Archive for the ‘cycling’ Category

Getting ready for a big event.

May 21, 2011

By now it is that time of the year where most people are gearing up for some sort of a big event. In this part of the series I am going to talk about what to physiologically to get ready.

At this point in your season, you want to start honing in on race or event specific challenges. For instance, if your race is a criterium, then adding a good dose of very hard back to back efforts are going to be critical. If your event is a longer ride or race over varying terrain, you would want to be sure your ready to take on that challenging terrain. This is not the time to crash train by realizing you have 3 or 4 weeks to go and ride / run / swim like made to get ready.

A sudden bump in volume is the very opposite of what you want to do. Instead this is the time to start cutting training volume and do specific intervals. I can not say how many times I have seen someone start training huge amounts of hours right before an event. A well planned but shorter workout week will make for more bang for the buck then just going out there and doing a bunch.

Here is a slice of how my progression has gone by comparing a week from about 6 weeks ago to a current week.

6 weeks ago                                                     Current

Mon:               off                                                                     off

Tues:      2 hours w/ 2x15min steady state                      1.5 hours, 3 sets of 5 sprints at zone 6 to 7

Wed      1 hour easy                                                               1 hour easy

Thurs:   2 hours with high cadence sprints                   1 hour easy

Fri:  2 hours with 4 x 5min hill repeats   Z5                  1.5 hours with  10 x 5min hill repeats zone 5

Sat  2 -3 hours, with at least 1 hour zone 3                   1 hour easy

Sun:  3-4 hours. 3x 20min at Steady state                     3-4 hours, 2x15min Zone 4, then 5x 2-3min hard hills or flat.

As you can see the over volume decreased but the intensity is way up. This is the pattern your training should start  to follow 3 to 5 weeks before a big event. Tweaks are needed depending on the goal, but the basic concept remains the same.

All endurance sports will follow a similar pattern, the one above relates to cycling but the same paradigm is used for running, swimming, triathlon and adventure racing. The concept is to increase your bodies tolerance to hard efforts and teaching it to recover quickly.

Also when you are starting to decrease volume, be sure your diet reflects the loss of calories burned over all. Another thing to keep in mind this is not the time to add more stuff in other areas of your life. For these few weeks try to remain rested and stress free as you can.

Next part will be addressing the mental side,

Till then, Ride hard

Coach Jordan

Training camps and stints

March 26, 2011

*Note, while written in the context of cycling, this article applies to endurance athletes of all walk or swims of life.

Everyone I know usually looks forward to some sort of spring training ritual. I know in the past mine was a training week in the mountains with fellow team mates. We would binge on miles, climbing, and hard efforts. This sudden jump is something that most cyclist use to kick start the season. In a matter of a few short weeks I will be doing a three day stint in the mountains and logging more time in the saddle in three days then I have most weeks so far.

This sudden binge must not just be hacked job at riding lots and lots of miles. Doing a training camp or a training binge has some great benefits, but must be monitored closely. Here are a few things to think about for this training binge (also referred to as crash training)

1) Do try and get away from the home. Even if for part of the week, it is beneficial to just focus on your training for this week or a few days period.

2) have a clear goal to what the purpose of the training camp. Is it for threshold development? power development? or even just team cohesiveness? At this time in the season I would argue a training binge should be about three things. One mainly to develop endurance. Now is the time to tackle some big longer rides back to back. Be sure to not over do the first few days to save up for a longer ride later in the week or period. Two would be to work on threshold development, spending times in the steady state to threshold on big climbs or on longer rides would be ideal to help create some intensity other than just endurance. Last would be for team bonding and development if applicable.

3) Take the extra time away from daily duties to be sure to stretch and properly fuel between each days rides. A sudden volume spike can increase chance of injury. Counter this with stretching beforeand after a ride as well as later in the evening before bed time.

4) While not all training camps have to be a large team affair. Do try and bring along friends of like ability levels to help push one another through longer rides and to give some challenges. The few team camps I have been part of would always culminate in some friendly competition to help elevate everyones fitness level.

5) use the extra time to think about goals of the season. You don’t have to go to work, so use the time to focus on other things that are important to training.

