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.

SoS Coach, Patrick Valentine, on the Podium at Xterra Curt Gowdy!

It is about time!

Wow it has been quite awhile since my last blog post. Here is to a better consistency of updates on my race season. Well last weekend I finally felt like I was back in action with my first Xterra since May of 2012 over 13 months ago! Which race you ask? 2013 Xterra Curt Gowdy!I know what you are thinking were in the world is Curt Gowdy. That my friends is a fabulous question! Curty Gowdy State Park is a hidden gem in midst of the wide open spaces of Wyoming, sitting between Laramie and Cheyenne. To give you a small glimpse of what real wide open spaces look like, here is a shot of the drive to the park race morning.

Race day was absolutely beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and temperature were moderate to warm, much better that they were supposedly last year when the race took place a month later in the year. I was actually nervous for the swim for once as I have only had about 8 swims under my belt since my last triathlon. But luckily working hard the last two to three weeks must have paid off. A couple of Honey Stinger Waffles and chews and I was on my way. I ended up coming out of the water in 1st place with a time of around 16 minutes for a 1200 meter swim. Not a bad start to the morning that is for sure.

Now on to the fun part, the mountain bike! The bike course was rated as a 2009 IMBA Epic Trail system. Basically, that means you better get your butt up here and ride this place because you are missing out on some great singletrack. That also means they have created the trails for mountain bikers by mountain bikers, leading to a fantastic segment of trails to ride on race day. I don’t know what I was most excited about riding my mountain bike fast or getting to try out my new GIRO Helmet and Oakley sunglasses!

I know that words don’t do the course too much just, so here is a snippet of what the course map and ride profile entailed.

After only riding for 67 minutes the bike course was over, quite a shame too as I was just starting to have some fun. However, it was time to wipe the little kid grin off my face and get to the run. Luckily, I had a solid bike with the 2nd fastest time overall and came into T2 in second place only a little over a minute down from 1st.Now for the not so fun part, the RUN! I was a bit worried about the run because I haven’t spend that much time doing actual running. Mainly just riding my mountain bike and having a good old time. That being said I buckled down and hit the first mile hard hoping to wake my legs up from the 13 month hibernation.

The rolling terrain, lack of shade, and the sun beating down on me started to take its toll. On the uphills I tried to just keep one foot in front of the other. However, having a vast array of slick rock incorporated into the singletrack truly made this one of the more exciting runs I have ever done. I just tried to take off and let loose on the downhills and keep my pace up as high as possible. I was pleased to hold off everyone on the run. This my friends is a milestone and step in the right direciton. Because usually I try to just minimize the damage and count the people that are flying by me like I am sitting still. Not today though folks came in at 2nd place overall! This was definitely a great start to the race season and has really recharged my batteries to get some good training during Emma’s nap times.

Big thanks to some of the great folks that are supporting me this season, and helped me through my first race of the year. Honey Stinger, Osprey Packs, Big Agnes, BAP, Oakley, Giro Sports Design, LifeProof, The Adrenalin Project!Next up………….Xterra Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek, COFollow Coach Patrick Here!

Form, Running and Science

Science of Speed, Newton Running Company and Capital City Runners are joining up to provide Tallahassee with a FREE premier running form clinic. Proper running form can increase performance and greatly reduce overuse injuries. Oh, and did we mention that Ironman Texas Female Champion Rachel Joyce will be in attendance. So what will the night entail? Capital City Runner’s owner Kevin Sullivan will discuss how a shoe that is fitted to an individual’s biomechanics can reduce overuse injuries by placing the foot and ankle into the proper alignment. When the foot and ankle are placed into the proper alignment, the knees, hips and back are placed into a better alignment as well, reducing angular stresses at those joints which can lead to many overuse injuries. He will briefly discuss the differences between a traditional running shoe and a minimalist running shoe and the difference between a neutral and stability running shoe. Following a discussion on shoe mechanics, Science of Speed’s Alex Smyth will assist Stephen Pifer from Newton Running Company in taking the group through Newton’s Run Form Clinic. A running form clinic put on by Newton focuses on three things; Posture, Position and Cadence.

