Tag Archives: cycling

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Steel Bike Declan

Welcome to 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 photo is from Declan Kenny:

getting-medal

This is me getting my medal as I crossed the line for my first half ronman, the ‘Ireman Triathlon’ in Northern Ireland, 27 Sept 2015.

Read more about Declan’s first HIM on his blog: http://unironedman.com/

If you are a new or beginner triathlete and would be interested in coaching, please email me at firsttimetri+coaching@gmail.com.

Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to firsttimetri@gmail.com.

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Workout Wednesday – Bike Power Hills

Welcome to Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I  post a new Triathlon specific workout. (for free, What a Country!) 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)

A couple weeks ago,  I was racing on the hilly but fun bike course. The sun was out, and t was beautiful morning. My legs were feeling good and pumping out the watts. Two more miles to go to the turn around, I am  crushing it. The hills on the course aren’t so bad. Then right before the turn around, I came up on a pavement wall. Suddenly, I staring up a .25 mile climb at 15%. I switch the the small chain ring, and grind my way up the hill. By the top of the hill, my heart rate was around 1000bpm, and my legs were Jello. Luckily, we turned around and came right back down the hill, so I had time to recover and then crush the rest of the course. (Also, I hit 46 mph on the downhill, waahooo!)

That hill exposed  a weakness in my recent cycling training. I’m lacking in hill power. Power hills are short intense efforts that keep your speed up on a hilly course. Power hills differ from long sustained hills, as they require pure leg strength. Increasing that leg strength requires short intense efforts with adequate rest. Think of it as doing squats on your bike. Working on power hills is also a win-win, as it will make you stronger on the flats.

Now let’s get to work:

Power Hills:

Warm up

  • 5 Minutes easy spin
  • 5 X  @70 Effort 1 min/1 min rest

Main Set

  • 5 X standing 1 min/1 min rest – of each min rep 1st 30 secs @70%/ 2nd 30 secs @85% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 3 X standing 2 min/ 1 min rest – of each 2 min rep 1st min @60%/ 2nd min @80% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 6 X standing 30 secs/ 1 min rest @85%

Cool Down

  • 10 min easy spin

This workout is best done on a trainer or stationary bike. Set the resistance heavy enough to make it challenging, but still be able to maintain a cadence above 60 rpm. Build into each rep, and focus on finishing strong. This workout is great for flatlanders is best done every couple of weeks. Work it into your program and you will be powering up the hills like a freight train.

Workout Wednesday – Cycling Overspins

Welcome to  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)

Bike trainer

This week workout is Cycling Overspins.

This is a fun workout.  Overspins are essentially sprinting with a light gear. The benefits are better pedaling efficiency and higher cadence. This workout forces you to increase your cadence beyond your normal range. Working at a higher cadence will strengthen those fast switch muscles that smooth out your pedal stroke.

During the workout focus on making good circles with your legs. Push and pull all the way through the stroke. If you are doing it correctly your upper body will be relatively still and your legs will be spinning fast. Imagine you are a duck swimming on a lake, calm on the top, and swimming away under water.

This workout should be performed on a spin bike or trainer. Aim for 20-30 RPMS faster than your normal cadence. If you normal cadence is 80 RPMS try to maintain 100-110. Set the resistance light, just enough to keep your speed under control.

This workout is not very taxing to your legs or cardio. It can be done at the end of another workout or on a scheduled easy bike day. I suggest putting on your favorite loud fast tunes and enjoying the workout.

Overspin Workout

  • Warm up 5 min
  • 3 X 1 min @ 60%/30 secs rest
  • 5 X 30 secs @(+20 RPMS)/ 30 secs spin easy
  • 4 min steady @ 60% effort
  • 3 X 1 min @(+20 RPMS)/ 30 secs spin easy
  • 4 mins steady @ 60 % effort
  • 5 X 30 secs @(+20-30 RPMS)/ 30 sec spin easy
  • 10 min cool down

Here’s great video explaining the basics of pedaling mechanics.

 

Workout Wednesday – The Leg Chiseler

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 – The Leg Chiseler

Chiseled Legs

There are two factors that determine how fast  you can push on the bike. These are your lungs and your legs. Your legs and lungs work together to produce power, but a weakness in either system will become a limiting factor. I experience this every winter winter when I train for a marathon and neglect  bike training.  When spring comes, and I get out on the road, I have the engine of a Corvette, and legs like a Smart Car. Leg strength is the key to increasing your speed, riding better in headwinds, and climbing. For those of your with some vanity, these workouts will make your go sticks more chiseled.

This workout  consists of on and off bike training designed to increase muscular strength in the legs. While these intervals can be intense, the focus is to get that burning sensation in the legs, not max out heart rate. Load up the tension, so your legs are working harder than your cardio. Aim to keep your cadence around 40-60 RPMs under tension. Ideally, this work should be done on a trainer or spin bike. That way you can control the amount of tension, and there are no interruptions.

