Friday, November 30, 2012

How much do you sit per day?

I never realized how much the average American sits on their a$$ each work day until I read a recent newspaper article.  So, I decided to add up the hours I sit (on a normal "work" day).  On an average work day, I'm upright (standing) for only 3 hrs.  That's pretty sad.  Actually, it's alarming.  Naturally, on the weekends I'm probably upright for twice that.  But still, that's an awful lot of time sitting on my a$$.  And, I don't have to tell you the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.  Here's a good article to read from Men's Health Mag:

Well, what can you do about it during the work week?  Here's a list of suggestions:

1. Take a brisk walk in the morning- at least 1/2 hr.  If you have a dog, there ya go..good excuse.  You may have to get up a 1/2 hr. earlier- so what, just go to bed earlier.  Don't have a dog?  Borrow a neighbors dog.  I'll bet you the neighbor would love to have someone walk their dog in the a.m.

2. Take a brisk walk at lunch- at least 45 minutes.  There's always some place you can walk at work.  And, you still have 15 min. to eat lunch at your office desk or cafeteria.  If the weather is bad, and you can't walk, get in your car and drive some place.  At least you'll get exercise walking to/from your car.

3. Get your hour workout in before/after dinner.  In the Summer you may be able to get a 2-3 hr. workout in.  If not, at least get a brisk 1 hr. walk in.  If you can't get your workout in before dinner, get it in after dinner...just GET IT IN.  If you can't, at least grab the neighbors pooch and go for another brisk walk.  Notice I said "brisk" walk?  There's a big difference.

4. During the day, take more breaks.  Drink plenty of water because it will force you to take pee breaks.  Get up every hour from your desk and walk around.  Every other hour, get up walk outside for 5 minutes.

5.  If/when you talk on the phone at home..stand up..don't sit. 

6. Take the stairs whenever you can.  Stay away from elevators, escalators, etc.  If you have to use an escalator, walk up the steps.

7. Ok, here's one I'm guilty of: opt for the bar stool or chair when going to a restaurant/bar instead of a booth.  By sitting up on a stool/chair you're using more ab/lower back muscles.

8. Instead of emailing or calling a co-worker, get up out of your desk and pay them a visit.  Stand, don't sit while visiting.

9. Instead of rolling your office chair over to a bookcase, filing cabinet, trash can, printer, etc. get up and walk over.

10. If you really want to make a difference, get a stand-up desk or balance ball chair to sit on at work.  Don't laugh, I've seen them..and the people that are using them are fit...go figure. ha  I might replace my office desk chair with a balance ball chair.

Wanna be fit, don't sit!  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Back to Work

Ok, it may not be Christmas yet but it's time to get back to work/training.  The vacation/party is over..especially if you didn't CX race this Fall.  Also, if you plan on road racing in the had better be training NOW...cause you really only have 4-5 mos. to get in-shape for your first race.

Hopefully, the majority of you haven't lost  much FTP over the break.  I was going to say "off-season" but there really isn't an "off-season" per se when you're an amateur/weekend warrior racer.  If you raced CX this Fall, then yes, by all deserve a break.  But a "break" doesn't mean to sit on your a$$, watch TV, drink beer and get fat.

Here's what I recommend for those getting back to work:

Newbies or those just getting back into it- for you, the motto should be "take it easy" at the start.  There is no doubt in my mind that your FTP will be lower than its ever been.  The key for this group is to build strength back into your legs, and develp your Cardiovascular system.  It's going to take months so I wouldn't plan on any early Spring road races.  You can do start by visiting the local gym and engaging in both a weight training program and a spinning class.  No need to be riding outside in the crappy weather.  Besides, your pedaling stroke is probably erratic as hell and a couple sessions of independent leg drills (on the trainer) will do you good.  Keep your workouts brief, no longer than an hour.  I'm talking 1 hr. total- that includes both weight training and spinning. Yes, I realize that most spinning classes are 1 hr. long, but you don't have to stay the entire hour.  Hell, you paid for the can leave whenever you want to.  I'd rather you have a brisk (L3/L4) 1/2 hr. spin class than a 1 hr. L2/L3 class. 

Those who raced in the Summer and took the Fall off-  you are the majority of the cyclists I coach.  Those that mainly just road race in the Summer.  For you, you WILL have lost some FTP.  But, not to worry, it should be minimal- 25-50w.  If you train correctly, you should gain all that back by March and be ready to race in April.  Like the newbie group, I recommend you get back in the gym and engage in some form of weight training program to re-strengthen the legs.  You can also start spin class training, or doing your own workouts at home on the trainer.  And yes, get out on the road.  There is no substitute for riding on the roads..especially the hills.

Those who have raced Road in the Summer and CX in the Fall- of the three groups, you're most likely in the best shape and FTP loss was kept to a minimum. i.e. no more than 25w FTP loss.  Your leg strength is probably still good too.  So, instead of a weight training program (for strength) which I recommend for the other two groups..a 1-2x per week maintenance program is all you'll need to keep the legs strong.  Also, since you race in the Spring/Summer and're no doubt a die hard that is riding all the time..and probably would rather have a root canal done than train on a trainer.  That's fine.  For you, keep riding.  And, when you do the hills.  You just don't need to be going that hard this time of year..nor do the training rides need to be marathon sessions.  Keep em brief and keep em semi-intense.

Regardless of what group you're in- it's time to GET BACK TO WORK!  Don't wait for the Holidays or the New Year.  There is no better time than now. 

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Never too old or out of shape to ride/race's been a while since I've updated my blog.  What's worse, it's been even longer since I've been on my bike.  This past year was anything but ordinary: I built a house in the Pocono Mtns of PA on Lake Wallenpaupack and I worked for three different companies.  Yes, that's right, THREE!  As a result, I had little to no time for riding..let alone training.  When I worked in Philadelphia (at the Navy Shipyard) I was up at 5am and out the door at 5:20am.  I didn't return home until 4:30pm (and trust me), the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was get on a bike and ride.  It was much easier to grab a glass a wine (or a beer) and take a quick cat-nap on the couch before my wife came home from work.  Ride after dinner?  Forget about the time dinner was over it was near 7pm..and I had no energy.  Besides, I was in bed by 9:30pm, ready to do it all over again the next day.

I've been off the bike for about a year now.  To be honest, I've been lucky with my health.  Other than gaining 20 lbs. since I stopped racing..I'm in "excellent" health (at least that's what my latest Physical Exam said- Thank God).  I haven't taken a prescription drug in close to 10 yrs.  I attribute that to riding/racing, eating well..and relatively good genes.  Now that the house at the Lake is finished, and now that I have a stable job (stable is a scary word in this economy) it's time to get back in the saddle.  I know it's going to be tough to get back "in-shape".  After all, I'm no spring chicken.  I'll be 54 yrs. old in less than 6 mos.  When I say "in-shape" I'm talking "racing" shape.  If you race, you know there is a BIG difference between being "in-shape" to ride with your buds in a group ride and being "in-shape" to race.  To get back into "racing shape" I know I'm going to have to lose the 20 lbs. I gained, and I'm going to have to increase my FTP back up to a minimum.  Right now, I don't even want to guess what my FTP is.  Rather, I don't even want to know what my FTP is because it will probably de-motivate me.

