Monday 19 March 2012

Bike fitting

A few days ago I went to Calgary to get a bike fit at the Speed Matrix. Adam Redmond, the owner, is fitting bikes to his clients using the Retül Fit Technology. I met Adam in October 2010 in Kona. Actually, we shared the same room in a hostel and it was pretty funny when we found out that he is from Calgary. Anyway, after a first examination of my body (femur length, flexibility, etc.). I eventually got hooked up with sensors on my joints (wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle and foot) and started cycling. Any possible angle was measured and his first comment was "We'll get you faster!" It turned out that my fit was not optimal to allow for a consistent long-term power output. In other words my seat was too high and my aerobars were to low. This was not surprising to me as I did this adjustment myself. I wanted to have a very aerodynamic fit and thought I can deal with the discomfort. After Adam did a few changes, I was still super aerodynamic and now it also feels really good being in aero position. I was really happy about this first result.
Then, he also found that my vertical leg movement was a bit off (looking almost like a "V" from behind and not straight like an "H"). He inserted a super thin plastic wedge between cleat and shoe that helped to transform the "V" shape into a more optimal "H" shape (note: these terms are entirely made up by myself and are merely used to better describe what happened during the fit). This was the second adjustment he made and I can't wait to start racing now with the new bike fit.

My conclusion:
In general, all adjustments were very minimal and carefully made. Tiny adjustments may have an enormous effect when one sums up the pedal strokes made in a 5 hours bike ride (~ 90 rpm * 300 min = 27,000 pedal strokes on each side!). Being able to detect differences of a degree is a really powerful way of probing out the optimal cycling position given body type and race distance.
After this session with Adam, I am sure that I got quite a bit closer of reaching my cycling goal time of 4:45-4:50 hours in Kona this year.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Pareto Principle

My training philosophy was always to train as less as possible to gain maximum fitness in order to reach my desired goal. I am very fond of this minimalistic approach. When I was training for Ironman Canada 2010, I logged less than 10 hours per week over the course of 20 weeks, however, neglecting swimming quite a bit. The core of my training plan was a Minimalist Marathon Training Program. This program consists of three key workouts per week, leaving the other days for recovery or cross training. My focus in 2010 was clearly to become a better (triathlon) runner and 90 % of my workouts were brick workouts of 1 - 1.5 hours hard cycling on my trainer followed by running a few fast mile repeats and then settling down into a longer goal pace run (everything on the track). Eventually, I ran up to 38 km on the track. Now, you probably think this guy is crazy, but I can tell you once you get used to it, you'll love track workouts. The benefit is that you can train without interruption and record progress very well due the to homogeneous conditions, which also keeps you motivated! Training on the track also allows you to bring as much fluids you need for the workout and you can nicely practice your race day nutrition.

So, coming back to the minimalist approach. The other day, I bought a training program from training4cyclists. It's called Time Effective Cycling Training and is written by Jesper Bondo Medhus. His ebook introduced me to the Pareto Principle (or the 80-20 rule), named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and states that 80 % of the effects come from 20 % of the causes. So, since I am in the unlucky situation of not getting paid for swimming, biking and running, this principle is key for me to reach my goal of placing Top 5 in the age category M30-34 in Kona this year, and still be able to finish my PhD this summer and start a new job. For me this means I should avoid unnecessary time swimming, biking and running and focus on the 20 % (approximately) in each sport that actually make me faster, i.e. goal pace training, interval workouts, track running and indoor cycling. Although I intuitively applied this principle already before I actually heard about it, it's good to see it written out. On a final note however, I also have to say that every now and then training without any pace prescription turned out to be very beneficial for my overall performance, recovery and well-being.

Happy Training!