Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cooties or Something Worse!

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again… 

Like summer camp's cooties scourge , early winter brings back that bit of evilness called the flu.  And just like cooties, you just can’t get away from it! Even if you hide in your cubical all day, or avoid your roommates at all costs, that invisible virus creeps onto your skin from the places you least expect—the door knob, the kitchen sink, the gym weights, your children (or worse, nieces and nephews). If you touch something that someone infected by the bug did, you come into contact with the flu virus—plain and simple. So, you will encounter the flu. But how you gonna deal?

We all know that the flu knocks you on your butt and puts a serious hurt on your life. For some, depression also sets in with that first sneeze. ‘There goes this week’s training. There goes all my base work. There goes next month's marathon. There goes… (you've entered into endless questioning that leads nowhere).” The anxiety exacerbates the situation by releasing stress hormones in your body that suppresses your immune system. In other words, psychological stress prevents you from getting better. Prolonged sickness begins to effect other parts of your life as you miss dates or parties or family activities because you’re not feeling well. Perhaps, you must take sick days from work.

Your body tells you something important when the flu affects you: “I need rest.” Relax your mind and postpone pushing your body for a few days. I am not suggesting that you stop training. Athletes train with the goal of getting faster and stronger. Sometimes this means going as hard as possible in order to tear up your muscles (we call this overloading). At other times, training means repairing those torn muscles and allowing your systems to return to normal. When athletes stop training, they often fill their time with other things which do not include thinking about their body. Instead, take the time you set aside to work out and replace it by working hard to heal your body. That is, adapt your training to optimize your recovery. Talk to a coach about possible substitutions you can make to increase recovery when affected by the flu. Can you take that hour endurance bike ride and turn it into an hour of self massage to encourage your immune system? Can you do a half hour of light yoga followed by a long warm shower instead of doing VO2max intervals? Can you sleep more? Sure you can.  And, m
ake sure to talk with your coach about how to train as you step back in to your full workout plan - jumping right in to the schedule you had to abandon due to illness is not the way to re-engage.  Be an active participant in your training. Instead of putting yourself back, adapt.

Hopefully your encounter with the flu this season hasn’t taken you to the point of curled up in a fetal position on the couch!  Use common sense steps to avoid infection and prevent the virus from spreading: wash your hands frequently; be aware when you touch something that others touch (door handles, computer key boards, ect); get plenty of sleep and eat well to keep the immune system functioning at full capacity; keep your hands away from your eyes, hands, mouth; be caucious when in contact with someone sick with the flu; stay home if you're feeling the flu coming on and cover your mouth if you cough! 

By the way, do not use the flu as your weight loss plan.  Don't run off to the local day-care searching for this year's strain in order to take off that winter weight!  (Shoot Power On an e-mail and we can chat about other ways of losing weight. )

This post was co-written by Power On Coaches Mike Kuhn and  Jon Fecik.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Much You Got?

It seems that athletes are often very optimistic when it come to the amount of time they have to train.  They then plan to fill all this time with training and are often disappointed to find that they fall short of their own expectations.

If you find yourself in this situation try a little simple math.  First, write out all the things you have to do in a week.  Next note how much time each of these activities consumes.  Be sure to include things like sleeping (and please plan for a good night's sleep, 4 hours won't cut it) and eating and driving to work or school or to pick up the kids.  Be sure to include leisure time activities as well.  If you watch an hour of TV every night and veg out, put it down.  How much time do you need to put into watching the kid's games or helping out at grandma and grandpa's place this weekend?  How much quality time do you need for your family?

Be honest about this stuff and really think about the time it takes to live the life you need to live.

Once you have an amount of time assigned to all of these, add up the hours.  A week gives you 7 x 24 or 168 hours.  Subtract your total amount of time consumed by life from those 168 hours.  That might just help you decide what you legitimately can and can not do.

Not enough training time for you or your goals?  Take another look at your list of activities and time commitments.  Are there things there you would be willing to give up?  Can you become more efficient at some of your responsibilities?  Can you work your training into some of these activities and commitments by doing things like commuting to work by bike or running 5 miles to your kid's home soccer games?  If not, do you need to re-consider how you're going to reach your goals?

Lets face it, if you can't keep the wife, kids, parents, s.o., boss, etc. happy life can become a real mess really quickly.   Examine your time, you might find the balance you need to make training really work for you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time for a change! Or not.

With fall upon us many riders are gearing down a bit and looking at a few last events or maybe some slightly more socially focused riding opportunities.  Those engaged heavily in 'cross racing certainly don't fall into this group, but shift the schedule a couple months and they'll be ready for a little down time too.

Of course much has been said about there not being an "off-season" especially for Master's athletes and I'd have to concur.  In fact, unless you're lucky enough to be in a position that allows for some pretty big volume over the past 3-6 months you may not want to back down your weekly hours at all.  I've often found that for athletes with full time jobs and kids and a spouse and a second job and some social life or some combination of those factors we're already making the most out of pretty limited training time. 

