Do I Need to do Run Speed Work to Get Faster?

A common question we receive from runners is, “Don’t I need speed workouts to get faster?” It makes sense why we get this question so frequently. Many of the free training plans and club-organized training that you will see are using methods that originated from the 60’s and 70’s. In these plans you will usually find one day of speed work, one Tempo run day and a long run on the schedule. For athletes who are newer to running, or even those new to structured training, it is likely for them to see an improvement in fitness by doing this style of training. But for many, you will eventually reach a slowing rate of fitness improvement or even a plateau in your fitness.

With many of the training plans we create our goal is to optimize the rate at which our athletes will improve their fitness without risking their health. We do this by focusing more specifically on energy systems. What does that mean? It means we hit hard on a tighter range of intensities. This usually means that if we are doing speed work, we focus on speed work for a block and there may be multiple sessions in a week. If we are focusing on improving an athlete’s threshold pace, we focus on threshold paces to build an athlete’s ability to buffer waste byproducts while simultaneously improving their sustainable pace.

We do this because at its most basic perspective, training is about eliciting a stress on the body and then allowing the body to recover. By focusing on one specific energy system, we can elicit a greater response from that system without creating significant residual fatigue from other unfocused workouts. For many this can be quite a shock to them but after
several weeks of training it becomes apparent that the switch in training methodology works and months down the road, we find that athletes are at a completely different level than previously conceived.

Each of these intensities has its place, it’s the purpose and a great function to create a more well-rounded athlete but for many of us focusing on one facet of our running, threshold work in this instance, creates a much more efficient athlete and utilizes time more effectively.

Improve your running pace with one of our Custom Coaching Packages or an Edge Membership!

Losing Motivation? Set A New Kind of Goal

Coach Brady Irwin

As the future of endurance events continues to be unclear, its important to explore other types of goals that can positively impact your fitness and keep you motivated. Coach Brady shares his experience setting a unique goal for last month:

In the month of February, I set out to accomplish a fitness goal.  This was not like any of my previous personal fitness goals.  Power metrics were not a concern, percent improvement was not factored in and there was no event at the end of the block that was being considered.  This goal was focused on returning to a consistent routine with an overarching goal of increasing future training.  

My goal was simple: Increase consistency in my cycling routine by completing a minimum of 1 hour per day through the month of February.

In the years of helping athletes select goals and prepare for events, I have learned that it is important to challenge yourself but to also remember that life happens and reality needs to be factored in. Sometimes workdays get long, kids have events, motivation is low, weather sucks, or I have to travel. Because of that, I added an alternate way to meet my daily goal, not to make things easier, but to help increase efficacy. 

Alternate: If I was unable to ride for 1 hour, I could substitute a 5k run.

It sounds simple, but there were days that lacing up shoes and getting out the door was TOUGH… but knowing this option was there made things manageable.

Ultimately, the goal was accomplished and I was active every day except for one, where I found out I was potentially exposed to COVID-19. (I tested negative!)

Even though we are early in the month of March, I have found that creating this consistency in my activity has reinvigorated my desire to not only ride but also to train. It has even resulted in some improvements in fitness. Much like interval work and focused training, there are often carry-over benefits from simple goals like this one in other areas of our physiology and or personal life that are positively impacted. 

Curious about setting goals that aren’t event-focused? If you’re ready to get back into a routine, build base fitness, or simply explore new ways to approach you training, send us an email so we can chat with you about non-event goal setting!

Weighing-In on Weight Loss Goals

Post-Quarantine Weight

Fitness and endurance are not determined by the scale – people of all sizes and shapes train, race and achieve their goals every day. That said, losing weight can be a motivating objective and is on the minds of many after this year.

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Is A Noseless Saddle Right For You?

In the last ten years, we have seen an increasing trend in saddle manufacturers to create a short or no nose saddle.  These saddles originated in Pro Tour TTs as athletes began cutting the nose of saddles off to make their seat fore/aft position meet UCI regulations. It later caught traction in triathlon due to the improved comfort and is now prominent in the road and off-road scenes.

Many cyclists wonder, “Will a noseless saddle work for me?” Here are some changes you might see if you switch to this saddle style.

Aggressive position

In this situation, the wider front of a noseless saddle provides greater support of the ischial rami and helps to alleviate numbness in many circumstances.

Further forward saddle position

Most riders sit further forward on a noseless saddle. This naturally moves the rider forward in relation to the saddle rails and provides an increased forward placement of the rider.

No more irritation from the saddle nose

For some cyclists the longer nose of a traditional saddle has a tendency to get in the way. By switching to a noseless saddle you can reduce chaffing in both the thigh and groin.

Curious about your bike saddle and how it affects the way you ride your bike? Learn more about our bike fitting services where we can dial in your saddle, cleats and cockpit for the ultimate riding experience.

Take A Seat

As the Science of Speed team guides athletes with custom coaching and when we provide professional bike fits, one of the most frequent questions asked is, “Where should I be sitting on the bike saddle?”

The short answer: there is no one right place for a rider to sit on their bike saddle.

