Training Peaks – Fitness, Fatigue & Form What does it mean?

Form, Fitness and Fatigue.  It is the first thing you see as you log into your training Peaks app. Many athletes buzz over it but for some, it is an immediate cause for anxiety.  Why does that number keep climbing? Pink, that is close to red and it is my fatigue rating…Is it a bad thing that number is so high today?  OH NO!  Why is my form in the negatives?

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Fatigue (ATL) – Fatigue is a representation of acute training load.  This is the impact that each individual workout has on the overall training load.  A multiple hour workout, or a workout with very high intensity will have a greater ATL score than a recovery workout or a very short run.


Fitness (CTL) – Fitness or Chronic Training Load is an indication of the cumulative effects that training has had over time.  With consistent training and workouts this will continue to climb.  During periods of lower training stress, recovery weeks and down times your CTL will decrease.  You can even see periods of decrease when doing incredibly hard VO2 intervals.  Because this is based on frequency, intensity and duration a change the decrease in duration can cause a downward shift in CTL.


Form (TSB) – Form or Training Stress balance is the difference between Chronic and Accute training loads resulting in an estimation of your level of fatigue/freshness.  This is a gauge of where your fatigue level and a low or even a negative number is a good indication that the body is being stressed, which, with recovery, will ultimately lead to fitness gains.

It is important to know that each of these measures is directly linked to your threshold (power/pace/hr) and without accurate ranges, these numbers will hold very little validity.  

It is also very common for these numbers to seem exaggerated when coming off of longer bouts of little/no activity as the data is starting from a baseline of zero.  These numbers will stabilize as the algorithm has more data to process and a better understanding of what your training load is.  Think of it like Garmin’s Recovery score (if you are familiar with that).  When you don’t exercise much for 3-4 weeks and hop back into it your Garmin gives an alert recover of 76 hours, or some other crazy value, before your next workout.  Fatigue does not feel high and you are ready for the next day’s workout but your Garmin thinks you have been a lazy bum and have come in off the couch.

Our Thoughts Regarding Mid-sole Cleats

In a recent article posted by Triathlon.com there was discussion of a mid-sole cycling cleat placement in cycling shoes.  This mid foot cleat placement is nothing new to the cycling world.  It has been an idea for decades now and has resurfaced many times as the latest and greatest thing for bicycling performance.  It seems strange to think about having a cleat in the middle of your foot, mostly because fore foot cleat placement has been the only thing many cyclists have ever witnessed.

The article sings the praises of mid-foot cleat placement, and there are benefits, but there are also a few key details that are a detriment.  We are going to break this down into several key areas include Fit and Function.

BIKE FIT

At Science of Speed, we live and breathe bike fit, so we will begin there!  Mid cleat placement does have merit when it comes to bike fit.  The calf muscles do not provide much benefit, regarding propulsion on the bike but act more as a stabilizer for the ankle.  We will even place cleats further back on shoes of riders with larger feet to help reduce the lever arm, and ultimately reduce calf strain.  With a mid-foot cleat placement you will reduce this more significantly and only moderately utilize the calf for stabilization which should ultimately result in fresher calves for run propulsion.

This mid-foot cleat placement will also result in a lower seat height.  As you reduce the impact that “ankling” plays on total leg extension.  This, with changes made in cockpit setup will result in a smaller frontal area and mean a slightly more aerodynamic position.  Which, in a world of marginal gains, this could result in sizable increases in aerodynamics.

As we have not personally tried this mid-foot cleat placement, the one thing we are uncertain of is, how does it fit, feel and function as a rider is out of the saddle climbing?  This may be a position that is more suited for a flat, straight and fast course.  If there is that big of a benefit, we believe that professional cycling teams who focus on the small areas, such as Ineos, would have shoes for riders with mid-foot placement for time trials, and forefoot placement for climbs and technical courses where safety would be a concern.

FUNCTION

Unfortunately, in this article, normalized power is misrepresented.  This is not so much a representation of “efficiency” with reference to the benefit of your position, but a representation of a rider’s smoothness on the ride.  Normalized power is an algorithm that is designed to quantify the stress that accelerations create on the body and therefore shows a higher number if a file has more accelerations.  With course, conditions and fitness all being the same, average power would be a better representation of whether the cleat placement did result in statistically significant power outputs.

It pains me to see that the shoe manufactures are demonized in this situation.  This lack of adoption of mid sole could be because it has the potential to be very dangerous.  If you have ever heard of toe overlap you understand why mid-foot cleat placement can be, not only a scary thing, but a dangerous thing.  This toe overlap impacts your ability to pedal through corners and not clip your front wheel with your shoes.  With current bicycle geometries, fore foot cleat placement this is a small issue, but by sliding your foot forward on the pedal you are now putting the ball of your foot into the front wheel when your pedal is in it’s forward most position and turning what was once a small problem, into a major safety concern.