On to the workout:

The Leg Chiseler

  • Warm up – 10 mins – easy spin
  • Warm up – 3 X 1 min/30 secs off
  • Main Set – 3 min climb increasing tension every minute (Heavy tension RPM – 40-60)
  • Get off bike and do 20 air squats
  • Easy spin 2 min
  • Repeat Main Set 4-6 times
  • Cool down 10 mins Easy Spin

This workout should be difficult, but know your limits. If you need a bit of extra rest between sets, take it. This type of workout is best scheduled with a rest day or easy day after. Leg strength work scheduled once every week or two, will be enough to see significant improvement. Remember to maintain the best pedal stroke possible. Focus on pushing and pulling the pedals and making circles. For more info on good pedaling mechanics.

Photo Credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/17/d5/98/17d598c3d928de6c1cc5b28feb67c10c.jpg

The Definitive 10 Tips For New Triathletes

Are you ready to take on a triathlon? Fantastic, let’s get you started. Below are top ten tips to have a great first race. Check out the links embedded in the tips to dig deeper into each topic. Happy training, and I hope you have great first triathlon.

1. To get started, Sign up for a race

Close up of sign up form

Signing up to the race sounds kind of obvious, but  is very important. First, signing up tells your brain it’s go time.With that race day looming in the near future you will be more committed to train. . Second, choose a race that gives you the proper amount of time to train, but not lose your motivation. A training cycle of 8-12 weeks works well for new triathletes. Lastly, after you sign up, tell your family and friends. They will know you are serious about your new goal, and be your support system.

7 Tips for Selecting Your First Triathlon

Continue reading The Definitive 10 Tips For New Triathletes

The Pros & Cons of Spin Class for Triathletes

Spinning class at the gym

Loud music blaring, an instructor yelling through a headset, and sweat flying everywhere. Ah Spin Class! Spin class is essentially riding a bike, but not actually going anywhere. Spin class as an effective tool in your triathlon training plan. As with all training activity, there are some pro and cons. Below, I will discuss the advantages and concerns of spin class when used in an effective training plan.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • Save Time – Just jump in a class and go. No need to get on a bunch of gear to ride outside or drive to a safe area to ride.
  • No Cars – I have personally never heard of anyone being hit by a car on a spin bike.
  • Constant Effort – There aren’t any stop lights, cars, dogs, or anything else to make you stop. This is the biggest “bang for your buck” with spin. If you are on the bike for 45 minutes, you get 45 minutes of work. This is especially effective for interval work. You can maintian your effort for your interval without uninterrupted.
  • Weather, What Weather – Unless the AC breaks, there’s no need to worry about conditions. No hot, cold, rain, sleet. This also means you can’t use the weather as an excuse not to train.
  • Motivation – The energy from a room full of others working hard can give you the motivation to push. A good instructor will also keep the energy level high.
  • Pre-planned Workout – No need to plan or think, just show up and do the instructor’s workout. The energy spent planning a workout is sometimes harder than just doing it.

Here are some areas where spin classes lack effectiveness for triathlon training:

  • Too much intensity – Most spin classes are designed to get a good sweat going, and make the clients feel like they have put in a hard effort. This is great if your goal for that workout was high intensity, if be mindful of your intensity. A good training plan will have a mix of high and lower intensity work. Too much high intensity work leads to injury and burnout. You can still do class on an easier planned day, just dial back the resistance and intensity.
  • Bike Handling – All of these spin classes are going to give you some new found speed. Before your race be sure to work on some bike handling skills. Bike handling skills include turning, leaning, stopping, climbing, and descending. The only way to gain these skills is to go on the road and ride at your race speed. The more comfortable you are with these skills the faster you can go.
  • Speed Perception – You can put massive power to the spin bike pedals, but you don’t move. It’s important to get out on the road, and know what speed you produce for your effort. In a race proper pacing is balancing the effort vs speed. Know what effort produces what speed, sop you can properly pace during your race.

Over all spin classes are great for bike and overall fitness. I personally attend at least one class a week. I go to class with my wife, as it is a workout we can do together, and both get benefit. They are not a complete substitute for time on the road. Be sure to do some miles on the road, so on race day you are comfortable on the bike.

Do you use spin classes in your training?

Monday Mantra – “This is What I DO!”

Happy Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

This week’s Mantra:

“This is What I DO!”

tHIS IS WHAT I DO

I heard this mantra on a podcast over the weekend, and it resonated with me. When racing or training gets really difficult, and you want to quit, remind yourself, “This is what I do!” You decided to take on this challenge, because it’s who you are. The pursuit of this goal is part of your identity, and this is where you are supposed to be right now. It’s a great mantra to bring you back to the present, and trust your training.

Some Examples:

You’re out for a 10 mile run, and it starts pouring rain two miles in. You could turn around or you can finish the run, because “This is What You DO”

Life throws a sick child, extra work, and terrible weather at you, but you still get in your weekly training, because “This is What You DO!”

At your “A” race of the season, you are on PR pace, but starting to fade. You can slow down or you can power though. Remember all of the training and effort you put into this race. You are crushing this race, because “This is What You Do”

I run, because “This is What I Do”.

I ride, because “This is What I Do”.

I swim, because “This is What I Do”.

I succeed, because “This is What I Do”.

