Archive for cycling

Who Wouldn’t Like To Run Faster Off Of The Bike?

 

"The truth isn't always popular, but it's always the truth."  - unknown


I've got some important (and very different) stuff to share with you today, and I know, because you're busy you may not want to stop what you're doing to read this.

But listen, if you want to KNOW how you can train differently and smarter on the bike, AND learn how to run FASTER off of it (no it isn't about the same old blah blah, brick runs, etc.), then ya gotta keep reading!

Trust me, my advice is NOT going to be the same-old, same-old. It will probably rankle a few folks, too. Especially some of the "experts" out there that are reading.So to get to the heart of what I want to share today, I have to start with a story about swimming. It's a true story.

(I know, I know...I said I was going to help you ride and run faster, and I am!  But...you need a little context - and this story will provide it. Keep reading!)

A few years ago I was sitting around with some swim coaches at an ASCA conference. The topics at the table revolved around two things: the iconic swim coach, James "Doc" Counsilman (who is well known for coaching Mark Spitz, winner of 7 golds at the 72 Olympics), and the "S" curve in swimming. 

Now, I don't know if you're a swimmer or not, but if you are, I'm sure you're familiar with the "S" curve pulling path. This "S" curve is what many coaches believe is the "ideal path" for your hand to follow during the pull phase of the stroke.  Shaped like the letter S, this pulling path has become well known as one hallmark of a fast swimmer.

Apparently all the hoopla about this "S" curve began with Counsilman and Spitz. The story goes, the coach was watching Spitz swim and noticed this "S" curve in his stroke. Since Spitz was swimming faster than anyone else in the world, Counsilman (always the innovator), came to the conclusion that the secret to his speed might be this curve. 

So Counsilman figured, if it was good enough for Spitz, it should be good enough for everyone, and proceeded to instruct every swimmer he coached to start putting this "S" curve into their strokes. What began as a simple way to make his swimmers faster, soon became gospel in the swimming world.

Simply put, many believed that to swim fast, you needed to have an "S" curve in your pull.

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  

What I'm talking about here is CAUSE and EFFECT, so the chicken/egg analogy may not really work. But it is sort of a funny cartoon, don't you think?  🙂

Anyway, an odd thing happened as Counsilman's swimmers started adding this "S" curve consciously - something he didn't anticipate.

Despite imploring his swimmers to "S" more, not only did most of them not get any faster, some actually started swimming slower.

What was going on?

To answer that question, let's go back to Spitz for a moment.

Is it possible that the "S" curve emerged as a natural byproduct of both his training and his body's intuitive understanding of how best to create more lift (and thus increase pulling power)?

Based on my own experience, I'd have to say the answer is an absolute, YES.

Spitz, like most great swimmers, could "grip" and hold on to the water, making the water more "solid" as his arm traveled past his rotating body.

He didn't consciously try to create that letter S.

It happened as a function of what his body did naturally, AND what he learned via tens of thousands of hours of mindful, consistent swimming.
  

Should you scrape mud off of your cycling shoes?   

I'm betting a very similar kind of story could be told when it comes to riding a bike efficiently and powerfully.  And THEN..running efficiently AND fast after the ride.

How so you ask?

Have you heard that popular advice, made famous by legendary cyclist Greg Lemond, to "pedal like you're scraping mud off of the bottom of your shoe"?

Like Counsilman's advice to articially integrate an "S" curve, trying to artificially change how you pedal a bike is not going to help you, and it may even HURT you.

And that "hurt" might not be limited to riding, but could also negatively impact how you run OFF of the bike. And increase your risk of injury, too.

In fact, I'm here to tell you that for the most part, ANY drill, tool, or technique that you've read about or heard was designed to improve your pedaling technique, is probably a complete waste of your time. 

How about Spin-Scan on a Computrainer? Or those fancy charts that show you exactly where you should apply pressure to the pedal as you go around? All of it, a waste of your time.

...except for one, that is.

One, very different and important, approach.

That one approach is the topic of a 12-minute video I prepared for you, that you've GOT to watch.

Authentic Cycling Video is here.So when it comes to riding faster,

I have to ask...Do the best cyclists have a great "spin" because they consciously "scrape mud" at the bottom of the pedal stroke?