6) You MUST rest properly after the hard effort. Any gains will not be realized until after your body fully rests from the effort. This period can range from just a day or two for 2-3 day training binge. Or up to w full week after a very intense and long week of crash training.

7) Stick to the goals of the training camp. I don’t know how many times I have seen or heard about a training camp that deteriorates into a mileage fest or week long stage race between friends and team mates. Everyone will have a bit of a different pace. This is ok! I know i said bring them along for SOME friendly competition, not every single mile of riding. Also remember at the end of day quality still beats shear quantity. Yes you will ride more, you just don’t need to ride a century every single day.

Planning a training camp or binge can be tricky, just use the general guidelines I have outlined above and chances are you will have a positive outcome from your sudden training boost.

Ride hard,

Coach Jordan

For more information or for comments go to or      email me at

A ride in California, when planning meats success!

February 15, 2011

I am out in california being educated about bikes this week. Specialized is putting on quite a show and treating us guests to a week of nothing but awesome bike talk and rides.

I am out here for the rides though and to test myself a bit. The riding is amazingly scenic and perhaps some of the best I have done to date. Today we did a short ride of about an hour or so. The group was kept very controlled but we were given the opportunity to open it up a few times. One time in particular was a shallow 2.5 mile climb. Needless to say I was chomping at the bit.

The outcome? thats to come! but this posting is about how coaching got me to the end result. I have to be my own coach sometimes and I have to turn the tables on myself on a daily basis to plan my rides and make goals along the way.

This winter I am doing something a bit different. For those whom I coach you probably have seen this to. This winter I am doing a bit more early threshold development work. This development has been in the form of steady state training. This zone is defined by being 83-90% threshold power or 92-95% threshold heart rate. While the science of this zone is a bit complex, it works on threshold development. In addition to this threshold development, I have been using periodic doses of maximal interval training. These efforts are a 30sec to 2min long and are typical interval sessions.

The idea to split form the my usual in the past of long steady distance (LSD) rides is two fold. One, I just don’t have the time or mental stamina like the season I was doing 15 hour weeks on a trainer. With work, coaching and much more, I seem to be setting in at 8 to 12 hour weeks. Another is I wanted to be able to show up for some early season challenges with a bit more high-end ability and just not be the guy who can pull for 3 hours at a moderate pace. This would probably lend itself to more motivation and reward for the work I have been doing.

So how is this bid paying off? Very well! The climb today was fast and I was able to put in a few good turns of speed. I climbed with the top three guys and gave them a challenge all the way to the top. I did get redlined, but it was much less painful then I remember other spring rides like this being. I felt great! It was a real confidence booster. This has given me the drive to get this week done an return home for a serious 6 weeks of training before my next small target.

While I know I still need to get in some longer rides of 3 hour plus; I would say my training thus far is putting me exactly where I want to be.  Do I still have further to go? You bet!! But my new tactic seems to be paying off. I would recommend anyone whom has done the LSD rides in the past to introduce some of what I mentioned above into their training. While I am not a fan of interval work only like some plans. I would say a hybrid of the traditional model of LSD rides and interval work seems to be working.

Ride hard

Coach Jordan

A question posed by one of my athletes

January 28, 2011

I had a question from one of my athletes today.

The question is: What re the benefits of using a power meter and which one is the best? How will it help my training? How will it help you train me?

I would like to answer this question a little differently than some of the other articles out there. Cycleops has a great article’s on their page. I would like to answer it as a coach and an athlete that uses power.

First off I want to dispel a common thought. Power meters are not just for racers. Virtually everyone and anyone can and will make improvements when they use a power meter for their training. If you are just a century cyclist or a beginner triathlete a power meter is by and far one of the best investments you can make.

The reason Why a power meter is so great is for a few different reasons. A power meter directly measures the amount of work you are doing right now and for the whole ride. Also they can accurately and quantitatively measure your ride and give lots of numbers that are important both on and off the bike. These numbers are kilojoules burned (think calories), wattage in average and at the moment, usually heart rate, and many bike metrics as well. The real benefit is when the post ride analysis is done. Post ride I can calculate time in each zone, kilojoules for different sections of the ride, look at average power over intervals and over a period of a week to a year.

