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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Volume vs. Intensity

I had a great email conversation with my friend, and fellow coach this morning (Todd Wiley), about "Volume vs. Intensity" of cycling training this time of year.  Put simply, do you ride as many miles as you can this time of year or should you ride fewer miles with higher-intensity?

Before I give you my thoughts, I want to show you a chart which I believe is pretty accurate regarding the recommended hours of weekly training you should be logging (for success) based on your racing category.  Let's take a Cat 3 rider for example.  According to the chart (below), if you're a Cat 3 rider you should be riding a max of 19 hrs./wk. for success.  That's right 19! 

And, if you believe in Friel's Annual Training Periodization Schedule/Plan (like I do), the maximum volume will be the end of your Base Training period.  If you started your annual training in November (like most athletes have- unless you're a CX guy/gal), that Base Period or maximum volume period is right about NOW!  Yes, NOW!  And, I'll bet any Cat 3 rider out there (a beer), that lives around Doylestown, PA, that there is NO WAY you're putting-in that many hours per week on the bike.  I don't care if you add-in your weekly gym workouts.  Even if you ride/rode 4 hrs. on both Sat and Sun, that still means you need to be putting in 11 hours during the week.  The only way you can put 11 hours in during the week is if you train 2 hrs. indoors on the trainer each day or ride an hour to/from work each day in the dark.  I don't know any Cat 2 guy doing that let alone a Cat 3 guy.

(BTW, I haven't bought a beer yet and I've posted lots of bets in the blogs I've written over the last 4-5 yrs.) 

Ok, lets go back to the question I asked at the beginning of the blog and that is: Do you ride as many miles as you can this time of year or should you ride fewer miles with higher-intensity?  I think what's key here is "ride as many miles as you can".  Naturally, for us Northeasterner's riding as much as we can might only add up to 10 hrs. per week this time of year.  If that's the case, then I believe you need to supplement those volume/tempo rides with some hi-intensity rides/workouts.  That's why I always include at least one tough L4 or L5 workout in my athletes training schedule each week because I know they're not getting in the hours or mileage they need "for success".

Moral of the blog: Ride as long and as often as you can (outside) this time of year.  If you can't, whether it's because of your work schedule or inclement weather, supplement your outdoor volume training with indoor hi-intensity training. 

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Strength Conditioning for Cyclists

I figured if I put a pic of a good looking gal on the blog, and title the blog "strength conditioning" instead of weight training I'd get more people's attention. Instead of writing about the importance of strength training (which is synonymous with weight training in my book) I'll let you take a look at some videos from Lance Armstrong's former Strength and Conditioning Coach- Peter Park.

After you watch this first video, look at the bottom of the video page and you'll see a Tab that reads: 1/18 with an arrow next to it. Click on the forward arrow and you'll go to Video #2 in the series of 18 videos. These are good videos. Listen clearly and pay attention to form when doing these's very important for two reasons: 1) that you isolate the muscle(s) you're trying to strengthen and 2) you don't hurt yourself. Because you will hurt yourself if you do them with high weight and do them incorrectly. So, sit back, relax, and watch some strength conditioning exercises for Cyclists, from LA's former S&C coaches.

Power ON!  Coach Rob