Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Working With A Cycling Coach

Working with a Cycling Coach

Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

First a little background on me: I started riding in the late 80s with friends and pinned a number on a couple of times. I didn’t possess any natural talent or have any success but I fell in love with the sport. In college I drifted from the sport. My interest was renewed during Armstrong’s days in the TdF. I bought a road bike and started to ride again. I got the extra push I needed when a doctor told me to ride as rehab for a bad knee sprain.

Labor Day 2007 I resolved to do the Triple Bypass the following July with my buddy Tate. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t done a ride over 40 miles in 15 years or that I weighed well over 200 at the time. I was going to complete the 120 miles and 10k+ of climbing of the TBP. I pinned on a number again for my first cyclocross (CX) race in 2009 and was instantly hooked. Rides like the TBP are fun, but the competition of CX charged me up. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but hot damn, I loved it.  I lost most of the next two CX seasons to major injuries requiring surgeries: a rotator cuff tear and a broken hand.

I’d owned a power meter for several years and I’d read countless books. I’d made clumsy attempts at building training plans or following plans I’d found on the web. My plans inevitably came undone as a result of inconsistent training. I also had a stubborn tendency to ride at high tempo regardless of the day’s planned workout.

Why hire a coach?: 

Late in the 2011 CX season I decided that I wanted to take the next step. I hired a coach, Brad Sims (@zuff911, zuff911@gmail.com). I’m a 42-year-old Cat 4, and I don’t have any delusions of grandeur, so, why would I hire a coach?  The short answer is that I was serious about improving and I wanted to optimize my training time. Being competitive and feeling fast is more fun than being pack fodder. I knew that if I was paying someone to tell me what to do on the bike that I was going to do it. I’d stick to the prescribed workouts to the letter.

Why Brad?:

I knew Brad from the Foxtrot Racing team and he’s one fast dude. Brad has “been there and done that.” He’s a Cat 1 CX racer, Cat 3 on the road, a Pro on the mountain bike.  He’s won the Colorado Cross Cup a couple of years ago and has been on the podium at the highest levels of mountain biking. He’s also not a prototypical cyclist. Brad is 6’5” and he’s not a twig. I have nothing against super-small or thin cyclists, but I’m not one. I like being coached by someone who is successful despite not being 5’8” and 140 pounds.

Undoubtedly I would have improved by following a plan I’d bought off a website, but I knew I’d benefit most from regular interaction with a coach. In addition to providing workouts, Brad has helped me with my position on the bike, core training, rest and recovery, race selection, race strategy and much more.

A coach is an objective observer and can help you identify and overcome limitations. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to be able to consult with Brad on how to fit in my training around business travel, being a dad and illness or injury. No matter how well you plan, ‘life’ will happen. Adapting is a key to success. No book or a plan from a website can offer this kind of customization.

Sample workout:

Brad provides with me a spreadsheet each week with my workouts. Right now I’m ramping up for the Frostbite TT. Here is my workout for Thursday, February 7th.

























































































































































    
 Mock TT Efforts   
     
 Duration: 67 min  
 Intensity: Mid/Hard  
 Concentration: Build for Frostbite  
 Bike: Ride your TT bike, do all efforts in the aero bars  
 Terrain: Make sure you don't get stopped during the LT effort 
     
 

Duration



Description



Zone


 
 

0:05:00



Very Easy



125 W


 
 

0:10:00



Easy



145 W


 
 

0:02:00



x2 30 sec max cadence, 30 sec rest



N/A


 
 

0:05:00



Endurance



190 W


 
 

0:05:00



Recover



130 W


 
 

0:09:00



TT effort



270 W


*Note: make sure and stick to the prescribed wattage for this effort
 

0:01:00



TT finish



320 W


 
 

0:15:00



Recover



130 W


 
 

0:09:00



TT effort



290 W


*Note: make sure and stick to the prescribed wattage for this effort
 

0:01:00



TT finish



320 W


 
 

0:10:00



Very Easy



125 W


 
 

From there, I create a workout summary to tape on my handlebars, e.g.:




























































5m



Very EZ



125



5m



EZ



145



2m



Cad



N/A



5m



Endo



190



5m



Recover



130



9m



TT Efrt



270



1m



Finish



320



15m



Recover



130



9m



TT Efrt



290



1m



Finish



320



10m



Very EZ



125




Results:

I made progress through the last month of the 2011 season but I’d started way too late to reap real benefits. I moved from the bottom quarter of races to mid-pack.

For the 2012 CX season, I started working with Brad in mid-August. I had a decent base of fitness after running a marathon (4:30) in March and completing a half Ironman (6:02) in early August. Brad has me doing intervals designed around the short high-intensity demands of CX. More importantly we worked on CX specific skills:  cornering, dismounts, remounts, run-ups, sand, mud and starts. In the first race of the season, I had my first top-half result in the season opening TT. The work I was doing with Brad was paying huge dividends!

I continued to steadily improve throughout the season. I ended up with five Top 10 results and a win. Obviously, I’m incredibly happy with the results. To win a race after never having had been in the top-half of a race before is HUGE! There is absolutely no reason to believe I would have had the success I had without having a coach. With the money I’ve paid Brad, I could have bought a new gee-whiz carbon fiber gizmo but hiring a coach has the best investment for going faster I’ve ever made.

I recognize that having a coach isn’t for everyone, but it sure works for me. Some athletes struggle with following their coach’s instruction; it isn’t an issue for me. A good coach is going to have you train to improve your weaknesses. If you’re not willing to do that, you’ll be wasting your money. If you’re considering hiring a coach, consider Brad.

No comments:

Post a Comment