Coach Brady’s Albany Half Marathon Recap

While Science of Speed coaches are offering athletes across the country advice and guiding them towards their goals, they are also athletes themselves. From swimming to cycling, from triathlon to obstacle racing, our staff is out chasing their own dreams in sports of all kinds. It is because of this that we believe they connect so well with their athletes during training. They understand the grind of training and know what it takes to succeed.

Coach Brady recently put his legs to work off the bike and on the run at the Snicker’s Albany Half Marathon in Georgia. Here are his recap of race day and key takeaways for other athletes.

At the end of 2017, I began training for the Snicker’s Albany Half Marathon.  For those of you who have followed my journey over the past two years, I made it part of my winter activity to mix it up and run a bit. Last year, I took on the Tallahassee Half Marathon in Northern Florida. This year was no different, but my goal was to go with a course that was flatter than the course in Florida’s Capital City. The Albany course is notoriously flat, with many participants in the full marathon event qualifying for Boston.

The Plan

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The past two years, I have taken running fairly half heartedly into the lead up to the half marathon.  It was a good quick 30-45 minute workout that I could get in and my longest run (singular, not plural) was 9 miles leading to the half.  

This year, I wanted to approach things differently.  My goal was to not only to beat my PR from Tallahassee, but to obliterate it.  I publicized a sub 1:25, but, in the back of my head, I was shooting for a 1:20. Does this sound familiar? I know many athletes who have these dueling goals — one for sharing, one that is unspoken.

With that in mind, my plan was to increase my running intensity and time from Thanksgiving on.  It was laid out beautifully to do more longer runs in the month of January and February with plenty of shorter, threshold based workouts throughout the week.

The Journey

As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  Nothing could have held more true. Up through Christmas, training went well. Then, we made a family trip to Kansas.  I have clearly become soft living in Florida, but temperatures were colder than average — in the single digits — and not above freezing for the highs.  These temperatures were the first of many excuses to come.

Once we returned, everyone in our house passed around some sort of respiratory illness. Having a history of this type of stuff turning to sinus infections and worse, I laid low.  And laid low. And laid low. That dang thing hung out with a nasty cough for weeks!

Once the cold-season plague had lifted, I got back on track and running again. Then, age caught up with me.  A raking related injury, (yes, yard work) laid me up for another ten days with low back pain that made it hard to sit, stand, bend over and lay down, let alone walk.

At it once more, I was set on damage control mode.  With 6 weeks wasted out of the first 10 weeks of the year, the best I could do was work on building mileage to a decent amount and hoping for a 1:30 finishing time.

The Result

1:28.22, 22nd overall and 3rd in my age group.  This was a mere 6 seconds better than my previous PR at Tallahassee half marathon in 2017.  It was a long ways from my original, intended goal, but was surprising given where I felt my fitness was going into the race.  

There are several things that I have to note looking back at the data, however.  Let me preface with the fact that for the past two years I have not run with a watch.  The first year, I forgot it at the house and, the second year, I decided not to wear it because I didn’t the year prior.  This year was different. I had pace and heart rate but tried not to use it during the race. I wore it for the information it would collect.  This is what I learned from the data.

  1. Albany-half-Marathon.JPG#asset:261Miles 1-4 were a bit faster than they should have been – no real surprise here.  I felt good, and how could you not at the start of the run.
  2. Mile 8 I began talking myself out of the ability to run as fast as I was.  Mile 9 was my slowest mile at a 6:50
  3. I negative split the last 5.1 miles
  4. Mile 13 was my fastest at 6:22 pace
  5. The mind is as powerful or as strong as you make it be.  I talked myself out of a lot through miles 8 & 9. One key thing was the gentleman that caught me right at mile 8 that I should have/could have stayed with and gone off his pace.

Ultimately, a bit of adrenaline paired with a lot of grit and determination paid off!  If you look at my pictures during the race, it is apparent that I was not in a comfortable place.  Let’s be honest, I looked like a moving corpse.