Or (like Spitz in the water), are their pedal strokes and nervous systems more finely tuned and coordinated because of natural ability and perhaps more importantly, thousands of hours in the saddle?

Whenever we start incorporating something into our training because we heard the pros do it, or our friends said they read it in a book or online in a forum, OR we think we can outsmart our nervous system with "better" technology (such as clipless pedal systems), bad things can happen.

That was true for Counsilman's swimmers, it is true despite LeMond's advice, and it's true for running and just about every other activity, too.

There are a few other "truisms" that can be gleaned from all of this, such as...

  • getting faster isn't just about training "hard," it has a lot more to do with our nervous system than most realize.
  • mountain bikers, I think, have known a lot of this for a while. They 'get it.'
  • all of us are learning more every day - no one has all of the answers.

As for how ALL of this specifically impacts YOUR running off of the bike...well you'll have to watch and listen to the video for the answer to that.

When you do, please let me know what you think, ok?

Happy trails!
~Coach Al 

PS: A few minutes into the video, I refer to an article I wrote for Active.com, called: What Kenyans Can Teach Us About Running Economy and Efficiency.  To read it, CLICK HERE.

PSS: Just so y'all know, I have tremendous respect and admiration for Greg Lemond, a true champion and legendary cyclist. My belief is that at one time, he probably made an observation and drew a conclusion from it.  I've done that many times and am always learning. I've also changed my mind on things as a result of having a better understanding of "cause and effect" with certain things.

In Training, Be Purposeful!

"For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will."

--Henri Frederic Amiel, 1821-1881, Swiss Philosopher, Poet, Critic

 

"It is a psychological fact that you can influence your environment and thoughts. If you do so consciously and with high purpose, you can change your habits and attitudes for the better."

 --source unknown

 "Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one's aim." 

--John D. Rockefeller, 1839-1937, American Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder Exxon And last but not least!:

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."

 --Sir Cecil Beaton, 1904-1980, British-born American Photographer

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Monday Excuse Busters!

 

10153250_10203154876609771_265784320_nHello everyone. Coach Al here! In a relentless effort to inspire and motivate you to reach your true potential, I've put down some common thoughts that many of us naturally have from time to time, and I follow with my reaction. Do any of the below 'themes' or excuses sound familiar?  Read on...

 

"I not sure I have what it takes to finish an Ironman or"...."You see, I could never"...
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Why not? What do you mean, "I could never"? Of course you could. You could indeed. If it can be done, you can do it. Finishing an IM or even an Olympic distance race has been done the "first" time by many before you, who are just LIKE you.  You've got to want it, of course. And if you want it enough, you'll do it. "I could never" is usually said wistfully, meaning "I wish I could, but I can't." That's preposterous. You can if you really want to. Free yourself from your own limitations. What do you want to do? What will fulfill the enormous potential of your life? Certainly not hiding behind "I could never." You are capable of truly extraordinary accomplishments. You can do whatever you decide you're going to do. You can find a way. Have the courage to live your possibilities.

 

"I'm overwhelmed with too many responsibilties and I"...

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Sometimes you're just so overwhelmed, you feel like throwing up your hands or crawling into a hole and curling up in the fetal position. WRONG!  That's exactly what you must not do. When you're overwhelmed, that's all the more reason to start taking the actions that will rectify your situation. When you're overwhelmed is when you're the most frustrated and the most motivated. Now is your chance to really take action with dedication and commitment. Don't blow the opportunity. The frustration you feel is good, solid positive energy waiting to be released. If it is not released in a positive direction, there is a very big danger that it will become destructive energy. Use that frustration to your advantage. You're overwhelmed?  GREAT! Do something about it right now. Quit complaining and start taking positive action. If you're overwhelmed it means that there are plenty of things which can be done, things which will most likely make a difference very quickly. Pick something and start doing it right now. As soon as you get busy your frustration will start pushing you forward.

 

"I'm just an average athlete and not very experienced, and I don't know if I really deserve to succeed"...

