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  1. #1
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Being Coached - First Impressions (long!)

    As a married man, I somehow decided I needed a second woman telling me what I can, and can't, do. So I hired a (female) cycling coach. I took this step after believing the competitive cyclists who said it was the single best and quickest way to get stronger and faster. That was actually easy to believe. I had read a lot, and quickly realized "I didn't know what I didn't know". But I held back, because finding the right coach proved much more difficult. There are a couple of dominant 'mega' coaching companies, centered around the two most successful training guru's: Friel and Carmichael. But I felt like, if I went that route, I would become a little fish in the tank of the company, looked at now and then to see if I was still swimming, but with a strong likelihood I could end up floating upside down at the surface, only to be picked out with a net and flushed down the toilet.

    But then, trying to figure out a little more of what I didn't know I didn't know, I had a long lunch with a racer friend. He also happens to be my sort-of boss, so I came prepared with a discussion outline and a set of questions, ranging from bike logistics, the local racing scene, and of course, training. My last question was... "So, given the importance of coaching, how do you find a GOOD coach?!?" His response was "That's easy, you just call my coach DeeAnn. I'll send you her contact info."

    Long intro... sorry. I get long-winded on anything cycling related. Otherwise I pretty much STFU.

    So I've been following her directions for a week now. The first thing she did was to slow me down and limit my riding time... :-/ Actually, she would no doubt say that she is "Improving my aerobic system by increasing my z2-3 miles, and also providing adequate recovery time." She has this perplexing idea that you should be able to press on your quads or hamstrings, and not wince in pain. No idea where she got that - I don't know her age, but on hearing her say "I just finished a ride. I'm pressing an inch into my quad, and I feel no pain or soreness", I decided she is 22. I also felt very emasculated by the fact that she can press an inch into her quad muscle.

    She also gave me some off-season strength exercises, including squats and lunges (and I'm not supposed to be sore?!?), and insisted I get a trainer asap. I borrowed one from my sorta-boss/friend, since his wife refused to use it when he bought it for her. That "saying what you can and can't do" thing never goes both ways, does it? Anyway, I think cycling coaches' obsession with trainer work is tied to their need to precisely control the ability to inflict pain and misery. All while avoiding making you sore, of course. Along with her training manual (and the ubiquitous logo'd water bottle) she sent me two DVD's. One is on Pedaling Technique. It has you start at the leisurely cadence of 80, then gradually spin up as fast as you possibly can, which, for the world-class riders in the video, is something like 200 rpm. I think I saw smoke wafting from a few bottom brackets. For me, it's somewhere "significantly under that". I'm not divulging just how significantly. A man has his ego, you know? Then, you do one legged pedaling. When she had said she was sending a DVD, my only question was "It's not by Coach Troy, is it?".

    "No", she said, "but the second one is. How did you guess?" Wonderful.

    I managed to cut the trainer work short by telling her my bike's drivetrain sounded like it was falling apart on the trainer, but that I ordered a new one (direct drive, so it replaces the rear wheel completely) on eBay. She believed me.

    Sadly, it's true, and it arrives Monday. But I told her Tuesday. :-)

    So my weekly regimen is now:

    A. 2-3 commutes (instead of 3-4), done while not exceeding HR zone 2 (grumble grumble), and usually the short route instead of the longer route I had been doing.

    B. One pedaling tech session per week.

    C. One hour long zone 2 trainer session. As she says: "Trainers don't have stoplights."

    D. TWO recovery days. One of them the day before my weekly "key workout", which is...

    E. A long Saturday ride, solo, of up to 4 hours, staying in zones 2-3, focusing on cadence. No zone 4, or something truly awful will no doubt happen, probably involving a trainer.

    I just did my long Saturday ride. I only touched zone 4 three times. Once by not paying attention, once because I chose a route home that I didn't realize included a small hill, and once when I 'had words' with a motorist who stayed behind me, honking, when there were two lanes open to her left.

