Balance: An Introduction to Left/Right Power Data

Hunter explains the concepts, analysis, and benefits of data collected with a power meter that measures each leg's power output separately from total power.

Annual Periodized Planning, Part 2

It has been said that if you fail to plan, you may as well plan to fail. If you want to get the most out of your training program, you need a plan. Click to read more!

Periodizing Your Transition Period

The days are getting shorter, the big events have passed, and our attention is turning to preparation for next season. Tim explains how the proper design and execution of this off-season phase pays big dividends later.

Five Key Attributes of Winning Athletes

Winners think differently. They are constantly focused on moving forward, getting things done, taking action, and improving. Click through for more about why winners win!

Power Training Zones 101

Determining our power zones is one of the most basic elements of power training. Click through to read more about each zone and how they work together.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So You Are Fit, But Do You Know How to Win?


By PCG Elite/Master Coach Todd Scheske

Over the past 10 years, power meters have become much more prevalent, and during that time the analysis involved has become more refined and advanced as well.  It is common to hear even beginner riders talk of FTP and thinking in terms of watts for outputs.  These are certainly all great advancements, but there is something that I find missing in many riders’ pursuit of racing.

That is: how to actually win a race.

It is true that without the fitness portion you will have a harder time implementing any strategy or tactics, but strength, without good strategy or tactics, isn’t going to win you a race most of the time.  I know, personally, that I’ve won races against stronger competitors.  I have a saying that goes something like: “the strongest rider almost never wins, but the smartest rider almost always does.”  Being smart in a race is likely more important than what your FTP is, or your 5 sec power.

So what things should you be thinking about in terms of being a smarter rider?  First of all, STAY OUT OF THE WIND.  Sounds simple right?  Look around at how many riders will ride next to the group, or (try to) move up when it is single file into the wind.  Racing is about conserving energy until you need to unleash something, not dribbling out power sitting in the wind, accomplishing nothing.  Learn to flow with the pack.  I’ve seen race files of clients that did the same race as I did, and yet they had half the percentage of zero pedaling.  This is where you can also start to use the “power” of the analytics available as well.  Look at your road race files and see how much time you spend generating less than 5 watts.  If you have a low percentage of (near) zero pedaling, and you were not in a breakaway, then you may need to look at why and find ways to save energy.  Remember it is not a contest of who does the most KJ of work!

Secondly, ask yourself two fundamental questions: “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?”  This will help you with the first point above and also help you start to correct for mistakes on the road.  I hear often from athletes, “I just found myself….”  Don’t just let things happen to you.  Own what you do.  If you find yourself, say, sitting on the front, ask the questions:  Q: What am I doing?  A: Sitting on the front.  Q: Why am I doing that?  If you aren’t setting up a teammate or helping chase something, etc., then stop it.  Even if you are chasing something, ask the same questions!

Third, respect everyone and fear no one.  If you ride with respect, you mitigate the tendency to ride dumb.  Kind of like the proverb that says, “Pride cometh before a fall.”  I’ve seen strong riders sit on the front, pulling people, because they think they are “hurting them”.  Most likely, the reality is you aren’t.  So respect that they are fit and strong, and don’t just pull people, or don’t lead out a headwind sprint from 500 meters, and then expect to win.  When you respect other people’s ability, you recognize that you cannot be foolish in the race and waste energy.  Along the same lines though, don’t fear anyone.  Don’t negate your chances by thinking that you aren’t good enough.  You are lining up to race, so you deserve to be there.  Ride like it!  Confidence and respect set the stage to make good tactical decisions and plan solid strategies.  

So yes, use the power meter and be strong, fit and fast.  However, make sure you are a smart rider too, so that those tools are put to good use.  Use those tools to be even smarter by knowing yourself even better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recovery is Training Too

By David Ertl, PCG Elite Coach

The 2016 training and racing season is cranking up, and so is your training.  You are accumulating miles, hours in the saddle, and loads of training stress score (TSS) numbers.
Your fitness is increasing, and you are getting stronger and faster.  You are also getting more fatigued.

As a coach, I rarely have to encourage athletes to get on their bike and ride.  Most athletes who are motivated to seek out and pay for a coach are also motivated to train hard.  More often than not, I have to encourage the athlete to train a little less and spend more time recovering.  It’s true, the more and harder one rides, the stronger they will get, but only up to a point.  If they don’t allow their body to recover, their hard work won’t get translated into increased fitness.  In fact, it will work against them, and drive them into sustained fatigue, which can lead to over-training if not addressed.