For me, I need goals to motivate me to accomplish anything in life.  Cycling is no different.  If I don't set a goal, then I'm NOT going to get there.  So, as of tonight, my goal is to compete at the Tour of the Battenkill for the 2014 Season and hang with my group to the finish?  2014?  Yes, I'm skipping 2013 for two reasons: 1) I know it's too soon for me to get back into racing shape and 2) for the 2014 season I'll be riding in the Masters 55+ Category.  Wow, just typing that makes me feel old..ha.  The Tour of the Battenkill is the same race I competed in 2011 and crashed 10 miles into the race.  I completed the race on my own..solo (completely glycogen depleted and dehydrated), because I was never able to catch back on to the 50+ Masters Race Group and draft.  And, I never thought I'd be out on course a 1/2 hour longer than planned.  I trained hard for that race, harder than I ever trained for a race.  Power-to-Weight ratio was up (w/kg=3.7).  For me, that's a good watts per kg- smack in the middle of Cat 3 power.  I was at my all-time low weight too..since high school.

So, I'm off and riding..on the trainer that is.  I started this week.  I'm taking it easy for starters..nothing but Tempo miles on the trainer..with an occasional Threshold effort.  When my heart rate starts nearing LT, I back it down or terminate the ride after 20-30 minutes.  Easy does it.  Hell, my a$$ hurts from riding every night for less than 30 minutes.  I've got to get that hardened again. ha  I'm looking forward to cross-training over the Winter.  I can't wait to get back in the gym and can't wait to go X-Country Skiing up at the Lake House.  Not to mention Mtn Biking.  I love Mtn Biking in the Winter because the speeds are much lower and it's not as cold as riding 20+ mph on the open roads with a road bike (which are usually all salty, cinders/gravel, etc.).  I love Mtn Biking when there is 1-2" of fresh snow on the ground and the sun is out.

If you're in a similar boat as me..been off the bike for a while and need some motivation to get back me at  We can share each others pain.  You're never too old to get back in-shape either.  It will just take a little bit more time.  Forever young!

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why do you race?

I recently read an article in Bicycling mag entitled: "Why so serious?" re: amateur bike racing in the US.  According to the article, amateur cyclists are taking "racing" much too serious.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Racing should be shouldn't be about the money/prize..since it's non-existent anyway.  For those of you that are lucky enough to reach the podium and cash a check, you'll see for yourself..that it hardly pays the gas bill getting to/from the race.  It always amazes me at how some racers take risks during races that not only jeopardize their health but the health of the peloton.  For who, for what?  It just never makes sense.  I think why some racers are "too serious" is because of their investment and I'm not talking about "monetary" investment, I'm talking about their time and effort preparing for races.  At least that's the reason why I used to take racing too seriously.  I spent a lot of time, sweat/heartache preparing for the racing season, and when I didn't perform- I WAS PISSED.  Everybody wants a return on investment (ROI).  So for me, it wasn't about the was about achieving/reaching goals that I had set up for myself and getting a ROI.

But, in the long run, it comes down to being fun.  If it's not fun anymore then- why race?  There's nothing that says you have to race if  you're a good/strong rider or aspire to be one.   However, having said that, for me racing is/was my reason for training hard.  It gave me a purpose for training hard over the Winter.  If I didn't race, I probably wouldn't train as hard over the Winter and I probably wouldn't be a very strong cyclist.   So, for me, it's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of thing.  If I don't take it serious enough, then I won't train as hard.  If I don't train as hard, I won't perform as well.

I don't golf anymore because of two herniated discs in my back.  Back in the day, I played a LOT of golf.  I would venture to guess my wife would say I played too much golf.  If I wasn't playing, I was practicing EVERY day.  Yes, I had a golf club in my hand EVERY day of the week.  My handicap dropped into the single digits.  I was routinely shooting in the mid to high 70s.  I actually played my first par round of golf too..a solid 72 at a relatively difficult course (Upper Perkiomen Valley Golf Course).  I was also VERY competitive.  I was playing in tournaments at least once per week.  It was fun playing and winning.  If I didn't win, I'd at least be in the money.  It didn't matter whether it was an individual or team event.  The problem was, if I didn't shoot in the 70s (which happened occasionally) I was PISSED.  I'll never forget at the Olds Scramble National Championship in Orlando, FL in 1994.  We had an awesome team and I'd say I was the A-player of our team.  On tournament day, I just could NOT hit the ball well.  I didn't choke, I just didn't hit the ball well.  (If you're a golfer, you'll understand that some days you're just off- for whatever reason).  It was NOT fun.  I was miserable.  I was miserable then, and I was miserable when I returned home.  In fact, I was miserable for months afterwards.  I'll never forget my wife telling me, after putting up with my miserable ways..if it's NOT fun..why are you playing?  She was I quit golf for a year.  I just took a year off to relax, settle down, and convince's only a game and if it wasn't fun playing..then don't play.  I got back into golf, after a year off, but did not practice nearly half of what I did in the past.  I just didn't take the game as serious as I once did.  Although I wasn't shooting in the mid to high 70s anymore (I was playing in the low 80s), it was fun.  In fact, I was having more fun than what I ever did.  No, I wasn't cashing in any tournament winning checks anymore but I didn't care- I was having fun.  (Just like cycling, amateur golf tournament checks are not that much)

I'm not saying that all amateur cycling racers should quit the sport for a year and stop competing.  Only to say, if it's NOT fun anymore..then maybe you should take a year off from racing.  I'll bet when you get back into it, whether you decide to race again or not, it will be more fun.  Life is too short to be miserable.  Life is also too short to be taking cycling too seriously- especially as an amateur.   I tell ALL my athletes I coach before a race, BE SAFE and HAVE FUN!  Cause..that's what it's all about- being safe to ride another day and have fun.  If it's not fun, then maybe you're taking it too seriously.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

(Sorry for not posting in a while, but I've been going through a job change..and think I'm going to be changing jobs once again very soon)

Photo credit: Leo Espinosa

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fitting workouts into your BUSY schedule

I've gained 25 lbs. in one year.  That's right, 25 lbs.  That's what happens when you STOP training hard and continue eating the same.  At least that's what happened to me.  So, here I am a year later wondering how the hell I'm going to get back into training- like before.  Especially since my BUSY schedule doesn't allow me to workout like it did before.  I have a new job..that's part of the problem.
For me, my day begins at 0500.  I'm out the door and on the road by 0520.  I have an hour drive into the City (Philly)..a drive that is nerve-racking to say the least.  If anyone has ever driven on the Blue Route (I-476) or I-95 in Philly, during rush-hour, you know what I'm talking about.  The road is littered with morons who either don't know how to drive, nor care how to drive, or they have sh$t falling out of their truck while driving 75 mph down an interstate.
Lunch is normally at 1130 and lasts an hour.  I usually walk (fast) a mile to grab something to eat at lunch, bring it back to my car and listen to Sports Radio for 1/2 hour- perhaps catching a 15 min. catnap.  I leave work at 330pm and I'm home by 445pm.  When I get home I'm usually so tired I laydown for an hour before my wife gets home from work.  We normally eat around 6pm.  After dinner, the last thing on my mind is working out...especially if I have a glass of wine or beer with dinner (which I normally do).  I'm usually beat/tired with little motivation to do anything but laydown and read a book after dinner. 

