Selecting Your Events – The good, the bad and the ugly

With a season winding down for so many and decisions being made on races and events for next year there is no better time to discuss some ideas to help you chose the best events for next season.  Too often in my years of coaching I have seen smart people make very poor decisions when it comes to selecting events.  Whether this is the number of events, the level of the event or the lack of priority I have seen athletes over extend themselves and either become “burnt out,” overly fatigued or injured.  To make 2013 a successful year for you take these four thoughts into consideration when looking at events. 

Planning: This is by far the most difficult portion.  With events becoming larger, more popular and more epic there are so many fun things to chose from. You must take a critical eye to your events and remember that your body can only handle so much before it breaks or breaks down.  Be selective and remember if you do not over do it there are still plenty of years of racing left in you.   

Progression: Just like an athlete spends years training for the Olympic trials and games you must be wise in your progression.  Take the time to build.  If you just bought your bike yesterday an Ironman in February in Panama is not the best choice.  Take the time to build your fitness, expand your knowledge and become a well rounded athlete 

Prioritize: There are many different types of events in a schedule; fun ones, training races, tune up races and A races.  Alll races are training races but not all races can be an “A” race.  The key is to select the important events and then design your training leading up to those. 

Periodization: Now that you have key events you can periodize your training program.  This periodization can be a month long a year long or even a decade long dependent upon what your goals are and how large the events can be.  The key is to have a plan but realize that deviation is not a bad thing.  We get sick, life plans change, fatigue changes and because of this so does training! Take your time in selecting your events and chose ones that you want to do!  No one can motivate you but yourself. If you do this and follow these steps you will set next year up to be one of the most successful yet. Are you unable to take a critical look at your calendars and make decisions on this?  Let us know!  SoS coaches can help you make some of those crucial decisions and help you not only enjoy your year but perform well and finish the season wanting more.  Contact us at [email protected] for further assistance!

Injury and Bike Fit

I recently read a blog posted by a long time bike racer (Pro road racer since the 80’s) where he discussed a current injury that he has been battling with for a while.  An unfortunate crash early in the season left him with a separated shoulder which lead to him being out of commission for a bit.  Like many of us when we are injured he jumped back into it as soon as he felt the slightest bit better.  Unfortunately he wasn’t as lucky as many people who do this and found out quickly that it was a bad idea and his health went downhill. I am not sure exactly the draw for each individual to get back on the bike so quickly but I have a feeling it is either anxiety about weight gain, concerned about losing fitness that has taken so much work to gain or simply a “need” for the endorphin rush.  Either way this driving force is capable of keeping you out of commission even longer.  What many don’t realize, even this long time pro racer, is that all of the body’s parts are interdependent upon one another.  Just like a car that needs tires, a motor, gasoline and so much more to operate if one of them fails, even the smallest part, you can be stranded on the roadside calling AAA, so too your body is dependent on even the smallest parts. With that in mind there are several things to ask yourself whether you have something as catastrophic as a crash or an overuse injury.  Is your injury severe enough to seek medical attention, how does this affect you position on the bike, how much time do you take off and how could this affect you long term.  Some of these you might not be able to answer at that moment and could take days weeks or months to come to a clear decision, however, much like aging injury can lead to necessary changes to a rider’s position.  Whether these are compensating for permanent physical limitations due to structural changes or temporary changes that need to be made to compensate for wounds that are merely uncomfortable on the bike.  Either way, this is a very important decision to make.  Keep in mind that bike fit will not make your broken arm or separated shoulder feel better on the bike, only time can heal that, but it can help to reduce the discomfort of some less extreme issues.

Find a New Peak by Adding Some Intensity in Your Training

After a long winter many cyclist and triathletes will look back at the hours of tapping out a steady rhythm on the pedals for hours at a time accumulating base miles.  With the warmer weather approaching in many regions in the U.S.  there will be races and events for each and everyone to participate in if you haven’t already.  The one thing that has been neglected for months, if not longer for some, is our high end intensity.  VO2 work is not the most pleasant thing to do and I think that is probably why many of you have been avoiding it for so long, however, the gains that you can see from it is often very eye opening to many! I have had many of my athletes log in to look at their schedules and see a solid block of VO2 work and the next thing that usually happens is my phone starts ringing.  First they tend to start off with a half serious question of, “Are you trying to kill me?!” which is then followed with, “My event doesn’t have me doing this sort of intensity, so I don’t need to do this.”  Yep, you may be right… In your century, or Ironman you probably won’t spend a great deal of time at VO2 but that does not mean that you can not see added benefits from these workouts.  Not only can you see increases in lactate threshold through these workouts but you are also raising the ceiling of your ability level both physically and mentally!  So, consider upping the intensity and increasing your power on the bike. When doing VO2 work there are several things to consider:

  1. Achieve the greatest benefit for the time you are putting in.  A perceived exertion of 10/10 achieves the greatest effort (peak and fade) as opposed to maintaining a consistently high power (plateau).
  2. Be sure to get enough time in of interval work:  15minutes of VO²max training has been shown in research to be the minimum amount of time to achieve significant results.
  3. Don’t stretch out the recovery:  Whether you are measuring on distance traveled or power don’t increase recovery when you see the numbers start to become less and less.  Keep up the maximal effort and finish strong.  1:1 recovery is optimal
  4. Don’t go off of your heart rate:  Heart rate has a lag time to it because it is your bodies response to the work being done so if you are shooting for a maximal heart rate you will more than likely not reach it.

Sample workout:

  • 10-20 minute warmup (dependent upon what you need to feel ready for a maximal effort)
  • 5x3min VO2 intervals
    • 3minutes rest between intervals
  • Cool down

Resources:Poole D.C., Gaesser G.A.Response of ventilatory and lactate thresholds to continuous and interval training, J Appl Physiol, 581985, 1115–1121 Free Full Text  Tabata I.,Nishimura K., Kouzaki M., Hirai Y., Ogita F., Miyachi M., et al.Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max, Med Sci Sports Exerc, 281996, 1327–1330 Medline

Athlete Question

From Lori: “I ride a “hand-me-down” QRoo Kilo size medium. Do not usually get any pain at all. Recently, left shoulder radiating up my neck…” Lori, One of the things I would recommend is that you look at affecting factors other than the bike.  I recommend this because nothing is stated about making any changes to your position on the bike.  With that being considered here are several things that I would consider: changes to training (volume, frequency, intensity or type of workout),  or any injuries you might have incurred off of the bike.  If none of this has occurred I would strongly consider having someone look at your fit and if there are no glaring issues the next step would be to consult your doctor.  The later is one of those that should be consider particularly if the pain persists.  Best of luck with your riding and I hope you are soon pain free! Cheers! Brady    

Bike Fit: That which we do not speak of…

Okay, so to often we as cyclists and triathletes are afraid to talk about one thing in particular when it comes to bike fit.  What is that?  It is what some like to refer to as numbness “down there.” Let’s be honest, whether you call it your soft tissue, genitalia, Johnson, Va jay jay or any other little pet name you have for your nether regions, it doesn’t matter!  Your “down stairs” is an important fact about being on a bike as one of your main contact points with your machine and for most of us an important factor off the bike too! Now, let’s be logical about this before we just go Huffy tossing our valuable bikes.  Start off with a proper bike fit performed by a knowledgeable and capable fitter.  With that done and no relief in sight the next option is your saddle choice.  There are so many choices it can often seem daunting, and RIDICULOUSLY expensive if you don’t find the right saddle on the first go around, but the biggest thing to keep in mind is that there are two things worth the money.  Your helmet to protect your head and your saddle for your “down stairs.”  You can’t repair or replace those two things if they are broken!  Keep in mind there are several fit systems that are out there designed to help you find an 

optimal fitting saddle more quickly and effectively which include, but are not limited to, BontragerFi’zi:k & Specialized. The main factors in saddle fit include the Width, and the curvature of the top of the saddle and some are designed specifically for certain positions.  Many of the great saddle companies are now using a very scientific design to their saddles and use such things are pressure sensors to better measure the displacement of a rider’s weight on the saddle.  You can thank these researchers, doctors and bike geeks for all of their hard work because you no longer have to deal with discomfort, pain or numbness.So, I recently got a new Time Trial bike and had a four hour ride.  Up to hour 2 I thought, “This saddle SUCKS!” and “Oh my god!” Well after 3 hours I thought, “Maybe I’m getting accustomed to this saddle.”  I was very wrong!  I got off the bike and from then on could not feel my nether regions.  For hours this continued and since this is the first time that I have ever had this happen I knew that I had to discuss this here.  Since so many are either embarrassed or afraid to bring it up what better forum than to those of you who read this blog.  For those of you that come across this scenario every weekend, or even every ride, I do not know how or why you even continue to ride a bike!  So… know this:  You do not need to live with this pain nor should you. 