In comparison to a heart rate monitor a powertap is an instantaneous and accurate tool. Heart rate lags about 60-120 seconds after an effort is made or stopped. Therefore it is not a true accurate representation of when the work is done. The accuracy really comes into play when analyzing work done on the bike. Because Kilojoules are directly related to calories burned, I can make accurate choices about caloric intake each and everyday when using a powertap. For instance, my friend borrowed my powertap just a few days ago and rode on the trainer. He also wore his standard heart rate monitor as well. When the ride had concluded my power tap showed he had burned 753 kilojoules (about 702 calories) His heart rate monitor on the other hand showed he had burned 1027. This is a very big discrepancy.

Heart rate is also influenced by many factors while off the bike. These factors are hydration, sleep, stress, nutrition, and any medications. One day you can be riding 20mph at 150 bpm or the next you could be at 20mph at 156 bpm. Which one is correct? In some cases it can be a difference in a training zone. Heart rate can artificially inflated or depressed depending on many of the factors listed above. Either way it can be giving false information. However training with heart rate is better than not training with heart rate.

As a coach there are a few basic things I really like to look at. These are the total work load on an athlete. This is good for knowing how far I can push someone before their bodies will start to fight back. Comparison of average heart rate versus average power. This can be a huge indicator of fitness for the day. If the heart rate is abnormally high or low given a power output, I know to investigate further. Last is training stress score and intensity factor. These give me an immediate impression of how hard a ride is. These numbers are much better than just “it was a hard ride today”

Last is testing. Testing with power is a bench mark that can be compared with later. I base most of my testing on a power profile to identify what an athlete needs to work on. Power gives me exact numbers I can compare and contrast against other like athletes, and later down the road after a training load. More on this at a later date .

The power device of choice for me is the cycleops powertap. I personally use this device and have found it to be very easy to use. It is hub that measures torque and can then figure out power based on speed. Its accuracy is +/- about 1.5 %. While this means you won’t have it on race day (if you use different wheels) It is an invaluable tool during day to day training. Often I will race with a powertap to identify my weakness. The model of power tap I use is this one. I like this because it is very affordable and accurate. The upgraded one is nice as it is wireless. But if your on a budget, this is a great tool.

Please email me with any questions regarding power meters or training with power.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

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

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

The final bit about Goals!

November 13, 2010

To recap the past two weeks I have been talking about setting goals. The first week was about how to identify goals from wanting to do better at a race or event. Following that, I talked about breaking down the event to quantify that which you want to do.

This week I would like to break it down one more level. Not only is it important to know how long you have to put out a certain effort; it is also important to know how to better train your muscles.

There are a few basic areas of concern when it comes to training your muscles. First is out right strength, this category is simply how much weight you can push or pull. Increasing out right strength is only important for a select few situations. An example would be if you were in a high gear and an attack occurred.  You will need  to be able to  respond to the attack. Another example is when gradients on a hill exceed 15% or more. Since these are very few and far between, muscular endurance is of more importance. muscular endurance is defined as being able to repeatedly exert a sub maximal force over and over again. These situations occur most often. During a prolonged effort, doing a 100 mile ride, or a sustained climb up a mild gradient. Another area to work on for muscle development is neuromuscular junction. This is more commonly refered to as muscle memory. developing muscle memory will enable you to spin at a high cadence more comfortably and being able to hold a gear for a longer period of time. These situations are more frequent than some may think. Think of after rolling down a hill, there is an uphill coming up. Instead of having to shift down only to shift back up, spinning effectively at a high cadence could just keep you in the same gear and be more ready for the hill. There are several other situations where high cadence is a useful tool, but to numerous to explain.

Given the above list of muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance and neuromuscular junction; it is important to match your goal with one or more of the training techniques for muscles.

Here is an example.  Last week we were looking at climbing Mt. Mitchel. For this goal I would want to train both muscular endurance and neuromuscular junction. I would want to train muscular endurance because climbing a big mountain requires producing a moderate amount of force on the pedals for two hours straight. To train this would be a mixture of being in the weight room and high force / low cadence on the bike. I would also train the neuromuscular junction to respond to variations in gradients during the climb. For instance Mitchel doesn’t just hold 6% constantly. there are brief changes that might be 5 or 4% Being able to stay in the same gear for 15-30 sec will help to keep a more even pace over the course of the whole climb.

