bottom line is that not everyone is the same and so it is important to experiment to find what works best for you.

One of the great things about cyclocross is that the preparation doesn’t require too much time on the bike.  You can get away with 8-12 hours per week depending on your category and be totally prepared for the effort.  The key is in your progression throughout the off-season and race season, and going into each day with a specific goal.  That goal can vary from keeping the legs up and doing nothing to help with recovery, to riding at your absolute limit.  The art of coaching is in piecing these aspects together properly as they will be the difference between reaching your goals and not.

Game on….

Rob Kelley

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2016

December 2, 2015

As usual the season flew by. Montrose is going to be a blast as always and especially nice with the weather that the Cup has ordered up.  Once it’s over, and still fresh in your head, lay out your annual training plan (ATP) as the first step in realizing your potential next year.

Montrose...Sand. Photo Courtesy of Corey Brink

 

The first phase of importance is the transition phase, which is easy because it consists largely of nothing!  Taking time off the bike can feel odd though after such a sudden STOP. Your body craves it and your mind misses it.  Hang in there because while it can take some time to process this phase of your training is an important part of the equation.  It’s good to be active, including some cycling, but let your mind and body take a break from the grind and just have fun.  More on that here.

The 2015 ChiCrossCup has once again been a blast!  Thanks to everyone out there who is reading what we love to write about.  The coaches at Training Bible Cycling have experience in all disciplines and specialize in taking the time and tools at your disposal and helping you get the most out of the effort you put in. Shoot us a note, set, repeat and better than ever…

See you Sunday.

Rob Kelley

TRAINING BIBLE CYCLING

Get Your Mojo Back

November 11, 2015

Remember online Pre-Reg on BikeReg for BOTH DAYS of this weekend’s races closes TONIGHT. You must register separately for BOTH DAYS.

Mojo is a funny thing.  It is, as defined by who the heck knows via the internet, “a magic charm, talisman, or spell”.  It’s an ethereal entity that resides within your body and mind.  At this point in the season some are not feeling it, or about to lose it, and that is a direct result of a flawed training and racing program.

So get up off the couch, stop feeling sorry for yourself and……get back on the couch.  Signs of overtraining include irritability, listlessness, a lack of interest in riding your bike, muscle soreness, muscle fatigue, insomnia and loss of concentration.  It also increases the risk of sickness and injury.  At the least you’ll not have as much fun doing what you love, and at the worst you’ll bail on it completely.

Photo Courtesy of Corey Brink

A more exacting method of identification is to keep track of your Delta Heart Rate.  Take your Resting Heart Rate just after you open your eyes while still laying in bed in the morning.  Get up, walk around and do your thing for a minute or so and then take your heart rate again (Standing Heart Rate).  The difference between the two is the Delta.  Less than 10 is excellent, 10-20 is pretty good, 20+ is a sign that you need a day or two off and 30+ is cause for real concern.  We work with a professional marathon mountain bike racer who came to us with a Delta Heart Rate of about 35.  It took 3 weeks to bring it down to a reasonable level prior to his being able to begin training for the next season.

If you’re seeing signs of any of the above and haven’t layered recovery into your program don’t panic because it’s a very easy fix.  Take a recovery week, forget about cycling for a few days and allow yourself to re-charge:
Monday – off

Tuesday – off

Wednesday – easy 1-1.5 hour ride

Thursday – easy 1-1.5 hour ride

Friday – off

Saturday – easy 1-1.5 hour ride

Sunday – race or 1.5 hour ride with 30 minutes of tempo (zone 3 HR/pwr)

I’m not gonna lie, Sunday is going to feel like a punch to the gut if you decide to race at the end of a recovery week.  There is a physiological cost to a sedentary week.  It is as necessary as training hard though so take the leap and it will pay off during the last few races of this season.

Big thanks to the South Chicago Wheelmen!  Two races in a weekend is more than one club should subject themselves to.  See you at Indian Lakes.

 

Rob Kelley

TRAINING BIBLE CYCLING

Use It or Lose It, The Cyclocross Version

November 4, 2015

Cyclocross racing is made to take you to your limit.  You have a power profile (Peak Power at different durations) and it’s important that you take inventory and identify the different efforts that you have in your arsenal. 

The start is like a sprint. The entire first lap is a VO2max nightmare. The middle of the race is normally more on the FTP side of things with wicked little ebb and flow situations necessary to either drop or stay with others. The last lap is usually an FTP normalized power/VO2max feeling death march with a possible sprint at the end. Take inventory, know what you have to work with and develop every aspect:

.02 (12 seconds, explosive power): This is your start and finish. Starts are pretty straight forward.  The finish is more intricate so know what distance suits you best – usually 150-300 meters. When you get to a race course make note of a stationary object that is your sweet spot distance away from the finish line and key in on it as a place to launch yourself into the final sprint. This type of effort will also get you over short hills and, if necessary, short gaps.

1 minute, lactate clearance: Jam up short hills, close small gaps or go into “cling-on” mode when things really get tough. If you’re feeling awesome then go ahead and let it fly from a kilometer out from the finish.