I like to remind people that riding, what people consider training, actually breaks the body down.  It creates injuries to the muscles that must heal.  It’s the rest and recovery that allows this damage to heal.  In the process, the healing results in increased fitness.  Shortchanging the recovery process shortchanges your training.  You need to balance the riding with the resting.  In this regard, resting and recovery is an important component of training, as much as the working out.  It will serve you well to remember that recovery is as important as riding for increased fitness, and is indeed part of training, as are proper attention to nutrition and hydration.  Focusing only on riding will not address all aspects of fitness and training. 

The training stress balance metric (TSB) is a way to monitor your fatigue and need for rest when training with power.  As you workout longer and harder, your TSS will increase and your TSB will decrease.  The lower the TSB value, the more accumulated fatigue you have.  In order to get stronger and fitter, you must sustain fatigue and drive TSB into negative territory.  But you can’t keep it there indefinitely as you pile on the miles.  You need to ‘come up for air’ periodically and allow yourself to recover and get your TSB back above zero.  Experiment with your own ability to tolerate fatigue by watching your TSB and discovering the point where you need to rest and recover before piling on more stress.

So as you attack this training and racing season, remember that recovery is just as important as training, and in fact is an equal part of training.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Training Secrets - David Ertl

by Coach David Ertl

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  My secrets of coaching.  Shhh.  Don’t tell anyone. But here they are.
1. Ride consistently.  There is no better way to get better riding a bike than to ride frequently. Every day is great if you can manage it, but 4 days a week is better than 3, which is better than 2.  The idea is to get your body used to riding and by doing it almost every day, your body will respond and reward you by feeling stronger and more comfortable on the bike.  Even if all you can manage is 15 minutes, that is better than an hour on the couch. Get out there and do it.
2. Ride far. Cycling is an aerobic and endurance activity.  To get fit for cycling you first and foremost have to have aerobic, or cardiovascular, fitness so that you can pump blood to your lungs and working muscles efficiently.  The best and first way you should do that is by getting out and riding, lots. It doesn’t have to be fast. Time in the saddle and distance are the most important metrics here. Especially for a ride like RAGBRAI, the ability to ride for a long time is preeminent.
3. Ride fast. Intervals aren’t just for racers anymore. If you want to ride faster, you need to ride faster than you normally ride.  Makes sense, right?  But like eating right, it’s harder to do than say. Riding fast is hard, and uncomfortable and some people don’t think it’s very fun.  So you have a choice. Be happy riding the pace you ride now, which is perfectly acceptable for RAGBRAI as long as you are able to ride 10 mph or so. But, if you would like to be faster, then build some speed work into your training.  This can be done in a number of ways but here are a couple.  From time to time on rides, just increase the pace by 2-3 mph and hold that for 30 seconds or a minute and then go back to your normal cruising speed.  You can do these at regular intervals (hence the name ‘intervals’) or just stick them in randomly during a ride.  Or you can find a house with a mean dog that chases you and ride by it several times.
4. Rest is training too. Many people I coach think that they have to keep doing more, more, more, when in fact what they might need most is doing less. If you do 1-3 above and do them a lot, you may be reaching a point where you are doing a lot of training (damage to your muscles) without giving them enough time to heal.  Remember an important rule of training:  Training breaks your body down, recovery is what makes it stronger.  If you feel tired or your muscles are sore the day after a hard ride, take it easy or take the day completely off (couch, anyone?).  As long as you are putting the training in, it’s okay to be lazy the rest of the time. You can tell your spouse I said so.
5. Cycling is a great exercise, but not perfect. Sorry to tell you, but if you want to have well-rounded fitness, you should add in some other exercises into your exercise program.  Consider some weight training to build muscles other than your legs.  Make sure you are working your core muscles – no sit-ups but things like planks and Pilates are great. Do some cross training like running, hiking, rowing to work your muscles differently and to work different muscles.  It’s also good for your mental health to add variety to your routine.  Running away from the refrigerator before bed is another good exercise.
6. Okay, I lied, I just thought of another one.  Eating is fueling.  Eating isn’t just for recreation anymore (really!). Your body needs energy from food to move. When exercising the body burns fat and carbohydrate (sugar, starch).  The harder you ride, the more carbohydrate you need.  Therefore to have energy for a good ride, be sure to include good quality carbohydrates in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.  You don’t need to increase the amount of fat you eat, even though you are burning fat while you ride.  I’ve heard that the average human has enough stored body fat to ride from New York to Utah.  That’s farther than RAGBRAI by the way.  You should also get in adequate but not excessive protein.  Lean meats, fish, non-fat dairy, beans, nuts are all good choices.
There you have it, (almost) all you need to know about training.
David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and individual cyclists through the Peaks Coaching Group. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at coach@cyclesportcoaching.com.

