Covid is going to be a long ride…

•March 16, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

As many of you know, I live in the Seattle area. We’re currently in the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic as it begins to make its way across the United States. My wife is a nurse, and as I write this she is in downtown Seattle working as part of an outreach effort to provide services to infected (and potentially infected) members of the homeless community.

It’s a pretty scary time for our family, and for our area. Current projections indicate that the path this disease is taking locally are very much analogous to the path that it took in the hardest-hit parts of Italy, and that we can expect to be in a state of affairs similar to where Italy is now within a couple of weeks.

That’s… not great news. A few minutes on Google will show you what things look like there, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to conjure up what that would/will be like here.

It probably goes without saying that all of this is pretty darn stressful, and as my personal stress level continues to rise, I find myself more than ever seeking solace on – you guessed it – my bike.
For me, my daily training is the therapy, the meditation time that makes it possible for me to get through things like this. I’m guessing you might just be wired the same way.

As a cycling coach – hey, maybe as YOUR cycling coach! – I’m probably not the person you would or should look to for advice in response to a pandemic. I can, however, talk to you about the effect this has on  your training, and offer some recommendations.

The first and most important thing I would like to offer to you is that we all need to take seriously the concept of Social Distancing. Avoid, as much as possible, coming into contact with people who are not in your immediate family group.
While current recommendations from the Federal Government suggest avoiding “large” groups of people, what we know from the transmission rates of this disease in other countries is that the areas that have had the most success in limiting it’s spread have worked to eliminate *all* unnecessary contact. If you don’t have to be near someone else, you should stay away from them. Take this to heart, and take it as far as you can. The best course of action is to limit your personal contact to people in your immediate family only, in as much as is possible.

There has been much written on this topic in recent days, and there isn’t much I can add to it. Just please try to remember that the only way we can avoid the worst possible set of outcomes in this crisis is through this process of Social Distancing.  As of now, there is no cure, there is no vaccine, there is no herd immunity, there is only us, and the choices we make.

In terms of your training, that recommendation manifests in a couple of ways…

  • Don’t go to any races for a while.

There isn’t much choice about this right now; they’re all cancelled or postponed.

  • Don’t go to the gym.

If you want to do some resistance training, there are a large variety of bodyweight exercises that you can do at home, and I – or any of the other SE coaches – would be more than happy to help you with programming a routine.

  • Don’t go on group rides.

Yeah, I know. This one stings a bit. Social Distancing means avoiding all unnecessary contact with people outside our immediate family group, and while it may seem to us like that weekly group ride is pretty damn necessary, in the context of a global pandemic? It can maybe go on pause for a while. Ride by yourself, or with family members. If you don’t share a house with someone, don’t ride with them.

If you really find yourself yearning for the social and/or competitive aspect of that group ride experience, this may be the time to finally check out that “Zwift” thing everyone has been talking about. Honestly, most people find it to be a pretty great experience.

So, that’s the Social Distancing component. What other advice can I offer as a coach?

  • Maybe take things down a notch.

Even in an absolute best-case scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to have a significant impact on the infrastructure and capacity of your local medical providers. You really don’t want to find yourself needing to visit the hospital in the middle of a crisis like this, and there may not even be an ambulance (or hospital care itself!) available for you if you need it for something that isn’t immediately life threatening. Think about this before you go for a ride, and maybe stay off that barely-rideable backcountry singletrack trail you’ve been thinking you might hit on your gravel bike. Maybe take the bike path instead of that 5-minute faster route you always almost get doored on.

Speaking of “taking things down a notch”…

It’s probably not a great idea to beat the heck out of your immune system when the wave of a global pandemic is about to crest over the country. Training/riding has positive benefits in terms of immune function, but you are going to want to keep your training – and life! – stress level below the point it begins to make you more susceptible to opportunistic infections. Frankly, this is a pretty good time to have a coach keeping an eye out for you. I’m going to be paying extra close attention to all the little clues that tell me when an athlete is starting to get run a little bit ragged, and I will err on the side of caution to clamp down on intensity and work load when those clues start to appear. It wouldn’t hurt to be extra diligent in writing down subjective feedback on your training log, just to make sure that kind of stuff gets factored in to your training. Plus, who knows? Maybe your training log will be the basis for your future novel, “Training in the time of Cholera”, something like that…

One last thing…

I know riding is going to help me get through this, and If you’re reading this it probably will you as well. Even as we consciously create physical distance between us, the community that we have built and are part of remains, and will remain. Please drop me a line anytime, for any reason.