Step Out of the Pain Cave – 5 Tips for Better Indoor Cycling Workouts

I wake up at 6am for the normal 7:30 group ride. I go to the window, its still pitch black dark, and 35F outside. This is where the will power wanes, and the excuses kick in. Do I really want to put on all of that cold weather gear, and freeze my tail off for 2 hours? I could go back to that warm bed, and ride later, which turns into never.

When mother nature turns down the thermostat, and shuts the lights off early, its time to switch to indoor cycling workouts. You don’t want to lose all fitness in those finely chiseled legs, earned by riding all summer. With some quality time spent cycling indoors, you can maintain some of that fitness. Indoor cycling can be incredibly boring. Don’t view it as a sentence to a dull sweaty prison. Instead, here’s some tips to get the most out of your indoor sessions:

Leg Speed

1. Keep it short – 

Quality over Quantity is the key for effective indoor work. Interval work is the best bang for your buck. Quality interval workouts will keep up your cycling fitness, without sitting on the trainer for hours at a time. A well planned session should only take 45 minutes.

Example Interval Workout

2. Spin Class – 

If you like to others around to keep you motivated, try a spin class. Most classes are under an hour and offer plenty of intensity. The great thing spin class is you don’t have to plan your workout, just show up and ride. Be careful not to over do it with intensity, if you are in your off season. When I go to class, I will modify the workout to fit my current goals.

3. No Pain Cave – 

I see people post pictures of their pain cave, the dungeon where they ride their trainers. Dark damp basements, smelly garages, and one guy I saw riding  in an old bathroom. If you are really into the suffering thing, I guess that’s ok. Since riding a bike going nowhere is already mentally tough, I like to be as comfortable as possible. Find a place where you are comfortable, that’s not too hot or cold. Be sure to have a fan, and plenty of water. You spouse may not want you riding in dining, but you on’t have to suffer next to the boiler.

4. DJ Handbar –

Be your own DJ, and have a great playlist. Great music will motivate you, and help you turn your brain off. Its also fun to play music games during the workout. You can sprint the choruses, and spin during the verses. Also, you can increase tension every time the singer repeats a phrase. Mix it up and jam out.

5. Drills

On a trainer you don’t have to worry about cars, loose dogs, or falling over. This is a great time to work on pedaling drills. Pedaling drills help you develop a stronger, smoother stroke. They emphasize one aspect of the stroke, so you can concentrate of firing those muscle groups.

Here’s some drills to make you pedal smooth like butter.

Fantastic Finish Photo Friday – Kettlebell Claire

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 photo is from Claire Knight:

SONY DSC

Claire: A friend talked me into signing up for a super sprint triathlon, and then backed out. I carried on as I thought it would be a great challenge. I learnt to deal with open water swimming, and did more cycling and running in my training than I had been doing (I’m primarily a kettlebell athlete competing nationally in the UK, fitting it all in around work, husband, and cats whilst managing my asthma).

I completed my first event on a glorious sunny late September day, was thoroughly exhausted, but ecstatic with my time and placing, about half way through the female field. I enjoyed it far more than running events I’ve done!

Claire’s full race report can be found here.

Congrats Claire on your first triathlon finish and smashing your goal time. Way to hang in and accept the challenge even after your partner backed out.

If you liked Claire’s post and want to see other Fantastic Finish Photo post, you cna check out the archives.

Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to firstimetri@gmail.com.

 

Workout Wednesday – Work Horse of Bike Fitness – Tempo

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 – Bike Tempo

medium_3941672887

In the past few weeks, we have covered cycling leg strengthpedaling mechanics, and cycling intervals. Now it’s time to pull together that strength and efficiency with tempo efforts. Tempo efforts are just long intervals. The key is to perform them at the correct intensity. Tempo intervals should be done at 80% effort, your breath and heart rate will be slightly elevated. At this work rate you are working just below your lactate threshold. Be careful not to exceed that 80% effort, as you will be entering the red zone, and working a different energy system.

Tempo workouts are in that sweet spot of training where you are working endurance and speed at the same time. These sessions simulate race effort, but at shorter intervals, so you don’t wreck your legs. Remember, effective training sessions should be done hard enough to get benefits, but leave you able to do the next session. (Check your self, before you wreck yourself.)

Tempo work can be done indoors or outdoors. If riding outside, be sure to have enough road to complete your interval without stopping. Once you get your self in the correct zone, it is much easier to maintain than restart.

On to the workout. This workout is programmed for an athlete how has been riding for at least six months. Feel free to add or remove intervals to meet your goals.

Bike Tempo Work I

  • Warm up I – 10 min Easy
  • Warm up II – 3 X 1 min on/30 secs off
  • Tempo Effort I – 2 X 5 min @ 80% / 90 sec res
  • Easy Spin – 2 min
  • Tempo Effort II – 2 X 10 min @ 80% / 2 min rest
  • Easy Spin 2 min
  • Tempo Effort III – 5 min @ 80%
  • Cool down

Give it a go! If you use this interval in your training, please leave a comment, and let us know how it went.

Happy Training!

 
photo credit: Tom Gill. via photopin cc