Often in these instances backing down training volume just isn't necessary.   Of course, it is different for every person, but if you're at 5-8 hours of training per week and are working in recovery when necessary you might not be stressing the system so much that you can't keep putting in the same amount of volume all year round.  Just because pros and even high level amateurs drop back in volume this time of year doesn't mean you should do the same.  Train for you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

To InterBike and Back

Way busy time last week as I packed up the High Speed Cycling/Iron Cross/Trans-Sylvania Epic/Power On Coaching conglomerate and headed west to Sin City for some Big Pimpin' - mostly of TSE.

The response was fantastic.  I'm really excited about where we're going with the TSEpic and it also got me more pumped about Iron Cross and the Rattling Weekend too.  The trip has given me all sorts of ideas and motivation to keep pushing forward on those events, motivation which admittedly can be a bit tough to find now and then when much of the promotional juice is sopped up by that huge sponge that is Trans-Sylvania.  So lots of good reasons to get out there!

I didn't get to see a whole lot of new training technology out there, but there were a few things that look pretty intriguing though I'm waiting to hear a bit more first!

Power2Max is a new power meter hopefully coming on the scene that may be the most affordable crank based option if you already happen to own a compatible crank (one with a removable spider).  Affordable is great as long as it gives you everything you need from a powermeter.  Of course, the claims are great so it remains to be seen if it all works in the end.  This

PowerTap (links to article by VeloNews) is offering this new gizmo that is claimed to be able to calibrate power and HR closely enough that you can "train with power" by referring only to your heart rate data.  I have my doubts on this one.  I can see it working in some situations - in fact there are workouts that I find are most useful with HR primarily.  But there are still enough instances and issues - HR doesn't react the same when fatigued; short sharp efforts, HR to power lag - that this device is coming with a big asterisk and needs to be well understood by any user.   On the plus side, I do like the new Joule units (pictured above) coming from CycleOps - both offer some great data like TSS, NP and IF and one is offering GPS recording for later download.

Garmin bought out Metrigear a few years ago and lots of folks have been waiting to see what the promising Metrigear technology would turn into with the resources available through a giant like Garmin.  I think the results -the Garmin Vector - are a little underwhelming, and I'm taking a watch and see position on this one.  I do like some of the ideas behind pedal based power - certainly right/left power breakdown could be very useful not just to training but also to overall muscular balance, bike fit and even injury diagnosis.  The problem is that, so far, Garmin is offering one pedal system and it is their own system that appears to be a low end pedal body on a very high dollar pedal.  (BTW, initially the Metrigear meter promised lower cost...)  My hope was that the long delay between the purchase of Metrigear and the Gamin Powermeter launch meant that we'd see a myriad of axle options to fit just about any pedal be it road or mountain.  What we get  At the same time, this pedal has prompted Garmin to add NP, TSS and IF to the Edge 500 and 800 displays, but it seems like that might only work with the Vector so the Joule may still be the best option.

And I have to say that I really like the look of the new Genius "virtual reality trainer" - lets just call it a fancy indoor trainer shall we? - from TACX.  This thing merges video gaming and indoor training like nothing before.  The graphics are impressive and you - no kidding - can actually steer this thing with your bars/front wheel (for an added fee of course!).  I still prefer riding outside in "actual reality" but I know my life makes doing such a lot harder than it used to be.  No doubt, the more lifelike that indoor experience is the more people will use it.  I also like the idea that I could even ride with or race against friends in other states and coutries on-line now and then.  Well, except those friends in places like Arizona and San Diego - group riding with those kids may require a January trip south and west.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mid-Summer Update -

With all that's gone on in the last 6 months around here it sure has passed quickly!  Too bad I haven't taken the opportunity to update you on the all the good stuff though as there has been a ton.  Instead, we'll wrap it up quick and move on! 

The big happening was, of course, the Trans-Sylvania Epic.  We put a ton of work into that puppy and it came off great again - and work is already under way on year 3 to make it better again.

I had five athletes going after TSE in addition to getting the event promotion and keeping it rolling throughout. TSE was a big target not only for those athletes, but for the whole Bringing Endurance Goodness joint/Power On too.

Our early season camps were a great success and we're working on winter and spring training camps for 2012. South Carolina was a blast with the riding and weather both excellent for the whole trip. With Paris Mountain literally out our back door at camp, Mt Mitchell a short drive away and Caesars Head within riding distance it really is a sweet location not far from our home base. Look for at least one trip to South Carolina, maybe two - and yes, it is that good - next spring!

The Endurance MTB Camp in State College was a suburb long weekend of killer riding to help racers prep for the coming slate of endurance events. Not only was the riding stellar but we were joined by the inimitable Sue Haywood who willing lent her expertise to all those in attendance and was also using the camp to prep for TSE and summer endurance events herself. (Thanks for coming out Sue!)

