Let’s Review: Running Form

You’ve been out logging the miles, pounding the pavement, but when was the last time you thought about your form? Everyone’s running form will look a little different. The mechanics of your body while running is determined by your flexibility, your muscle strength, and your body’s proportions. Even if you’re currently running comfortably and are happy with your results, some major benefits can come from improving your form:

Reduced Risk of Injury

Nearly 80% of runners experience some kind of injury every year. Good form helps you utilize your body evenly and effectively, ensuring that you’re not neglecting one group of muscles/joints or putting extra strain on another.

Higher Efficiency 

Put simply, high efficiency means more miles with less energy. Checking in on your form can allow you to enjoy the run more and go farther.

Increased Speed

When you combine better efficiency and healthier muscles and joints, you’ll see an improvement in your pace. Those who consider adjustments to their form often find they can push the pace.

Knowing this, you’re probably eager to find ways to tweak your running form. Here are the basics to consider:

Lean Angle

Think about the angle of your torso and legs as you run. Are you bending at the hips and leaning your torso and head forward? This common example of poor form. Here’s how to improve: lean at the ankles. Your body should stay in alignment together from your contact with the ground, creating a clean line from legs, to hips, to chest, to head. 

Arm Position

Consider where your arms sit and how they move while you run. Are you holding your arms low? Do they travel far when they swing with each stride? These are examples of poor form while running. Here’s how to improve: Keep the bend in your elbows at a 90-degree angle or tighter. As you swing your arms, check that they are brushing your sides (indicating that you’re holding them in close to your body.) A slight swing is great, but make sure your elbow or wrists don’t completely cross the line of your body.

Sightline

Where do you look when you run? Are you gazing down at your shoes or in the couple feet ahead of you? This means you could improve your sightline while running. Here’s how: aim to keep your gaze about 20-30 feet in front of you.

Need more assistance with your running form? Curious about other ways you could step up your running game? Our coaches can provide testing, analysis, and training plans that will help you make the most of your miles. Contact Science of Speed today.

5 Reasons You Need A Bicycle Fit

Schedule a Static Bike Fit

Too often, we hear stories of athletes who have been dealing with debilitating pain, recurring injuries, or other symptoms that sound more like they are riding a medieval torture device than a bicycle.

Our goal at Science of Speed (and Bike Fit Box) is to provide athletes with the training, fits, and testing they need to enjoy a lifetime of cycling.  Here are five signs that it’s time to see how a bike fit can be beneficial to your cycling longevity:

Joint Pain

Cycling is a minimal weight-bearing form of exercise and any joint pain should be immediately assessed. If you’re feeling discomfort in your joints during and after your ride, it’s time to schedule a fit.

Saddle Pain

Saddle sores, excessive soft tissue pressure, and numbness are all factors that are indicative of an improper fitting.  These symptoms quite often immediately lead to the assumption that the incorrect saddle has been picked. This however is not always correct and saddle comfort can be improved by bicycle fit!

Numbness 

When you hear the two words “cycling” and “numbness” in the same sentence, what comes to mind? More than likely, you thought of groin numbness.  That can be a terrible sensation, and it is a concerning one. Numbness can arise is the hands and feet as well. No matter where you may experience numbness, it is indicative of nerve trauma and should be resolved as quickly as possible. A bike fit can help you avoid irreparable damage.

Tendonitis

Cycling is a repetitive sport that occurs predominantly in one plane of motion.  At 90 RPM, you are asking your body to repeat the same motion 5,400 times in an hour of cycling.  That repetitive movement is asking a lot of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If your bicycle fit is not correct, you are placing the tendons, which connect your muscles to your bones and provide the needed leverage to pedal, under greater strain than necessary.

Cycling Economy

The body is a series of levers and hinges. In order to make them function effectively and efficiently, each of those hinges needs to perform in optimal ranges.  A fit is the optimization of these movements to improve your efficiency. It is an amazing sensation when your bike fit is perfected. You can’t beat the feel of the wind in your face and the smoothness in your pedal stroke as you glide with less effort!