    That one doesn't count.

    I averaged a 94 cadence, which is very good for me. I broke a number of traffic laws, trying not to stop, for fear that might make her decide my long rides need to be done on the trainer as well!

    Oh, and on New Year's day, I get to ride with my group (yay!), but... never pulling, staying as draft-protected as possible, and I have to drop off after an hour and go solo. She knows that, otherwise, I'd be, well, NOT in zones 2-3; nor even in zone 4.

    So, anyway, I've started down a long path to the dark side of racing. If you have nothing better to do, and are bored enough to want to see how I'm doing, I've made my TrainingPeaks profile public at http://www.trainingpeaks.com/aztallrider.

    Having only had the road bike for 9 months, I have a loooonnngg way to go, but am looking forward to it.

    "Maybe I'm crazy don't ask my wife... My bicycle and me."
    Livingston Taylor
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  2. #2
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    I have a feeling we are reading the birth story of a hammerhead. Just don't get so aero that we can't enjoy the breeze as you fly by.
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    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Great post, I will be totally interested in updates. Good for you on starting this endeavor.

  4. #4
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    This is my coach. I beg for trainer workouts.



    Seriously, you are into it and it sounds like you have made a good choice. I will be looking forward to your race reports.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  5. #5
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Welcome to the other side and the journey into racing. Giving up some of the club rides, I used to relish, was the only down side of the training program. I still do some club rides with "restrictions" and also have a group of riding buddies who like to tag along on my prescribed training rides. Although my coach isn't a hot 22 yr old who describes groping and massaging her thighs I think I'm getting a bang for the buck. From the onset my coach promised the easy days were "easy" and the hard days were "hard" which has been the case.

    The trainer and roller riding is a part of the process. I trust my coach is doing what is best for me to ride a bike faster and longer. When I signed on I never thought that I would do 1 hour sessions on the rollers @ 110-120 rpm with 3 x 5 min off the saddle intervals or the core/resistance training that seems to be preparing me for the circus. However, it seems to be working nicely and will continue on.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  6. #6
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    ......
    I managed to cut the trainer work short by telling her my bike's drivetrain sounded like it was falling apart on the trainer, but that I ordered a new one (direct drive, so it replaces the rear wheel completely) on eBay. She believed me.

    Sadly, it's true, and it arrives Monday. But I told her Tuesday. :-)

    .....

    "Maybe I'm crazy don't ask my wife... My bicycle and me."
    Livingston Taylor
    I'd like to hear how that new trainer works out for you... been looking at them. And your reports of great suffering with be enjoyable I'm sure!

    There is a time to resign oneself
    to old age and infirmity. You first.
    My Cycling Blogspot

  7. #7
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    This just in from my coach, tormentor, as part of next weeks workouts.

    Friday, 12-24: Bike Rollers for 1hr, same as Mon @ 110 -120 rpm but add 5-10 more min to the Over Gear interval, and try to do 5 min at a time with "no hands" and the upper body nice and still.

    At least I'm not doing the 5 x 3 minutes off the saddle that I had to do last week.

    AzTallRider, your days are coming.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  8. #8
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I haven't heard anything about rollers, yet, but she does have a bike handling clinic at the end of January. I hear she has anyone who doesn't think they need it watch her pick a quarter off the ground as she rides by. We mortals just have to grab a bottle.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  9. #9
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Not everyone that hires a coach does so because they intend to race. Racing is such a small part of it I would think. Az, did you discuss your goals with this coach? One thing is to watch out for is some coaches will use a one size fits all approach to training. What works for one may not work for another. Also, the needs of a crit racer are far different than those of a brevet rider. Age also has to be taken into account when designing a program.
    FS: Shimano DA 7900 brake calipers, DA 7900 Crankset 50/34 175mm and BB

  10. #10
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Anyway, I think cycling coaches' obsession with trainer work is tied to their need to precisely control the ability to inflict pain and misery.
    LOL

    I wish that I had worked with a coach during 2009. I rode 5000 miles that year, and made good progress as a cyclist. Working with a coach would have increased the rate of progress by a factor of 2.