The weekends have been just as busy up at 0600 either enroute to a bike race that I'm officiating at, or out the door bass fishing (at our new house on Lake Wallenpaupack).  Again, by the time I get back to the house it's late and I'm dead tired from being out in the sun all day.  The last thing I'm thinking about is getting on a bike and working out.

If your schedule sounds like mine..there ARE things you can do to fit a workout into your schedule.  I'm going to start doing some of them.  Here's what you can do:

Use your lunch hour.  Lunchtime is a great opportunity to get away from your desk, stretch your legs, and refresh your body and mind.    But yet 90% of the people in my office eat their lunch at their desk during lunch hour (while also claiming they're working which they use as an excuse to leave an hour early each day- but I won't get into that).  If you're in the habit of working through lunch, look for a gym nearby where you can get a quick workout in.  Or, perhaps, you can go on a long walk with a colleague or quick run..provided there is a shower nearby like there is for me in my office building.  I think I'm going to start jogging at lunch.

Commute to work.  I know this isn't possible for everyone, but most of us can manage to get some exercise in during our commute to and from work. If you don't have far to go, can you walk or cycle and leave the car at home? (You'll save on gas and parking too.)  For me, this is NOT possible because I'd be taking my life in my hands with the traffic- not to mention some of the shady neighborhoods I'd have to ride through. 

Exercise first thing in the a.m.  With my last job, this was possible.  With my new job, NO WAY!  I'm not getting up at 0400.  But, if you don't have to be in work until 0900 there is NO EXCUSE why you can't get up at 0600 and get an hour workout in BEFORE work. 
If you get your workout done first thing, you won't end up putting it off or deciding that you've just had "too busy" a day to go to the gym.  Plus, working out in the a.m. gets your body to start burning calories straight away.
Exercise right after work.   How often do you head home from work, fully intending to go out to the gym after dinner, only to find yourself still slumped on the sofa at 7PM? It's often hard to get up the motivation to move once you're home and comfy, so try going straight to the gym or the pool after work.  It's even better if you can rope in a friend or two to meet you at the gym.  Because there ARE going to be days when you don't feel like going to the gym after work, where your friends will motivate you to go..and after your workout you'll be glad you did.  You'll also sleep more soundly at night after an evening workout.
Exercise with your dog.  If you don't have a dog, get one.  My dog (Rhodesian Ridgeback) Kali (God rest her soul) used to be my favorite workout partner.  We would swim, take long walks, go on jogs and even rollerbladed together on the weekends.  Working out with your dog is a great stress-reliever too.  Hell, just seeing my dog after a long day in the office was a stress-reliever.  Plus, it's healthy for your dog.  God knows today's dogs are as fat and out of shape as their owners/handlers are.  Working out with your dog will benefit both of you.  If you're still not crazy about getting a dog, ask a neighbor (who never gets their dog out of the house) if you can borrow their dog for a quick run or walk.  They'll both love you for it.  You can go on nightly walks/jogs with the dog when the Summer temps have cooled down.
The important thing here is to fit exercise/workouts into your schedule in a time slot where you know you won't blow it/them off.  If you try to schedule your workouts AFTER dinner, chances are you're not going to do them.  So, plan workouts into a schedule that you know you'll meet. 

Good Luck.  Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If you can't stand the a cooling vest!

Regardless of where you live in the USA I'm sure you've been experiencing the Heat of the Summer recently.  Unless you live in Anchorage,'s HOT!  Stinking Hot! 

I'm also sure you've all heard the time-worn expression, "if you can't stand the heat..get out of the kitchen".  For me, that's pretty much my motto when it comes to training in the heat of the Summer.  And, I normally "get out of the kitchen".  If/when I train in the Summer it's normally done in the early morning hours or at night (with a light) beat the heat.  If I can't train in the cooler hours of the day, I'll retreat to my cool basement and workout on the trainer for an hour..or so.  But, one thing I will NOT do and that is train during the mid-day heat.  For me, it's more physiological than psychological.  When I'm hot and working out, I sweat like a pig..and no matter how much I hydrate myself..the sun just has a way of baking my brain..and putting me down for the count.  I just can't seem to re-hydrate quickly enough. 

There are articles upon articles written about the physiological effects of heat and its effects on power output.  There is no doubt that heat will quickly zap power.  So, what are you to do as an athlete when you're faced with a choice of a) training outside in 100F temps where you know your max power output will be way down or b) training inside in 70F basement temps where you know your max power output will be reached?  This was a recent question asked of one of the athletes I coach.  I know what I would do, and that is opt for choice b) above.  That's because "mentally" I hate the heat..and physiologically (as forementioned) my body doesn't deal with it very well.  Additionally, if I train indoors in the cooler temps I'll be able to apply higher loads/force to my muscles.  And, isn't that how we get stronger?  Don't we increase the load and let our body adapt to it?  At least that's how I see it.  But, rather than give the athlete my opinion, without any data to support it, I figured I'd ask my mentor, Hunter Allen to see what he thought.  This is what Hunter said, " It’s a tough balance and part of that balance is the mental aspect. If you stick him on the trainer, then it will be mentally challenging more so than the heat in my opinion, unless he’s just one of those nuts that loves the trainer!  Tell him to ride when it’s coolest and do the best he can.  When it’s super hot, give him the option for riding indoors."
I agree with Hunter..ride when it's coolest.  But, what if you can't..and what if you just don't like the trainer?  Well, there is another option and that is to buy and train/ride with a cooling vest.  There are a bunch of cooling vests designed specifically for cyclists: Kul Lite, Sta Coolvest, Hyperkewl, Cooline, Fros-Tcooling, etc.  They range in price from $50 to $300.  I haven't had time to research which is the best bang for the buck..but I'm sure it's only a matter of time when I do.  You can use the vest for warming up for a race and take it off BEFORE you race.  Or, you can leave it on for the race.  You can also use the vest for other sports such as: fishing, motorcycling, running, etc. 
I'll post a future blog on which vest I think is the best bang for the buck- for cyclists.  If anyone out there trains with one (or races with one) let me know which brand you have and how you like it.  I'm interested in knowing.
Until then, stay Cool.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Friday, June 29, 2012

How to George Hincapie

I read a lot on cycling and normally what I read is regurgitated news/workouts/etc. in some shape or form by some fitness guru that never raced- let alone rode a bike.  I just came across a good article on training, by Bicyling Mag, which is really a Q/A interview with BMC's George Hincapie.  If you don't know about should.  Google his name and read about him.  He's probably the BEST relatively unknown cyclist of all-time.  I say relatively unknown because George served as a "domestique" for the more popular men he helped win World Tour Championships such as: Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and most recently Cadel Evans.  Domestiques, like Football linemen, don't get the accolades that the GC Contenders get.

