Category Archives: cycling

Workout Wednesday – Pedaling Smooth Like Butter

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (HAHA)

This week’s workout: One Leg Isolation Drills (Pedaling Efficiency)

Leg Speed

Have you plateaued in your cycling speed gains? If you are pounding the pedals like you are stomping grapes, we need to work on your pedaling efficiency. Working on your pedaling efficiency will eliminate dead spots in your pedal stroke, and increase your cycling power.

When you are cycling with a group, you can tell the riders that have an efficient stroke. Their legs look smooth like butter through the whole stroke. It’s not just about looking good, you can save some serious energy. Most cyclists will pedal 5000 – 6000 strokes an hour, and efficient pedaling can produce energy savings up to 15 – 20%. That is some serious free speed.

Here’s the best part, working on some simple drills a couple times a week will get you quick gains. The focus of these drills is to turn on the correct muscle groups with the right timing. The coordination of these muscle groups will increase your pedaling efficiency. After the first workout you will feel a difference, and within a few weeks make some serious progress. Here’s the bonus; these drills only take around ten minutes, and can be done in conjunction with another cycling workout. (I’m starting to sound like an infomercial).

Here’s a quick video on pedaling efficiency:

 

 

On to the workout:

One Leg Isolation Drills

  • Warm up – 10 minutes
  • 5 X 1 min on with heavy gear/ 1 min easy gear (spin)
  • 3 X Right leg 30 secs/ Spin 1 min / Left leg 30 secs / Spin 1 min
  • 5 min Spin
  • 3 X Right leg 30 secs/ Spin 1 Min / Left leg 30 secs/ Spin 1 min
  • 5 min Spin
  • Cool down

*Focus Points: Smooth circles, Medium tension, Muscle group timing and activation

This workout is best done on a spin bike or trainer. Pedaling with one leg can cause some balance issues, and we don’t want you in the ditch.  During the one leg intervals, keep medium tension on the bike. Don’t use heavy tension, as you will rely too much on the down stroke, and can jack up your knees. Focus on making the smoothest circular pedal strokes you can. There should be constant pressure on the pedal throughout the entire stroke. During the spin intervals, keep a cadence of 90 rpm or higher under light tension, and feel the muscle groups working together. The one leg intervals will force the upstroke muscle groups to activate. When you go back to pedaling with both legs you will feel smoother immediately.

This workout is not meant to be super intense. Keep the intensity down, and focus on great form. The workout above is laid out as a stand alone workout. If you are throwing this in at the end of another workout, just do one set.

Now, go and make some pretty little circles!

 

 

Fantastic Finish Photo Friday – First Triathlon, an Ironman? No Problem.

Welcome to another edition of Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.

This week’s Fantastic Finish Photo is from Richie Gardiner:

 

Fi

Continue reading Fantastic Finish Photo Friday – First Triathlon, an Ironman? No Problem.

Workout Wednesday – Leg Strength

Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

There are two types of training that affect your speed on the bike. They are muscular endurance and leg strength. Today we are going to work on leg strength. You will soon be bending cranks as you power your way to a new PR.

Leg Crusher

Warm up – Easy Spin
5 X 2 min HEAVY TENSION RPMS 50-60/ 2 min easy pedal
5 min moderate to heavy tension. RPMS 80 -90
4 X 1 min HEAVY TENSION RPMS 50-60
4 X 1 min One Leg Drill. Alt right and left leg.
10 min cool down. Spin easy.

The workout should be performed on a spin bike or trainer. The heavy intervals should really challenge your leg strength, but be sure maintain good form. Fit this workout in your training schedule, where the next day is easy or rest.

Workout Wednesday 7/30/14 – BRICK

Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Brick

Today’s Workout – BRICK

A quick intro: A BRICK is a bike to run workout. The purpose of these workouts is to work on your transitions from the bike to run. It’s a good idea to fit in a few of these sessions to your triathlon training cycle. Don’t get carried away, and think you have to do these workouts all of the time. It is better to work on biking and running individually, and sprinkle in some bricks.

