Is A Noseless Saddle Right For You?

In the last ten years, we have seen an increasing trend in saddle manufacturers to create a short or no nose saddle.  These saddles originated in Pro Tour TTs as athletes began cutting the nose of saddles off to make their seat fore/aft position meet UCI regulations. It later caught traction in triathlon due to the improved comfort and is now prominent in the road and off-road scenes.

Many cyclists wonder, “Will a noseless saddle work for me?” Here are some changes you might see if you switch to this saddle style.

Aggressive position

In this situation, the wider front of a noseless saddle provides greater support of the ischial rami and helps to alleviate numbness in many circumstances.

Further forward saddle position

Most riders sit further forward on a noseless saddle. This naturally moves the rider forward in relation to the saddle rails and provides an increased forward placement of the rider.

No more irritation from the saddle nose

For some cyclists the longer nose of a traditional saddle has a tendency to get in the way. By switching to a noseless saddle you can reduce chaffing in both the thigh and groin.

Curious about your bike saddle and how it affects the way you ride your bike? Learn more about our bike fitting services where we can dial in your saddle, cleats and cockpit for the ultimate riding experience.

MythBusters: Sport Edition

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln

If you didn’t just chuckle out loud, read that first line again. It’s so easy to trust the quotes, articles, and images that are served up to us online, including those about sport! As we scroll through our social media apps and click through our emails, you might see something and think, “Is that for real?” 

You’re not alone! Coach Brady spotted this social media ad last week and it made him say, “Huh?” 

He sat down to fact check this social media ad. Here’s his feedback:

“In the image and the description, the company states that pressure is put on the ‘pubis bone’ due to the necessary rotation of the pelvis for an aero/triathlon position. 

It is true that we do have to rotate our pelvis forward in the aero position. It is also true that certain saddles and a bike fit that includes that saddle can help you avoid discomfort.

What’s misleading here is the idea that your rotation would be extreme enough that your weight and pressure is supported by the pubic symphysis (pubic bone.) That would result in a contact point in front of your genitals. This would not only be uncomfortable but very awkward from a positional standpoint. Ouch! 

The change that actually occurs when we move to this position is from our ischial tuberosity on to the inferior rami of the ischium.”


 

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!

A Different Spin on Fast Pedal Drills

The early season, for many athletes, is a time to build aerobic capacity, improve inefficiencies or fine tune form.  One, very common method of improvement that cyclists and triathletes use is fast pedal drills. I am certain the vast majority of you reading right now are, not only familiar with these drills, but have more than likely done them yourself.

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Fast pedals often consist of very high cadence, 120+rpm pedaling, for 30-120 seconds.  In these drills it is usually recommended that athletes pedal up to a cadence where they begin to bounce in the saddle and then slightly lower pedaling cadence down until bouncing stops.

“Why do this?” you may ask. The most common goal is to help athletes increase average cadence and smooth out the biomechanics of the pedal stroke.

Getting nerdy:

Ultimately the factor in improving pedaling biomechanics is to improve neuromuscular efficiency.  This increase in efficiency is caused by an improved synchronization of motor unit firing (think muscles working in unison) and an improved ability to recruit motor units (think force production).  In the end this leads to more efficient muscular contractions and more forceful contractions when needed.  

With this goal in mind, I believe that it may be time you rethink your fast pedal approach.  Instead of what you have done previously I recommend you try high cadence pedaling intervals.  Where cadence is a factor as well as load. These intervals would be as follows:

5×6 minutes @ 88-90% of FTP

10RPM above your “comfortable” cadence

To properly train the body we are looking at not only the neuromuscular level but the entire system must be working in unison.  My concern for many is that as cadence increases to the extremes biomechanics deteriorates and therefore muscle recruitment is not optimal.. If we go back to the old Vince Lombardi quote that “Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect” then fast pedals may be going about it all wrong. 

Don’t just have goals, come up with SMART goals!

Often times, goals are picked without all of the considerations in mind.  Use the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method to help try and select your goals for your future events, or even in life.

Specific – Picking a goal that is clear and well defined will increase your likelihood of achieving your goal.  So, instead of a goal of “Improved performance,” chose something like “FTP of 250W,” or “I want to perform 5 workouts per week at a minimum of 60 minutes each, with two of them being an interval focus”  Both of these goals keep in mind where you are currently at and where you want to be in the near future.

