Train Smarter, Not Harder

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Train Smarter, Not Harder

Written by Jennifer Sharp of ALP Cycles Coaching

“How many of you have overtrained?” ask Dr. San Millan to a room full of 25 coaches and athletes.

Every single person raised their hand. 

Everyone, at some point in their athletic lives, will overtrain. In the summer time it’s easy to throw in extra mileage even though you’ve done 15 hours of riding that week and it’s only Friday - what’s the harm? And while it’s okay to pile on the extra miles every once in a while, making a habit of it means you’ll eventually find out why rest days are super important. And that lesson could cost you a week, a month, a season or a full year.

Fact: Cycling is painful. You frequently push your body to extremes and keep going.

Myth: Overtraining only happens to professionals.

Fact: Overtraining can happen to anyone who is not building enough recovery into their intense racing and training regime.

Myth: Overtraining is curable in a few days.

Fact: Overtraining causes neurological, mental, hormonal, emotional and nutritional imbalances and the effects can be long reaching. 

It’s actually pretty easy to over train. We’re bombarded with TSS and CTL and ATL charts and graphs. We’re obsessed with tracking our upward growth and it’s hard to not be a slave to a performance manager chart. We get used to pushing through pain. But what those CTL’s, ATL’s, TSS’s and TSB’s don’t show in flashing red lights: “CAUTION - OVER TRAINING AHEAD” until it's too late.

 The Performance Manager Chart: where's the caution sign?

The Performance Manager Chart: where's the caution sign?

Can you tell when an athlete is prone to overtraining?

As coaches, we’re constantly monitoring our athletes data. Thankfully power coupled with heart rate data can paint a picture of that individual athlete’s reaction to training stimulus on a daily basis. We watch for trends and see if we can explain patterns. And we’re also reliant on our athlete’s feedback to clue us into things we may have missed on first glance. Like decoupling of the heart rate,  lack of motivation, stress, insomnia, or mood swings. All of these factors come into play for each individual in their own unique way. Unfortunately in regard to overtraining, there’s no one specific marker that is the cause. Rather it’s a combination of factors.

So, how do you track different metrics to see if you’re headed down the path of overtraining?

One suggestion is to do a blood test in the offseason to obtain a baseline measurement. You could include this into your annual physical requesting your hematology, biochemical and hormonal markers. Then about  1-1.5 months prior to your peak event, do another test. Have a trained professional compare the results and determine if you should back things off if needed or continue the training as prescribed. 

Another cheaper method of tracking is through daily monitoring of your resting heart rate. You can expect to see a 5% fluctuation from day to day heart rate but anything above or below that could be a sign of overtraining. If you see a big outlier in your heart rate, play it safe and smart and call it a day.

How do you avoid overtraining in the first place?

First of all, listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest. Use a heart rate monitor, as mentioned above, to track your resting heart rate.  You can use the metrics portion of TrainingPeaks to log your sleep quality, overall feeling, soreness, menstruation, fatigue, weight and more. Use it! Eat a well balanced diet and stay on top of hydration. If you have a prescribed off day - take it. It pays to train smarter, not harder. 

 Metrics located in TrainingPeaks are a great way to track various markers that paint a clearer picture for your coach.

Metrics located in TrainingPeaks are a great way to track various markers that paint a clearer picture for your coach.

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Tips& Tricks for the flu season

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Tips& Tricks for the flu season

Written by ALP Cycles Coach Patricia Schwager

It’s that time of the year again where people tend to get sick more often with viruses, colds or the flu. Athletes are a primary target because after intense training, our immune systems are compromised and can’t protect us, causing an "open window effect". That “open window effect” has a duration of about 3 to 72 hours. This is why it is very important to get enough and proper recovery especially after a hard ride, workout or race!

In case you are getting sick with the cold/ flu, here are a few tips to shut it down:

Rest up and put your whole focus on getting healthy as soon as possible. It is very hard for an athlete to stay at home and to miss out on training or exercise, however it is the very best you can do for your body in order to get better as soon as possible. If you keep training while you are sick, you take out more energy from your body...energy that your body would need to fight off the cold/ flu. Riding or exercising while having fever symptoms can actually cause damage to your heart. An athlete can take off up to 10 days from training before losing fitness in most cases. It's easier to build up at a healthy state than to recover after days of digging into a sick hole.