Anyway, here is the Q/A with George.  I've added my comments, in italics, below each Q/A:

Q1. Has your diet changed over the years?
Yes, when I first started I ate whatever. Now I feel like I can’t get away with any junk food. The older I get, the more perfect I feel I need to get my diet.

There's no doubt in my mind when you are young you can pretty much eat whatever you want and perform at a "top" level.  The older you get, the more quality food/fuel you're going to need to perform at that same level...or even close to it.

Q2. Can you explain why you’d use a race as training?
A2. The real hard finishes, sprints and uphill finishes, are hard to mimic in training. I do tons of motorpacing to match the speed, but in a race, you’re not only going fast and putting out a lot of power, you also have so many factors going on: Where the wind’s coming from, which way you’re turning up the road, where to position yourself. These all require thought process and energy, and you need this mental focus for the end of long races.

I've always maintained that the best training IS racing.  You just can't duplicate it..especially the adrenalin/motivation/nerves/etc.

Q3. What’s your off-season training like?
A lot of mountain biking, core training, and tennis. I stop my season in the middle of September and try to take three weeks totally off the bike, but that never happens. I end up doing events or promotional rides with my bike. I start structured road riding in early to mid-November with three- to five-hour rides. There aren’t many intervals in November but in December I start doing more.

I don't know about the tennis..but Mtn. Biking and Core Training is good stuff.

Q4. Do you do core work year round?
A4. Yes, but less during the race season. I incorporate yoga stretches, planks, and back extensions, and I’ll try to do 10 to 15 minutes, once or twice a week, as maintenance. But off-season, or in a training block between races, I’ll do a 30- to 45-minute routine four or five days a week.

Core stuff is ALL good.

Q5. Do you have a favorite strength move?
A5.  No. I actually don’t like doing core, but the planks, step-ups, back extensions are all very important for overall fitness on the bike. In long climbing races, you’re in the mountains three to four hours and everything starts to hurt, your back, your neck. If you can limit that sort of pain you’re able to theoretically put out more pain on the bicycle and be more focused.

All stuff I recommend for my athletes I coach.

Q6.  How about a favorite bike workout then?
A6.   Honestly, my favorite workout is just going out and riding my bike for four hours and not doing intervals—just enjoying the climbs and scenery. But we rarely get to do that.

Can't argue there.

Q7.  How often do you have hard efforts?
A7.   If I’m in a training block, a minimum of four days, usually five, per week. Just three days is an easy week.

Only a pro should be doing that many..where they're resting in-between.  If you work 5 days a week..good luck.

Q8.  How does tennis fit in?
A8.   I just like it, but I wouldn’t recommend tennis for cyclists.

Good answer..but there is a benefit to that..and that is, after tennis he's more motivated to get back on the bike.  It's a mental break.

Take Georges advice on training.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Consistency- the key to cycling training success

If there is one aspect of training that I believe is paramount for success in cycling, it is without a doubt- "consistency".  Even if you're training plan isn't well thought out or optimized, as long as you're consistent with your WILL see results (positive results).  Too many athletes I see, and coach, wonder why they're either plateauing mid-season (around now) or not riding as strong as they should be.  That's because for many of them, there are just too many distractions this time of year.  Lets face it, it's pretty easy to train consistently (indoors) during the dark, cold, dreary months of January, February and March.  What else is there to do?  But when Spring/Summer roll around and the days are bright, sunny and warm there's all kinds of OTHER stuff to do: baseball games, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, cookouts, outdoor concerts, golf outings, vacations, motorcycling, etc.  The list is endless.  But, all of these things have one thing in common and that they are ALL distractions to your training plan/schedule.  That is, they take you off your game plan.  Before you know it, you missed that weekly training Crit...or you missed that gym workout..or you missed that weekend fast group ride..both of which were making you faster/stronger.

I rode my fastest/strongest when I had a "consistent" training race on Tuesday nights, a really fast group ride on Thursday nights and a Race on the weekends.

So, if you want to stay on schedule and you want to continue to ride faster/stronger- BE CONSISTENT with your training.

Power ON!  Coach Rob


What is "peaking"?  Peaking is a strategy for maximizing performance and reaching your goals.  As competitive athletes, we want to "Peak" for our A-events and perform our best.  During a normal racing season (April-October) I plan for two in the Spring (April-June) which I call "Peak 1" and one in the Fall (Sept-Oct) which I call "Peak 2".  I do that for two reasons: 1) I like to schedule an early Spring A-event such as the Tour of the Battenkill and 2) I love riding in the Fall.  I absolutely detest riding/racing in July/August when it's HOT!  Not only because the heat zaps my Power, but because I sweat so much I can't re-hydrate fast enough and I end up "bonking". 

Peak 1 is the time of year when you SHOULD BE "in form" and you SHOULD BE riding your strongest (your FTP is the highest its been all year) but NOT quite "maxed-out".  (Remember: Form=Fitness + Freshness.)   Peak 2 is the time when my FTP is "maxed-out" and when I'm wrapping things up for the year (competitively)..when I'm riding less and I start sitting back and relaxing and watching football on TV on the weekends.  Don't get me wrong, I don't stop riding but I do shorten those 3-4 hr. weekend rides to 1-2 hr. rides and the mid-week (after work) training rides decease (due to lack of daylight).

So, what happens in-between Peak 1 and Peak 2.  Good question.  The period between Peak 1 and Peak 2 is a "rest/taper" period.  A period when you want to re-charge the batteries so-to-speak.  It's not a period where you "do-nothing".  It's one where you  want to reduce your training volume, so that "Freshness" increases but want to keep the intensity up so that "Fitness" is maintained.  Typically, this period should last about 2-3 weeks (enough to recharge the batteries) so that at the end of June you're ready to go for 2-3 more months of competitive racing.

By the way, does the "Peak" photo above look familiar?  It will if you've ever skied Jay Peak, Vermont.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Racing..the best training there is!

For me, the end of May is also the time of year I start winding down my coaching for the season;  at least for the majority of the athletes I coach.  I still coach a few athletes but for the most part I'm done.  Why?  For a few reasons: 1) Because once the roadies start racing regularly in May/June..there really isn't much time to fit any kind of formal training in during the work week..especially if you enter a training crit/race during the week.   Lets look at a normal racers week: if you race both Saturday and Sunday and do a training race mid-week:
Monday- Day OFF/Recovery Ride if you raced on Sunday
Tuesday- Group Ride
Wednesday- Solo Ride
Thursday- Training Race/Criterium
Friday- Pre-Race Ride
Sat/Sunday- Race

So, you can see from the weekly schedule above..there is really only one open day to go hard and that is on Tuesday where I have a "Group Ride" penciled in.  (And, you SHOULD go hard on a group ride.  Also make sure you're one of the weaker riders in the group/ride.  If not, find a faster group/ride).  You might be thinking, wait a minute, I see "Solo Ride" on Wednesday.  Yes, there is a "Solo Ride" penciled in.  But, if you go hard on your Group Ride on Tuesday there is no way you're going to be able to go HARD on Wednesday.  And, there is no reason to go HARD on Wednesday..especially when you have a HARD Training Race/Crit on Thursday.   By doing a fast group ride, a traning race, and weekend race per week..that's all the training you'll have time for..or need.

