Taking a Mid-Season Break And Regaining Fitness By Adam Switters

 

Taking a Mid-Season Break And Regaining Fitness

Taking a Mid-Season Break And Regaining Fitness

Taking a Mid-Season Break And Regaining Fitness After Time Off The Bike

 

The cycling season (especially in California) is an exceptionally long one. I have lots of athletes who want to jump straight from the road season into cyclocross, and vice versa. In California, the racing season begins in January and doesn’t end till late September. Add in a solid base season and many racers only have a month long off-season. For those athletes who want to race well early and late in the season, a mid-season break is a must. This break serves as a time for both physical and mental recuperation from the tolls of racing and training.

 

How Much Time Should I Take Off

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How to adjust your training when you get sick.

2012-09-25_2053

 

How to adjust your training when you get sick

By Sean Burke

am reminded of this topic after receiving emails from many of my athletes who have been under the weather in recent  weeks,  as well as being sick enough  to be bed- and couch-ridden myself  for about 36 hours just a few days ago.     Besides the normal winter colds, there is an especially virulent flu affecting more people than usual and many of my riders are having to tone down their programs.    As a coach, sometimes my job is simply to be the voice of reason.  Cyclists can be obsessive about their training.  They want to get in every   interval, every minute, every kilojoule, every kilometer.  But sometimes the smart thing to do is just take the day (or a couple of days!) off.   This can be especially tough when you feel like your fitness is coming along well or you are close to a big event.   Sometimes it’s ok to  train right through it, but   frequently the best plan of action is to  take a  few  extra days off, or extended periods of easy training.

When to train right through sickness:  As a general rule, you can train right through it when training doesn’t make it worse and you don’t have a fever    An example would be a minor head cold, with the characteristic congestion, headache, nasal pressure, and clear mucous.      Getting on your bike can raise your body temperature and actually help clear out some of that congestion  by loosening up the  mucous and  getting it out of there.    Just be careful not to hit your riding buddies with those snot rockets.    It will pass in a matter of time and you may take some medications to treat the symptoms (See my earlier posts on USADA,.  Your body just has to beat that sickness on its own and antibiotics  won’t do anything to improve the situation.     Keep in mind that everything changes if you have a fever,  the  infection  moves to your lungs, or if you have colored mucous, a sign of a secondary bacterial infection.

 

When to adjust your training:   Any time you have a fever, you should take the day off.  A fever is part of your body’s way of fighting off invaders and you need to marshal your reserves to fight this thing.    You may have an important   workout or ride coming up, but riding when you have a fever is only going put you in a hole and make it worse.  You’ll wind up taking longer to get over your sickness and you’ll miss more days of training than you otherwise would.   If you have a case of a head  cold that turns into a secondary bacterial infection as described above, you definitely need to see a doctor, who will most likely  prescribe antibiotics to  take out the bacteria.    I know many riders who are reluctant to take antibiotics, but if this upper respiratory tract (URT) infection works its way down into the lungs, you could develop pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.    This is much more difficult to get rid of, and could result in an extended period off the bike.  It’s much better to nip it in the bud   early and get back to doing what you love.    Pneumonia can develop from a viral URT infection as well as a  bacterial one, so you should also  get of your bike and see a physician if you  experience any wheezing or labored breathing.

The situations above are all cold- and flu-like symptoms that are associated with the winter months.   Other situations that warrant time of the bike are obviously situations like vomiting or diarrhea and  gastrointestinal pain/distress.   If you experience any of the above symptoms along with severe back pain you should get to the doctor right away as the back pain could be a sign of severe dehydration  and possible kidney failure.

Whenever you take some time off due to illness, be sure to ease back into your training.        You don’t want to challenge your already weakened immune system and have a relapse.    Some of the gastrointestinal issues can leave you dehydrated and your carbohydrate stores depleted, so you may need an extra day or two to refuel and restore your body.    Most of this stuff is common sense, but  cyclist can be hard on themselves and the drive to train can sometimes  overpower that  common sense.   As a coach, sometimes my job is to tell riders that its ok to take the day off.  Typically,  my athletes already know that a day off is the right decision, but the same killer instinct that compels them to race bikes, also makes them want to power through it rather than take a day off.  They just need someone to remind them that, sometimes, not training is better than training.

