Monday, March 23, 2009
My training has been lower in volume then normal but with more intensity and i have been doing a fair amount of stair climbing in the wamu tower and the columbia tower in downtown Seattle. I am excited to kick off the season in California. Pacific northwest racing will start at the Issaquah triahtlon on May 31st and I hope to see Team Cycle U and the rest of the community out there.
Last summer I was training and racing in Santa Barbara all summer so it is a great to be back racing in the pacific nowrthwest.
Hope everyone is looking forward to a great summer full of sunshine and of course lots of swim bike run.
Cycle U Coach
Thursday, March 5, 2009
|NAME||FINISH TIME||PLACE||AV. SPEED||MX. SPEED||AV. WATTS||MX. WATTS||AV. HR||MX. HR|
|HEIDI||COPES VAN HASSE||28:35.7||3||21.0||28.6||210.7||329||0||0|
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Coach Tammy here, coming at you live from Austin, TX (or “ATX” as we call it).
Life here in Austin has been, and continues to be, fabulous. Graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, at least in the Exercise Physiology & Sports Psychology departments, are beyond challenging, and I am being kept on my toes 24/7. On the rare occasion that I have some down-time to enjoy, I get out and enjoy swim-bike-running in the 70-80F weather with my posse of new Austin cohorts. The people here are amazingly open and friendly, the music scene is beyond description, the food is diverse and delish, and there is rarely a dull moment in “weird” ATX.
All this being said, I’ve missed a lot back home in Seattle, the opening of the new Cycle U space being among the items at the top of that list. Coach Craig, and all of us who have the pleasure of being a part of CU, have worked long and hard for this new level of success. Cycle U now has a space that reflects the level of service and professionalism that we all strive to deliver…. And I’m stuck here. Not there.
Enter Spring Break…. Seattle here I come! I will be in town March 13-18th, attending the Cycle U hosting of the USAC Power-Based Certification Clinic, meeting up with existing and newly-added clients, and hopefully leading a session of InCycle or two. Stop by to say ‘Hi’, or drop in for an InCycle session. I am so looking forward to seeing all of you!
Just one thing… I’ve gotten a little spoiled here. Could y’all do something about the rain???
Thanks... CU soon! Coach T.
I really don't know where the past four months of InCycle has disappeared to. Yesterday, as I was doodling in my calendar all the things I had to do this week, I realized that there is only a little over a month of InCycle left. Yes, I know; I shouldn't get too upset since InCycle is going to be offered in the Spring and Summer and on and on into the years to come. But, regardless, I get nostalgic about eventual endings.
It's not just for InCycle. Even in College I remember I would get a little sad towards the end of the quarter. My peers thought I was crazy because they were excited as all hell to be done with school. Yet, my feelings towards each of my classes ending was a mixture of excitement about moving onto the next step, and of a sentimental appreciation for the enjoyable learning journey I had ventured.
I felt the same way when I worked at an Art school for gifted high schoolers. At the end of the year I knew the seniors would slip away into the folds of the big world. I knew they were ready, I knew they had learned so much, and that I had been a part of what they had learned. But, even though I was so excited to see these former high schoolers find their place in the world, I was still filled with hints of sadness, for next year I would not see their faces roaming the hallways and book shelves.
The same holds true for InCycle. All the people in InCycle have become familiar faces to me. I know what hobbies they like, what they do for a living, how their kids and pets are doing, how their daily lives are going. They are all interesting and lively people who share two of my life passions: riding bikes and staying healthy.
Every class I see improvement in their skills, technique, and most of all fitness. Even though I have no trouble seeing the physical improvement of InCycle members, for some reason it is still hard for some of them to see it for themselves. Many still have doubts about how much they have improved.
Having doubts about one's self can be very useful, for it prevents complacency and promotes an eternal search for advancing one's self. But, there comes a point when an individual must applaud their achievements and be proud of the hard work done.