Virginia's Ben King Wins Tour Of California Stage Two

Stage 2 Tour of California Race File analysis!
By Hunter Allen

Virginia boy shows good…..AGAIN!

Ben King won stage 2 of the Tour of California in great style.  Ben is known for success in his long breakaways, as he won his first big race, the Pro National Championships in a long break and just recently this past fall, he was in a 90 mile breakaway at the World Championships in Richmond, Va.  True to his successful pattern, Ben was aggressive on the first climb of the day, where his best 20 minutes of the race occurred at 411 watts up the initial climb to Angeles Crest Highway. He and Evan Huff battled for both KOM’s with Ben getting second on each, however their aggressiveness in going for the KOM points is what created the separation for the breakaway.  At the very top KOM, Ben sprinted with some of the biggest watts I have seen him ever do, averaging 1182W for 13 seconds, and a max of 1408W!




For the next two hours, Ben was in the breakaway with three companions and Ben averaged 330W normalized power for the entire time, so needless to say, he was working hard in the break!  The break gained over 7 minutes at one point and they needed every bit of that gap in order to make it to the finish.  There were two additional Sprint points and two more KOM’s in the stage as well, and Ben won both of the sprint points, while Evan took the KOM’s.  Normally, you would expect the riders in the race to pedal only about 85% of the time, spending the remaining 15% coasting and resting for the finish, however Ben only spent 9 minutes NOT pedaling in the 2 hour and 5 minute breakaway or .07% of the time!  Clearly he was doing his share of the load.



In the finish, Ben and Evan were able to drop the other two companions and that was largely because they both drilled it hard over the remaining hill, averaging 444W for over 3 minutes.  This really put the hurt on his breakaway companions.   In the final sprint, it was just Evan and Ben battling it out for the win and Ben was able to rest his legs averaging only 136W for 46 seconds, before the final sprint of 16 seconds where he killed it with a max power of 1302watts and averaging 1152W for the win!



Many thanks to Ben King for sharing his file!!  Way to go Ben!!



Image Credit: Cycling News - Read More about Ben King

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chris Myers - Pre-season Testing and Training


Chris Myers, Coach, Peaks Coaching Group; USAC Level 2 Coach; Sports Nutritionist; CISSN
Chris joined the cycling team at the United States Military Academy as a sophomore in 2002. He started as a men’s Croad racer, and by his senior year in 2004, he became a men’s Aroad racer and team cocaptain. Upon graduation and two deployments to Iraq, Chris began racing on the military and German professional road and mountain bike circuits with many podium finishes. 

Chris is a doctoral candidate in exercise physiology at Florida State University and is a researcher at the Navy Experimental Dive Unit in Panama City Beach, FL.

COACHING PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT
training is not all about numbers. They are a good indicator of your training performance, but you must look at every other aspect of your program, including your schedules, stress, nutrition, sleep, and most importantly, family. A good coach recognizes this and helps you balance all these factors. I learned these lessons the hard way. I want to pass on my knowledge of training, racing tactics, preparation, and all other aspects of being a holistic athlete in order to assist you in reaching your goals and getting to the next level. Your training program is yours; it is not mine. I firmly believe I am simply a tool to help you improve and achieve your objectives. I will listen and work hard to assist you to achieve your goals.

PC: Talk about your definition of the preseason

CM: It is the training period before competition. More cyclists have an “event," an “A” race that they want to peak for. It could be the national/state road race, a sportif, or competitive club even; part of it depends on when they occur during the year and how many events they want to do within their "competition” season. Preseason is also when some base training would normally occur from November or December through March or April, depending on where you live. But this is driven by when the peak event occurs. I have clients in the Middle East where it is so hot in the summer, that the period between May and July is their preseason.

PC: Let's assume there is a recovery period right after the season. The
next step is base training to higher intensity. How does all that work?

