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Communication, The Pathway to Performance

20170518_071606Recently, in the facility where we host our morning cycling trainer classes, I noticed a new poster that was hung up.  It was very simple, but made a valid point.  The poster simply states, “Communication – the link between the world and you.” Communication is the foundation on which any relationship is formed, and, for a coach, it is the details that an athlete communicates to us that determines the success of a training.

Technology has advanced over the years to provide more accurate data such as sports computers, power meters and other measurement devices. A result, coaching has also become more finely tuned for each athlete.  Though it is helpful, it is not the only tool needed for successful training. Even with the advent of  sports technology and data, it can not be fully utilized without the addition of the athlete’s feedback.  

Our coaches check in with athletes on a regular basis, some a little more often than others based on their coaching package level. When you chat with your coach, it’s important to touch on the following subjects to provide us with the details that your watch, heart rate monitor or tracking app can’t.

Health – Sickness has varying levels of severity. It can be as small as a cold, as severe as cancer, or anywhere in between.  With these varying extremes comes different responses in what can and should be done with your training in the future.  In some instances, light activity could be good for you.In others, it could be detrimental. Be sure to discuss training with both your doctor and your coach. With their advice, you can be mindful of your health. You only have one body. Goals and training are easily changed. Your health is worth making adjustments for!

Travel – It might seem like common sense to tell your coach about planned vacations, but sudden business trips or travel for other reasons also occur.  Don’t hesitate to let us know. With some head notice and pre-planning (even if it is 12 hours head notice,) adjustments can be made to increase the efficacy of training. Be sure to note if you’ll have time to train and what equipment you might have available, if any, while you’re away.

Family Life – We are not just talking about the fact that you are married, have a family, or are going on a vacation.  This refers to the more intricate inner workings of your family dynamics.  For example, it might be important to discuss with your coach if your family supports your training, how you eat compared to them, if you are arguing with your spouse or if your teenage child “hates you.”  Each of these impacts stress level, which can lead to less follow through on many of your sport specific activities. Give us a heads up that life is impacting your training, and we’ll do our best to update your plan and give you the encouragement you need.

Sleep Quality – Let’s be honest, there is a difference in your sleep if you are single, married, have young children, teenagers, are empty nesters or retired.  Some of these stages are better and some are worse for sleep, but each has its implications on sleep and every person handles sleep differently.  Sleep is key for your recovery process. Did your toddler keep you up all night? Were you lying awake thinking about that big project at work? Keep us posted on your rest and we can try to make the right recommendations and changes.

Actual feel after workouts or events – You nailed the workout based on power numbers, but, compared to last week’s workout, you felt terrible.  Your legs were heavy. Your head hurt. Your knee ached. You wanted to quit more times than you could count.  These are all details that are very important and impact your day’s workout, your week’s training and your mental and physical state for each consecutive workout. Talk to your coach about how tough the workout felt or didn’t feel, regardless of your numbers. We can help you get to the bottom of why the workout didn’t go as planned.

Many self-coached athletes can benefit from a reality check of their level of intrapersonal communication.  For the self coached athletes, it can often be beneficial to create journal entries. Often writing down the details can lead to a more realistic approach.  

For a coached athlete, your communication between you and your coach needs to be open and honest.  If you do not have a coach that you feel you can speak freely with, it is time to consider a transfer to a coach that you can trust. If you speak with your coach about details like these, but don’t see any changes to your training plan of action, it might also be time to seek new mentors in your sport.

Ready to make a switch or to start a conversation about your athletic journey? Contact Science of Speed today.
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Bike Fit: How to Replace Cycling Cleats

Cycling cleats are an often overlooked part of bicycle and equipment maintenance.  Learn how to check for signs of excess wear and the best way to replace cycling cleats without altering your cleat position or sacrificing a crucial point of contact in your bike fit.


Learn from Coach Brady Irwin best practices when you go to refresh your Shimano or Look cycling cleats.


