Training in the times of COVID-19 – A Coach’s Perspective

Athletes respond to training differently, have different tactics that suit them best, different responses to diet and different responses to stressors in life.  Coach Brady provides a bit of insight and detail in to what he has found in working with athletes over the past 5 weeks and how Covid-19 has impacted athletes in varying ways.


Training in the times of COVID-19 – A Coach’s Perspective

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I know what you are thinking… “Oh great, one more article about this virus!”  Yep, we are all fed up with it and we are all tired of hearing all of the details, drama and the continuous political argument.  With the amount of communication that I have with athletes (don’t freak out, it is via phone, social media and e-mail), it has been interesting to see how training impact has varied dependent upon the four mindsets or approaches individuals are taking.  I hope that maybe this will help you either truly assess your stress level or help you to realize that you are not alone in where you fall on the spectrum.

I want to preface this with the fact that none of these approaches are wrong, in any way shape or form.  We all process stress differently and remember that training is a stressor, so you need to factor in ALL of your life.  Now, ON WITH THE SHOW!

Training during Covid-19

THE FULL GAS – This person views the virus as an inconvenience but believes that with their spare time and lack of ability to go out and see things they are going to put the proverbial pedal to the metal and charge harder with training than what they were originally intending.

THE STEADY AS SHE GOES – This approach, I have found, is more common among the people who had events that were further out on the horizon or who are still able/must go to work.  The 

THE ¾ TEMPO – The individuals in this group can have children at home they are now schooling, be immuno-compromised in some capacity or simply feel a bit of the stress of all going on.  They are lightly training or exercising (there is a difference but we don’t have time for that now) but are utilizing their activity less for an event performance down the road and more for their general well being.

THE WHOA NELLY! – This person is truly concerned about what the impacts of this virus can do to their health and the loved ones around them.  They do not want to be part of the spread and are either in the high risk groups or in contact with those in the high risk groups. Stress levels are typically high and training simply is not a great idea, unless it is a recovery ride, leisurely walk or something similar.

There can certainly be some crossover and some variations in these but most important is to be open and honest with yourself as to which group you may fall in and, if you have not already, adjust your training schedule to reflect where you are at and should be at.

In times of stress and illness, your well being is first and performance is secondary.  Please take care of yourself and your health.  Both physically and mentally.

Interested in reading more of Coach Brady’s content?  You can find him at bradyirwin.com

Turn a Cancelled Event into Increased Fitness

This season, COVID-19 has not only impacted people’s lifestyles, travel plans and social gatherings but as endurance athletes it has impacted our training plans, socialization and at an even greater scale, it has impacted our event schedules.  

With many events being cancelled, it has left many athletes wondering what to do with their training.  Each of our coaches have spent countless hours on the phone, responding to emails and reassessing and redesigning training plans based on what we can currently expect to occur.  

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With it being the beginning of the season we have found that our athletes most commonly fall into one of two categories.  Either their cancelled race was a tuneup race/”B” event, or they were a key “A” race. If your cancelled events are tune-up races there is really not much you need to adjust for.  

Typically with a tuneup race there may be a slight taper or recovery week prior to and/or after your event without a great deal of loss in training time.  This can be modified with an extention of the current training phase or even moving up the coming training phase to the next week. Once you have adjusted for those 7-14 days of recovery you are set to go.

For those of you who were keying up for an early season peak, don’t panic, your season is not over and your training has not been wasted, but there is a bit more to consider.  Here are some of the variables that must be factored in:

  1. When has your event been rescheduled for?
  2. Do you have any additional events that you wanted to be an “A” race and therefore you were planning on peaking for optimal performance?

These two questions lead to several common plans.  If there is enough time, which for many there tends to be ample time, we recommend you change your training from the specialization phase that you were in already, you can revert to a build phase of training.

If you have a second goal event, things become a bit more complicated.  You will need to gauge your current fitness, training load and time between events and determine if it is still possible to peak twice.  

This is an area where it is hard to provide you insight in an article because there are so many possibilities and “it depends” would be a blanket statement.  So, if “It depends” and you are uncertain of what to do, please reach out and we can help guide you through your training.

Goals are great, but how will you achieve them?

