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Strong enough?

How strong is strong enough?

There's a lot of contention about just how strong you need to be to be a successful track sprinter.  Numbers are thrown around by various institutes, talking about twice bodyweight for squats (presumably meaning power-lifting legal, raw) as an example.

Here's my take on it.

You can't be too strong, which is to say, you can't be strong enough, but you can do too much strength training.  What does this mean?

If it's taking too much time to recover from a gym strength session, which it will once you start pushing seriously heavy weights, such that it has a negative impact on your on the bike training, you're doing too much strength training in the gym. You're probably as strong as you can be without starting to specialize in strength sports like powerlifting or strongman competitions etc.  For many of us, this happens at around two to two and a half times bodyweight for squats, or anything up to about a 250kg squat 1RM for men, for women, around 150kg.

Zatsiorsky and Kraemer, in Science and Practice of Strength Training, 2nd ed, talk about the notion of time available for force development, and use the term Explosive Strength Deficit (ESD).  This is essentially referring to how much force you can apply in a limited time.  For example, they state that a shot put athlete who can benchpress around 220kg (~110kg/arm), can only apply around 60kg of force to their throw because it happens too quickly for them to use all their available strength, and that increasing bench press past a threshold doesn't significantly increase the force able to be applied.  This is a different beast to our track sprint cycling though.  We have the luxury of being able to control, to an extent, the time we have available to apply force.  A shot put athlete, as they try to throw further, has to throw faster, reducing the time they have available.

We can put on a bigger gear, if we're strong enough to push it, to go faster and keep the time available constant, or even increase it, for a given speed.  This is why you'll see riders like Shane Perkins and Anna Meares pushing big gears, while "weaker" riders like Vicky Pendleton, Theo Boss and the like will push smaller gears, faster.  We can optimise our cadence with gear selection to take advantage of our strength, if we have it, by pushing big gears, or our explosive strength, by pushing smaller gears.


Only climb the hill once

You want to ride the best flying 200 you can?

Cut the corners! 

Read this....



Ergo programs

Formalising my ergo programs a bit

Some of you know about The Book.  I've been working on this bit lately and populating the sample ergo sessions. 


Racing tonight!

Not quite what I had in mind, but they are sprints ...

aboc, ie: me, is sponsoring this; Blackburn's running five sprint nights at DISC over "winter".  The rough program is this :

Flying 200 for grading.

1.5 lap dashes (4 riders at a time I think)

Team sprints (graded by your f200, not able to nominate your own team - this is still being 'discussed', I am not happy about not being able to nominate my own team or starting order).  These at least will be no longer than 3 laps (they originally wanted 4 laps, huh?  What 'team sprint' has 4 laps? And then expects the poor bugger that rode 4th to race again in 15 minutes?!)

1k handicap, held start, no push (The kilo is dead, no-one trains for it anymore ... why is this in the program?  To embarras sprinters?)

Scratch races for the leftovers

If there's enough time, keirins to finish.

I will only be racing the F200, team sprint (assuming an acceptable team and I'm lead rider) and the keirin, assuming the program doesn't have to be cut short because there's too much going on.  The other stuff is just silly and I'm not doing it.

Those of you who were at the last round of the SSS will know that the above is not what I planned, but since I'm not running this, it is what it is and it's better than a night of scratch, points, h'cap and/or motorpaces. It's a start.  If it's a bit successful, we can lobby to make it different for later rounds or next year etc.

So that's tonight's festivities at DISC.

I've been pretty busy with the NTID squad and helping Hilton for the last few weeks, as well as coaching in the 'Haus a lot, running Spin, Sunday DISC sessions, and that's my excuse for not writing much here in May.  I have loads ot writing to do for The Book too ... lots of gaps to fill!


The Oceanias

International competition, oh my

5 days in an insulated-from-reality-bubble.  Wake up, go to velodrome (via shops) - assist Hilton, assist Sean Eadie, push riders, council riders, congratulate/commiserate riders.  12-14 hours later, go back to motel, take 3 hours to unwire enough to get some sleep, repeat ...