CM: It all depends on duration and intensity, but there are two approaches to base training. The old school of thought is that you do a low, slow distance and keep it at moderate intensity. I am a proponent of the new way of thinking, which we use at Peaks Coaching. It is often refered to as "sweet spot base." The athlete does 20% high intensity and 80% sub-thresholdtype/ endurance training. The time duration is not as long as the old school thought. However, you increase the intensity a little bit while still working in the upper aerobic intensities. This method works well with those who have time constraints and do not have the ability to ride 20 hours a week. A lot of research produced by Dr. Andrew Coggan has substantiated the validity of this type of training. If you have the time, we have a period called “pre-competition,” where you still play on the two variables of duration and intensity. You do more work at threshold with high intensity and maybe some moderate Zone 6 work. As you move from base to pre-competition if you do the periodization correctly—the intensity increases and the duration shortens a bit. This is the period you can start to focus on higher intensity areas such as supra-threshold efforts and speed. Yet, the typical main focus is usually threshold and some Zone 5/VOMax work. Remember, the client’s strengths, weaknesses, limiters, and goals determine the focus. I tend to make client’s limiters the primary focus followed by a secondary focus that will drive training towards the client’s goal. For example, I may have great sprint abilities with a high 10 second output, but my 20 minute output is not so good. The goal is to do well in a road race, so I must work on my 20 minute power output to increase my time at threshold. Knowing your client’s strengths, limitations, and weakness helps the coach to determine the type of work that needs to be performed during the competition build and this is why it is so important to know your client.

PC: Are there tests you do to measure these parameters?

CM: Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” The same holds true with data. In the context, we are talking about power. One still needs to consider heart rate, but it is a little different. Hopefully you have some past power data on the client to create a profile to analyze. You can build the power profile, but you also need to test it. I start from ground zero with testing. Most coaches(including me) have a systematic approach. I test 4 areas that can be broken down to aerobic and anaerobic realms. Anaerobically, we test the 10 second and 1 minute power with a couple of sprint protocols. On the aerobic side, we do the 5 minute and 20 minute power. The 20 minute power is especially important because it measures FTP, which determines the 6 different training zones that we use to design a program. Andy Coggan’s research reinforces the 20 minute test as being the most valid. Take the normalized power, multiply by 95% to get FTP, and from there we calculate the 6 different training zones. The entire test is 70 minutes in length with warm-up and recovery. The warm-up consists of 20 minutes with some spin efforts. The first portion is the 1 minute test. This can be done on a trainer or a flat piece of road with a 13% gradient. From a rolling start, they go as hard as they can for 1 minute, recover for 510 minutes, and do it again. They recover for 1015 minutes and then go into the 10 second sprint efforts. This can also be done on a trainer or the flat surface that the 1 minute test was done on. They do 3 x 10 second sprint efforts. They go hard for 10 seconds, relax, recover to around Zone 2 for 4 minutes and repeat twice again. The aerobic 5 and 20 minute tests are done at a different training session. We start with a 20 minute warm-up And do the 5 minute test to determine VO2 max. Recover for 10-15 minutes then go into the 20 minute test. In exercise physiology, you do the all out efforts first. You can do it in more than 2 sessions for the new athlete, but we try to get it done in two. We then retest after a training block as part of a periodization model.

PC: How do you consider the 5minute test a VO2 test?

CM: This test equates to the Zone 5 power in the short term. There is a correlation of doing these efforts in a lab setting. An athlete’s VOMax can only be truly test in a lab setting with a metabolic cart.

PC: What do you consider to be a successful preseason when?

CM: This is a subjective question; look at performance measures. In the annual training plan, work backwards from the “A” race to establish performance marks. For example, you set a goal of increasing your FTP by 2% or being able to hold and SST interval for 30 min. Another goal could be an increase of 35% in FTP by the end of the first competition build or holding FTP intervals for upwards to 20 minutes. During the preseason/base training , we know we are increasing the aerobic capacity, but we are also working on muscular endurance with the sub-threshold efforts. I consider a successful preseason/base training to be success if the client can hold a 2x20 min SST effort by the end of the base training block. However, it is not uncommon to see slight increases in FTP (such as a 12% increase in FTP) during the base training block. Another thing to examine is how the athlete performs in group rides or competitive settings. Do they hang on or excel? Its not all about the numbers; performance is the best measure of success I want to emphasize that every coach has their own approach. Most of us follow the same periodized theory, but there are different ways to train. I may work traditionally with one athlete, but train another a completely different manner. Sometimes you take an “outside-the-box” approach, so testing and knowing the client is crucial.