Ready to schedule your bike fit? If you’re in the North Florida area and desire an in-person professional fitting, visit this page to book your appointment now. If you desire an at-home fitting anywhere in the US, try Bike Fit Box!

Training in the times of COVID-19 – A Coach’s Perspective

Athletes respond to training differently, have different tactics that suit them best, different responses to diet and different responses to stressors in life.  Coach Brady provides a bit of insight and detail in to what he has found in working with athletes over the past 5 weeks and how Covid-19 has impacted athletes in varying ways.


Training in the times of COVID-19 – A Coach’s Perspective

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I know what you are thinking… “Oh great, one more article about this virus!”  Yep, we are all fed up with it and we are all tired of hearing all of the details, drama and the continuous political argument.  With the amount of communication that I have with athletes (don’t freak out, it is via phone, social media and e-mail), it has been interesting to see how training impact has varied dependent upon the four mindsets or approaches individuals are taking.  I hope that maybe this will help you either truly assess your stress level or help you to realize that you are not alone in where you fall on the spectrum.

I want to preface this with the fact that none of these approaches are wrong, in any way shape or form.  We all process stress differently and remember that training is a stressor, so you need to factor in ALL of your life.  Now, ON WITH THE SHOW!

Training during Covid-19

THE FULL GAS – This person views the virus as an inconvenience but believes that with their spare time and lack of ability to go out and see things they are going to put the proverbial pedal to the metal and charge harder with training than what they were originally intending.

THE STEADY AS SHE GOES – This approach, I have found, is more common among the people who had events that were further out on the horizon or who are still able/must go to work.  The 

THE ¾ TEMPO – The individuals in this group can have children at home they are now schooling, be immuno-compromised in some capacity or simply feel a bit of the stress of all going on.  They are lightly training or exercising (there is a difference but we don’t have time for that now) but are utilizing their activity less for an event performance down the road and more for their general well being.

THE WHOA NELLY! – This person is truly concerned about what the impacts of this virus can do to their health and the loved ones around them.  They do not want to be part of the spread and are either in the high risk groups or in contact with those in the high risk groups. Stress levels are typically high and training simply is not a great idea, unless it is a recovery ride, leisurely walk or something similar.

There can certainly be some crossover and some variations in these but most important is to be open and honest with yourself as to which group you may fall in and, if you have not already, adjust your training schedule to reflect where you are at and should be at.

In times of stress and illness, your well being is first and performance is secondary.  Please take care of yourself and your health.  Both physically and mentally.

Interested in reading more of Coach Brady’s content?  You can find him at bradyirwin.com

Turn a Cancelled Event into Increased Fitness

This season, COVID-19 has not only impacted people’s lifestyles, travel plans and social gatherings but as endurance athletes it has impacted our training plans, socialization and at an even greater scale, it has impacted our event schedules.  

With many events being cancelled, it has left many athletes wondering what to do with their training.  Each of our coaches have spent countless hours on the phone, responding to emails and reassessing and redesigning training plans based on what we can currently expect to occur.  

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With it being the beginning of the season we have found that our athletes most commonly fall into one of two categories.  Either their cancelled race was a tuneup race/”B” event, or they were a key “A” race. If your cancelled events are tune-up races there is really not much you need to adjust for.  

Typically with a tuneup race there may be a slight taper or recovery week prior to and/or after your event without a great deal of loss in training time.  This can be modified with an extention of the current training phase or even moving up the coming training phase to the next week. Once you have adjusted for those 7-14 days of recovery you are set to go.

For those of you who were keying up for an early season peak, don’t panic, your season is not over and your training has not been wasted, but there is a bit more to consider.  Here are some of the variables that must be factored in:

  1. When has your event been rescheduled for?
  2. Do you have any additional events that you wanted to be an “A” race and therefore you were planning on peaking for optimal performance?