Kudos to the City of Albany for a well run event.  Other than a few intersections at the end that didn’t have police support, it was a very well done event.

Let’s Go Commando!

Underwear, panties, knickers or drawers.  It doesn’t matter what you call them.  It is time to ditch the underwear when you ride your bike.  For many, this is one of the biggest hesitations when first riding a bike, but, if you are riding in a short with a chamois (padding,) then it is time to go commando!

Many newer cyclists are unaware that a cycling short is designed very differently from many other pants.  It is apparent that there is a pad in the shorts and that they are very tight fitting, but, if you look more closely, you will see that the seams are located with greater thought and purpose.  These seam locations are designed to help reduce chafing and, by adding your underwear into the mix, you increase the likelihood of irritation points.  As you increase your ride time, you will notice that the likelihood of saddle sores or raw, irritated skin is drastically increased.

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For those of you that have the thought, “That sounds dirty,” never fear!  The chamois is made from an antimicrobial fabric.  It is probably even more sanitary than having your underwear on.  With that being said, we still emphasize that, when your ride is done, please get out of your cycling shorts as quickly as possible.  There is no need to sit around in your chamois for lunch, a foam rolling session and a nap.

So, on your next ride, be sure that you ditch the underwear.  You will not be alone. In fact, you will be in the vast majority that are riding commando!Are you unsure about selecting cycling or triathlon shorts?  Learn how to find the short that is perfect for you!

Rainy Day workout

With rain sweeping across much of the Eastern United States today, we thought, “What is better than a high intensity workout?!” for those stuck inside on a bike or treadmill.  So, here you are!

Bike Workout: Threshold Ladder (Total Time: 1hr 8min)

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Warm up: 8 minutes

  • 3 minute easy (PE: 5/10)
  • 2 minute Tempo (PE: 7/10)
  • 3 minute easy (PE: 5/10)

Interval: Threshold ladder 4×10 minute (5 rest between intervals)

  • 1 minute Tempo (PE: 7/10)
  • 3 minute Threshold Interval (PE: 8/10)
  • 2 minute Climbing Interval (PE: 9/10)
  • 2 minute Threshold Interval (PE: 8/10)
  • 2 minute Tempo (PE: 7/10)

Cool Down: 5 minutes

  • 5 minute easy (PE: 5/10)

Run Workout: Negative Split Run (Total workout Time: 55min)

Warm up: 10 minutes

  • 5 minute easy (PE: 5/10)
  • 30 second pickup (PE: 6-9/10)
  • 30 second walk/jog (PE: 3-5/10)
  • 30 second pickup (PE: 6-9/10)
  • 30 second walk/jog (PE: 3-5/10)
  • 3 minute easy (PE: 5/10)

Interval: Negative Split Tempo Run 5×6 minute (3min rest between intervals)

  • 3 minute Steady State Run (PE:7/10)
  • 2 minute Tempo Run (PE: 8/10)
  • 1 minute Fartlek Run (PE: 9/10)

Cool down: 5 minutes

5 minute easy (PE: 5/10)

Keep in mind that all workouts can and should be modified for current fitness level.  If you have not been exercising both of these workouts are a rather high intensity effort and something lower intensity.

Have a great workout!

Are you looking for optimal performance and training time management?  Let a Science of Speed coach customize your training for increased efficiency and workouts designed for your specific availability and fitness needs. Contact us at [email protected] to get a customized training plan.

You can only buy so much speed!

Speed.  It is the number one worry for many athletes on the bike and “aero is everything” to so many cyclists and triathletes.  Aero helmets, aero bicycles, aero handlebars, aero wheels, aero shoe covers, aero bottles, aero gel packaging… Okay, so the last one is a stretch, but you heard it here first if it comes out!  You get the point though.  Aerodynamics has been taken into consideration for every aspect of cycling.  

