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!

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.