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Entries For: June 2011


A busy month, July

I'll be all over the place!

July 2011, it's going to be busy.  I'm going to Adelaide with the NTID and VIS kids on the 22nd for a sprint race meeting for J17's and J19's and then staying on for a week to assist/learn/get in the way with the pre Junior Worlds camp.  The camp is three weeks long and takes the kids going to Moscow from the race meeting on the 23rd and 24th through 'til their departure to Moscow.  I've been given the opportunity to stay with them for the first week and assist Sean Eadie.  Along the way hopefully I'll get a lot of learning done.  I'm looking forward to it, but I will be away from home for a week and will miss a couple of our winter DISC sessions. 

In actual fact, I'm probably going to miss almost all the DISC sessions through July, on the 16th and 17th I'm (assuming it goes ahead) doing a whitewater rescue course.  So I will probably miss that weekend also, and this coming Sunday I can't make it either.  I've written a program that the guys can do without needing much guidance.  Nathan's going to run this Sunday, I'll work something out for the others that I can't make.  Ergo anyone?!  Nah ... I didn't think so!  Anyway, it's going to be hectic, this July.

I do have heaps of reading to do.  I believe that any good coach needs to read widely and understand a lot of "stuff", so one of my current reads is a textbook on exercise physiology.  Things are going well in the 'Haus, I lifted an equal PB deadlift yesterday (and can feel it today .. stairs .. urgh!), power's been down a bit on the bike for the last couple of sessions, but I think that'll come good soon. the other sprint squad people and assorted ring ins are all lifting well and their numbers are getting better on the track too.  It's all good!

Oh, and we now have aboc Sprint Squad ploarfleece beanies.  Perfect to keep your bonce warm at DISC or spin this winter.  All the cool kids have one .. aboc sprint squad beanie

$20 and you can have one too!



Watts, that is ...

Tonight was the second of the Blackburn "aboc" (but not run by us) sprint nights over winter.  It was a bit of a messy night, some things took far too long to happen (we sat around for ages after the first race before we did the team sprint).  But .. I was pleasantly suprised by my peak power, I hit 1400 watts for the first time in a long time, which is promising.  I raced ok, in the two races I had against live oposition, Caitlin "the flicker" Ward was too fast (and a little too hard to pass!) for me and in the B grade keirin final I was baked and pulled out after 2 laps, no legs left at all. I was reasonably happy with how I went, considering the recovery from my injury, I'm not unhappy with my progress.  Yesterday in the 'Haus I squatted (singles) 150kg and deadlifted 175kg (again, just a single rep) and the deadlift was a struggle but I got it without too much rounding, but the squat was easy.  The deadlift isn't that far off my previous PB (185kg for a double), the squat is still way down, but it's getting there slowly.  Don't rush it ... the summer sprint series is still months away.... I did have to race in front of most of the VIS and NTID kids we coach, I think they got a laugh out of watching an old, slow, talentless bloke, it was all in good humour and I think most of them had fun.

The series needs work to make it run better, but as Richard Stringer and I discussed afterwards, we'll chip away at it until it works.  Tonight we got to nominate our team sprint teams which was an improvement, little steps ...




Thank you Claire

Claire Campbell is contributing to Spin programming

Those of you that come to our ergo sessions on Tuesday and who are doing the enduro streams will have been shouted at by Claire over the last couple of weeks.  Claire's doing her level 1 strength & conditioning qualification and I've been mentoring her through it.  As part of giving her more responsibility she's now designing the enduro program as well as running it.  You can see this coming week's session here.  It looks good, Claire, I'm sure the guys will enjoy the suffering!

J17 to J19 - ouch

It's a really big step ...

For those of you who don't know, here in Australia juniors are limited in the gears that they can use. Under 15s are restricted to no greater than 6 meters of rollout (~76") and under 17s to 6.5m (~82").  Under 19's are, to all intents, unrestricted.

This is not a rule without its detractors.  It is my understanding that the rule is designed for a couple of reasons - firstly, to protect the kids from hurting their knees and secondly to level the playing field to encourage and support participation.  It may also be designed to teach the kids to spin high revs (how else can you go fast on a little gear?!).

There are some consequences of this rule which I think (and I am not alone here, it was discussed at a recent sprint coaching forum at the Junior Aussies and my voice was not the only one) are inhibiting the development of some potential elite athletes.