Be aware when buying cough, cold or flu medication. Off the shelf or over the counter products may contain prohibited substances. Double check with USADA (http://www.globaldro.org/Home) before you buy or take any medication.

Once you are feeling "normal" again, you can start with some easy riding (low intensity!!). You should only return to normal training if you are also feeling 100% again. When you are feeling healthy again, increase the volume/intensity gradually to normal training. Ask your coach for advice. The most important rule is to always tell your coach as soon as possible when you are not feeling healthy or well.

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Below are a few helpful tips& tricks on how you can prevent to get sick or at least reduce the risk of getting a cold or flu:

 -Healthy diet of nutritious, well balanced food. Don't skimp on the carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein!

-Good hydration (Not only water! Always have something in your bottle: electrolytes, juice mixed with water, etc), reduce coffee and alcohol intake as they both dehydrate your body

-Maintain vitamin and mineral levels, (especially during the winter time) take vitamin C, D and zinc. Taking some sort of multi vitamin is a good idea, too. Personally I am a big fan of the Swiss food suplement "Bio Strath" (herbal yeast, it contains 60 entirely natural vital substances). Bio Strath is a perfect supplement to boost the immune system during stage races, hard training blocks plus also in the winter time.

-get enough rest after hard training sessions

-get enough sleep at night (at least 7-8 hours)

-keep life stress to a minimum, do not overload your schedule

-do not share food or drinks with anyone

-minimize contact with sick people

-keep distance from coughing and sneezing people

-avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands

-carry a hand sanitizer with you to keep your hands clean (regular and thorough hand washing will reduce your chances of infection- remember to wash at least 20 seconds!)

-wash your hands before eating or after contact with other people, bathrooms, public places

-dry mucous membranes (in nose and throat) also makes is easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate our immune system. Practice good hydration (especially keeping throat hydrated) and use a spray or cream for your nose. This is most important in dry and cold climates and while traveling (airplane)

-avoid over training and chronic fatigue, stick to your training plan

-wear appropriate clothing to match weather conditions

-change into dry& warm clothing post ride or training, do not sit around in sweaty clothing

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0.490 Seconds.

Written by ALP Cycles Coach, Jennifer Sharp

It’s Sunday, October 7, 2018 in Los Angeles at the 2018 Master Track World Championships. I’m about to race the 2 kilometer pursuit gold medal round, which will decide that year’s 40-44 age bracket world champion.

 Ben and I moments before the start at the 2018 Master Track World Championships. Photo credit: Daniel Tomko

Ben and I moments before the start at the 2018 Master Track World Championships. Photo credit: Daniel Tomko

Beep, 50 seconds. My bike is held by the starting gate. I have 40 long seconds to glance down the track, look at Ben for any last minute instructions and savor the experience. From the start gate, I glance down, tuck myself into the aero position momentarily before sitting back up and breathing deeply.

Beep, 10 seconds. No holding back. Here we go. Hips to bars. This is what I’ve been training for. Let’s do this.

Beep, 5. Beep, 4. Beep, 3. Beep, 2. Beep, 1. Beep - GO!

 Ready to launch out of the start gate. Photo credit: Daniel Tomko.

Ready to launch out of the start gate. Photo credit: Daniel Tomko.

I go out easier from the start than the qualifier. Ben and I discussed that by not going out quite as hard I could save more for the end, especially since this was the first of many races that week. He also told me at the line it’s going to come down to who ever wants it more.

I’m down 1.5 seconds at 500 meters, with 1,500 more to go. I can tell by Ben’s body language that I need to push. I need to summon every last ounce of energy and put it into going fast. I need to put aside any doubt, any fear and push more. So I push. My body responds and I slowly gain back 1.2 seconds. I still have 2 laps to go and I’m not ahead. I ask my body for more. Things start to go blurry. I feel my line wavering, nearly hitting a series of sponges. I’m behind. I hear the bell ring, signaling one lap to go. I push. I plead. Come on legs!!! I give it everything I’ve got. The official’s gun fires and my competitor wins by 0.490 seconds.

