Saturday, November 22, 2014

Winter IS Coming!

With Winter just around the's time to start sorting the accomplishments from last year, and the aspirations for the Transition Season, and the goals for next Summer!  Here are some questions that will help you starting thinking about these things.  In the coming months I will be posting ideas for your Transition Season and ways to keep you healthy and active this Winter.

1) What was the most fun part of my season?

2) What was an area that I occasionally but consistently had some problems with?

3) What was my strongest discipline? Why might have that been?

4) What was my weakest discipline?  Why might have that been?

5) If training solo, was it enjoyable to train by myself, or would it have been more fun with someone else?

6) Was my family involved in my training and racing?  Did they seem to enjoy being part of the experience?

7) What would I like to get from my tranisition season this year?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mixes I Use to Keep Spin'n

Photo Credit: Trek Bicycle Corporation
It's cold outside.  Polar Vortex, Alberta Clipper, I don't care what you call it, it's been down-right chilly in metropolitan Minneapolis.  The cycle-classes I teach have been the superb answer to my cabin fever, and although they don't compare to a beautiful summer afternoon ride, they have served to keep me in the saddle.  I have done some pseudo-research on the music that keeps the cadence going for many spin instructors, and club goers alike, and have distilled some of my findings here for your education and some anecdotal insight. 

There is a science behind cycle-class music, that previous to this Winter I knew next to nothing about.  Music that is typically used for spin classes or cycle-classes is often referred to as dance music, club music or simply techno.  Although these are three terms used they don't really cover the breadth and depth of electronic music.  There are several genres of electronic music that are most popularly used for cycling classes, and they are most commonly used because of their beat.  I will touch on a couple of these genres, but for sure, try them all on for size and see which keeps you rolling best.

Hardcore is a genre that is characterized by its slightly higher rapidity and cadence.  Hardcore, a subset of the broader techno music was formed in the 1990's in the underground rave scene and features noticeable loud bass lines and often characteristic kicks (a term used to describe a loud drum line or beat).  Hardcore is a very popular genre and with a beat around 160-200 BPM, it's half beat makes for a good options for your cadences between around 80-100rpms.

Trance is another style of electronic music.  Unlike hardcore however, it has a beat that ranges from 125-160 BPM, so although it would be difficult to ride at a 150 cadence, you can half it and ride on the half beat when the BPM range is in the 150-160 rhythm range.  Trance has a sound quality that is soothing in nature which is where it gets its name.  Its hypnotic sound qualities allow it to be a form of music that has a good beat, but also doesn't leave your brain rattling for hours after you've stopped listening to it.  Armin van Buuren is a very popular artist that mixes a great trance mix.  Here is an example of his work:  

Another example of trance is found in a great deal of DJ Tiesto's music as seen here:

Trance is a good style if you are riding if you are doing hill work or are grinding at a lower cadence.

Another genre of electronic music popular in the cycling-class community is House.  House music is a style of music that is characteristically played at clothing retailers or on the catwalk.  House music is synonymous with fashion music.  House music has a slightly slower beat at about 115-130 BPM.  Even though house is a bit faster than a typically fast cadence for cycling, you'll find that much of the house music out there has several beat lines which makes it easy to crank along at about a 90 cadence to this cadence to push around 18-20mph when in the big chain-ring and mid-way up your cassette in back.

DJ's that I have recently enjoyed using in my mixes include the artists I've mentioned: DJ Tiesto,  Armin van Buuren, and also names like DJ Sammy, Skrillex, Andy Hunter, and ATB.

An example of my playlist for a Saturday morning "Weekend Warrior" class looks like this:
1. Tu Es Foutu (R&R Remix) Clubland Vol.3
2. Summer of 69,(Remixed), Bryan Adams
3. Don't Wake Me Up (Deluxe Remix), Chris Brown
4. Viva la Vida (Factory Dance Remix) Axel Force
5. Get Down Saturday Night (LMC Remix) Oliver Cheatham, Clubland Vol.3
6. Feel So Close (Extended Mix) Calvin Harris, Ultra Dance 13
7. To Life To Love, Life Album, Andy Hunter
8. Heaven, DJ Sammy
9. Fly On The Wings of Love, XTM & DJ Chucky Clubland Vol.3
10. Can't Live a Day, Avalon 02, Avalon Remixed
11. El Shaddai, Felicia Sorensen, Sonic Praise 2
12. Your Love is My Drug, Ke$ha, Now That's What I Call Club
13. Self Control, Clubland, Clubland Vol.3
14. Alive, Life Album, Andy Hunter
15. Sun Is Up (Play & Win Radio Edition, Inna, Ultra Dance 13
16. This Is Goodbye, Clubland, Clubland Vol.3
17. A Maze of Grace, Featuring the Katinas, Avalon 02, Avalon Remixed
18. The Best Thing (Euro Stack Mix), Avalon 02, Avalon Remixed
19. Eyes (Extended Mix), Kaskade, Ultra Dance 13
20. Get Outta My Way (SDP Extended Mix), Kylie Minogue, Now That's What I Call Club
21. Bubbly, Colbie Caillat, Coco [This song used to help cool down]

We all march to the beat of our own drum, as the saying goes...but when it comes to cycling on my trainer indoors, I need some groove'n music to keep me rolling.  Hopefully these tidbits will be helpful in helping you find your groove.

