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Real Race Training – #TopTipTuesday

Making the most of Time on the Race Bike – Real Race Training

Training I say? Squats you think? The tide is again turning slowly, but it seems for many involved in racing bicycles, at any level or discipline, when we speak about training, most people’s minds think about the “physical”. Intervals, sprints, strength training, “Vo2” and “cardio”. The specific race training, that “big bang for your buck” on your bike training comes a poor second best. In reality working on areas of weakness and specificity; aiming to arrive in any start-gate truly ready to attack any race course should make up not the majority but none the less a well organised portion of your training time. Especially if race progression is your goal. Here are some top-tips you can apply to your real deal on the bike training as all to often if you search our training advice all you’ll find is FTP, zones, barbells and box jumps.

 

1 – Set a Goal: just like going to the gym to work on maximal strength where you will try to lift the heaviest weight possible for four sets of three repetitions, having a goal for your on the bike training is critical. It sets the tone for the whole session and allows you to organise the details. This can be anything from braking points or visualisation pre-run, to bigger picture work like managing intensity over full runs or hitting top gear after only limited practice run/s. A goal should be individual to your needs but it must be defined both for the session planned and placed within the picture of your overall plan. Short range goals in the context of big product goals. More here from the Harvard Business Review.

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2 – Define Your Process: A goal is only achievable with a process to get there – take that first example of working on ‘braking points’. Without a process that goal stays pretty abstract. Aim to define what features that require braking you are truly struggling with, define if you need to brake more, harder, less or more consistently. Define two to three spots on a track where the consequences of good/bad braking points will be evident. Try different braking strategies and then try to time a section that allows you to learn from different braking approaches. Consequences & knowledge of results are a must. We deployed many of these ideas with Thomas Estaque & Hugo Frixtalon HERE

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3 – Focus: staying focused on the task at hand and your goals is a challenge as riding bikes is FUN! This however is also a  key area that many riders, even the best, struggle with at the races. Staying focused on the job of building a race run. You can try many things to improve focus during training. Key words – like “focus on” and then imagine yourself hitting a light switch. OR try riding a fun track between your focused race training runs. Nutrition can help too – planned lunch time, high carbohydrate snacks between runs and stimulants like caffeine could help.

 

4- Own your Mistakes: The best race training is training that is challenging enough that you make errors often. Mistakes are normal and are a great opportunity to learn. Instead of getting angry or upset about an error, own up to it, learn from it and take the opportunity it provides to grow. A mistake, from being a little off line to a huge crash is the outcome of many choices. So dissect and investigate where the mistake came from, see if you can change it short or long term and then move on. Move on happy in the knowledge that you’ve learned and grown as a racer because of it.

 

5 – Rest & Reflect: Rest between runs, especially timed or full runs can be an area often overlooked. Riders want maximum bike time, fun time or feel more is better, when in reality, better is better! Learning (whether emotional or motor skills) requires time for adaptation to occur. Short term and long term. Acute fatigue can be beneficial at times to help teach a rider how to adapt movement and technique for a tired body, but often the best  training happens with a minimal level of freshness and readiness. Likewise this rest time between runs allows the rider time to reflect on lessons learned and experiences gained in the session. Resting for minutes, not seconds between runs can allow you to adjust your goal and processes and make sure you are doing what’s needed to meet the goal set out at the start of the session as well as mitigate the risk of injury.

5 tips Race Training Copy

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Prospective Control of Action

This is a re-post from the Point1 Facebook page; because frankly Facebook is a horrible medium for longer, dribbling narrative! Enjoy.

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So, to carry on from Friday’s yip-yap on Posture and Technique…

One of the relationships (some were trade-offs) listed was

Pre-Reaction~Reaction

The first term above being a misnomer – deliberate at the time. The correct term in fact would be, I think,

Prospective. Prospective control.

And as is becoming very clear in my own development as a coach, the relationship of qualities, traits and sub-systems within the athlete (rider) is of utmost importance, this must be respected & understood.

Relational thinking TRUMPS categorical thinking….always. When we speak about performance improvement at least.

[tweetthis]Relational thinking TRUMPS categorical thinking….always[/tweetthis]

“Prospective control refers to the means by which actors (read: rider in our case) adapt behaviour in advance to the constraints and behavioral opportunities afforded in/by the environment” ~ Fajen, Riley, Turvey; 2009

Prospective control is thus ESSENTIAL for the emergence of skilled actions. Without it all you would do is react to what the trail/race-track is giving you. But as we all know, reaction is after the fact, it is, no matter how “fast” too late. Too late for you the rider to successfully navigate each distinct section of trail in such a way as too link up distinct sections into fast, flowing, effective riding.

So when you see your favourite, rider, athlete or celebrity carry out some reactive “eye-hand” co-ordination drill in the gym, remember that reaction is too slow; and regardless most of the “reactions” we make, when riding an MTB well, are somatic reflexes, not reactions…and once that gym “drill” is learned then it would be the prospective control of posture, position that would allow for faster “reaction” to emerge. So again, full circle, relational thinking; reaction to a stimulus is much faster with better prospective control!

Greg Williamson performs at the UCI DH World Tour in Leogang on June 12, 2016

So in the immediate term what does this mean for you if the whole notion of prospective control is new too you?

– Posture = Prizes; the whole reason the “attack-position” bares so many hallmarks and similarities (attractors if you know Dynamical Systems) among good riders is. That that position/posture allows for joint angles, muscle length~tension relationships, peripheral nervous system function, afferent control & force production to operate within an optimal bandwidth to deliver the required technique on trail in the fastest way possible. Prospective control of posture given the trail affordances means “skill” emerges to perfectly match speed. This in essence is “trail efficiency”!

