More Fitness = More Food

More Fitness = More Food

So much of the fitness industry is telling you that dieting is how people get more fit. This may be true if weight loss is your goal – calorie deficits are the path to taking off weight. Though, if increased and sustained physical fitness is your goal, here’s a newsflash for you: it’s going to take more food.

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How To Be A Better Hill Climber

Hills are often something that is misconstrued on the bike. Unlike running, where biomechanics and force vectors change, seated cycling biomechanics stay very similar. There are some changes like scooting back in the saddle and utilizing more hamstring and glute muscles, but they are less significant. 

Climbing on the bike comes down to one thing:  Power to weight.  Gravity is pushing our behinds down and we have to constantly overcome that force.  So, there are two ways to climb faster: lose weight and/or increase your power to overcome gravity. 

When we see or hear people saying they are doing hill repeats on the bike to prepare for a climbing race/event like Six Gap, we scratch our heads. Unless they have a 10+ minute climb to do intervals on or are practicing positioning and climbing out of the saddle, they are not testing and building the physiological systems that they are going to need to be at top form.  Climbing for 20-60 minutes is a highly aerobic effort and a 1-3 minute climb is not the trick to attain the goal.  By improving FTP you will go uphill faster. 

During a specialization phase, the one variance that our coaches can add into longer sustained efforts (tempo, threshold, under overs) that helps people when they go to the mountains is lower cadence work.  

Climbing often forces you to have a lower cadence and if athletes are used to spinning at 90-100 RPM, being force to spin 50-70RPM for extended periods of time will blow them up neuromuscularly.  Adding in intermittent portions in a workout at 70rpm will help them to be prepared for that.

Curious how you can build the skills and strength you need for your unique event or goals? Our coaches are ready to help. Learn more about custom coaching!

Drawing By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (See “Book” section below)Bartleby.com: Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 235, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/…

If you ever have a question about training advice, technical specs, or the athlete’s body you see online, your Science of Speed coaches are here to confirm or debunk! Science is the first word in our brand name and we take that very seriously. It’s why our team is comprised of people with the highest level of education, experience, and expertise. We looking forward to hearing from you soon!

NUTRITION SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE

Science of Speed is excited to announce a new partnership that will help us better serve our athletes. We’re adding the next piece of the performance puzzle: nutrition. Ryan Kohler, MS is a sports nutritionist, endurance athlete, and coach. Both his education and experience make him the expert in advising on baseline, training, and event day nutrition. As you work towards your goals, Ryan will now be able to help you build the ultimate nutritional plan that perfectly compliments your customized Science of Speed training.

As a youth athlete, Ryan competed in mountain bike racing, multisport events, freestyle and GS ski competitions, and running events. He grew from an athlete to a coach and nutritionist, applying his education to athletes of all ages and ability levels. 

As our nutrition partner, Ryan will help Science of Speed athletes in two key ways: creating nutritional baselines and creating nutrition plans for training and events. 

A nutritional baseline service generates a comprehensive foundation for athletes and active individuals of any ability level. It is great for student-athletes, weight management, and improving nutrition quality or eating habits. In addition, athletes suffering from overtraining/under-recovery or chronic low energy will find this assessment as an excellent way to make changes to enhance healthy eating patterns, improve recovery, and promote high-quality exercise and training sessions over the long term.

The event and training nutrition planning service utilizes the same steps, knowledge, and expertise but through the lens of your unique endurance event. Design or update your fueling and hydration plans for training and race day for peak performance!

Curious to discover your body’s unique metabolism? Want to dial in your nutrition needs for your next event or upcoming training cycle? Send a message to us now!

Let’s Review: Running Form

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

Reduced Risk of Injury

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

Higher Efficiency 

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

Increased Speed

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

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

Lean Angle

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

Arm Position

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

Sightline

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

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

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!

Are You Running or Riding in Circles?

With every workout that our Science of Speed coaches post in an athlete’s training schedule, there is either a workout distance and/or a time designated for the workout.  Typically, we prescribe a length of time with intensity as a variable, but the reason for that is an entirely different article in itself. These workouts are set up with a specific goal in mind and are designed to create create stress on the body to result in optimal performance gains.