 

-Sean Burke is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA

Disclaimer:  I’m not a physician, so  the above isn’t medical advice and I can’t diagnose your disease.      Use your noggin and see your doctor if you are ever unsure about what to do.

 

Risks of Taking Medications

2012-09-25_2053

Risks of Taking Medications

By Sean Burke

Last week I wrote about the potential risks of accidentally ingesting banned  substances when  using what appears to be a completely legal supplement.   You may think that you’ll never  have to deal with USADA,   but  the reality is that the potential for amateur athletes to be testing is growing every day.    They are already testing Gran Fondo Riders in NY.   Colorado and Florida already have plans to test racers  in 2013,  and  there is talk of  instituting amateur testing in Southern California.    So this week I’d like to go talk hat to do when you are legitimately taking a medication that is on the ban list.

 

Basically the idea is that the substances on the list either confer an unfair advantage, or that they could potentially harm the athlete   But what about over the counter medications,  drugs  you are taking for a legitimate medical reasons and even  medications that are prescribed to you by your physician?   They can still  get you into trouble.

In 1999  skeleton slider Zach Lund began taking  the anti baldness medication finasteride, and it was perfectly  within the rules.   Lund was  tested many  times over the years, and each time he was tested, he disclosed his use of the medication.  Then in 2005, unbeknownst to Lund, finasteride was put on the banned list.    It was added not because  it gives a competitive advantage, but because WADA claims finasteride can be used to  mask other more sinister drugs.   Even though Lund had been using the medication for years, even though he  disclosed his use, and even though  he got no competitive advantage; he was kicked off the national team and missed the 2006 Winter Olympics.  As of this writing, finasteride is longer on the banned list.  So while Lund eventually went with a clean shaven pate, he could now choose to take finasteride without consequence.

 

The reality is that something as simple as an over the counter cold medicine could be on the banned list, and some medications are banned during competition but not out of competition.   You can see why  understanding   exactly what is allowed and what isn’t can be difficult.  Take Nyquil for example:   Nyquil  Cold and Flu, and Nyquil   Cough are just  fine, and won’t get you into any trouble.  But Nyquil D, Nyquil  Cold , and Nyquil Hot Therapy Powder all contain  small amounts of peudoephedrine, an  “ in competition” banned  substance.     So you can take any of these without penalty if you  aren’t  racing for several days.   So  Nyquil Cold and Flu  is  fine any time, but Nyquil Cold  can get you into big trouble on race day.      You can see how easy it can be to get ourself in trouble.    The best way to make sure you don’t test positive is to avoid taking any OTC medications, but that may not be realistic.    The best way to  check to see if your medication  contains a banned substance is to check the Gobal  Drug Reference Online(DRO).     The DRO allows you to search medications by country and by sport, and  puts drugs into essentially  three different classifications.  These classifications may be different for in competition vs out of competition ( as in  the Nyquil example above).  These classifications are:

  • Not Prohibited
  • Conditionally Prohibited (for example:  certain levels are not allowed)
  • Prohibited

Before you take any OTC medication, you should check the  DRO and know the USADA status of  any medication you are taking.     You may still be able  to take a medication containing a banned substance without fear of penalties, but  you’ll need to get a  Therapeutic Use Exemption(TUE).    A therapeutic Use exemption

 

