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Athlete Spotlight: Pete Butler

Athlete Spotlight: Pete Butler

In May of 2014, nearly one year from his goal event, Pete came to SoS for help with his training. With a lofty goal of winning a Senior National Championship bike race in 2015 he knew that there was no time to waste.  A plan was laid out with his coach and Pete’s diligence, hard work and motivation to attain his goal kept him on track.  With early results included an 18% improvement in power in the first 3 months of training and continued progress in power output through the next nine months Pete was becoming sure of his ability.

Cycling National ChampionOn June 8th & 9th Pete was in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was excited to compete in his 40k and 20k road races.  He had his strategy for both days, he was excited and confident in his fitness from the training that he had done to get to this point.  Day one Pete attacked in the final meters of the race gapping the field and powering in to the finish line ultimately winning by several bike lengths.  Day two was so incredibly close that it ended up having to be reviewed by the race officials.  With several different types of records being consulted it was determined that Pete pipped his competitor at the line! He not only accomplished his goal of a National Championship but came away from his racing having received TWO National Championships.

Cycling National ChampionWhen asked what his biggest challenge was in accomplishing his goal, Pete’s response was “balancing life and cycling.” To help maintain this balance Pete put a cap on his training of 12 hours per week.  This stipulation made it crucial to turn every minute of Pete’s training into quality training time.  There was no fluff training, no LSD training but there was the fun of racing and group rides and ultimately quality time with his wife, Karen, and daughter and son, Anna Grace & Paul.

Keep your eyes peeled for Pete on your next group ride, event or race.  He will be the guy with the ear to ear smile, encouraging others, helping the local junior team foster new up and coming athletes and at times putting others in the hurt locker!

 

Congratulations Pete, we are very proud of you and all you have accomplished!  Very few athletes have the opportunity to put on the stars and bars in cycling and you have achieved an amazing accomplishment!

 

Are you interested in achieving goals like Pete?  Learn more about our coaching packages

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4 Keys to Training in the Heat

Train Safely in the Heat

This time of year in the Southeast theHeat and Endurance sports heat can be nearly unbearable but that doesn’t mean you have to stop training all together.  During my threshold workout yesterday in the 95 deg, 100% humidity weather as the sweat was dripping on the top tube of my bike I thought, “what better time to discuss this than now!”

Training can be done in nearly any climate but there are four key factors that need to be consider as you are training in the heat and they include your timing, intensity, hydration and clothing selection.

Timing

Timing is everything!  If you have not been out in the heat of the day doing any type of exercise it is important to prepare your body for the stressors that will come. Gradually build up your time in the early morning rides and let your body acclimate to the longer bouts of training and increasing heat as the day progresses.

If the heat of the day is the only time you have available to ride be sure to keep your initial rides short.  Spending no more than 30 minutes in the heat the first week and drinking more fluids that you typically would on a ride will all help your body in the acclimation process and keep you safe.

Intensity

You might not be able to ride at any time other than the middle of the day when the sun is blazing down on you and you feel the 130 degree heat radiating off the jet black asphalt.  This is no time to be out trying to accomplish your hardest VO2 workout.  As your workload increases your muscles generate large amounts of heat and make it more difficult for your body to cool itself.  Lowering intensity is helpful in maintaining a proper core temperature and can be instrumental in regulating body temperature.

Hydration

Whether it is hot or cold outside maintaining proper hydration levels is extremely important.  We typically discuss this regarding peak performance because minimal changes in total body water can result in extensive decreases in performance.  In this instance our goal is safety, not performance, and minimum intakes are usually thrown out the window.  Several key notes to keep in mind is that a cold drink is absorbed into the body more easily but it also helps to cool your core.  Either using insulated bottles and packing them with ice or stopping at filling stations more frequently will help keeping water cool.

Clothing

Long gone are the days of the extreme dehydration style workouts.  Where athletes would “train” their bodies to work without fluids.  As our knowledge of the human body has increased, so to has the clothing.  now you will find lines purposed for varying weather conditions.  The most basic information for clothing during the summer is that it should be something that “breathes” very well and is a thinner material.

