Monday, November 28, 2011

Are you ready?

If you're NOT ready to start your Annual Training Plan (ATP), what are you waiting for?  Especially if one of your "A-events" is the Tour of the Battenkill on April 14-15, 2012.  (Just a reminder, sign-up is in three weeks (Dec. 21st) if you're interested.  And, I shouldn't have to tell you that it fills-up FAST!)  I don't think I'm going to be racing this year, probably because I'll be moto-ref'ing at Battenkill instead.  Regardless, I know how to train for Battenkill (if you want to do well in your age-group)...and if you haven't started your training better get on it soon.

Additionally, if you don't have a goal for is the time to make one.  For me, I've stopped making event-goals. i.e. I stopped wanting to do this or that at a particular event.  Instead, I made my goal for 2012 a power and weight goal.  That is, I want my power-to-weight ratio as close to 4.0 as I can get it by May.  (Last year it was 3.7.)  That way, I'm not disappointed if I crash or don't do well in a particular event.  After all, why should an entire off-seasons work be assessed by just one race?  This is NOT the Olympics..thank God.

What I do to stay motivated, during the Winter, is to make a chart like the one above and track my progress.  I plot my current FTP and weight and my goal FTP and weight and fill it in as I go.  Last year I achieved my goal.  This year, I intend to do the same with a lot of hard work over the Winter.  And, it starts this Thursday (Dec. 1).  Actually, it started this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) since the weather has been so nice.

Are you ready?  If not, get ready.  If you don't, you're not going to meet your 2012 goals. 

Power ON!  Coach Rob  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Power Meter Advantage

This past week I had the pleasure of joining my friend, coach, pro-triathlete Todd Wiley at a Power Spin Session he was instructing/running.  During our warmup, I was wondering why my PM was reading lower than what I thought it should be.  Was I REALLY that out-of-shape?  Could be!  After all, the only workouts I had in October were my 12 oz. curls of Octoberfest (bottled) beer while I was sitting on my fat a$$ watching football on TV.  I said nothing and continued on.  When the workout started and it was my turn to pull (in our imaginery indoor pace-line) I was cranking it up pretty good.  My PM read between 120-170w.  I knew this couldn't be right because my HR monitor said I was definitely riding Threshold pace.  And, even in the off-season..I know my Threshold Power never drops below 225w.  (At least in the last 5 yrs. it hasn't dropped below 225w).  So, I knew something was wrong.  After a minute or so, I figured it out.  My Garmin Head Unit (Computer) was reading the gals PM next to me..not mine.  Stupid me forgot to sync my head unit with my PM and instead of reading my PM I was reading the gals next to me..duh!  But, that's the beauty of knowing your FTP and riding/training with a PM.  After a while you pretty much know where your power is just based on your RPE and your HR.  Funny, I just realized that my FTP swings 50w from 225w in October to my peak of 275w the end of May.  Next year, I'll try to make sure that I don't let it drop below 250w (in the off-season) and see if I can get it up to 300w the end of May.  It would be a good test.

Another advantage of training with Power is comparing your fitness from year-to-year.  Training Peaks Software has a pretty cool feature called Multi-file/Range Analysis where you can compare two similar rides a year a part.  What I like to look at is my HR delta at the same Power this case 180w.  In the figure above, you can see I rode a pretty similar stretch of road on my Erg Video 3 software.  It was an L3 Tempo Workout where I compared the first 20 minutes of the ride.  My HR in 2011 was almost 20 bpm LESS (145bpm avg. compared to 165bpm avg.) than it was in 2010.  That's pretty good.   However, I'm NOT getting too excited about that..because I could have been more rested for this ride (in 2011) than I was last year.  I could also have been better hydrated, cooler, etc.  There are a lot of factors that affect HR..which is why I don't train by HR alone.  Nonetheless, I'm pretty happy that I'm not in as bad a shape as I thought I was.  More testing in the next couple weeks (performing similar comparisons) will reveal the truth- is my fitness level really better than last year (the same time)?  My PM and HR monitor will tell the tale.

Time to chow down on some Turkey and drink a few beers!  Hey, I deserve it, I went to the gym this morning for resistance/weight training and just finished an interval indoors on the bike.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Surviving the Holidays

In case you don't know, the average person gains about 5 lbs. between Thanksgiving and New Years.  It's NOT hard to me, been there done that.  However, for me, I actually lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Years.  That's because I'm more conscious of what I put in my mouth during this time period.  And, I exercise more.

For me, the Holidays are actually a period where I increase the frequency and volume of my workouts.  Where I used to work out only 2x per week (October) on the bike, I'm increasing that to 4x per week on the bike (November/December) and the workouts are longer.  I make sure I get at least one long ride (> 2 hrs.) in on the weekend too.  These longer rides are money in the bank.  I like to ride my Mtn Bike in November thru January.  I do that for several reasons: a) it's colder outside and I like the slower speeds to stay warmer b) the roads get all gunked up with salt, cinders, etc. which will rust your road bike out in a heartbeat (unless you're anal with cleaning) and c) I like the change from the road bike to the Mtn's just more fun to ride..especially when it snows.  