Oh… and wash your hands! A lot!

 

M

 

 

 

Cyclocross running in 2019, AKA “The times, they have changed”

•September 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about running.

Cyclocross running, that is.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this:

With certain regional exceptions, the way folks are designing cross courses in the US these days you might not need to train your running at all to be really, really damn fast, even at the top level of the sport.

For the most part, It’s just not that important anymore. If you’re in really  good bike form, you can fake your way through the miniscule amount of off-the-bike awkwardness that is required on most of today’s courses.

In fact, for most folks, I don’t recommend doing any run-specific training during the season.

99% of what goes on in a Cyclocross race has nothing to do with running at all, so why would you waste precious training time on that remaining 1%?

Well, guess what? Times have changed. It’s like promoters all got the same email, and suddenly long run-ups appeared on courses across the land, and you need to have some running legs if you’re going to compete at the big events. Nationals last year was pretty close to being mostly running for some of the categories, and while it doesn’t look like Nats this year is going to be quite that bad, it’s going to have some serious off-bike vertical in it, even if it’s dry. If it’s wet, suffice to say they’ll be a bunch of running. Potentially even some on the descents. I’m not kidding.

All of which means that you would be well advised to integrate some run time into your training these days, regardless of what I – and many other coaches – may have told you in years previous.

So, what should you do?

Probably unsurprisingly, the answer begins with “it depends…”

What does it depend on?
How much running you have in your legs so far this season.

Unless you’ve already been running a bunch this summer, don’t head out the door and lay down a blazing fast 5k. That would be a really bad idea.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve seen athletes put themselves on the couch for a whole week – even weeks – by  blowing up various body parts in a misguided attempt to channel a year’s worth of not-running anxiety into one single workout. Don’t be that guy/gal.

Take. It. Slow. And short. Really short.

I am going to tell you to go out and run today, but just a tiny little bit.

How little?

Well, for right now, you need to stop running before your legs get sore. If you haven’t done any running since last Cross season, that’s going to seem like an absurdly short period of time.

Seriously absurd. We’re talking 5, 10, 15, maybe 25 minutes.

Yup. A five minute run. A ten minute run. That 25 minutes is serious outlier territory. You need to stop before you hurt yourself, and if you start to feel sore knees/legs/whatever, you’re starting to hurt yourself. When that happens, you stop running, and you walk home. Ideally you stop before that happens.

That’s it.

Put your running shoes on, walk out the door, and go for a run, stopping before you get sore.

Don’t run hard, don’t run fast, just run.

Exercise some serious self control, and stop when you feel the very slightest of indicators that something is starting to get wonky. Which is probably going to be way before you think it should be.

The default setting here is “ridiculously short.” We’re going to build up the running time slowly, and while we’ll do some running that feels more like an actual workout soon, for now the sole idea is to get something that’s a little bit like running into your legs without messing yourself up.

Goals for today, in order of importance:

#1: Don’t hurt yourself.

#2: Get a little bit of running-like activity into your legs.

#3: That’s it.

Have fun!

M

Some notes:

 

– if you don’t have good running shoes, and if you’re going to train your running, go get some. Buy them at a specialty running store that will spend time with you to make sure you get the right ones for your feet and for your (probably terrible) running mechanics. Don’t listen to the advice of friends who tell you to get some kind of barefoot glove monstrosity to run in. Go to a good running store, tell them exactly what you’re doing, and take their advice on what to buy. It’ll be worth it.

 

– Try to run on grass or on trails if you can, while you can. Cross races generally don’t have you running on pavement, and there isn’t much reason to train on a surface that’s just going to increase the pounding on your body if you don’t need to.