Base layers are worn year round now and there are some for cold weather and some for the heat.  I personally wear a base layer year round and in the summer months I find it more advantageous.  A base layer’s goal in the summer months is to effectively increase the body’s surface area, much like a car’s radiator, and aid in the evaporation process, which cools your body.  You might find that the first few minutes of riding will feel a touch warmer until the base layer is wet with sweat but once that is accomplished you will begin to notice the differences.

Signs of dehydration/heat exhaustion

Preparing for your rides/events is crucial but sometimes the conditions are drastically different than what you have prepared for.  Ironman Couer d’Alene this year was a perfect example.  Athletes normally experience highs in the low to mid 80’s but for 2015 the high hit 108deg.  There is no possible way that any athlete had properly prepared for this event, however, there were athletes that still finished the day.  Many medics and officials were looking for several key signs that athletes were experiencing which included:

  • Sweating cessation
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

If you begin to experience any of these symptoms it is important to have someone who can help monitor you, seek cooler temperatures (air-conditioning is best), lower core temperature with a bath or other means such as fans or iced towels.

The heat is nothing to joke about and if improper response to heat exhaustion is given it could result in severe injury or even death.

 

Looking to improve your fitness even with the heat?  One of our SoS coaches can assist you with your training, nutrition and hydration to make sure you are making the best decisions possible.  LEARN MORE

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Georgia Gran Prix Day #1 2015

Georgia Grand Prix 2015Day one of Georgia Gran Prix started of with a Crit at the Gwinnett Center in Atlanta Georgia.  The original forecast was calling for rain and cooler temperatures but we ended up with 100+ degrees and surface temperatures from the jet black asphalt that made you feel the sun’s full effect.

Our 2:30 race meant the heat of the day and the 40 rider field meant the efforts would be fast and there was a little bit of sketchiness to add to it.  We were off with a moderate first lap and then the following laps heated up and it meant a lot of people suffered and struggled to stay in on the climb that lead up to the start finish.

Through the first 20 minutes of the race I was feeling fine and moving better through the field than I thought I would, spending the majority of my time in the top 10-15 riders.  At 30 minutes in the heat began to get to me and I began to lose ground as the road went up.  With 7 laps to go I was separated and the official’s motorecycle passed me.

I thought this meant my day was over so I pulled off the course.  Unfortunately I was wrong on that assumption and could have continued riding which would have given me abother 8-10 spots.  Live and learn I guess…

Now on to Road ATL!

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Gettin’ Dirty at the Dirty Kanza

DK200 Dirty Kanza Gravel GrinderThe landscape was a vivid green this year at the Dirty Kanza bike race.  It wasn’t because that is what Kansas normally looks like in the month of May but because of the exorbitant amounts of rain that fell throughout the state.  The Flint hills where the race was help was no different but the one thing the lush green grass did not show was the thick black mud that had the consistency of peanut butter.

In the weeks leading up to the event I developed tendonitis in my ankle due to excessively worn cleats (check your cleats!) and because of this had to downgrade to the 100mile race, which in hindsight was a blessing.  The ride started off just as I had hoped for.  I was towards the middle of the field at the beginning and was able to work my way up into the top 20 riders within the first mile of the rollout.  The pace picked up and we eased through the first 10 miles at a 20mph pace, weaving through DK200 riders trying to find a good line in order to keep the bike up right.  Then reality hit.  We came to a traffic jam.  Frame packing mud as thick as peanut butter.  Some tried riding it but found quickly that it not only brought them to a halt but added another 10lbs of weight to their tires and frame.  We shoulder our bikes and began hiking.  What we thought would just be to the top of the hill ended up revealing a long line of riders snaking over the hillside with their bikes shouldered trudging through the sloppy mud for what ended up being four miles with my Trek Boone slung over my shoulder for the entire hour. Through the mud with a clean bike because it didn’t touch the ground and I was on my way unlike many others forced to stop and clean out their bikes.

