Category: Coach’s Corner

Limiters

October 18, 2017

 

Time to Focus on the Limiters

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After some intense CX races you probably have a good idea what “limiters” are holding you back from overtaking the guys and gals you have not been able to catch these last couple of weeks. You may be getting dropped after certain obstacles or through technical corners. Maybe you’re hitting a wall before crossing the finish line, or you can’t get the recovery you need after a power section.

It’s important to recognize and focus on these weaknesses during the appropriate training days. This may seem obvious but some of us go at our intense training days with a workout that makes us “feel” like we’re making the best of our time. Maybe we feel really strong when we increase that average power week after week when we train race pace for 45 minutes on the usual training loop. Or maybe the short, intense efforts are where we exceed, and anaerobic endurance intervals are the go-to workout.  Getting out of the comfort zone while no-one is watching is what separates the podium from the rest of the field.

There is plenty of time to improve on these weaknesses before the big end-of-season races. Here are a few suggestions from TBC:

CX SKILLS – If barriers are your enemy, you think sand should only be for beach-goers, or you think bunny hopping should be restricted to small floppy-eared mammals; work on these must have skills during your recovery days. We give some good pointers in this post.

MOTHER NATURE – Do you excel on dry courses or are you a cold weather racer? Get out and play in the rain to get used to the sloppy conditions. Hopefully the hot races are over, but next season get out in the August heat in case Trek CX is brutally hot again. And now is the time to train on those cold days to prep for the potential frigid racing this winter.

WHY CAN’T I RECOVER? – Implement VO2 Max intervals or AE intervals on your hard days. Workouts like Tabata intervals will help improve the acceleration out of the technical sections, and train your body to take advantage of those short recovery sections.

THE WALL BEFORE THE LAST 2 LAPS – When the tank is consistently empty before the race is over you may need to pick it up on that hard training day. Just be careful you’re not over training and your weekly routine is making race day tougher than it should be. We recommend one, maybe two hard days a week depending on the training block. Mix in the short intervals with active recovery, and use the duration of your race as a guide for time. Here is an example of something you may try if your race is 45 minutes:

  • Mimic a start into a 4 minute Tabata interval.
  • Three minute recovery (50% of FTP) and into another Tabata interval.
  • 1 minute recovery into a 10 minute FTP interval.
  • Two minute recovery into a Tabata interval
  • Three minute recovery and into another Tabata interval.
  • 1 minute recovery into a 10 minute FTP interval.
  • Two minute recovery into a Tabata interval with an all-out finish.

Hit whatever goal is within your ability by improving your limiters during the middle of the season. Good luck and race hard.

Peter Kelley

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Two Birds with One Stone

September 27, 2017

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We all have to take it easy once in a while!  Cyclocross is very skill-heavy and you can make progress in this area despite having a take a recovery ride.   If you need a pure recovery ride then have just that and don’t worry about progress in other areas.  If you know you need a recovery day and have a little extra energy then give these a go.

 

 

 

Ride at a very easy pace for 30 minutes to warm up.  Then, at a very easy and deliberate pace, mix in these basic sills:

Starts – clip in with both feet, take a couple of medium-effort pedal strokes and then shut it down.

Turns – create a very short course with turns and methodically ride around.  Don’t brake, but rather keep a consistent speed that enables you to hit the turns at a good clip without breaking a sweat.

Barriers – clip out, walk 5 paces and re-mount…..repeat.  Work on dismounting and re-mounting on both sides, because every once in a while ambidextrous skills are a benefit.

Bunny hop – start low.  Gradually increase height and use a “barrier” that you can hit without repercussion.  We like to use 2 plastic stakes similar to what are used to form ChiCrossCup courses with a wooden garden stake balanced on the tabs at different heights.  Both can most likely be found at your local hardware store.  You don’t necessarily need to be able to hop a barrier in a race, but getting over smaller obstacles without touching them can help avoid punctures and the need to scrub speed.

Hop It!

In addition to making an easy day more interesting a ride like this affords the opportunity to really think these actions and motions through.  Taking them step by step will help you solidify and clean up certain motions and ultimately make up seconds per lap.  It might save you some skin down the road too.

Race hard and have fun!

Rob Kelley

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Plan Your Season

September 6, 2017

That went fast!  It’s hard to believe that the ChiCrossCup is up again.  Hopefully you’re in stellar form and ready to rip. Regardless, taking a bit of time to plan out the schedule is key.

Recovery is absolutely crucial, and weekly and monthly stints should be worked out now.  If you wait for your body and/or mind to pick a time for rest based on how you feel it will inevitably come at the wrong time.  A weeks’ worth of training and racing should be with 2 or 3 hard days including race day.  Age, experience and time of the season all have a hand in your set up, and a typical “on” week should look something like this:

Monday – Strength training or off completely

Tuesday – Easy ride for 1 to 2 hours

Wednesday – Hard ride.  Bandit race, intervals, etc.

Thursday – Easy skills ride.  Starts, barriers, turns, sand, etc.  Keep it under 1.5 hours and focus on the finer points.

Friday – Off

Saturday – Opener – 1 to 1.5 hours with 2 or 3 short, hard efforts

Sunday – Race

 

Monthly schedules are usually 3 or 4 weeks of hard training and racing followed by a recovery week.   Start with your most important race, presumably Montrose, and work backward.  Most bike racers come in with optimal form 2 weeks after a rest week.  As example the scenario below should produce your best results in the 3rd and 4th weeks:

Week 1 – Rest week

Week 2 – On week with race on Sunday

Week 3 – On week with race on Sunday

Week 4 – On week with Race on Sunday

The downside to all of this is that with races almost every weekend you’ll have a few that fall at the end of your recovery weeks.  Those are most likely going to be your worst results because it takes a couple of high-intensity rides to re-boot.   You just can’t be your normal stellar self every weekend, but you can give yourself the opportunity to choose form based on the importance of each race in the series.

See you in the deep, dark Woods of Caldwell.

 

Rob Kelley

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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