–  Don’t do your running workouts with the bike on your shoulder. Something analogous to good form is really damn important if you want to be good at running, and you want to avoid injuring yourself. It’s basically impossible to run with good form with a damn bike on your shoulder, so do yourself a favor and don’t learn to run that way. Establish form without the bike, then add the bike in practice and in races. That’s plenty enough to pick up the little tricks to running with bike attached, and not so much that it decimates any chance you have of learning to run properly.

– 99.9% of you are going to ignore almost everything you just read, except for the “Go Run” part. Have some Ibuprofen and a hot bath waiting for your return from your ill-advised marathon.

The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 12.7.18. “The Big Dance”

•December 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

So, hey… here we are, it’s the week before Nationals.

This is the end of the road for most (the few) of you left.

Congrats, you made it!

In honor of that, no workout of the day today. Sorta.

Instead, I’m going to drop an outline of the week before your big race on ‘ya.

 

Since everyone races on different days, what i’m going to do is post-up a “Week of the big race” schedule. You plug in your race day, count back, and – Voila! a schedule…

 

SO,

Monday –

Easy recovery spin

Tuesday –

Short easy ride or run (if you’re in the habit) maybe even a day off. Make sure you’re totally recovered from whatever you did 2 days ago…

Wednesday –

Slow Roast, or 3 (or 2…) x10 (basically 1/2 a Classic 2×20) or 1-2 Hour Moderate Ride or…

Lots of options today. Key here is to stick with your usual routine, kinda. Most people go pretty hard Wednesday of race week, so you need to that, but just a wee little bit less hard.

Thursday

Short, hard sprints of some sort.

Friday –

Day off, Easy spin or Course Preview

Largely dependent on when you’re getting to Nats. Ideally, you get there at least two days before the event, and you have the chance to preview. If you are in the habit of going easy two days before races, don’t change that now!

Saturday –

Can Openers and / or Course Preview

Don’t overdo it. Ideally you previewed the course yesterday so you can focus on openers rather than course preview. If you have to preview today, try not to overdo it.  Far too many folks throw their race day away at Nationals by riding a bunch the day before, or spending all day freezing their ass off spectating. Do just enough to get open!

Sunday –

Race. 

 

The descriptions/explanations for workouts to fill all these slots can be found by entering the name/description of the workout in the search box over to the rightof the page. If you’ve been following for a while, there isn’t anything here you haven’t seen before, which is kinda the point.

Don’t do anything new on race week!

You gotta’ run what ya’ brung at the big dance…

 

 

Have fun,

M

The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Thursday, 12.6.18. “Speeding towards season’s end”

•December 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Speed work today. We’re going to do some…

Ten Second Max Sprints –

This is a pretty simple workout in concept, but harder to actually do than it appears at first blush. Short version…

– Warm up

20 minutes or so, making sure to include some short, hard efforts.

– Full-gas, all out sprint for ten seconds.

– Recover for 12 minutes.

– Full-gas, all out sprint for ten seconds.

– Recover for 12 minutes.

– Full-gas, all out sprint for ten seconds.

– Recover for 12 minutes.

– Full-gas, all out sprint for ten seconds.

– Recover for 12 minutes.

– Full-gas, all out sprint for ten seconds.

– Spin out your legs, recover for another 10 minutes or so, then go home. You’re done.

Wait… that’s it?
Yup. Five ten-second sprints.
That’s it.
Here’s the thing, though; these are legit, 100%, all you can do sprints.

Think “If I don’t win this sprint, someone I love is going to die” type sprints.

If this doesn’t sound hard to you, that just means you’ve never actually gone that hard before.
It isn’t something that most people – even bike racers – have actually done. They may think they have, but… nope.


Good luck…
M

The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 12.5.18. “Short, sweet, Sven…”

•December 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

One week until Nationals. Go time.

Short and sweet today. We’re doing…

 

Sventervals – 

 

Sometimes a picture (or a video) is worth a thousand words.

Just like in the video.

Really darn short – 10 seconds max – full gas hill sprints, ideally on pretty technical terrain.

5 reps per set, and notice how hard Sven is breathing after these?

That’s the idea.