2) the whole purpose of your Annual Training Plan (that most of you started in December) was to get you in shape for the racing season.  That is, it will improve both Functional Threshold Power and Power at VO2max.  Therefore, once May/June rolls around..the goal/objective has been least I hope it has.  I'd say the average athlete I coach increases his/her FTP a minimum of 50w over the Winter.  I had one athlete increase it as much as 75w.  My FTP increases 50w from December to May..granted, I lose most of that increase when the cycling racing season is over.  Once May/June rolls around the emphasis is moved from "general" training to "specific" training.  That is, if you're a sprinter we'll spend a lot of time on L6/L7 Anaerobic Capacity work in June.  If you're an endurance's time to work on muscular endurance and skills/tactics.

3) June is the time of the year that I'm normally racing myself- or officiating.  However, this year I'm having a home built in the Pocono Mtns of PA so there is NO racing.  To be honest with you, I don't miss it.  I'm having more fun fishing, boating, mountain biking, officiating, etc. this year.

So, if you race, continue racing.  If you want to continue to train (get stronger)..enter a real race or a training race.  After all, racing is the best training.  Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Walk before you run/ride

There's an old proverb that reads, "You must walk before you run".  I'm pretty sure we're all aware of what that means.  Except for me, it reads, "You must walk before you ride".  Why?  Because I've gained twenty pounds since last year- this same time.  (You think I'm kidding?  I wish I was.  Long story on why..but I don't want to get into that)  I told myself BEFORE I attempt to get back on the bike, I'm going to walk-off at least 5 pounds- which I've successfully done in the last month. (I've been speed walking at lunchtime).  Tonight, I'm going on my first group ride (in over a year) with the Central Bucks Bike Club.  I'm really not enamored with these "group" rides but I figured I've got to start somewhere.  At least I can ride with the B/C group and feel good about myself.  If I rode with the A/B group I'd get shelled out the back in the first couple miles.  I have no doubt about that.  A lot of you may be laughing at this blog..thinking, how the hell can he get this "out-of-shape" in only one year.  Let me tell you- it was easy.  You just stop riding and continue eating the same..that's how. 

If you've "given it up" for a year like me (for whatever reason..possibly an injury) don't despair.  Just be patient.  Don't expect to be where you were for a while.  It will take time getting back into your original shape.  And, don't get discouraged.  Hell, I don't even know if I'm going to put my bike computer on my bike tonight.  I don't want to see how paltry the Power Meter numbers are.  I may laugh myself sick to my stomach..ha.  I've read many stories about how guys have had serious injuries (on and off the bike) and have come back even STRONGER years later.  There's one guy that keeps coming to my mind and if you haven't heard of this guys story you've got to read it.  His name is Alex Simmons.  Check out his blog and his accident and recovery story.  Just amazing if you ask me.  In addition to his story he is an expert when it comes to racing and training with a Power Meter.  Just like Alex, I will be back..faster..stronger (like the 6 million dollar man- for you guys over 40..ha).  I'm not sure what my long term goal is but my short term goal is to get my FTP to where it was last year by September of this year.  I want to go into the 2013 season stronger than 2011.  For a long term goal, I was thinking of a "pack finish" at the 2015 Tour of the Battenkill where I'll be racing with the 55+ crowd.  We'll see.

For now, I've got a long road ahead of me.  And, the most important thing for me to do now is to "walk" NOT "run" and be patient.  Actually, it will be "walk" at lunch and "ride" after work.
Power ON! Coach Rob

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Spring Classics's NOT the Tour of Flanders (which by the way is LIVE on the internet this Sunday morning at 0830), but it's the closest thing you'll have to ride if you live in the Philadelphia/New York area.  What is it?  It's the "Hell of Hunterdon" (HoH).  In tribute to the Northern European Spring Classics the Hell of Hunterdon is a 79 mile Belgian themed ride in Hunterdon County, NJ.   The HoH is just one of the many Spring road rides put on by my friend Brian Ignatin. The Spring Classics start with the "Hell of Hunterdon" tomorrow, Saturday March 31st, 2012 (which is SOLD OUT). The next Spring Classic is the "Fools Classic" (Fools)..another great Spring ride.  

The HoH course features 19 sections of dirt, gravel, and hardscrabble roads (covering approximately 15% of the course) as you wind your way through scenic farmland and country towns in New Jersey's Sourlands. Total elevation gain is ca 5700 feet. The route is perfectly suitable for standard Road Bikes with Road Tires; tires wider than 23mm are suggested. Cyclocross bikes are welcome, but certainly not required, as most of the ride is on paved roads. It is the ideal preparation for those who plan to go to the Tour of the Battenkill on April 14th.  To be honest with you, I think the HoH is a tougher course than the Tour of the Battenkill- and I've ridden/raced them both. 

If you're signed up to ride the HoH..have fun and be safe..and smile for the camera.  If you haven't, there's still time to sign up for the Fools Classic...another great ride.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Paleo Diet for Athletes

The Paleo Diet for Athletes was released in October, 2005 from Rodale Press. The revised version with research updates will appear in late summer of 2012. Written by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., author of The Paleo Diet, and Joe Friel, M.S., author of numerous best-selling books on training for endurance athletes, the book applies the concept of eating as our Stone Age ancestors ate to the extraordinary demands of training for serious endurance sports. Although it is now the 21st century, athletes still have Old Stone Age (Paleolithic) bodies. There has been no significant change in the human genome in the past 10,000 years. Physiologically speaking, we are still Paleolithic athletes. And because of that we function and perform best on certain types of foods.

The Paleo Diet

The basic premise of Dr. Cordain’s research on paleolithic nutrition is that certain foods are optimal for humans and others are non-optimal. The optimal foods are those that we have been eating for most of our time on Earth - more than 4 million years. Only in the last 10,000 years, a mere blink of the eye relative to our species’ existence, have we been eating non-optimal foods. Unfortunately, these foods comprise the bulk of what western society eats today and include such foods as grains, dairy and legumes. Given that our bodies have not changed, we are simply not well-adapted to these non-optimal foods and they moderate health and peak performance.
On the other hand, we have been eating optimal foods - vegetables, fruits, and lean animal protein - for hundreds of thousands of years and we are fully adapted to them. Science tells us that these foods also best meet our nutritional needs. Eat these and you will thrive. Avoid or strictly limit them and your health and performance will be compromised.

Paleo For Athletes

Serious athletes, however, when it comes to immediately before, during, and directly after workouts, need to bend the rules of the Paleo Diet a bit since we're placing demands on the body that were not normal for our Stone Age ancestors. Hour after hour of sustained high energy output and the need for quick recovery are the serious athlete’s unique demands. This requires some latitude to use non-optimal foods on a limited basis. The exceptions may best be described by explaining the athlete’s 5 stages of daily eating relative to exercise.