Why you might ask?  Well, not only does it look cool, but it does have a benefit.  Aerodynamics is the study of the air’s interaction with objects — in this case, you and all your gear. When looking at aerodynamics, we must consider the science of the coefficient of drag.  In this equation, velocity (speed) is squared, which means as speed increases, drag is drastically impacted.  By streamlining yourself on a bike, with wheels, a helmet, or some other gadget, you can instantly notice the change in speed and this becomes addictive.  

You’ve seen so many aero products at varying price points, but what is the best bang for your buck?

Retul Bike Fit:
Cost: $250
Benefit: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Not to poke fun, but you are the biggest thing on the bike.  Optimizing your position to suit your needs will be the best way to increase your ability to maintain position, reduce fatigue and increase aerodynamics (assuming that is your goal).  This is by far your biggest bang for your buck when it comes to aerodynamics.

Aero Frame: 
Estimated cost – $;6000+
Benefit: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Over the past several years, there has been great emphasis on aero road bike frames. These super bikes are not only sleek, but sexy and are often the envy of many riders.  Do they make a big difference?  You bet they do!  You can shave nearly 1 minute off of a 40km time with one of these.  That is a lot of “free watts.”  They are not all equal in their benefits, so if you want to find the bike that will make you fastest go here.

Aero Wheels:
Estimated Cost – $2000
Benefit: ⭐⭐⭐

These are the next best thing in time saving benefits.  Aero Wheels are a great addition to your arsenal when it comes to bike related speed.  There are three key factors that you should consider:

What type of riding are you doing?  A century rider, criterium racer, road racer and triathlete do not necessarily need to ride the same wheel.  Each of these types of riding have different demands and, because of that, a wheel might need more aerodynamics, better braking power, lighter weight or increased stiffness.

Is Aerodynamics or weight and stiffness more important?  As illuded to in the last question, you will need to understand what is more important for you.  Aerodynamics will relate more to straight line speed and is important for a triathlete, time trialist or a road racer. A criterium racer and even a road racer can benefit from a more laterally stiff wheel.  The more aerodynamic the wheel becomes, the more it weighs and the less laterally stiff it becomes.

What is the length of your event? For the Ironman athlete, if one wheelset is in the budget, you should pick something slightly less aerodynamic but more versatile for changing conditions.  The last thing you want is to be in the middle of your ride, winds kick up and your disc wheel gets swept out from under you.  Not to mention, the amount of fatigue a set of deep section aero wheels can create in a strong cross wind!

What are your needs?

Aero Helmet: 
Cost: $175
Benefit: ⭐⭐

Ventilation meets pure speed.  Aerodynamics is key, but, if you get overheated due to poor cooling and DNF, it doesn’t matter how streamlined you are.

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This is a great option to decrease drag. For time trial or Ironman athletes, remember that your ears are, by design and function, probably one of the least aerodynamic things on your body so a helmet that covers them can drastically reduce drag.  If you struggle to hold head position, aerodynamics becomes less important as the tail of the helmet will create even greater drag sticking straight up in the air.

Find an aero road helmet to fit your speed addiction

Aero Gel:
Cost: $3
Benefit: 

It is the consistency of snot, but packaged in a streamlined pouch made from nanoparticles sourced from the earth’s core.  

Clearly your best bang for your buck!  Right?  Be sure to pre-order today! 😉

Coaching & Power:
Cost: Power meter: $400-$1800
Coaching: $150/month +
Benefit: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Let’s be honest. All of these aerodynamic things will improve your speed, one time, if you can already ride a bike consistently at over 17-18mph.  Whether you see a benefit or not from these kinds of products, focusing on training properly with accurate data could provide you as much as a 10% improvement in threshold power year after year.  You won’t see that from the equipment alone!  Combine coaching with a Science of Speed expert coach and even one of these items and you could be an unstoppable force!

New season. New look. New start.

Summertime is here — and so is a new look for Science of Speed. We’re excited to launch our new logo and new website, and to continue to bring you the same outstanding coaching, bike fit, testing and analysis services that you’ve come to expect from our team.

As we mark this new chapter, we can’t help but think of all the athletes we’ve had the chance to work with. Alongside our coaches, they are constantly opening new chapters, daring to reach new goals, and making the most of every opportunity to improve.