Why? To achieve the best performance and comfort, you’ll find that your position on the bike seat changes throughout each and every ride. It’s all about adaptability. Your riding style, your bike’s saddle, and your own body will determine how your posterior meets the seat. Understanding how these affect placement will help you find the sweet spot.

First, consider the way that you ride. For example, when a road cyclist is riding in the hoods, their pelvis will be rotated more anteriorly or more backward. Due to this, they’re going to gravitate to a wider portion of the saddle as they’re on the ischial tuberosity (AKA the sit bones.) However, as the position becomes more aggressive (as the ride becomes more intense,) that same rider will rotate their pelvis more forward. At that point, the saddle pressure goes to a narrower spot in the ischium causing them to shift forward on the saddle.

Second, take a look at your own saddle! Is it designed to match your riding style? Is it a traditional road bike saddle designed for multiple positions, a noseless saddle geared towards a more “aggressive” riding style, or maybe you are riding a more cushioned saddle designed for fitness riding and a more upright posture?

Finally, listen to your body on the ride. Try out different positions. Get to know what feels more sensitive and what positions offer you more longevity. Do those positions that feel the best support your ability to maintain your desired posture? 

If you’re still struggling, it’s probably time for a professional bike fit. Your saddle is just one element of creating the right angles and positioning for a comfortable and efficient ride. If you’re in North Florida, schedule a fit in person. If you’re anywhere in the US or simply desire a fit at home, enjoy a virtual bike fit experience with Bike Fit Box.

Consider A Summer Transition

Across the world, endurance events are being canceled due to the pandemic. It’s causing more than just heartbreak for athletes who were looking forward to their races. It’s causing athletes to step back and reassess their training for the foreseeable future. While it can be disappointing to see event days put on hold, it doesn’t mean all your training was for nothing. In this unique moment in history, there lies an opportunity for athletes to bank the hard work they’ve been putting in.

Science of Speed coaches create periodized training for our athletes. What is periodization? We’ve got an entire article here to break it down for you. Here’s the Spark Notes version: your training should cycle through periods of building, tapering, racing, and transition on an annual, monthly, and weekly basis.

As racing takes a pause, Science of Speed is recommending this to our athletes: consider taking your transition (aka your recovery) block now. For anywhere from ten days to upwards of four weeks, allow your body to rebuild after these months of high intensity. We often think of rest or recovery as “losing” fitness. This is not the case. In fact, burnout is one of the largest reasons we see athletes stop training and racing altogether.  Training is a time commitment and these transition periods will help you to physically recover but they help to mentally rejuvenate you, which is just as important!! 

So, as you review your entire season during this constantly changing and adapting world, consider how you can also change and adapt. Need help periodizing your training? Our coaches are here to help you create a plan for success — event or no event! Contact us now.

SoS Uses Retül Technology for Your Best Fit

Bike fits are one the most popular offerings provided by Science of Speed alongside our custom coaching and other fitness analysis services. For cyclists, we cannot say enough about the importance of a proper bike fit and educate you often on when to seek out a fit.

Science of Speed utilizes Retül to provide our cyclists with the best bike fit possible. Retül recently shared this video about the importance of bike fit and how to not only adjust the bike to the rider, but what the rider can also do to improve their mobility to help with proper positioning on the bike. Watch it now by clicking on the play button below.

Ready for your best ride ever? Book your bike fit with Science of Speed today.

How To Be A Better Hill Climber

Hills are often something that is misconstrued on the bike. Unlike running, where biomechanics and force vectors change, seated cycling biomechanics stay very similar. There are some changes like scooting back in the saddle and utilizing more hamstring and glute muscles, but they are less significant. 

Climbing on the bike comes down to one thing:  Power to weight.  Gravity is pushing our behinds down and we have to constantly overcome that force.  So, there are two ways to climb faster: lose weight and/or increase your power to overcome gravity. 

When we see or hear people saying they are doing hill repeats on the bike to prepare for a climbing race/event like Six Gap, we scratch our heads. Unless they have a 10+ minute climb to do intervals on or are practicing positioning and climbing out of the saddle, they are not testing and building the physiological systems that they are going to need to be at top form.  Climbing for 20-60 minutes is a highly aerobic effort and a 1-3 minute climb is not the trick to attain the goal.  By improving FTP you will go uphill faster. 

During a specialization phase, the one variance that our coaches can add into longer sustained efforts (tempo, threshold, under overs) that helps people when they go to the mountains is lower cadence work.  

Climbing often forces you to have a lower cadence and if athletes are used to spinning at 90-100 RPM, being force to spin 50-70RPM for extended periods of time will blow them up neuromuscularly.  Adding in intermittent portions in a workout at 70rpm will help them to be prepared for that.

Curious how you can build the skills and strength you need for your unique event or goals? Our coaches are ready to help. Learn more about custom coaching!

Drawing By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (See “Book” section below) Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 235, Public Domain,…

If you ever have a question about training advice, technical specs, or the athlete’s body you see online, your Science of Speed coaches are here to confirm or debunk! Science is the first word in our brand name and we take that very seriously. It’s why our team is comprised of people with the highest level of education, experience, and expertise. We looking forward to hearing from you soon!