Get Ready to Move It, Move It

I’m willing to bet everyone knows the perfect song to get the fired up and ready to race.  But while you know how to get mentally fired up, you also need to know how to get physically ready to race.  Warming up is an important pre-race routine to get you ready to race and also (maybe more importantly) keep you from getting injured. 

A proper warmup should begin with some easy pedaling to help the body loosen up and get the muscles and tendons working properly – this reduces the risk of injury.  A proper warmup should also include some efforts at or above race pace so the body knows what’s coming.  Lastly, your warmup should get you ready to race without tiring you out. 

So, what’s my favorite warmup?  Without further ado, here it is:

  • 5min easy pedaling     

  • 10min endurance pace

  • 5min tempo

  • 2min easy

  • 3min threshold

  • 2min easy

  • 1min hard

  • 2min easy

  • 1min hard

  • 2min easy

This routine takes 33min and hits all of the basics.  There’s a gradual build-up in intensity, there are race paced efforts, and it’s easy enough that it won’t wear you out.  Ideally this warmup would take place on the trainer but for those of us suffering on the trainer after another winter storm rolls through, I understand if you’d rather ride on the road.

Now of course, there are some caveats to this routine.  For a long road race, a shorter warmup can sometimes be more appropriate.  Just remember you still need to ride a bit and include some mini efforts so you’re ready to go if the race starts fast (the day you don’t warmup is the day the race starts fast, it’s a scientific fact…).  If you’re racing twice in one day, this is another time you can alter the warmup.  Again, you’ll still want to do some spinning before the second race but the body will be more primed to go following the earlier race.

My last comment on warming up is maybe the most important.  End your warmup with plenty of time to get to the start of the race.  I’ve missed the start of a race, I’ve had teammates miss the start of a race, and I’ve seen folks miss the start of some of the biggest races of the season.  In my case, I missed the start of a race because I was out riding around and unable to hear the announcers providing updates on start times.  This is why I usually nudge riders to do their warmup on the trainer within earshot of the announcer.  It doesn’t matter if you’re ready to race if you miss the race… Thanks for reading!

Good Company

There’s a quote that I recently saw online which says, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  Now I don’t know how they got to that exact number, but the people you surround yourself with does have a significant impact.  The people you surround yourself with can be your support group, your motivators, and can even contribute new ideas for how you can further improve yourself. 

Team camps are underway for a lot of (lucky) riders.  These team camps are the perfect example of the power of surrounding yourself with the right people.  Most folks probably think team camps are beneficial for all the training that takes place.  However, one of the most beneficial parts of team camp is actually the focused training environment.  Outside distractions are reduced and everyone is focused only on improving performance.  This allows for better fitness gains and for sky rocketing motivation for the upcoming season. When everyone around you is pushing to be their best, it’s not hard for you to do the same. 

Who you surround yourself with is also important as you begin to plan race trips.  I’m sure we’ve all been to cycling events with someone who maybe wasn’t the most enjoyable person to be around.  A certain level of distraction is great for keeping the nerves in check, but unnecessary negativity or unhealthy behaviors are something you don’t want to be around.  This can tank your performance before you even toe the line.  So, plan wisely with who you’ll drive with to an event and maybe even spring for that two-bedroom place so you have an opportunity to escape and reset. 

Surrounding yourself with the right people is about more than just finding folks who will help you add Watts to your threshold.  It’s also about building a support group who will help you improve your overall health and well-being.  It’s important to always be working on bettering yourself.  That may sound like a lot of work but it shouldn’t be.  Everyone can find a way to improve.  Just a few that I’m working on are trying to eat more leafy greens, reading more, and getting more sleep.  Many of these things will certainly help cycling performance but they will also help you live your best life.  Finding people with these goals outside of cycling can introduce you to new ideas and add a bit more motivation. 

Now of course you can’t always surround yourself with the best people.  But in those cases, you can lead by example.  Become the positive support person for the group.  Don’t let a poor race result get everyone down.  Take a bit of time to be upset but then move on.  Get everyone motivated for the next event.  You can also be healthy and take care of yourself.  And who knows, maybe the next time you’re together with this group, they may have become a positive influence. 

Self-motivation can only take you so far.  Surrounding yourself with the right people can make a big difference in achieving your cycling or overall health goals.  However, I don’t think that necessarily means you need to change who the five people are that you spend the most time with.  Just be sure you’re not completely surrounded by bad company…  Thanks for reading!

The Workout: 5x5 Varied

It’s February! Super bowl is done. For a lot of our road racers it is starting to feel like racing season is just around the corner. As far as training goes, that means that maybe the base is starting to get pretty robust, athletes are getting strong, but now it’s the time we have been waiting for - time to start getting into a bit of that higher intensity and really add some FAST to that strong. Now, one could go on for quite awhile as to debating the ideologies behind how much intensity should be incorporated, what form the intensity should take, how it should change for different races, and on and on. I am certainly a proponent of doing intensity that is specific to certain races, but before doing workouts that are nitty gritty in the specifics of a course I believe athletes need to start building up their “racing tool box” by getting some of the general higher intensity preparation workouts under their belt.