 Pushing hard during the 2k pursuit. Photo credit: Daniel Tomko.

Pushing hard during the 2k pursuit. Photo credit: Daniel Tomko.

0.490 seconds. 0.490 SECONDS!

Not even a full second separated us. Those 0.490 seconds replay in my head all night. They replay when I meet my competitor at the award podium, where she graciously commented, “I don’t understand how this happened.” They replay as I stand on the podium, after accepting my silver medal. And they replay over and over that night: on the drive home, in the shower, at dinner, and several times before I finally fall asleep. I even woke up thinking about those 0.490 seconds.

If all goes well, we can learn the most from our failures. Don’t get me wrong - I love it when everything comes together and you have magic legs, the planets align and everything goes according to plan. But if it doesn’t? If you loose by a mere 0.490 seconds? Then you play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game. And that can drive you crazy.

Why didn’t I go harder from the start?

Could I have eaten better that day?

Why did I feel empty at the start and empty during the warmup?

Did I do too much that day by calling lap splits?

What if I ducked my head a little bit more and threw my bike at the line?

On and on it can go. The thing is, if we’re lucky, we can learn the most from our mistakes. And as Ben pointed out, I won a silver medal at the freaking world championships. I gave it everything I had in that moment. I am forever grateful for my competitors who push me to perform at my best that day, the official and volunteers who show up, the announcers, my support network, my husband and more that allow me to compete at the highest level.

The biggest gift of losing is to take the lessons we learn and apply them to the next time we’re at the starting line. You don’t have to be at a world championship to practice it - you can apply this to every race from local, regional, national to international.

What makes a champion is what they do with mistakes and how they learn and adapt from them. So I challenge you to take your next “failure” and make the most of it and apply it to subsequent efforts. Answer those questions of whether or not you could go harder from the start by going harder from the start, pay attention to the little details of nutrition, of energy expenditure, and of body placement. Address the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s and you’ll know that you brought your best to the starting line that day. And I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than that.




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Climbing Challenge- Best Photo and Most Inspirational

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Climbing Challenge- Best Photo and Most Inspirational

While our Climbing Challenge has come to and end, we took some time to go through the social media posts and read some post event recaps from our competitors.

The top 3 finishers of the Climbing Challenge have been posted.

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1 Lynne Anderson 10h57 at 26’061ft wins 400 ALP bucks.

2 Andrea Buttine 10h27 at 22’970ft wins 250 ALP bucks.

3 Julie Hsu 9h56 at 17’392ft wins 100 ALP bucks.

We have 2 more awards to give out. The top 3 photos of this years challenge using the hashtag #alpclimbingchallenge were all by Andrea Buttine. She enjoyed some very scenic riding in the Vail Valley and took amazing photos. The #1 best photo as voted by on Facebook was the above photo with the snow capped peaks. This photo to the right, of Andrea riding, was second best photo. Congrats Andrea! Not only do you get 250 ALP bucks, you also get free KUHL schwag.

The last award to give out is the Most Inspirational. We had several choices to choose from. From 170+ hill repeats in St Louis, to more than 9,000ft of climbing in one day in cold, wet weather. In the end, we chose the person who climbed for a good cause- she raised $1000 for UNICEF's relief work in Indonesia. Congrats (again) to Andrea! Andrea cleaned up and gets to choose even more KUHL schwag.

Thank you to all who participated in our Climbing Challenge. 360 days until next year’s event.

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ALP Climbing challenge 2018 - final standings

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ALP Climbing challenge 2018 - final standings

Our 2018 ALP Climbing Challenge is in the books! Below are the final standings after 4 days of climbing. Note that we added on the extra ft from the socialmedia posts. We also had a few people with over-time which resulted in DQ’s. Great work and impressive numbers by everyone! Especially given the fact that the weather wasn’t as warm& nice the last 4 days. We had more than 70 people join our Climbing Challenge Strava group which is a record. Congrats to everyone for all the climbing - keep up with all the riding! #alpclimbingchallenge

