By ALP Coach Alison Powers

Last weekend, ALP Coach Jen Sharp and I went to Colorado Springs for the bi-annual Coaches Summit. Going to this summit is not only required to meet our coaching continuing education criteria but it’s a great chance to listen, learn, re-affirm our knowledge, and ask questions, from experts and professionals in not only the coaching world but the also the cycling and athletic science worlds.

Friday started with a keynote speaker who got us thinking about some of the best coaches and leaders that we, personally, have ever had. We wrote down the top 3 attributes that our favorite/best coach had (listens, challenges me, teaches me) and the 3 attributes that our least favorite coach had (not listening, setting goals that were not mine, close minded). Doing this drill really taught me that to be a good coach one must have good emotional and social skills. A coach can create the best training plan in the world, but if they can’t be emotionally there for the athlete, then the coach/athlete relationship will fall apart.

We started thinking about our athletes and the ones who are internally or externally motivated. Does the athlete do workouts/train/race because they want to, or because they think they should? Knowing how our athletes are motivated can help us be better coaches.

The rest of the weekend was filled with presentations about—

  • Strength training for cyclists— it’s important (duh). What exercises to focus on and how to make strength training truly functional for our athletes (we’re pretty close!). Posture on the bike really matters.

  • Training for Time Trial riders- long MTI’s (muscle tension intervals) are great.

  • Training for sprinters- long MTI’s are not great. Bring on the leg speed.

  • The benefits of High Intensity Training- how often (no more than 10% of training time) one should aim to do hard intervals and what does a hard interval actually mean (good and hard!).

  • Mental Training- such an important aspect of bike racing and one that is often forgotten and/or neglected by both the coach and the athlete. Belly breathing, body scan, mindfulness, visualization, and perceptual awareness are all “mental” tools that athlete should be practicing.

  • 3 common mistakes people/coaches think- 1. everything can been seen with the naked eye. Wrong. Taking and analyzing video is a great tool to use. 2. longer cranks are better. Wrong. Shorter cranks are better. Wrong. Crank length varies person to person and their personal hip mobility. 3. One should work on pedaling circles. Wrong. Hearing this made me the most happy. I have always thought “pulling” up on the pedals and engaging then hamstrings was bad. Yes, it’s required for a short full gas effort (standing start and sprinting) but trying to pull up during a 4hr road ride will lead to fatigue, cramping, and shutting off the power muscles of our quads and glutes.

  • Altitude- You can expect a 3% decrease in performance for each 1000ft over 5000ft. This means if you are riding around Denver at 200 watts, you’ll be riding around Leadville (10,000ft) at 170 watts for the same amount of effort.

  • Menopause- increase protein intake and stay on top of strength training and plyos to keep muscle mass.

  • On bike skills and drills- obstacle courses are fun and great for skill building. New Drills for bumping and being comfortable riding very close to others. Mountain bike cornering and a new way to think about where your hips go (toward the outside of the turn).

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It was a good 3 days of learning. There were 2 presenters at a time. This means Jen learned a few things I didn’t and visa versa. The good thing is, we went on a bike ride (during lunch) together and shared our new knowledge (team).

Here’s to better, smarter, and more fulfilling coaching and athlete success.