Are you not comfortable or confident in your ability to install your own cycling cleats? Are unsure that the position of your cleats is correct?

Schedule a regional fitting with a Science of Speed bike fit specialist to perfect your cleat position.

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Underinformed or Misinformed on Lactate

IMG_20170405_050957_878While watching a video on Dean Karnazes, the SoS team noticed a quote that, without the knowledge of lactic acid, would lead many viewers astray.


For those of you that are unaware of who Dean is, you should know that he is an extraordinary athlete and an incredibly accomplished ultra runner.  Physiologically, he is an elite level athlete. Biomechanically, he is incredibly efficient. Mentally, he is very tough.  If you have seen some of the stunts he has pulled off, you will also know he is a bit of a showman.  However, unless he is one of the very few who has a condition called Lactate Dehydrogenase Syndrome, Dean most certainly does produce lactate during exercise.  With all of the confusion that is out there on this topic, let’s take a few minutes to clear up some details.


First and foremost, let’s straighten out some terminology and facts so we are on the same page.  Lactic acid and lactate are two different things that are often confused. Even though they are very similar structurally, the body produces and uses lactate, not lactic acid.  Lactate is produced under all levels of exertion, but in quantities equivalent to the level of exertion.  This means, even when you are sitting on the couch eating Bon Bons, your body is producing low levels of lactate.  The part that surprises many people is that lactate is also used as a fuel source by skeletal muscle, as well as the heart, brain, kidneys and liver. I know some readers might ask about the hydrogen ion associated with lactate, and we can discuss this in more detail in a later blog post. Instead of getting into the weeds on the science that governs the body, let’s get some perspective on Dean’s accomplishments and the gravity of the athletic challenges he’s taken on.


Dean is capable of doing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, finishing the last one with a 3 hour flat marathon time.  Let that sink in… Give it one more minute…  We are not talking about a casual weekend warrior or Average Joe.Dean is running super fast, but he is still working at an intensity level below lactate threshold.  While many might be struggling to hold a 13 minute pace to stay below threshold, Dean is strolling along at a 6:52 min/mile not stressing about holding pace.  Do not let the text in the video fool you –, he does produce lactate and he does have muscle fatigue. He is able to run at these paces and for these distance because he is a well trained athlete, not because his body is absent of this substance.
Wondering about your lactate threshold and how you can train your body to work harder, longer? Testing and analysis services, along with custom coaching, can bring your athleticism to a whole new level.

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Athlete Spotlight: Ashley Maxwell

No matter what level of experience or skill you have in your favorite sport, it can be hard to believe you might be ready for a professional coach. That word professional can be intimidating, but you don’t need to be a pro athlete to get pro advice. Meet SoS Athlete, Ashley. We sat down with her to find out why she sought out a coach and what her experience has been like working with Science of Speed’s team.


SoS: What was your athletic life like before you had a coach?

Ashley: I grew up playing soccer from the age of 5, I ran cross country in middle school, and I danced in high school.  When I got to college, I focused more on school but would play a pick-up game of soccer every now and then but no running and no dancing.  I felt pretty proficient in soccer, but when I decided to start running again, I sort of made it up as I went.  If and when I felt like running, I did, and when I felt like racing, I did.  It wasn’t until I realized how much I loved and missed running (which was about six months after I started running again) that I decided to be more serious about it and enlist the help of a coach.


SoS: What was the initial goal or motivation to seek out a coach?

140455-298-002fAshley: My initial goal was to complete the Tallahassee Marathon and I knew I was going to need some professional guidance to achieve that.  I actually attended a lecture about training for marathons at Capital City Runners one night when Brady was there and I didn’t look anywhere else!  In fact, I believe I emailed him just a few days later and thus began my relationship with Science of Speed.


SoS: When you found SoS, what stood out to you?

Ashley: What stood out was the apparent dedication to the community.  I thought it was great that the owner himself showed up to help with the lecture.  It also really impressed me that Brady called me within a couple days of emailing him to actually have a verbal conversation about goals and where I was at in my running career to help me decide on the right coaching service.