What about   medications that are prescribed by your doctor for a legitimate medical condition?      You should check the DRO for those medications as well.   If you are subjected to a drug test and a banned substance is found in your system, a doctor’s prescription is not enough to get you off the hook.     You may still be able to take a medication containing a banned substance without fear of penalties, but you’ll need to get a  Therapeutic Use Exemption(TUE).    A therapeutic Use Exemption is essentially  pre approval to  use an otherwise banned substance because of a legitimate medical use.      Examples are situations such as:   insulin for Type 1  diabetics, some asthma medications,   and  some use of corticosteroids.      A physician’s prescription alone is not enough.   An athlete must have a TUE, and a Dr’s prescription is no guarantee that TUE will be approved.  It may not be difficult to get an anti-aging Dr to prescribe banned medications such as testosterone.  Those Androgel  commercials that seem ubiquitous  on television are constantly   pushing the stuff, and its easy to see how a masters athlete may be tempted  visit his doctor and ask to try it out.    USADA will, in some circumstances, give a TUE for testosterone. But the   level of documentation and the conditions present for a testosterone TUE to be approved are for more stringent that what many physicians require to give out a prescription.    A slightly below average testosterone level or   a testosterone level that falls with age   is not going to be enough to get a TUE for the stuff.   Back in  2003, journalist  and avid cyclist Stuart Stevens got a Dr to prescribe him  testosterone, growth hormone,  and even EPO.  While Stevens didn’t apply for  a TUE for any of these, I’m certain that not a single one would have been approved.

 

Bottom line is that   drug testing is now a concern for amateur athletes as well as professionals.     When you sign up for a racing license you agree to be subject to testing, and amateur testing is becoming more common every day.      Even the cleanest athlete out there is going to have some minor anxiety   when going through the testing process.    The banned list is large and sometimes confusing, and the possibility of innocently ingesting a banned substance is real.     Being conservative with supplement choices, and being educated about common medications goes long way towards staying safe.  But the best practice is probably to minimize your intake of supplements as well as medications whenever possible.

 

 

 

Sean Burke is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.     Is there a training  or coaching related question that you would like to see addressed in Cycling Illustrated?  Contact Sean  via his website, or Post  your suggestions on the  Cycling Illustrated Facebook page and tag Sean M Burke.

 

Risks of Supplementation

Risks of Supplementation

By Sean Burke

A few weeks ago a wrote about a few supplements that  I personally take.   As I’ve said before, I’m not really a big supplement guy, and I am cautious about what I take, as well as what I recommend to my athletes.    The WADA and USADA websites have excellent athlete resources and full lists of banned substances that can help you avoid anything  that is against the rules.  But taking supplements, even apparently legal and safe ones, is not without risk.    Earlier this year  my  Crank Cycling   co-coach  Chris Daggs sent me a list of   supplements that were tainted and recalled by the FDA. . You can find the list here.     The list is an excellent reminder that there are tainted supplements out there, and that   an athlete is responsible for anything that winds up in his body.   If a substance that is on the WADA banned list winds up in your body, you will get a suspension.    It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or not.   Some of these supplements may even be purposefully tainted in  in order to increase their efficacy.    Most of the supplements on this list are bodybuilding supplements, and are unlikely to be taken by cyclists, but the other common classifications are basically penis pills and weigh loss supplements.  I know many cyclists that might be tempted to try at least one of those…..  And cyclists have been banned for unintentionally ingesting a banned substance in a tainted supplement.  In 2002, professional rider Scott Moninger received a one year suspension when he  tested positive for a metabolite of anabolic steroids.   Moninger  had unopened containers of  the amino acid that he  purchased  at a local health food store.  He took those unopened packages and had them tested  at an independent lab, where they found the same anabolic substance that was in Moningers sample,  giving pretty strong evidence  that Moninger did not knowingly take the substance.     Moninger’s 1 year suspension was considered a slap on the wrist because he unknowingly ingested the substance.  If he hadn’t proven that  it was taken on accident, he likely would have received a much longer ban.    More recently in the Fall of 2011,  an amateur racer in Florida received an 8 month ban for a banned substance  that was apparently   in an over the counter mass marketed energy drink he bought a local  drug store.