My first taste of real international elite competition and I'm hooked. Sprint camp was one thing, this was a step up.  In a way it was more of the same, we had a lot more support - mechanics (Ian, Gary, Tony, thank you!), to look after all the bikes, wheel changes etc, support staff to handle all the odd jobs (Josh, Emily, thankyou! you guys were great).  Hilton ran the warmups from his throne in the pits and we both looked after the riders during racing.  We had a squad of 7 core riders and a few we helped out, at some points we were over-supplied with people to help, at other times there wasn't enough of us.   We did good things, we made mistakes, we learned.  We learned and we learned ..

Our sprint guys did very well, we got some medals to bring home and everyone learned a lot.  A highlight was seeing Imogen and Taylah racing in the Keirin final with Anna Meares (and Immy's ride to qualify for it, glued to Anna's wheel!), Nathan's storming first lap in his team sprint and Jaron's jammed in the middle of a 4 wide sandwich in the J19 keirin final.  As a first year senior Nath was always going to be behind the 8 ball, but he rode well and has a good picture now of where he has to be (and he can be!).

Some talent to watch out for, a Kiwi girl, Stephanie McKenzie.  She won the J19 500m and the sprint, and her 500m start was the best 500m start I've ever seen from a girl.  Girl's don't rattle the start gate, Steph did .. Wow.  Watch for this one in the not too distant future.  Guess what her background is?  Gymnastics (explosive power and strength) and Olympic weightlifting.  Is there something in this "get the girls strong" idea after all?  Anna didn't ride the 500, but any time you get to see her racing is great, she won the sprint and the keirin in the style that we've come to expect.  She's a class above the rest at the moment.  The world cup will be interesting indeed.

I'm not going to fill this page with details, 5 days of living and working in a surreal bubble has fried my head and I'm still catching up on sleep, but suffice to say it was an amazing experience and a lot of good will come of it.  I have a tentative agreement now to be able to do over to the AIS for a couple of weeks and hold Gary West's stop watches etc (learning, learning ...) at a date to be determined and Sean Eadie and I did a little work on The Book.  Hilts and Josh (NTID manager) and I had a meeting about how my work with Hilts is going and I got some good constructive critism, there's a few things I need to really concentrate on which is good.

In the mean time, It's round 3 this coming Sunday.  Hrm, I think I've been on a track bike once since round 2?  If I'm lucky ... I don't think I'll be riding any PB's!  heh ...


Power meter book redux

Training and racing with a power meter, 2nd edition ..

I'm a book junkie, really ... Can't get enough. On the bedside table (ok, my floor...) is "Supertraining" by Mel Siff and a pile of other training books and novels etc.  My latest bit of bedtime reading is the second edition of "Training and Racing with a power meter" which arrived in the mail yesterday.  Not that it matters but this was one of the first copies published and it has the author's signatures in it.  Uhuh ... Someone else scribbled in my book!  Anyway ...

I've got two copies of the first edition (don't ask ...) and one of the second.  Hopefully I won't get another copy of it soon.  A very quick summary; this remains THE book on power training for enduros.  It's not quite totally useless for sprinters, there's a chapter that talks about track for about two pages and doesn't (in my quick scan last night) mention sprint, but there's a page or two on BMX, which is very similar to track sprint.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to read it soon and try to glean something useful from it.  Dr Dan from the VIS and I have been looking at data from some of the VIS sprinters and power is a great tool, but 95% of the book is about endurance thresholds etc which we just don't care about!

I also got another power meter today for aboc, another Powertap, it's the Pro +, and will be used by Nathan with his enduro riders.


Books - one missing, some mysteries

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This is an open call for a reply! Who dropped off "Breaking the chain?" and who has PPST:2nd ed?!

About a week or so ago I found, on the front porch of aboc HQ, four books.  One was one of mine that I'd lent out, 'Breaking the Chain' by Willie Voet, and three others that weren't mine but were very cycling-specific.  It's a mystery as I'm not sure who I lent Breaking The Chain out to so I don't know what the story is with the three others?  Am I to keep them?  Borrow them and return them?  I don't know .. If it's you?  Please let me know!

Also, I think I lent my copy of Practical Programming for Strength Training 2nd Ed out, but again, I'm sloppy with loans and can't remember who I lent it to, if you have it, can I please have it back, it's one of my main references and I'm missing it a lot!


Books for sale!

Over at the Powerhaus ...

