Saturday, April 16, 2022

How are we to View Elite Athletes with Regards to Training and Racing

I needed to get back to writing so to start this off I want to deal with an issue I see often put forth and that is taking the training done by elite athletes and applying it to the rest of us.  When I say the rest of us I mean from the beginner to the more advanced athlete who does not, for the most part, make a living from the sport they participate in.  But just so you know where I come from since some may not read to the end – I am not anti-learn from elites, not anti-science and not anti-technology.  What I am I one that wants people to understand who they are so they correctly apply experience, science and other aspects of training to themselves and not blindly do what is often put forth as “The Way.”

 Another subject I will cover in more depth at a later time is fat adaption (OFM) but I mention it here as there is a cross over with elite athlete training – specifically endurance elite athletes.   Often the argument those in a carb-centric world use to denigrate fat adaption is to point to the success of elite endurance athletes who most often rely heavily on carbs, it is the paradigm that has been around for some time, as a fuel source for events and consume large quantities of carbs on a daily basis.  First, one needs to realize simply because an athlete is “elite” it does not mean they are healthy – in fact many are on the verge of sickness, or susceptible to sickness, as they push the envelope and diet can greatly attribute to this issue. 

 Then is the need to realize that simply because an athlete performs well on a carb-centric diet does not mean they could not benefit, health and performance wise, from being fat adapted but for many elite athletes it is not feasible to transition since it does take time, even though there are ways to transition that can minimize issues during transition, as most cannot afford the needed time to do this as sponsorship relies on results and the risk of less than optimum results is not acceptable to most.  In this mix is to also realize many elite athletes have nutrition sponsors who are carb focused and to move from them would mean the loss of monetary and other support.

 Let me add here that I often see, as an argument for high carb as best, is to speak of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners who have a high, actually very high, carbohydrate diet.  Two things here, first is that many Kenyans just based on lifestyle do a form of fasted workouts as they often run early before eating and thus while maybe not optimal do work on fat adaption to some extent.  But, secondly, and most importantly, is to realize this is simply how they eat as they eat what is available and then add to this their general lifestyle you get a picture of people who look much different from the people who are seeking to do as the Kenyans.  Most simply see carbs as carbs but they eat different than most and add in a lifestyle that is more spartan and active you see a different picture of which most will not copy.  This is a case of a people who do well functioning on the diet they have available and to take that diet as is usually will not end well.  I have actually seen where many Africans that come to the US and begin to eat s we do end up not doing well as the foods they eat do not function as those they ate at home – carbs are not all equal.

 Next is to realize many elites hold their protocols tight to the chest – at least their coaches do – and you cannot believe all you hear.  Not that they are lying but that the whole picture may not be seen or shared.  I remember back when I ran in college the stories of how many miles people ran was all over the place as some spoke of high milage that led to their success while others of how little they ran.  Often the high milage guys did not share how fast they ran as much was done slower and those that ran less often left out such things as warmup and cool down and focused on the main workout.  All this to say what you hear is not always exactly what takes place.

 Let me say that we can indeed learn from elite athletes, and should, but to emulate them without a good deal of discernment that takes into account your differences to them is a different matter.  This is akin to car companies using, say, F1 as a testing ground for car technology and design.  These car companies do not simply copy over the technology from F1, or other racing, but adapt and modify it to meet the needs of the everyday driver.  This is how we should view the elites and learn from them – take principles and adapt them in a reasonable and responsible manner.  What the elite athlete does should not be used by coaches as a blanket support for what they teach.  I have always liked the Lydiard method, and am a certified coach, as taught since it uses his principles but applies them in a one on one basis to the individual.

 The other issue, and truly the main one I have already mentioned, is that we are all different and while there are indeed principles that may cover most people we have to factor in our differences as we are, again, in the end an experiment of n=1.  Matter of fact this is even true of elites since they should not blindly copy other elites who have had some success but need to realize their uniqueness and adapt principles just like the rest of us do.  Now they, elites, may have more they can adapt from one another but they still need to use great care in how they utilize what they learn from others. This adapting does take work as it is much easier to see what one person does and copy it but that in most cases will end badly or at best not help one achieve the best results.  What we need to do is make sure we do not just gloss over the training and generalize it but look at the person, their environment, background, history., health and much more.  This is what we should do in any study as we need to see not only how one ticks but what makes them tick and keeps them ticking.  From this we will get some principles of their training but then even that needs to be looked at more closely.  

