Off-Season Training

This time of year often means time for relaxing, catching up on chores, and doing some things you haven't had time for. But don't get stuck on resting (though that's important); get in the training to charge 2015!

How to Build a Training Plan Using Your Power Meter

The number one question we get at seminars is: How do I get started with a training plan? There's no simple answer (except hire a coach), but Hunter shares some basics to cover.

I Don't Care if I'm Getting Old; I Wanna Go Fast!

Coach Tim Cusick is 48 years old, and he wants to go faster! Luckily he's into cycling, one of the few sports that offer the opportunity to improve even at such a “mature” age (and way beyond). Click through for his tips.

Off Season Homework for Triathletes

While "off season" sounds so vacation-like, most of us know it's anything but. It's the crucial time to get in your homework for next year's season, especially if you're aiming for the next level of success.

How to Interpret Power Data and What to Do With It

A power meter is an incredible tool and one of the most important purchases a cyclist or triathlete can make. But it won't do you any good unless you know how to use the information it gathers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: ErgVideo's Alpe d'Huez Goodness

If you're a regular reader, you know we've been a big fan of ErgVideo since the beginning. So when ErgVideo founder Paul Smuelders approached us last year to film some new videos focused on specific winter training, we jumped at the chance. This year Paul asked us to send him a handful of PCG kits to outfit his team of riders for some filming. We gladly agreed, but we never imagined they'd show up in eye-popping 1080p Alpe d'Huez video! Putting that out right here at the front gets the disclaimer out of the way: yep, we are biased. We love ErgVideo.
Peaks Coaching Group ErgVideo Review
The ErgVideo team, knocking down another switchback on Alpe d'Huez, 2014.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Power Training

Peaks Coaching Group Winter Power Training Hunter Allen

We say it all the time, but it's still true: what you do this winter really can make or break your season next year. There are some vital components to creating a very good winter training program, and of course using a power meter is a big part of it. Once you're rested from your season's work, recharged, and ready to go, your winter should contain at least two important components: (1) focused indoor training workouts using wattage and cadence and (2) solid workouts in the sweet spot zone.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Hydration

Peaks Coaching Group Winter Hydration

It’s an easy mistake to make: not hydrating enough during winter workouts. The colder weather tends to dull our sense of thirst, plus water is less appealing in the cold. We also typically don’t sweat as much. So it’s easy to assume you don’t need much water (if any) during a cold weather workout, but you do! If you're overdressed, you may be sweating even more than you would during a workout in warmer temps. Your body also loses fluid through respiration, which is magnified with heavy breathing in the cold.

So who cares? Well, hopefully you. Studies have shown that more than a 2% loss of body weight from fluids can hamper performance. Not to mention the fact that water is an essential nutrient to the human body, involved in 98% of all bodily reactions. You may feel physically unwell if you are chronically dehydrated.

So how do you know if you're dehydrated after a workout? You may be able to tell by the color and volume of your urine; if it’s dark and concentrated, you're likely dehydrated. And if you have barely any urine to expel despite not peeing in a long time, you are definitely dehydrated! Ideally your urine should be almost clear to pale yellow. (Some vitamins and foods can alter the color of your urine, however, so if you're taking supplements, be aware that they may be part of the discoloration. The same is true with beets and beet juice, which can turn your urine pink!) Another tip-off for dehydration after a workout is feeling more tired or fatigued than usual. If the dehydration is extreme, you may feel dizzy or nauseous.

How much water do you need during cold weather workouts? Recommendations vary, but you generally should drink 6-12 ounces every 15-20 minutes (18-48 ounces per hour) during exercise. That’s a pretty wide range, I know. You don’t want to over-hydrate, either, or you'll risk uncomfortable stomach sloshing, excessive bathroom breaks, and even dangerous hyponatremia (salt deficiency) in rare cases.

The best way to figure out how much fluid you specifically need is by doing a sweat rate test. To do this, weigh yourself naked before your workout, then complete a 60-minute run or ride without eating or drinking anything during the activity. Don't use the bathroom, either. Once your hour is up, immediately weigh yourself again (again naked). The difference between your starting and finishing weights (remember there are 16 ounces in 1 pound) is your sweat rate in ounces per hour. For instance, if you weigh 1.5 pounds less after a 1-hour run, you should aim to drink 24 ounces per hour (16×1.5= 24). If your workout will last longer than 60-90 minutes, consider adding a sports drink for carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement, but water is enough for anything shorter.

Keep in mind that your sweat rate will be slightly different during different conditions, at different intensities, and during different activities, so you may want to do this test several times under a variety of conditions. For instance, if you're at altitude (as in, say, cross country skiing), you need even more water than at lower elevations. At the very least do the sweat rate test once in the summer and once in the winter so you can pinpoint differences in your sweat rate between the seasons.