These two questions lead to several common plans.  If there is enough time, which for many there tends to be ample time, we recommend you change your training from the specialization phase that you were in already, you can revert to a build phase of training.

If you have a second goal event, things become a bit more complicated.  You will need to gauge your current fitness, training load and time between events and determine if it is still possible to peak twice.  

This is an area where it is hard to provide you insight in an article because there are so many possibilities and “it depends” would be a blanket statement.  So, if “It depends” and you are uncertain of what to do, please reach out and we can help guide you through your training.

Goals are great, but how will you achieve them?

As athletes, we often create goals that we want to accomplish each season.  For many, these goals may often seem like a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”  Something that creates excitement, motivation, a desire to put in the time and sometimes even a bit of fear.  This is a great thing as it will take a lot to get you out of bed in the morning, focus on nutrient intake, get quality sleep and sacrifice where it is needed. 

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Once your goals are selected and you have made sure that they are SMART.  It is time to focus on the often forgotten secondary goal making process that helps you define how you are going to get there.  These secondary goals are also known as process goals.

A process goal is something that is in your control and is a methods or step to help achieve your final goal.  Here are several examples of the primary goal and then the process goals to help as stepping stones of success:

Primary Goal: Improve power at threshold (FTP) from 200 to 220 Watts this season

Process Goals:

  • Increase riding by one day per week. Totaling 4 days/week
  • Improve training effectiveness by adding interval training
  • Have a FTP of 212W by July 1st.

Primary Goal: Improve body composition to 12% body fat.

Process Goals:

  • Increase aerobic activity to burn an additional 500 calories/week
  • Add two 30 minute strength workouts weekly
  • Eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
  • No snacking after 8pm

Are you struggling to narrow down your goals?  Contact us today and we will help you with your goal selection as well as the steps that will help you accomplish them.

A Different Spin on Fast Pedal Drills

The early season, for many athletes, is a time to build aerobic capacity, improve inefficiencies or fine tune form.  One, very common method of improvement that cyclists and triathletes use is fast pedal drills. I am certain the vast majority of you reading right now are, not only familiar with these drills, but have more than likely done them yourself.

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Fast pedals often consist of very high cadence, 120+rpm pedaling, for 30-120 seconds.  In these drills it is usually recommended that athletes pedal up to a cadence where they begin to bounce in the saddle and then slightly lower pedaling cadence down until bouncing stops.

“Why do this?” you may ask. The most common goal is to help athletes increase average cadence and smooth out the biomechanics of the pedal stroke.

Getting nerdy:

Ultimately the factor in improving pedaling biomechanics is to improve neuromuscular efficiency.  This increase in efficiency is caused by an improved synchronization of motor unit firing (think muscles working in unison) and an improved ability to recruit motor units (think force production).  In the end this leads to more efficient muscular contractions and more forceful contractions when needed.  

With this goal in mind, I believe that it may be time you rethink your fast pedal approach.  Instead of what you have done previously I recommend you try high cadence pedaling intervals.  Where cadence is a factor as well as load. These intervals would be as follows:

5×6 minutes @ 88-90% of FTP

10RPM above your “comfortable” cadence

To properly train the body we are looking at not only the neuromuscular level but the entire system must be working in unison.  My concern for many is that as cadence increases to the extremes biomechanics deteriorates and therefore muscle recruitment is not optimal.. If we go back to the old Vince Lombardi quote that “Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect” then fast pedals may be going about it all wrong. 

Is Your Training Plan Really Helping You?

Many Americans seem to base their week around the weekend. It is the time when they are off work, the time they are able to relax and, for many endurance athletes, the time they have for training. We have even coined a phrase for this.  You are the “Weekend Warrior”!  With this, our weeks turn into Monday through Sunday on repeat, and it can become difficult for many to view a training plan as anything different. 