My legs felt amazing, my mood was positive (I excel in muddy conditions) and the wind out of the North was a constant reminder that I was back in the place I grew up riding.  When we turned north for a long stretch I was alone for several miles and as I turned back I saw a rider 30 seconds behind.  I waited up and we rode together for some time taking turns pulling into the head wind.  At mile 40-45 I hit a dark place and Eric, from Kansas City, pressed on.  I realized I had fallen behind on my nutrition and at 3 hours in I had only consumed my first 90 minutes of nutrition.  I ate EVERY in my pocket and within 10 minutes I was back in good spirits and feeling the benefits of the calories consumed.

DK200 Cottonwood FallsAt our support stop in Cottonwood Falls, KS, I found my dad, who topped my bottles off got my chain re-lubed while I was stuffing my pockets with the remainder of my planned nutrition and ate and slammed a bottle of osmo nutrition before I hit the road.  I felt amazing, my legs weren’t fatigued and I was having FUN!  Conveniently I caught back up with Eric at that stop, since my rock star pit stop father got me in and out in less than 5 minutes, and we rode together again.  Several miles out we hit a “minimally maintained road” and went up a steep climb.  I stood to apply power to the pedals and BOOM.  My knee popped and stopped me dead in my tracks.  Pretty sure I cursed because Eric turned to see what was wrong.  He waited and since I just met him I told him to go on.  I took a moment to regain my composure and tried to go on.  I had no problem on the flats or descents but any time power went over 150 Watts a searing pain shot through my leg.  After 3 miles of attempting this I was forced to abandon.

Althought I was angry I was unable to finish, I am not discouraged by this because I know that with the training I had put in this year I have a very good chance of doing extremely well next year.  For now though my goal is to get my leg straightened out and ready to get back into a little different type of training than I have ever done!

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Cramping

Leg Cramp exerciseDue to the repetitive nature of our sports, endurance athletes are particularly vulnerable to cramping. Regardless of an athlete’s experience or level of fitness cramping can be an issue. Today we’ll take a look at some of the more common causes and cures for muscle cramping.

Causes:

There are several causes for muscle cramps, but the most common are exertion cramps. These are due to a combination of dehydration, heat stress and low levels of electrolytes. They begin as spasms and then spread throughout the muscle. As you become increasingly dehydrated over the course of an event or workout the connective tissues can adhere and inhibit muscle contraction or release. Once the cramping begins it spreads from one muscle to another. Less common are muscle fatigue cramps. As your muscles work, they contract and release over and over. Eventually, the muscles can fatigue to the point that they simply lock in a contraction and are unable to release. These cramps are more common amongst novice athletes but they can hit seasoned competitors as well. Usually they occur early in the season when you’re just getting back into training and aren’t yet up to the workload. If this is the case, simply back off the intensity and build a base fitness that you can expand on over the course of the year.

Prevention:

It’s hard to point to one factor as being responsible for muscle cramps so the best approach is to stay on top of all of the contributing factors. So let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent cramping.

Nutrition:

Electrolytes and water are essential for muscle contraction as you burn through them during work it becomes increasingly difficult for muscles to fire over and over again unless you continue to replenish both. Heat contributes by increasing fluid loss through perspiration and exhalation. Maintaining a steady intake of fluids/electrolytes while consuming calories goes a long way to prevent cramping. On particularly hot days dumping water on yourself helps lower your core temperature and slows fluid loss. However, if water is limited, it’s always better to drink it.

Post Event/Exercise:

The importance of fluid intake doesn’t end once your done. After exercise is when you can actually bring your fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate levels back to where they were before you started.  Stretching helps fatigued muscles to relax and restores them to their natural length. Ignoring tight muscles will not only lead to cramping later on but injury. Incorporating a 15min stretch to your post workout routine can do wonders to help you recover. Don’t know where to begin? Take a look at this great routine we created just for you!