So, once you find that dream saddle what do you do?  First of all you enjoy riding your bike and being able to have the wonderful sensation of feeling after a ride.  Then the next step is to buy a couple more of those saddles.  It might seem crazy but saddles have a lifespan to them!  The materials break down and lose their original form and can potentially lose their comfort.  Much like shoes, cars and so many other things they are constantly trying to improve (sell more) items and this newest “improvement” might not be one for your body so save the headache of searching for a new one and stock up!


SoS Coach Brady Irwin is preparing for RAAM 2012 and here is an update on a training weekend that him and his 4 man team recently completed:   

Well to say the least the RAAM training weekend was a great success!  All four riders finished the mileage, no one was injured and fitness is at the level we were expecting for each rider or slightly above where it was expected.  Leading into this weekend, to make things a little more interesting, we put a little wager on Friday and Saturday’s ride.  The two man winning team from the weekend has the privilege of receiving a bike cleaning from the 2 losing riders.  So with something on the line we were off for 3 days of riding. Friday night consisted of a 20k TT.  We fell into line randomly and left in one minute intervals.  With a little bit of peer pressure(mostly from Halsey, persuasive bastard! 


 ) I ended up on a TT bike that I had never ridden and only had about 10 minutes to setup.  In the end it was not that big of a deal and I still ended up with the second fastest time of the four of us.  Jamey put down a blistering second half of his TT and made it evident that he was the strong man for the weekend.  Austin and Halsey both had very strong rides and were not to far off the pace.  With the TT over we calculated up that Jamey and Austin would have a minute head start on Saturday and then we went to hang out talk logistics and eat some great dinner with our crew and families.  Calling it a short night we headed home and began to prepare for the next day. 

Saturday morning came earlier than I had hoped for.  The sky was still pitch black as I loaded up the truck and headed to our starting point for the morning.  This day was set up to mimic what RAAM will be like.  Each two man team had a follow vehicle and each rider did 30 minute rotations.  I chose to stay on the road bike all day long, since I had not put in miles on it before, and Halsey decided to take his aerobars off of his bike.  I think in the end that was the downfall to our day.  As we approached the gulf towards the end of the day there was a constant wind funneling through the trees and battering us and I believe that being in a more aerodynamic position.  Either way… at the end of the day Halsey and I lost a great deal of ground and ended up the losers on the day.  So, that means that the guys will be receiving bike cleanings very shortly.  With Fatigued legs we all headed to Jamey’s house, where Heidi (his wife) made us an amazing meal!  After an hour of story telling and trying to stay awake we departed too get some rest and spend some time with family.  Driving home I was struggling to keep my 

eyes open after a long day of riding but I came home to a quiet house, since Janelle and Katelyn were out, and had my second dinner of the evening and rested and relaxed until it was time to go too sleep. Sunday morning was tough getting out of bed at 5am but I was amazed at how fresh the legs still felt.  Our ride Sunday consisted of a group effort over 100 miles under gray cloudy skies and damp chilly conditions.  Steve B. joined us on the bike that day after graciously sitting in the follow vehicle all day on Saturday and none of us were 

complaining to have an extra rider to do some work.  It took me 15-20 minutes to get the legs loosened up but once they were warmed up I felt like I was firing on all cylinders.  The group hung tough through the 80 mile mark and then riders began to come apart at the seams.  Jamey went to the front with a monster pull and the groans in the group were audible to say the least.  Steve’s fresh legs continued the high tempo effort on the climbs and we finished off a great day and an awesome weekend of riding! This weekend would not have been possible without our wonderful crew of drivers and I thank you all: Jeff Johnson, Lance Hart & Steve Barraco.  You guys were Rock Stars and we appreciate you not running us over more than anything!   Blog from Scalybirdlegs


On Thursday, December 8th Science of Speed opened it’s doors for our Grand Opening party!  The support and turnout of the community was outstanding and we hope to have the opportunity to work with each and every cyclist, triathlete, runner and motocross racer in some form or fashion to help you all reach your peak performance capabilities.     