SoS: Describe your coach and your relationship with them.

Ashley: Alex is always there to help me.  We connect at least once a week to talk about how the week was, where I’m having concerns, where I’m excelling, and where I need improvement.  We have a great relationship and I feel I can really trust him and his advice with not only running, but with nutrition and recovery as well.  I like that he takes the time out of his busy schedule to accommodate my busy schedule. I work nights and sometimes have to arrange phone calls at odd hours and he’s never had a problem with that. He will talk to me until I feel I’ve said and asked everything I need to.


SoS: What’s been the biggest difference in your day-to-day training?

Ashley: The biggest difference is probably that I run more days of the week.  I’ve also made major adjustments to how I recover after long runs and my diet as well.


SoS: What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in your body?

Ashley: The biggest change I’ve noticed is the strength I have in my legs and arms.  I actually have visible muscles in both legs and arms which is really nice since summer is coming up!


SoS: What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed mentally?

Ashley: Mentally, I’m much less stressed and have way less anxiety.  I’m a lot more confident in competition and have actually become quite competitive.


SoS: What goals has coaching helped you achieve — or even helped you alter?

Ashley: Coaching has helped me be realistic about my goals.  I got injured in November after running a half marathon for the first time.  Alex really helped me maintain my endurance in a low impact way and altered my marathon goals to accommodate the delay in my training.


SoS: What’s your upcoming goal and how will your coach help you get there?

140455-133-014fAshley: My upcoming goal is a marathon at the end of April.  He’s really helped me recover post Tallahassee half marathon and I’m feeling confident going forward with training.  He posts my training schedule in training peaks and is 100% understanding if there is a day when I just can’t muster up the energy to run.  He always tells me to listen to my body and I’ve been trying harder to do that.


SoS: When people say, “Do I really need a coach?” what would your answer be?

Ashley: If you are really serious about and really love the sport you’re considering getting a coach in, then yes absolutely.  I never would have been able to reach the level of athleticism I’m currently at without Alex and Science of Speed.


Ready to start your journey as an SoS Athlete like Ashley? Contact us today.

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Science of Speed at the Tallahassee Marathon

The 2017 Tallahassee Marathon was a big event for Science of Speed.  We were proud to partner with the marathon, and offer athletes many options to improve their performance which included talks, training plans and custom coaching to help improve the overall enjoyment and performance of each racer.  Not only did Science of Speed choose to partner with this amazing event, but we had many SoS athletes participate. Even coach Brady got out there for another year to mix it up.  For some, this was their first ½ or full marathon, but for all it was a great experience!

We saw many amazing results from our athletes and some PR’s as well!

Mary Brosnan – 2:04:30

Ashley Maxwell – 2:00:32

Robert Palmer – 2:37:43

Aaron Guyer – 1:38:12 – 1st ½ marathon

Chuck Rolling – 2:46:43 – PR’d by 2 minutes

Margie Rolling – 2:46:41

Janelle Irwin – 5:24:07 – First Marathon – PR’d half marathon time

Terry McIlvain – 5:24:06 – First Marathon

Brady Irwin – 1:28:28 – 4min 40sec PR from 2016
Are you looking to improve your next running performance?  Having a Science of Speed coach will not only increase your confidence, but will also help your results!

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Diet Periodization

Timing Food Intake with Training

Periodization is a very common word for many athletes.  You hear it used throughout the year as training schedules are being built in their varying macro, micro and meso cycles, and you will hear them celebrated when a diligently thought out and designed training plan leads to great improvements in athletic ability and massive success in event day performance. One very large part of this important periodization that is often overlooked is the periodization of your nutrition.  In the coming paragraphs, we will discuss diet periodization and how our training impacts our body’s substrate utilization and how it can change from one training block or from one event to the next.

In the last 20+ years, the importance of carbo-loading and carbohydrate fueling has been pounded into our heads.  Even though the utilization of carbohydrates is very high,increased levels of intensity does not mean that we continually need to be on an IV drip of drink mix or the latest, greatest, snot-consistency, carbohydrate bolus available.