Stage I: Eating Before Exercise

In brief, we recommend that athletes eat low to moderate glycemic index carbohydrates at least two hours prior to a hard or long workout or race. There may also be some fat and protein in this meal. All foods should be low in fiber. Take in 200 to 300 calories for every hour remaining until exercise begins. If eating two hours prior is not possible, then take in 200 or so calories 10 minutes before the workout or race begins.

Stage II: Eating During Exercise

During long or hard workouts and races, you will need to take in high glycemic index carbohydrates mostly in the form of fluids. Sports drinks are fine for this. Find one that you like the taste of and will drink willingly. Realize that events lasting less than about an hour (including warm-up) don’t require any carbohydrate. Water will suffice for these. A starting point for deciding how much to take in is 200 to 400 calories per hour modified according to body size, experience and the nature of the exercise (longer events require more calories than short). Some athletes become so good at burning fat while sparing glycogen during exercise that they don’t need any carbohydrates for 2-3 hours of moderate-intensity exercise.

Stage III: Eating Immediately After

In the first 30 minutes post-workout (but only after long and/or highly intense exercise) and post-race, use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein in a 4-5:1 ratio. You can buy a commercial product or you can make your own by blending 16 ounces of fruit juice with a banana, 3 to 5 tablespoons of glucose (such as Carbo-Pro) depending on body size, about 3 tablespoons of protein powder, especially from egg sources and two pinches of salt. This 30-minute window is critical for recovery. It should be your highest priority after a hard workout or race.

Stage IV: Eating For Extended Recovery

For the next few hours (as long as the preceding challenging exercise lasted) continue to focus your diet on carbohydrates, especially moderate to high glycemic load carbohydrates along with protein at a 4-5:1 carb-protein ratio. Now is the time to eat non-optimal foods such as pasta, bread, bagels, rice, corn and other foods rich in glucose as they contribute to the necessary carbohydrate recovery process. Perhaps the perfect Stage IV foods are raisins, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.

Stage V: Eating For Long-Term Recovery

For the remainder of your day, or until your next Stage I, return to eating a Paleo Diet by focusing on optimal foods. For more information on the Paleo Diet go to or read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

How Much Protein, Carb And Fat Should I Eat?

The macronutrient requirement changes with the demands of the training season and so should be periodized along with training. We recommend that athletes maintain a rather consistent protein intake year round. As a percentage of total calories this will typically be in the range of 20-25% for athletes. This is on the low end of what our Stone Age ancestors ate due to the athlete’s increased intake of carbohydrate in Stages I to IV which dilutes protein as a percentage of daily calories.
On the other hand, periodization of diet produces significant and opposing swings in the athlete’s fat and carbohydrate intake as the training seasons change. During the base (general preparation) period the diet shifts toward an increased intake of fat while carbohydrate intake decreases. At this time in the season when a purpose of training is to promote the body’s use of fat for fuel, more healthy fat is consumed—in the range of 30% of total calories - with carbohydrate intake at around 50%. During the build and peak (specific preparation) periods the intensity of training increases placing greater demands on the body for carbohydrate to fuel exercise. At this latter time of the season Stages III and IV become increasingly critical to the athlete’s recovery. Carbohydrate intake increases accordingly to around 60% of total calories with fat intake dropping to around 20%.
During times of the year when training is greatly reduced (peaking/tapering and transition periods) the athlete must limit caloric intake to prevent unwanted weight gain.

Why Is The Paleo Diet Beneficial?

Health and fitness are not synonymous. Unfortunately, many athletes are fit but unhealthy. Frequent illness, injury and overtraining reduce performance potential. The Paleo Diet for Athletes significantly improves health long term. Compared with the commonly accepted athlete’s diet, the Paleo Diet:
  • Increases intake of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Benefits muscle development and anabolic function. Also counteracts immunosuppression common in endurance athletes following extensive exercise.
  • Decreases omega-6:omega-3 ratio. Reduces tissue inflammations common to athletes while promoting healing. This may include asthmatic conditions common in athletes.
  • Lowers body acidity. Reduces the catabolic effect of acidosis on bone and muscle while stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This is increasingly important with aging.
  • Is high in trace nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health and long-term recovery from exercise. The most nutrient-dense foods are vegetables and seafood. On average, vegetables have nearly twice the nutrient density of grains.
Excerpt from the paleo diet for athletes
Training for endurance sports such as running, cycling, triathlon, rowing, swimming, and cross-country skiing places great demands on the body, and the athlete is in some stage of recovery almost continuously during periods of heavy training. The keys to optimum recovery are sleep and diet. Even though we recommend that everyone eat a diet similar to what our Stone Age ancestors ate, we realize that nutritional concessions must be made for the athlete who is training at a high volume in the range of 10 to 35 or more hours per week of rigorous exercise. Rapid recovery is the biggest issue facing such an athlete. While it’s not impossible to recover from such training loads on a strict Paleo Diet, it is somewhat more difficult to recover quickly. By modifying the diet before, during, and immediately following challenging workouts, the Paleo Diet provides two benefits sought by all athletes: quick recovery for the next workout, and superior health for the rest of your life.
For more information on The Paleo Diet for Athletes go to or

Why YOU need a Power Meter!

by Joe Friel, Coach, Author, Exercise Physiologist
Should you buy a power meter? After all, they aren’t cheap and sport is already expensive. You’ve spent a small fortune on bicycles and all of their assorted and costly components. And don’t forget the entry fees, travel to races, special foods and supplements, and on, and on, and on.
And why get a power meter since you already have a perfectly good heart rate monitor? It’s just one more gizmo to have to figure out.
So why should you get a power meter? The short answer is that you simply are more likely to achieve your race goals by training—and racing—with a power meter than without. It is the most affective tool you can get to go faster on a bike.
Here’s Why
Don’t get me wrong, heart rate monitors are great intensity-measuring devices, also. But heart rate by itself actually doesn’t tell you much. It’s like the tachometer on a car—it tells you how hard the engine is working. Nothing more.
For example, what if your heart rate is 10 beats higher than usual? What does that mean? Is it good or bad? The only way to answer that question is to know if you were putting out more power or less than usual.
Input data such as heart rate isn’t meaningful until it is compared with some measure of output. Output is critical to success; input isn’t. After all, they don’t give awards at races to those who worked the hardest or had the highest heart rates (input), but rather to those who had the fastest time which results from high power (output).
Let’s get back to why you should get a power meter.
No More Guessing
Should you buy a power meter or fast wheels? Given the choice I’d recommend a power meter every time. When it comes to speed the engine is always the most important part. A power meter will help you develop a bigger one. With sleek wheels you still have a small engine.
How do they make your engine bigger? Power meters remove most of the guesswork that goes into training and racing. For example, I’ve known athletes who when doing intervals with heart rate monitors don’t call the work interval “started” until their heart rates reach the targeted level which could take several minutes. During that time they are guessing how hard to work. With a power meter you soon learn that the interval starts as soon as the power hits the targeted zone—which means right away. You get the intensity correct immediately with no guesswork. The intervals don’t taper off near the ends any more either. This means no wasted training time and precise intensity.
Also, realize that you’re not trying to train the heart solely when doing intervals or any workout, for that matter. In fact, what happens in the muscles during workouts, not the heart, is really the key to your success. Heart rate monitors, while quite valuable to training, have many believing that training is just about the heart. It isn’t. Power meters allow you to focus more on muscle.
Cheating With Power
Using a power meter in a long steady-state race such as a triathlon or long time trial is almost like cheating. When everyone else is fighting a head wind, excitedly going too fast down wind or guessing how hard to push when going up hill, the athlete with a power meter is just rolling along at the prescribed power. He or she will produce the fastest possible ride given the conditions so long as the optimal target power has been determined through training and observed closely during the race. While something similar can be done with heart rate there are some confounding factors such as the excitement of a race, cardiac drift, the acute effect of diet and the slow response of pulse on hills, accelerating out of corners or when passing others.
Power meters also provide highly accurate details about how your fitness is changing throughout the season. I test the athletes I coach regularly using a combination of heart rate and power. Without this information I really wouldn’t know for sure if they are making progress. I’d just be guessing. Now I can precisely compare output with input by dividing the average (or, preferably, “normalized”) power for a workout by the average heart rate. An increasing value for similar workouts tells me fitness is improving.
Moving On Up
There are many benefits of training with power. But perhaps the best indicator of their value for performance is the elite athletes who use them. Power meters are common with pro road cyclists and they are becoming increasingly popular with pro triathletes. Cyclists are increasingly using them. Age group triathletes have been slow to adopt this technology, which is unusual. Over the past twenty years triathletes were the first to adopt such innovations as aero bars, beam bikes, deep-dish rims, clipless pedals and gels.
The trend is definitely toward the adoption of power meters in road racing, triathlon and mountain biking. Many are leaning that a power meter will help them race faster. Start setting aside a few bucks a week so that some day you can get one. It will definitely change how well you train and race
This article originally appeared on on 1/28/2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Science of Cycling