Are you struggling to meet your fluid needs now that you know them? Try using room temperature water during workouts, since cold water is certainly not appealing when your body is already cold. Adding flavor can sometimes help make water more palatable, so try throwing a lemon wedge, cucumber slice, or splash of sports drink into your bottle. You can also use warm beverages like hot chocolate or soup broth for your post-workout fluid replacement (or even during your workout, if your stomach can handle it). Try taking small, frequent sips instead of chugging a bunch at once. It might help initially to set a goal and keep an eye on your watch; for example, you might commit to taking a couple of sips every 5 minutes.

It’s also important to maintain good hydration throughout the day. You may have heard the “8 glasses per day” (64 ounces) recommendation, but that’s not enough for everyone. To roughly calculate how many ounces of fluid you need per day, measure your body weight in pounds and divide it in half. That number in ounces is about how much water you need just for daily life, not including exercise. For example, a 135-pound athlete would need about 67.5 ounces a day, and more for exercise. But that’s just a rough estimate. Again, one of the best ways to know if you're hydrated is to pay attention to your urine color; if it’s anything other than pale yellow, you need more water. If you can smell it, you really need more water! Go drink up.

Happy hydrating!

Photo Credit:

Jen Sommer is a registered dietitian, a certified specialist in sports dietetics, a former NASM certified personal trainer, and a self-appointed mountain girl. As a cyclist, skier, hiker, and runner (among other things), she knows firsthand the importance of proper nutrition and training. She offers nutrition coaching and consulting through Peaks Coaching Group. Find more great tips, recipes, and articles at Jen's blog, Mountain Girl Nutrition and Fitness

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Youth and Junior Triathlon Racing

Peaks Coaching Group Youth Junior Triathlon Racing Nathan LaFrance

Do you know a kid or teenager who wants to try a triathlon? Maybe that’s you! Maybe you’ve done a few races and want to get more involved in the sport. Youth and junior triathletes represent one of the largest growing segments in the sport of triathlon, and there are more and more opportunities for races age-appropriate in distance and focus for this group of athletes. Youth and juniors with more experience who wish to compete at a higher level have additional opportunities to race a variety of triathlon formats, including ITU-style draft-legal racing.

Before deciding which races to consider for next season, take time to review your age and experience, and then look for races with swim, bike, and run distances that match your age and ability (see the table below).

Recommended Competition Distances for Youth and Juniors
Racing Age* Category Swim Distance Bike Distance Run Distance
7-8 Youth 50-100m** 2k 1k
9-10 Youth 100m** 3k 1k
11-12 Youth 200m** 5-7k 2k
13-15 Youth 200-400m 8-10k 2-3k
16-19 Junior 400-750m 15-20k 5k
13-15 Youth Elite*** 400m 10k 2.5k
16-19 Youth Elite*** 750m 20k 5k
*Racing age is determined as of December 31 of the year in which the event takes place.
** Pool swim recommended.
***Youth elite and junior elite races are draft-legal, are typically staged on multi-lap closed courses, and are officiated using International Triathlon Union competition rules.

Additionally, look for races with multiple breakdowns of the younger age groups (not just “under 19”). This is a good indicator that the race director is making appropriate considerations for younger athletes.

Junior talent identification races are great places for teenage triathletes to find races with a higher number of other teens and conditions suitable for emerging athletes. These races are non-draft legal format and have been identified by USAT Regional Athlete Development Coordinators (RADCs) as particularly “junior friendly.”  

If you’re interested in draft-legal racing, seek out opportunities to learn group riding skills prior to your first race. It’s important for anyone racing in this style of triathlon to have good riding skills and be comfortable in group riding situations. You can gain these skills in a variety of ways: through local cycling club group rides, USAT regional development camps, and USA Cycling camps, or with the help of a coach. Once you feel comfortable with fast-moving pelotons, you may be ready to try USA Triathlon’s F1 races, which are introductory draft-legal triathlons for athletes ages 12-17 that are designed to give teens the opportunity to try out this type of race.

Youth and junior elite cup races are ITU-style draft-legal races where the best of the country’s young triathletes compete for points toward youth and junior elite national rankings. These races are for those young athletes who have the experience and conditioning to handle the country’s highest level of competition. USA Triathlon’s Youth Elite and Junior Elite National Championship is the culmination of the Elite Cup Series for youth and junior triathletes.

Triathlon has a lot to offer its youth and junior participants. Selecting races that are appropriate to both your age and experience will keep it fun and encourage you to get even more involved in this great sport!