 Another thing to think about is that simply because an athlete does well you should ask could they do better.  I once heard, and this is not a comment on veganism, a vegan actually ask the question of themselves as to whether if they changed their diet they would be better and they gave an honest answer as they said something like “maybe so” but they saw the philosophy behind veganism more important than performance – kudos to that answer.  I share this as far too often blindly following what others who get the publicity do without asking serious questions so as to make the correct choices is most often not the best decision.

I mentioned this before but before you decide to emulate an elite you feel you need to emulate please realize that elite athletes are often on the edge, if not over it, of not being healthy.  Simply because a particular rider or runner does not well does not mean it is sustainable and certainly for the non-elite it most often is not.  It is interesting how many really good athletes I have known over my 47+ years running and 40+ years riding that no longer run or ride.  Sure there are some that do but a large number do not.  Often this is simply due to the fact the elite lifestyle with regards to diet and training takes one to the edge and going over that edge a number of times takes its toll.  I know that while I was never elite I did ride and run with a lot of people who were and at least with running I paid the price with injuries, some that I still have.  Thankfully I saw this coming and took up riding which I credit for saving my body so I could run and ride for the long term.

 Let me leave this with you from one who is still at it into his mid 60’s – I will be 63 this year – a long term focus is much better than a short term one for most of us.  Sure if you are elite and willing to push the envelope as your profession that is a decision you need to make.  However for most of us we simply need to take a long term look at life.  Spend more time learning how “YOUR” body works and how others like you function and work to better your self.  Learn principles from the elite athletes you follow but be honest and see how you are different.  Not to minimize yourself in comparison but in truth in the end maximize your potential.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Solvang Double Century Report

This past weekend I did my longest ride to data - distance and time - in doing the Solvang Double Century, well actually it needed up being 195 miles.  I went into this having done a number of 100 plus mile rides and doing Steamboat Gravel (142 miles/9,5 hours) last year.  The ride in Solvang ended up being 10:56 moving time, last miles - including descents - in the dark with lights, but with all the flats our group got - 2 for me - and aid station stops the actual time we were out there was 13: 28 - so a long day.

Here is the Strava Info:

Relive 'Solvang “Almost” Double Century'

To add to this the last half was quite wet and I even got probably close to hyperthermic as got a flat in the last 15 miles or so going up hill and with being wet and sweating on the descent I really started to shake.  Thankfully there was a climb ahead - yes I said thankfully - as it allowed me to warmup up and there was only one other faster descent I got cold on to the point of shaking but just finished up cold and wet and in the dark - why I did not go back out and do an extra 5 miles which now, and I knew I would think this - should have done to get the actual 200 miles.  But is was the design made on the spot.

For this ride I had talked to Peter about using more carbs as all my training rides have been very very low fueled as use them for working on my fat adaptation / metabolic capacity but for this, as was longer, and with a group that would probably make at least the start faster I wanted to take in more carbs along the way to keep good supply of energy.  Also the way the course was it was more front and back loaded with climbing and as my bike is an 89” Medici Strada with old school gearing (53X39 Frt and 12-24 & speed rear) climbing was not a simple spin up the hill.  I wanted to make sure I had good energy to climb in the gearing I had ALL day and not just at the start.  Have to say I was happy with how the climbing went as did not use the 24 but went no smaller than the 21 to save my 24 for a bailout gear but did not use it.

The plan was to do my usual pre-ride fueling of a modified BP Coffee (Coffee, Butter, Coconut Oil, 85% Chocolate Square, Egg, Collagen & Coconut Creamer) and a 1/2 Cup of Oatmeal) then 1/2 hour before ride take one Vespa and one packet of Tru-Niagen.  