    I agree with the idea of recovery days. I try to ride 3 days a week while training. Alternating days allows the muscles to rebuild of off days. I also can keep a faster pace on the days that I do ride.

    I also use the bike computer, including cadence, speed and average speed, as a slave driver. I try to increase average speed during the last 1/3 of the ride. It can be done, if I keep my actual speed above my average speed most of the time.

    Keep us informed,

    Michael
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 12-19-10 at 11:05 AM.

  11. #11
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    Az, did you discuss your goals with this coach? One thing is to watch out for is some coaches will use a one size fits all approach to training. What works for one may not work for another. Also, the needs of a crit racer are far different than those of a brevet rider. Age also has to be taken into account when designing a program.
    Yes, we are in sync on my plans and goals. I'm not aiming for crit's - I've crashed enough without trying to speed around corners, shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of similarly inexperienced guys I don't know. We've talked about the events/races I want to do, and specific goals for them, knowing those goals may need to change as we see how I respond to training. My main goal is to get 'platinum' in El Tour de Phoenix, which means 72 miles in 3:05 or less. That event is late March, and there just may not be enough time to build my base, given I'm so new to this. So that goal may change. My first competitions will be in road races in that distance range, and I might throw in a time trial or two, as those can be good measures of individual progress. I'm also interested in cross, since everyone who does it seems to have a blast. But from a competition standpoint, doing the road racing -and- cross wouldn't give you an off-season.

    Coach's big 'thing' is working training in with the rest of your life, maximizing what -you- decide to put into your sport. She dictates what you do with your training time, but not how much you have. And in my case, it means working my commutes into the training regimen. My commuting also contributes to my family, by making a car available for my teenage stepdaughter, and coach understands the need for me to do that.

    So, in short, my training is totally customized.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  12. #12
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    I also use the bike computer, including cadence, speed and average speed, as a slave driver. I try to increase average speed during the last 1/3 of the ride. It can be done, if I keep my actual speed above my average speed most of the time.
    Right now, she wants me to be as consistent as possible. Long uninterrupted sessions at the desired level. It's all designed to build up my aerobic system, improving my ability to efficiently burn fat for fuel at the cellular level. But if I'm going to vary, it better be by picking up steam, and not by fading. The slogan of her training company is "It's a little like wrestling a gorilla...you don't quit when you're tired, you quit when the gorilla is tired."
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  13. #13
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Sounds good! It's important not to let it become a source of stress in your life. We all have too much of that to begin with! Have fun!
    FS: Shimano DA 7900 brake calipers, DA 7900 Crankset 50/34 175mm and BB

  14. #14
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegheny Jet View Post
    Welcome to the other side and the journey into racing. Giving up some of the club rides, I used to relish, was the only down side of the training program. I still do some club rides with "restrictions" and also have a group of riding buddies who like to tag along on my prescribed training rides. Although my coach isn't a hot 22 yr old who describes groping and massaging her thighs I think I'm getting a bang for the buck. From the onset my coach promised the easy days were "easy" and the hard days were "hard" which has been the case.

    The trainer and roller riding is a part of the process. I trust my coach is doing what is best for me to ride a bike faster and longer. When I signed on I never thought that I would do 1 hour sessions on the rollers @ 110-120 rpm with 3 x 5 min off the saddle intervals or the core/resistance training that seems to be preparing me for the circus. However, it seems to be working nicely and will continue on.
    Remember, this was a special referral.

    I have had two coaches. The first were two Russians from Belarus 50 years old and 50 something years old who coached the Belarus National Cycling team for several years. One was on the team and the other won a Gold Medal cycling in the Olympics in Montreal in 1976 men's team time trial. They continue to advise the Belarus National team.