[tweetthis]Posture = Prizes[/tweetthis]

So what can we do to improve our potential to always display usable posture regardless of the trail demands? A shortlist only below….

1. Cultivate & Maintain adequate control, mobility, proprioception, strength and stability through all joints and movement patterns.

2. Develop adequate and ever evolving strength of your “hip hinge”; both eccentric and concentric muscle action, with a stable spine achieved through excellent function of all torso musculature from hip to shoulder (and likely more)!

3. Identify “rate-limiters” to postural maintenance and re-setting. These could be anything from foundational physiological qualities like aerobic metabolism to very specific characteristic qualities like your interaction with a particular size bike, with a certain tyre pressure on certain gradient of terrain!

4. Given the minute detail of the last point above it becomes clear that developing, year on year, season on season, a large physical/physiological buffer of foundational qualities that support good posture on trail will reduce the likely hood of poor mechanics or characteristic rate limiters cropping up under duress/fatigue or emotionally demanding situations.

5. True sport form and improvement in Prime Postures can only be viewed, refined, quantified and understood if enough training takes place in the environments you race in...so that means shredding your bike like fuck in the mountains, up the mountains, down the mountains etc… sounds like fun!

To wrap up a quite abstract post; prospective posture allows for prospective position on trail and that allows for fast, smooth, efficient technique application on trail; which will look to the observer like skill. This is basically all we want as a rider – as skillful navigation of long sections of trail reward us with a sensory and neuro-endocrine response that trumps many experiences in life.

Do this often enough and you get that “flow” feeling…and that leads to intrinsic motivation to shred, removing the space for strange extrinsic motivators like health, weight-loss or victory and in there you find endless drive to improve and a near total lack of anxiety.

So as I said above – relationships of qualities; not categories of qualities please!

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Quick Fire 5 – Scotty Laughland

Our second round of quick fire 5 questions is with another Scot, Scotty Laughland. One of the newest athletes on the Point1 roster of weapons; he’s just come off his best ever EWS result (33rd) at Tweedlove.
Mature in word,  fresh in the face, downhiller turned Enduro shredder Scotty Laughland has, at 25 years young, bags of experience on a push bike, an undergraduate degree in Engineering and some serious coconut sugar based baking skills!
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© – Claus Wachsmann
1) Favourite meal after a tough day of training gainzzz
Quick and easy soy sauce stir-fry with chicken or beef, rice and veg
2) The training sessions you are most and least happy to see on the weekly plan?
Most: 4 hour epic enduro session
Least: none – It’all about the gainzzz and process
3) Favourite race track/s? 
Finale. Nevados de Chilean and Peebles
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© – Claus Wachsmann
4) Number 1 interest away from the world of bike riding and racing?
Travel and exploration
5) Happiest when…….?
Sat at the top of a rad, loamy 1000m + descent, froth fest!!!
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© – Scotty himself!
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Point1 Pro-Bar™

Energy bar, “power-bar” (that’s a Nestlé brand..be careful now), “cereal bar” (certainly not, cereal is  mainly for horses), pro-bar, a serious slab of home-made awesome! Call it what you will these bars are made with a basic “corner-stone” recipe that can be modified as needed to up any particular macro nutrient content you want, cover on or off the bike micro-nutrient worries or just simply to taste awesome and cover your energy needs out on a big old ride!

Other than in a prolonged flat out race like XCO, a time-trial or similar I’m a big fan of covering your energy needs via small, frequent intake of solid food and an electrolyte or “light” energy based drink.

These bars cover all of the needed bases, taste, texture, energy, micro-nutrients, simplicity, portability!

Pretty easy to make, simple to adjust, hold together well, have plenty of carbohydrate from multi-transportable sources and don’t stick to tin foil making an uneatable mess in your pocket.

So here goes! Choc-Nut-Protein-Fruit-Energy-#Point1-Pro-Bar – Surely there is a catchier name than that?

 

Ingredients:

1 cup of Medjool Dates or other re-hydrated or moist fruit

1 scoop of Chocolate or Vanilla Protein Powder

1 teaspoon of Cocoa powder (if desired, depends how “dark chocolate” you want them to taste)

Half cup of Rolled Oats

Half to 3/4 cup of Apple Sauce

1 cup of frozen Raspberries

Half cup  of dried, unsweetened Coconut

5-6 tablespoons of honey

Handful of nuts of choice – I used hazelnuts only in this recipe

Texture of batter should be thick, smooth and slow running – you can add a small amount of liquid or dry ingredients to the above to achieve this texture – It all depends on your fruit “dryness” I think – But choose extra ingredients carefully – Think of Macro content!

How to:

Mix/Blitz the medjool dates with a teaspoon or two of water in a large bowl with a handheld blender – This may take a while (the dates will need to be pitted and chopped before you start)

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Add all of the wet ingredients to the Dates and mix until you get a nice runny consistency – The honey may have to be heated slightly to stop it sticking. Add in your frozen Raspberries or other frozen fruit and mix well.

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In another bowl thoroughly mix all of your dry ingredients – Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry until a nice smooth batter is achieved!

Poor this into a baking paper lined dish and place in a pre-heated oven at 170c – (I used a fab oven so adjust temperature accordingly)

 

Cook until a little crispy but not black on top – a small knife should come out clean – To get a nice texture for storage and use on the bike it’s important to use a try big enough so that the batter pours out to an even 1cm – 1.5cm  while wet in the dish. After cooking this should rise to almost 2cm and be perfect to cut into consistent but moist bars.

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The above recipe makes from 10-14 bars depending on how you cut them.

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Please feel-free to comment on how you’ve modified the recipe or even if you like the taste or have any thoughts, tips or tricks!