Entries For: April 2010
Yes, it's an advert from an evil big corporate ... but it's a great story all the same
Here's how Anna rode 33.9
I was very fortunate to have been sent to Adelaide for two days ....
Thanks to Hilton Clarke and Tammy Ebert I got to spend the last two days over in Adelaide at the National Talent ID conference, which was a very worthwhile experience. We had presenters from all sorts of interesting fields, including a police psychologist who specialised in negotiations in siege situations and an elite track and field sprint coach. For a long time now I've wanted to speak with a track & field sprint coach, we can learn much from them and that was really valuable.
The police psych may seem odd, but as coaches we have to deal with some ... fiery ... people sometimes (I had to deal with an upset and very angry sprinter very recently, for example) and learning how the police do it was very worthwhile. They (the police) have an advantage, they always win in the end - the bad guy comes out horizontal or vertical, but always comes out, and they often have the luxury of time, where we may not, but the consequences are somewhat different too!
Jan Sterling, the former Opals coach, was also a speaker and she had a lot to say about continuing to learn and develop as coaches. It's very easy to slip into an "I know it all" mindset when coaching, but it's something we have to be very much on our guards against. Jan showed us a very powerful video about sportsmanship and suggested that (and I agree!) sportsmanship is something that coaches have a strong duty to foster in their athletes. This is a longish video, but well worth watching :
Those kids knew what the right thing do to was, and that's something that their coach must have nourished in them. I hope that any athletes I work with (and I do myself) if ever in a similar situation, would also do, with grace, the right thing.
Apart from that, we had a lot of round-table talks about coaching methods, sprint development, talent identification and so on and I had a productive meeting with Tammy and Josh (NTID program directors, basically) and now I have a new t-shirt to wear. More to come on that front soon I hope, but it was a great trip and I learned a lot and benefitted a lot from it. I hope I can pass on that benefit to those of you I work with.
I also touted the sprint series to Gary West and Sean Eadie .. Watch this space!
Steel is real!
The current generation of Powertap road power meters (the wireless 2.4GHz ones) mostly come with an aluminium alloy freehub body. After not very long this happens to them. Sucks ... It's because making an alloy freehub that works with both 9 and 10 speed Shimano cassettes compromises the design of the freehub. Of course, the weight weenies want light hubs ... so for the sake of 80 grams (I weighed both the alloy and the steel freehubs today) all but the bottom end Powertap comes with this stupid alloy freehub.
But! For around $200 or so (in Australia, from a Trek dealer) you can get the PT Elite+ freehub, which is steel (and ... yes ... 80 grams heavier) and swap it into your higher end hub and eliminate the problem! Win! It should not cost what it does, but that's not something your LBS can do anything about, wholesale these things are insanely expensive, but they are available and they mean you can swap cassettes with just the one chain whip! Nice .. when something works like it should.
Enough ranting .. My PT 2.4 is now upgraded to a steel freehub and I'm happy about it.
And I didn't turn a pedal once
I spent the weekend in at DISC helping some of the lads as aboc, and as 'virtual Hilton', coach. Dino rode a 12.021s flying 200 which was a huge PB for him, Chris Ray rode a 1:09 kilo (also a big PB), Cam Woolcock rode the toughest points race I've ever seen and for some reason was heavily marked (did they all know he was the sprinter in the pack?) and survived it. As "VH" I looked after Lou Pascuzzi and The V-Train on Sunday at the sprints, Lou getting a bronze and Stew a gold and the champion of champions after some carefully considered tactical riding in the sprint finals.
I missed out on going for an MTB ride with Emily, but I'm sure we'll be able to do some more of that soon. I was pretty cranky about missing that, but it is what it is and there'll be more chances for rides, especially after Dino splashes for some ay-ups and we can go at night.
This week, I'm coaching and hopefully lifting in the 'haus tonight, coaching in the 'Haus tomorrow morning, running Spin tomorrow night with Nathan then I'm off to Adelaide for the NTID sprint conference for two days, back late on Thursday, Friday I intend to take easy and spend some QT with Lucie before Saturday I'm in at DISC again with Hilton and the NTID/VIS/CCCC guys and then Sunday is the first of our winter DISC sessions! Gulp .. that's a big week!
How to carry an expensive stopwatch ...
In other news, some of the lads have been racing at the Aussie Masters Titles in at DISC. Chris Ray rode a PB kilo (1.09), Cam Woolcock rode well but was heavily marked in a brutally hard MMAS2 points race and Dino races the match sprints tomorrow. Mick Thomas rode a brilliant MMAS3 points race to finish 4th!
