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!

Training Insanity: New Season, Same Training Plan as Last Year

nsanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Albert EinsteinYear after year, person after person, we see many athletes doing the exact same thing.  They log their base miles, begin their steady intensity, join in on the exact same group rides and then slowly build up to an event.  Some athletes participate in the exact same event –which may be a century, a bike race or something as grandiose as an Ironman triathlon.  With the thought of the same course or same type of intensity, we know of some athletes who even utilize the exact same training plan year, after year, after year, after… 

Modify training for faster results

well, you get the point!  . Much like Einstein had his definition for insanity this is ours for training insanity.  In 2016, we want you to challenge your status quo. We want you to test your limits. We want you to reach new goals.  Over the years we have found a rhythm with our coaching, and that rhythm is as ever-developing as our athletes physical abilities. Our approaches to increasing performance and fitness must change and adapt.  The workouts might be similar in philosophy and name, but the timing, frequency and quantity are always modified to help each athlete reach their peak performance in that moment in time. So, have you just come off of your base training?  Are you looking at an mid season event where you hope to perform well?  What are you doing now to guarantee the best results for that event?  We hope it isn’t the same thing that you did last year! No matter if you are a triathlete, a cyclist, a runner or a general fitness enthusiast looking to shed a few pounds, we challenge all of you to break that insanity loop and mix your early season training up with one of these workouts:

RUN: THRESHOLD LADDER

Warm up: 5 minutes (rpe:5/10) 4×7:30 Run Ladder w/5min RBI: 2min Steady State Run (rpe: 7/10), 2min Tempo Run (rpe: 8/10), 30sec Fartlek Run (rpe: 9/10), 1min Tempo Run (rpe: 8/10), 2min Steady State Run (rpe: 7/10) Cool down: 10min (rpe:5/10)

BIKE: VO2 INTERVALS

Warm up: 10-15 minutes at Endurance pace(rpe:5/10) with several 30 second Threshold Intervals (rpe:8/10) Intervals: 8x2minute VO2 intervals (rpe:10/10) w/2min RBI

  • Be sure that these are a maximal effort from the very start. Your legs might fatigue but that is no reason to decrease the intensity.

Cool down: 5-10 minutes

  • Take ample time to allow for heart rate to slow and your core temperature to decrease.
BREAK YOUR TRAINING INSANITY LOOP AND CHANGE YOUR TRAINING PLAN DESIGN WITH ONE OF OUR STATIC PLANS OR CUSTOM COACHING PACKAGES!

Power Meters

Investing in the Efficiency of Your Training

SRM Power meter 1980s

By now, you have probably heard of a cycling power meter.  With the dramatic decrease in average costs of power meters, they are becoming much more mainstream.  What might surprise you is that these devices have been used since the mid-1980’s.  Their first public appearance was at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Canada where the German National team used SRM’s first crank based system.  What then looked more like a medieval torture device (they might still be described as such) was attached to many of the track racers bikes.

Since their early introduction, a great deal has been learned about these devices and how we can better utilize the data that they provide to improve training efficiency.  Here are a handful of the ways you will find a power meter can improve your training if you chose to take the next step.

Accurate tracking of improvement – Unlike heart rate with its wide array of variables, power is much more consistent.  Where heart rate is your body’s response to the work that has been completed (delayed by up to 60 seconds), power is the actual amount of work that is being created.  This work-based response takes factors out of the equation to give more consistent verification of current improvement.

More precise training ranges – For those who have been using heart rate for years, your first workout with a power meter will immediately show you that your workouts just became harder!  Why is that you ask? As mentioned previously, heart rate is a response to the work that has been done.  With cardiac drift as a factor involved with sustained efforts, you will quickly notice that workload stays consistent but heart rate gradually increases.  Remember heart rate is a response to the work you have done — power is the actual work.