I also took part as a coach in two regional development camps this spring.  The Mid-Atlantic MTB camp went off in late March and I had great fun again this year at this annual Michaux weekend put on by Fast Forward Racing.  More recently I had the opportunity to coach at the USAC Mid-Atlantic Jr Devo Camp at DeSales University where 30 young talented racers come in for a week of skills and technique focused instruction.  We did a bit of athlete identification work for the Fed and introduced many of them to the velodrome for the first time during the week as well.

While we're on the topic, we're contemplating a few new camps.  It is apparent that there is a need for more camps focused on new riders and those who aren't race focused.  The basis for a camp like this would be less about mileage and more about technique, confidence, handling and how-tos.  We're working out the details for these and plan to launch several in 2012. Everyone from Cat 3s and 4s to century riders to Sunday morning social riders can benefit from camps like these - not only are they about allowing you to go faster, but you'll learn greater control and that means safer riding experiences.

TSE wasn't the only race promo on the schedule either as we kicked off the Mid-Atlantic Super Series with the International Intergalactic Global Open Relay in April and enjoyed another great year at the Oesterling Farm.  Unfortunately the farm was hit with a tornado just before Memorial Day so we had to cancel our traditional summer event we've held there the last 8 years.

The Rattling 50 and Iron Cross weekends are coming up quickly so break time from the events side of things is over - come out and join us for one of these racer favorites

Of course, all along our athletes have been preparing for their big events and meeting with great success along the way and we'll touch on that more next time!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Kickoff and going Euro

There is more going on at Power On Coaching in 2011 than ever and I can't believe how well the year has started.  I've welcomed several new clients into the fold and with them we'll be going after all sorts of goals.  Two new athletes are aiming squarely at my very own Trans-Sylvania Epic 7 Day Mountain Bike Stage Race, another is using the mtb to further establish his Spanish MTB Import Biz at events throughout España (much like we're doing in the States with Team TSE p/b Stan's NoTubes), another is targeting 100 mile events in the NUE Series throughout the season and a fourth shooting for success in women's road and crit events throughout the Mid-Atlantic while a fifth new rider has recently relocated to a new job and state and is facing the unknown while starting her quest for success in the south central USA.  With several athletes also re-igniting the training impetus after recharging the batteries January has been busy!

Another new Power On Athlete is an old friend looking to get back into a sport he loves and prepare, to start, for some wicked cool local events run by Kermesse Sport.  This guy also happens to be the man behind a cycling website that does a great job mixing news with real and tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek analysis of all that is good in Euro racing.  If you've not yet seen it, Whit's Pavé Blog is a hoot and well worth a daily visit.

In working through Whit's 2011 plan which starts with the local Hell of Hunterdon, Fool's Classic, and the new Fleche Buffoon (so new it doesn't have a site yet; the link takes you to BikeReg) we started talking about how there are a lot of riders in the region that could have a great time doing these rides which offer up a feel for the European spring campaign.  That's the sort of riding we both love and Whit thought it would be great to work with Brian over at Kermesse Sport and put together a training plan or two focused on these events. We'll be introducing those in the near future on Pavé.

But Whit kept going with the ideas and due to his scooping of Belgian pro team jerseys (which resulted in cease and desist letters from Euro goons) and a general joie de vivre he's been attracting more and more interest from across the pond.  With an easily seen love of the spring classics and some English folks (and English speakers from around the continent) tuned in it turns out that some of readers are headed to the Flanders Sportive and the Roubaix Challenge - 155-165 K rides that allow the average Joe to dream of glory while working through the same cobbles and bergs on which the pros do battle each spring!  (Whit and I are already working on plans to go next spring...)  Any guesses where this is headed?

That's right, Pavé Blog and Power On Coaching have teamed up to offer a Flanders/Roubaix training plan.  I'm very excited about this offering.  I believe the very best way to prepare specifically for an event is to do so through a personalized training plan specific to an individual but I'm ecstatic to offer up a well designed very affordable plan that is focused on the exacting demands of these events and designed to help athletes have a great day on the cobbles. 

The Flanders/Roubaix plan is suited to riders taking on either or both events and while not designed to peak a rider for either it will bring them to a new level of fitness and focus for these "rides."  While these are not races, how could one not push it when attacking the roads on which legends have been created?  The plan is designed with this sort of effort in mind - you're likely to go hard either by way of friendly competition or due to the demands of the course itself.  The plan is best suited to athletes who have been readying themselves with at least 4-8 weeks of riding prior to starting this plan.  Those with less base mileage in their legs can still make use of this plan, but must be very careful to not overdo - the workouts do involve intensity from the start as there are only 10 weeks to go (9 until Flanders). 

If you would like more information on the plan please contact me at and don't forget to mention Pavé Blog for 15% off.  If reading about these events has motivated you to start right now and the "Pavé Plan" is not a good match then contact me and we'll prepare you personally -- and I'll happily give you that Pavé percentage off.

Enjoy the ride!