Pre-Ride Intake:

  • Calories: 686.8
  • Fat:  36.7 g
  • Protein: 33.8 g
  • Net Carbs: 48.6 g

During the ride the plan was to take a Vespa every 2 hours along with a couple S!Caps and then in my first two 24oz water bottles use SFuels Train in one and Skratch in the other then as I refill use Tailwind,  from the single serve tubes but use half a tube per bottle.  I also carried some Jolly Ranchers to suck on and some gummy beaked Flavor,ars as these give a slow flow of simple carbs and for me no big spike and crash and do not take many of them.  Apart from this I would snack at the 5 aid stations - I think that was the count - and not gorge on anything but just take what I feel like taking.

The forecast for the ride was rain and cooler temps so need to make sure energy was up as body would use energy to keep the body warm as well as for riding.  I had to go back and think about what I snacked on at the aid stations but think I pretty much covered it all - if not in order - in the screen shot from Cronometer, the program I use when figuring how much intake I had.  I did realize that I did not use as much Tailwind as planned since I did not drink as much as planned due to being cooler.  I usually just use the Vespa CV 25 pouches and did so for 3 of them but wanted to try the smaller and more portable Vespa Concentrate packets and they worked great as just downed on then washed down with water - these will be my go to for longer rides as it greatly reduces what I have to carry.   Here is the over all intake for the ride that again consisted of 10:58 of riding with total time of 13:28:

Ride Fueling

  • Calories: 1444
  • Fat: 51.4 g
  • Protein: 33.6 g
  • Net Carbs: 215 g

As far as the ride it was a great day out if not a little soggy.  The only bummer was the number of flats our group had with about 5-6 of them and I had two of those.  This made the day longer and reduced the number fo finishers as we had to complete the ride in the dark.  I had no energy lags and no bonk so the intake seemed about right for the day.  I did a have a few mental issues early on when thinking about how far there was to go.  Quite the realization when you get to 100 miles and realize you have the amount left you usually do on a weekend.  These times did not last long and is the best part about riding with a group.  

This was an important ride in my preparation for Gravel-Worlds in August that takes place in Nebraska and is 155 or so miles with 11,000 ft of climbing.  I know that I can ride the distance and as we did have some harder sections - a couple catching back on after flats - it will help mentally in August.  

Between relying on fast for most my energy needs and the use of Vespa my post ride recovery was very good.  Sure I was tired but after driving 3 hours back to LA on Sunday morning I was able to run 5 miles a a good pace.  Then the next three days I rode 50, 30 and 40 miles.  Again, did feel tired but for sure the recovery was much better than back in my carb centric days. The rest of this week I will do at most a couple runs and then travel home.

Bottom line - I can not recommend Vespa enough  - when used in conjunction with being fat adapted - or just getting to that point -  it is the way to go.  Check out the posts here for more info on OFM -

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

10 Buck Bike Club

 I have recently joined the 10 Buck Bike Club and am on the advisory board.

So what is 10 Buck Bike Club - Glad you asked:

First, We are a website/club that is all about bikes.  There are no ads, no selling of information and no tracking of what you do.  No, this is about you and as we gain members and grow so does the site and the benefits to you.

Second, it cost $10/year, thus the name - about the cost of a couple Lattes

Third, instead of ads, remember we have none, we offer Member Perks and Discounts and as we grow we will work for more of these.  Hey who does not like to save as cycling is far from an inexpensive sport.

Also, along with news and a live feed for conversations, we have a number of groups covering everything from Bike Fit, Bike Repair to Gravel (one I lead), Multisport, Technology, Training and much more. 

We are also looking to add Webinars and Workshops on a number of topics all related to cycling.

Lastly, if you are looking to find a place to host your cycling group you can do that here as well.

Come on board and help us grow and as we grow we all benefit from each other.

If you join please use my name as it is good to see the different avenues the members get to the site from.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

2021 Steamboat Springs Gravel Race Report

Ok it has been some time since I have put up a blog post – a very long time - and I have moved from my old site (Bluegrass-Runner) that focused primarily on running to the new site where I will cover all things endurance, including nutrition.

It has just has been one of those times where work and life coupled with just not feeling it when it comes to writing all coalesced and I just did not post anything.  I thought having just finished the Steamboat Springs Gravel race on August 15, 2021 it was a good place to start and I hope to be more consistent on future posts.  So here goes.