  • Posture: Find your proper posture by standing straight and tall, relaxing your shoulders, and looking to the horizon.
  • Position: Level your hips and slightly flex your knees and ankles. Relax your arms and bend them 45 to 90 degrees at the elbow.
  • Cadence: Run in place, with your feet landing as close to your body as possible. Notice how you land relaxed and use your whole foot. Your stride will lengthen as you increase speed, but your cadence should be between 170 and 190 steps/minute for most running speeds. Stride lengthens with improved core strength and stability.

To conclude the evening’s festivities, there will be a Q & A with Professional Triathlete and Ironman Texas Female Champion, Rachel Joyce.   Bonuses:

  • Raffle for a FREE VO2 Max or Lactate Threshold test from Science of Speed.
  • Raffle for a FREE pair of Newton running shoes Capital City Runners and Newton Running Company.
  • Demo pairs of the Gravity running shoe from Newton Running Company to try-on and use during the form clinic.
  • Free food and drinks

So who are these companies? Science of Speed is a Tallahassee based endurance coaching and exercise testing company that uses human physiology and research proven training to personalize and individualize each athlete’s training. Newton Running Company is “a company that exists to inspire the world to run better.” They are a company of runners, teachers, philanthropists and much more. Newton has researched and designed their shoes to provide responsive cushioning and ground-feel to help runners rediscover and strengthen their natural running motion. Capital City Runners is Tallahassee’s premier running store that uses human biomechanics and video analysis to properly fit everyone in the shoe that is right for them. They strive to support, educate and challenge people of all ages to adopt a healthy life style and experience the satisfaction that comes with it.

Killer Abs and a Weak Core:

Becoming a Well Balanced Athlete

So many people dream of that flat stomach and a shredded six pack and do thousands of crunches trying to improve their core strength.  There is one fundamental flaw for this thought process however.  Many people spend their days hunched over their computer at work, slouching in the chairs we sit in and for triathletes and cyclists alike, spare time is spent laid out over their favorite bike.  This routine leads to the rectus abdominis (abs) being worked frequently and many other important stabilizing muscles neglected.  The problem with this neglect is that it leads to an imbalance of weak stabilizing muscles and an underdeveloped core.  So what?  As endurance athletes our core is what stabilizes the rest of our body to do the work that we are constantly demanding of it.  Whether you are on the bike, running or in the pool your core is providing a platform for the extremities to work from and if this is weak we limit our performances before they ever begin. The important part is to remember what all your “core” is composed of.  Not only is it the muscles of the stomach but also the back, neck, obliques, hip flexors, glutes, erector spinae and hip abductors/adductors that are in need of attention and strengthening as well.  There are many workouts that have been designed to help target these specific muscle groups but the sample workouts below are focused on a handful of them that will work the majority of these groups. Try these strengthening exercises after your next workout and begin becoming a more well rounded athlete Plank– Laying on your stomach lift your body off the ground and support your weight with your elbows and forearms.  body should remain straight with knees on the ground.  Hold for 30 seconds each time.Supine Glute push up- Laying on your back with your feet on a medicine ball lift your hips off the ground while keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor.Rotational crunch-  Assume the standard crunch position with your feet flat on the ground.  Raise shoulders off the ground until torso is at a 45 degree angle to the ground.  Rotate upper body 45 degrees to each side (hands should go from one side of body to the other.Side bridge- Laying on your side, Support your body with your forearm and elbow.  Be sure to keep body in a straight line.Bicycles- Laying on your back in a standard crunch position, raise your feet off the ground by bending at the hips.  Make a circular motion in the air with your feet like you are pedaling a bicycle. -Brady IrwinSubscribe to our mailing list

Find a New Peak by Adding Some Intensity in Your Training

After a long winter many cyclist and triathletes will look back at the hours of tapping out a steady rhythm on the pedals for hours at a time accumulating base miles.  With the warmer weather approaching in many regions in the U.S.  there will be races and events for each and everyone to participate in if you haven’t already.  The one thing that has been neglected for months, if not longer for some, is our high end intensity.  VO2 work is not the most pleasant thing to do and I think that is probably why many of you have been avoiding it for so long, however, the gains that you can see from it is often very eye opening to many! I have had many of my athletes log in to look at their schedules and see a solid block of VO2 work and the next thing that usually happens is my phone starts ringing.  First they tend to start off with a half serious question of, “Are you trying to kill me?!” which is then followed with, “My event doesn’t have me doing this sort of intensity, so I don’t need to do this.”  Yep, you may be right… In your century, or Ironman you probably won’t spend a great deal of time at VO2 but that does not mean that you can not see added benefits from these workouts.  Not only can you see increases in lactate threshold through these workouts but you are also raising the ceiling of your ability level both physically and mentally!  So, consider upping the intensity and increasing your power on the bike. When doing VO2 work there are several things to consider:

  1. Achieve the greatest benefit for the time you are putting in.  A perceived exertion of 10/10 achieves the greatest effort (peak and fade) as opposed to maintaining a consistently high power (plateau).
  2. Be sure to get enough time in of interval work:  15minutes of VO²max training has been shown in research to be the minimum amount of time to achieve significant results.
  3. Don’t stretch out the recovery:  Whether you are measuring on distance traveled or power don’t increase recovery when you see the numbers start to become less and less.  Keep up the maximal effort and finish strong.  1:1 recovery is optimal
  4. Don’t go off of your heart rate:  Heart rate has a lag time to it because it is your bodies response to the work being done so if you are shooting for a maximal heart rate you will more than likely not reach it.

Sample workout:

  • 10-20 minute warmup (dependent upon what you need to feel ready for a maximal effort)
  • 5x3min VO2 intervals
    • 3minutes rest between intervals
  • Cool down

Resources:Poole D.C., Gaesser G.A.Response of ventilatory and lactate thresholds to continuous and interval training, J Appl Physiol, 581985, 1115–1121 Free Full Text  Tabata I.,Nishimura K., Kouzaki M., Hirai Y., Ogita F., Miyachi M., et al.Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max, Med Sci Sports Exerc, 281996, 1327–1330 Medline

Be Realistic With Your Event Selection

Now is the time of year that so many people are looking at their calendars and ironing out what their plans are for the next 3 months, 6 months or for some the next several years.  Depending up what your goal is and what your level of experience is drastically determines the path that many will take.  You don’t see too many people go out for their first run, ride or swim and say I am going to go for an Olympic gold in the next Olympic Games.  This is one of those things that some spend multiple years if not a decade or more preparing for with the proper training, nutrition, lifestyle and focus to get to that point.  Much like the Olympic Gold medalist we as weekend warriors or age group athletes need to be realistic with our goals. Some organizations have systems in place to help bring many individuals down to reality, however, there are some that are not set up that way and often end up leaving people ill prepared for an event that is way over their head.  Ten to fifteen years ago I would have said that this was marathons with people getting injured with the distance or even the extreme circumstances of death because of their lack of preparation.  Many people are still looking at Marathons as a “bucket list” item but there seems to be a large shift to triathlons due to the sheer number that have become available and the massive population of triathletes and the amount triathlon is publicized this seems to be the newest “bucket list” item.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I think triathlons are an amazing thing for many people whether you are racing or participating it is a great motivation for many to become active.  My bigger concern is the over glamorization of the event in the sense that you see a lot of the very inspirational moments on race day.  From the winners crossing the line in record time, the masters competitors pushing their bodies to even the double below the knee amputee who finishes his first Ironman many are lead to sign up for the event.  The thing that is not shown, much like the gold medalist, is the great deal of preparation done by all of these individuals and that they have worked long and hard to make it to where they are today.  There have been countless hours put in staring at the bottom of a pool at 5:30 in the morning for a masters swim, endless hours dazing as they tap out time on the trainer and an endless number of shoes worn out pounding on the pavement.  The most important thing though is the progression that so many of these individuals have made to get to this point.  Many and hopefully most started modestly with a sprint triathlon, working to an Olympic distance and then maybe into a half IM to finally reach a full IM distance and then better yet, they did well enough to qualify for the most prestigious triathlon event of all, Kona. So, as you sit down to consider your event schedule for the year think about your progression of events and be realistic.  If you have swam your whole life but never ridden a bike without training wheels or run to the end of the street don’t sign up for an Ironman this year or if you have been on walks with your dog a few times don’t sign up to do an Ultramarathon in the fall.  Learn the skills of your sport(s) first and what it takes to get to the point you need to be at and then make that decision of your progression.  Not only will it help to keep you grounded but more importantly it will help to make your event much more enjoyable and keep you wanting to come back for more.