As athletes, we often create goals that we want to accomplish each season.  For many, these goals may often seem like a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”  Something that creates excitement, motivation, a desire to put in the time and sometimes even a bit of fear.  This is a great thing as it will take a lot to get you out of bed in the morning, focus on nutrient intake, get quality sleep and sacrifice where it is needed. 

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Once your goals are selected and you have made sure that they are SMART.  It is time to focus on the often forgotten secondary goal making process that helps you define how you are going to get there.  These secondary goals are also known as process goals.

A process goal is something that is in your control and is a methods or step to help achieve your final goal.  Here are several examples of the primary goal and then the process goals to help as stepping stones of success:

Primary Goal: Improve power at threshold (FTP) from 200 to 220 Watts this season

Process Goals:

  • Increase riding by one day per week. Totaling 4 days/week
  • Improve training effectiveness by adding interval training
  • Have a FTP of 212W by July 1st.

Primary Goal: Improve body composition to 12% body fat.

Process Goals:

  • Increase aerobic activity to burn an additional 500 calories/week
  • Add two 30 minute strength workouts weekly
  • Eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
  • No snacking after 8pm

Are you struggling to narrow down your goals?  Contact us today and we will help you with your goal selection as well as the steps that will help you accomplish them.

Is Your Training Plan Really Helping You?

Many Americans seem to base their week around the weekend. It is the time when they are off work, the time they are able to relax and, for many endurance athletes, the time they have for training. We have even coined a phrase for this.  You are the “Weekend Warrior”!  With this, our weeks turn into Monday through Sunday on repeat, and it can become difficult for many to view a training plan as anything different. 

For one moment we ask of you to think of your training plan differently.  Unless you have a work/life schedule that simply will not allow for it we challenge you to view your training plan from a 5,000ft approach vs. ground level. Analyze your plan in 14-21 day increments and gauge whether you plan could be more successful that it is using these key points. 

  • Periodization – First, ask yourself if your training is actually periodized.  You should have times where training volume, frequency and/or intensity are higher, followed by periods of recovery. This can be structured in periods as small as weekly to as large as annually.  If you are not seeing any change in intensity, volume or frequency of riding, whether it is on a day to day basis or in a block of time (10 days to 4 weeks) it is likely time to reassess your approach. 
  • Key Workouts – It is not uncommon for athletes viewing their training on a Monday – Sunday schedule to overlook the fact of how a heavy weekend of training volume may impact Monday’s or even Tuesday’s scheduled workout. So, is your training structured in such a way that it is allowing you to optimize the results of your key workouts by beginning them in a “fresh” physical state to optimize performance and ability to meet ranges and goals?
  • Recovery – Do you have training laid out so that recovery is sufficient but not overkill?  This not only includes weekly recovery but recovery periods from one training focus to the next.

By assessing your training we want you to think about what it is you are doing, are you happy with the results you are currently achieving, how your current structure is going to impact your performance and does this approach meet your goals and expectations you have for your improvement.

Are you unsure of how you can improve your training?  Contact us today and let one of our expert coaches help you plan a program for the greatest success possible!

Does Your Event Day Nutrition Suck? Create a Plan with These Tips!

Over the past several weeks it has become increasingly apparent that there is one thing that can not be discussed enough with athletes.  We have found that athletes of all experience levels including those with decades of endurance training to newer athletes, Multi time Ironman competitors to first time sprint distance triathletes; we have even recapped unfortunate race results with athletes, that are not currently working with our coaches, to come up with solutions that have lead to peak performances since then.

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What is this one thing?  Many athelete’s nutrition plans suck! We aren’t simply talking about calories here.  We are talking the whole deal. Fuel, fluid and frequency

There is one simple solution for this and it is the age old 7 P’s philosophy.  Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  

Athletes focus meticulously on specifics of the race, often over prioritize equipment selection, train diligently sacrificing sleep and family time and game plan pacing and strategy.  Somehow, through all the deliberation of event planning many overlook nutrition. The fuel that keeps you going and gets you to the finish line.

Why do so many athletes do such a depressingly poor job of this? It is more than likely because it creates fear and uncertainty.  This uncertainty creates paralysis and a nonchalant approach. 