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You are just as good, just as worthy, just as valuable as anyone. No one can intimidate you, no matter what kind of car they drive, or what their business card says, or how big their house is, or what their "personal best" time for an Ironman is. No one is better than you. You are the best there is. Inside you is the potential to do, or be, or have anything you desire. No one has more than that. Some may have progressed farther down the path at this moment, but that doesn't make them any better than you. If you start to take action right now, you will be working your way down that same path. No matter what anyone says, or does, no matter what your situation -- personal, financial, social or otherwise -- you can choose to live your life in your own way. And there is no greater success than that. But you must be the one to achieve your success. Though no one can hold you back if you're determined enough, by the same token no one can do it for you. You've got to step up to the challenge, believe in yourself, and do what it takes. Right now is a great time to start. You deserve the best that life has to offer. Do whatever needs to be done to make it happen.

 

"It's just too hard"...

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Anything worth having, or doing, or being, requires effort. What if you could have whatever you wanted, again and again, just by snapping your fingers? And what if everyone else could, as well? How much would you value and appreciate the things you had? What would you do with your life, if there was no need for effort? Where would you find meaning, what would give you satisfaction?  The value of effort is not only in what it produces, but also in what it demands of you. The greatest opportunity in life is not for a free ride. The greatest opportunity is to be fully challenged, and to meet challenge with effective effort. The things we value are the things to which, and for which, we give of ourselves. There is no way around that. Some of the hardest working people are those who are wealthy enough that they don't need the money. Some of the most dedicated athletes who constantly strive to get better are also the most talented.  However, both of these types of people know they do need the effort, and the accomplishment, and the challenge. We all do. Without it, life is shallow and empty. Make the effort. Do it now. Start today to meet the challenge.  Remember, if it was easy to do what 'we' do, then everyone would do it.  But that's what makes that finish line such a special place............

 

"I'm just really too tired"...
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What are you tired of? Doing nothing can be just as tiring as taking action. If you're physically tired, then go to bed and get a good night's rest. Then get up in the morning and get started. Whatever you do today, you'll be tired tonight. You can be tired after a day of effective effort and accomplishment, or you can be tired after a day of getting nowhere.  The choice is yours. If you're going to be tired anyway, it makes sense to get something out of it. To put forth your best effort, to move in the direction of your goals, to make a difference, to make a life of excellence for yourself and the world around you. Take action toward an exciting goal, and instead of being tired you'll be exhilarated.

 

"It won't matter anyway"...
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What you do, matters. You can make a difference if you choose to do so. If there's something that needs to be done, doing it will make a difference.  You know that. Thinking that is won't matter is just a petty rationalization. Of course it matters. If it doesn't then find something else that does. You are a creative, effective person who is full of possibilities. The job at hand or your most immediate racing goals may not be the most important thing in the history of the world, but if it gets you into action, then it matters very much. Because no matter how small the effort or consequence, it is a start. It revs up the momentum of the intelligent, creative, productive, and energetic person that you are. And once you get going, there's no telling how much you can accomplish. It all starts with taking action. Don't hide behind the thinking that it won't matter. Jump in and get started. It does matter. Do it now.

 

"I'm afraid I might fail"...

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You can never fail -- if you just show up you will always succeed in producing results. If you don't like the results you are producing, then you can learn from your mistakes and change your strategy. By taking action, you will not fail. In fact, the only way to fail is to not take action. By taking action you always achieve a result. The result could very well be the achievement of your goal, or it could be a learning experience that will eventually bring you to the goal you desire. But you never fail. After Thomas Edison had tried 9,999 times to perfect the light bulb, and had not succeeded, someone asked him if he was going to have 10,000 failures. Edison replied that he had not failed -- that he had just discovered another way not to invent the electric light. Failure is simply not an option. Everything you do has a result and eventually those results will lead you to the achievement of whatever you desire.

 

"I'm too busy"...

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What are you accomplishing with all that busy-ness? Simply being "busy" gets you nowhere. Stop being busy, evaluate your priorities, and start taking focused, directed action. Anyone can be busy, but so what? Accomplish requires more than just burning up time. Accomplishment demands action and results. Stop being busy and start doing something today.  Remember, thousands of athletes just like you have daily responsibilities, and all of them manage to get the job done.  Refine your priority list, throw out the garbage, and focus on that which will bring the results you desire.....................

 

"I can always try "it" later"...