I honestly believe I've read just about every book written on cycling training in the last 10 yrs.  Why?  Because before I start prescribing what I believe are the best training methods/workouts for my athletes I want to ensure there is some "scientific evidence", that has "statistical significance", behind the workouts which substantiate that they do in fact- WORK!

I'm really excited to announce a NEW book which will be hitting the streets in mid-April.  One of the authors is my mentor Hunter Allen.  The book, entitled "Cutting-edge Cycling", shows how science can improve fitness and riding, and how to make science practical and relevant for cyclists". 

My cycling training/coaching methodology has been and always will be based on "Science".  The workouts I prescribe are "proven" workouts which show performance improvements for the masses.  Granted, some workouts produce better results for different people.  I don't normally prescribe cycling workouts that are fun...I prescribe ones that work. If you want fun workouts go to a Spin Class and do their "Mickey Mouse" workouts with music.  Or, buy one of the many CD/DVDs on the market that claim they'll make you stronger/faster in just 2 weeks.

Anyway, look for Hunter's book in mid-April.  I'm sure it's one that I'm going to enjoy, learn something from, and use information from to improve future Annual Training Plans.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

What an exciting time for Cycling..daylight savings this weekend..warmer temps..and my first race of the season this Sunday.  No, I'm not racing- I'm officiating the start of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) at Steven's University in New Jersey.  Actually, I'll be the Chief Referee (CR) for this event.  It's truly exciting for me to see all the young kids Amp'd up to race for the first time this season.  A lot of these kids from the Northeast, and I'm not talking NE Pennsylvania, I'm talking NE United States, have only been out on the road for only a handful of times because of the short days and cold weather.  Schools like MIT, Harvard, Boston U, and others in Maine and New Hampshire will be descending on Steven's University in New Jersey this weekend.

For a lot of you, your racing season start is right around the corner.  Many of you have Battenkill as the first race of the season.  That's only in a little over a month from now.  So, if you're not better start gettin' your a$$ in gear.  I can tell you for a fact, there are a LOT of guys that are ready for Battenkill.  Some have been riding all Winter long and others have been attending warm-weather Winter camps in California.  If you want a good tune-up race for Battenkill, and you live in the Bucks County/Hunterdon County area I highly recommend that you ride the "Hell of Hunterdon" ride on March 31st.  This ride is a good ride and the layout is even tougher (in my opinion) than Battenkill.  Not only is there more elevation rise, the roads are tougher to navigate/handle.

Daylight savings is March 11th so don't forget to set your watch/clocks.  Also, take advantage of the warmer temps and longer days and RIDE!  This is "crunch-time"!  It's a little bit early to start working the AC system but you should definitely be working the Threshold and VO2max via LOTS of hill work.  Also, for you guys that could stand to lose a few pounds, NOW is the time to drop it.  You don't want to be dropping weight in-season.  Remember, it's all about w/kg..because the guy/gal with the highest power-to-weight ratio normally wins (all other things being equal).

Get out and RIDE!  Power ON!  Coach Rob


Friday, February 17, 2012

Training Rides/Races

A lot of times I'm asked by athletes if it's ok to enter a practice or training ride/race while they're following their Annual Training Plan (ATP).  My answer: a vehement "YES of course!"  I highly encourage it.  There is no better preparation for a "real" race than a "practice" race.  What's even nicer about "practice" races is that you can try things out that you wouldn't normally try during a "real" race.  i.e. you can try to breakaway or just sit out in front as long as you can/want JUST to get a good workout in.   More importantly, who cares about your finish in a practice race.  I actually tell some of my athletes to race it for a few laps then sit in and wait til the final sprint.  That way, they're getting a good workout in and they're also getting some final sprint practice.  Or, just go as hard as you can and drop out and call it a night..after's PRACTICE!

For newbies, there is no better place to start then in a practice/training race.  Just make sure that you stay to the rear of the pack because your bike handling skills are NOT going to be on par with the rest of the pack and the last thing you want to do is jeopardize the safety of the pack.  Remember, these practice/training races get everything from the first time racer to the occasional Pro.  You'll never get that kind of mix in any race other than a practice/training race.  If you are new, just remember when you hang off the back you're going to work HARDER than if you sit-in the middle of the pack.  Your race will be nothing but deceleration and accelerations.  You'll be acting like an accordian the entire race.  But, don't fret..just realize that's what is going to happen.  If you have to drop out for a few laps..there's nothing wrong with that.  Just recover, and hop back on the caboose when the train comes back around.  Normally, these rides are 1+ mile loops/laps that last for 45 minutes to an hour.  So, you'll get plenty of work in. 

For you experienced guys, these races are a good place to experiment.  That's right "experiment".  Why not?  Try attacking..see how long you can stay out front.  Go with every attack you can.  Work on bridging gaps.  Watch the more experienced riders and see if you can guess when they are going to attack.  Do they always look back first?  Take different lines each lap.  Find ways to conserve energy.  Know when to sit in.  Identify when decelerations are coming.  If you're out front, know how to decelerate cresting a hill then accelerate and hurt the guys halfway up the hill that are off the back.  Have fun with it! 

Most importantly, have a reason/purpose/goal for wanting to enter the practice race that particular night.  For newbies, it's pretty simple- to gain valuable experience.  For you experienced guys, it should be to work on something.  Make it a learning tool.  Or heck who knows, maybe you just want to go out and hurt people with your accelerations..if you're strong enough to do that.