 

Anyone who takes out a racing license is essentially agreeing to the possibility of being tested, and the push to have testing at more amateur events is growing.    It is important to understand that anything on the banned list is found in your system, you are going to pay the price.   Even if it was an accident, and even if it was in non-therapeutic dosage.     So how often  are supplements contaminated?   In 2002 the IOC issued a  report that found that 14.8% of the supplements they tested  were contaminated with testosterone or related compounds, 18.8 % of the supplements  that originated in the US were contaminated.  That is 1 out of 5!  But wait….it gets worse…. A 2004 study published in the journal Sports Medicine, found that 40% of the supplements they tested were contaminated with either prohormones or  or stimulants that could cause an athlete to test positive for a banned substance!  Not good.   Almost half!   I’m not suggesting that a full 40% of all supplements out there are contaminated.  A full 40% of the supplements in that one study were contaminated, but the researches chose mostly protein powders/muscle building supplements and weight loss supplements.  It is definitely possible that those classes of supplements are more likely than others to be contaminated, but that isn’t really the point either.     The point is that  supplement contamination is real and you can get into real trouble if you accidentally take a contaminated supplement.      What is the best way to ameliorate those risks?  Avoiding  supplements in general is probably the best way to avoid accidental ingestion of a banned substance.   If you really want to take supplements though, there is an independent testing organization called NSF that tests products .   This organization runs completely independently of the supplement companies, tests their products for contamination, ensures that the label accurately reflects what is in the product inspects their facilities, and will only give their stamp of approval  once their rigorous standards have been met.    NSF even does random ” marketplace testing”, meaning they don’t just  test the stuff the companies give them.  They go to the store and randomly buy the supplements off the shelves and test those  as well.        I am generally of the opinion that most supplements are not worthwhile, but there are a few that are worth taking for some athletes ( that belongs is another post).  If you absolutely must take a supplement, my suggestion is that you march on over to http://www.nsfsport.com now, and search their list of certified products.    You’ll get no promises from me, but that is probably  the best way to make sure you stay clean.

Resources and Sources:

IOC Report on Supplement contamination: http://www.edb.utexas.edu/ssn/SN_Papers/IOC%20alert-Supplement.pdf

 

Sports Medicine Journal Article on   Tainted supplements: Http://www.ajol.info/index.php/sasma/article/viewFile/31857/23634

 

World Anti Doping agency website: http://www.wada-ama.org/

 

US Anti-Doping Agency  website: http://www.usantidoping.org/

 

NFS Sport: http://www.nsfsport.com

 

Sacred Cow: To burn fat, you need to ride at an easy intensity for a long time.

Sacred Cow: To burn fat, you need to ride at an easy intensity for a long time.
My Take: To burn fat, you have to burn lots of calories on the bike, and riding hard burns more calories than riding easy.

As exercise intensity changes, so does the fuel that you use. Sitting here typing this on my keyboard, I am burning mostly fat, but if I go out and do a 20 K TT, I am burning pretty much all carbohydrate. Why is this? Fat is a great fuel, it supplies practically endless amounts of energy. Even the leanest cyclist has enough body fat to fuel several hundred miles of riding. The problem is that as exercise intensity goes up, fat simply can’t release its energy quickly enough to fuel those muscles and pound those pedals. This means that as eintensity goes up, the percentage of fuel that is carbohydrate goes up and the percentage that is fat goes down. When you are at 20% of your aerobic capacity ( ~ 25% of your threshold power) you are using about 60% fat and 40% carbs,, with a little bit of protein. By the time you are at 50% of your maximal aerobic capacity (~ 60% of your threshold power) those number are flipped and you are using more carbohydrates than fat . So that by the time you are going along at any decent clip ,you are using mostly carbs. So at easy intensities, you are burning more fat as a percentage of the total. This is where the “fat burning zone” myth came from.

This chart shows how the fat and carbohydrate percentages change as exercise intensity goes up.

Graphic courtesy of Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas at http://www.sportsscientists.com/

Now, let me ask you a question. Would you rather have 60% of $500 or 40% of $1000? You don’t have to think too hard about that one do you? Think of your fat burning the same way. If you burn a total of 500 calories and 300 of those are from fat, you aren’t nearly as far along towards looking like Chri Froome compared to if you burned 1000 calories and 400 of those were fat. Not only did the more intense 1000 calorie ride burn 100 more fat calories during the ride, it burned 500 more calories TOTAL. This means that when you eat a meal later on, the calories that you consume will go to replenishing all of the carbohydrates you used, rather than being stored as fat! I want to re state that last point as it confuses many. During the harder rider ride, you burn more TOTAL calories. This means that the food you eat later is less likely to be turned into fat.
The whole equation is pretty simple really. Negative energy intake equals fat loss. You burn more calories when you ride harder. This along with my bonus sacred cow from a few weeks ago should convince you that you don’t have to spend the whole winter riding easy. Have fun, get out there and hammer a little!