    They had an indoor cycling gym with roller that had a magnetic coupling and fork stand. We were expected to show up at the gym, weigh in and our weight was recorded for public viewing, a couple of time per week as well as outside riding.

    These guys followed very old school training consisting of weights and running and jumping October through November with easy outside riding followed by long rides with a lot of climbing and continued work on the rollers. This was exactly what the Belarus National team was doing.

    We progressed to speed work getting ready for racing. Prior to races, we motorpaced behind a scooter.

    We had to have heart rate, cadence and time on the bike. There was no turning in data or testing per se and they did not support or understand power meters.

    They had a mix of professional racers at road and track, amateur racers and other riders who were interested in events or just staying in shape. We had all ages from juniors to late 60s.

    Last year, I applied for and was awarded a coaching scholarship from my racing club. This coach uses power meter training and we are required to upload our power data via Training Peaks web based. He is turning 50 this year, a national champion and races on a team. He is participates at most of the local races.

    He is more programmatic and customized and better suited for amateur track racers. Quite frankly, he prescribes a lot more difficult assignments than the Russians with less rest. He does not believe in base miles per se but in many ways is old school. He wants us to ride a lot and comes from a HTFU mentality. We cannot spin fast enough. His philosophy is one can always choose to spin slower but one must train to spin faster.

    He has training rides each week, hosts evening sessions at his house with presentations and discussion, skills clinics and training camps.

    This is definitely modern pro style training. We have everything the pros have including accountability. However, this is very hard - especially with power meters. This is the hardest I have ever worked as an athlete. I am in the best shape I have ever been in my life as an athlete.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  15. #15
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I am a little fuzzy about the sore thigh testing. Does she perform the test or do you self test?
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  16. #16
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I am a little fuzzy about the sore thigh testing. Does she perform the test or do you self test?
    I just tried it on my wife. Word of advice to all, don't go there.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  17. #17
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    He does not believe in base miles per se but in many ways is old school. He wants us to ride a lot and comes from a HTFU mentality. We cannot spin fast enough. His philosophy is one can always choose to spin slower but one must train to spin faster.
    There are definitely two schools on the base miles thing, with some saying go as hard as you can and still be able to complete the distance/time you have planned.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  18. #18
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    There are definitely two schools on the base miles thing, with some saying go as hard as you can and still be able to complete the distance/time you have planned.
    I have not heard of the go as hard as you can for some period of time for base mileage. Some believe that base miles should be limited to z2/z3 efforts. My guy believes that the base should be biased to more z2/z3 but should also contain some z4,z5, z6 and z7 planned efforts along with strength training.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  19. #19
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Week 2 Update

    Okay, so here is the update after my second week of 'formal training':

    A. Even though I have a custom frame, professionally fitted by the guy who helped me define the custom spec's, it became apparent I had a fit issue. I was having soreness and tightness of the posterior (left) knee. That typically means the seat is too high, but when I had the issue on the right side back when I first got the bike, I had a lengthy discussion and fit-tweaking, and the fitter didn't think I should lower the seat. I rode through it and it went away. This time, I got fitter recommendations from a friend and my coach. Coach's #1 pick wasn't responsive to email. #2 pick was the same as the friend's recommendation, and someone who has a fit-studio at a respected LBS, and all the tools, including video capture. After treating me like a lab rat and doing a complete physiological/bio-mechanical check, he lowered my seat significantly, brought it back quite a bit, raised my bars, and extended my reach with a longer stem. Totally different feel. Totally NOT what I expected him to do. Definite improvement. I did 70 miles yesterday, and while there might be a slight touch of 'tightness', it is nothing like what I had been experiencing. He also gave me some exercises and stretches to improve specific areas of tightness or weakness affecting my riding posture. And he told me many many times: "chest up!". Apparently I tend to 'slouch' on the bike.

    Good thing I'm fixing that before Coach comes to town next month.

