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power

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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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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Indoor verses Outdoor Power

Photo by  ThousandWonders  

Photo by ThousandWonders 

Written by Jennifer Sharp of ALP Cycles Coaching

Unless you live in the tropics or some warm southern state like Arizona or Florida, chances are you’ve succumbed to the trainer this winter. While the trainer is better than not getting on the bike at all, you may experience differences in power output. I asked a bunch of coaches, from my fellow ALP Cycles coaches as well as my network of colleagues to see what their experience is with indoor verses outdoor power, and it turns out they all agree that for some athletes, there is a difference. But just how much of a difference is unpredictable at best.

It would be easy to make a generalization that indoor power numbers are always lower than outdoor power numbers, but for some athletes just the opposite is true. Unfortunately, the cause remains a mystery.

This article is geared toward those who find the trainer insufferable. The following tips could help next time you straddle the saddle indoors. Just remember – the quality time you bank now in the off season and during winter is where the biggest gains can be made for the race season to come.

Tip #1 – Get a fan. Riding inside can be hot. Really, really hot. Heat can elevate your heart rate, making those indoor intervals feel like you’re pedaling through the Mojave desert. Using a fan will help air circulation and keep you cooler.

Tip #2 – Do an FTP test indoors. If you’re really struggling to maintain power zones that coincide with your outdoor power zones, then it is time to bite the bullet and do an FTP test indoors. Especially if you’ll be on the trainer for an extended period of time. If you’re using your outdoor power numbers and have noticed a difference, then you could either be over training or undertraining. Take the guess work out of the equation and do a test. The sooner the better.

Tip #3 -  Keep at it. Yep, training indoors can be a chore. Your attitude toward your trainer has a direct effect on how much time you end up spending stationary. Embrace the locked down nature of your trainer and challenge yourself to raise your indoor numbers every time you get on the bike.

Tip #4 – Calibrate! Make sure to calibrate your power meter and the power meter on your trainer (if applicable) to ensure you’re getting an accurate reading every time you get on the bike.

Tip #5 – Distract yourself. Want to stay motivated throughout your entire ride? Using programs like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest Videos, or just watching some old bike racing footage can help keep the mind occupied while you’re putting in the time on the trainer.

Tip #6 – Keep it interesting.  The quickest way to get bored on the trainer is to do the same level of effort all the time. Intervals are a great and easy way to combat the boredom. Have your coach create an indoor workout for you with various degrees of difficulty.

Remember – work counts most when no one is watching. It’s what separates champions from recreationalists. Strive for excellence every time you saddle up and success will be in your future.

Happy training!

 

How to do High Cadence Intervals:

https://youtu.be/CSnr4k-EhE0

 

How to do Muscle Tension Intervals:

https://youtu.be/FazybBFnGgE

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Train Smarter, Not Harder

Written by ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp

“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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