Sean Burke is the Head Coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.

Dynamic Aerodynamics

 

Dynamic Aerodynamics – Body Position Optimization

By Jay White, FASTER aerodynamic engineer

Sitting at my FASTER desk, the view changes considerably from day to day.  My ‘view’ is the main window into the wind tunnel.  Some days it is filled with sleek time trial bikes, other days road bikes, and platform arms will be configured for track bikes soon!  The best days are those with athletes slicing off the final few grams of aerodynamic drag from bike jersey and bibs.  The mantra there is that human skin appears to be VERY aerodynamic.

 

We all have the mental image of a professional time trial event with a rider frozen into the classic aero position with back flat, head very low, and with arms tucked and elongated to a centered-stretched position.  That position is held through corners and up hills as much as possible.

 

For road racing and criteriums, the body position on the bike is dramatically more dynamic.  We adjust for comfort riding in everyday riding, as well as in corners and hills, in both our upper and lower body position.  These adjustments can be aero cheaters or aero drag chutes depending upon intent and execution of a few critical elements!

 

Think about grabbing that drink bottle for a quick gulp of your favorite hydration…  Bottle cages behind the seat require opening up and twisting the torso adding significant drag and associated deceleration while taking quite a long bit of time to execute the get-and-replace movements.  Bottles cages on the down tube allow a lower torso position when reaching for the bottle and considerably shorter time to execute.  Keep your head and bottle low for a quick fueling.  Volume is everything as drinking early and fewer times disturbs your air flow less for any particular ride than numerous short drinks.  Aero drag is proportional to your frontal area and velocity [squared], so take hydration on low speed sections of your ride and in corners when the air flow is disrupted by directional changes, keeping stability in mind for road safety.

 

We had our own FASTER master mechanic Mark Bunz in the wind tunnel to illustrate the effects of dynamic body positioning in a classic rider positions.

Note that in the aero position Mark’s legs, arms and torso maintains body flexibility to absorb road irregularities, and front-to-back balance is optimized to allowing him to maintain the position for sustained periods of time.  Riding with his butt on the top tube and hands off the handlebars may seem faster, but significantly impair bike handling dynamics!!!

 

Mark’s aero tuck is an astounding 1078 grams less drag at wind angles averaged over 0 to 30 degrees.   That translates to a very significant 10 seconds per kilometer faster!!!  Many downhill sections of our rides are a half mile or longer and putting 10, 20 or 30 seconds on the competition, so to speak, is significant!  Keep mindful of your bike handling skills and work on that super slippery downhill position. Book some FASTER wind tunnel time and you will develop a few secrets that will pay off in faster times and safer rides!

Jay White is the FASTER wind tunnel engineer, a triathlete and a mountaineer who has climbed Everest. Jay specializes in electronic analysis of complex shapes and rapid movements for tailored product designs. For more information on the FASTER wind tunnel, visit: www.ride-faster.com.

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Sacred Cow: VO2 testing

 

Sacred Cow:  VO2 testing ( also known as metabolic testing) is  the best  and most “ scientific” way to  test/ascertain your fitness. By Sean Burke

 

My Take: VO2  testing is highly over rated and practically worthless for the most athletes.

I  feel comfortable calling myself and expert on metabolic testing.  I have a masters degree in exercise physiology, I’ve supervised hundreds of tests, and taught hundreds of undergraduate students to run VO2  tests on subjects.     In the exercise physiology lab, we teach students to do these tests to help them  get a better understand what is going on  as exercise intensity changes.    Researchers frequently test subjects so that they can classify the fitness level of the  subjects, and then normalize the workload for each subject.    When researchers run an athlete through the paces on a treadmill or  a bicycle ergometer, the typically report the maximum intensity  attained during the test.   The   participants then typically exercise at a certain percentage of the  maximum intensity they achieved during the  V02 max portion.    This works pretty well for scientists.  It’s a quick easy way to tell the general fitness level of the study participants, and how hard they exercised.