I'm also spending more time in the gym with resistance training.  It's imperative that cyclists work on their core strength as well as their leg strength.  No, this strength is not necessarily transferable to the bike..but it will make you healthier/stronger and get you ready for those tough hi-force, hi-intensity intervals that are coming in February.

Most of my training on the bike (about 80%) this time of year is done in the L3 Tempo Zone.  If I do any higher intensity interval's usually in the L3/L4 Sweetspot Zone.  There is no need to be doing hi-intensity intervals more than once per week in November/December. 

Having said all that, the Holidays are NOT the time to say, "No, I'm sorry I can't eat that or can't drink that because I'm in training".  At least I don't think so.  Enjoy the Holidays!  Eat that big-ass Turkey Leg like I'm going to do tomorrow.  Have a glass of wine and a couple beers.  Have that piece of pie!  What you should be doing is training the morning of Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner and/or New Years Eve Dinner.  And, don't forget to workout the following day.  If you workout the morning of that heavy dinner, and workout the following day, you probably won't gain a pound...provided you're burning the same calories that you're consuming.


Monday, November 21, 2011

What (or who) motivates you?

I hate to say it, but if you don't have something or someone to motivate you during your training, you're NEVER going to reach your goals...NEVER!   What is "motivation"?  According to Webster, motivation is:


  1. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
  2. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

According to the definition, there's got to be a reason...and/or a willingness to do something.  Reasons can be simple..such as:  "Because I want to".  However, wanting to do something is as futile as wishing or praying.  At least I think it is.  "Wanting" to do something is NOT going to get you through those tough Winter interval workouts.  "Wanting" is NOT going to get your a$$ out of bed on those cold dark Winter mornings.   You need to be motivated by more than just "Wanting".  Hell, I want to be a millionaire but "wanting" alone is NOT going to get me there.  Now, if somebody told me, "You'll NEVER be a millionaire" there's motivation.  It's a reason..a reason to prove someone wrong.

I'll never forget what my mother-in-law told me when I was 25.  She said, you wait until you get to be 50 (like your father-in-law).  You'll be just as overweight and out of shape as he is.  She said, he was just as active as you are now at age 25.  I told her right then and're wrong.  In fact, I think she was bold enough (and cocky enough at the time) to bet me $100.  I said, "you're on".  She had no clue that was the easiest $100 I'll ever make.  On my 50th birthday, I was not only at my High School weight (165 lbs), I was probably in the best Cardiovascular fitness/shape in my life.  She was wrong...dead wrong!  I won the I knew I would.  I never asked her for the money..she would probably say she had forgotten about I never brought it up.  Was the money the "motivator"?  Hell No!  The motivator was proving her wrong..since she is so opinionated and thinks she knows everything.  Besides, I wanted to prove to myself that I could truly get in the best shape of my life at age 50..and I did!  BTW, I busted my a$$ to achieve that goal.  It was a lot of hard work..especially since I weighed 222 lbs. in my mid-forties.

Whatever the reason, you need a good one to motivate you to reach your goals.  The loftier the goal, the better the reason.  To be honest, I don't have any motivation for the 2012 season.  I don't!  Sure, I have goals: I want to be faster/stronger/etc. just like everyone else.  But as of this minute, I don't have any motivation.  But, for now, what I do have is "motivators"...friends!  And, that can be one of the BEST motivators of all.  There is nothing like a friend to encourage you.  A friend to help you get through a workout.  A friend to call you up and invite you out on a ride.  A friend to call you after work to get a workout in the gym..after you were set on going back to the hotel room and falling asleep.  To those people..Jason, Jim, Todd, Tim, et. al...I say THANK YOU.  In the next couple weeks, I will come up with a Motivator for 2012.

If you hire a Coach..the Coach will be your motivator.  If he/she's not, then you should get another Coach.  Because I firmly believe that is the job of a "good" motivate you and help you get through those tough workouts.  A Coach that can tell you, "you can do it", when you didn't think it's possible.  A Coach that knows how hard the workouts are..because he's done them.

So, before you start training long/hard this Winter..decide what or who is going to motivate you to achieve your 2012 goals.  If you're NOT will NOT reach/achieve your goals.  And, it doesn't matter whether you're an amateur or a professional.  We are all human..and we need motivation to achieve our goals...especially lofty ones.  If you say you don't need motivation (that it comes from within)..then perhaps your goals were never high/lofty enough.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coaching for 2012

I've got two spots left/open for the 2012 season if anyone is interested.  I'll be running annual training plans/coaching programs from December 1 to April 1 (16 weeks) and then continue with a racing plan from April to September for those that race.  For those that don't race, or are not interested in coaching beyond April..we'll discontinue coaching at that time.  Either case, I would like a 16 week committment as a minimum.