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Yes, that's right. You can always try it later. And when it's later, you'll probably say the same thing. Nothing gets done by putting it off until later. The fact is, you are alive and making decisions right now. Right now is the period of time over which you have control. Right now is the time that's available for you to take action. Action that is not taken now, doesn't get taken. As you're reading this, try to do something next week. Really put out all the effort you can to get something done next
week. Were you able to do it? Of course not. Because next week isn't here, and it never will be. It is always now, and now is the time to act. Do it now and it will get done.

 

"I've already tried that"...

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Trying is not enough. The only way to accomplish something is to do it, to do whatever it takes, to keep making the effort until the goal is reached. If at first you don't succeed, you've still learned something valuable about how to proceed. If you've already tried, that's fine. Keep going. Make use of that experience. You've got a valuable perspective on what works and what doesn't. Stop trying and start taking whatever action is necessary to reach the goal. Learn from the mistakes and appointments. Keep going. Start right now to really make it happen.

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST!.....drum roll please!  🙂

"But why not"...
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Whatever you wish to accomplish, there's no reason why you cannot start right now. When you're truly committed to reaching your goal, there will always be something that can be done right away, to get started. Action will get you where you want to go. Excuses will hold you back. The choice is yours. What are you waiting for?

Make it a great day!

~Coach Al

Getting Your Season Started Right!

 

Lis Kenon and Coach Al, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Coach Al with 4x Ironman AG World Champion, Lisbeth Kenyon

Hey Everyone! Coach Al here. 🙂  If you are like many endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere, the late March marks the time when you really start planning to “get serious” with training and race preparation in anticipation of the upcoming competitive season. Even more, for some athletes this time period marks the time when, after a casual glance at the calendar reveals only a few weeks remain until the first event, a state of shock and absolute panic ensues! ☺

Before you panic and start hammering those high intensity intervals, moving yourself precariously close to either injury or over-training, remember to keep a few important things in mind as you embark upon a fast-track toward improved race readiness.

First, avoid the trap of thinking there is a quick fix, short cut, or easy path toward a true higher level of fitness. Building the stamina and strength that leads to success in endurance sports takes time and patience. However, if you pay close attention to the fundamentals such as skill and technique enhancement and general/functional strength, you CAN make some great inroads over a relatively short period of time that WILL help get you closer to being able to achieve your goals.

Secondly, while there are many facets of your training that will be integral for your success, there are two topics requiring your attention all year long but often don't get the attention they deserve this time of year.  They are: maximizing your daily NUTRITION and daily RECOVERY from training.  (If you're at a point in time when you feel you need a "kick-start" to cleaning up your diet, check out our De-tox!)

It goes without saying that if you don’t eat well most of the time and at the right times and don’t recover adequately between individual training sessions and week to week, your training, fitness, and ultimately your race preparation will stagnate or even worsen.

Here are three TIPS to assist in transitioning optimally to the month of April and also help you get your season started right:

  1. Review your current Limiters and then establish some Training Objectives to improve and overcome those Limiters. Limiters are your weaknesses or “race specific” abilities that may hold you back from being successful in your most important events.   Likewise, Training Objectives are measurable training goals that you set for yourself and which may be based on your Limiters, with the goal of improving upon them.

To help in this process, start by asking yourself these questions: 

  • As you review your current Limiters, how well have you progressed in the Off-Season in addressing those?
  • Did you “miss anything” in your Off-Season preparation that you should focus on now?
  • Is there a chance that your Limiters will hold you back from being successful in certain events?
  • Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you doing anything right now to improve your Limiters and thus your chance for success in your upcoming KEY races?

Even though it IS late March, it is NOT too late to start developing some key workouts to help strengthen your weaknesses. Be patient and persistent, and set measurable goals (training objectives) so that when you line up for your most important event this season, you will have the confidence of knowing you did all you could to prepare for success!

  1. Focus on executing KEY WORKOUTS by differentiating intensity and being purposeful in all of your training: To ensure you continue to improve, one of your primary goals must be to execute key-workouts to the best of your ability, which are those workouts that when recovered from them, will have had a specific and material impact on your race specific fitness.  Avoid falling victim to the “rat race” mentality that has you chronically “running” from one workout to the next without any real focus, which only results in tiredness and higher levels of stress without resulting in improved health OR fitness.
  2. Eat as well as you can, most of the time: Eating the best foods to nurture your health and recovery, most of the time and at the right times, is the best path toward optimizing health and body composition. Too often endurance athletes fall victim to waiting until they are close to their goal races and then trying to get lean and “race ready.” Once you begin to do higher intensity race-specific training sessions, your body will be under greater duress – trying to limit calories at that time can be very stressful and may lead to injury, poor adaptation to training stresses, and basically undoing all of the work you are doing to improve!