I didn't use the disk wheel at SSS r6, I used the powertap
For anyone interested, here's the power graph from my 13.37s flying 200 at SSS r6 last Sunday. It was blowing a gale, a huge norwesterly which made for a reasonably quick track (for Blackburn anyway). I rode on a 53x15 (~96"). It's interesting to see how a flying 200 looks from the point of a power meter. I'll keep posting this sort of stuff so you can see what these things look like. The numbers aren't great, but I'm not exactly a great sprinter! Far from it, but all the same the data is worth looking at.
here's what we'll be doing, roughly, for the next 12 months
The aboc Sprint Squad is a small group, there's about 6 or 7 of us I think at the moment. It's the end of the season for all but a very small number who are racing at the Aussie Masters this weekend, and then it's all over 'til next summer.
So, what do we do in the mean time?
We'll cycle through this high-level plan, this is emphasis, not exclusive, so before you tell me "but you'll lose all your leg speed if all you do is strength", yes, we keep a leg speed component in our strength block and so on, we change the emphasis, not do just one thing. And we even get out and do some longish (~1hr or so) easy road/mtb rides, I just don't write much about them because they're not terribly interesting. So please don't feel the need to send me messages that I need to get my squad doing road miles, we do them, we just don't write much about them because they're generally taken as read and pretty dull compared to the sharp stuff we do in the gym, on the track and on our ergos. Everyone does road miles in some form, they're just not all that interesting when what you care about is sprinting. We don't do E3 work with our sprinters, except maybe the kilo riders, but they're a bit special. Anyone that actually wants to do the kilo is pretty demented, they have to do E3 work as well as sprint training and that's tricky to balance. The kilo .. urgh .. anyway .. I have the utmost admiration for anyone willing to hurt themselves that much, but they're nucking futs!
Preamble done, here's the plan, bear in mind that these blocks overlap so the total time doesn't add up :
Six weeks to two months of strength - heavy weights in the gym concentrating on squats and deadlifts and lots of gate starts and low speed accelerations. K1's and so on. Towards the end of this block we do more power work, accelerating from 30km/h to 70km/h or more chasing the motorbike etc. We may do some weighted gate starts too for giggles. This is where you slap a weight vest on a rider and get them to do starts. I'm not sure about them, but some coaches I respect a lot use them a bit and so it might be worth experimenting with a little.
One month of leg speed, lots of chasing the motorbike at DISC as fast as we can go in reasonably small gears doing lots of revouts.
One month to 6 weeks of speed-endurance - longer sprints, ramp ups etc - these are the vomit-inducing interval sessions that Dino had to do last night at Spin while the rest of us did short strength efforts. Nothing longer than about a minute or so in total duration, but with shorter recovery times between efforts (5 to 10 minutes) so we get used to having to sprint again shortly after a sprint. This simulates championship sprints, and hurts like hell. It's burnout inducing so we don't do too much of it.
That takes us through to roughly August and we can have a little rest for a week or so, go ski-ing or some sort of a holiday etc. Some of the junior sprinters may go away over their school holidays etc.
Then we reassess and see where everyone is and look at the events scheduled for next summer, by July/August we might have some semblance of a calendar to look at and an idea of what each rider needs to focus on for their specific events. Most of us will be concentrating on match sprints and flying 200's, a few on the time trials (500m & kilo), so we do slightly different things for each rider, but that's a rough overview of the plan for us through 'til mid winter.
I got an email last night ...
Yesterday evening I got an email from velogear.com.au. They're an online bike shop of sorts I think, I haven't had anything to do with them. Because my review of the KKRM shows up a lot on Google they've asked me to review their (well, it's not theirs, they just sell it) fluid trainer. They offered to sell me one cheaply or similar as payment for my time reviewing the trainer. Some trivia, I now own 5 KKRM's! I'll be grabbing another one today too, we'd better get lots of people at Spin!
I'm not sure what to do, I won't be buying any of their trainers (we have one at CS-M and I wouldn't get one myself or recommend one either), so I'm reluctant to spend the time reviewing it when I know it's not a product I'd ever get myself or suggest to anyone that they buy.
Hrm. I guess I should say "No but thank you for considering me as a reviewer". I don't think I want to get involved in reviewing stuff for personal gain.
It's been a _long_ summer, but it's over now!