1 Lynne Anderson 10h57 26’061ft

2 Andrea Buttine 10h27 22’970ft

3 Julie Hsu 9h56 17’392ft

4 Jennifer MacDougall 10h55 15’244ft

5 Vale Boss 10h12 14’479ft

6 Alison Powers 6h55 12’771ft

7 Giueseppe Sarpietro 5h14 10’951ft

8 Dexter Hodgeman 9h57 10’427ft

9 Juan Carlos Perez 8h51 9995ft

10 Marco F. 8h47 7513ft

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ALP Climbing challenge day 3 - standings

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ALP Climbing challenge day 3 - standings

2018 ALP Climbing Challenge, day 3. Below are the standings after day 3 (files that are uploaded as of now). We have 1 more day of climbing left tomorrow. Don’t forget the time limits that we have set for the 4 days of climbing (10hrs in 4 days if you are under 30 years, 11.5 hrs if you are 31-49 year old and 11hrs if you are 50+ years old) Please upload all your files to Strava by tomorrow Sunday 5pm MST. #alpclimbingchallenge

1 Lynne Anderson 9h04 20’932ft

2 Andrea Buttine 7h00 15’354ft

3 Julie Hsu 7h48 13’674ft

4 Alison Powers 6h55 12’771ft

5 Jennifer MacDougall 8h42 12’166ft

6 Vale Boss 7h42 11’306ft

7 Giuseppe Sarpietro 5h14 10’951ft

8 Rachel Plessing 5h55 10’574ft

9 Tronel Guy 5h52 7143ft

10 Erica Brann 4h13 6099ft

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ALP Climbing challenge day 2 - standings

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ALP Climbing challenge day 2 - standings

2018 ALP Climbing Challenge, day 2. Below are the standings after day 2 (files that are uploaded as of now). Remember that your Strava account can’t be set as “private” otherwise we can’t track/ see your uploaded rides. 2 more days to go. Hopefully we see many of you tomorrow AM at our Arkansas Mountain ALP ride. We start in Boulder at 9am (meet in the Justice Center parking lot) #alpclimbingchallenge

1 Lynne Anderson 6h01 13’176ft

2 Giuseppe Sarpietro 5h14 10’951ft

3 Alison Powers 4h48 8660ft

4 Jennifer MacDougall 5h45 7402ft

5 Tronel Guy 5h52 7143ft

6 Vale Boss 3h40 5509ft

7 Marco F. 5h15 4783ft

8 Roberto Romagnoli 4h55 4095ft

9 Scott Baumfalk 5h32 3911ft

10 Dianne McNally 3h23 3776ft

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ALP Climbing challenge day 1 - standings

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ALP Climbing challenge day 1 - standings

The 2018 ALP Climbing Challenge has begun! Below are the standings after day 1 (files that are uploaded as of now). Remember you can still join and win, we have 3 days to go! #alpclimbingchallenge

1 Lynne Anderson 3h 6673ft

2 Vale Boss 3h40 5509ft

3 Giuseppe Sarpietro 2h01 4442ft

4 Jennifer MacDougall 3h32 4416ft

5 Alison Powers 2h24 4201ft

6 Marco F. 3h16 3215ft

7 Scott Baumfalk 2h30 2579ft

8 Roberto Romagnoli 3h19 2336ft

9 Tronel Guy 1h40 1903ft

10 Martine Demaria 2h44 1801ft

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3 Days to Go #alpclimbingchallange

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3 Days to Go #alpclimbingchallange

Our annual Climbing Challenge is coming! October 4th-7th will be year 4 of the ALP Cycles Coaching Climbing Challenge. You will have 4 days and 9-11hrs max (depending on age) to climb as much as possible (the contest will be keep track on Strava- Link coming early next week). We will have prizes and fun activities to do and to participate in.

To up the anti, we have added more prizes and competitions for the 2018 edition. In addition to the top 3 receiving; "ALP Bucks" (ALPb's), the winner gets 400 ALPb's to be used on anything ALP. Coaching, race team fees, clothing, ALP Tour of Colorado, etc. Second place gets 250 ALPb's and 100 ALPb's to 3rd place, we will have a best photo contest, and most inspiring competition. Plus you can add vertical to your total by using social media and the hashtag #alpclimbingchallenge. 

Add vertical- Every time you post about the Climbing Challenge (use #alpclimbingchallenge) we'll give you an extra 50ft of elevation. Yes, we'll do doing math...