To summarize, these three tips come back to one very important but often forgotten concept: listening to your body and trusting your intuition.  I believe your intuition may be the most important tool you have in your toolbox as an endurance athlete, and unfortunately many of us don’t listen to it when we need to the most.

If you are a novice, your intuition might not be as highly developed as your more experienced training partners or friends, but it IS there and is often talking to you! Your "inner voice" might be telling you that you are tired and just don't feel up to that ride or run that you had planned, or, that what you are eating isn’t optimal to support your training or health.

Your body is smart! If you learn to really listen to it and stay patient and focused on the fundamentals, you will get your season started right and perhaps have your best season ever! Best of luck!

~Coach Al

027: Does Running With a Forward Lean Help Efficiency? Does Your Bike Pedal Fit Matter? We Answer [Podcast]

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Forward_LeanHi Everyone!

Today on the podcast we discuss two things.

First, the foot-pedal interface is an important part of a bike fit, yet it is frequently overlooked.   When this is executed correctly, it can improve power and reduce injury.

Second, we answer the question about whether running with a forward lean improves efficiency. This questions leads to a rich discussion of running form. To quote Coach Al, unless you build and integrate the qualities that make for strong, efficient running on the inside, "you can lean forward all day long and all you're gonna get is a mess." We dive in.

016: Bike Fit With Todd Kenyon of TTBikeFit (Podcast)

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Hello Everyone!

Every triathlete knows the importance of the aero position on the bike, and all the free speed it can bring. In our opinion, no one sets up that bike fit more expertly than Todd Kenyon of TTBikeFit.

We are very pleased to have Todd on our podcast this week. It's the perfect time of year to learn more about the importance of bike fit--and to get proactive about checking out the efficiency of your own set up. It's a great discussion with lots to learn.

In the podcast we cover:

•    The importance of bike fit for performance, comfort, lower risk of injury, and improved run performance

•    Comparisons of various bike fit “systems.” Good fit advice, and getting set up correctly on your bike has much less to do with the “system,” and much more to do with the expertise, knowledge, and skill of the person actually doing the fit.

•    How to choose or select someone to do your bike fitting?  This is a critically important choice, as the results critically impact your training and racing.

•    The important steps of a bike fit process?

•   How we at Pursuit and TTBikeFit mirror many synergies in our approach to working with athletes. Our focus on movement quality first as a baseline of a smart training progression aligns quite neatly with the smart “fit” progression Todd employs.

Finally, on a separate topic, we had to get into what it's like to wear the “husband” and bike tech hat while traveling to Kona with your wife who just happens to be a 4x Age Group Ironman World Champion (and one of our all-time favorite athletes and people on the planet), Lisbeth Kenyon. And here they are working on her bike fit in the photo below. 🙂 You can read Lisbeth's 2014 Kona race report here, and listen to her unique perspective about Kona here.

Enjoy! Hit us up with questions in the comment section or on Facebook.

Helping YOU Be Great!

Coach Al

TTBikeFit Lab

Todd Kenyon and wife, Lisbeth Kenyon, at the TTBikeFit Lab.

We hope you enjoy our podcasts and find them useful for your training and racing. Any questions? Hit us up in the comments, or on Facebook. Let us know of any topics you would like us to cover too.

NOTE! If you review our podcast on iTunes you could win TWO MONTHS FREE on our training team! Click here for details, register below.

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This Is A Super Indoor Cycling Tip!

STAND During Indoor Cycling Training

Hey Everyone!

Cycling standDeep into winter, so many triathletes and cyclists are doing most, if not all of their riding indoors. Here is a super indoor cycling tip I encourage you to incorporate regularly NOW. If you do, you'll see a big payoff in just a few short months down the road.

One of the challenges we face when we are riding, is that we are SEATED most of the time, and being in the saddle is "quad-dominant."

How do we make some subtle adjustments to make our indoor training more effective?