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Measureable – A measurable goal allows you to track your progress, have bench marks and allows you to base success on something tangible.  The Specific goals that were given in the previous point are perfect examples of this. You can track whether or not you achieved each of these at the conclusion

Attainable – Keep your goals challenging but realistic.  If you are new to triathlon and have only run a 5k, cycled 15 miles and do not know how to swim it may not be in your best interest to want to set a goal to race a sub 11 hour Ironman in the next 12 months. 

Relevant – Make sure these fit in with what is happening in the rest of your life and will support the rest of your life goals.  As an endurance athlete with a lofty goal of an ultra marathon, having a secondary goal of joining the local crossfit box and doing 4 workouts a week does not support your initial goal.

Time Bound – You need to have a deadline to achieve your goals.  Think of when you were in school. Often times that paper that was due in a month was done the night before or the days leading up to it.  In this instance though you are not able to cram for success or possibly even completion.

As you are looking through your goals be sure that they are something that inspires and excites you.  If the gain or potential result is not great enough to lead you to sacrifice in the necessary areas it may require then you are far less likely to achieve what you want.


Do you have your SMART goals already selected?  Make sure your process goals are in line to steer you in the right direction and help improve your rate of success!

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!

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.

Losing Power but Gaining Speed

Recently, an article was posted regarding the loss in power production of cyclists when they transition from a position on the hood to aerobars.  Among bike fit specialists and many high level cyclists, this is nothing new. It is common knowledge that the position of a time trial or triathlon bike is less bio-mechanically efficient than a road bicycle.  The goal with this position is not to increase a rider’s power output. It is to optimize the balance of efficiency and aerodynamics.

Blog-Twitter.png#asset:311The key point here is that you, as an athlete, should be able to spend as much time in this position as possible.  If you are striving for a very “aggressive” aerodynamic position, it may take time for you to adapt. Unfortunately, we too often see people riding on the horns of their bars because they are uncomfortable in the aero position.  If you have been in the same position for more than 6 months on your TT/Triathlon bike, it is time to reassess your position.

Why is that the case?  Any time that you are out of the aerobars, you lose the vast majority of the purpose and function of your bike.  The other reason this is very important is because the recruitment of muscles is very different from the horns to the aerobars.  We are not only speaking of leg muscle recruitment (quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes,) but also the utilization of neck, shoulder and back muscle recruitment that is varied by this position.

You can read the original article here.

Have questions about your bike position? Our expert bike fit specialists are here to help you get comfortable. Contact us today about a bike fit.

How to Sync Garmin with Training Peaks

t’s one of the top questions we get from our athletes: “Hey Coach, how do I connect my Garmin watch data with my TrainingPeaks account?”

Garmin GPS watches and bike computers are some of the most popular pieces of technology for cyclists, runners, and triathletes. We encourage our SoS athletes to use these small, but mighty gadgets to provide us with data from their workouts. For us to truly understand the results of your training, we must link up your Training Peaks account with your Garmin account. Here’s how!

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Garmin provides an autosync function which will do all the work for you once it is enabled. Everytime you upload a workout, it will automagically upload to TrainingPeaks as well.

Setting Up Autosync

  1. Ensure you know the login for both your GarminConnect and TrainingPeaks accounts.
  2. Click here and click the button that says ‘Autosync Now.’
  3. Select ‘I have past activities in Garmin Connect’ if you have been using your Garmin product in the past. Select ‘I’m starting fresh’ if you have a brand new device or do not wish to share old workouts on to Training Peaks.
  4. Login to TrainingPeaks when prompted.
  5. Login to Garmin Connect when prompted.
  6. Read through the terms of service and click “I consent.”
  7. Woohoo! Your accounts are now connected.

To see the results of the connection, go complete a workout with a device and sync your new workout to Garmin Connect. This upload will immediately sync to TrainingPeaks and trigger all past activities to be synced as well. In about a week, all of your past activities will begin to appear in TrainingPeaks.

Curious about how combining these two tools with the power of custom coaching can help you unlock your potential? Reach out to our coaches today to learn more.

Coach Brady’s Albany Half Marathon Recap

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

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

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

The Plan

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

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

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

The Journey

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

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

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

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

The Result

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Go Commando!

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

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

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

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