Best Photo- use the hashtag #alpclimbingchallenge on either Instagram or Facebook and at the end of the 4 days, our ALP Coaches will pick their favorite 2 photos.  Prizes are ALP and KUHL Schwag. 

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Most Inspiring- While our Climbing Competition will have only 1 winner, many riders will be able to inspire. Inspire themselves, inspire others, and live to tell a great story about it (70 hill repeats on an overpass is one example).  Prizes are ALP and KUHL Schwag.

We have also upped the anti on the rules for the Climbing Challenge. 

The details-

If are you under the age of 30, you have 10 hrs in 4 days to climb as much as you can. If you are 31-49, you have 10.5hrs in 4 days to climb as much as you can. If you are 50+, you have 11hrs in 4 days to climb as much as you can.

You must have a Garmin or an on-bike computer that has GPS and can be uploaded to Strava. You must create a basic Strava account (it's free).

All rides must start and end in the same place- with the exception of the Arkansas Mountain ALP ride (October 6th, 9am at the Boulder Justice Center).

Ride time starts when you get on your bike and stops when you get off your bike. (i.e. no warming up/cooling down without your computer on and ride time started). All climbing must be done on a bicycle and no motors or ebikes are allowed.

You do not have to live in Colorado. That's the cool thing, no matter where you live you can participate (as long as there is something you can climb on your bike).

You do not have to do the challenge in order to come on the Saturday ALP ride. This challenge and the ALP ride are open to everyone. So invite your friends, family, teammates, etc. The more the merrier! This is our way of motivating people to train for a fun/hard event and giving non-ALP athletes a chance to ride with us and see how cool our little ALP community is.

We'll be posting updates on the Challenge here and on our Facebook event page.

Wondering how much vertical it will take to be competitive? Check out last year's results and event recap. 

Join our challenge here- https://www.strava.com/clubs/478046

Good luck and see you soon!

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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Off-Season

Written by ALP Cycles Coach, Jennifer Sharp

 Focus on skills and drills in the training season and apply them to races.

Focus on skills and drills in the training season and apply them to races.


Summer is winding down and many parts of the country have already seen a shift of weather, signaling the end of a long road season and for others the start of the cyclocross season. Whether you take a break now from structured training and racing or do it after cross, it’s important to get the most out of your off-season. This is where the biggest gains can be made.

The off-season is an interesting term in itself. As a competitive athlete, do you really get down time? And is “off-season” the best way to describe this time of year? Are you really taking time “off”? TrainingPeaks refers to this time of year as the “transition phase”, which is about 2-4 weeks in length when you do unstructured training as a means to recharge both mentally and physically. My husband, Benjamin Sharp (2012 United States Olympic Team Coach), refers to this time of year as training season, as compared to race season. Regardless of what you call it, the time of year where you take a break from competition and hit the reset button is a necessary part of the periodization process - especially if you want to continue to see improvement season after season.

So what exactly is the best thing to do over the off-season/transition phase or training season?

  • Address and rebuild your physiological profile. During the race season, it’s hard to gain fitness since you’re often racing and recovering. The training season is a great opportunity to get those foundation miles in and focus on the various energy systems you may neglect during the race season.

  • Address your nagging or lingering injuries. Do you have a little pain in your lower back/neck/shoulders/achilles/etc? Now is a great time to seek medical attention and give your tendons/muscles/body rest so that it can fully repair itself. Take the time to make an appointment with a physical therapist/body worker or doctor to get to the root of the issue and really dive in.

  • Lack motivation? Cross train! This is a great chance to run, hike, swim, practice yoga, strength train, cross country ski, or do basically any cardiovascular training.

  • Goal setting. What better time to take inventory of your 2018 season than now? What went well? What areas need work? Setting both process and outcome goals can help you stay motivated in the 2019 season and beyond.

  • Catch up with friends and family. Cycling can be all-consuming. You likely sacrificed some social engagements over the season. Make a point of spending time with your friends and family members without feeling like you have to fit some intervals in first.

Ben always says that everyone is making gains in the race season. But if you can go into the race season at a higher level by making improvements during the training season, you could be ahead of the game.

Commit to making 2019 your best season yet and come up with a solid training plan with your coach today.


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