STAND! When you are standing out of the saddle, you are using the larger muscles on the back of your body more effectively, and that has positive effects for all of your performance and health markers. My athletes may be tired of hearing me rave about mountain biking, but the truth is that when I am on the trail, I'm standing a great percentage of the time, using all of the muscles in my body, especially the deeper muscles of the trunk/core, and the backside.

In our indoor class here at PAP, I have the riders do a drill I call a "Hover" drill. That is basically a drill where the rider "hovers" over the saddle, yet is NOT standing straight up, OR allowing their body to inch forward. Give it a try!

So, from this point forward, I want each of you reading this to do the following:

  • Include as much standing during your indoor sessions as you reasonably can-- especially those who know that your glutes need to be stronger.
  • Build up to being able to stand for up to 5min at a time--or MORE.
  • Mix it up! Alternate 1-2min standing at 65-75 rpms, with 1-2min seated at 110+ rpms. That's a great mix that is surely going to wake up your butt!
  • Stand tall, push those hips forward and lengthen the spine!
  • Make standing sets structured, or not--that's your choice. But do take responsibility for your own indoor riding, and get OUT of the saddle more often.

Hope this helps. (and if you DO IT, it surely will!) Here is another of our blog posts on the issue of standing when cycling, should you need more motivation. 🙂

~Coach Al

Cycling Skills: Practice Standing (Triathletes, That Means YOU Too!)

Hello Everyone!

Standing-on-bikeI got a great question from one of our triathlon team members. He asked why I prescribe standing sets in bike workouts when triathletes are best down in the aero position during races.

Here is the answer.

How we might train on the bike in order to lift fitness and create more ability as a cyclist is different than how we might race on the bike to maximize efficiency for a better overall racing result (including the run).

Sure, all things being equal, it is best that you stay seated during the triathlon bike leg for the majority of time. It does help keep effort and HR lower, and you are certainly more aerodynamic when seated vs standing. To put it another way, it IS generally more efficient than is standing.

However, when we're training, especially in earlier phases of training that are not race-specific training, THE GOAL IS NOT to do things as you might do them on the race course. The goal is to work on certain skills, abilities, and lift fitness, so you will be better prepared to embark on that race-specific training, and, ultimately, race more efficiently and faster.

When it comes to cycling in particular, I'm a BIG FAN of doing whatever we can do to INCREASE the amount and variety of "tools" we have in our cycling "tool box."

What do I mean?

I tell folks to ride a mountain bike and road bike some of the time, because being on THOSE machines challenges us in a different way than a tri-bike. They help develop different "tools" like handling, balance, short power production, riding in a group, etc. We might not develop these skills if we ONLY rode our tri bikes.

Standing is exactly the same thing. When we train our bodies to be able to stand on occasion--for short periods especially--to be able to generate power and speed (and mix up muscle usage as a side benefit), we add a new and beneficial tool to our cycling tool box.

Standing is a great way to get over short very steep hills without losing speed, for example. If you don't TRAIN that, you will never be able to do it with any efficiency in either training OR racing. Train it, though, it you're now able to do it, when you need to, whenever its appropriate.

How many times have you come to a short steep hill, and stayed in the saddle, only to see your speed fall to nearly zero as a result? If you were able to stand to generate speed and power over that short hill, you would be maintaining more speed over the top, which makes it easier to keep speed going on the other side...less loss of momentum. And as I like to say in this regard, "the faster you go, the faster you go." 🙂

In other words, when you're losing speed because you're welded to the saddle, you end up going slower up that hill which slows your overall time on the bike, and may also create more fatigue.

One other MAJOR benefit of standing is that you're using MORE glute and hamstring. Those are large muscles that will help, if you let them.

The key? You must train it. You must practice it.

Great racing is about having as many tools in your overall athletic toolbox, as possible. The more tools you have, the better you're able to meet any challenge you face out there...

Make sense?

Stand, sit, repeat. Be a better rider. Use more glute.

ROCK ON.

~Coach Al

Coach Al: My Highest Functional Threshold Power Test in Four Years!

Coach Al Lyman, gait analysis and functional movement expert, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Last night, after the indoor cycling class we host at our gait analysis lab, I decided that it was time for a little experiment...

Let me explain...