Will this be the summer that you dare to dream of new finish lines? Will this be the summer that you lay the foundation for your most ambitious athletic goals?

Science of Speed wants to help you Seize the Summer. To celebrate the launch of our new branding and online home, we’re proud to present two limited time offers to help you take the next step towards your aspirations:

Commit to Six Months, Get One Month Free

When you sign up for six months of coaching at the Podium Package level or higher, you’ll receive one month of coaching free. Each and every SoS Coaching Package offers athletes a chance to have custom training programs designed just for them by a knowledgeable SoS Coach, selected for you based on your sport and goals. Be in communication with your coach via email, text or phone, receive advisement on event day preparations and nutrition, and gain access to your own Training Peaks account for easy training scheduling and analysis.

To take advantage of this offer, contact us here and mention promo code, “BUY6GET1

Upgrade Your Tech, Get Two Months Free

When you purchase any power meter (Garmin, Powertap, Stages, Pioneer, SRM) or a Garmin 820/935 watch, you’ll receive two months of coaching free with any six month coaching package. Upgrade your gear for more insight into your body and your training. Each and every SoS Coaching Package offers athletes a chance to have custom training programs designed just for them by a knowledgeable SoS Coach, selected for you based on your sport and goals. Each level of coaching comes with different opportunities for communication with your coach, guidance and analysis of your performance.

To take advantage of this offer, contact us here and mention promo code, “SUMMERTECH

Are you ready for tan lines and finish lines? The summer starts now with Science of Speed and your dreams are within reach. We can’t wait to hear from you and help you begin your journey towards your next athletic goal.

THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER, WE’LL BE BRINGING FOCUS TO THE BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A COACH. STAY TUNED FOR SPECIAL LIVE VIDEOS ON FACEBOOK, BLOG POSTS AND OTHER EXCITING EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Bike Fit: How to Replace Cycling Cleats

Cycling cleats are an often overlooked part of bicycle and equipment maintenance. Learn how to check for signs of excess wear and the best way to replace cycling cleats without altering your cleat position or sacrificing a crucial point of contact in your bike fit.

Learn from Coach Brady Irwin best practices when you go to refresh your Shimano or Look cycling cleats.

Are you not comfortable or confident in your ability to install your own cycling cleats? Are unsure that the position of your cleats is correct?

Schedule a regional fitting with a Science of Speed bike fit specialist to perfect your cleat position.

Training Insanity: New Season, Same Training Plan as Last Year

nsanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Albert EinsteinYear after year, person after person, we see many athletes doing the exact same thing.  They log their base miles, begin their steady intensity, join in on the exact same group rides and then slowly build up to an event.  Some athletes participate in the exact same event –which may be a century, a bike race or something as grandiose as an Ironman triathlon.  With the thought of the same course or same type of intensity, we know of some athletes who even utilize the exact same training plan year, after year, after year, after… 

Modify training for faster results

well, you get the point!  . Much like Einstein had his definition for insanity this is ours for training insanity.  In 2016, we want you to challenge your status quo. We want you to test your limits. We want you to reach new goals.  Over the years we have found a rhythm with our coaching, and that rhythm is as ever-developing as our athletes physical abilities. Our approaches to increasing performance and fitness must change and adapt.  The workouts might be similar in philosophy and name, but the timing, frequency and quantity are always modified to help each athlete reach their peak performance in that moment in time. So, have you just come off of your base training?  Are you looking at an mid season event where you hope to perform well?  What are you doing now to guarantee the best results for that event?  We hope it isn’t the same thing that you did last year! No matter if you are a triathlete, a cyclist, a runner or a general fitness enthusiast looking to shed a few pounds, we challenge all of you to break that insanity loop and mix your early season training up with one of these workouts:

RUN: THRESHOLD LADDER

Warm up: 5 minutes (rpe:5/10) 4×7:30 Run Ladder w/5min RBI: 2min Steady State Run (rpe: 7/10), 2min Tempo Run (rpe: 8/10), 30sec Fartlek Run (rpe: 9/10), 1min Tempo Run (rpe: 8/10), 2min Steady State Run (rpe: 7/10) Cool down: 10min (rpe:5/10)

BIKE: VO2 INTERVALS

Warm up: 10-15 minutes at Endurance pace(rpe:5/10) with several 30 second Threshold Intervals (rpe:8/10) Intervals: 8x2minute VO2 intervals (rpe:10/10) w/2min RBI

  • Be sure that these are a maximal effort from the very start. Your legs might fatigue but that is no reason to decrease the intensity.

Cool down: 5-10 minutes

  • Take ample time to allow for heart rate to slow and your core temperature to decrease.
BREAK YOUR TRAINING INSANITY LOOP AND CHANGE YOUR TRAINING PLAN DESIGN WITH ONE OF OUR STATIC PLANS OR CUSTOM COACHING PACKAGES!

Power Meters

Investing in the Efficiency of Your Training

SRM Power meter 1980s

By now, you have probably heard of a cycling power meter.  With the dramatic decrease in average costs of power meters, they are becoming much more mainstream.  What might surprise you is that these devices have been used since the mid-1980’s.  Their first public appearance was at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Canada where the German National team used SRM’s first crank based system.  What then looked more like a medieval torture device (they might still be described as such) was attached to many of the track racers bikes.

Since their early introduction, a great deal has been learned about these devices and how we can better utilize the data that they provide to improve training efficiency.  Here are a handful of the ways you will find a power meter can improve your training if you chose to take the next step.

Accurate tracking of improvement – Unlike heart rate with its wide array of variables, power is much more consistent.  Where heart rate is your body’s response to the work that has been completed (delayed by up to 60 seconds), power is the actual amount of work that is being created.  This work-based response takes factors out of the equation to give more consistent verification of current improvement.

More precise training ranges – For those who have been using heart rate for years, your first workout with a power meter will immediately show you that your workouts just became harder!  Why is that you ask? As mentioned previously, heart rate is a response to the work that has been done.  With cardiac drift as a factor involved with sustained efforts, you will quickly notice that workload stays consistent but heart rate gradually increases.  Remember heart rate is a response to the work you have done — power is the actual work.

Caloric expenditure –  You might be ecstatic that you just went out for a ride and your Garmin paired with your heart rate monitor is telling you that you burned 1100 calories.  Now, it is time to go out and eat that 22oz steak, drink a bottle of wine or guzzle a bunch of amazing craft beer. It’s the perfect moment to eat that 1100 calorie dessert at your local go to restaurant, right?  NOT SO FAST!  Pair that same workout with a power meter and you might find that your Garmin has been calculating your calorie burn inaccurately —  150% inaccurately.  You’ll be dismayed to find out that you only clocked in at 650 calories in reality.  Why the difference?  Power measures work done and uses an equation that provides a more accurate gauge of calorie burn.

Gauging extended efforts – For many endurance events like time trials, triathlons, centuries or the popular gravel grinders, effort is everything! Getting from Point A to Point B as quickly and effectively as possible is what ultimately results in optimal performance.  With proper training using a cycling power meter, sufficient data can be collected and analyzed to calculate the best effort range for your optimal performance.

Now, the question is what brand do you go with. Our coaches have used many power meters over the years and we feel that several provide great data to help you reach your goals.  Consider a Stages Cycling Power meter, a SRM Power meter, Quarq Power meter, or one of the PowerTap line of power meters.  They each have their own benefits and drawbacks, but each of these will provide you with great data to improve your accuracy.

Pair your Science of Speed Coaching with a power meter and receive a discount!  You’ll receive the highest quality training and the top training devices on the market at a great price.