BRICK workouts are also a great chance to practice your transitions. Set up a mini transition area in your driveway, and treat the workout like a race simulation.

BRICK WORKOUT 1

  • Bike – 25 mins
  • Transition
  • Run 3k

Bike-  Ride at race pace for the first 20 mins, and try to pick up the pace for the final 5 mins. Work on keeping your legs moving quickly for the last 5 mins. You want this to feel like the end of the bike at a race.

Run – When you start running concentrate on keeping your legs moving quickly. Try to match your cadence from the bike. Focus on breathing deeply and find your rhythm. The transition from the bike will feel funny. You will feel like you are moving slowly, as you are accustomed to the speed from the bike. Also, you will experience less wind to cool you down, be mindful that you are not overheating.

I hope you enjoy this one. The distances in the workout are for a person training for a sprint distance tri. If you are training for a longer distance event, you can adjust the distances. Just don’t get carried away. BRICKS are meant to work on that bike to run transition, not run you into the ground.

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Energy Gel Sommelier and Other Side Benefits of Triathlon Part II

In the first post on the added benefits of triathlon, I talked about looking sexy in lycra, and sweet tan lines. There are so many additional benefits I didn’t list, that I decided to make a Part II. There may be some people on the fence about triathlon, and the a collection of distance stickers wasn’t enough to get them to dive in. So here are some more “tidbits of awesome” about triathlon.

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1. Get up super early – You feel guilty when you don’t get up before the sun. Everyone knows that pool swims only count when they are finished before 6:30am. You have a four hour ride planned for Saturday, and your significant other is complaining about you training too much.. What do you do? Leave at 5 am and hope to make it back before they get up.

burrito

2. The world is your buffet – At the Mexican restaurant you order the Mucho Loco Burrito with an extra side of guacamole. The others at the table look in horror as you demolish the entree meant for three people. You look up and say, “It’s cool, I’m in the peak of my training cycle”, and then wipe the cheese from your chin.

gels
Gel Buffet

 

3. Energy Gel Sommelier – The average palette can’t discern the slight nuisances of the Powergel orange from the Gu mandarin, but you can. Your heightened awareness of these differences comes from years of consumption of these slimy delicacies. You would rather bonk than slam down that wrong brand being offered on the course.

 

4. Ability to time illness one week out from your “A” race – You never get sick. You are healthy as a horse. People in the office are going home weak with the flu, but you superior immune system is kryptonite to viruses. That is until the taper period of your most important race of the season. A week out from the race you are in bed sore and aching, wondering how you are supposed to race in 5 days.

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5. Calf Sleeves – I may offend some here, but calf sleeves are nerdy. They are essentially tall socks with no feet. From the amount of people wearing them, you would think there was an epidemic of calf muscles exploding before their invention. Triathlon is no fashion show. If you really need the super calf support, buy the brightest neon ones you can find, and rock that kit.

Bike Fall over

6. Get clipped – There are two types of cyclists; those who have fallen over in the parking lot while still clipped in to the pedals, and those who will. It happens to everyone. You get those brand new clipless pedals and shoes, pull in to the parking lot at the end of the ride, slow down, and proceed to fall over like a tipped cow. Don’t be embarrassed. Laugh it off, as everyone else on that ride has done the same thing at least once. Welcome to the club!

 

photo_orbea-ordu-gdr_1522

7. A bike more expensive than your car – After years of hard training, you will decide that training is too time consuming and difficult. Forget training on the bike, go and buy some speed. You walk into the bike shop, and there it is. A beautiful carbon fibre rocket ship of a bike. Once you astride this piece is speed sculpture, PR’s will fall, and the road will submit to your will. On the way home from the shop you look at your ’03 Subaru, and realize the blue book value of your car, is less than that new bike purchase.