This is an optimal time to cut weight if you want to do so for the next season, big goal event or simply because.  Unfortunately, this time tends to fall during the holiday season for many athletes and, because of this, many athletes gain weight.

Diet with ExerciseConsider a ketogenic diet during this time phase of your training.  With energy expenditure in workouts low and the intensity levels even lower, this high protein/high fat diet can quickly lead to weight loss because of the calorie deficit that is often associated with the increased satiety levels that higher protein levels can create. Bottom line: you’ll be feeling full longer and over-eating less.


During this phase of training an athlete’s intensity level generally increases.  A higher focus is placed on workouts at or above threshold and the body’s demand for carbohydrates increases as well.

This is where the controversy comes in and part of the decision depends upon what your goals are, the type of event you are participating in, and where exactly your training intensity will be.  The majority of our culture in sport, much like the general population, is very carbohydrate centered.  Walk into your local bike shop or running store and look at the number one ingredient on nearly all of the products.  It is some form of sugar.  

The other extreme is a ketogenic based diet.  With any high intensity exercise, the true definition of ketogenic is ingesting a maximum of 60 calories a day from carbohydrates.  Typically, the breakdown of your nutrient intake would look something like this: 5% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 80% fat.  

Shifting your caloric intake to a more carbohydrate dominant focus (50% or greater) during this time to see results as your boost your training into a higher gear.


Taper is the time period in which you scale back on your training to allow time for your body to recover just before your goal event. Whatever you do right now, do not cut your caloric consumption to go into a caloric deficit/weight loss phase.  It is a common fear of many athletes to gain weight before their big day.  Many athletes panic during this time because the exercise volume can, and, in most cases should, decrease.  If athletes are subject to this frenzy (while it is semi-logical,) caloric intake is cut and puts that athlete into a deficit. This deficit deprives the body of the fuel it needs for the most important event of the year.

To overcome this, you can do several things.  Have a resting metabolic rate test performed to track your resting metabolic rate.  For any weight-conscientious person, this can provide a very accurate baseline of what your body needs daily to sustain life.  With this information, along with the increase in accuracy of heart rate monitors, as well as power meters, you can fine tune caloric intake for each day based on actual workloads.

Your main takeaway for taper nutrition should be this: maintain a similar percentage of carbohydrate, fat and protein consumption, but decrease caloric intake to account for decrease in training load expenditure.


The big day has arrived and our advice is pretty straight forward. “Do not change anything on race day!”  You should have practiced your pre-, during and post-race nutrition time and time again for the event.  After weeks and months of training, you should know what works for you, what your body is able to digest effectively, and the amount of calories and fluid you need to intake for a successful day.  Deviation from this could, and should, only be altered if elements are so incredibly different from what was expected what you trained in.


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What is Periodized Training?

It is that time of the year, our favorite time of the year! No, not hunting season… event selection season! You have come up with so many different ideas and narrowed it down to high A and B priority races and maybe a training event here and there. Your training is about to get into full swing, and that means it’s time to consider periodization. As athletes, you may have never heard of a periodized training plan.

Many times we hear about the more common phases of training.

Transition – During this time period, many athletes take time off of their main Training Plan for Runnerssport(s), shift focus or even take time completely off from exercising.  This break can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months but is helpful in regenerating excitement to train, pick the direction of the next training block and even allow many to catch up on the things that were neglected around the house while hours of training were being logged in the evenings and on weekends.

Build/Intensity – Dependent upon the time available from training inception to event date, this could be broken down into two separate categories or could be lumped into one portion.  This is where volume and/or intensity will increase to improve your fitness and strengthen your weak spots.

Taper – The taper period can be as few as several days or many weeks.  An athlete’s training load decreases during this time to allow for optimal freshness and peak performance come event day.

Race – It’s show time!  Need we say more?

