By: Michael Tabasko (Physical Therapist at Capitol Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation)
Richmond Virginia is fast establishing itself as a hub of east coast cycling. The city is rallying around the 2015 UCI World Championships, and recently hosted the second annual Richmond Endurance Symposium.
I had the opportunity to hear talks by a great line-up of health care professionals, top athletes and field experts. Here’s a quick recap of what they had to say:
Andy Potts/Champion Ironman Triathlete:
Andy was a really funny guy and an engaging speaker. He spoke about positive thinking and how it relates to mind/body/spirit. A cliche topic? Maybe, but his perspective was on how you process and perceive your athletic experiences. Positive or negative, these experiences have a cumulative layering effect on your mental game.
For example, let’s say you flat and roll across the finish line with a dejected attitude: this adversely effects how your next training session or race is going to play out. Instead, focus positively about what you can still get out of that session and move on: that experience then layers with the next, making you a mentally resilient athlete. One can also apply this philosophy to segments within a race as well, mentally compartmentalizing the parts where things “get heavy” and move positively on to the next. He also spoke about leaving something left in the tank during training and how this helps him stay excited and hungry to compete. His coach will mentally prepare him for X-many intervals, but then stop the workout before the last set, saving that truly 100% effort for competition. He’s also big on visualization using all the senses, focusing on what a target course will feel, look, and smell like while training.
Tidewater Performance/Physical Therapy group:
This was a somewhat basic talk on the the importance of strength training as it relates to injury prevention. The focus was on mastering multi-joint movement patterns (squat, dead lift, hip hinge, lunge), then add resistance, then progress to plyometrics and sport-specific patterns.
They reinforced how strength training may be beneficial to all, but is increasingly important for injured or over-trained athletes to recover efficiency, and for older athletes to maintain lean muscle mass and bone density.
Bob Seebohar/Sports Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist:
I found this to be the most interesting talk. He focused on the concepts of Nutritional Periodization and Metabolic Efficiency Training.
-Nutrition intake and component should vary with training macrocycles.
-Don’t use products during base training, eat balanced meals of real food. Use only water only on the bike for ride less than two hours.
-Don’t gain more than five pounds during off-season.
-Begin using products only as your training intensity requires it and focus on proper eating for recovery.
-Dial in your hydration/electrolyte needs which are highly variable and individual. Sweat rate testing is a great way to determine this if you have issues with cramping, dehydration or hyponatremia.
He emphasized the greatest limiter to performance is glycogen depletion and the main goal of an athlete’s nutritional plan is to maximize early and efficient use of fat stores. This means sparing muscle glycogen only for high intensity efforts like responding to attacks or the finish sprint. You’ll maintain form longer into the event, and there’s less chance of GI irritation because you don’t require as much fuel intake.
He presented some great case studies showing a few athlete’s improvement in fuel utilization to where they were taking less than 100 cal/hour for an 8-10 hour Ironman. In contrast, an inefficient metabolism may begin preferentially burning carbohydrate at intensities as low as Endurance or low Tempo. These athletes will require substantially more fueling, have a higher risk of GI distress, and become glycogen depleted sooner than the efficient athlete.
A main goal of Metabolic Efficiency Training is to minimize insulin spikes – one of the body’s strongest signals to inhibit fat utilization. This means balancing meals with equal carbs to protein and healthy fats. For example, have an apple with almond butter. Dip bread with olive oil. Eat rice with spinach and nuts. Don’t have a gel 20 min before a crit. Instead, focus on a balanced meal two hours before and fuel appropriately while racing.
As you minimize these insulin spikes both on and off the bike your body will learn to preferentially burn fat. When I spoke to Bob after the talk, he said he’s seen significant metabolic changes in as little as two weeks with compliant clients.
Here’s a link to his books and company: http://www.enrgperformance.com/electronic-books/
Hunter mainly presented material in Training and Racing with a Power Meter which many of us have read, but is always good to hear again. He emphasized regular testing of your key metrics for accurate training – and that testing is training. By recognizing patterns in your mesocyles that result in your best efforts, you can accurately predict performance peaks. Work back from your A/Priority races and apply those successful training patterns to give yourself the best chance of peaking for key events. He gave an example of a rider who would put together three weeks of 900-1000 TSS per week. After taking an easy week, he would put out his best 20 min test, like clockwork, every year. They would then apply this mesocycle one month prior to his A races. He also showed some interesting patterns that George Hincape and some other ProTour riders used to time their peaks. It was interesting to see how after Grand Tours, or even week-long stage races, those guys really let their training load drop (both acute and chronic), particularly later in the season.
I asked Hunter about working with athletes who are obsessed with their metrics to a fault. He said this does happen quite a bit, especially if the rider is not hitting their numbers and this is causing a negative feedback loop. He will have them tape over their power metric on their head unit, have them use RPE to gauge effort for a few weeks. The athlete’s family member will then send the data to him so he can appropriately design the next training block.
Christian Vande Velde:
Christian is a down-to-earth kind of guy and entertained us with stories from life in the pro peloton. He’s also moving his family to Greenville, SC – maybe to go hang out with George H and start a training-camp epicenter? Wanting to establish himself as an NBC cycling commentator, he diplomatically talked around the few questions directed towards LA or the doping era, which was quite understandable.
He had a funny story about when Garmin/Slipstream was still pretty young and underfunded. They were wondering how the Italians continued to look fabulous after two weeks of stage racing – only to find they had four hairdryers in the back of their bus. He was a big fan of eating real food on the bike, it was from this program that Allen Lim’s famous rice cakes evolved. The Garmin team was one of the first to really focus on what we now think of as a modern nutrition program. At the time the cycling media hailed the Team’s diet as going gluten free, but as Christian responded, “Man, I like beer!”
He was a big proponent of weights and strength training, especially when recovering from a broken back.
Interestingly, he mentioned how in the past five years, the peloton had become much less social. It’s now a harrowing washer-machine of circulating riders 100% of the time. He remembers when he began racing, there was quite a bit of conversation at times. You had to have a thick skin to hand around the caboose of the field as The Aussies took great pride in tormenting riders who slipped back.
For a complete list of the 2105 speakers and full video of the event (coming soon) please visit: