Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Skate Ski Camp Motivation

Check it out.  This is what is possible on xc skis.  XC SKIS!!

Short version, good tunes:

Longer version, better vid.

No, I don't think you'll be quite this good after camp, but you can dream.

Camp will be late Jan, stay tuned for more info.  You'll love skate skiing!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Mikes Don't Make A Wrong

Two of my boys ended the season on pretty high notes and I'm both super proud of them and really excited about where we're headed in 2011.  I might even be more excited than they are right now as they are both basking in the well earned glow of reaching their (lofty) goals and taking some time to recover physically and mentally from the efforts. 

Mike Festa and Mike Hebe wrapped up their seasons with a second place overall finish in the MAC Men's B competition and by snapping up the last Kona qualifying spot in the Cozumel IronMan for men 40-44, respectively. 

Festa built his MAC success on consistent high placings from the start of the season through the last race and in the process grabbed a win at Granogue.  Perhaps even more impressive was that this November success came at the end of a season that saw Mike take on some big challenges including riding extremely well at the Trans-Sylvania Epic in May and making a strong run at Battenkill Roubaix in April that had him in the final selection at the end of "America's Hardest One Day Race."  Coming into form for three events in one season is no mean feat that takes work ethic and mental toughness and a solid plan.

Festa in action:
Festa on the Bald Eagle Coburn stage of Trans-Sylvania, courtesy Abe Landes Photography

Festa riding the steps at Granogue on the way to victory.  Captured by Scott Hendrickson.

And speaking of mental toughness, Hebe could be the proverbial picture in the dictionary defining the term. His season was highlighted by some great performances in TTs, Tris and a Aquathon, but what was really impressive was his commitment to training.  Hebe didn't race a lot this year and really very little after making the decision late in summer to make the run at IM Cozumel.  In fact, the longest triathlon Hebe raced since returning to tris in prep for his assault - again, not just to finish the damn thing, but to qualify for Kona - was an Olympic distance event.  As any IMer will tell you that marathon at the end of the day is the real killer.  Hebe prepped for Cozumel on the strength of his very focused approach to training.  He went out and did what was needed and through strength of mind - both in belief of his ability to compete and in his willingness to train as hard (or harder) than he needed to race - grabbed that last qualifying spot for Kona.  

As an aside, the other very cool bit is that way way back in the day Hebe took a shot at Kona and just missed.  He decided that at that point in his life he needed to focus on his career and turned to road, cross and mountain bike racing for 20 years.  In less than two years he's made a return to multisport racing and now we're building to the World Championships.  That's a good story, but it ain't finished.  Now to the "Kona Here We Come" plan.

Crossing the finish in Mexico.  On to Kona.

Here's a little interview with Hebe, who has also organized the MAC and PA 'Cross series the past several years about all this stuff - http://www.cxmagazine.com/macs-iron-mike-hebe-trials-series-director

Nice work fellas,

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Have you seen this yet?  If not you should.  These things are fun.  These things are good.  CadenceTV is something we started cooking up a few years back when I was hanging out in Philly with the crew.  Of course, I'm not there any more, but luckily Brady is and Brady knows some stuff.  See, Brady went to school for doing fancy things with video cameras and audio equipment and such.  He took the good idea of CadenceTV and has continually tweaked it to make it something most anyone who spends any time indoors on a trainer in the winter can appreciate and enjoy (I suppose this is a loose interpretation of the word "enjoy" but you know what I'm saying).

CadenceTV takes the idea of the indoor trainer DVD and expands it into a web based version that offers dozens of workouts with more coming every week that offers variety in a ready-made 1 hr dose.  All you need to do is log in, jump on, and go.  The online interface provides all the instruction you need for the workout with pop-up notifications of changes in intensity and technique throughout.  You can even customize the experience further by inputting your own personal heart rate and power data which will then be reflected during the workout on the screen.

The interface keeps improving too with more of the workouts being shown with video of group rides or races which helps engage the psychological components of training.  This can be further customized by booting up your own vids and showing them over top the Cadence video feed or even bringing up something like Hulu or internet TV and putting those in the place of the video stream - you can still see the workout so the training is uninterrupted.

Why would I talk about this here when I'm not with Cadence anymore?  Well the guys are a good crew and do a great job and this is something that can benefit anyone - and I do mean anyone, even those of us lucky enough not to be stuck in a winter climate.  CadenceTV is great for people who are just time constrained and need a quick workout any time of the year.   Plus it is $100 for the entire year - so you could maybe get 5-6 DVDs for that amount of cash and here you get access to an ever expanding library of workouts - potentially hundreds before long.  For $100 it is a great tool and a worthwhile investment for most any athlete.