The rule as it stands means that J15 and J17 sprinters have to be able to rev to very high cadences - we're talking in excess of 160rpm for the boys, for the girls it's around 150rpm to be competitive nationally.  In elite level senior competition, that is not a requirement and stronger guys who can push bigger gears prosper with peak cadences nowdays around 145-150rpm for the men.  But the rule discriminates against the stronger kids in favour of the super-spinners.  The stronger kids can create greater force (torque) and potentially greater power, but if they're limited by cadence they don't get to benefit from this strength as much as they should be able to.  We don't handicap the big kids in athletics, football or any other sport. We don't tell the big kids in football that they're not allowed to jump higher than the littler kids to win the ball or tell them not to kick a goal from 45 metres out because that's not fair to the littler kids who can't do it yet.

The super-spinners then, at the end of J17's (and the bleed through of this into J19's) run into the stronger riders and it's a big shock.  This is when we lose a lot of them.  There's other things going on too at that age, school gets harder, alcohol, cars, relationships and so on become bigger deals, but I suspect that the transition to the open playing field from the shelter of the J17 and below gearing rule is brutally hard and breaks the spirit of the super-spinners, who may have already broken the spirit of the stronger and heavier kids who may well be better in unrestricted competition but got sick of being beaten by the kids who the rules favour when they were younger. This ultimatly doesn't help the super-spinners either because they're playing on a field that's made to suit them, but it's going to change when they get older and they may be so addicted to winning by revving that they can't cope emotionally when it's time to play with the big kids, especially if they're convinced through their own limited experience that all they need is revs and they'll win everything.

So if this is a problem, what should we do about it?  I don't buy into the "save their knees" issue - I'm yet to see any evidence in support of it.  We overgear the kids all the time in training and I've never seen a problem.  Even on big gears the peak torque the kids can put out is no-where near what they'd do on the school playground jumping on a football field or doing gymnastics or anything else we think nothing of all the time.  Assuming that's the case, I think the rule should change.  I think J17's, at least, should be allowed to ride bigger gears.  Because you can ride a bigger gear doesn't mean you have to, and I know at least one junior who is so amazingly quick on tiny gears that they would not go up a gear even if they had the choice. It would be a rider's choice to use a bigger gear and a smart rider wouild choose the gear that worked best for them, just like they get to do in J19's and above.  The transition to J19 would be less harsh for those who were thinking ahead to it, especially the girls, who need to get strong early because otherwise it's very hard for them to get strength later in life.




Count your strokes

Less pedal strokes = faster races

Back in the old days of sprinting, everyone rode tiny gears and span like the clappers.  It's reported that Gary Neiwand rode 92" at the Sydney Olympics (old days? That's only 11 years ago!).  Rev rev rev, that's what the coaches of the time drummed into everyone who was sprinting.  But now, everyone's (the ones who are winning, anyway) pushing bigger gears.  MUCH bigger gears.  I've personally seen 10.1 flying 200's ridden on gears in excess of 106" by riders far from peaking for their best performances. I've seen the 50 metre splits for their efforts.  The guys recording the fastest times are not necessarly the ones with the quickest individual splits (although they can be!) - but their drop off in the last 50 metres is less.  This is partially a pacing strategy - watch a modern flying 200 and you'll see the jump happening later than you'd expect, and partially a result of using bigger gears.

Big gears mean more strength is required to get going in the first place, but also, less fatigue per meter ridden.  The flying 200, for example, is a speed-endurance event that has a maximal exertion time of around 14-16 seconds from the kick to the finish line.  According to a recent study[1] fatigue is brought about by the number of maximal contractions, not so much the speed of them.  If you can use less pedal strokes to cover a set distance by making the gear bigger, you will fatigue less PER METER and thus, probably have a greater average speed over the distance.  You need the torque to accelerate that big gear though, which is why riders like Shane Perkins, Chris Hoy and Anna Meares have huge legs and backsides and like to lift heavy things in the gym.  This applies to sprinters, not enduros.  Lance was superb at 120rpm spinning away up hills winning the Tour, but we're talking about short term sprint efforts where, literraly, every fraction of a second counts and we're not running aerobically.  Different animals ...

So, mash big gears with pride, but make sure you're strong enough to get them going in the first place!

I wrote more on this in the book :



[1] Fatigue during Maximal Sprint Cycling: Unique Role of Cumulative Contraction Cycles, ALEKSANDAR TOMAS, EMMA Z. ROSS, and JAMES C. MARTIN, MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE 2009


Reps! How many?