Caloric expenditure –  You might be ecstatic that you just went out for a ride and your Garmin paired with your heart rate monitor is telling you that you burned 1100 calories.  Now, it is time to go out and eat that 22oz steak, drink a bottle of wine or guzzle a bunch of amazing craft beer. It’s the perfect moment to eat that 1100 calorie dessert at your local go to restaurant, right?  NOT SO FAST!  Pair that same workout with a power meter and you might find that your Garmin has been calculating your calorie burn inaccurately —  150% inaccurately.  You’ll be dismayed to find out that you only clocked in at 650 calories in reality.  Why the difference?  Power measures work done and uses an equation that provides a more accurate gauge of calorie burn.

Gauging extended efforts – For many endurance events like time trials, triathlons, centuries or the popular gravel grinders, effort is everything! Getting from Point A to Point B as quickly and effectively as possible is what ultimately results in optimal performance.  With proper training using a cycling power meter, sufficient data can be collected and analyzed to calculate the best effort range for your optimal performance.

Now, the question is what brand do you go with. Our coaches have used many power meters over the years and we feel that several provide great data to help you reach your goals.  Consider a Stages Cycling Power meter, a SRM Power meter, Quarq Power meter, or one of the PowerTap line of power meters.  They each have their own benefits and drawbacks, but each of these will provide you with great data to improve your accuracy.

Pair your Science of Speed Coaching with a power meter and receive a discount!  You’ll receive the highest quality training and the top training devices on the market at a great price.

Presentation: Recovery for triathletes, runners and cyclist

Maintenance is as Important as Training

On Monday evening Coach Brady presented to the Gulf Winds Triathletes, in Tallahassee, Florida, on many of the modalities or methods of recovery.  In this discussion many things were 

Tallahassee Florida Triathlon coach

reviewed from the simple details of sleep and hydration to more uncommon methods such as cryotherapy (more to come later on this) and technological methods of increasing your rate of recovery. With a room of nearly 60 people in attendance it was a great opportunity for questions to be fielded and a large amount of learning to occur for many athletes who were newer to the sport.  Thank you to Gulf Winds Triathletes for allowing us this opportunity and an even larger thanks to the captive audience! Do you not live in Tallahassee, Florida and/or were not able to attend?  Sign up here to get the unabridged notes!

Science of Speed Partners with Raptor Aquatic Club Elite

Science of Speed is excited about our recent partnership with Raptor Aquatic Club 

Triathlon Swim Coach

Elite (RACE) and its swimmers. Our expert triathlon and swim coach, Patrick Valentine, spent an extended weekend in December in Panama City working one on one with this select group of athletes. The weekend kicked off with a dry land workout teaching new skills,  which will serve as a cornerstone to turning each individual into well rounded athletes and not just swimmers, and providing instrumental feedback on proper technique. The following two days were spent working solely on stroke refinement and drills to properly breakdown each element of every athlete’s swim stroke helping to create proper habits for better swimming. Part of the process in educating each athlete included above water and below water video analysis to effectively provide each athlete with visuals of what their 

Panama City Swim coaching

strengths and weaknesses currently were, and how that compared with elite swimmers in the US.The weekend came to a close with the RACE swimmers heading North to swim at a natatorium that holds a great deal of national and international fame, the home of the Auburn Tigers. With the recent stroke work and training techniques the meet served as a great starting point to see how the practice habits transferred to a race scenario. We were just as excited as the athletes to see some fantastic swims including multiple personal best times with the majority of athletes swimming as fast as they have all year long. This marked a great foundation in the relationship between RACE and SoS, and just as importantly the runway for many successful seasons to come. Be on the lookout for these swimmers over the years to come! If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a better swimmer, whether to improve technique or to take you to the center state of the sport, please contact us. We are happy to setup an individual or a group setting to work on stroke development to fit your needs.