And that's the kicker.  I'm here to make my athletes faster, stronger, better and smarter.  I am constantly looking for tools and educating myself so that I am able to deliver this to my athletes.  CadenceTV is something I suggest adding to the arsenal of training tools for my peeps for the simple reason that it can help get them to their goals.  Like I said, doing that for my athletes is my #1 goal.  Give me a call and we'll get you to yours - or get you to exceed them even.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Get Your Fix

These guys kick ass.  I love this site.  It is chock full of great info about a bunch of different sports and is presented in a manner that is relatively free of corporate influence. The two scientists behind this site cover whatever is the major world wide sporting event happening at any particular point in the year (they don't count Bowl games as world wide though, sorry).  You'll see coverage on all sorts of things and some pretty in-depth analysis that, if you happen to enjoy reading about the science behind sport performance, you'll love.   Best part though is that even when they get technical they go back and make it simple to understand too. They also run feature series on topics like hydration and running form that are well worth the read if only to have someone playing devil's advocate on the latest trends or on science backed by corporations (read the hydration series for more on that little ditty).  

This is great place to learn more about sport in general.  If your interests only lie with cycling then at least put these guys down for some visiting hours during summer stage races where they break down performances like few others can or do.  Plus with these guys being from South Africa you'll find a little different approach perhaps than what the US prognosticators offer up.  That's nice too.  Bring a sipping beverage and stay awhile - www.sportsscientists.com.

Right now they're running their take on the "Best of 2010" and have given "Drug of the Year" honors...no spoilers here though.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Getting Cold Out There -- Winter Training Tidbits

With winter's icy chill upon us here in the Mid-Atlantic....

Puncture Proof Your Ride
Not much is worse than getting a flat when it is sub-30, unless it happens to be raining too.  While no tire is puncture proof - remind me to tell you about the time I punctured a tire, tube and rim(!) all in one shot - you can do a lot to reduce the chances of getting caught trying to peel off a way too tight bead with hands slowly blackening from frostbite!  A heavy duty tire with puncture resistant plys is your first line of defense and I suggest choosing a tire that has the same level of flat resistance in the side wall.  Specialized's Armadillo tires have always done me well here and I've also had good luck with Conti's Gatorskins.  Another method is to go for thorn proof inner tubes - basically these are just super thick inner tubes that are going to take a awful nasty pointy thing to poke through.  Double up the thorn proof tube with the heavy duty tire and you're likely set (though I think the ONLY flat I ever got on Armadillos was the aformentioned metal forging puncture so no thick tubes may be necessary there!) for the winter.  No, your bike will not ride as well - it is going to feel less supple with this sort of set up - and you're going to add weight to the rig, but who cares, it's winter and it is way better than making your buddies wait for you to struggle through a flat change in mid-January!
Another possibility here is to go with Stan's NoTubes and go with the sealant fix to eliminate that leaky tube.  This could allow you to keep a better riding tire on the bike and still be puncture free.  I'd still suggest some extra sidewall protection from the heavier duty tire whether you go tubed or NoTubes through the winter just to be sure.

Fenders Aren't Just for PeeWee
Okay, some of you are going to say that fenders aren't cool.  Maybe not though there are some nice ones from Crud Catcher and SKS these days that look way more svelte than fenders used to.  What is cool - or downright cold - is the spray from the wet slushy nasty salted Mid-Atlantic winter roads.  And not only cold, that stuff isn't real nice to that frame or all those pricy bits and pieces you have hanging all over it.  Fenders keep you, your clothing and your bike cleaner and drier and that can lead to more enjoyable and longer winter rides.  They're also great on group rides - if everyone had 'em!  At least you don't have to be the jerk throwing slush all over your riding buddy.

If you find yourself in a pinch this winter - out longer than you intended and getting really chilled or caught in the rain on a cold day - grab some plastic to save your butt.  Plastic obviously isn't a great choice most of the time - it doesn't breathe and you want gear that breathes.  Unless your freezing then you just better get warm.  And, there is nothing better in the cold and wet to keep you warm than plastic bags.  You can find plastic bags all over the place, but two way to obtain them that work really well - convenience stores where you can find the shopping bag style and get a dry place close to the bike to modify them to your needs and those lovely little bags that hold newspapers.   I've used bags in all sorts of ways - shoved up the front, back and sleeves of a coat, to cover my feet inside my shoes (since it is super thin it plastic bags will fit right over your socks) and even in my gloves with a little bit of ripping and tearing - and they do work in an emergency.  And, if it is really really really cold I might even start with them on my feet.  Again, this stuff doesn't breathe and that is BAD so whip this out only in emergencies!

Put Your Right Arm In
Of course, while plastics are a great emergency solution when you haven't prepared well the best way to enjoy the winter is to make sure you have the right gear and you use it at the right times.  Winter gear has progressed and improved a ton since I started riding and the new lighter weight and more technical apparel is definitely nicer than the heavy jackets we used to wear.  Understand what you have and what you don't have and make an effort to fill in the holes in your winter collection.  One great thing about high quality winter gear is that it does last a long time.  Even though the new stuff is a lot better than my old faded gear, I have some neon purple/yellow bits from the early 90s that is still functional...slightly embarassing but still functional.  Invest in good winter gear and it will last potentially decades.  Don't be afraid to spend serious money for good stuff - unless you think the new stuff is just too sexy not too have....BTW, have you seen the Radiation gear from Castelli??  Damn.