Lastly, in regard to functionality we have to touch on the triathlon specific area that may not have been considered.  Transition. If you run through transition with your cycling shoes you have either personally fallen or witnessed someone else fall because of how slick cycling cleats are.  Now you are going to be either, skating on the cleats, or feel like you are trying to walk on stilts as you are perched upon your Look, Shimano, or even scarier, Speed Play cleats.

As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a mid-foot cleat placement and make your decisions, please keep in mind three key factors of entry.  First and foremost is the price.  Just like anything, being an early adopter of a product, theory or technology, you will pay more.  In this case the “more” could be upwards of $1500 in some circumstances.  You can also expect there to be a bit of a learning curve (no pun intended) when it comes to cornering as you learn what your new limitations are.  Last, but not least, assess the potential benefits of this cleat placement and will it compensate for you factors that could arise in transition.  If you are not racing for the win, running the entire run leg or comfortable and confident handling a bike, it may not be the best option for you.

PR Your Next Run The Easy Way

At a recent local 5K I noticed many of the athletes were running what I would consider the longest race possible. Now, that sounds kind of silly because the course is the exact same for the winners as it is for the very last person crossing the finish line. But, the largest difference you will see between the top 10% of people finishing the race and the remainder of the field is how they were running and the way that they approached the race. When you look at the top 10% of the field, you notice that they will shorten the course as much as possible. No, I don’t mean cutting corners or cheating. What I mean is they were coming out of a corner and sighting ahead to see what direction the next turn was and being deliberate about the route they take between each turn. For example, if one of these runners was coming out of a left-hand turn and could see that in a few hundred yards the next turn was a right-hand turn, that runner would begin slowly working their way across the road towards that right-hand turn. It may sound insignificant but doing this saves both time and distance; especially as the races get longer or more technical with twists and turns. You will find this particularly true with longer distances such as a half-marathon or full-marathon.

So, when you’re out on your next run, start to consider this: How can you shorten the distance between one turn and the next? What is the straightest line?

Prevailing theory is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This would go to say that if you are following curve of the road between two points, or if you’re zig-zagging back and forth across the road, you’re not taking the shortest, fastest route possible. Even if you’re not looking to win the race; if you are someone looking to PR or hit a personal best for each event, you’ll find that this is a very easy way to do that.

PR your next race the easy way by focusing and being more diligent about the path that you are running.  

Athlete Spotlight – Evans Rohrbaugh

If you follow the hashtag #SoSAthlete, you’ve probably seen SoS Ambassador Evans killing it. He’s getting in his workouts and bringing his all to events. We recently sat down with Evans to learn more about his background in sport, and find out why he’s loving his experience with Science of Speed and Coach Brady.

SoS: Evans, tell me a little bit about your background in sport. How did you come to be active and what have been some of your proudest accomplishments?

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Evans: I’ve been on 2 wheels since I was 12. I started out in BMX in the early 80’s (like a lot of kids of my generation,) then I got a MTB in the early 90’s. Shortly after that, I got my first road bike. I raced it and MTB a few times in the 90’s. Then, in early 2000’s, I joined a team and started racing road and cyclocross. In 2003, I got burnt out and didn’t touch a bike again until 2009. One day, I looked in the mirror and I was 55lbs more than when I stopped riding. I realized riding was what truly made me happy and it’s been flat out ever since. Since 2009, I’ve raced road, cyclocross, Track (velodrome), mountain bike and, for the first time recently, duathlon. I decided that and time trials were what I wanted to concentrate on in 2019.

SoS: Before coming to SoS, had you worked with a coach before?

Evans: I have worked with 2 different coaches before.  One sucked at communicating, the other got busy, stopped communicating, and raised his rates.

SoS: What a bummer. How has your experience working with Coach Brady been different from your previous coaches?

Evans: Brady has been great to work with. He communicates well , has my plans set up in advance so I can work them into my life, and I can tell he loves to ride as much as I do !!

SoS: Glad to hear it! What goal events do you have coming up?

Evans: As of right now, my main goal is a good placing (age group) at Duathlon Nationals in April.

SoS: We know you can make that result happen. What are some of your favorite results that you’ve seen since becoming an SoS Athlete?

Evans: Super happy with my results so far in running, fifth in age group in my first off road / trail race, sixth in age group at a four miler , and a tenth in age group in my first 10k.

Ready to see great results and love your coaching experience? Contact us today for the scoop on custom coaching!

Group Riding 101

A group ride is a great thing!  It increases one’s ability to go faster while simultaneously decreasing perceived exertion.  This is often done by drafting off of the rider in front of you in an effort to reduce the forces of wind (natural or created by you) on you as a rider.

