How Fast Are You?  Your Best Suffer Face Tells All

April 3, 2014
Team racer, Jason Kompf, climbing the first of many hills in the Gold Rush Run

Team racer, Jason Kompf, climbing the first of many hills in the Gold Rush Run

We’ve all had those moments when you swear you’re cranking it out on the bike, giving it all you’ve got, leaving it all on the table –  and then – you finish the ride and think to yourself, I’ve got more in the tank! I didn’t leave it all out there.  So, how can you tell that you’re working hard enough?  New technological developments may surprise you!

Traditional methods to help you gauge your efforts include heart rate training. There have been many myths  surrounding heart rate training.  For starters, you can only compare heart rate values with your own previous benchmarks. Meaning, comparing your heart rate  with your your friend or your teammate is irrelevant. The reason for this is that we all have a different anatomy of our cardiovascular system.  Also, not being aware of the factors that affect heart rate can be a pitfall in effective application in heart rate monitor use for training.

But on the flip side, power training offers a different type of comparison. Power is power.  Aside from spending endless funds on bike parts, many wonder why they should even buy a power meter.  But aside from taking the guess work out of your workouts, power meters also provide highly accurate details about how your fitness is changing throughout the season.

Yet there’s a new technology to help you analyze your efforts.  A selfie! After years of research and working with top teams and athletes, TrainingPeaks is launching their newest feature that will revolutionize how training loads are measured and quantified: the quantified selfie.  Facial Awareness Strain Technology, or F.A.S.T, uses cutting edge facial recognition technology to help you determine the stress of your training. Simply take a selfie with your phone during a workout and load it into the new app. Within seconds the technology will analyze your photo, determine your effort and give you a F.A.S.T. score.

So now, you have three ways to determine your personal suffer score!  If you do not have a trainer or coach to keep you disciplined during your workout, a heart rate monitor, power meter,  or a quick selfie can be a great substitute. It can tell you when your exercise is falling below your ideal intensity so you can instantly improve your performance.  It can be a great bio feedback tool and also help you to monitor your fitness, prevent overtraining, and take your performance to the next level. Bring on your best selfie!

Follow Your Heart: Using Commitment to Reach New Heights on the Bike

February 13, 2014 InspirationCommitment.  A simple word but can be viewed two fold.  Commitment as being dedicated to a cause or an activity.  Or, commitment as an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

When you think of being committed to your cycling, which definition rings true for you? Like many, both seem true.  While we all like to consider our training plans and racing regimens to be a true testament to our cycling passion, we also face the time restrictions and sacrifices our cycling commitments force us to make.  Cycling can be a loved and hated passion.

Yet, in between loving and hating our two wheeled friends, there are varying degrees of commitment.  While you tell yourself you are pushing the limits in training, or taking on big audacious goals in the new season, you might find there are still new ways to commit.  You may secretly know where your love of the bike is wavering and in true Valentine’s day form – there is an opportunity to stop hiding out and playing it safe.  You can commit on a deeper level to your fitness and well being.

There are a host of ways to embrace commitment.  It all starts with a desire for more – to improve from a present state to a future state.  For many competitive cyclist looking back to the 2013 cycling season, it begins with personal reflection.  Evaluating the past season with objectivity gives insights as to what worked and didn’t work in the previous year. Committing to strengthening and improving on areas of weakness rather than just concentrating on what you do well elevates your skills and experience as a cyclist.

Looking forward to the 2014 season, commitment takes form by asking yourself  what it is you would love to accomplish?  Don’t just play it safe and do the same events year after year.  Step it up.  Commit to something bigger.  Ask more of yourself.  Choose different events – or do the same events – but faster!  Make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound),  but also inspiring.

What other ways can you commit to cycling?  Could it be using your heart rate, or power meter offers options in calculating mileage and other fitness related variables.  Try a new tool and see if it makes adding up the miles a little easier.  Consider getting new bike parts to fuel your newfound commitment to your cycling goals.

Committing yourself to your fondest goals and desires can be comforting while also frightening.  Yet, digging deeper into your dreams and desires and fully committing to their success can be personally rewarding and extremely fulfilling.  Reach new heights on the bike this season – commit to it!

Post Holiday Blues? What To Do When You Are Lacking Cycling Motivation

January 2, 2014

Motivation is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless. To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals.

But when the weather is poor, sunlight is at a minimum, and riding conditions are less than ideal, what do you do?  Add to the fact that the holidays are now over with not much to look forward to between now and Spring and race season, many find the added holiday weight gain and winter conditions to be a downer on motivation. How do you stay motivated to ride?

The reason motivation is so important is that it is the only contributor to sports performance over which you have control. Much like training your physical body for the challenges of cycling, motivation is built too – it is not stumbled upon.  Following are 5 ways to build your motivation muscle:

Have a goal.  As you are considering your new goals for 2014, it’s important to evaluate the previous season with an objective, yet critical eye.  Too loft of a goal may be intimidating and back fire on you.  The post, Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your 2014 Cycling Season offers 10 key questions for evaluation and proper goal setting for your 2014 season.  Make intermediate and long term goals to keep you inspired to do your daily workouts. 

Fine tune your fitness – use a heart rate monitor or power meter. Sure, heart rate monitors and power meters have been around for a while now, but how effectively are you using them?  Learning what what you need to know about the nuances, ranges, and data interpretation can make a difference in just getting a workout in versus targeting a specific workout in which you hit numbers and are motivated to get after it again the next day. 

Make friends with the trainer.  Nobody likes riding the trainer much less riding it for consecutive days in a row, but there are ways to overcome trainer woes  to eliminate boredom and support your training.  Read the post here for ideas on the best equipment to use and tips for trainer workouts.  Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.

Dial it in!  Your body and your bike – that is!  Have you gained weight during the holiday season?  Check out Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains –   for easy ways to drop the pounds.  And, consider getting a bike fit.  Yes, a bike fit.  We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one.  And why not?  They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit.  Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing  in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike.

Train your brain.  How are you training your brain? We think of discipline as a form of training or exercising the brain but use the power of visualization to motivate yourself and accomplish you 2014 season goals. The post, The Power of Mental Suffering offers key insights as to how thought creates a powerful reality.

Ultimately, motivation is not something that can be given to you. Rather, motivation must ultimately come from within.  Just like the passion you have for cycling.  Dig deep, find what inspires you, connect with that and pedal your way to a successful 2014 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!