As we are analyzing training files, we sometimes see athletes who are more particular about reaching those specific times within very narrow margins.  In some cases, it is as severe as doing laps around a parking lot to get to the 2:00.00 hour mark or .00 of a mile. Is this you?

I recently completed a ride that I ended at 1:56.17 and 56.3km (34.98miles) and posted it to Facebook asking if my friends and followers would feel compelled to keep going towards that round number of time or distance. It was more common for athletes to end up riding or running to get to the next even/whole number.  

So, I pose to you this question.  Is it compulsion or methodology that is leading you to do this?  If there is a method to your madness that is great and you may keep going, but if it is obsession or anxiety that motivates this then I implore you to take a moment, with an open mind, and consider the following points.

Physiology – Our bodies are very responsive to training but we need to keep in mind that they are not so incredibly malleable that running circles in a parking lot to finish out an endurance workout is going to improve overall fitness.  A 5-10% buffer is perfectly acceptable and will not have significant impacts on your overall fitness.

Methodology – As we are designing training plans, we factor in three key variables: time, intensity and frequency.  These work synergistically to create a desired overload with increased fitness, strength and performance as the overall goal.  Much of our training plan design goes into interval training– a higher, focused intensity or effort with bouts of recovery in between.  These intervals are the primary part of the workout and what we see as the most important part. If you push the “recovery” phase of the interval too much, you negatively impact the quality of your intervals and, once you are done with the final interval, the meat and potatoes of that workout is done. Unless otherwise stated, a cooldown is sufficient enough to be completed for the day.

One experienced cyclist and ultra runner made a very valid point.  Paraphrasing, they said, “If my training plan said 2:00.00 and I got to that time on my ride, but still had 4 minutes of riding to get home, would I call my wife?”  Upon reading this, it only solidified my pre-existing view point that you might as well end several minutes early if you won’t be calling for a ride.

Understanding why your workouts are designed a certain way can be tricky — especially if you’re dealing with a one-size-fits-all training plan where the workouts weren’t designed for you. If you’re interested in having a resource to not only build, but also explain the purpose of your workouts and what is most important, I encourage you to reach out to Science of Speed about customized coaching to get the expert guidance that will lead to both knowledge and success.

Best,
Coach Brady

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.

My Arms are up Here! – 3 Steps to Improving your Running Upper Body Economy

Extra cushion, lugs, zero drop or barefoot running.  Heel striker, midfoot runner or forefoot runner.  When it comes to your running, all of the hype has been placed on where the money is: your feet, therefore your shoes. Do not, for one moment, think that I am discrediting the importance of foot strike, center of mass and lean angle.  I am a believer and a professor of its importance.  What I am saying is that we are overlooking an area that doesn’t come with sexy shoes, shiny bling or cool features like Vibram soles.  In fact, it’s a complete departure from your lower extremities. That something is your arms.  Yep, those other flaily things that you move while running play a large part in your running efficiency.

Arm swing while running

Your arms have so much to do with your run.  They help you drive up large hills, provide stabilization on rough terrain and can even be like a boat anchor if not held properly. For some people, their current arm carriage may be efficient, but if you are looking to increase your running economy, here are three key areas to pay attention to:

Keep Hands High: By keeping your hands high and elbows bent to be tighter than 90 degrees you reduce the force your arm creates in rotation.

Minimize Rotation: Think of your sternum as a plain that creates a center line through your body. While running your hands should not cross this plane.  Any excess movement of the arms across the body creates rotational forces in undesired directions.

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Keep Forearms Tight: Forearms should be kept in tight against the body.  With every arm swing imagine your forearms brushing your sides.  Any external movement creates an imbalance and can also lead to increases in rotation of the upper body due to an increased likelihood the higher arm carriage causing the hands to cross the body’s centerline.

So, next time a fellow runner is only focusing on their feet, tell them, “My arms are up here!” Peel away the shoes and notice the incredible full body endeavour that is your run. If you’re curious about your running form and are curious how you could improve your efficiency, contact us today to find out how our expert team of coaches can help.