We recommend you begin planning now. Reduce your worries and keep it simple, knowing that your original plan is likely to change during training and with trial and error.  You can begin by focusing on these key factors:

  • Begin with the most basic.  What will you eat prior to the event?
  • Total kJ burned – kJ roughly equate 1:1 to calories – If you use a HR monitor be warry of the calories it says you are burning.  They often tend to be high, sometimes up to 30%
  • Total caloric need – this is not likely to be 100% of your total burn but more than likely 40-60%. Intensity & time dependent. 90g of carbohydrate/hour is currently believed to be maximum uptake.
  • Total fluid need
  • How to achieve total calories from fluid and solids

If you are looking for more detailed information you can go to our blog on Race Day Nutrition 101 Uncertain of how to get your event day nutrition plan started?  Schedule a consultation today!

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

How to Properly Train with Heart Rate

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

HR is a Response

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

Cardiac Drift

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

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

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

Noassatall – The Plight of the Runner, and Many Americans

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

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

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

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift:

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

Race Day Nutrition 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beat Pre-Event Anxiety

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The brain is a miraculously powerful organ.  It is capable of deep thought and incredible ingenuity that has brought civilization amazing literary works, the ability for humans to fly, the Pythagorean Theorem and the Snuggy.  Unfortunately, the brain can also be a powerful device for evil, too. It has lead to the destruction of many civilizations, hurtful words and the creation of Crystal Pepsi.

Over the past years, I have seen the power of the mind be nearly debilitating for many endurance athletes.  It has created sub standard results, levels of frustration and, for some, it even creates stress that is great enough to cause vomiting.

Why is this? In an age of cell phones, emails, TPS reports and board meetings, our “fight or flight” responses have taken a bit of a turn in what they respond to.  It no longer takes a saber tooth tiger lurking in the bushes to trigger our sympathetic response. It is now these new stressors that create our “fight or flight,” and, for athletes, a big race is the reason for the dump of norepinepherine and epinepherine getting both our bodies and minds jacked and ready to go for broke in an all out fight to the death.

Variables such as upbringing, personality, life experiences and even ethnicity and gender can change our reaction. The important thing is how can we counteract these high levels of anxiety and stress, and turn what would be a negative into a positive, performance enhancing result.  Here are several steps we recommend you try to start and then fine tune to your specific needs:

Acknowledge the Stress – Remember: this is your body’s way of preparing for battle! These chemicals that have been released are preparing you for your best performance yet and your interpretation of this stress has an impact on the final outcome.

Refocus the Stress – Your heart rate is elevated and you have a pit in your stomach, but you can still take control.  The key is to turn this negative impacting force into something positive and you can do that by:

  • shutterstock_449081995.jpg#asset:295Positive self talk- It doesn’t have to be complex, something as simple as, “I am ready for this race and I will do great!” on repeat in your head, or even out loud, could be enough to recenter you and get you under control.
  • Developing Self Confidence – Rely on your past experiences to solidify your confidence in your ability to compete/complete the event.  You can draw on previous positive race experiences or even amazing training workouts that drove home the fact you are physically prepared.
  • Distraction – This can be a bit more difficult to accomplish because setting, people and scenarios change but if you have a person (spouse, significant other or friend) that you often travel with to events they can provided a nice added distraction.  Getting lost in music on your headphones can be a helpful options and with the right play list it can help to get you excited to race.
  • Focus on the details within your control – There are many factors on event day that you have no ability to control.  Events starting on time, weather, traffic or other people’s actions are far from your control, but you can own so many other key variables.  These include things like the time you leave for the event, the food you eat, your clothing selection and the condition of your equipment. Some of these may take preparation leading up to the event, but you will know that you have your details under control.

Have a plan – For many athletes, battling pre-race anxiety it is not a one time occurrence.  It has happened over and over again. It reduces expected performance, causes a lack of confidence in ability and, in worst cases, it is event ending.  If this is you, it is important to create a plan prior to race day. You know what you are likely to experience on event day, so it is time to create a plan for your day.  Keep in mind things such as: Food, travel, equipment, clothing, meditation, warm-up and hydration. The plans for each person can be very different, much like training, but it is important to create and then fine tune a plan for yourself.

Are you struggling to find a way to conquer your pre-event anxiety?  Let one of our coaches help you build both the physical and mental strength you need to succeed.