For one moment we ask of you to think of your training plan differently.  Unless you have a work/life schedule that simply will not allow for it we challenge you to view your training plan from a 5,000ft approach vs. ground level. Analyze your plan in 14-21 day increments and gauge whether you plan could be more successful that it is using these key points. 

  • Periodization – First, ask yourself if your training is actually periodized.  You should have times where training volume, frequency and/or intensity are higher, followed by periods of recovery. This can be structured in periods as small as weekly to as large as annually.  If you are not seeing any change in intensity, volume or frequency of riding, whether it is on a day to day basis or in a block of time (10 days to 4 weeks) it is likely time to reassess your approach. 
  • Key Workouts – It is not uncommon for athletes viewing their training on a Monday – Sunday schedule to overlook the fact of how a heavy weekend of training volume may impact Monday’s or even Tuesday’s scheduled workout. So, is your training structured in such a way that it is allowing you to optimize the results of your key workouts by beginning them in a “fresh” physical state to optimize performance and ability to meet ranges and goals?
  • Recovery – Do you have training laid out so that recovery is sufficient but not overkill?  This not only includes weekly recovery but recovery periods from one training focus to the next.

By assessing your training we want you to think about what it is you are doing, are you happy with the results you are currently achieving, how your current structure is going to impact your performance and does this approach meet your goals and expectations you have for your improvement.

Are you unsure of how you can improve your training?  Contact us today and let one of our expert coaches help you plan a program for the greatest success possible!

Don’t just have goals, come up with SMART goals!

Often times, goals are picked without all of the considerations in mind.  Use the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method to help try and select your goals for your future events, or even in life.

Specific – Picking a goal that is clear and well defined will increase your likelihood of achieving your goal.  So, instead of a goal of “Improved performance,” chose something like “FTP of 250W,” or “I want to perform 5 workouts per week at a minimum of 60 minutes each, with two of them being an interval focus”  Both of these goals keep in mind where you are currently at and where you want to be in the near future.

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Measureable – A measurable goal allows you to track your progress, have bench marks and allows you to base success on something tangible.  The Specific goals that were given in the previous point are perfect examples of this. You can track whether or not you achieved each of these at the conclusion

Attainable – Keep your goals challenging but realistic.  If you are new to triathlon and have only run a 5k, cycled 15 miles and do not know how to swim it may not be in your best interest to want to set a goal to race a sub 11 hour Ironman in the next 12 months. 

Relevant – Make sure these fit in with what is happening in the rest of your life and will support the rest of your life goals.  As an endurance athlete with a lofty goal of an ultra marathon, having a secondary goal of joining the local crossfit box and doing 4 workouts a week does not support your initial goal.

Time Bound – You need to have a deadline to achieve your goals.  Think of when you were in school. Often times that paper that was due in a month was done the night before or the days leading up to it.  In this instance though you are not able to cram for success or possibly even completion.

As you are looking through your goals be sure that they are something that inspires and excites you.  If the gain or potential result is not great enough to lead you to sacrifice in the necessary areas it may require then you are far less likely to achieve what you want.


Do you have your SMART goals already selected?  Make sure your process goals are in line to steer you in the right direction and help improve your rate of success!

Intervals with Others – Don’t Impact the Efficacy of your Intervals

Cycling is a sport that is founded on camaraderie and social atmosphere. It usually begins with a friend or family member, who has a passion for the sport, decides to share the joy that riding a bike can bring and it quickly grows to a larger passion for many.  Quickly filled with group rides, cycling events and coffee/donut rides. 

For some, this passion turns into a desire to push physiological limits and once believed physical peaks. If you fall into this category we suggest you assess your rides and determine if all of your rides end up as group rides or if you have one or two weekly structured rides.  