More info about Chris Myers click here

Article Re-posted with Permission

Original found in the Performance Cycling Conditioning Newsletter Volume 21 Number 3

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sync TrainingPeaks to Garmin Connect

Tired of syncing your workouts into multiple sites post workout?

Linking your Strava account to Garmin connect can take one step out of you post-workout activity.

Take it one step further and link your TrainingPeaks account to your Garmin connect account for painless activity uploads and syncing. 

Click Here to read a step by step guide 



Monday, March 28, 2016

Traveling With Your Bike - Options

You have this epic vacation planned. A place that will have world class rides and you have the time to ride. But how do you get your bike along safely?

We had some questions come in on this topic and we asked our coaches what they use. 


Here are the results:


Coach Len Pettyjohn:

I’ve easily used more than a dozen different bike carriers over the years with teams as well as solo trips. A few years ago I purchased the Bike Box Alan and now have the most versatile and secure carrier ever. A lot of thought went into the design and Alan took all the best features from the options out there and built them into his box. It’s only available online from the UK, but fortunately the dollar is strong so it’s a relatively good value.

Here are a couple of links, one of which rates it as a 10 (pretty much what you will find from all the reviewers.


Coach Julie McKenzie: 
Concur; especially with TSA not understanding how to repack a case, bikeboxalan has been awesome. There maybe be trouble with the clamshell shutting perfectly to re-clasp; per Bike Box Alan, ensure you store the case properly clasped to encourage the mold and works well!

Coach Todd Scheske: 
Gavilan BFF. No airline charge. Great bag. 
I've used it at least 6 times last year and never paid a bike free. Easy to use too!


Hunter Allen says:
“SCION” all the way.  All you have to remove are the wheels and pedals.
This soft case has traveled with him around the world.  Use extra packing materials just to be safe.


Happy and safe travels

Thursday, March 24, 2016

PCG Coach James Schaefer Reviews ErgVideo

So are you suffering from the trainer blues? No motivation to once again climb aboard and watch a stale video of other guys ride in the warm weather? Yup, that's me too!  Until a month ago I was riding a fluid trainer and watching old Tour of Battenkill videos. That has all changed!! Three months ago I made the best winter investment I could have, next to a snow blower… I got a CompuTrainer. What a great way to ride indoors. Until last week I thought indoor training couldn’t get any better, then I got a set of 3 ErgVideos, and that changed everything about indoor trainer riding… TrainerTainment! (Thanks to Tim Cusick for the new expression).



My first ride up L'Alpe d'Huez – yup, an hour and a half of climbing with a couple of pros. 

What makes this so different from any other trainer ride I have ever done is the "ERG" in the ErgVideo. When you start an ErgVideo you input your FTP into the program and your computer and CompuTrainer do the rest. You don't change gears, you ride at the same percentage of FTP as the guys on the screen. So if their FTP is 350 and yours is 250 the program creates enough resistance for you to ride at 250watts. At first this just didn't sound right… how do you change your cadence to pedal slower if you want to stand up… we are not changing gears, right? You just slow your cadence and the resistance is adjusted and you are still generating 250 watts. Yes, it’s that easy, and it feels as close to riding on the road as I have ever done on a trainer. The scenery is spectacular. You see every landmark that you see on the Tour. About 15 minutes from the end you climb into the clouds and just as you enter the Village of Huez the sun comes back out… just like in the Tour.

The next day I tried a different ErgVideo, microbursts and a tempo ride. I thought, "How is this going to work?" Climbing is one thing, but a workout on rolling terrain that has three by ten minute efforts that are 30-seconds at VOand 20-seconds at endurance, then a 30-minute tempo ride in a rotating paceline? Yes,this workout christened the pain cave - it is a hard workout. Remember,changing gears does nothing. The program sets the power output you need to produce. If you miss the beginning of the 30-second VO2 effort you really struggle to get the cadence back up before the end of 30 seconds. Well, there is a way to give yourself a little relief from these really hard efforts. You have the ability to adjust your FTP with the CompuTrainer handlebar controller. That is what I had to do near the end of this sufferfest.


This is my ride data for the microbursts and tempo. Check out the last 30 minutes at tempo.  The ErgVideo recreates a rotating paceline and the undulating terrain of Bedford, Virginia. You feel every pull you take and every change of road grade.  