6 minutes, velocity at VO2MAX: Work this duration out and it goes a long way.  The first lap of a race is often as much about who can suffer as it is about who is the strongest.  Peg it as long as it takes and things will calm down at some point long enough for you to recover and settle into a group.

12 minute: See CP6, but with twice as much misery and pain! Also consider this as a way to help make an attack stick in the last couple of laps.

CP30 (30 minutes, lactate super threshold): The field is made up of those that have this type of muscular endurance and those that don’t. It is a more useful number in road racing should you find yourself off the front, but still an important one to build for cyclocross as it represents the sustained power that will get you to the end with a little something left.

Use your tools to build a good result. Get a great start, bridge up to the group just ahead, attack at THE critical point of a race, maintain good position……these are all necessary evils in the pursuit of happiness (winning will make you a happier person). Don’t do anything unless it is a direct benefit to you or a teammate. Pulling at the front of a long headwind section with no help from anyone else in your group is like running sideways at a marathon. Have a plan, know what you have going for you and use it to win!

 

Rob Kelley

TRAINING BIBLE CYCLING

Breath!

October 21, 2015

Cyclocross is unique in its’ physical demands.  It’s all-out, shut down completely for some twisty turns and then on again at full tilt.  The very fast and fun course at Randall Oaks (thanks Main Street Bicycles and crew) was a good example of this.

Chicago Cyclocross Cup (c) Liz Farina Markel/Tipping Point Photography

Chicago Cyclocross Cup (c) Liz Farina Markel/Tipping Point Photography

Recover when you can’t pedal……It seems pretty obvious but takes some discipline when you’re so fried that you can’t even spit correctly.  Break the course down in your mind during your warm up laps and remind yourself to back off when the course necessitates during the race.  Use those precious moments to breath and collect your thoughts.

Cyclocross takes longer to learn than most endurance sports.  There are so many little things to remember and execute and all while you’re almost completely out of your mind.  So as with anything that we do – barriers, start, turns, etc. – you’re wise to work on this aspect as well.   These are tough!  So do them on a day that makes sense to have hard intervals:

Warm up for at least 20 minutes in zones 1-2 heart rate/power

Do as one continuous effort: 10 seconds race pace (120% or more of your FTP power/race pace), then right into a technical section of turns that take 10 seconds to complete x 9 efforts back to back = 1 interval .  So each interval is 3 minutes in length (20 seconds x 9).

2 minutes of recovery between intervals.

X3 intervals = 1 set.

Take 5 minutes off between sets.

Warm down with at least a 20 minute spin in zones 1-2 heart rate/power

 

Two or three sets for a 4/5, four or five sets for a cat 3 and six or seven sets for the 1/2/3 bunch is a good hard day on the bike.

As with pyramid intervals the recovery is as much a focus as the power.  Train your mind and body to relax in the technical section.  As with most learned skill repetition is your friend.  It will become a natural thing to do on race day and that is going to provide you with more power where it’s most beneficial.

 

Rob Kelley

TRAINING BIBLE CYCLING

3 Reasons Roadies Should Race Cyclocross

October 14, 2015
Screenshot from 2015-10-12 19:10:24

One of the Best Descents….Ever

It’s October. If you’re somewhere south this means you’re just getting a jump on next year’s road season. If you reside close to the best amateur CX series in the country , it means you’re getting ready to pull out the winter gloves and buy some thermal insulated boots. Maybe you’re searching for a great coach to help maximize your potential during the next race season. Hopefully you’re not hanging up the spandex for too long while implementing daily donuts into your diet.

Whatever you’re doing you should also be racing cyclocross. Yeah. Cyclocross. That sloppy, wet racing with the funky bikes that look like glorious road bikes but aren’t really glorious road bikes. That weird, chaotic sport where you might have to actually run with your bike (gasp!) or grow a beard. “Why?” You ask. Why should you race cyclocross?

Because You Don’t Want To Be Paolo Bettini, That’s Why.

We’re not talking about version 2006 of Paolo Bettini. That guy won the world championship and deserves to do whatever he wants. We’re not talking about the 2007 Paolo Bettini here, either. That guy won the world championship for the second straight time and deserves to do whatever he wants twice-over with a side of full-fat whipped cream.

 

What we are talking about is the 2008 Paolo Bettini. The man who, having twice won the world championships, appeared to eat all the donuts. And the whipped cream. We’re talking about the one who ate all the cheeseburgers and then retired. That Paolo Bettini went from being at the top of his game to being un-competitive pretty quick. Sure, he had some injuries. On the other hand, once he decided he would retire, he sure didn’t seem very motivated.

Motivation is a tricky thing. Nobody is saying you have to race cyclocross with the same discipline, gusto, or intensity that you attack road season. On the other hand, a couple of Sunday CX races a month very well may keep you intrigued enough to avoid eating all the cheeseburgers. Some CX racing worked into your off-season program can keep the bottom from completely falling out from under you.

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