The car will seek revenge. On the way home from a race, you pull into the driveway headed for the garage, and forget your bike is on the roof rack. The car will let you drive into the garage, while your bike is smashed against the top of the garage.

 

 

 

 

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photo credit :http://www.swimt3.co.nz/media/catalog/product/cache/5/image/600x/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/l/a/ladies/zensah-compression-calf-sleeve-32.jpg

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Photo Credit: http://salsacycles.com/files/blog/DD10-3.jpg

“Oh Man This Hurts”, Keys to Racing Mental Toughness

 

Tough as nails
TOUGH AS NAILS

Mental toughness is the ability to withstand discomfort with a focus on your goal.  All of the situations and struggles in life develop your mental strength. You are defined by how you react to different situations. In racing, the battles lies between your body and thoughts. When a race gets tough, the mind will always give in before the body. The challenge is to control your thoughts, and get your mind and body to work together to achieve your goals.

Preparation

The key to mental toughness is preparation. Training for your race will increase mental toughness. When you show up the the start line, you should be confident in your abilities. You confidence comes from adequate training, and preparation. That confidence kicks in when the race gets hard and you want to stop. If in training you have already had these feelings, you know you can push through.

 

  • Know your body – Be sure to notice the difference between this is uncomfortable, and this is injuring me.
  • Have a race day plan and execute – eliminate unnecessary decisions.
  • Simulate race intensity in training – not everyday
  • Have confidence. Accept that the race will be difficult, you are trained, and prepare to suffer a bit for your goal.

 

Be Present

When a race or workout gets hard, the brain wants you to stop. Your mind will play every trick it has to get you to stop or slow down. That little voice in your head will say “go ahead, just walk for awhile” or “Today is just not your day, slow down a bit”. Everyone has these thoughts, even elite athletes. When you can push through and not give into these thoughts, that is when breakthroughs happen.

To combat this voice, you need to be present and focus on the now. The mind may trick you into thinking you can’t run another mile, but it’s hard to convince you can’t run two more lamp posts. Focus on what you can do right at this moment to push you toward your goal. Accept the situation, adapt, and overcome. 

  • Focus on breathing and relaxing into the effort
  • Break the race up into small pieces – Run to the next lamp pole, Swim another 20 strokes.
  • Have a mantra – My mantra is “Relentless Forward Progress”
  • Be optimistic that things can get better. Example: You stomach may become upset during a long race. Know that it may hurt now, but with some additional nutrition and time, it can come back around.

Find Your Happy Place 

To pull yourself out a funk during your race, go to your happy place. I know this sounds a bit new age, but it works. When all of your focus is on the hurting, you need to shift your focus. Turning those negative thoughts, into a positive feeling is powerful. Those positive thoughts can get you into a rhythm and carry you through the difficult times in a race.

Try this: Force yourself to smile for the next two minutes. After the feeling silly for the first 30 secs, your mood will actually start to improve. You actions can impact your mood and attitude.

Here are some ways to find your happy place during a race:

  • Smile – It is also easier to breath while smiling
  • Encourage others – Your positive attitude will spread to others, and you will feel more positive in the process. Win-Win
  • Remove the word I can’t – Turn your mindset to thinking of what you can do , and not what you can’t
  • Think of the reasons why you are racing the event. Maybe you are racing in memory of a loved one, or to set an example for your kids. These powerful thoughts can push you through.
  • Absorb the energy of the race. Feel the energy from the crowd and other athletes. They are cheering for you because you are being awesome. They respect the training and effort your are putting forth. Soak it up.

I hope these suggestions help next time you are in the pain cave during a race. If you have any strategies that work for you, please share in the comments.

 
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Racing Through Resistance – Finding a way to flow through

 

Moving your body through a triathlon is a practice of pushing through resistance. Friction, wind, and will are forcing you to expend energy. You have two choices, fight against the resistance or find a way to flow through. Finding your flow through the resistance is mostly a matter of mindset. How you react and adapt to the resistance determines your success.