So in summary of the past three postings; I have talked about how to be able to identify a goal from just saying  I want to do better. Breaking this goal down into understandable chunks for training. And finally talked about some underlying mechanics for better progress.

As Always,

Ride Hard!

For more information go to Achieve Coaching

Coach Jordan

Interpreting Goals

November 6, 2010

This is the second installment to setting goals (sorry about the long wait in posting…)

So you have been putting lots of thought into your goal for the next season, year or event. Now comes the hard part, planning on how to execute the goal.

This is where lots of athletes start to have a problem. They say they want to go out and do “x” The problem is you now have a date, but how do you get the right fitness or procedure to arrive at your goal in top form. I have seen one or two athletes that say they want to be able to ride a century in the mountains. The athletes are all about it, they ride hard an hour or two every day. They get to the century and all the sudden they realize the climbs are hard and by hour 3 or 4 they are fatigued. This is a case of not matching the training to the intended goal.

To help solve this issue it is ideal to break down the goal event in a number of ways. These type of ways are as follows:

Length = Time, Distance, Kilojules / Calories needed, Type of event (triathlons = sprint, olympic)

Terrain = Flat, Rolling, Mountainous, Combination

How hard will this be? = Very Hard, Easy pace, Category of race (pro, beginner etc), Lots of small hard efforts, long effort

How will you know if your doing well? = Pacing, Obtaining splits, known pace needed, Unknown pace, Current placing

Type of Event = Solo, Team, Mass start race

special Features = Short hard climb, Windy Section, Narrow Spot in Course, Long Climb

These are all things to help quantify your Goal. By Breaking down your goal into these categories it will help you better understand how to better prepare for the event.

Lets look at an example. I will use the Assualt on Mount Mitchell to illustrate how the break down above can help you to prepare for a goal event.

The Assualt on Mount Mitchel (AMM) is 102 Mile Long and will require about 5,000 Kj’s of energy. The terrain is mostly rolling to flat at first and will of course end on a 2 hour-long climb up to the finish (the end 2 hours will require 1,800 KJ’s) I am expecting this event to be hard because the leaders will ride at a pretty good tempo pace for the first three hours. Once at the bottom the pace will be upped more and more untill there is only a select few that will battle it out to the end. I will know if I am doing well by either making it to the top with the leaders or not. The event type is a mass start Road Race. And the only special feature know to me will be the final climb on Mitchell.

By breaking it down above, Like I have this gives some very specific training goals. So the ideal training will prepare me to do the following. Being able to ride for 5 hours straight. The first three hours will be at a tempo pace. The remaining 2 hours must expend 1800 Kj’s and be done at a pace at or near threshold pace. Also I must be able to launch a few hard efforts to maybe stay with a surging group effort.

This gives a very clear training goal to work up to. But there is one more break down of this goal that must happen to really and fully understand this goal.

Of course that will follow next week. (I promise)

Ride Hard!

Coach Jordan

Goals for the season to come

October 23, 2010

Enjoying this part of the year is critical, you should be having fun doing what ever your favorite endurance activity is. Running, cycling, or even some cross training into that other sport you may not always have time for. Mentally this part of the season is about finishing up any last-minute goals and starting to plan for the future.

Planning for the season ahead is really more complicated than some may think. At this point of the season you have to be thinking about what did you like or not like about the past season, what events suited you well (and those that didn’t) and how this will factor into the season ahead. Is there a new team? How do I want to improve? What event is it that I could do best at next year? Setting these goals are of high priority for the season ahead.

The biggest mistake I have found in working with athletes is the statement of “I want win (or do x place) at this event.” There is one glaring mistake in this logic. You can not control what other people are doing. What if John lost his job and decided to just ride all the time instead? (while ridiculous, you get the idea…) Placing emphasis is in performance goals is a very hard thing to unwire.