Throughout the course of four months InCycle members have gone from barely being able to hold zone 3 for a five minute intervals, to being able to hit Zone 5 for ten minutes. If this is not a clear indication of progression, then I don't know what is. When we did our first Zone 5 interval in InCycle, all the members were shocked. Many of them said they had never hurt so badly and that they were disappointed with their average watts. To this I answered: "Look at it this way: Four months ago you could not have even attempted Zone 5 for ten minutes. And now, you are doing it."
Me being witness to over 120 people improving their lives by riding a bike and staying healthy is quite a reward. I know next year I will most likely see a lot of familiar faces at InCycle. There will also be a lot of new faces as well. Each class is different. Changes and endings are inevitable. Lives change, people move around, and, as we all know, every good time must come to an end.
Yes, it is hard to accept change. But, as InCycle draws to an end next month I at least know that deep down inside every-one's favorite Zone is Zone 5. And this is what moves me onwards.
Today I was asked a question: "what was the one big moment in cycling that motivated you to take it to the next level?" For a few moments I sat in silence. My mind reeled backwards through the five years I have been racing bikes. Various emotions and visceral moments trudged their way to the front of my brain where I could look at them with mixed feelings of excitement, satisfaction, and ultimately, confusion.
Bike racing is such an integral part of my life, I just can't narrow it down to one moment. Though it may sound odd, I see bike racing almost as a relationship. A relationship full of hardships, trying moments, doubt, and broken expectations. And, like any long-lasting relationship, there is a tremendous amount of commitment and dedication I have towards racing that allows me to work through the hardships, helps me make compromises in order to "save" the relationship.
My life mentality is simple: that which takes the most effort is the most rewarding. Effort usually consists of commitment and hard work. This mentality holds true for every aspect of life. When I was in school, homework never bothered me. It boggled my mind when my peers would complain about essays and tests. My reply to their complaints was, "You do realize you are in school?" It seemed obvious to me that if I were to enroll in a University then I would have homework; so, why complain about the obvious?
This dedicated mentality holds true for my other passions in my life as well: my artwork, my music, my lovers, friends and family. The more effort I put into a relationship with a drawing or a lover, then the more rewarding the outcome will be. Then, if I keep on putting effort into these relationships over a long period of time, I will learn so much more about myself and the person or object or sport I am involved with.
I know I am going on a bit of a tangent here, but there is a point, and it is this: there was never a big moment in racing that brought me to the next level. What has kept me racing was my willingness to dedicate myself to racing even during times when it seemed absolutely pointless.
You see, I have another life theory: one must dedicate themselves the most when everything seems hopeless. Every relationship would fail if it were not for dedication, because, as I mentioned early, every relationship will have struggles, and dedication to the relationship will sometimes be the only glue holding everything together.
For many years I struggled with being an unorthodox bike racer. I was not gifted with the narrow and intense focus necessary to be a life-career professional racer. Every since I was a kid I have always been distracted by others facets of life I find interesting. Art, music, traveling, adventure, and a little bit of chaos has always captivated me, and trying to enjoy all this while being a pro racer is not possible. I found this out the hard way this past summer. I was trying to juggle many life passions and I was dropping all the balls everywhere. At the Tour of Utah, one of the USAs most challenging professional stage races, I gave up. The months of traveling on the road, the years of having to go to bed at 10pm every night while my friends were partying, the years of training for hours and hours in frigid temperatures all caught up to me as I raced in 100 degree heat at 8,000 feet elevation with the fastest riders in the world. I cracked hard.
But, instead of quitting racing all together, I found a compromise. I realized that I needed to re-evaluate WHY I race. The only answer I could come up with was typical: I love racing. I just love racing my bike. And, even if I don't have the personality to be a career pro racer, I can still race my bike because I love the sport, the adrenaline, the healthy lifestyle and the people involved within its community.
Once I realized all this I actually began to excel for the end of my race season. In a matter of months I went from "breaking up" with bike racing to "convincing" my bike that it should get "back together with me." Three months after I broke up with my bike at the Tour of Utah we took a trip together down to L.A. We went down to L.A. to compete at the Elite Velodrome National Championships. All the fastest guys in the USA would be there. My bike was a bit nervous about my fitness. Everyone there was second guessing me and my commitment.