The less often discussed phases are the cycles of training and they include the microcycle, macrocycle and mesocycle. These cycles break your training down into small portions to better specify and customize your goals.

A microcycle can be as short as a day or workout or as long as a week.  Each of these workouts or training weeks have their own specific goal or outcome that might change (within reason) from one day to the next.  

A macrocycle is created from multiple microcycles. Think weeks of training (micro) considered over the period of a month or the entirety of your training (macro). Each of the individual workouts might be different, but the accumulation of the microcycles is striving to meet one common goal.   

A mesocycle is the big, big picture. Mesocycle is the largest phase of training and is typically a minimum of a year.  These are comprised of many macrocycles and might lead up to one key event or have several events in the time period where the shift or focus of the Mesocycles changes.

This style of training can help you see beyond just one event, and consider how your training throughout the year will help you reach your goals in the year (or years) to come. Many of the training plans you might find from a quick Google search will show you just stock meso and macro cycles. Investing in coaching can help you make a truly custom plan that considers the mesocycle too, designed by a coach who wants to help you achieve your goals well into the future.

Skip printing out that freebie plan for that one event — have a free consultation with one of our coaches to learn how you can keep achieving for many events and mesocycles to come!

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New year, know you

Game planning for a successful year

With a new year quickly approaching, plans are being made for fun parties, copious amounts of sweets, amazing dinners, time with family and friends, as well as where we want the new year to lead us.  With the winding down of the holidays comes the realization that you binge watched your favorite shows and ate an entire pumpkin pie in one sitting — which has led to your jeans now fitting like a pair of yoga pants or your once comfortable shirt now fitting like a smedium.  What’s next?  The new year and what we, at Science of Speed, dread the most:, New Year’s Resolutions.  This year we want to help you be successful with these key factors to consider as you decide what goals to set..

Track Record

Science of Speed Goal SettingLook at past years three years and make an honest assessment of what you have or have not completed.  Don’t base this solely off of one year alone.  What were your major goals in the last three years? Have you completed them? Whether you have or have not, use the next tip below to gauge if the reason behind your success or lack thereof.

Make it Quantifiable

Creating a goal that can be tracked is very important.  Saying “I want to exercise more” is very vague and leaves you with an easy out when it is cold, your bed feels very comfortable or you had a rough day at work.  Don’t just use your words, use your numbers. Changing this simple statement to something more defined like, “I am going to exercise three days a week for 30 minutes” or, “I will do my first 5k run in May.”  The other addition you will notice with statement is that it is not a desire –“I want.”  We have solidified the desire with the simple words, “I am going to,” and, “will.”

Incremental adjustments

Many goals that we set are not the kind that can be resolved overnight.  If your goal is long term and will take a fair amount of time to meet,have mini goals or benchmarks along the way that you will strive for.  For example:  if you want to lose 15 lbs, you know that you will not or should not lose this in one week. So, set a goal that you will lose 1lb a week,that you will weigh 8 lbs less by March 1st, and that by May 1st you will have met your goal..


One of the most important parts of setting a goal is understanding the motivations behind it. Internal drive can be a large determiner  of yours success.  By nature, people want to be liked and want to please others. We often do things that we do not enjoy or even want to do to gain approval.  Now is not the time to make your goals based on what others want for you.  Consider if your goal for the New Year is truly a personal desire, or if it  might be something that has been brought on by someone else.Ultimately, it is you that will put in the work and make the sacrifices. Make it it something you want!

If your New Year’s resolution involves getting fit, taking on an athletic event, improving your performance in your favorite endurance sport, or simply beginning to uncover the athlete that lives within you, we’d love to help you on your journey. Check out our coaching packages and training plans. Not ready to commit? Get inspired and get acquainted with our philosophy, by following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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First Time on a New Group Ride

Many people begin a hobby because of the social environment.  Golf, tennis, running and cycling are great examples of this.  Riding is a social atmosphere that many people 11391190_10102376943233671_1550331009674647919_ninitially get into because of a friend, family member or colleague, but availability and ability levels can change and the need to search out others to ride with becomes a necessity.  If you have found yourself in this situation, here are three key steps in joining in on group rides.