Sunday saw the last round of the SSS for 2009-2010, the weather was iffy and heavy rain in the morning cast doubts on if we'd be able to race but with the help of a great team we dried the track and raced and the outcome couldn't have been better if it was scripted. Claire Campbell won the Trevor Watson Trophy and the Roselli wheels by winning her final and Chris Ray had to settle for second place again, but it went down to the last lot of finals. Alex Vaughan's consistency was rewarded by his third place in the aggregate, Dino Apolito, who set a PB in every round, by ~0.1s each time was awarded Most Consistent and Penny Robinson Most Improved.
For my part I finally managed to ride a half-decent flying 200, a 13.376 which was almost a PB, my last best time at Blackburn was a 13.3-something (hand timed) so it's probably an equal to my PB, which I have to be happy with, especially given that I'd spent the previous day on my feet all day yapping at the Victorian Omnium Championships, hardly the best leadup to a day of sprinting! I wanted to get a 13.2 this season but it wasn't to be. Next summer ... I didn't manage any wins in the rounds but I gave Ed Osbourne a decent race at least, neither of us could split it but the judges saw it was Ed's at the throw :
A pretty good race. Ed snuck under me at the jump and I moved up once I noticed he had his wheel under me, I thought I had him with 20m to go but he found a little more, my line was bad out of the final bend and he got me by a whisker at the end in the throw. In my other two races I was soundly thrashed so I won't show you them!
The series is done now and it's time for a bit of a rest (as if ...) and then start training again for 2010-2011. We had (again!) a fantastic team of people that ran the series, in particular Sue Dundas and Ann Apolito, and Jodie Dundas on the video camera and John "inventor of everything worthwhile in the last 1,000 years" Lewis running the electronic timing. The timing was a big hit, next summer I think we'll try for a finish-line camera so we can really get fancy when it comes to close finishes. We get a lot of them and judging is very hard, if we can use modern technology to help, that's got to be an improvement.
I had the DUCC squad at Blackburn this morning doing their first skills session of the season, we had four riders show up which was a bit disappointing, I'd like to see a few more, but hopefully momentum will build and we'll get more showing up as the sessions continue.
Tomorrow, Spin starts up and then we start DISC sessions on the 25th, mix that in with the NTID/VIS/CCCC squad work on Wednesday nights and coaching in the 'Haus and I don't know when I'll get to sit down and rest! Heh ...
In the last two weeks I've done road miles. Not a lot, it probably only adds up to 150km or so, but it's still road riding. It's all been very low intensity (no burning off fast twitch, thankyou very much!) but a bit of weight control and just generally enjoying riding around a bit.
The bummer is it makes my average power outputs in WKO+ look even worse than they would normally!
Small things, small minds ...
A busy weekend is ahead, I'm commentating at the Omnium at DISC tomorrow and then on Sunday it's round 6 of the Summer Sprint Series (weather permitting) where we'll be having the presentation for the series aggregate and the Trevor Watson Trophy. Then on Tuesday we have the first winter Spin session, then I'm off to Adelaide for an NTID conference. So it's all go ...
Another long arvo at DISC!
Yesterday was another long day at DISC. Hilton and the VIS and NTID squad are all up in Sydney at a training camp so I had the responsibility to look after whoever did show up to train. I got in to DISC at about 2:30 pm and we piggybacked onto the VIS/NTID timeslot and did some skills work and high intensity work with a couple of the lads who are gearing up for the Omnium this Saturday and for SSS round 6 on Sunday. Handy!
At about 5:30 Lou Pascuzzi showed up and I warmed him up behind the motorbike, then Stu "V-Train" Vaughan appeared and some more of the CCCC enduros. A reasonably small number of people, we had 4 enduros, Lou and Clint sprinting and Stu doing specific pursuit work. I gave Stu the Hilton Sprint warmup, which is usually 50 laps, starting at 30km/h and ending at 60km/h, stepping up every 10 laps, the last 10 laps going from 42-60km/h gradually.
The night saw Lou and Clint doing 1 x 750m rolling start, 2 x 500m rolling start and 3 x 250m rollers (Clint did the last two out of the gate, practicing for the Omnium I think), the enduros did a couple of motorpaced endurance revouts (20 laps behind the bike as it gradually speeds up), 15 mins of 10:50 sprint/recovery and 2 keirens, Stu did a 12 lap cadence effort, an 8 lap cadence effort on a bigger gear and then 4 x 4 lap starts.