Selecting your next Cycling or Triathlon Short

For the Fashionista or Bike Snob a new pair of cycling or triathlon shorts is an exciting thing.  Accessorizing can be one of the most enjoyable for things for them to do with some spare money and some fun time.  For many though, the thought of spending $100 or more dollars on a pair of cycling shorts is a frightful thing but it is one of the largest parts to improving your comfort on your bike.  Here are a few key things to consider when you are debating whether your shorts are in need of replacement and what route you need to take when selecting your next cycling or triathlon short:

  1. Elasticity – A snug fitting short is imperative for comfort.  If they twist and shift while you ride you increase your susceptibility to chaffing and saddle sores.  If your shorts are baggy in the legs (unless you are a small child – hard to find sizes small enough) they are worn out! IMMEDIATELY walk over to a trash can,  throw them away and go buy a new pair of shorts now.
  2. Thickness of material – Cycling shorts are not supposed to be see through and honestly no one wants to stare at your crack for hours on a group ride.  Result: Go buy new shorts!
  3. Chamois – This is the padding in your cycling short. It is what gives you a great deal of comfort or discomfort if improperly selected. Over time this padding “packs” or compresses and because of this it does not offer the same level of comfort also. Be sure you find one with minimal seams and smooth stitching around the edges. The newer and higher quality chamois is actually made of one piece of foam with varying thicknesses throughout. They are seamless and very comfortable.

Bibs or shorts – Consider bibs. We can almost guarantee that if you go to bib shorts you will never return to a standard short. They might look a bit like a wrestling singlet but the comfort they offer is worth it! For the ladies they can be more difficult for nature breaks but the newer “drop tail” bibs help reduce this challenge.

  1. Quantity/number of weekly rides – If you ride more than twice weekly you need to have more than one pair of shorts. Save yourself the hassle of having to wash your shorts for every ride and take the chance at trying out several different shorts/chamois.
  2. Don’t Skimp! Cycling shorts can be expensive but are worth the money. Higher priced shorts typically result in a longer lasting short and a higher quality chamois.

Ultimately know that a pair of shorts, dependent upon quality, can last anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 miles. Keep in mind they are an investment in your body’s comfort.  Higher priced shorts have greater technology including the chamois, shaping, quality of material and the shorts effectiveness at keeping your bodies temperature at more normal levels.

Improve Bike Performance:

Threshold Intervals

We talk a great deal about the importance of intervals and how they make the most out of limited amounts of training time but they can also make you a much stronger athlete.  We have seen it come true for so many athletes that we are not only confident in the success rate of intervals, we are sure that they will help to improve bike performance for you as well.

How do you Improve your bike performance?

A great deal of the “how,” comes down to what your specific goal is.  Are you a Triathlete searching for the ability to grind out hours of smooth tempo?  Are you a road racer searching for the ability to hold a high sustained effort?  You might be an “Average Joe,” just like in Dodgeball, like so many trying to hang on to the “B” group in your local ride!  If you fall in to any of the three categories we have a great solution for you to reach your goals. Threshold Intervals are a great way to improve your bike performance.  These intervals are sustained efforts at intensities just below and right up to your Threshold Power/Heart Rate.  They can vary considerably in length based upon a riders fitness but ultimately they allow you to perform a great deal of intensity without requiring excessive amounts of recovery time. The ultimate goal of these intervals is to train your body to become more efficient at buffering, or getting rid of, the wastes that accumulate under sustained moderate intensity.   Are you looking to take your performance to a higher level? Get a fully customized training plan from your own personal Science of Speed Coach.  LEARN MORE

SAMPLE WORKOUT:

Warmup:

10-20 minutes (dependent upon rider preference)

Intervals:

8 minute Threshold intervals

4 minute rest

8 minute Threshold intervals

4 minute rest

8 minute Threshold intervals

4 minute rest

8 minute Threshold intervals

Cool Down:

10-15minAre you new to training or on a little tighter budget? Consider one of our static training plans to help you improve your performance!

