The Power of Perception

A recent research study from Northumbria University in the UK showed the importance of the power of perception.  In this study, athletes were tasked with an initial 4km time trial in order to achieve a baseline result.  Once the baseline result was achieved, two subsequent 4km efforts were performed. One effort was at the same power as the initial effort and the other was 102% of the initial effort, unbeknownst to the athlete.  

Cycling Coaching

The athletes who were at the same level, on average performed slightly lower than 100%.  When athletes were given a pacer that was at 102% of their baseline, they were able to improve their performance, showed no signs of exercise-induced neuromuscular fatigue and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) was the same as their baseline.

At Science of Speed, we believe that every workout should have a purpose. Bear in mind that all of those purposes aren’t just to improve performance. They can be as simple as fun, camaraderie or, as this study supports, for a mental reset on what “hard” really is.  Much like the Northumbria study, we have seen that by altering athlete’s perception of what high intensity is we can alter their ability to push beyond what they previously felt was possible. In this research article from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, we see the same concept being tested in a laboratory.  As our coaches have experienced with our athletes, there is more than one reason to structure intervals other than the physiological adaptations that occur.  Here, a psychological adaptation resulted in an increase in time to exhaustion (TTE) and an increase in their pain tolerance by 41% when compared to athletes who completed moderate continuous training over the same six week period.

It may be hard for you to recognize the potential that lies in you. It may be hard to know how to unlock that potential and push beyond the mental barriers that may be holding you back. Working with educated and experienced advisors can help you build confidence and develop the mindset you need to succeed.

Curious how coaching can help you strengthen the body AND the mind? Contact us today.

March Athlete Shoutouts

March was a busy month for SoS Athletes and Coaches — and it’s showing in all their excellent results. As we welcome the month of April, let’s look back on the big wins and improvements made by athletes working with Science of Speed to reach their goals!

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  • Shoutout to #SoSAthlete Eric who, in just 11 weeks of training, has seen an 8.5% increase in power at threshold! Keep up the great work, Eric.
  • Five months ago, Earl took his last field test. After hard blocks of winter training with SoS, this athlete is 11.5% higher at threshold than the last test. Working hard to gain those watts! Nice work, Earl!
  • A hard winter of training with Coach Alex has paid off for Mason. A PR in the 1600, as well as 3rd in the 1600 and 1st in the 3200 just a couple weeks earlier! Congratulations Mason!
  • Shoutout to SoS Athlete, Eric! He took on the SEC#2 Old Capital Classic 6 HR MTN BIKE RACE in Milledgeville, GA and took home 2nd place for XC 1 PRO/EXPERT. Nice work!
  • What an amazing performance from SoS athlete, Stacy! Congratulations to you and Coach Armando on meeting goals and making PRs happen at Best Damn Race – Orlando, FL!
  • Congrats to Jake Oswald who took 1st place overall at Tour de Murrietta Stage Race – Category 5!
  • This one goes to our PR guru, Meg! On her last field test, she cut 1 minute 4 seconds off of her threshold pace.
  • Congrats to Coach Brady on a successful launch of the Champions Ride, a new nonprofit cycling event in north Florida. The event raised close to $10,000 for a local charity.

Ready for some new accomplishments of your own? Contact us today and let’s set exciting goals today!

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.

Tips for your Gravel road Adventures!

One of the largest growing cycling trends in the United States over the past ten years has been gravel road riding.  With large events, such as Dirty Kanza & Grinduro, it is becoming even more enticing for many people to hit the dirt roads.  There is no better time than now for you as a cyclist to do that as well.  

Why Ride Gravel/Dirt Road?

With an increase in focus on cycling safety and driver awareness, many people are opting to head to the less trafficked roads.  Whether this is for peace of mind, enjoyment of nature or a little added thrill, it is a great option.

Gravel roads are also a great option in winter.  When weather temperatures drop the wind chill on a bike, riding at 20+ mph can be nearly unbearable.  Riding on gravel roads can, in some instances, decrease your average speed by 2+mph with the exact same amount of work effort.  This means you can still get an amazing workout and stay a bit warmer.

A Little Different Skill Set

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Many times, gravel roads are not as well maintained because they see little to no traffic.  This means that you need to be better prepared for what may lie ahead of you.  For many, this means equipment and we recommend you consult your local bike shop to provide you with the specifics of what is needed for your area.  Once you have the knowledge and gear you need, here are some skills that will be very important for you to consider on your adventure into gravel grinding:

  1. Watch your line – Much like riding on a mountain bike, you need to be thinking about your next move.  It is important that you are sighting 10-30 feet up the road. You should be looking for the smoothest surface, sand, larger pieces of gravel and any other object you might want/need to avoid.
  2. Keep your weight back – If and when you find yourself in sand or deep gravel, it is best to keep the handlebars lighter by shifting back on your saddle. This will allow your front wheel to track more effectively through any ruts or bounce over any large rocks.
  3. MORE POWER – Just like Tim the Toolman Taylor, (google it, youngins!) you “need more power” when it comes to sand. Applying added power when you get to sand helps to keep the front end of the bike lighter, much like sliding back, and helps your bike track through the deep stuff.
  4. Braking bumps – These rough wave like formations in the dirt can sometimes be so bad that your eyes begin to blur or make you think that your headtube may separate from the rest of your bike.  Remember to relax, stay off the front brake and ride it out.  Some of these sections can be feet others can be 20-30 yards.  Keep a level head and look for the smoothest portion or road.