Massage helps flush the waste that accumulates in muscles and releases tight muscles that can be difficult to address with stretching alone. Both pre and post event massage can have tremendous benefits to athletes of all levels (Trevor Marshall is an AMAZING therapist over at Englebrecht Chiropractic). If all else fails and cramping continues to be a problem a Nutritional Blood Analysis can help determine if you are abnormally low in an essential nutrient. Even if you eat a well balanced diet, take all the right supplements and stay well hydrated, it’s still possible to miss something. After trying everything you can imagine one of our own athletes still had problems with cramping, it wasn’t until he had a blood test that it was revealed he was exceptionally low in a particular nutrient. If you suspect you might be deficient, it is much better to get tested before trying to treat yourself as that can create problems as well if you take too much of a particular vitamin or mineral.

 

What about you? What kind of methods do you use to for cramping? Pickle Juice? Apple Cider Vinegar? Mustard Packs? Tell us about it!

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The Myth of the Life Long Fit

The level at which an individual can meld physiology, biomechanics, ergonomics and art is what makes a bike fit specialist either good or amazing. As you may know from personal experience this can make your riding experience pleasurable or painful.  No matter your level of cycling ability, you are an athlete.  You push your body, you train yourself to do more and more mileage or you push yourself to ride faster and faster.  With this in mind, an athlete is constantly changing and because of that your bike fit changes as well.

This might be hard for some to imagine but that position that was set up for you two years ago, that you have been comfortable to ride, train and race with might not be optimal for you any longer.  There are a multitude of things that can change this position the three most common changes that we see are:

Variability in adiposity:  Let’s be honest, many of us get on a bike to either lose weight or maintain weight and this is a large factor in fitting.  Changes as little as five pounds in adipose tissue can result in a change in position.  This little change can make a saddle more or less comfortable, change hand pressure, allow for positional changes of handlebars and smooth the pedal stroke.

Changes in core strength:  Core strength does not only refer to that shredded six pack abs.  The core strength that this is referring to is the entire region between your chest and pelvis.  This is your stabilizing platform on a bike and helps you to generate power, support yourself on the bike and can have a big impact on your comfort as the ride gets longer and muscles begin to fatigue.  Changes in core strength can mean saddle position changes to a more powerful position that we were not able to support previously and handlebar changes for improved aerodynamics.

An athlete’s fitness: As we become more fit cardiovascularly and gain bike specific strength we are able to modify our position.  This added strength can result in changes in flexibility which can alter position.

The important part is assessing your changes since you last had a bike fit.  Have you increased your saddle time by 10-20% a week or more?  Has your event specificity changed (i.e. 20 mile rides to century rides)?  Has your weight fluctuated by 10lbs or more?  Have you done our core workout or another one for several months?  Are you having discomfort on the bike?

If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above questions you should seriously consider updating your fitting to optimize your position.

 

Schedule your Fitting Online or via Phone

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Rainy Day Interval Workout

Rain Day bicycle workout Trainer

Rainy days are one of the hardest things to get out for and get a workout in.  So, let us help you with your rainy day.  Here is a trainer workout that will test you and help to improve your fitness.

Preface:  We don’t believe in “entertainment workouts” but we do believe in accomplishing something in a workout.  So we add our physiology expertise to our workouts to make something that will benefit you in a minimal amount of time and give you something to focus on (the effort) other than a wall.

Workout

Warmup: 10 minutes

5 minutes (RPE: 5/10)

30 Second – Fast Pedal 110+Rpm (hips should not rock or bounce in saddle)

30 Second – Fast Pedal 110+Rpm (hips should not rock or bounce in saddle)2 minutes (RPE: 5/10)

1 minute (RPE: 4-5/10)

Intervals: 4 x 8 minute threshold w/4 minutes Rest Between Intervals

Cool down: 5-10minutes as needed

Threshold Intervals – These are an 8/10 in intensity and should be right at that point where you begin to notice a burning sensation in your legs.  If you are doing these on a trainer use speed as a gauge for intensity as well as perceived exertion.  Speed on a trainer should be consistent per effort just like a power meter.

 

Did you find this workout beneficial or are you looking for expert guidance with your coaching?  We can help you achieve your goals and FAST! 

LEARN MORE

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The Struggle: Getting Out The Door

Sometimes getting out the door can be 90% of the battle!  Coach Brady experienced that this evening.  There is a benefit once you do though!