Several weeks ago a group of athletes set out to perform intervals together.  What came from this workout proved to be a great example of how training with others can be of detriment to your ride.  The workout was quite simple, it was four threshold intervals, each eight minutes in length with four minutes of active rest between intervals (ignore that 4th interval, the cold temps increased desire for coffee).  During these intervals two of the athletes stayed together, averaging a faster pace where the 3rd rider rode the intervals solo. Rider’s 1 and 2 covered, on average, more ground than rider one and both felt that perceived exertion was an 8/10 intensity.  Where as our 3rd rider rode slower but also stated his perceived effort was the same 8/10. The ride results in the following power profiles:

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One detail to keep in mind is that, although weights vary between these riders by approximately 10lbs from the heaviest to the lightest, their power at threshold is the same which means that interval ranges are also the same.

From the data you can see that rider 1 & 2 both had a more stochastic power profile for their intervals whereas rider 3 had a more plateaued effort throughout each interval.  Rider 3 also had significantly higher average powers that fell within the goal range. Riders 1 & 2, on the other hand, spent less than 60% of their intervals in their power ranges and averages fall well below the prescribed goal.

This may not seem like that much of an issue, but if you are working with 3-8 hours a week to train and your workouts look like this you are not only focusing on a completely different effort and potentially different energy system, you are decreasing your potential results because the overload/stress that has been created is less than desired.

Buck the trend and be the lone wolf if you have intervals scheduled.  You can either take your turn on the front, or drift off the back to get the work done that you need to accomplish, but don’t do like riders 1 & 2 did in this circumstance and negatively impact the goal in mind.

Group Riding 301

When executed perfectly a paceline is not only a thing of beauty but a system of efficiency.  Creating added speed when compared to any single rider and potentially less energy exertion. In group riding 101 and 201 we covered many of the key elements that make up the basic paceline and allow it to be fast and efficient.

In this article we are going to take it up another level in complexity as well as touch on one key adjustment made to the rotating paceline in a race situation.

The Kick Back

First thing is first. So, let’s touch on a key area that sounds so simple but can, and does, lead to many close calls and accidents in the group.  Standing up! Yep, the simple act of getting out of the saddle, if improperly executed, in close quarters can lead to a pile of mangled bikes and bodies.  When you stand up your body accelerates forward and the bicycle moves back up to a foot. Alone this is not a problem, but with another cyclists one to two inches off of your back wheel it is another story.  Overcoming this is simple though. To help reduce the amount of kick back you have simply shift 1-2 gears hard and as you stand you will press down on the pedal. This will help to accelerate the bicycle forward with your effort.  “What else?” you ask. That is it. If you execute this properly, your bicycle will barely go backwards and may even accelerate a bit. If you watch the pro peloton you will occasionally catch another action to make the rider behind you aware.  It is a double elbow flick. Flick both elbows at the same time, give it a few pedal strokes and then stand. That alerts the rider behind you that you are standing and gives them a moment to give you a bit of space.  

The Echelon

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An echelon is a fancy word for an angled rotating paceline.  Echelons are used when there is a cross wind and riders are trying to seek shelter from the wind, and more importantly the added work.  In an echelon the front lane is the “fast lane” and the back row is the “slow lane.” the rider furthest to the front is taking most of the burden in the wind and the riders at the back have the greatest amount of shelter.  This works nearly identical to a rotating paceline but caution must be used due to the high likelihood of wheel overlap. *This is best used in race settings where there is vehicle support and protection from traffic because it can take the entire width of the road.

Double Pacelines

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These pacelines are great on more social rides where traffic is light to non existent.  The double paceline allows riders to be 2 abreast and talk to one another, but still provide draft for riders behind them.  Once a rider is done “pulling” on the front of the group they peel off to the outside of their lane and drift back. Pulls on the front are typically longer 3-10 minutes and near tempo effort.  Personally we like this best on long training rides, however it is important to be aware of your surroundings and attentive to traffic. When rotating to the back you not make the group four riders wide and on busy roads this is not a good option.

All of these approaches in group rides have their own place and their own purpose.  The biggest thing to remember is that the safety of the group is priority number one and that communication is the best way to keep you and your group safe.  If something unsafe is occuring, do not be afraid to bring this up to the individual or the group and try to resolve the issue.