Entries For: 2011
- December (1)
- November (2)
- October (4)
- September (4)
- August (3)
- July (12)
- June (10)
- May (7)
- April (4)
- March (4)
- February (10)
- January (8)
Well worth the 20 minutes it will take to watch :
Formalising my ergo programs a bit
Or putting the shoe on the other foot.
I was going to write about SSS round 2, which went pretty well (ok, it was great!) but that can wait a bit. You can see all the videos and results over at the SSS website if you want.
I want to write briefly about learning, learning new, alien skills and the art of excellent teaching.
I'm lucky enough (wellll ... pretty lucky, wellll ... extrordinarily lucky ...) to be being exposed to a new skillset by a teacher/coach with some of the best teaching skills I've ever experienced. Learning new skills is hard, especially in an environment where you're way outside your comfort zone.
In a really fortuitous twist to this tale, at the same time as I am being taught new skills, I am in parallel, teaching new skills to the teacher who's teaching me (a swapsie, you might say). I am teaching whitewater kayaking and basic track cycling, I am being taught .. wait for it ... Ceroc modern jive (I think that's what it is anyway? All I know is I keep tripping over!). Yes, dancing. Me .. Dancing .. You want to push my comfort zone, that is IT! I can fly a plane, SCUBA dive to 55m on mixed gasses, play violent contact sports, climb rocks and ice, race sprints, paddle down rapids, kill spiders and ward off snakes .. you name it, no worries, but dance? Ohhh ... I'm game enough to admit to being petrified of dancing.
This is a very interesting position to be in, when teaching skills a teacher needs to know when to back off, say nothing, let the student experiment and make (harmless) mistakes, and when to intercept and cut off any frustration or danger with the right cues. Timing of this is critical or the student either doesn't get the chance to learn (over teaching is waayyyyy too common, just SHUT UP, STEP BACK AND LET ME WORK THIS OUT FOR MYSELF!) or gets hurt and/or frustrated to the point that they can't learn (spit the dummy time or get injured!).
The teacher must have the absolute trust of their student that they are looking after them. I'm putting my student into dangerous situations in whitewater rapids and on steep banked velodromes. I'm being put into a social context that I am deeply unfamiliar with as well (who wants to look like a dickhead in front of your partner's peers?). Trust is vital. Having a teacher or coach that you trust gives you the backing to be able to push you limits.
I also think it's important that the teacher not pretend that a new skill is easy - track stands are not easy, eskimo rolls are not easy, swan drops are not easy (really! I threw that in because I tried to learn that last night and last week and it's tricky!), power cleans and proper squats are not easy. None of these things are natural, they need to be learned and pretending that they're easy harms the trust relationship between a teacher/coach and their students. They're worthwhile to learn and will take time and effort and will be rewarding when learned. They are not easy to learn.
To cut a long story short, I think it's a great experience to be taught something new and totally alien and I'm not just (slowly!) learning how not to bowl over dance partners, but more importantly, I'm learning a lot more about how to teach and coach, by being a total novice student all over again in the hands of a brilliant teacher.
Oh, I won B grade on Sunday at round 2, undefeated (although Ian McGinley and I were very very close) and rode a PB flying 200, I'm only a 10th off breaking into 12 seconds at Blackburn. I think it was world Vegan day on Sunday, I had a couple of steaks to celebrate.
Well worth a watch
We did pretty well!
Is it possible to be too strong?
Is it possible to spend so much time training for strength that it impedes your ability to train on the bike? Ie: can you over-do strength to the detriment of your sprint cycling?
Is the balance a tricky thing to find?
I'm off to Dunc Gray for a day ...
Quick recap of round 1 of the SSS. I qualified ok, no PB (13.4) but given the gusty southerly that was ok, and given I was using a new 5 spoke front wheel for the first time at Blackburn, in a gusty wind, and it took me off the line quite a bit around turn 3, I'm not displeased with the time. I'll go back to my normal front wheel for races ...
Racing - first up Ian McGinley beats me, I rode like a chump and didn't dig hard enough to keep the lane when he passed me, probably should have won it, but mistimed a lay off and run due to some confusion with Ian staying up out of the lane.
Second time and I'm up against Nic Marc, I got him, too easily, he gave me way too much gap at turn 3 on lap 1 and I escaped. Learning experience for Nic, who made me look like a goose at DISC a few weeks ago, now we're 1-all!
Third race and I'm up against Tyler Spurrel, who qualified badly but races well and can out-jump me. Sure enough, he does and he wins, I almost chopped him into the infield when he jumped under me out of T4, Mea Culpa.
By virtue of fastest qualifying time in B grade I'm through to the 3v4 final, against Ian again, this time he leads out and I duck around behind him for half a lap seeing if he has his radar on. He doesn't seem happy riding while looking behind so I take a chance and go pretty early, get a small gap and gamble on being able to vary my pace and break his timing when he tries to pass. This works, he tries to pass on T3/T4 but I lift a bit (kept a bit in reserve) and take a win.
So I win my entry fee back!