Train Smart, Keep Balanced.
Tri Coach K

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Year's reSolutions

Photo courtesy of  Trek Bicycle Corporation
Well here we are January 31st and we are about to turn the calendar page for the first time in 2014.  How are you doing?  Is 2014 everything you'd hoped it'd be?  Are you sticking with your annual admonitions or have things started to trail off?  As we are experiencing our third "Polar Vortex" here in Minnesota, I admit I have had moments of pessimism about if and when the vortex will lift its hold on us and allow a sneak peek-or two-of Spring.

I have been inspired by many of my friends who have recently posted photos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social apparatuses, of the fun times in warmer places on business trips and vacations.  This inspiration has been enough to allow me to put warm clothes on and ride my bicycle in the snow and imagine that I am enjoying a slightly warmer summer day.  All this as a preamble to exhort each one of us that this is ultimately the most crucial of training times in the year.  Sooner than you can say 'Jim-Dandy' the Spring will come through like the 'roaring lion' and Summer will be in our midst.

My exhortation is threefold...get some time in the saddle, get those chicken legs moving, and spend at least one of your training days each week, at the pool.

I have been teaching cycling endurance classes 4 days a week, so I know that my derriere is somewhat acclimated to the saddle, but many folks don't ride on their bicycle until the snow melts.  Whether you have been riding an exercise bicycle at the club or maybe you haven't been cycling at all, I encourage you to get the bicycle on the trainer and clock some hours now, before it's too late.  Trainer riding can be one of the best forms of early season training you can do.  The trainer allows you to get used to your bicycle again, and also allows you to make sure that your fit on the bicycle is still keeping you comfy for the miles you will endure when you get outside.  Several of the athletes I instruct have chosen to try out a new saddle during their indoor cycling training.  If your local bicycle shop has a comfort guarantee with their saddles, why not use this time to try something new.  Saddles can be as pricey as $300 or more, but the expensive ones are not always best.  Talk with a fit specialist about the position you ride in and how long you will be in the saddle for.  These and other questions can help a fit specialist make a proper recommendation to keep you safe.

In a recent education seminar I attended, Coach Bobby McGee, one of the preeminent physiologist and coaches for the US Olympic Triathlon Team, talked about the importance of consistency with running training.  He surmises that for improvements that can be made in a year of concentrated effort for cycling or swimming, it will take 4 years of similar concentrated training to acquire the same physiological benefits in running.  A misnomer that many athletes and coaches believe is that running is often the discipline that injures and athlete most...this is not the case.  Top physiologists and sports medicine practitioners believe it isn't so much running that causes problems, it is lack of consistency in running training coupled by poor technique in the other two disciplines.  Distilled, running simply identifies an athletes existing physiological weaknesses more acutely.  So, while you plan to get more consistency in your running training, also make sure that you have a good strength and conditioning routine that addresses the major muscle groups that facilitate most directly with the ranges of motion you plan to utilize in your exercise.  A personal trainer, or exercise physiologist can give recommendations of exercises that will benefit you in this regard.  You can often times consult a physical therapist or mulitsport coach who has exercise physiology in their academic background.

Lastly, I can't say it enough...swimming is almost 100% technique.  Some of the fittest athletes suffer miserably in the water due to lack of proper technique and body movement in the swim.  I am currently working with an athlete who experienced a HUGE breakthrough last summer in his swimming.  He may attribute his immense improvement to my coaching, but I would say that most of it was simply helping him become more aware of what he was already doing and not doing.  We worked together in the pool about every other week for several months from February to May, but what helped him most was the video analysis I provided him with.  Almost every session I would video him swimming, and then provide him with a detailed analysis of what he was doing in certain frame of the video clip...each identification of something done right or wrong was paired with a technique drill to either correct a poor movement pattern, or to reinforce a positive technique pattern.  These clips were the source of his technique library that he could go back to time and time again and become more self-aware of how he was swimming and how certain elements of his technique effected the overall stroke.  Much of the time coaching doesn't have to be rocket science, it's simply someone coming alongside to identify what's going on and recommend ways to change things.

The weather guy might call the "Polar Vortex" the conundrum that's afflicting us right now, but don't let it trounce your enthusiasm for all that's still possible for your 2014 racing season.  I am stoked about the progress I am seeing in my athletes and in my own training, and even if your New Year resolutions haven't been all that you'd hoped thus far no better time to hit the restart button than now!

Train Smart, Keep Balanced,
Tri Coach K