If all an athlete’s been doing is zone two and zone three, and hopefully some sprint work, this workout is going to be a shock to the system. But it’s a great workout because it’s a tight block of VO2 work, but with a twist of doing efforts that are constant power and “broken efforts” where the power is on and off. I like that because you get time across a few different power bands. Basically, it’s both a building workout, but also a system shocker. But it’s a workout athletes can come back to a few times and see the numbers continue to improve as they get towards racing. As I have athletes first do this workout, it’s usually going to hit them a bit hard and knock them down a bit - but it’s just a real shock to the system, and helps jumpstart the legs before jumping into more intensity. I think it’s important to focus on “getting through” this workout. Meaning to shoot for numbers that are doable and finish the workout strong means getting more work done than trying to smash the first effort but falling apart after.

So here’s the workout:

Warm up with easy Z1/Z2 riding, and eventually build into a 10min Z3 effort @ 95+ rpm (a bit of technique work, and loosen up the legs for the main efforts). Then, get into the efforts:

  • 5min in the top of Z4 (105% FTP)

  • 5x40 sec hard / 20 sec easy (don’t think about power, just focus on going hard but even across the set - important to build sense of what athlete can do, without the # prescribed)

  • 5min in mid Z5 (this one should be hard, but not max, numbers can be around 110-120% FTP)

  • 5x40 sec hard / 20 sec easy (don’t think about power, just focus on going hard but even across the set - important to build sense of what athlete can do, without the # prescribed)

  • 5min at max effort - this one is about emptying the tank on tired legs, and building the ability to nail a negative split.

It is 5x5min efforts with a twist; recover for 6min in between efforts if doing as a set.

Another twist on this ride, especially as the season builds and athletes are training for longer races is to do this set of efforts spaced through a 4 hour ride, doing the last effort in the final hour. Try it out, let us know how it goes. Good luck this racing season, and thanks for reading!

What Does 2019 Hold for Oliver Flautt?

It's 2019 officially, we've been talking about it, thinking about it, dreaming of it - now we're here. What's on tap for you with cycling in 2019?

2019 is gonna be a big change in direction for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have raced the national scene in the US for the past four years. This year I’ll be taking my talents to….Germany! I’m very excited to be racing for Team Dauner Akkon in 2019. It’s a pretty young team with some big talent. I have yet to meet my teammates as I’ll see them at team camp in February. The current team schedule has me foaming at the mouth with excitement. I’ve always loved a good boxing match in the European gutter so time to lace up!!!

How has winter training been going? How are you feeling, what have you been working on?

My winter training has been bar none so far. I’m in a great place for January and looking forward to more hard work. One thing I’ve been working on is that late race sniper move. The one that really puts the nail in the coffin for other riders. In addition to on the bike power I’m constantly trying to improve core strength and flexibility. I think anyone can ride tempo all day but it matters where you can go after doing that, especially against the best in Europe.   

Do you have a workout that is your favorite - either because you just love it, or you love it where it takes you?

I’ll take a bite of anything Nate comes up with for training. It’s hard to pick a single workout as he’s great at keeping it interesting and pushing the limits on what I feel like my potential is. If I had to pick I’d actually say the recovery day spin. Anyone can do the hard days and grit their way through a hard session but actually taking it easy and letting your body recover is sometimes over looked. The best recovery days are spent with friends on the bike and just enjoying the capability to ride a bike. Sometimes you just need some wind in the hair no matter how fast or slow you’re going.  

You've been chipping away at this cycling thing for awhile. It's been a lot of fun to follow your progress. Personally, seeing you put the hands up for a win at Intelligentsia last year was an awesome feeling. I think you've had a lot of strong rides that haven't always resulted in the result you wanted put across the line, but that you day you saw it through to completion. Can you tell us a little bit about how that day worked out, what it meant to you, and maybe what you learned from it?

Yeah! That day was pretty sweet. My year really didn’t start out as expected with getting food poisoning the night before Joe Martin Stage Race and not getting my legs back under me until the final stages of Redlands so I didn’t really have any, “runs on the board". This day in particular was super cool as I’d been asked by one of my best friends to be his best man in his upcoming wedding. First thought was, “it’d be cool if I could win this bike race thing today”. Super smooth race track outside of Chicago was the location of the race. Long story short, I made it into the break with my teammates Winston David and Ricky Randall as well as about 8ish other riders. Our lead started to get pretty large until the field simply let us go and we ended up lapping up on the final lap. The legs were pretty good that entire week so I just needed chaos to break loose to shed some other riders. My teammates worked selflessly in the break all day so I needed to, "bag one for da boyz”.  3/4 of the final lap done and some bombs were being dropped. I knew my old teammate Matthieu Jeannès was gonna hit it before the cross wind section and bam there he went. I counted 3 seconds in my head until I ripped it past the other guys in the break to make the bridge to Matt. Caught Matt, recovered then had the snap to come around him with 300 meters to go. Got a sweet photo of the post up and got a bag of Intelligentsia coffee!      

Top 3 favorite things Georgia?

Southern Food, Creature Comforts Athena, and holding doors open for others. 

Favorite place you've ridden and/or ride you've ever done?

I’ve ridden in some pretty sweet places but one place I always enjoyed because of growing up there is Decatur, GA. Not the most flash place to ride/train but if it was all about training we’d all ride on trainers! 

Top 3 favorite songs at the moment?

1)Pure Water- Skepta

2)Everything Apart- Fox Warren

3)In My City- Killer Mike, T.I. 

Favorite race you've ever done and your favorite teammate - not necessarily from that race?

Sunset loop of Redlands when it inevitably rains maybe hails. I’ve had amazing teammates and I’m too nice to just pick one. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn how to be a great teammate from them. I always try to be the best teammate I can be and it’s a tip of the hat to the great teammates I’ve had.  

Favorite sport other than cycling? What would you want to be doing if you weren't cycling?

I was a soccer NUT growing up before I got into cycling. I don’t keep track of the standings as much but I’m always up for a game of FIFA or kicking a ball around. 

You've just finished a big day of training, you can go wherever you want to eat - but it can't be Chipotle - where are you going?

I don’t know if there are many people know the hype around Publix chicken tenders sandwiches but it’s real and they’re amazing. For sure a 12 inch sub with some chocolate milk. Spicy chicken tenders if I’m feeling well, spicy. 

Open forum shout out to the homies - GO:

There are so many people to shoutout! I can’t say enough about how the crew behind Catalyst Coaching! Nate took me under his wing when I was in a transition period in my racing career. He’s kept me humble and always chomping at the bit. I distinctly remember being dropped like a bag of bricks when I first met Nate back in his racing days. It’s great to have some one in your court who’s got the knowledge and experience required to thrive in this rat race we call bike racing. The combo of Nate and Jim Peterman is killer. Jim is a Georgia boy so we connect over all things south. Jim’s got a plethora of physiological nuggets and I always tried to pick his brain about all things physiology. 

January is for Grinders.

I love telling athletes, “consistency is king”. It’s one of those easy to spout off, straight to the point, memorable, silencers. That said, I have a love/hate relationship with these one-liners. I think they package a great sentiment, and it can be hugely helpful to have a concise idea to fall back on when the going gets tough. That said, it is a sentiment – and what we’re after is action. Sentiment can leave a big gap to action, and I think some of that is on the athlete to choose what they do with it.

I am really thinking of this now as this is an interesting time of year. Race season is going to come up fast, so we’re all switching into the mind set that it’s time to get our asses in gear and go from just being active to actually training. OK, so we’re pumped, we’re going to crush it. But simultaneously it’s colder, it’s darker, and we still want to spend time with our families because once race season starts there are going to be a lot of travel weekends. So we’re trying to be more serious, but it’s also harder to do so.

I always find it a bit ironic, the way we’ve set ourselves up as cyclists – September and October are two of the nicest months all year for riding, but they’re also kind of our “off season”. Then we decide it’s time to work hard in January, when riding kind of sucks. All of that can really combine to crush the morale.

I think a lot of athletes let this become a major obstacle. They want to be doing amazing things on the bike in January to build confidence and enthusiasm for the race that feels like it is just around the corner. But then that translates to not riding at all on Sunday, because weather and time didn’t allow for them to ride for 4 hours. It’s easy to do nothing, rather than to do less, because less feels like it’s not enough. The truth though is that less is a lot, it’s a lot more than nothing. And less can be consistent – so can nothing, but consistent nothing does not progress make.

This is where “consistency is king” comes into play. January isn’t about being fast, it’s not about being cool, it’s not about doing confidence boosting workouts – it’s about being calloused, and being consistent. January is for the grinders. My advice – to myself and my athletes – is don’t focus on the outcome each day, focus on getting out each day. People don’t all realize how far a small amount of time on the bike, done every day can go – compared to nothing.

In action this idea of just prioritizing being consistent over being fast and flash and doing good numbers should translate to being pretty fluid with the planned training. Maybe a buddy comes in to town and wants to go Nordic skiing, but you’ve got a ride – well it’s simple, go Nordic skiing. It’s fun, it’s awesome aerobic load, and you’re getting a strength workout in tow. Most important of all, you got out the door. Just keep getting out the door.

Athletes that are consistent in January, may not have any great workouts in January – the numbers may suck. But if they commit to detaching from the judgement and wondering if they’re getting faster, and focus on just doing the work, I promise (well maybe, promises are dangerous!) that they’ll poke their head up in 6 weeks and be a lot faster. Once they’ve focused on consistency then they can worry about getting fast. So it’s cliché and oft repeated, but don’t put the cart before the horse.

Close it the way you open it – “consistency is king”. Thanks for reading.