An easy night logistically with low numbers, Mick Cummings and I worked well together keeping it all flowing and everyone trained their hearts out. I did some 90km on the motorbike by the end of the night. All done by a bit after 10pm (after Clint and V-Train got the hint!), home by 10:30ish for dinner!
Who do you trust?
A coach isn't supposed to know everything. We're supposed to be able to refer people to experts or chase up things ourselves for our riders though, so when we get stuck we can find out from the experts on a particular subject. For example strength training or diet etc.
When I was at Uni (waaaayyy back in 1989 or so) I studied Engineering (chemical) - I was a DNF, but I did still learn a few things. They had us do a unit of materials science, not because we were going to be civil or mechanical engineers, but because they wanted us to be able to ask the right questions and to spot the obvious stuff-ups that happen all the time. One of the things we learned (if we were paying attention) from that was how to choose your team, how to pick the right experts.
This is a tricky thing, it's hard enough in the hard sciences but in the wishy-washy worlds of exercise science and nutrition and strength training where it's generous to even call them sciences in some cases, how do you pick your team? Who do you refer to when there's no clear truths?
An example, strength training. There's as many ways to do it as you can think of. What do the top teams do? Is what the top squads do relevant to novice or intermediate development? Remember that at the top level the athletes are already bloody strong or they wouldn't be at that level. I know of at least three different schools of thought with regards to strength work for sprinters. There's the Craig Colduck "match the training in the gym to the bike riding as much as possible" approach where they use a lot of ballistic leg presses to try and duplicate the joint angles used in a pedal stroke, there's the John Beasley/Apollo's Gym "build strength and power in the gym, then train the body to use it on the bike" where they use a lot of the Westside gym methods (excluding the doping that Westside is using) and there's other approaches that say just use the gym for hypertrophy and do all power work on the bike (for example Paul Parker from Cycle Finesse is of this school of thought). There's others, there's many other schools of thought and that's just at the high level. Once you get into the details of rep ranges, exercise selections and timing and so on it gets amazingly fractured. There really isn't a one best way to do it, although there probably is, but there's no concensus even amongst the experts as to what it is.
So how do you pick your strength coach?
I'd suggest going through an interview process. Before you sign up to anything, have a sit down with the coach and ask them a lot of hard questions. Ask them about the different ways of training, ask them about the effects of different rep and rest combinations, ask them about isolation and full body exercises and why they recommend one against the other. Ask them about injury risks and injury management, ask about progression from novice to intermediate and advanced strength training. Ask about integration of strength work with your sport. Always ask why and how for everything. If they can't give you a well-reasoned argument that they can explain to you in terms you can understand, move on ... Be especially wary of coaches that are certain of things. There's always doubt and uncertainty in athletic training, anyone who claims otherwise has stopped learning.
Do the same with dieticians. Ask them about what their take is on the food pyramid, on the material presented by Gary Taubes, Atkins and so on. Just because someone spent a few years at university and has a bit of paper doesn't mean that they're competent and up to date. I've done enough technical interviews with graduates in my IT career to know that a qualification is only one small part of the puzzle.
Do the same with cycling coaches too! If you want a coach to help you ride and race, don't just go and sign up with the first one you find. Interview us, find out our training philosophies and ask us hard questions. Always ask lots of hard questions and don't be satisfied with "that's just how we do it" answers. Be skeptical, demand high quality answers. There's only one of you and you want to get the best you can find to be part of your team.
I've hammered on about fructose and sucrose already, but here's some context, a glass of OJ. Good for you, so they say ....
There's been a stir up amongst dieticians and endocrinologists etc of late, concerning fructose and sugar and the whole food pyramid (see Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes in particular). In a previous blog entry I've quoted Prof Lustig where he talks about the evils of fructose. There's a number of rebuttals popping up about his talk, mostly the rebuttals talk about context - which is to say that in appropriate doses fructose is ok, and of benefit. Sure, it is. Fructose has a benefit, in the liver (which is the only place it's metabolised) it replenishes liver glycogen stores, which is very handy if you're glycogen depleted, eg after a hard training session. Once those supplies are replenished, excess fructose is then released into the blood stream or stored in the liver as triglicerides (fat). I'm going to write more later on the subject of choosing your experts (or, who do you believe?), but that's a topic for another blog entry ....
So, let's look at context for a few minutes and try and clear away a tiny bit of the hand waving.