There are three basics to group riding that will make other cyclists want to ride with you and even fight over your wheel because they trust you.

Be Predictable

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When riding in close proximity to other riders, the most important thing you can do is be predictable.  This could mean that you are pointing your hand to where you are going, are telling riders of debris and anything in the road, but, most importantly, it means to be slow and calculated in your movements.  Unlike in basketball, you want to telegraph your movements so that others know what to expect of you. No swerving, panicked braking or other erratic movements.

Pull Through Smoothly

It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a group ride, especially when it is your turn you go to the front and give it everything you have to “help the group.”  While in theory this is a very selfless act, it actually puts a strain on the entire group. The people sitting on your wheel will have to close the gap and the rider who has just pulled off the front of the group now has to work very hard to get back on.

We recommend you use your tools to help you with this.  As the person pulls off in front of you and it is your turn to pull through, cadence and speed should not change drastically.  The force applied to the pedals will increase, as you are catching more wind, but, by maintaining speed and cadence, you will ensure that the effort stays the same for all people involved.

Watch What is Ahead

It is easy to fall prey to the nasty habit of staring at the wheel of the person in front of you. However, your eyes should be focused over the should of the rider in front of you.  This allows you to see what is going on up the road and respond before it becomes a panic situation, but still allows you to use your peripheral vision to maintain a safe distance to the rider in front of you.

When on the front of the group you are responsible for the safety of the entire group.  It is important that you are scanning the road for hazards and signalling for them in whatever manner your group deems as helpful.

Are you unsure how to get into a group ride and what to look for?  Be sure to read our blog on your First Time in a Group Ride and learn some best practices for your first time riding with a new group.  Maybe you have that group and are wanting to learn more!  Continue on to Group Riding 201 and increase your knowledge

​Back In The Saddle

Sometimes, athletes step away from training due to injury, other times to reflect on their goals. No matter the reason, absence can indeed make the heart grow fonder. Even if you’re looking forward to starting a new training cycling, returning to a routine after a break has its difficulties. Long-time SoS Athlete Kearstin recently started up her custom coaching again after a hiatus. We asked her about her experience in returning to her training regimine.

SOS: What’s it like to come back into training with your coach after a break? Is it easier because of the customization of your workouts?

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KR: I think the hardest thing is seeing how much power and endurance I lost before training again. At first, I was really embarrassed by not being able to do rides I used to do, but Coach Brady has been the perfect amount of push and compassion that I need in a coach. It is definitely easier with the customization of workouts! I tried making a comeback on the bike by myself and I just needed more structure and guidance. That’s what I get from Science of Speed.

SOS: What goal events are on the horizon for you as you return to training?

KR: I’ve had one elusive goal for the past 3 years now. I’d like to be able to qualify for the Race Across America. To qualify, I have to complete 370 miles in 24 hours. That is what I’m currently training for and the race is in February. While I don’t know if I’ll be able to hit that goal this next February, I’m just excited to be getting my fitness back!

SOS: Overall, how have you liked working with your SoS Coach? What have been your favorite results that you’ve seen in the past from your customized training?

KR: I love working with SoS. I’ve used SoS on and off for the past 3 years and I’ve always been my best self on the bike when I’m being coached by them. While the results are slow going at the moment, I love what I’m seeing now. I honestly feel like we are starting from ground zero and every week I see improvements or, at the very least, I feel good about myself.

Looking to get back in the saddle and rededicate yourself to your goals? We’re here for you at every step of your athletic journey. Let’s get you ready to return to the race course. Contact us today.

How to Properly Train with Heart Rate

Congratulations on your new heart rate monitor!  Adding a form of tracking to your training helps you to increase the accuracy and consistency of your efforts.  While using a heart rate monitor in your training, there are two things to consider.

HR is a Response

When using Heart rate as a training tool, it is important to realize that heart rate (HR) is the response to the work that you have done.  This is crucial in the effectiveness of your training because what your heart rate is currently telling you is symbolic of the workload that you completed 20-60 seconds prior.

Cardiac Drift

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Cardiac drift is the upward trend in heart rate during longer sustained efforts.  It is an increase in heart rate that is caused by a more highly activated Sympathetic Nervous System (think fight or flight response), increased core temperature and total body water losses.

With this new knowledge in mind, it is important to pair your workouts with perceived exertion. In other words, how hard do you feel you’re working? This will provide you with a system of checks and balances that will keep you from beginning workouts too hard and ending them too easy as you would if you were to maintain a flat heart rate for the entirety of your efforts.

Take your training to a new level with one of our Static Training plans!  These low cost, high output training plans will produce amazing results when paired with your new knowledge of heart rate training.