Our Tallahassee Facility offers many great options for all athletes.  Our world  class equipment gives every athlete the opportunity to test just like the professionals do.  The Retül system offers unparalleled levels of accuracy to your bike fit and the same system utilized by the Olympic Training Centers, N.A.S.A. and a great number of well respected research Universities is brought into our arsenal of equipment to provide you precise and accurate VO² Max testing, for the run and on the bike, that many other public facilities simply can not provide.

Behold the power of the mind, or lack there of…

(My 2-3minutes of hell)So…I figure I will use my lack of mental fortitude today as a coaching opportunity.  First with a little insight into our office setting though.  Around the office everyone is fairly interested in what other coaches and staff are doing in their training.  Whether it is to learn something new, gain some motivation or maybe even poke fun of something “odd” someone is doing.  Well before the ride today I was asked by Coach Rebecca “what are you doing today? More Power Intervals?” My response was “Yes.” and Coach Jim responded with “What are you training for?”  It brought me to a realization that I haven’t really put together up until now.  I don’t really have any races on my calendar or major events that I want to do until ‘cross season but my training has been more consistent/structured than usual.  But the conclusion I came to was, I am REALLY enjoying riding right now.  I’ve found a renewed energy in the bike, I’m the most fit I have ever been and my power to weight is quite a bit higher than ever as well, which makes it more fun. 🙂  Love what you do and do what you love!

Now, on to the learning experience… So I am on day 3 of Power Intervals and as many of you have done I am doing a “peak and fade” type of interval where it is all out from the gate.  So on Wednesday I went out and did my first set and they turned out pretty good.  I went as hard as I could on each one and was definitely gasping by the end.

Thursday my power numbers were even better, which isn’t too out of the ordinary, and I continued to push myself to my limit for each interval.  My motivation was super high and I felt like I held nothing back on any interval.

Today was going really well for the first through third intervals and then as you can see, looking below, I gave up on the fourth interval.  A big gust of wind came up as I got into it and mentally I talked myself out of the effort.  I was planning on quitting and as I rolled down the hill on my recovery I got angry and decided to give it another shot.  So, I went at it again with yet another mental debacle.  Beaten and batter I rolled down the hill again and got just past where I start each interval and then told myself “well, the third try is the charm right?” So I gave it one more shot and went in with the mind set that quitting was not an option.  It might not have been my prettiest effort but then again when are power intervals ever pretty?! I know this was mental because you can see my starting powers for both of the “failed” attempts were still high and my powers for the next 4 efforts were consistent to prior days efforts.When things get tough and don’t always go your way we might have moments of mental lapse where we either want to quit or do quit.  The biggest thing is to regroup and come back and do it again.  We are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for but overcoming those hurdles can be very difficult. Blog from Scalybirdlegs

Metabolic Efficiency

in the science behind training I will give you an eye into what our nutritionist is currently working on and what I’m able to take a part in.  The thought is based off of some work done by Bob Seebohar, however, the goal is to see if there is (and if so what is) the result of doing work at threshold on our Metabolic efficiency.  For those of you that don’t know/understand what metabolic efficiency is: roughly it is the amount of work, or in this instance power, that your body is capable of doing while still burning fat as your predominant source of fuel.  The purpose behind this is because we have a nearly unlimited amount of fat stores to fuel our body but carbohydrate stores are

limited and we can only eat so much in a day.  So…the graph below is mine… Apparently right now I’m not super efficient and weird because there shouldn’t be 2 crossover points.So, “What are we doing to try to increase metabolic efficiency?” you ask.  Well here’s a quick screen shot of it: So, this is 4x10min at threshold with 5 minutes of recovery in between.  Seebohar’s research focused on low intensity work (no tempo or threshold) to get the resulting improvements in efficiency.  The problem with this is that if you have minimal time to train you may see gains in metabolic efficiency but you may actually see decreases in fitness.  This is why we are putting focus on threshold work for those of us who are less fortunate and don’t have 20hrs/wk to ride our bikes.I will keep you posted as we are going through the next several weeks of training as well as the results of the final efficiency test.  So keep your eyes posted.

The Importance of Bike Fit

Many people often look at the cost of a bike fit and think “That is to expensive, why would I need that?”  That is a very good question and one that I think you deserve an answer to.