Hit it hard. Really hard. These are super short, and super intense.

Ideally, you’re doing these on a short climb that you can barely get up, one that is at the bleeding edge of your technical ability and strength.

You can surmount the obstacle, but it forces you to give it everything you’ve got to make it happen.

But you can make it happen, despite the pain. For a couple of reps, at least.

Can’t get up the hill anymore?

Take a short rest, go again.

When you can’t get up the hill at all even when you take a short break to recover?

You’re done.

M

The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 12.4.18. “Crap…”

•December 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Oh crap, man…

I just realized that I didn’t hit the “publish” button for today’s workout this morning, when I got hit with an absolute deluge of day-job hellishness.

I am super sorry about that. Especially this close to Nationals, I hate to leave people in the lurch like that.

Well, here’s what was supposed to go up…

 

 

Over/Under Intervals! 

 

 

What the heck is an over/under interval?

– “Over-under” means that you are going to be working right around the level of your threshold, both above and below.

– What is your threshold? Well, for our purposes, we are going to reference the Classic 2×20 workout. Whatever wattage, heart rate, or gear ratio you use for that interval will serve as your threshold baseline.

Get a solid idea of the wattage, heart rate, or tempo you ride your 20 minute intervals in, and keep it firmly stuck in your mind. This is important; you are going to bounce above and below this level for the rest of the workout.

Get a stopwatch. Put it on your bars.

Start the stopwatch.

Begin today’s workout by doing a 5 minute effort at your 2×20 level.

After the 20 minute-style baseline effort, spin easy for 2 -5 minutes.

When you are ready, begin the 10 minute Over/under thusly:

– Ride for one minute at your baseline/20 minute intensity level.

– At the end of that minute, ride 10 seconds at 25 watts, 10 beats, or 1 gear higher than the baseline level.

– After the 10 seconds, ride 20 seconds at 25 watts, 10 beats, or 1 gear lower than the baseline.

– After the 20 seconds, you go back to the ten (over,) followed again by the 20 (under,) etc., etc.

Got it? 1 minute baseline, 10 up, 20 down, 10 up, 20 down. Repeat the up/down efforts to the end of the interval.

– Rest 2-5 minutes.

– Do it again for 10 minutes.

– Rest again for 2 minutes.

– Pile sets on until you’re starting to see a precipitous drop in your output level.

This drop should be fairly obvious when it happens, even if you aren’t using a power meter. The meter helps, but perceived exertion is a pretty decent gauge for something like this.
Ideally, you want to keep rolling out sets of these intervals until you’ve completed enough of them to be equivalent to your race duration, IE: 60 minutes worth of sets (that’s over and under not just “over”) if you race for 60 minutes. Less if you race less.

This is a tough go, though. Might also be too much this close to Nats, unless you’re really in great form. Which you maybe should be at this point?

Or maybe not. Can’t tell you without looking at your data. Anyways,  Ouch. These should sting a bit.

Have fun!

The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 12.3.18. “yup. this…”

•December 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Monday means…

Recovery Spin…

Just like it sounds…

– Get on your bike. Roll out into the street – or into your living room if you’re going to do this on the turbo – and just spin around for an hour. Or more. Or less. Whatever it takes.

– Really small gear, no hard efforts – heck, no medium effort.

– Spin. You’re looking to move your legs around in circles, almost like there is no chain on the bike.

– The idea is to get your body moving, flush the systems out, and speed your recovery.

– Just get out on the road and spin easily and aimlessly. At a certain point, your legs will start to loosen up.

– When that happens, turn around and go home.

–  You really should feel it when this happens. Your legs should just sorta start to loosen up a bit. It’s subtle, but it’s there. If that doesn’t happen, you might need to roll a bit longer, or you might just be really damn tired. Not being able to loosen up on the recovery spin might be a sign that you need a full day off tomorrow…

–  If you’re doing these on the trainer, same deal. Just spin. No hard efforts, just make the legs go around in circles in a small gear.

– Follow up with as much relaxation as you can. Eat, stretch, and put your legs up. Get a massage if possible.

 

Monday video…

 

 

 

Enjoy!

M