 

Swim Resistance

The average human swimmer is 12% efficient when swimming. Your average dolphin is 80% efficient. The dolphin has evolved to flow through the water. To move effectively through water, you must concentrate on good form that minimizes drag. If you fight against the water the water will win.

Tips for flowing through water:

  • relax
  • Keep the body in a streamlined position
  • focus on gliding through the water
  • reduce any inefficient movement

Bike Resistance –

On the bike the wind is the major force of resistance. Pushing through the wind gets exponentially more difficult the faster you go. Flowing through the wind means reducing drag, and flowing through the air flow.

Tips for flowing through the wind:

  • use a set of aero wheels, energy savings of 5-8%
  • wear an aero helmet, energy savings 5%
  • a properly set up TT bike with aero bars can save 10-15% energy
  • Keep your knees tight to the top tube
  • in a stiff headwind maintain effort, don’t increase effort and burn yourself out

Wind can also play into mental resistance. A persistent headwind will wear you down. At times you are putting out a ton of effort, but making slow progress. In these times, you have to accept the headwind and flow through. If it is a race the wind is effecting everyone. Make yourself as small as possible, conserve your effort.

Run Resistance –

Running is essentially falling forward. You lean forward move your legs and you propel forward. Gravity is providing the greatest amount resistance, but also it is also moving you forward. Your job is find the flow, where you are using gravity to your avantage.

Tips for flowing though gravity on the run:

  • lean forward from the ankles
  • maintain good body position
  • take quick steps, to minimize contact with the ground
  • minimize up and down movement, concentrate on moving forward
  • breathe, relax, and don’t fight against your body

 

Life  –

Good things happen, Bad things happen. There is constant resistance trying to keep you from achieving your goals. The trick is to find a way to flow through the resistance. You can either fight against the resistance, or accept it and find a way to flow through. Be flexible, and adapt to the changes and situations. Things good and bad will happen, it how you react is what matters. If you are focused on your goals, you will find a way to flow through.

Ahhh, That New Bike Smell – Tips on buying a Tri bike

Bike wall

You raced a few triathlons, and you are hooked. Its time to trade in that beater bike for a fast new time machine. Before you pay out the GDP of an island nation on a new tri bike, here are some things to consider.

*legal notice – Always inform your significant other of these large purchases. Don’t try to sneak a new bike in the garage hoping they won’t notice. Believe me it won’t work.

Commitment

Have you caught the triathlon bug? Do you see your yourself progressing in the sport, and riding consistently. A Tri bike is a big expense, so let your commitment drive your investment. Garages and Craigslist ads are filled with lonely Tri bikes bought with the best of intentions. The owners raced a couple of Tris, and in the euphoria of finishing, plopped down a wad of cash on a shiny new bike. Then life/kids/job/injury/beer got in the way, and the shiny new steed went unridden.

If you are getting consistent workouts in, and a new bike will take your racing and training to a new level, now is the time to purchase that new bike. A new bike is a great motivator to get you out there riding with great excitement. Its like getting a new car, but you don’t have to ride everyone around the block when you bring it home.

Cost

Let’s get this out of the way, Tri bikes are expensive, and in some cases ridiculously expensive. Consider your budget and weigh your options when choosing a new bike. My advice is to get the best quality bike you can afford. A well made bike that is properly maintained can last 10 years.

Here’s the main items that drive the cost of a bike:

  • Frame Material/Design – Carbon fiber bikes are the most expensive, Aluminum and steel bikes cost less.
  • Components – (Shifters, Brakes, Derailleurs, etc.) Each component manufacturer produces different groups on different price ranges. Components on entry level Tri bikes are more than adequate. The difference with the higher priced groups is normally weight.
  • Wheels – Here’s where you can save some money. Entry level tri bikes will come with decent wheels. Eventually these wheels will wear out, or you will want lighter race wheels. Save money on the front end and get standard wheels, as it is easy to upgrade later.

