group exercise

How much should you train? You may not like the answer.

How many miles a week should you ride? Such a simple question, but the answer isn't so  simple.  For starters “How many miles should I ride” isn’t really the right question, as not all miles are the same. Riding 50 miles on flat ground being pulled along by a group is not the same as doing a hilly ride, braving the wind in a solo effort. “How much should I train?” is really the better question. But still, there are different ways to measure “how much.” Power meters are now a common site on the bikes of pro and amateur riders alike. But before the power meter era, heart rate was considered the gold standard in training technology and many athletes used a heart rate X time metric known as TRIMP*. Now that a bike can be outfitted with a power meter for under a thousand dollars, riders of all levels are using the power related metrics as their preferred method of measuring training volume and stress. A power meter user can track daily and weekly kilojoules, and training stress score, along with acute and chronic training load as well as training stress balance**. While I love both training and coaching with a power meter, I also use a much simpler metric that pre-dates heart rate training, and power: The watch.

Saddle time is a simple metric that anyone can measure, and endurance athletes have been measuring their training in this manner for as long as endurance athletes have existed. Of course an hour at race pace is not the same training stress and an hour at recovery pace. But weekly training hours will give you a pretty good idea of total training volume. Weekly hours are not only easy to measure, but easy to understand. Some riders don’t care to learn about or use hears rate monitors or power meters. For these riders, weekly hours is going to be their best measure of how much they are training. So then the question is: “How many hours a week should I train?”

Don't overdo it and wind up looking like this

People naturally prefer simple answers to questions. But even seemingly simple questions have complex or even unclear answers. Answers to questions like: “How much improvement will I see from coaching?” or “How much should I train each week?” are difficult to answer, because everyone is different. Anyone that tells you to expect an exact amount of improvement or tells you that everyone should train a certain amount is either uninformed or untruthful.  As far as how much you should train, the answer for most people is:  As much as you can without it being too much…as much as you can train, and still recover both physically and mentally from the training.  You should train as much as you can while still ensuring that you get in the quality and intensity of your workouts. You should train as much as you can while still succeeding in your career, having a balanced social life, enjoying family time, and keeping your significant other happy.

When I’m planning the training for my athletes, the “A” (top priority) events go into the calendar first. The next items to go into the calendar are family, work, and travel commitments. The first workouts to go into the calendar are the highest intensity workouts. These efforts are typically the most important workouts of the week, and the integrity of these workouts must be maintained. If you don’t get them right, you are just spinning your wheels. Most amateur riders should not try and do the same volume of training that professional riders do, as the pros are dealing with a completely different set of commitments, priorities and circumstances. I’ve seen riders read about the weekly hours that the professionals train, and try to replicate it themselves. But for a professional rider, training IS their career. The pro rider can concentrate on recovery by napping, eating, relaxing on the couch, and maybe getting a massage. While the amateur rider with a 40+ hour a week job is often doing things that are counterproductive to recovery. Some riders increase their training volume and actually get slower, because they aren’t recovering properly in between hard workouts. One of my jobs as a coach is to ascertain: What is the optimal training load for that individual athlete. Some athletes are limited by how much time they can actually spend on the bike. For these riders, the task is to ensure that they are spending their time wisely. Some athletes have practically unlimited time to train, but I need to ensure they are recovering properly and not overdoing it. As an athlete it can be difficult to see when you are a pushing it a little too much, and that is when the objective eye of a coach can become invaluable. Athletes all have different needs, time, and stressors in their lives. All of these things must be taken into account when determining how much training volume and athlete can handle. There is no easy answer to “How many miles a week should I ride” or “ How many hours a week should I train”. It seems like a simple question, but there isn’t a simple answer. Do you need help figuring out how much is enough without being too much? Use the contact form on the right side of this page to contact us.

*TRIMP was developed by Dr Eric Bannister. Google will help you if you need to know more. ** Training Stress Score is based on the original work by Bannister. This and other terms were developed by Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen. Check out the book “Racing and Training with a PowerMeter” for more information.

Hone Your Handling Skills

In order to hone your cycling skills it is important to practice them in a controlled environment. This means you should practice riding fast, cornering, and riding in groups. Creating a controlled environment is the hardest part of practicing these skills. To do so you need a safe place to ride and at least one experienced rider who has mastered all of the skills being practiced. Crank Cycling Coaches can help you do this.

Do you want to cruise through the field of riders and find the sweet spot in the peloton? Do you want to slide into the draft and reap the benefits of others' hard work? Would you like to glide through corners at high speeds, not hitting your brakes and not having to over-analyze the word Apex on google search for hours? Do you want to make it over, through, and around obstacles and hazards without worry?

Would you like to keep up on the local club ride without being afraid of riders coming too close to you, or the constant thought of being dropped and not able to catch up at the regroup spot?

All of these things can be accomplished and your mind can be set at ease with some classroom instruction and on-the-bike practice. Come to Crank Cycling's bike-handling and group riding skills clinic on April 16th, presented by Crank Cycling Coach Jesse Eisner. Jesse is a USA Cycling Certified coach and veteran racer with 2 decades worth of riding and racing experience.

See you out on the road, Coach Jesse

Link to sign up

Aire Urban Passport

We are running  a holiday special through the end of the month.   It is a special package we are doing with the  other member of the Aire Co-Op.    For $49 bucks you get 2 cycling classes, 2 rowing classes, 2 TRX classes, and 2 personal training sessions.    This is an amazing bargain, and costs less than start up fees for a gym membership.  If you've got a friend who has been thinking about trying one of these classes, or starting a new fitness program, make sure and pass this on. Added on 12/22/09   Here is a link where you can purchase the Urban Passport. 

Aire Urban Passport

Ironman AZ

I just wanted to give a shout out to Matt Buster and Karl Coleman.   Both of these are class regulars who  competed in Ironman Arizona last weekend. Karl Came in under  just under11 hours and Matt Came in around 11:20.  A good bike leg contributed to the success of  both of  them.   They each took 25 minutes off of their PRs for their bike legs, and are convinced that their indoor training  at the studio helped them achieve that goal.   Good Job guys, we know we'll see you back in class after you've indulged in a little post event R&R!

Congrats to Matt Buster

Congrats to Matt Buster who took 25 minutes off of his PR for a half ironman distance at the Soma Half Iron Distance Triathlon  Matt has been coming to class twice a week, and told me a few weeks ago that the classes have defintely made him faster.    His bike leg was a very respectable 2:38, average watts 218,  and average speed of 21.3 MPH for 56 miles.  That's pretty darn good....especially  when you have to do a swim before and a run after!

Fitter with Friends!

There was a great article recently in The Economist about group exercise, and how it is easier with friends. Basically the idea is that people can push themselves harder in a group than when they are by themselves....mostly because of hormonal responses.  They go on to explain a possible evolutionary benefits, such as hunting in groups.  The researchers in the study used rowers, and if  you are into that sort of thing, be sure to check out the  Indo Row program with Engine Room Fitness. But the results would likely be just as applicable to spinning, indoor cycling,  old fashioned step aerobics, or just about any synchronized group workout. Good news for group workouts huh?