Photo: PCG junior triathlete Nathan LaFrance

Peaks Coaching Group Coach Karen Mackin
Karen Mackin is a USA Cycling Level 2 power certified coach, a USA Triathlon Level 2 junior certified coach, a USA Track and Field Level 1 coach, an AFAA certified personal trainer, and a PCG elite coach. She and her fellow PCG coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. Karen can be contacted directly through or

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to Prep Your Bike for Winter

Peaks Coaching Group How to Prep Your Bike for Winter

I just watched the weather, and they’re calling for snow for the first time this year. For a lot of people, this news is the beginning of the long, indoor trainer “hibernation” period. I really don’t mind riding the trainer as long as I can still get outside for some longer days here and there, but this requires learning to stay warm and how to deal with winter roads.

What exactly is a winter road, you ask? Once snow starts falling and road work begins we typically have to deal with three key things: first, the accumulation of road-edge piles of snow, ice melts, and slush; second, the amazing amount of blended ice-melting granules spread on the road (often gathering at the edge of the road), ranging from cinders to sand to salt; and third, the more narrow road shoulders bring cars closer to the edge (and to you). The key to make your winter riding a success is prepping your bike so you can deal with both these road conditions and some pretty cold weather.

Here are a few of my winter prep tips:

Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Shop for a Coach

Peaks Coaching Group How to Shop for a Coach

Finding a coach that’s right for you can be a daunting task. For some athletes, it’s like choosing a dentist or car mechanic; for others, it’s more like looking for a spouse. You want to find someone you can trust will have your best interests in mind, someone you connect with, and someone who knows enough and has the right experience to guide you through your training and racing year so that you show up at your key events as fit as possible.

When it comes to shopping for a coach or coaching group, there are a few key things I think are important and a few misconceptions I’d like to put to rest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Key Clothing Layers for Outdoor Winter Cycling

Peaks Coaching Group Key Clothing Layers for Winter Cycling Outdoors

I’d rather be outside on the bicycle than on the trainer. From what the weathermen are saying, I just might be stuck inside for awhile this winter, but I’m not giving in yet! Instead I’m making sure I have the layers I need to keep me as dry and warm as possible on those long cold winter rides. 

There are three key layers that make up the perfect winter cycling outfit:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why Go To a Winter Training Camp?

Peaks Coaching Group Cyling Training Camp

Full disclosure: We host a lot of camps, so be advised this could include a blatant sales pitch. That being said, though, the reason we do winter training camps is that we know how effective they are in boosting your foundation training fitness and setting you up for a season of success. I could give you a thousand reasons to attend a winter camp, but I'd like to suggest four main ones.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recipe: Chicken and Rice Bowl

from the kitchen of Namrita Kumar, PCG nutritionist
Peaks Coaching Group Chick and Rice Bowl Namrita Kumar

Chicken and Rice Bowl

Serves 1


2 ounces grilled chicken breast, diced (or other lean protein like ground chicken breast, turkey breast, etc.)
3/4 cup cooked brown or wild rice
4 cherry tomatoes
1 cup raw spinach or kale leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 ounce feta cheese
Salt, lemon pepper, and other seasonings to taste
1 tablespoon hummus (optional)


Pour the olive oil over the greens and stir to coat. Season to taste. Stir the seasoned greens into the rice and then stir in all the other ingredients. This can be eaten hot or cold.

Optional: Top with 1 tablespoon hummus.

Nutrition information:

424 kcal, 21 g fat 32 g CHO, 28 g protein without hummus added
463 kcal, 23 g fat, 38 g CHO, and 29 g protein with hummus added

This recipe is from Namrita's new e-book, Carbs are King: The Importance of Post-Workout Recovery. Click here to get your copy!

Image credit:

Namrita's racing background is primarily in endurance mountain biking and, more recently, some XC distance racing and XTERRA off-road triathlon. She works with triathletes, ultra-endurance mountain bike racers, self-supported ultra racers, marathon runners, and more. She is an active member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise & Sport (PINES), and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) Honorary Board, and she is a founding member of the Georgia High School Cycling League. Namrita can be contacted directly through Peaks Coaching Group.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Pitfalls of the Quest for Perfect Nutrition

I once overheard a personal trainer at my gym say to another trainer, “I was so bad today; I had a white bagel!” As the other trainer gasped in horror, I cringed to myself and debated whether or not it was worth telling the trainer how silly she sounded. I don’t like when people refer to themselves as bad because of something they ate. That’s classic eating disorder talk, and it’s sad to think that some people genuinely feel so guilty about something they eat. Sometimes statements like the trainer said are meant as an exaggeration or for effect, but it’s still not a good habit. Eating a less-than-healthy food does not make one a bad person! Lying, cheating, stealing…those things make you a bad person, but not your nutrition choices.