I'm ONLY interested in taking athletes on (either cyclists or triathletes that want to get faster/stronger on the bike) that either train with Power (have a PM) or plan to purchase a PM in the near future.  I just can't see why, in this day/age, that athletes wouldn't take advantage of this tool to train more efficiently and more effectively..and achieve their goals FASTER.  PMs are getting cheaper each day.  Besides, if you sign-up with me I can get you a coaches discount on either a Quarq (crank-based) or Power Tap (wheel/hub-based) PM.  These are the only two PMs I recommend (for now anyway)..unless you have the $$ to purchase an SRM PM..the Cadillac of PMs.  Why?  Because they are the ONLY reliable and accurate PMs out there.

The first step is to contact me via email, and let me know if you're interested.  The second step is to either get tested by me, or at a bike shop near your home.  The test you need to have them run is a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test.  I need to know what your Threshold Power and Threshold Heart Rate is.  If your local bike shop doesn't know what an FTP test is, or doesn't test, find a new bike shop.  When you contact me, I'll have you fill out an athlete questionnaire where you tell me what your goals are for 2012.  That's what you'll be paying me for..someone to help you achieve your goals.  If you don't have a goal, make one..even if it's only to get stronger and faster.  That's my goal for 2012!

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's November...take it easy!

It's November, and before we know it the Holidays will be here.  For me, November is the month to start getting back in the saddle.  It's also time to lay down the Octoberfest beer (bleh) and push myself further away from the TV and start getting back in shape.  It sounds easy, but when you've been goofin'-off (not really) like I have been the last couple months it's hard to get started again.  Just yesterday my friend, and former ridin' partner, Jason Wood called me up to see if I wanted to ride.  My first thought.."NO!"  Actually, my first thought was "HELL NO!".  Why?  Because I'm about as overweight and out of shape as I've been in the last 5 yrs.   And, I knew that if I rode even close to the speed/intensity that I normally ride trying to stay-up with Jason I'd be puking my guts all over the road.  But, instead of saying "HELL NO!" I said, "Sure".  I knew that I had to start sometime and NOW was as good a time as any.  I rode, and yes I felt like dogshit about 15 min. into the ride.  I was hoping I'd flat to give me a chance to stop and re-group...ha.  I didn't puke but then again I wasn't feelin' that good either.  And, Jason was riding at no more than Tempo pace the entire 2 hr. ride.  (Thanks Jason) Regardless, I survived to ride another day. Getting back into the gym on a solid Weight Training program will have me feeling equally as shitty.  Been there done that.  I'm sure I'll be breathing wrong, and I'm sure the shock to my system (of lifting once again after a 6 mo. layoff) will have me feeling like crap.

I think most of you have heard that November is a month where you want to build a good base and go slow.  I agree with the "good base" advice but I don't agree with the "go slow" advice.  In fact, I just read an article in December's edition of Velo News by Trevor Connor, entitled "Go Slow to be Fast".  After reading the article,  I'm thinking that Trevor should have entitled the article, "Take it be fast".  (But, I guess it's not a catchy oxymoron like the original title.)  Because, it's NOT really the speed you want to dial down it's the "Intensity".  I'll let you read the article yourself, but the principle is that your central nervous system conditioning (which accounts for up to 80% of the improvements in a trained cyclists VO2max) is best trained at lower intensities (60-65% HRmax).  So, you don't have to go hard but you should go often/long.  It will take months (if not years for new riders) to see gains. 

Also, November is a good time to make your goals for the 2012 season.  For me, my 2012 goal will be more "human factor" oriented instead of "performance" oriented.  That is, my goal will be to lose 15 lbs. from my present weight and increase my FTP 40 watts from its present power.  I want my w/kg at a minimum of 3.5.  Is this achievable?  Hell yes, I did it last year.  I can't see why I can't do it again..God willing.  The reason my goal is "human factor" oriented is because in past years my goals were "performance" oriented. That is, I wanted to finish in the top 10 of a race, or I wanted to finish a long race in a certain time.  The problem with that, is that I think I have the worst luck when it comes to training for my "A"-events.  When I was training for Triathlons in the early 2000s, I trained for 8 mos. for one race and ended up tearing ligaments in my ankle (2 weeks before the event) one year and herniating discs in my back (three weeks before the event) another year.  I can't tell you how bummed I was..because my goal was to place in those I never even competed in.  I trained so hard for those events too.  And, I was ready.  Instead, not achieving my goals put a damper on the entire season.  Same with road racing.  Last year my goal was to finish Battenkill with the "Masters 50+ pack" or "bunch" in 3 hrs. or less.  Instead, a crash 10 miles into the race had me riding 50+ miles by myself to the finish line..40 minutes later than I wanted.  I trained VERY hard for Battenkill..and I was ready.  My FTP was where I wanted it in addition to my weight.  But, my goal was to finish in 3 hrs. or less.

Jackson Browne started writing it..and the Eagles finished it..a great song nonetheless..Take it Easy!  Power ON!  Coach Rob