Archive for December, 2010

My dirty little secret… Single Speed Mtb’ing

December 26, 2010

I am happy to announce I have re-discovered my love of a single speed mountain bike. I did go 29er this time, and I have to say my opinions of them have changed.

But this is more than just my newly re-found love of single speed mountain biking. In the last 4 years since I have owned a single speed mountain bike, I have learned much more about cycling training. I now realize just how good of a training tool a bike like this can be. I will tell you why for the following list of reasons.

A single speed (SS) is a combined workout for high and low cadence. At some moments on the trail your legs are going at some really high cadence as you rip down some sections of fast fire road or single track. Moments later you may be grinding slowly up a hill or over some tough roots. There are also slow high force starts to a high cadence sprint as you may come out of a corner getting ready to get some momentum going. All these situations are a benefit for neuro-muscular efficiency or for muscular force and endurance. These are the basic building blocks for season long fitness.

In my last few rides on a SS mtb I have really felt some progression in leg power and ability to alter cadences more readily. I more of a fan of a SS then a fixed gear for a few reasons. My biggest gripe I have with a fixed gear is despite what people say, it encourages a lazy pedaling form. The pedals push your feet through the circle instead of the muscles creating the circular motion of pedaling. Some similar benefits of high and low cadence exists on a fixed gear, but over a road course there is far fewer variations.

If you are tired of the trainer already, try getting a single speed mtb. You can make one out of an old mountain bike for fairly cheap. Just a fun idea, that I didn’t realize the full training potential with.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan


Swimming and running testing.

December 20, 2010

While cyclist enjoy a plethora of tests and information, runners and swimmer are far less privileged when it comes to testing for the sport. Cycling is blessed by the fact that the athlete stays in one constant position even if the machine is moving. Also because of a bikes mechanical bits, power observations can be made. Swimming this is near impossible and running is no small feat to even contemplate this.

There fore the best testing for running and swimming are pretty much direct field testing; often done at a competition. First lets cover the logistics for running.

The most accurate version of testing for runners is a VO2 max metabolic cart, performed in a lab. This machine monitors the composition of O2 and CO2 entering and leaving the athletes body. From these pieces of data VO2 max and lactic acid threshold can be deduced. VO2 max and lactic acid threshold is the most important training reference points for a runner. I know that there are a few places in the Raleigh (triangle) area that will perform the testing. Testing is usually about $175 to $300 to have done. We here at achieve coaching can help you interpret these results further.

Luckily there is a short cut for the runner whom does not have the $300 or so lying around. The appropriate field test fur runners is to run a 5k. Running a 5k will approximate the runners threshold hear rate with in +/- 3%. This data can be taken on as regular basis as the coach and athlete deem necessary. From the 5K pace the runners shorter and longer race heart rate goals can be calculated.

Swimmers are in a whole different boat for testing (well ok not on a boat…) Often times the best testing for swimming is to swim a race or time trial to obtain some basic data such as time elapsed. Other parameters such as hear rate and anything else is very hard to accurately measure especially due to the conditions of being in a pool or lake full of water. The best method I have seen for testing is to find the elapsed time for the athlete to swim their goal distance. From this elapsed time the distance can be broken down to into smaller segments for the athlete to obtain in an accordingly shorter time. This produces a set of intervals to help train the athlete for the event.

Another perhaps more important form if testing for a swimmer is to have their stroke and technique analyzed. This is not so much as test as a analysis of efficiency. Swimming is unique in the fact its one of the only sports where a human body is being pushed through a substance that is several hundred times thicker than air. Efficiency rains supreme in swimming and can be the decider in races. I know I have seen this come true many many times over. Swimming efficiency can be video taped both above and below water for the coach to go over with the athlete. This is a type of thing achieve coaching can help with as well.

For more information feel free to contact us at or visit

Coach Jordan

Cycling testing.

December 13, 2010

There are three basic tests I like to use for cycling. This scope of tests tells me everything from how well your aerobic system is functioning to how much pain you really can suffer. As mentioned a week and half ago, testing gives the basis for how to know what to work on with each athlete.

I will explain why I perform each test.

The first set of testing is 12sec, 1 min, 5min, and 20 min power testing. This testing gives a profile of the athlete. I can several things from seeing the testing numbers. 12sec power relates to sprinting, 1min power is ability to close a gap or make a short effort. 5min power is indicative of short climbing power or ability to out fox a chase group at the line. 20 min power is foretelling of long climbs and time trial prowess.

Looking at the numbers on the whole will give me an idea of what strengths and weaknesses the athlete has. In general most people tend to lack the ability for 1 to 5 min power. This is because group rides are often hard long efforts or short punchy efforts to a town line or the like. Mountain bikers how ever do tend to have high 1 and 5 min power, but low sprint and time trial powers. This is due to the constant variety of terrain and ability to frequently rest in between efforts.

The next test I usually look at is one performed over a 90 minute ride. The ride takes place at a pretty slow tempo (no more than a zone at which conversation is possible. I look at the average heart rate for the first 1/2 of the 90 mins and the second 1/2 of the 90 mins. This is indicative of the aerobic systems efficiency. If the athlete has very similar averages for both portions, they have a high degree of aerobic fitness. If the athlete has a disparity between them, it means more aerobic conditioning is needed.

Last I use a torturous test of :30 second sprints with :30 second rest. The repeat of :30 on and :30 off will only stop when the athlete fails to be able to do any more. This tests tells me the ability of the athlete to repeatability stand hard accelerations before failure occurs. typically I have not seen an athlete surpass 7 to 8 repetitions, with 4 or 5 being the average. The ability to go hard over an over can play huge dividends in the final moments of a criterium, road race or cyclocross race.

If you want to perform this testing on your self please see this page and download the full testing sheet. If you have questions, please let me know and I can help you on your way to a better year!

Ride Hard,

Coach Jordan

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