Selecting your next Cycling or Triathlon Short

For the Fashionista or Bike Snob a new pair of cycling or triathlon shorts is an exciting thing.  Accessorizing can be one of the most enjoyable for things for them to do with some spare money and some fun time.  For many though, the thought of spending $100 or more dollars on a pair of cycling shorts is a frightful thing but it is one of the largest parts to improving your comfort on your bike.  Here are a few key things to consider when you are debating whether your shorts are in need of replacement and what route you need to take when selecting your next cycling or triathlon short:

  1. Elasticity – A snug fitting short is imperative for comfort.  If they twist and shift while you ride you increase your susceptibility to chaffing and saddle sores.  If your shorts are baggy in the legs (unless you are a small child – hard to find sizes small enough) they are worn out! IMMEDIATELY walk over to a trash can,  throw them away and go buy a new pair of shorts now.
  2. Thickness of material – Cycling shorts are not supposed to be see through and honestly no one wants to stare at your crack for hours on a group ride.  Result: Go buy new shorts!
  3. Chamois – This is the padding in your cycling short. It is what gives you a great deal of comfort or discomfort if improperly selected. Over time this padding “packs” or compresses and because of this it does not offer the same level of comfort also. Be sure you find one with minimal seams and smooth stitching around the edges. The newer and higher quality chamois is actually made of one piece of foam with varying thicknesses throughout. They are seamless and very comfortable.

Bibs or shorts – Consider bibs. We can almost guarantee that if you go to bib shorts you will never return to a standard short. They might look a bit like a wrestling singlet but the comfort they offer is worth it! For the ladies they can be more difficult for nature breaks but the newer “drop tail” bibs help reduce this challenge.

  1. Quantity/number of weekly rides – If you ride more than twice weekly you need to have more than one pair of shorts. Save yourself the hassle of having to wash your shorts for every ride and take the chance at trying out several different shorts/chamois.
  2. Don’t Skimp! Cycling shorts can be expensive but are worth the money. Higher priced shorts typically result in a longer lasting short and a higher quality chamois.

Ultimately know that a pair of shorts, dependent upon quality, can last anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 miles. Keep in mind they are an investment in your body’s comfort.  Higher priced shorts have greater technology including the chamois, shaping, quality of material and the shorts effectiveness at keeping your bodies temperature at more normal levels.

Athlete Spotlight: Davis Bell

Davis Bell is a great example of what the spirit of an athlete can do to help people acheive.  At one point Davis weighed over 280lbs and had smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for nearly 10 years.  In 2007 he made the decision that he was going to change his life by beginning to walk and run. Setting a goal was one of the biggest motivators for him in his initial success. “Once I reached 200 pounds I would buy a bike and start riding with a friend.”  So, Davis worked out consistently, watched his diet and began to shed weight until he was able to meet his goal to purchase his bike. Coach Brady met Davis the summer of 2012 after the purchase of his new bike. After years of Brady helping Davis with on bike nutrition and tips for modifying his training, Davis made the leap to coaching. One year after winning his first ever cycling road race.  The stressors of life had played a roll on Davis’ fitness and he had found a little bit of his previously lost weight.  Quoted saying “Just have fun it’s only cycling,” you might believe that on first impression, once you learn his personality better you will realize he is extremely driven and competitive. After 6 months of training Davis raced his final goal of the season the Pensacola cycling classic.  With an amazing start to the 3 day stage race, Davis cranked out 400+ watts in his time trial to set a new personal best.  He follow that up with a well executed road race and then smashed the field in the criterium by attacking with over 20 minutes to go holding off the field and subsequently producing his highest 20 minute power output ever “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” Said Davis.  Certainly his day to day changes in his diet and training have lead to some extraordinary outcomes! Athletes like Davis are the reason we exist at Science of Speed.  He has fought to overcome his routine habits and make a healthier life for himself as well as pushed his body to greater levels of fitness than he thought possible.  The constant philosophy that, “You don’t have to prove anything if you believe in yourself,” has brought Davis to where he is today and will continue to push him through the winter months of training and into an very strong 2016 race season. Sign up for the same program that has led to Davis’ great success and maybe one day you can be in our Athlete Spotlight!