Many of you may read my post on "authentic" cycling that features a video with the incredible mountain bike trials rider, Martyn Ashton. The more I study and observe, the more I move toward a place where I feel there's less difference between running and cycling than we traditionally thought, or that many coaches still believe.

You also know that for the better part of the last three months, I have focused much more on running than on cycling, as I prepare for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run.

More than simply focusing on running....in truth, I haven't been on my bike ONCE in about three months. Not once. No easy spinning, no road rides, not even ANY mountain bike rides. I put all of my energy exclusively into GETTING STRONGER, and getting my running together.

So, no cycling for three months, and before that my only riding has been mountain biking--not exactly time trialing either. I sought out a lot of technical challenges, worked on balance, mobility, short power bursts, and had fun. But certainly no time trialing or road riding.

After the class I thought, "What will happen if I jump on the CompuTrainer and do an FTP test, after not riding for three months and focusing exclusively on running and strength training?

Yikes!

Curiosity got the best of me, so that's what I did. So you're now asking, what happened?

Well, what happened was THE BEST FTP test I've put down in the last FOUR YEARS!

Yes, I tested better today than at any time since 2008!

I am emphatic with athletes about what it takes to develop true speed and power:

  • Get stable and strong
  • Quality movement is universally important
  • Functional strength is king

But it still is PRETTY dang COOL when the reinforcement of what I have always known TO BE TRUE is reaffirmed for me personally. Very cool.

Yes, you still have to do the specific training if you want to maximize fitness in any one sport....but it is amazing to see that BALANCED STABILITY AND STRENGTH truly do RULE!

I am thrilled to say that we will be able to soon share the lessons and training of how to get truly faster and more powerful with a wider world of athletes when we launch our new online triathlon team. Details are coming, so stay tuned!

For now, it's back to running for me. The R2R2R is coming up on November 16!

Coach Al on Cycling: Get Out of Your Clipless Pedals Like Martyn Ashton

Hello Everyone!

Martyn AshtonI'm so glad one of my athletes, Julie Carter, took the time to share this video of the incredible Martyn Ashton. Thank you, Julie!

As many of you know, Ashton is a mountain bike trials rider. He has been riding professional trials since 1993, and is often described as a mountain biking legend. (This video show you why the accolade is so deserved.) He has been credited with turning it from a niche form of riding into the sport it is today.

In my opinion, the cycling demonstrated here is the epitome of AUTHENTIC cycling. Riding like a kid! (Be a kid again - have fun!!!)

For many moons now here at Pursuit, we have discussed authentic movement with the hundreds of athletes who visit our gait analysis lab. I have worked with athletes to help them see that the best path to improved health, performance--and fun--is to take how we move as humans, and maximize that MOVEMENT.

DO NOT look to gadgets or gizmos to improve.

DO NOT SEEK an easy path or short cuts. Follow that which is AUTHENTIC.

Human movement is universal. HOW we express that human movement is individual. Each athlete needs to ask him or herself how they want to express that gift?

This past week in Kona, on the evening after the race, I visited with Lisbeth Kenyon and her husband Todd. Bike geeks all, we began discussing the merits of FLAT PEDAL riding. NOTICE that in the video Martyn ISN'T CLIPPED into his pedals. How on earth does he control his bike so amazingly well?

With his body, that's how. He's truly connected to the bike, except that he ISN'T connected to it!

It is my belief that we can ALL improve our riding ability by removing our clipless pedals from time to time and doing some "regular" pedaling. I think it will help us pedal more AUTHENTICALLY. Martyn Ashton shows us how.

Do I believe you'll be faster in a triathlon with flats? No.

But I DO believe that clipping your foot to your pedal all the time can create some habits in your riding style that may turn into issues leading to poorer performance.

What I believe now is that Greg Lemond didn't know what came first, the chicken or the egg, when he said "scrape mud" off of the bottom of your shoe. The smooth nature of an elite's pedal stroke ISN'T because they're pulling up and back, IT IS BECAUSE of their natural ability coupled with a finely-tuned nervous system and skill honed from hundreds of hours on the bike.

Ride the bike the way it was meant to be ridden. Martyn shows us how.

This is WHY I LOVE MOUNTAIN BIKING. It exposes us to this world. Amazing.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. And as you watch the video again, take notice-- there is no suspension on that bike. Pretty darn cool.