For you guys/gals that live in the Philadelphia area, here are a list of training rides/races (courtesy of Guy's Racing):
The Drives , Tuesdays - 6:30 pm, Location - Meet at Memorial Hall, North Concourse, in Fairmount Park or East Falls Bridge.  Format - 3.5 laps on a 8.4 miles loop over East Falls Bridge then around Kelly and West River Drives, competitive race pace sprints, flat.  Average Speed - 25 mph, Map - East Falls Bridge, Philadelphia, PA 19129

Great Valley Practice Criterium , Thursdays - 6:00 pm, Location - Great Valley Corporate Center (Off Route 29), Malvern.  Format - 30 laps, sprint every 3rd lap, 30 miles, flat w/one riser.  Average Speed - 20 to 25 mph, Map - Great Valley Parkway, Malvern, PA 19335

Guy's Racing Genuardi's Ride , Sundays - 9:00 am, Location - Holy Redeemer Healthcare Center (formerly Genuardies Groceries), Huntingdon Pike and Rockledge Avenue.  Format - 50 miles, training tempo ride over rolling to hilly terrain, no ride on race day.  Average Speed - 17 to 18 mph, Map - 821 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Museum "Italian Fountain" Ride , Saturday & Sunday - 9:00 am, Location - Philadelphia Art Museum, leaving from rear fountain circle, Format - 45 to 70 miles, rolling to hilly terrain, generally breaks into groups, Average Speed - 17 to 18 mph
Map - Waterworks Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19130

Northeast Airport Practice Criterium , Tuesday - 6:00 pm, Location - Red Lion (off of Academy Rd) Decatur and Drummond Roads, Philadelphia, Format - 1 hour + 5 laps, 1.3 mile laps, flat, sprint final lap, Average Speed - 25 mph, Map - 3100 Red Lion Road, Philadelphia, PA 19114

Suburban Cyclists Unlimited ACTS Ride , Saturdays - 8:00 am (9:00 am winter),
Location - ACTS Office Center, 375 Morris Rd., Format - 40 to 60+ miles, rolling or hilly, Average Speed - 16 to 18 mph, Map - 375 Morris Rd, Lansdale, PA 19446

Suburban Cyclists Unlimited HHHS Ride , Tuesdays and Thursdays - 6:00 pm April and Sep; 6:30 pm in May, June, July, and Aug, Location - Hatboro Horsham High School, 899 Horsham Rd, between Babylon and Norristown Rds, Parking lot E, Horsham, Format - Ride loops back to HHHS at sunset, rolling or hilly, tail light recommended, Average Speed - individual speed groups represented from 10 up to 20+ mph, Map - 899 Horsham Rd, Horsham, PA 19044

Suburban Cyclists Unlimited Harleysville Ride , Wednesday- 6:00 pm, Location - Indian Valley Middle School, Harleysville, Format - Ride loops back to IVMS at sunset, hilly, tail light recommended, Average Speed - individual speed groups represented from 10 up to 20+ mph, Map - 130 Maple Avenue, Harleysville, PA 19438

Victory Brewery Ride, Tuesday - 6:00 pm, Location - Victory Brewery Company, Downingtown, Format - 28 miles, rolling to hilly terrain, Average Speed - 17 to 18 mph, Map - 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA 19335

Mark your calendar and try to fit a practice race in at least once per week..preferably on Tuesday or Wednesday night during the race season.  That way if you race on Saturday you have at least a 2 day rest.  If you want to enter a practice race on Thursday night and you have a BIG race on Saturday..just be careful/sure you have enough rest in-between.  Some guys can recuperate quickly (you young bucks) while us older farts need a coupla days.

I've found it best when I entered a practice race on Tuesday night and a fast group ride on Thursday night.  That set me up nicely for a Saturday race...because the more intense workout was earlier in the week with good recovery in-between.  Remember, you get stronger during the recovery period.  You don't recover- you don't get stronger..simple as that!

Power ON! Coach Rob 

Monday, February 6, 2012


Here's a "must-have" App for you iPhone users out there.  It's the My USAC App.

The My USAC app gives you quick access to to your USA Cycling account, recent race results, upcoming events, and all of the latest cycling news from USA Cycling. You can check the status of your licenses, view event details and register for new events. You can also view news from general headlines or from specific disciplines (Road, Mountain, BMX, etc.)

The best thing about the App is that if you forget your race license at registration, you can show the Officials your My USAC on your iPhone and you're good-to-go.

Don't wait, download it NOW!  It's FREE

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Friday, January 27, 2012

Trust your coach..follow the plan!

Many times I ask NEW athletes I coach if they were ever coached before.  Many were.  I usually follow that question up with: why did you leave the coach?  And, most of the time I never really get a good answer.  My guess is that they either lose interest in the plan the coach prescribed or have no faith in the plan and/or see no progress.  Who knows?
I think where most of the coach-athlete relationships go sour/wrong is with the "athlete".  Sorry guys/gals but it's true.  99% of the time it's because the athlete doesn't stay on the plan.  They either end up doing their own thing or start incorporating what they believe is a better workout routine into the plan.  Then, guess what?  Poor or no results.
Let me give you a good analogy to explain what I'm talking about.  When you're (really) sick you go to a doctor?  What's the first thing the doctor does?  He/she starts poking/prodding (testing) you, right?  He/she makes a diagnosis.  After the diagnosis is performed, he/she prescribes a plan on what he/she believes will get you better quickly.  That plan usually consists of rest and some medication/antibiotic.  Now suppose when you get home you start to follow the plan by getting rest and taking the meds (as prescribed by the doc) and you don't see any results. i.e. you don't seem to be getting better.  What do you do?  Do you stop taking the meds?  Do you start taking OTHER meds?  Do you mix other meds with your prescribed meds?  Or conversely, maybe you start feeling better quickly and decide to ditch the meds?  Sounds crazy doesn't it?  (Hey, I'm guilty of the last one..I start feeling better and ditch the meds).  Well, that's EXACTLY what a lot of athletes do.    They start experimenting on their own like it's some kind of game.  You think I'm kidding?  I'm willing to bet that 50% of the athletes that hire coaches don't stick to the plan.  That experimentation I'm talking about is in the form of performing other workouts or even following other training plans.  Or maybe they heard that there is a secret workout that makes you stronger over night and start doing that exclusively.  Who knows.  By the way, there are NO SECRET workouts..sorry.  Just like there's no fat pill that will make you lose weight overnight. 

The point I'm trying to make here is clear: FOLLOW THE PLAN.  Don't deviate from the plan and give the plan some time.  Then if it doesn't can try a new coach or a new plan until you find the one that's right for you.  But, if you do find a new coach that prescribes a similar plan (from the last coach) don't be afraid to tell that new coach..been there, done doesn't work for me.  Because, the definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  And, you'll not only be wasting your time and'll be wasting the coaches time.
So, listen to your coach and follow the plan.  The plans work if you follow them and give them time.  Problem is, just like the dieter that wants to see weight loss overnight..most athletes want to see instant power gains over night and it aint gonna happen.

POWER ON!  Coach Rob