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