As one of my athletes recently said, 'Yea, the jacket was $350, but I use it several times a week all winter long and I'll have it for years.  That's a lot less than I spend on race wheels that I probably don't nearly use as often or put anywhere close to the same number of miles on.  And probably benefits me more actually when I really think about it.'  That's pretty logical.  Get good stuff.

Let's Get It Started In Here
December is definitely time to start planning for next season if you have not done so already.  Yes, not all the calendars are out yet, but for the most part you can start to put together - and perhaps mostly flesh out - your event calendar for next season this month.  This is one of the primary concerns in setting up your annual training plan.  It is also a great time to start to think about those goals and even picture in your mind how you're going to get there and what it is going to look like when you put down your best performance on that day.  Positive mental imagery is very important and you have no reason to doubt that you won't be at your very best come race day - you have all the time you need to get ready - so start picturing that success as you start laying out the events.  Once you have an idea of what events you're going to target then it is possible to lay out a training plan based on what you need to do in order to overcome the challenges of the event.  All of this early preparation should only add to your confidence and expectations for success.  A good plan not only gives you the right workouts and training cycles, but gives you confidence that you'll be at your peak when your big day comes.  I'm here to help.  Give a call or drop an email.

Breathe Deep
In today's age of high tech monitors and wattage based training plans sometimes the forest gets lost in the trees.  This is a great time of year to take some of the clutter off the dashboard and spend at least a couple weeks just riding or running.  Base training - or not worrying about training and enjoying riding for the joy of riding - can definitely be done a lot by feel as long as you are honest with yourself about the effort you're making. 

Power monitoring and other technology is incredible.  It has changed how we train and how coaches build plans.  Understanding and making proper use of that technology can make your training time more efficient allowing you to stronger by training more intelligently.  That being said, sometimes you need to make sure you're head is up and you're doing the one thing that likely got you building goals and chasing dreams through sport in the first place - nothing more than being out there doing it.
Look around. 
It will be time to get focused soon enough.

Small Block Plans Now Available

I keep the Power On training plan break down as simple as possible.  Having seen the more complicated side of things I find that simple is better when it comes to plan options for the athletes and the coach.  Easy delineations between what one plan level offers and another make choosing the right plan simple and straightforward.  I've been offering two plans up to this point both of which have allowed athletes unlimited contact with me; the only difference between the plans coming from the additional analysis of power data.  This is my preferred way of coaching because it has been readily apparent to me in over more than a decade of  designing training that the athletes who interact with me most frequently often get the most from the training.  In my ideal world I hear from all of my athletes frequently!

That being said, I have been approached by a number of dedicated athletes looking for something a little different.  I've been asked to provide an option that creates a completely personalized and customized training plan, but at a lower cost.  Both very experienced athletes who have a good sense of how to cope with obstacles that arise in their training and athletes on a budget who want more than just a pre-built plan have come to me.  My solution are the following "small-block" plans.

Available in blocks of 12 weeks or 24 weeks, these plans start the same as the month-to-month plans do with an in-depth interview with the athlete that addresses all the important information needed to build a custom plan.  These plans differ in that they are delivered as a one-time block and do not include on-going communication or analysis in the cost of the plan.  The major benefit to this sort of plan is that it is still designed around you, your goals, your strengths and weaknesses, your schedule, your life, your past training, your target event and the demands of that event at a lower cost.  It just may be perfect if you feel you do not need as much interaction with your coach. 

Personally, I much prefer to communicate closely with my athletes on a regular basis.  I feel the athletes get more out of the coaching and I can coach them more effectively because I can respond or anticipate issues that may arise and we can adjust their plan as needed.  But, I take the same care and attention in building out these small block plans as I do in building out the training for my regular athletes and designed this as an excellent option for the right athlete.  Please contact me directly to get started on your 2011 plans!

12 weeks: $250 ($350 for triathletes)
24 weeks: $400 ($500 for triathletes)
Start up fee and Annual Training Plan design: $100 (waived with a 1 year commitment)

Initial power based testing or analysis is available and recommended when starting your training program.  Contact me for details.

Notes:  Small Block Plans must be paid in full at sign up.  A follow up call to explain any questions you may have about the plan is included after you've had a chance to look over the plan.   Modifications to the plan or further contact during the training block is available based on an hourly fee.  Discounts to Power On Camps are included with Small Block Plans!!

Additional information on these plans and on monthly training plans is available on the Coaching Philosophy and Pricing page of this site.