You read right, I'm selling books now.  If you've been doing strength training with me in the 'Haus, some of this will be old-hat, but it's how we do it.  Mark Rippetoe's 'Starting Stength: Basic Barbell Training' 2nd Edition is THE book on strength training techniques for beginners to strength training and for those who've wasted years in gyms doing silly BS on isolation machines, like most of us who knew no better at the time.

I'm selling it over at the PowerHaus.

That's it for the spam in my blog ... I promise!


Cadel's book

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Rob Arnold from Ride has a book about Cadel Evans

Recently I got a copy of Anna Meares' book.  It wasn't any great masterpiece and didn't really offer much insight into her training and drive etc, but was a nice, easy read and quite enjoyable.  Today I've just noticed that there's a book about Cadel Evans that's being launched by Ride Media.  I have to disclose that I have a small link to Ride, I've written an article that appears in the October edition, and may write more in future... With that out of the way ...

It's called 'Close to flying' and you can pre-order it from here.  It's 'co-written' by Rob Arnold, which means Rob wrote it based on interviews etc with Cadel, I would expect, so it's probably going to read like a long article in Ride, which means it will be literate and entertaining.  Will it offer any insight into Cadels' antics, his personality?  I'm not the world's biggest Cadel fan by any stretch, but everyone has to admit that he's a great athlete and hopefully this is an interesting, and insightful, story.  Allan Peiper's book sets a very high standard, following in the footsteps of 'Rough Ride'.    I'll be buying a copy, it's one of those 'must have' books that every bike racing enthusiast is going to have to own. I hope it's got enough meat in it to make it worthy of the sales it's bound to get.


Anna's got a brand new .. book!

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Anna Meares has a book out

Anna Meares book coverLong time readers of my blog will know I'm a huge fan of the Meares sisters.  Now Anna has a book out on her story and you can get it from here.  She's a great champion and a superb example of an athlete overcoming a major hurdle to go on to ride brilliantly at the Beijing Olympics.   As if just getting there isn't hard enough, Anna broke her neck in 2008 and had to deal with that injury before she could get to Beijing.  My copy is in the mail and will be available to aboc people to borrow, but buy it yourself and support one of the countries greatest cyclists.


Goals for next summer

What to aim for?

I got what I wanted out of summer 2008-2009 on the bike.  I got my flying 200 down below my initial goal (13.5 outdoors) way back in November (round 2 of the sprint series), revised the goal to a 13.2 outdoors, and surprised myself with a 12.916 at DISC on the weekend, which tops the 13.2 outdoors.  So, mission accomplished with interest.

What to do for next summer?  I have a few years left as a MMAS2 rider, so I think the Vic masters sprints are something I'd like to at least make the semi finals of.  To have done that this year I'd have needed to have ridden a 12.5 to get into the top 8.  Possible?  Can I find half a second in a year?  That would also have me riding in the A grade group at the sprint series.  I don't think that's too far out, or too easy.  So for 2009-2010 my main goal is a sub 13s flying 200 outdoors and a 12.5s flying 200 indoors.  I'd also like to squat 5 x 5 at 180kg and get my cleans up to 100kg.

I'd like to get my standing starts quicker so I can be a better asset for the Blackburn masters team sprint as well.  I have no interest in kilos or 750m ITTs for now.  As much as I admire the kilo champions, it's an event that sucks to do.  It's too long to be a sprint (1 minute+ is too much for anaerobic systems) and too short and fast to be an enduro race. It takes a special breed of psycopath to ride the kilo well and I'm not one of them.

I'd also like to keep the aboc website at the top of the google search results for cycle coaching in Australia, so will need to keep on writing articles and hopefully entertaining you all with my writing.  Suggestions for articles and content are much appreciated, please send them on through.  Along the way there's plans to write a book on sprint training for cyclists (yes, I'll be picking the brains of the best around here to do it) and also a guide to bike fit that dispels some of the myths (like KOPS, Lemond methods etc) that will be the product of the experience I've gained fitting hundreds of people at the LBS over the last few years. I'm going to improve the facilities in the PowerHaus (better lighting, more space etc) too.

What else?  Continue to work with the Foxy Ox and to build up aboc as a coaching resource, run more camps up at Hotham, break even on our winter DISC sessions, find a few seconds in Em's legs so she can shine at the Aussies next March and keep on having fun coaching and racing.  To keep on riding with friends as much as I can squeeze in and get my kayak roll working again.  Look at maybe doing a level 2 AS&C or Cycle coaching course if time and budget permit.