Instead look at it from a more logical and easier way to understand why you got “x” place at the event from last year. For example: In one of my bike races this past year, I got dropped on a hill during a short criterium. Looking back at the race it is very easy for me to say why did I get dropped, and why did I not get 15th place or better? Breaking this race down shows a much better way of understanding it. It was an hour-long race and the race crossed this hill roughly 38 times. I made it through 35 mins, So I was able to do roughly 17 laps. This particular hill was about :50 sec long. and the average pace was about  22 mph or 450 watts for :50 sec, 38 times. Looking at this means, that if this was my goal race for next year I need to improve my ability to perform the workload from 17 times, to 38 times. This is a trainable goal that is possible to quantify. Here is more or less numeric proof, that if I can obtain this goal, I will have a much better shot at then placing in some “x” place.

Here is another example dealing with cycling, but is very applicable to any endurance sport.

My goal this year is this:

To go to Green Mountain Stage Race, My unicorn race and lay down 4 very good days of racing. This 4 days will have this goal attached with them based of the previous years field.

day 1 =  14 mins @ 420 watts

day 2 = being able to complete a 3.5 hour race at about 2600 kj’s with minimal fatigue in my legs

day 3 = being able to climb two big mountains at 350+ watts for 20-30 mins

day 4 = being able to perform about 35 laps with 35 hill repeats at 500+ watts.

By doing these four things, I know my chances at GMSR are likely very good.

Quantifying your goals into some tangible amount of data is likely to be more motivating as well. You will have to perform “x” by this certain date. And by another date you will have to perform “x” again. This is setting up miniature goals that break down the big “I want to win” into smaller more obtainable daily goals. And this works with any sport be it running, triathlon, swimming, everything. It can all be broken down into some form of pace or ability to repeat a measured performance.

So, here is the challenge: Instead of having a performance goal this year, think of what amount of performance will likely place you well in the race for next year. Right this goal down and hang it somewhere you can see it. Look at it every day, and always remember every workout is helping in some way to reach that ATTAINABLE goal.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

Next week: how to break down a goal to start thinking about how to best train

for more information about coaching and how to achieve these goals go to: Achieve Coaching

Time to pump the iron!

October 15, 2010

lets back up a second and think about a physics lesson (stay with me, there is a point!) What makes you be able to move? wether it be running, swimming, cycling you need power to move. Moving through the air, through the water. It takes power! From a physics stand point power is an amount of force in a certain amount of time. So we can think of this as how fast your muscle can push on the pedals, ground or what ever that gets you moving.

Both aspects of force and the amount of time can be trained.

Today I will talk about the force part. In general the most effective way to increase muscle force is to apply some resistance on them. The muscles will then train themselves to overcome this load. Eventually your arms, legs will get pretty used to your weight and increasing time of the excercise can only do so much.

So short of purposely gaining weight, it is time to use the weight room to help aid you in building your muscle strength.

Weight training is beneficial for endurance athletes for a multitude of reasons. Bearing a weight and having a full body program can help even out muscle imbalances, retrain proper muscle patterns, help build bone density (swimmers and cyclist!) help prevent random injuries from moving to quickly or lifting a heavy object. The list can go far beyond this. Whats most interesting from my stand point is back to the concept of creating more power. Power can be increased in two ways; either generate more force in the same amount of time, or move the same force in a quicker time period.

Weight training will help you ba able to create more force. For the endurance athlete weight training programs will have a different paradigm than a weight lifters program. Endurance athletes will maintain repetitions of weights at 8 or more. Frequently I will recommend 15-20 reps for most of the weight lifting phase. This creates two desirable training effects. The first is that as your program progresses, the idea is to continually putting more weight on for 15-20 reps. (think increasing force in same amount of time). Second is the muscular endurance training effect. In one 2-3 hour bike or running race, your legs will generate a force thousands of time. Lifting weights in the 15 to even 25 or 30 range will help you maintain this muscular endurance.

Creating a weight lifting program is heavily based on your sport and your specific body build. I can help with this, or talk to any GOOD certified personal trainer (GOOD = find someone whom has trained in the same manner you have, and lots of experience)

If you are done with your race season, now is the time to get back in the weight room. This will serve as a good period to help you get adjusted before volume work resumes.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

P.S. the other half of the power equation will come at a later date… Also a follow-up for sport specific weight training will be up next week!

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