So why isn’t this useful for a   bike racer?   For many reasons.   For starters, the information learned from the test is all based on the gases expired by the participant.   The amount of oxygen a person uses, and the amount of CO2 a person produces  tells us how hard they are exercising, and what they are using for fuel ( either mostly fat or mostly  carbs).    The volumes of these gases  along with  the respiration rate can also tell us what is frequently called the ventilator threshold.    Now ventilator  threshold is sometimes  used interchangeably with  lactate threshold, or even threshold power.     These things are all highly correlated but they are not the same thing.     Ventilatory  threshold is  when breathing rate  and CO2 production  begin to rise rapidly.  Lactate threshold actually has many definitions but it is essentially the point at which lactate levels in the blood begins to rise.     And threshold power is the power output that  can be held for an  hour.    Again, these points are all highly correlated, but they aren’t the same  thing.    So if someone does a V02 test, they  can learn their ventilatory threshold.  If they do a test where blood lactate is taken, then they can learn lactate  threshold, and if they do a field test with a powermeter, they  can test threshold power.    Further complicating the entire issue is that both lactate threshold and ventilatory threshold  have several different definitions,  and  the definition you choose can  make a big  difference.    The other things that can make a  a difference are your  fed state ( the last time you ate) and your training state ( rested vs not) .

Most people want  to do a VO2 test because they want to improve their performance, and the goal of most practitioners  charging  good money for these tests is to predict performance  or set training zones.   But what people often forget is that the best predictor of performance is performance itself.     That’s why I’m a fan of field tests rather than lab test.  If you want to set training zones, they should be done  using threshold power or   your heart rate at threshold power.   The most accurate way to test your threshold power is to put on a power meter and time trial for an hour.     This   method is awfully grueling, it would probably wreck you for a few days, and it is going to be awfully tough to find a course where you can ride at TT pace  nonstop for an hour  safely.   That’s why I frequently use a  20 minute test.   20 minutes is still tough, but 20 minute power is going to be an excellent predictor of 60 minute power.     The maximum 60 minute power that a rider can attain is almost always exactly  95% of their 20  max minute power.   This is because at 20 minutes, the effort is almost entirely aerobic.  If you   go even a little bit harder you’ll fatigue rapidly.    Same goes for heart rate.   The 20 minute max heart rate is going to be an excellent predictor of 60 minute heart rate.  (not quite as good as a 60 minute test, but almost).      Why don’t scientists do  a field test like this?   It  simply isn’t practical,  when it is all done in a lab,   it is easier for them to precisely control all the conditions during the experimental  portion

 

So never forget that they best predictor of performance is performance itself.    Don’t waste your money on an expensive test.   Go out and do a field test.      Many know that I’m a big advocate of training with power, so if you don’t already have a powermeter   put that money towards a used Powertap.  You’ll find them on Ebay starting at a few hundred bucks!

 

Sean Burke is the Head Coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego

 

 

 

Paralysis by Analysis By Dr. Bret Hoffer

 

Dr. Bret Hoffer, is local Huntington Beach Chiropractor at Health Pro Wellness Center and for 2013 will be working with Cash Call Pro Cycling Team as part of their medical staff.  He is a cyclist and races for the Bahati Foundation at the Masters and Cat 2 level.  For 15 years he has been involved with athletes to help improve performance through Chiropractic care, nutrition, and fitness.  In his spare time, he enjoys writing about himself in the third person and riding backwards in a bike race.

 

Paralysis by Analysis

 

Heart rate monitors, power meters, strain gauges, GPS, Strava, Altimeters, Watts, training zones, etc….it’s enough to make an astronaut go WTF?