Of course, this season isn't over.  Round 6 is in two weeks.  Bring it on!



Squats for christmas

More weight, more strength, time for power soon

I managed 5 x 5 @ 157.5kg squats on the 26th of Dec, which was good. They're getting really hard towards the end of the work sets.  I'm going to do one more set of 5 x 5 at that weight before moving up to 160kg.  I extimate my 1RM to be around 180kg at the moment based on doing sets of 5 and using tables from Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.


According to Mark Rippetoe's charts in PPfST, at my weight, 108kg (237 lb) for the squat, 396 lb (180kg) makes me a very strong 'intermediate' lifter, close to 'advanced', so I suspect at least in terms of squats, I'm now strong enough, and need to start to really focus on power and leg speed, which means standing starts, rolling jumps and lots of motorpaced high speed work. My cleans are pretty feeble and my technique is terrible at them, I may need to shift focus onto them in the 'haus too, and get some guidance with them from Anthony Dove at the Mermet early next year.

My shoulder's improved, I did a couple of k in the pool yesterday with no discomfort, including some sprint work, so that's a good sign.

We're going to be heading off to Mt Sterling for new years with mountainbikes for fun and to check out the rumours of some new XC mtb trails. After that, it's only a month 'til round 4 of the BSSS and it'll be more training on the bike than in the gym, I'll probably drop back to 2 days a week in the Powerhaus and more cadence and acceleration work on the bike at the track.   Dino's setting himself some new goals and I have to do the same, I've done one of my season goals, which was a sub 13.5s flying 200 at Blackburn.  I'd like to be able to ride a 13.2 there and sub 13 at DISC by the end of the season, in time for the Blackburn club champs.  I'd like to win a few more (so far, only one!) rounds of the sprint series, I qualify well but haven't been successful much in actual match sprints, which is a bit disapointing, but it'll come with more speed I expect.

Everyone else is coming along very well, Em and Krissy are getting stronger in the powerhaus and it's showing with their track times. Dino's flying, Nath's off at the xmas carnivals doing wheelraces etc.


Heroes, Villians & Velodromes

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Another book to read!

After reading "Bad Blood", which was a pretty lame and dull book, with about as much substance as a can of flat coke, I'm looking forward to reading the latest addition to the aboc library, "Heroes, Villains & Velodromes", which is about Chris Hoy and the British track cycling revolution.  Could be a few late nights until it's digested.




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A new book in the aboc library

It was mum's birthday yesterday, and I usually get her a book, by convenience, the same book each year, she's a fan of James Halliday's wine review, which is an annual release. I'd get her something requiring a little more imagination, but this is what she wants .. According to the book they taste 5700-odd wines.  Think about it ... that's 15.6 wines a day every day of the year.  Even if Halliday farms out 50% of the tasting to an assistant that's still 8 wines a day every day - that's only tasting, not drinking, but it trips my skeptical senses as to the reliability of the process. We know that it's not done every day, he has to have days off, holidays etc .. how it's done and he keeps a clear head and palate?

But this is a cycling blog, not one for winers.

I took the Truck (Trek 7.2 FX) in to the local megaplex (Forrest Hill Chase) - something about these places leaves a distinctly unpleasant taste in my mouth - is it the listless, bored vandals skateboarding around the carpark looking for things to break, paint or steal or the slobs lazing away the day in the eatery stuffing their faces with festering junk food?  Or just the general desperation of the people in the place trying forlornly to placate themselves by buying worthless junk and trinkets? Mallrats isn't a pinch on the reality of suburban shopping complexes. Mallrats is funny. Megaplexes are the pits. At least people addicted to the weekend credit card binge in at Bunnings are likely to be doing something constructive with the stuff they buy.

They do have a bookshop there, thus the journey - I found the book for mum, and had a quick glance at the sporting book section - under the usual bios of yesterday's local football stars there's a couple of cycling books - interestingly not just the usual Lance Armstrong bios, there's also Racing Tactics for Cyclists (if you don't have this, you should have it, it's the best book I've found on the subject of bike racing tactics), and Bad Blood. I already have RTfC, but Bad Blood is new.  I'll have that!


On the way out and no-one had stolen the Truck! Quick .. ride home!

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