I did not want to let myself down. I did not want to give up on the five amazing years I had racing my bike. After all, bike racing has taken me all over the world, it has given me my amazing job as a coach, it has given me a healthy body, and it has taught me so many life lessons. With this in mind I raced my heart out and took 2nd place at National Champions.
Like most American kids, I participated in a lot of sports when I was growing up. Over the years, I have played basketball, baseball, football, ultimate, and lacrosse. I have rowed crew, ran cross country and track, wrestled, and raced bikes. Amont those I was exposed to, I eventually gravitated towards the endurance sports, and over the last ten years have spent most of my time outside either running or riding my bike.
Cycling and running are both fantastic sports; I am very thankful to have discovered them at a relatively early age and have already enjoyed a decade of participation. They also have in common, however, something you don't get in stick-and-ball sports: a certain neurosis (shared with their sister sport triathlon) at the competitive level with regard to body weight (surpassed only by another sport in which I've participated, wrestling, which gives most every participant a bona fide eating disorder by the time they graduate).
This obsession stems from the cruel reality of the physical laws we all learn in high school (you must produce a force to accelerate your mass) and also from the many images of the sports' archetypes and heroes. Take Lance Armstrong's famously meticulous weighing of food on a gram scale, or the incredibly gaunt Janez Brajkovic, celebrating his second place in last October's Giro di Lombardia. This image has changed over time: compare, for example, Eddy Merckx, Raymond Poulidor, or Bernard Hinault with Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov, or Carlos Sastre.
In looking at these images of athletes at the top level of the sport, we must understand a few important facts. Putting aside the question of doping (a whole can of worms for another day), these athletes are professionals for a reason, namely that they are prodigiously talented. This is not to say that they do not train and prepare vigorously, but simply that a high level of talent is a prerequisite for achievement at the top level of the sport. Talent has many facets, one of which is body type. Simply put, the Darwinian process of victory has selected for athletes that not only have huge engines but are also predisposed to being relatively skinny. More importantly, though, is the fact that being at the top level of the sport requires attention to every detail that affects performance. They have already maximized the effectiveness of their training, perfected their position on the bike, and ensured the relative supremacy of their equipment.
During almost every group ride or training session I overhear talk of losing weight or being overweight, and I must confess being guilty of participating in such talk at times. When it comes down to it, however, performance gains realized through weight loss are usually quite small, depending on how much weight an athlete has to lose, especially compared to the performance gains realized by concentrating on increasing sustainable power. Even on a climb such as Crystal Mountain, the state Hill Climb Championship course, a 5 lb weight loss is easily out-matched by a 7 watt gain in sustainable power for an average rider. Moreover, the side effects of trying to cut weight too quickly and the reduced quality of life inherent in counting calories can also outweigh the potential performance gains. In other words, chill out people. Significant progress can be made simply by maximizing your nutritional regime with respect to your training as well as general food intake. Rather than thinking simply about weight as holding us back or something to reduce, we should think more broadly about general health and proper nutrition first. You will probably not be able to "diet" your way to being faster on the bike, but if you take a hard look at what you put into your body and ensure you eat a selection of highly nutritious food and leave out those foods we know are "bad" for us, you will enjoy better overall health and weight loss will probably follow.
I am not a nutritionist, and there is plenty of information out there on healthful nutrition for the endurance athlete. It's pretty simple, though: eat food that our bodies can use efficiently and provide valuable nutrients in addition to calories, and don't eat those that do not (refined sugars, alcohol, refined grains, etc); time food consumption around ride time; eat moderate amounts.
Body weight is, strictly speaking, a component of performance. It is, however, one small component that frequently receives far more attention than it deserves among other components that have a much larger return on investment for improving performance, in terms of time and energy spent. Here in the endurance sport community, we need to re-frame the topic of weight loss in terms of overall nutrition and health. For all the time spent thinking about how much weight we need to lose, going on a diet, breaking that diet, bonking on a training ride, we could be thinking about and affecting real changes in our complete nutrition that benefit our overall health and are sustainable for years down the road.