Standout performances from the J17 lads I've been working with, James Dann (15y/o, on 82") rides a 12.6, Jay Castles is a tiny bit behind him and John Cochrane also right up there despite a bit of a bug. A mixed day for everyone else, first race back after winter is an interesting one, especially since we've been indoors at DISC all winter and outdoors at Blackburn is different. A lot of the Sprint Squad guys are peeved with their times, but it's early days yet ...
Tomorrow I fly up to Sydney with the Blackburn under 17's who are racing the first round of the new National Junior Track Series (NJTS). Three sprinters, Emily, John and James, and three enduros, Chloe, Michael and Pierce. I'll be back first thing on Saturday morning - hopefully while I'm up there I'll get a chance to catch up with Sean Eadie again, I have much to discuss with him!
It's racing time!
We've done our strength blocks, our capacity work (ouch ....) and this is a taper week, because on Sunday it's round 1 of the 2011-2012 aboc Summer Sprint Series. The weather forecast is good (enough!) - the team is ready, and my sprinters are ready!
Two schools of thought, and finding the right balance
In my observation of current sprint training in this country, there's two broad schools of thought with regards to how best to train for track sprint cycling. An intensity based approach and a capacity based approach. Intensity based approaches work on driving peak power up, then drawing out the endurance component as competition approaches, and capacity based approaches work on lots of volume, working on longer duration efforts (15-35s or so). Both approaches are anaerobic, it's the emphasis that changes. One way to tell the two apart quickly is to look at the type of warmups employed. Capacity approaches often mix in long and hard warmups, where intensity based approaches typically use shorter, lower intensity (or if high intensity, very short duration) warm ups. Another way is to look at the rider's physiology - the capacity trained riders will usually be leaner, the intensity guys will be (usually ...) bigger. Think Sean Eadie as an intensity guy, who raced at 98kg, and Theo Boss as a capacity guy (much leaner, I don't know his race weight when we was sprinting).
I'm of the (totally uninformed and based purely on anecdote, observation, confirmational bias and personal gut feeling) opinion that for most riders, an intensity based approach is optimal, especially for most girls. This is based on the my belief that it's relatively easy to make someone go long, it's hard to make them go hard. ESPECIALLY for girls (who are almost always going to struggle to get 100% efforts out) and those who have come to the sport from an endurance background. There are many exceptions to this, I can cite a few in the squads I work with who buck this observation, and others that fit it to a T.
So, two schools of thought; Under one school, one type of rider prospers, under the other, another type or rider will flourish. Some will plateau early under one approach but will do better under the other. How do you tell them apart? That's one for the exercise physiologists to help us with, and there's some experienced coaches' eye stuff here too, but this also means that a coach, despite personal preference to an approach, must be willing to experiement with the other for some athletes to get the best out of them. I'm finding this with one rider at the moment, who I think needs more capacity despite my tending towards intensity training. Food for thought!
Not 60's psychadelia ...
Pictures vs words again ...
LSD is "Long, Slow Distance", or long rides at moderate to high (aerobic, E3) intensity, not high intensity short intervals (like Tabatas).
As sprinters, we need strength (and power) in spades, and some high intensity endurance, but not much (arguably not any) LSD work. Hopefully that chart (borrowed from FIT, by Dr Lon Kilgore et al) helps explain that a little.
A picture tells the story well :
The dip in March was when I hurt my back (bulging disk between L5 and S1, compressing sciatic nerve). I was all clear to start heavy lifting again around June, as you can see, I've been getting better since then, pretty consistantly. I got Hilts to do a couple of MAC's for me on Saturday morning, and I got my best power figures for a very long time, I peaked at 1,479, my all time best is around 1,550, so I'm not that far off it, and around 10kg lighter. I am looking forward to round 1 ...
There's a new national junior series ...
From the rules :
It’s desirable that riders competing in this series are not focused on one particular facet or event of
track cycling. We suggest riders mix it up and compete in both sprint and endurance events at this
There's one pure sprint event on the program, a keirin, that according to the rules, you get graded on by your performance in .. enduro races!
Event-13 Women Under-15 (6 Laps) Heats based on points totals from earlier events
Event-14 Men Under-15 (6 Laps) Heats based on points totals from earlier events
Event-15 Women Under-17 (6 Laps) Heats based on points totals from earlier events
Event-16 Men Under-17 (6 laps) Heats based on points totals from earlier events
Full rules here.
I'm not going to say anything more about this.
In Vermont, aboc HQ!
I have a spare room I need to rent out. Possibly the most bike-friendly house in the universe. 5km from BBN velodrome, 1.7km from Mitcham station, 2km to LBS. 20 min ride to Glenvale. House has :
Gym (my shed)
Bike storage room
I think there's a dunny, a kitchen etc .. all the usual stuff - I live upstairs, so you basically get your own bathroom & toilet (shared, mainly only used by others when people train in the gym)
Actually it's two rooms - and there's a bed in one of them so you have a bedroom and an office/whatever room.
$450pcm and 50% of bills (so around $575pcm at a guess)
I don't mind mess, as long as it's clean mess. Currently the lounge room is my kayaking gear drying room, for example
Interested? email@example.com ...