We default to 5's when we start

Here's why :

rep continuum  That's one of my favorite charts.  It tells us much about adaptation as a function of intensity.

Lift heavy, get strong ... Repeat!

Keeping warm

Riding around in circles gets pretty cold

It's proving to be a cold winter, and riding around in circles on the motorbike at DISC is .. pretty chilly.  It's been around 10 degrees or so in there for the last couple of sessions, and after a few laps, one starts to shiver somewhat!

So, how do we keep warm?  I have a few layers on, but one nifty thing I got recently is a kayaking neoprene skullcap.  Yep, a rubber hat (insert gimp joke here now).  One of these, nifty!


Seriously fast

DISC, motorbike ...

I've been working on going faster (oh, really?) - not just on the pushbike, which my untalented body will resist as much as it can, but also on the motorbike.  At DISC, to motorpace the really fast guys, I have to be able to ride the bank at around 80km/h.  That's bloody quick.  It takes a lot of 'turn off your fear' to do it.  Anyway ... Under Hilton's tutilage I'm slowly becoming a reasonable motorpace rider - far from perfect (Hilts is THE master of this art ...) but I have a few thousand kilometers logged riding around that track now and am getting to be ok at it. I can even ride the bank at 70km/h looking backwards now.  That's taken some time to get comfortable doing.  I don't like doing it in the lane or close to the rail yet, but above the lane I'm fine with it now.

But .. to go really fast ..

The motorbike is speed limited by basic physics.  Gravity, friction and centripetal force. Centripetal force increases to the square of velocity - ie: increases in speed means much more friction to stop the bike slipping up the bank, the faster you go, the more it tries to fly up and over the fence.  The banks at DISC are 42 degrees steep, slower than around 30km/h and the motorbike slips down, faster than around 90 (I guess) it will slip up (I haven't tested this yet).  Unless the tyres hit the painted lines, in which case there's a lot less friction and it slips, which is quite un-nerving but so far, hasn't resulted in a crash.  You get used to it when crossing the lines at speed. It's just a little wobble ... And after the first few times and realising it doesn't mean a crash, it's ok!

So .. to go really fast ..

The speedo reads fast, 80km/h indicated is really about 75km/h.  Riding the motorbike down in the sprinters lane at indicated 80 is a bit spooky, it's a reasonably tight radius and feels "iffy", but is doable, even in winter, once I've warmed up the tyres. I used to be a bit scared at 60km/h .. heh .. 60?  That's creeping!  It's a lot easier to go that fast just below the blue line, so that's what I was trying yesterday between efforts with the NTID/VIS guys.  I saw close to 90km/h on the speedo (estimated that's around 85km/h actual) when I felt the left hand footpeg touch the boards.  Ok, that's as quick as we're going! To go any quicker than than I'll have to hang off the side of the bike.  Erm ...

So .. I went pretty quick ..

And that's today's blog entry.  Sometimes I reckon I have the best job in the world, riding a motorbike in circles at an indoor velodrome at stupidly quick speeds is ace fun.




Gimme stuff!

Filed Under:

Really! Not for me .. for the series ..

I'm starting to ask around for sponsors for the 2011-2012 Summer Sprint Series.  Andrew Steele from Avanti Plus Croydon is onboard as a minor sponsor this coming season, but we'll need a major prize.

Also, I'm considering a minor rule change - We have J17's as junior invitees, in the past they have been ineligeable for the series aggregate and I'm thinking of changing this so they are able to win it.  This will, as well as give them a chance to win a big prize, simplify the aggregate points calculations.  In the past if a JI rider got aggregate points I "slipped" them out of the results and moved everyone below them up - so for example if Emily won C grade and a senior got second, the senior was credited with points for the win (10) instead of second (7) and so on.  In hindsight I think that was wrong and it will be better to just have the JI's able to win, if they can. 

So, who wants a JI entry?

You know what to do if you do ...




Chris Hoy loves ... squats

High bar, but no-one's perfect!

Here's Sir Chris Hoy, talking about his favorite gym lift, the squat.  He's doing high bar, where we do low-bar in the 'Haus, but we'll let him get away with it this time .. If youtube is being consistent, the girl he's talking to is picking her nose in the sample shot below, heh!


Here's a diagram showing the different squat variants, stolen from Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Ed.

squat variants

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