Last but not least was the two by 20 minute under/over. This has a nice set of fast pedaling at the end to work on your efficiency. After the first two days of riding I was really intrigued as to how the fast pedal section was going to work. This is another really cool feature of this set-up. The power is kept low so you can really spin up. You see the guys in the video accelerate and there is just enough resistance so your knees don't hit you in the head at 180 RPMs.

You can get all these videos at http://ergvideo.com/, the Hunter Allen PowerPack. All of the ErgVideos run on PC but according to Paul Smeulders can run on a Mac with the proper Windows interface software.

Looking for some more motivation to get through those tough trainer sessions? Take a picture of yourself and give it the #onmytrainer, and see how everyone else is suffering along with you. Just think, some of the most significant snowfalls on the East Coast have occurred in March. So far the rodent was right!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Using Nervousness To Win

By Hunter Allen, PCG CEO/Founder and Master Coach

 peaks coaching group hunter allen

There it is again, your old pal. It always shows up right before that big presentation at work, before you ask for that raise, and before each and every important race that you do. Nervousness. Are you nervous? Do you feel that old queasy feeling before your race? How do you deal with it? Do you get upset? Do you let it get to you? Or do you revel in the feeling and let its energy flow through your body?

If after all these years of training, and racing you still get those feelings, you’re probably in one of three camps: (1) you hate it and feel it’s the worst part of being a competitive athlete, (2) you’ve learned to deal with it and accept it as part of the experience, or (3) you’ve realized that it’s an essential part of you and your race (or project, etc.). Those in the third camp have recognized that feeling excited before a race is actually a great thing and something to look forward to. They realize that it’s just their bodies telling them their muscles are strong and ready for a peak performance. 

If you’re not in that third camp, I’d like to encourage you to recognize the inherent positive in the energy of “nervousness.” In fact, let’s stop calling it that. I think the word nervousness itself can bring on bad connotations, so I refer to the feeling as excitement instead. At some point in my career I decided to change the way I viewed excitement. I decided that instead of fighting the feeling and using essential race energy to fight it off, I would instead just let it run through my body and be used for a better performance. I’ve coached many athletes since then, and it’s interesting to see how each has a different way of dealing with this subject. 





The true professionals, Olympians, etc. are all in the third camp I mentioned above; they use the energy and make it work toward their advantage. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Summer Sanders, and even the great one, Wayne Gretsky -- they all get excited. You just can’t tell it from watching them on TV. These top athletes have recognized the feeling of excitement as good, and they use it to raise their performance to even higher levels.

Have you ever been at a concert or gone dancing when a loud band was playing? You’re up there close to the stage, the music is good, the company is great, and you’re really enjoying yourself. It’s loud, but the rhythm is great and you can literally feel the music running through your body: the deep thump of the bass, the smooth rhythm of the guitar, the steady beat of the drums. What you’re feeling is the vibration of the music and energy coming from the instruments and the musicians themselves. You don’t resist this feeling; you just enjoy it and let it flow through your body. Bingo! You made a decision. Whether or not it was conscious, you allowed yourself to become part of the energy created by the band. 

Now, how does this relate to athletics and pre-event excitement? Well, it’s similar because when you get excited before a presentation or race, your body naturally creates energy that moves throughout your body. It’s a powerful force, so strong that many people aren’t comfortable with it at all. Many of us learned incorrectly somewhere in our past (maybe in the fifth grade) that it’s bad. Let’s say a kid is really excited before a school play because of holding a major role, only to have his belt come unbuckled during the play and his pants fall down, causing all of the kids to laugh at him. Boom, his brain now begins to associate excitement with embarrassment and failure. For the rest of his life, every time he gets excited he feels those impending signs of doom.

Your job is to change your thinking and your paradigm and to allow your mind to relax and enjoy the feeling that your body-mind connection is creating. Change the false beliefs about yourself and your body’s energy. Here’s the key: pay attention, allow yourself to let the feelings flow through you, and decide to enjoy them. Feel the energy flowing into your arms and hands and legs, through your chest, into your back, and up and down your spine. The next time you get excited, take a minute to sit back and really feel that energy. Once you’ve done that, compare it with the energy you felt when excited about a great success, maybe your wedding, your first race win, the birth of a child, a great training run, or a big promotion or raise. How does it compare? It’s the same feeling, right? It’s the same exact feeling as when you’re excited. They’re one and the same. It’s just our incorrect thought patterns and false beliefs that create a difference between the two supposedly different feelings.