How to Use Your Heart Rate Monitors and Power Meters More Effectively

n my years of running, riding, training, racing and coaching I have had the experience to come across thousands of people who own heart rate monitors and power meters.  As I became more versed in training, physiology and how each device could be best utilized I realized that at best 5% of the people who have these amazing aids are underutilizing the full power of the tools they have at their hands.  The simple question of “What is your power at threshold?” or “What is your heart rate threshold?” has often led to blank stares.  If you have a Garmin or Polar heart rate monitor or one of the many power meters that are out there and you feel that you fall into this stereotype let us help you get started with more accurate training.

Test your Fitness:

Use your HR monitor and Power Meter to their fullest

Without a baseline it is difficult to know where the current fitness level is which helps you know where to begin.  This baseline number is achieved through testing which can be done with a field test or in a lab test, like a lactate threshold test.  At SoS, one of the ways we have our athletes gauge fitness is by performing 2 field test efforts that are 10 minutes in length.  We have found that the numbers these two efforts produce are very accurate.

Create Training Ranges:

Training ranges allow you, as an athlete, to know how to more effectively utilize your training tool.  Based on the numbers that you produce during your testing you can create training ranges.  These numbers are used to help you focus on precise energy systems that the body utilizes during century rides, triathlons or bike races.

Training:

The testing has been done, the ranges have been created and now it is the utilization of those ranges.  Dependent upon what your goals and ambitions are will determine what you do with these ranges.  If you are looking at gaining some fitness but don’t really want to do intervals you can use it on your rides to gauge your intensity effort.  If you are looking for improvements, and fast, this will give you the best gauge of where your intensity needs to be.  Whether it is with the knowledge of a coach or your own knowledge, the amount of time that you need to stay at each intensity level is the other key factor in this equation.

How to Use your HR monitor or Power Meter

Think of these new ranges as a tachometer in a car.  If you are working with a Formula 1 engine and are going off of numbers for a Toyota Corolla you are not stressing the body enough, inversely, if you are working with the Formula 1 numbers and have a Corolla engine things will catastrophically fail.Now, GO, test and train!  If you are not sure of how to do this we can help.  Whether it be our knowledgeable coaching staff or our lab to perform lactate threshold and VO2max testing we can steer you in the direction to improve the usage of your training tools.

Harden the BRICK Up!

Rose City TriRose City Tri Taylor Shiver, Lance Parker, Jeff Drawdy, Trevor Marshall, Joe Porter and John Bennett[/caption] Thanks to all the Rose City Triathletes who turned out on a chilly Saturday in Thomasville for our first brick workout! Despite the temperature, Joe, Taylor, Jeff, Lance and John showed up bright and early, ready to work.  We had favorable winds on the 11mi rolling bike course and by the time we started the 3mi run the sun finally started to warm things up a bit. After finishing the run, we had a brief Q&A on topics ranging from pacing, riding position, hydration, stretching to recovery. 

 Special thanks to Melissa Thompson who, even though she’s still waiting on her brand new Trek Speed Concept and had no bike to ride still came out just to show her support. Next workout will be Saturday, March 15th in Tallahassee. 9am start. Course map for bike and for run

Structural Maintenance: Good Plan, Better Body, Best Athlete:

Continuing our  “Good Plan, Better Body, Best Athlete” series, this month’s article focuses on structural maintenance, specifically the benefits of massage and chiropractic care. As an athlete you can get a lot of benefits from regular massage including improved blood flow to muscles, improvement in nutrient absorption, clearing metabolic waste, reducing muscle and connective tissue tension, improving elasticity and stress relief. Chiropractic adjustments keep the body’s skeletal system properly aligned, greatly reducing the postural issues that are so common amongst cyclists. Endurance athletes in general are especially good candidates for massage and chiropractic adjustment, due to the long and repetitive training hours they put in week after week throughout the year. Because of the long hours required for endurance sports, recovery often falls by the wayside but, it is absolutely essential for improvement, performance and injury prevention throughout the year.   What all that actually means: -Improved Blood Flow / Nutrient Absorption / Clearing Waste Tight muscles restrict blood flow to those fibers, which reduces oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles as well as the removal of waste products that are produced during exercise. In addition to simply feeling sore this also means your body’s efficiency during exercise is greatly reduced because your muscles are not receiving the fuel they need in order to perform. Deep Tissue or Sports Massage restores blood flow by pushing the blood back to the heart and stretching out that tightened tissue that is restricting blood flow restrict the returning blood flow. As tight muscle fibers relax the blood can now flow freely throughout, bringing in oxygen and nutrients and carrying the waste out. -Reduced Tension and Increased Elasticity Tension is due in part to waste build-up from lactic acid and also to tight muscles because of the fixed posture that is held during cycling. Muscles will shorten over time if they are not used in their full range of motion and the cycling posture is very restrictive (see last month’s article on stretching for more on this) Massage stretches out, not only the muscles themselves, but the connective tissue that surrounds them. Known as fascia, this connective tissue surrounds muscle fiber and bodies as well as muscle groups almost like seran wrap throughout the body. When the body isn’t properly stretched and hydrated, fascia begins to shrink and bind resulting in “tight spots”. -Cortisol  (the “stress hormone”) Your body needs to be stressed to make performance gains but it also needs rest in order to ultimately achieve those gains. Intense training without proper rest can result in elevated levels of Cortisol.  Cortisol causes your body to release stored carbohydrates and fats for immediate use enabling you to use all your body’s energy in one go. Cortisol can make you feel tired, rundown and moody, even after a day of rest.  It is one of the hormones responsible for the “fight or flight” response our bodies undergo when placed in high-stress situations. Whether it’s an important job interview, race, or being chased by a pack of rabid dogs, the response is the same. In small doses this is a good thing. If your body is unable to lower the cortisol and it continues to build however, the results can be disastrous from a training and performance perspective.  It has also been linked to reduced immune system function. Literally making you sick and tired through overtraining. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic response, the opposite of  “fight or flight” and has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. John Engelbrecht, D.C., is a chiropractor, cyclist, and triathlete in Tallahassee.  His practice, Engelbrecht Chiropractic & Rehabilitation can be found on the web at doctorjohndc.com and by phone (850)668-7062. As a chiropractor, he has treated a number of cyclists from serious competitors to recreational riders and has found they all have common issues related to their sport. Here’s what he says about back pain and the benefits of regular adjustments: “As a cyclist we’ve all experienced that nagging pain between the shoulder blades and the tightness that goes along with it.  Maybe you are training for a triathlon and are logging hours in the aerobars.  Maybe you are trying out new hand positions on your handlebars or did a long pull at the front of the pack.  Either way, there is nothing quite like that annoyance. Fortunately, chiropractic adjustments can help to relieve those symptoms in as little as 5 minutes.  The thoracic spine, or midback, provides the structural support for our upper body and shoulder regions.  When we stress that region through our various cycling activities, oftentimes the spine becomes misaligned and the supporting musculature tightens and spasms to protect the area.  A simple and painless chiropractic adjustment to the misaligned thoracic vertebra can eliminate that pain and offer immediate relief.  Regular maintenance adjustments during your peak training months can also help prevent that pain from occurring at all.  Adding regular chiropractic adjustments to your training regimen leads to happier, more comfortable training and a better race day performance.” Whether you’re training for a weekend crit or the Tour de France, receiving regular maintenance anywhere from once a month to once a week (pre and/or post event) can greatly enhance recovery and improve performance.  Just like your bike, your body needs regular “tune-ups” in order to continue functioning at it’s best.  Make sure your therapist is qualified to do the work you need, specializing in Sports Massage or Deep Tissue. Communicate your needs before the session begins and during don’t hesitate to ask your therapist and/or doctor to spend a little more time on a particular spot if you feel you need it. Your therapist and/or doctor will appreciate the feedback as it will help them give you the best treatment possible.