Now, it is time.  There is so much exploring to be done and fun to be had! Get out there and get dirty.

Cold Sweats Would be Better Than Sweaty and Cold

Winter is coming and the temperatures are falling. In today’s blog, Coach Brady offers his tips on how to select the right attire for every degree.

Every year, it takes a few workouts to realize what all I need to wear for each temperature range.  Sometimes it is the sudden shift in temperatures, the fear of being cold or the simple fact that sometimes I can’t remember what I did yesterday (let alone the last time it was cold.) All I know is that I always end up cold one way or another. I bet you’ve had this same issue as the seasons change. Let me help you by providing a starting guide that you can consult and modify for you and your climate.  

CYCLING:

60-65 degrees: Arm warmers, vest is optional as it gets closer to 60 degrees

50-60 degrees: Arm warmers, knee warmers/leg warmers, short sleeve base layer, wind front gloves & vest

40-50 degrees: Arm warmers, knee warmers/leg warmers, short sleeve base layer, wind front gloves, toe/shoe covers & vest or long sleeve jersey

<40 degrees: Arm warmers, knee warmers/leg warmers, short sleeve base layer, windproof thermal gloves, wind front briefs, shoe covers, wool socks & wind front long sleeve jersey

RUNNING:
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60-65 degrees: Shorts and shirt

50-60 degrees: Shorts and shirt

40-50 degrees: Shorts, shirt, light glove & arm warmers

<40 degrees: Tights, shirt, lightly insulated glove & arm warmers (as it gets below freezing thermal tights are a great option)

Unsure about tights? I hear you — I try to maintain my ability to adapt to changing weather and, because of this, you will notice that I rarely use tights or anything similar.  A 5 degree swing in temperature can mean you’re either too hot or too cold. Arm and knee/leg warmers allow for quick modulation vs. tights and long sleeve tops.  If you use the above tips as a starting point, you will quickly find a combination that works for you no matter the temperature.

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!

Free Fall Fashions for New Science of Speed Athletes

New athletes: reach out to us today to get your custom coaching experience started and receive your FREE KIT!

Want to start off the season in style? New kits have arrived and we’re so excited to see so many athletes donning their new Science of Speed duds during their workouts and events. To mark the arrival of fall, we’ve got a special offer that will have you looking fast, and racing even faster.

Now Through November 19th, new athletes who sign up for six months of training at the podium

Science of Speed Cycling apparel

level or higher will receive a free kit from SoS — yes, socks, bib shorts AND jersey! That’s a $275 value at no cost when you begin your journey with custom coaching.

We are dedicated to helping our clients, from recreational to elite athletes, reach their maximum potential. We are capable of achieving this through custom training programs based on a sound and proven training philosophy. We believe that everyone has the ability to excel at their sport. It is our desire to help you discover your potential and gain confidence in it.

If you are looking to do your first century, want to get more serious about your training, or are working towards weight loss goals, the Podium Package can get you there. An SoS coach will work one-on-one with you to design custom training programs that will help you meet or exceed your current goals.

Current athletes: grab your kit now in the shop! Contact us today for your SoS athlete discount code and receive special pricing on all apparel.

Don’t Fear the Field Test

Many athletes have GPS devices, heart rate monitors and power meters collecting data for them continually.  It is now easier than ever, with auto sync features, to upload your files to Garmin Connect, Strava or, our favorite coaching tool, TrainingPeaks.  With the copious amounts of data that are being flung at the internet on a daily basis, it is apparent to us that many athletes do not know what any of the information being recorded means or how they can best utilize it.

Speaking with athletes at races, events, on group rides and in passing, we have found that there is one key reason many athletes do not use the data from their devices more.  FEAR.  Yep, they are afraid to field test and get ranges that would improve the overall results that training could provide.  Why is this?  People are afraid to know what their data is telling them in regards to their threshold numbers. They are afraid it will be lower than where they feel it should be, afraid of being compared to others, afraid of being judged for what they feel is a lack of fitness or even afraid of going all out to get the right data.  

Stop worrying and start training!  Let’s get past this fear.  By not taking these actions to find your training ranges, you are only limiting yourself, but also perpetuating the cycle of fear.  Whether you run or cycle, a field test is necessary to get the correct ranges to increase your training efficiency.  The numbers mean absolutely nothing unless you have a gauge to base them all off off.  So, get out there and perform your cycling field test and/or your running field test.

Are you unsure of what to do with the data once it is collected?  Let us know.  We will help you take the information and turn it into something of value to you!

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!

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.