Many bike manufacturers offer the same frame with different components. If you are on a budget choose the cheaper components. This way you are still getting the great frame, and you can upgrade the parts as you want.

Base Model Triathlon Bikes:

 

Fit

This is the most overlooked, but most important factor of choosing a new bike. You can max out your credit card with a $10k carbon dream machine, but if it doesn’t fit, you won’t go any faster.

My advice is to go and test ride some bikes. Have a person from the shop spend time with you seeing how the bike fits your body. A good shop will put you on a trainer and make adjustments to see if the bike will fit you. This is time well spent. If the shop to go to is not willing to take this time, then run away. It is not the shop for you.

Feel

We are all a little vain. If I am throwing out a wad of cash on a new bike, I want to feel like a bad ass on my new rig. Some bikes are just plain sexy. They have great lines, a killer paint job and scream to be ridden. The more sexiness the higher the price. Be sure the bike you choose works for your eye, and makes you feel fast.

Bonus – Purchasing

When purchasing a new tri bike, I always recommend going to your local bike shop. If it is a good shop, they will get you fitted, and provide you maintenance and service. You may save a some money going online, but the value provided by a good shop will far outweigh those savings.

Used – If you are on a really tight budget a used bike might be great option. this is a buyer beware situation. I would recommend purchasing a bike that you can actually see in person. Take someone with you that knows bikes, and can help you out.

Used resources:

Misery Loves Company – Tips on Finding a Group Ride

 

group irde

Triathlon is an individual sport, and training can get lonely. Group rides are a great way to get in some miles, and meet some new people. Also, riding with others slightly faster than you will improve your fitness.

Here are some tips on finding a group ride:

Finding a Group

Do a quick Google search for bike shops, and clubs in your area. Most bike shops have weekly group rides that leave from the shop. On their website, there is usually a section that shows ride times, and routes. Also, local bike/tri clubs will have weekly rides. Send the club an email and ask about rides, and express your interest. Most groups are happy to have new riders.

Group Paces

When you find a group ride listing there will be a pace posted with it, usually denoted by a letter. Here’s a quick breakdown of the letters and paces:

  • C Pace – 16 mph – Usually no one will be left behind
  • B Pace – 16 – 20 mph
  • A Pace – 18 – 22 mph
  • A+ Pace 22+ mph

Groups may vary from these paces. Check with the group leader before the ride to determine the pace. Also, be sure you are comfortable with the pace they are riding. If you can’t hold the pace, and start to ride erratically, it can cause issues for the rest of the group.

Know the Route

Issues arise when you are out on the roads. In case you are dislodged from the group be sure you are familiar with the roads. Most groups rides have a cue sheets available with the route, or it may be available on a website. It is your responsibility to have a general idea of the roads. It is also a good idea to bring your cell phone.

Be Friendly

Many groups have been riding together for years, and being the new person can be intimidating. The best way to deal with this is to be friendly and introduce yourself to other riders. Find out who is the group ride leader and introduce yourself. Most groups are happy to have new people, and will be willing to help you out.

Post Ride

When you get back to the parking lot, don’t just throw your bike on the rack, and roll. Hang out and chat with other riders. I have met some really interesting and wonderful people on group rides. After a ride most people are feeling good, and its a great time to make new connections.

Charity Rides

Local charity rides are a great way to get introduced to group riding. These rides are very beginner friendly. Check the web for charity rides happening in your area. If it is a big event, these rides will also have training rides leading up to the event. Below are a couple of links to some large national charity rides>

Bike MS –  Bike MS is  national ride to fund MS research.

Tour de Cure – TdC has rides in 44 states to raise money for diabetes research. They will also have training rides leading up to the event.

 

Do you know of any great charity rides? Leave a suggestion in the comments.
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