The energy of your excitement is of great benefit to you in your everyday life and races; it opens you up, allows you to perform at your maximum, and gets you focused and ready for the effort. You must use it and realize how important it is to have those feelings. They’re good! Allow your body to flow with the energy. The next time you feel that excitement, you’ll know it means you’re ready for a peak performance in the office, in your training, or in your event. Recognize it, allow it, accept it as good and important, and then put it to good use.

Make it a healthy day!


 Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor ofTraining and Racing with a Power Meter and Cutting-Edge Cycling, co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. Hunter can be contacted directly through PeaksCoachingGroup.com

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Training And Racing In The Rain

by Marianne Holt, PCG elite coach
Peaks Coaching Group Racing and Riding in the Rain

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
- Bob Dylan

Whether you love rainy days or hate them, it’s very likely that you will find yourself riding in the rain at some point; probably racing in it, as well. And rain changes things. As you watch the weather report, here are a few things to keep in mind when faced with the drips.

Road Hazards

There are several places that can become slick as glass even if just mildly wet or damp:
  • Painted lines
  • Railroad tracks (hopefully there aren’t any on the course, but you never know)
  • Manhole covers
  • Intersections where cars stop. These are usually worse when the roads are just damp versus very wet. When cars stop at intersections, oil drips down and accumulates on the asphalt. Combine that oil with just a little bit of water, and it’s crazy slick.
  • Dirt and gravel that might have washed out on the road. Be on the lookout for this, especially in the turns.

Braking

    If the roads are very wet, water will accumulate between your bike’s brake pads and rims, essentially giving you zero slowing and stopping ability. So be sure to feather the brakes frequently to squeeze out the water and keep it out.

    This is so obvious I almost hesitate to include it, but I will: Allow extra room between you and the rider in front of you. Even if you do a great job of keeping the water away from your brake pads, it will still take extra time to stop or slow down on wet or damp roads, so give yourself plenty of room.

    Racing

      Ride at the front of the pack. My athletes get to hear me preach about not riding at the front of the pack, but while that is still my advice in general, at or near the front will for sure be the safest place to be if it’s wet. Personally, if it’s raining, I like to go hard from the gun to try to whittle down the field. You’ll have to use your judgment on this one because you don’t want to burn all your matches from the beginning, but the fewer riders in the field, the better your chances are of staying safe and having a good finish.

      Hands in drops is even more important when it’s wet. It’s easy for wet hands to slide right off the top of the brake hoods. Keep your hands in the drops; you’ll have more control and won’t risk losing your grip.

      Gear and Clothing

        This one is important! If it looks pretty certain the roads will be wet, run a little less pressure in your tires. I usually go 5-7 psi less than I would normally have. Yes, you might increase your risk of a pinch flat, but you’ll get better traction on the wet roads.

        I highly recommend wearing eye wear with yellow lenses, or some other light color. If you go without, you’ll get tons of road spray in your eyes (from the wheel in front of you or your own front wheel) and won’t be able to see well. The lenses will of course get wet and dirty, but I find that a quick swipe with my finger will clear them off enough for me to see the road ahead.

        If you’ve been using the same helmet for a while on these hot, humid days, chances are you’ve accumulated a lot of sweat on the pads and straps. If the pads get very wet and water drips in your eyes, you’ll feel a serious stinging (think salt water in your eyes). So now is a good time to clean your helmet and get that sweat and grim out of the pads and straps.

        It’ll probably be a little cooler in the rain, so don’t forget to pack an extra base layer and maybe arm warmers. A vest is good too, but you’ll need your race number to be visible at all times, so if you plan to race in your vest, be sure to pin your number on it. And I KNOW you all know how to pin on your number!

        Getting it Done

        Remember: rain shouldn't stop you. It simply creates another opportunity to become a better athlete!


        Marianne lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys all types of riding, including criterium races, road races, GFNCS, mountainous centuries, time trials, and the occasional cruise on her mountain bike or cyclocross bike. She is a Category 1 racer with the PainPathways Women’s Team and a USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach. She has extensive road racing experience, including NRC and International Stage Races, UCI races, and elite and masters nationals championship races. She is a former masters nationals time trial champion and has numerous silver and bronze medals from masters nationals criteriums and road races. Marianne can be contacted through info@peakscoachinggroup.com or www.peakscoachinggroup.com.