Noassatall – The Plight of the Runner, and Many Americans

Noassatall is not selective.  It impacts men and women of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.  This is common among many Americans and, most surprisingly, among many endurance runners.  What is Noassatall? It is where someone turns sideways and, looking at the back side of their profile, you question whether you are staring down a wall or a human body.  Let’s be honest, we are supposed to have curves back there and many individuals do not.

The predominant muscle in our butt, the gluteus maximus, is in charge of many things including sitting/standing, climbing stairs, giving you some junk in the trunk and even maintaining an upright posture.  A weak gluteus maximus muscle can lead to poor posture and over compensation for many of the complimenting muscles potentially resulting in injury.

Looking to help fight against Noassatall?  Try this exercise to improve your glute strength, better balance your body and even improve your run.

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift:

  1. Hold one dumbbell or kettlebell in your hand.
  2. On the opposite side that you hold the kettlebell/dumbbell, stand on one leg.
  3. Keeping your standing leg knee slightly bent, perform a stiff-legged deadlift by bending at the hip, extending your free leg behind you for balance.
  4. Continue lowering the kettlebell/dumbbell until your back is parallel to the ground, and then return to the upright position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Need to increase the intensity? Increase your weight or number of repetitions.
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If you are an endurance athlete who feels lost in a weight room, you’re not alone — but you are at a disadvantage. Strength training could be the key to unlocking your next improvement on the race course. Join us at the Endurance Training Club for our strength training class to build your butt and all your other key muscle groups. Have no fear — this won’t be a power lifting session. All of your ETC classes are designed for endurance athletes, by endurance athletes and are built to be accessible to you. We look forward to seeing you — book your class now.

Race Day Nutrition 101

Event day nutrition is something that can be confusing for those who are new to endurance sports.  Outside of athletics, we are accustomed to eating three balanced meals and watching what we eat so that we are not constantly fight the battle of the bulge.  On top of that, the quality of the food we eat is stressed. Is it non-gmo, free range, organic, gluten free? Does it provide you with the macro and micro nutrients that you need to sustain healthy body function?

With all of this detail paid to our daily nutrition, training nutrition is very easy to overthink.  If you find yourself stressing, it is time to reassess your training and racing nutrition.

It is important to preface the follow statements with the fact that these recommendations are geared to athletes who are just beginning their nutritional journey and are doing events that take 4 hours or less.

Whether in an event or training for an event, three key elements need to be considered.

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Pre-event: The goal of pre-event nutrition is to provide the energy necessary to top off your body’s fuel tank (glycogen stores.)  Caloric intake will vary from 200-600 calories, dependent upon time since last eating, the intensity of the event and your ability to handle food prior to physical activity.  The timing typically varies from 15 minutes to 2 hours prior to activity.

During: Nutrition while training or racing will vary heavily upon the duration, intensity of the event and athlete size/stature.  Your #1 goal is to fuel your performance. Because of this, your primary calorie consumption should be carbohydrates. Caloric intake can vary from 100-350 calories per hour.

Post-event: Unlike pre-event and during-event nutrition, your goal shifts from performance generation to physical recovery.

These are just some things to consider when building your training and racing nutrition plan. If you’re interested in how to fuel yourself for best results, our Science of Speed coaches will be happy to provide guidance based on their personal racing and training experiences. As well, SoS can connect you with a nutritionist that understands the athlete’s body.

Losing Power but Gaining Speed

Recently, an article was posted regarding the loss in power production of cyclists when they transition from a position on the hood to aerobars.  Among bike fit specialists and many high level cyclists, this is nothing new. It is common knowledge that the position of a time trial or triathlon bike is less bio-mechanically efficient than a road bicycle.  The goal with this position is not to increase a rider’s power output. It is to optimize the balance of efficiency and aerodynamics.

Blog-Twitter.png#asset:311The key point here is that you, as an athlete, should be able to spend as much time in this position as possible.  If you are striving for a very “aggressive” aerodynamic position, it may take time for you to adapt. Unfortunately, we too often see people riding on the horns of their bars because they are uncomfortable in the aero position.  If you have been in the same position for more than 6 months on your TT/Triathlon bike, it is time to reassess your position.

Why is that the case?  Any time that you are out of the aerobars, you lose the vast majority of the purpose and function of your bike.  The other reason this is very important is because the recruitment of muscles is very different from the horns to the aerobars.  We are not only speaking of leg muscle recruitment (quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes,) but also the utilization of neck, shoulder and back muscle recruitment that is varied by this position.

You can read the original article here.

Have questions about your bike position? Our expert bike fit specialists are here to help you get comfortable. Contact us today about a bike fit.