Vet Your Ride

It sounds silly, but this is the most important part of selecting a group ride.  There are riders of so many ability levels that you could find yourself with a group that is too fast, too slow, or, even worse, on a ride distance that is above your current capability.  Trust us, nothing can make for a rougher day than being in shape for a 3 hour riding and finding out you chose a 6 hour loop with no shortcuts and with a fast group.  So, find out what the distance is, the average speed of the group, the course (in case you get separated), the tempo of the ride (steady effort vs. high intensity w/slow points), how many people usually ride (the fewer people the more work you will usually end up doing), and if the group stop or do you need to have everything on hand for the entirety.

15 minutes As a Fly on the Wall

Take the first 15 minutes of the ride to ride near the back and observe.  This will give you the opportunity to see what the group dynamic is, what pace the group sets, and the handling competency of the riders.

It may seem tedious or cautious, but a quick way to upset cyclists and a new potential group of friends is to go to the front of their relaxed Sunday morning ride and drill the pace.

Make a Friend(s)

Yes, you might be joining to make new friends, but this is a different kind of friend.  This is the one that will help you navigate the route.  It’s so simple, but a little heads up on a turn, a dog that normally chases the pack, the occasional heads up on a pothole or even the guys/gals we you definitely do not want to follow unless you like the taste of asphalt is nice to have.

Okay, so you have vetted the ride, been a fly on the wall and made at least one new friend — now, there is only one thing to do: Have some fun!

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Tour de France Rest Day

We are now 16 stages in to the 2016 Tour de France.  It has been a year of surprises.  Chris Froome punched a fan in the face, attacked the field on a downhill putting sizable time into his fellow contenders, crash caused by fans with one rider hitting the back of a support motorcycle, and even the yellow jersey slipping off the front in a breakaway.

Uncommon events have made this year’s TdF an exciting one to say the least!  One thing that never seems terribly exciting as a fan are the rest days.  We are now on the second rest day and many individuals do not understand the preparation and focus that takes place on these important days away from racing.

We often think of our own rest days as just that.  It is a day off from training, to spend time on little more than relaxing, but, for the pros, there is no day off the bike.  With 17 days of straight riding, with many of them being extremely high intensity, a day off the bike would mean certain disaster for the start of stage 17.

RESTDAY!Most riders will do a minimum of two hours in the saddle.  Yep, you read that correctly, two hours of riding, which for many of us would be a workout in itself!

For these men getting on the bike is a way to loosen the legs up, increase blood flow throughout the body and aid in flushing wastes out of the tissues.  Intensity is kept light, but, remember, they are not striving for gains. They are in search of what little snap is left in their legs when they depart from Bern, Switzerland tomorrow.

Along with two hours on a bike, athletes are spending the day focusing on other modalities of recovery which can include but are not limited to: self-stretching, assisted stretching, tools such as foam rollers and getting massages.  Keeping limber is very important and, after many days of hard riding, aches and pains begin to creep up that must continually be managed properly.

Nutrition, as you can imagine, is a large part of a rest day.  Athletes do not decrease their caloric intake from the previous race days.  They continue to be eating machines and, with the luxury of not being to far from the hotel, dietitians are able to get timing of specific nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) dialed in more accurately to help expedite the recovery processes and protect the body from breaking down muscle tissue.

Just like your lazy Sundays, athletes are able to sleep in a bit later and also take a short nap in the afternoon.  A proper night’s sleep can help to refresh the mind and give the body much needed downtime.  The afternoon nap gives the body a much needed bump of testosterone and other hormones that can help aid in and expedite recovery processes.  Team Sky has even taken it a step further for the past several years and carries athlete’s beds with them throughout the race.  Wouldn’t you like to sleep in your own bed every night before you had a big event?

If you’ve ever wondered how you could train and recover more efficiently, we’d love to chat with you. Email us for a consultation.

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