 

We ride bikes and race, for the most part not as a full time job, but for fun.  Yes, we all want to excel at this sport in our own way and cyclists are obsessive, mainly type A personalities, but why so many of us need or are persuaded by marketing and merchandising, to buy one or more of these products to monitor our training is beyond me.  This may stir the pot a with some schools of thought and offend some people who actually benefit from these electronic monitors but the reality of the fact is…we are becoming slaves to these data collection and display devices. Are we humans or robots?  With all the technology in the world today, it seems we are depending on these monitoring systems more and our own innate instincts and physiological processes less.

 

I was riding a few months ago during my re entry into cycling after a break from the sport and came up on a cyclist with two computers on his bike.  One was a wind generated power meter and the other was his multifaceted cycling computer.  I thought to myself, who is riding this bike, him or the data which tells him how to ride?  While I used to train and have an obsession with how many watts and BPM’s I recorded during my training, whether it be sprints, tempo, or just simply recovery rides, I realized the more data I filled my brain with, the more I became over analytical.

 

Nowadays, I just train on feel and have been for this entire year.  But this isn’t about me; it’s about you, your body and about trust, trust in your own physiology and paying attention to the most advanced computer, gadget, and data collection device ever conceived.   Your brain and body, yes the complex but yet very simple piece of equipment which you have been familiar with since you were born.  It knows when and when not to train hard if you listen.  It knows when to push beyond what your HR monitor says or when to back off.  How many times have you been in a race or training ride, glanced at your HR and thought “Whoa, I’m way over my limit?” but at the time you felt better than what was showing on the screen.  We all have been there at least once.  This is my point.  We are so engaged in data and calculations on a daily basis; we begin to lose our control over our own thinking when it comes to our performance and the natural, physical indicators we were born with.

 

What it comes down to is do you want to be a person or a robot?  Take a look at the old school cyclists, the best of our time.  Did they have all of this data? No.  If you put some of these legends up against some current day cyclists, I bet they would be competitive if not better because they didn’t concern themselves with too much data and analysis… they just rode their bikes, a lot!  There is a place for all of this data but my argument is how much is too much before we begin to give up control of our own bodies.

 

This is the time of year to try an experiment not using your computers for a month and re engage your mind and body connection.  Trust it and you’ll be surprised at the freedom and results you’ll gain from keeping it simple.

 

Until next time.

Pedaling circles by Sean Burke

 

Sacred Cow:  Pedaling circles is efficient, and you should try to pedal all the way around the pedal stroke.

My take:   You don’t pedal  circles and you shouldn’t try, bcause it is actually  less efficient than just pedaling.

Humans did not evolve to ride bicycles, they evolved to walk and run.     When you walk or run, the majority of the power    that is applied goes into applying  force against the ground.  When you pedal a bike,   the majority of the force that you apply is on the down stroke, and trying to do anything else is a waste of energy. ( Most of the time!) [Read more…]

Sacred Cow by Sean Burke (Training & Nutrition)

 

Those that know me know that I am not afraid of a  little controversy.  I’m never scared to go against the grain, or to  attack sacred cows.  In fact, admittedly, I  even enjoy it just a little bit.  SO for the next few weeks I’ll be writing about several sacred cows of cycling and training, especially  about why I disagree with them.

 

Sacred Cow: “You need to completely step away from your bike for at least a month each off-season”

My take: I love riding my bike; it makes me happy and keeps me fit.  The same goes for most of the riders I train, so we aren’t going to stop riding.

The idea that you need to completely step away from your bike for some period each off season is something that is ingrained in old school style coaching and training.   The reasons given for these “required breaks” are usually something along the lines of: rest, mental and physical rejuvenation, cross training, etc .  Well guess what?  You can do all of those things while you keep riding your bike.     There are situations when some riders SHOULD take some time off due to injuries, over-training, or just plain mental fatigue.  If  it’s the off-season,  and you  can barely even  look at your bike , much less  muster the energy to throw  a leg over it, then by all means:  take some time off.  But most riders simply don’t want to, or need to abandon their bikes for an extended period of time.     [Read more…]