I should start by pointing out the trouble is with me, not you…
Whilst giving cycling coaching presentations, I’ve often been posed questions by triathletes about their training that I’ve not felt fully qualified to answer - particularly in relation to ultra or Ironman distances. I’m entirely comfortable coaching somebody to ride a 112 or 200 mile bike race, and I’ve coached a rider to complete the route of the Tour de France. However, that’s not after a swim and before running a marathon. I don’t know enough about the bio-mechanical, physiological and psychological demands of the non-cycling events or how they interact with each other in a triathlon sequence to comment with any real authority. I can swim a bit, but I run like Phoebe from 'Friends'.
To plug some gaps in my knowledge, I took the chance to sit down with a few Ironman distance triathletes in Mallorca recently to try to understand a little more about how they fit training around their everyday responsibilities of life, family, work etc.
A few anecdotes I picked up…
From this I’ve observed
I'm beginning to understand why I get asked so many questions but triathletes – anything that’s going to make training more effective means you save time and energy. However, there’s only so much cycling you can fit to a program that involves two other sports and you don’t need me to tell you to do a couple of 45 min spins on the turbo at Z2 in the week and a long ride at 65-75% of FTP because you already know that. Conversely you could probably save yourself a chunk of time on the bike leg by concentrating on technique and getting more aero – there I really could help but, have you got the time?
Comments and observations very welcome
For many of us, the cycling season is over and sooner than we might like, autumn will fade into winter in the UK. Not only does the light disappear but it can be twilight period for riders struggling to know what to do on the bike. If you’ve had a long season of riding and racing, you’ll rightly feel like a rest to recharge the mental and physical batteries is in order, but when do you re-engage in training? Is the thought of aimless turbo sessions staring at the garage door or the washing machine filling you full of dread?
Here are a few things that might help keep you going towards Christmas (I can’t believe I’ve invoked Christmas already…sorry)
Set some goals for 2020 now. Make it something you can commit to so, should your motivation wane a bit over the winter, you’ve got a target to look towards. Motivation comes and goes but commitment is the thing that will help pull you through those tough sessions.
Focus on strength. Now is a good time to get into the gym. There are some exercises that are specific to cycling and others that can help build a solid platform. And SSSTTREEETTTCCCCHHH! Long, strong, lean muscles help pretty much every aspect of physical performance.
Engage your core. Cycling benefits from a strong core but does nothing to develop it. Again, there’s some straightforward exercises you can do at home or incorporate into your gym sessions.
Understand your technology. If you’re training with a power meter on your bike, or have a static trainer that calculates power, you can save a whole load of time and ensure you get maximum bang out of your training sessions by using it productively. Otherwise it just produces pretty pictures on Strava and Training Peaks.
Introduce some variety. Get the rollers out or learn to use them (I’ve got access to some good British Cycling instructions videos), dust off the mountain bike, book a track session (they all do ‘tasters’ where you can hire a track bike etc). If Zwift or Peloton work for you, great. Maybe cyclocross is your thing. I’ve even heard of some cyclists going for a run…
Keep an eye on your weight. My own progression from eating healthy raisins, to chocolate covered raisins, to just eating chocolate is both rapid and linear at this time of year. Everybody is different but maintaining a weight that is healthy for you is important. And, like it or not, weight is an important component in cycling.
Have a plan. A framework, any framework, to keep your training focused may help. Finding ‘the’ framework – one that is individualised physiologically and psychologically for you – will ensure you exceed your 2020 goals. If I can help you with that, get in touch.
Rich Smith has coached the GB Transplant Cycling team for 10 years, is a British Cycling qualified Level 3 coach, a mature psychology student and has 30 years’ experience working in senior roles for Barclays, HSBC, British Waterways and National Grid Property.
I was based at OQ Service Course in Puerto Pollenca, Mallorca last week. I caught up with clients old and new whilst fitting in a little riding at the same time - It would be rude not to, autumn is a fabulous time to ride in cycling paradise, it’s still warm but much quieter than early season in March and April.
The physical representation of the Service Course is a retail unit close to the sea front in Puerto Pollenca right in the middle of the ‘cycling triangle’ formed by the famous Tolos’ restaurant, the enormous Pollenca Park hotel and large bike hire businesses close to the town square. Working out of there in the warm evenings, witnessing the hustle & bustle and excited conversations, I reflected on my past life in corporate real estate and soaked up what a wonderful concept the Service Course is. It combines all that is best in modern retail – those looking to save the UKs High Streets could do worse than form an orderly queue outside to get some great ideas!
In developing the Service Course, Ottilie Quince (of World Transplant cycling fame) has combined the provision of services and products that cannot be purchased over the internet, in a perfect location whilst connecting to a growing group of committed, passionate enthusiasts. You can’t get sports therapy or a massage over the web, nor can you get your bike fixed or pick up or get fitted for a hire bike on the internet. You can’t see, touch and feel the OQ range of casual or cycling clothing available in the shop just by logging on. Just try getting a cup of coffee and catch up about who’s riding where this week on a website.
From a retail concept you could wax lyrical about how the OQ Service Course maximises floor space, develops cross selling opportunities, brand awareness and customer segmentation but in there it’s a community of riders engaging with a service, products and people they know, like and trust. You get a feel, an atmosphere, a buzz and a sense of belonging that the virtual world cannot deliver.
It was fascinating to see newer riders come in, often families and their first time riding in Mallorca. They came in anxious about bikes, routes, guides, everything – understandably wanting to know they and their loved ones were going to be safe and looked after. An hour later they were leaving excited and reassured after getting to know their guide. It’s all about trust and reliability, right?
When you’re spending precious time away from work doing something as absorbing and rich as cycling, you want to be supported by people who share your passion and are there to help and encourage. That what Ottilie and the OQ Service Course does.
The link to the OQ Service Course website is here.
You could even talk face to face with a cycling coach there if you pick your time right…
Rich Smith has coached the GB Transplant Cycling team for 10 years, is a British Cycling qualified Level 3 coach, a mature psychology student and has 30 years’ experience working in senior roles for Barclays, HSBC, British Waterways and National Grid Property. He likes biscuits.
The ramblings of a cycling coach...