    B. I negotiated with Coach to increase the number of times I can commute on the bike. Well, okay, actually I begged her to let me ride a little more, if I promised to be a good boy and stay in recovery mode. But Hermes, I swear I never once used the word Mistress. Commuting less has too much affect on me and the family (no car available for the teenage stepdaughter) when I don't ride to work.

    C. I realized that long base rides, staying in zones 1-3, can be very hard. I've found an area where I can go 2+ hours with no stoplights: no stopping unless I decide to. It was really hard not to "decide to". I finally found an exuse when I ran through some glass, and I stopped to wipe the tires. I've found that at about 2.5 hours, I start to really have to push myself to maintain pace. When I approach the 4 hour mark, my legs are pretty cooked.

    D. I need a new saddle. I've given my Terry Fly thousands of miles, and there is just too much perineal pressure. Getting numb is a limiting factor for me, especially on flat routes where there is no need to stand up. The great saddle search is on for me, big time. I need a bigger and/or longer cutout. I'm looking at the Selle Italia SLC, and the Adamo Podium. I have a Terry Liberator I picked up on mega-sale and have never tried, and am going to throw that on and see how it feels. I compared measurements, and the cutout goes a bit further forward; even further than the SLC. The Liberator just may be too soft. The Adamo is just plain weird, but maybe weird is what I need.

    E. At Coach's direction, I am tracking nutrition. She says it will be important later when we start analyzing results of harder training sessions, and it takes awhile to get your food library built and become used to doing the tracking. Training Peaks shows I am in a caloric deficit almost every day, and that is born out by a slight, gradual weight loss. I'm under 210# now, and think losing another 2-3 pounds may be perfect. 205 sounds good, but so does a weight that starts with a "1"!

    It was a good week, with about 8 hours of riding, all done in accordance with Coach's master plan.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    "I just finished a ride. I'm pressing an inch into my quad, and I feel no pain or soreness",
    I can press in several inches without pain, but I'm not sure its muscle.

  21. #21
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Luke, I fear we have been too late.....this one has been seduced by the Dark Side......Of The Force!

  22. #22
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Only on the Dark side can you find the full power of the force...
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  23. #23
    Senior Member pmcq's Avatar
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    I am seriously considering getting a coach and am reading your posts with great interest. How often do you work in person with her and how much is email?

    I am also trying to find a place for long base rides like you describe. Locating a long stretch of road without stoplights and that isn't headed up into the mountains (which will get me out of zones 1-3 in a quick minute) still eludes me. I'm considering one of the river trails; all of the trails have a slight decline toward the beach (which encourages me to go faster and faster) and of course, incline on the way back (which makes me tend to slow down unless I concentrate on pacing).

    Like you, I've had a bike fit and the adjustments have made a tremendous difference in my comfort - I had no idea that my femurs were longer in proportion to the rest of my legs and that was causing me to sit almost completely off the rear of my saddle. A difference in saddle post height, higher handlebars, a test saddle and shims in my shoes have me sitting taller and more centered on the bike. I've also got to get a new saddle, but haven't started the search yet. To be honest, I'm not sure how to even begin. The test saddle from the bike fitter is reasonable for 50 miles or so, but after that begins to feel like I'm sitting on a rock. I'm doing my first century ride in 7 weeks and I know I need to find something else before then.

    Looking forward to your next report!

  24. #24
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmcq View Post
    How often do you work in person with her and how much is email?
    She used to live here in the Phoenix area, but moved to SoCal; she is here every month or so giving clinics and meeting with athletes. TrainingPeaks is the communications hub for training activities. She leaves notes there, and I log an entry after each session. I also send her questions via email, and we talk on the phone at least once/week. Some of the larger coaching companies limit contact, but she encourages it. As she says "It's what I do."
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  25. #25
    Pat
    Pat is offline
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    Hmm the trials and tribulations of disciplined training. Your writing is pretty dern good AzTallRider. I enjoyed reading your post thoroughly. I am looking forward to you next report.

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