Let's take a real-world example. A 250ml glass of orange juice. I went to the local shop this morning and got a bottle of orange juice. No added sugar. Ok, that's the best case scenario. Let's be conservative and assume that it's drunk by the metric cup, which is 250ml (no-one drinks 250ml cups, but again, being conservative ...).
Orange juice as provided by The Original Juice Co in Melbourne, Australia contains, for every 100ml, 9 grams of carbohydrate which is 8 grams of 'sugar'. I don't know what the other 1 gram is. They don't specify the sugar, but I expect, being orange juice, that that's pretty close to 100% fructose. I don't know for sure, it's not clear on the wikipedia entry for oranges.
Ok, so 250ml of orange juice, no 'added' sugar, what's in it? 20 grams of sugar, that's 4 teaspoons. If that's just sucrose, that's roughly 10 grams of fructose and 10 grams of glucose, but I think, from this page, that it's 100% fructose. That's quite a lot. 4 teaspoons of fructose in 250ml of orange juice. No-one would put that much in a cup of coffee or tea! It's only 7 grams less sugar than 250ml of Coca Cola. (Coke is 39 grams of sugar per 355ml, ~11% sugar, orange juice is ~8% sugar). Coca Cola in Australia uses sucrose as a sweetener, which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Coke is 5.5% fructose, OJ is 8% fructose. Interesting, eh?
Let's look at a little more context. Let's see how many oranges there are in a glass (again, our ficticious 250ml glass) of OJ. The average orange has about 2 ounces of OJ in it. According to this site anyway. An 8 ounce glass is about 240ml (1 US fluid Oz ~ 29.6 ml), so there's 4 and a bit's worth of oranges in a glass of OJ. so if we've got 20 grams of fructose in 250ml, and that's about 4 oranges worth, each orange has about 5 grams of fructose in it. 5 grams is one teaspoon. That's not too bad. An individual orange has about 70 mg of Vitamin C in it. That's plenty. The RDA according to the WHO is 45 mg/day. So, one orange is fine, it's only 5g of fructose and it's got all the Vit C you need. A glass of orange juice on the other hand ... In context, is almost as bad as a glass of coke, or possibly worse if you take into account that coke is using sucrose in Australia, which is only 50% fructose. Although OJ does have some good stuff in it (vit c etc) it's got WAY too much sugar in it unless you're doing a lot of heavy exercise. And this is the best case scenario! Most of the cups in my house are 300ml or more. I expect they are in your house too.
We use, in our sports drinks (Staminade) 2-3, maybe 4 at most teaspoons (mostly sugar, a bit of salt) per 750ml bidon, you'd think that was a lot of sugar, until you compare it to OJ, which is 3 times as sugar-full as our sports drink mixture. And we feed OJ to our kids telling them it's good for them and then wonder why they're all getting fat.
You have to do it yourself
At the Australia Day Madison, way back in January, the Blackburn club's big whiteboard was damaged. No-one took any responsibility for fixing it, and we use it at ergo sessions. It's a pretty important tool for us. So I guess it comes to those of us that are put out by it being damaged, to fix the damn thing. I'm pretty cranky that the club didn't take responsibility for it despite it being mentioned many times at committee meetings and so on, but there you go.
So, with a thank you to David and Jamie Morgans who helped with rivets and bolts on a day when no shops are open, the whiteboard is now repaired and slightly enhanced, we added permanent holders for the clock to remove the need for the old bent coat hanger and reduce the likelyhood of the clock being damaged. We had to drill out some old rivets, re-set the alloy frame around the board, replace the displaced retaining bolts, rivet it all back together and then add the mounting bolts for the clock.
Job done ...
In other less interesting news, I actually did a few road miles today (wow!) - Stew from the DUCC's rolled up with Alesandro (a new DUCC from Columbia, and some climber) with a mechanical, they'd managed to tangle up a chain and bend a link. We fixed it and I got talked into a ride. We tootled out to the 1:20 along the Dandenong Creek Trail, saluted the statue of Oppy, I grabbed a couple of dim sims at The Basin fish & chippery while those two did a 1:20 effort then we noodled on home. That's two road rides in a week. If this becomes a habit I'll be back racing crits next summer. Nah .... But a few more miles in my legs might help a bit with high intensity endurance and recovery.
Tomorrow I'm lifting with Stu in the 'Haus, then Dino, Stew and I will do some track work at Blackburn, then I'm in to work for Hilton again with the NTID/VIS squad at DISC in the afternoon. On Sunday, Lucie and I are going kayaking up at the Goulburn! Good times!