For the future of sprint cycling, we need to get masters sprinting
When I was a little kid, my dad told me about when he swam (he was very good, broke Australian records, swam world-class times) and played rugby. These things had a lasting impression on me. I swam as a kid, and played rugby (union, of course ... real rugby!), from pretty-much as soon as I could. What our parents do, sports-wise, many of us follow. For example, Shane Perkins, current world champion in the keirin, his father raced track and was no bunny. Shane is by no means an isolated example. Most of the sprinters we see have been inspired to race by their parents.
Not all of them, of course, follow in their parents footsteps so if that was all we relied on for new blood, eventually the pool would run dry. How do we find new juniors who want to sprint? One way is to get parents to have a go. A recent example is Emily Apolito, her dad took up track cycling as a master when she was around 9 or 10 years old, she saw how much he enjoyed it and she gave it a go and is now a very promising junior track sprinter. Think also of Will and Bridge Thomas, inspired by their father, I can go on, there are many juniors who started up after their parents had a go, who's parents maybe weren't Olympians like Daryl Perkins, maybe they started later in life but they found that they loved it and their enthusiasm rubbed off onto their kids.
So masters matter, not just because they make good guineapigs for coaches to test new methods on(!) but also because they bring with them their families, who grow the sport as juniors, starting off at ages young enough that their potential can be realised. Masters are in it for fun, but they bring so much more than just an entry fee to a race. We must encourage and support them.
I have a lot to digest
I've come back from Adelaide, and am trying to settle back into the Real World again. The week with the junior worlds guys was amazing, a huge learning curve, a lot of really good discussions with some of the best sprint coaches in the world (Gary West & Sean Eadie) and some great bull-sessions as well.
It'll take a few days for it all to sink in, I expect to be busy writing ...
It's good to be home. I missed my aboc Sprint Squad guys, and training myself (and I had FAR too much beer, 4kg worth of lard I now need to shed!). Overall, a very productive, intense time.
I love my job!
Do you look forward to a big race, or the break afterwards?
I had a debrief conversation with one of my sprinters recently, long after the dust had settled from a tough national titles campaign.
One of the things that came out of it was a key element of mental preparation. When you're thinking about race day, and it's a major race day (nationals, states, grand final etc) - how do you look forward to it? Do you think "here's my chance to do my absolute best,to put into practice all the things I've trained", or "I'll be so glad when this is over so I can have a break"?
The answer to that is important. I think, putting it in that context, that the answer that will lead to your best performance is obvious.
Is not what you think
When we think of endurance, we usually think of long things, long rides, long efforts on the track, long runs (urgh!) etc. That's part of it, sure. In the context of sprint training, endurance is two things - the ability to produce power over the duration of our races (short times, not a lot of endurance required and it's very specific) AND, importantly, repeatability.
It's not enough to be able to ride a flying 200, you have to be able to repeat the effort, over and over.
So how do we train for that? In the gym? Yes, you can, we do multiple sets, anyone who'se trained with me in the 'Haus, knows we do 3x3 and 5x5 etc rep ranges, why? The intensity comes from the first couple of sets, the last set is strength endurance, in a useful context.
On the track? Repeating efforts, not making them longer.
Rant ends here!
The things you learn through casual conversation
A few quiet beers, and the company of other sprint coaches. You can't document it, you can't really quantify it. I wrote in a previous blog entry, and in The Book, about sprinters being isolated and that extends to sprint coaches. We're a very rare breed. If you're a sprinter, you might have a dozen or so compatriots, if you're a specialist sprint coach, you might have two or three, and chances are they're interstate or overseas.
So here I am in Adelaide, and I've roomed with Clay Worthington (WAIS sprint coach) and now with Sean Eadie again, and while we've spent some very productive time looking over each other's notes and programs etc, I think the biggest value has been talking sprint philosophy, and also just the general "you are not alone" side of it. My ideas about sprint training buck the old school, often I feel quite isolated and wonder if I'm just plain wrong, but then I spend a night with Sean and we thrash out ideas and concepts and we're meshing on so many levels, I start to realise that I am not alone, and there's others, with proven track records and a genuine pedigree, who agree with (and inspire!) what I'm doing with my guys, This is not to say that I'm not learning lots from Hilton, but that the chance to swap ideas with Sean and Clay and if I get the chance, with Westy, is worth so much, but is so hard to measure.
I'm rambing, but this time I'm spending here is immensely valuable. Thank you to Josh and Hilton for giving me this opportunity.
So here I am in Adelaide for another week
I've been very lucky in this sprint coaching caper. Right from the start. So here I am in Adelaide again, after a weekend's assisting Hilton with the Vic VIS and TID kids at a sprint camp. Now I'm spending this week (I'm here for the first week of a three week junior worlds preparation camp) with Sean Eadie, assisting him as much as I can, working on The Book some more. Amazing opportunity to learn and develop, and hopefully be a tiny bit useful to Sean for the week too.
The water here still sucks, and finding an open supermarket on a weekend is a challenge, but that's Adelaide for you!
The weekend's racing was good - everyone learned a lot and developed skills and confidence. The format was similar to the SSS, which as we know, works!
totally off-topic - Canoe Vic whitewater rescue training ...
My next purchase will be a dry suit ...