 

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An Eye Opening RedEye Velo Junior Team Spring Camp

 

This was my second year to have been privileged to be a part of the Redeye Velo Junior Team spring cycling camp in North Georgia. Unlike our summer camp, this one is designed specifically for their more experienced riders. The mountain passes, cold weather, possibility of rain and or snow coupled with the fun 40+mph descents is enough to elicit this. This year was a different year for me and an eye opening one to say the least.

In previous years I have had a moderate amount of fitness this time of year and I have felt good on nearly every ride.  I have slacked off considerably in the past 6 months and this weekend as I was climbing up several of the passes and in the pain cave I realized that is not the case this season.  This would not be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that in less than 10 weeks I have a 200 mile gravel road race (Dirty Kanza 200) that I will be participating in and my competitive side will not let me go in and simply participate.

So…what does that mean?  It means now is time to ramp it up and ramp it up considerably.  So, I have taken the steps that I recommend many athletes do but not be as dense as I am and wait until so close to time.  Call and get a coach.  I called my close friend and co-worker, Patrick Valentine, and he has constructed a bomb proof training plan for me!  You might be thinking, “Brady, you are a coach.  Why would you get another coach?” and that is a great question!  I get a coach for my events because it is an unbiased eye.  I know another person will push me when I might not want to push and tell me to not be an idiot if I am over thinking things.

The training is covered, the goals are laid out and now it is on me.  With Patrick’s help and watchful eye over the next 10 weeks I know that things will come together nicely.

So, in the coming weeks you will see me.  Riding the pavement, logging miles on the red clay roads and fine tuning my body to be prepared for the Flint Hills of Kansas.

written by:

Coach Brady Irwin

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How to Use Your Heart Rate Monitors and Power Meters More Effectively

In my years of running, riding, training, racing and coaching I have had the experience to come across thousands of people who own heart rate monitors and power meters.  As I became more versed in training, physiology and how each device could be best utilized I realized that at best 5% of the people who have these amazing aids are underutilizing the full power of the tools they have at their hands.  The simple question of “What is your power at threshold?” or “What is your heart rate threshold?” has often led to blank stares.  If you have a Garmin or Polar heart rate monitor or one of the many power meters that are out there and you feel that you fall into this stereotype let us help you get started with more accurate training.

 

Test your Fitness:

Use your HR monitor and Power Meter to their fullest

Without a baseline it is difficult to know where the current fitness level is which helps you know where to begin.  This baseline number is achieved through testing which can be done with a field test or in a lab test, like a lactate threshold test.  At SoS, one of the ways we have our athletes gauge fitness is by performing 2 field test efforts that are 10 minutes in length.  We have found that the numbers these two efforts produce are very accurate.

 

Create Training Ranges:

Training ranges allow you, as an athlete, to know how to more effectively utilize your training tool.  Based on the numbers that you produce during your testing you can create training ranges.  These numbers are used to help you focus on precise energy systems that the body utilizes during century rides, triathlons or bike races.

 

Training:

The testing has been done, the ranges have been created and now it is the utilization of those ranges.  Dependent upon what your goals and ambitions are will determine what you do with these ranges.  If you are looking at gaining some fitness but don’t really want to do intervals you can use it on your rides to gauge your intensity effort.  If you are looking for improvements, and fast, this will give you the best gauge of where your intensity needs to be.  Whether it is with the knowledge of a coach or your own knowledge, the amount of time that you need to stay at each intensity level is the other key factor in this equation.

How to Use your HR monitor or Power Meter
 

Think of these new ranges as a tachometer in a car.  If you are working with a Formula 1 engine and are going off of numbers for a Toyota Corolla you are not stressing the body enough, inversely, if you are working with the Formula 1 numbers and have a Corolla engine things will catastrophically fail.

Now, GO, test and train!  If you are not sure of how to do this we can help.  Whether it be our knowledgeable coaching staff or our lab to perform lactate threshold and VO2max testing we can steer you in the direction to improve the usage of your training tools.

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