In truth as I write this my initial plan had been to do the Gravel-Worlds this weekend (Aug 21, 2021) but when the Rona hit and there was no racing in 2020 I had to defer my Steamboat race so am hoping to do Gravel-Worlds next year.  So after probably getting the best base I could have, as not much racing, I headed off to Steamboat.  The plan was to get there midday Friday, do a short ride Saturday and do the whole Expo thing and then race Sunday.

Got to Steamboat early enough Friday to do a short ride to town from the hotel and got in about 10+ miles including a trip out to Moots Cycles and a tour of the facility.  Interesting part is back in around 1983 I raced the Steamboat Springs Stage race, road bikes, and visited the original location of Moots, now Orange Peel Bikes, and had not been back to Steamboat since then.  After the ride I went looking for a steak and found Steamboat is not a cheap place but fortunately my room had a stove so was able to save some money by getting a nice rib-eye from the store and cooking it in the room.  Saturday I went out for a 30+ mile ride and did not realize till the race I was doing part of the course backwards.  I did notice on the ride that if I pushed too hard I felt the altitude.  Probably compounded by my Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA) that with the dry air is not very altitude friendly but it is what it is.  Was a nice ride and saw many others out doing the same thing.  On the way back from the ride I went to town to pick up my number and scan the expo but as was coming back later did not spend a lot of time there.  After resting up some I went back to the Expo and checked out what was there then was time to go back to the room to get ready for race day.

Race day was cool but really not bad at 50F or so.  As I was going to the start from the hotel I took a gillette and arm warmers and would just put them in the Orange Mud pack I use before the race.  I did not want to carry the stuff but it did not weight much and who knows if a freak storm came in I would be ready, it did not but I was ready.  I had packed my bike with 2 - 20oz water bottles – one with SFuels Train and one with KetoFuel and then had my 2 Liter bladder with 2 packets of SFuels Race+.  I also took with me 3 Vespas (I took one at the start and then planned on one every 2+ hours), some S!Caps, Jolly Rancher candy a few gels and also some extra packets of SFuels Race to put in my bottle later on at the aid stations.

I did a warmup to the start – 3 miles – and a little around the area of the start but misjudged how they would load the start as they had said the faster people would be closer to the front but unfortunately they did not leave opening in the side gates to get in so everyone just pushed in and well I was at the back – at least it would make me start slow but did set me a long way from the place I wanted to be in once I got out so I could move up.  Note to self - check things out better next time as a good starting place is important in that even while the race is long when you are racing it is good to get in with the group you are racing rather then being 3 minutes behind at the start, almost a mile.

The race started and I, well, just waited till things cleared out where I was and then slowly moved along.  It
took a few miles to get out so could move up but wanted to be careful not too push it too hard too early just to catch up -  why you need to be closer to the front – and on one push on the first climb to move up I realized quickly I had to be careful how I pushed it as felt my breathing get labored and my chest tighten up.  I tried again a little later to see how it was to make sure it was not just a matter of not being warmed but had the same result.  Thus, I already knew I would have to use caution in how much effort I put out if I wanted to finish.  One thing I know from racing at altitude in the past is that once you go too far past your limit the ability to recover is very slow, if at all.  Got up the first climb then went down the first “gravel” which was more of just a hard packed road but soon came to the first extended climb and real “gravel” section and settled in to ride at an effort that was good but comfortable.

As we rode up to near Steamboat Lake we hit a section of single/double track that was sandy but fun.  Did almost take a wrong line in the dust as hit a down hill drop in the dust and was on the wrong side and noticed just in time but had to stop and lost some momentum – that said it was a fun section.  This section ended where the picture of me on course came from.  We then circled around and back down to where we had come from and what is funny I did not even realize we had done this 8 mile section in the uphill direction till the next day in looking at the map of the ride  The course is about 100 miles gravel, of various kinds, and about 42 miles road and one of the road section coming back down from Steamboat Lake I got up to 47mph.

Turn to First Gravel Climb
The course then heads mostly downhill with some good little climbs mixed in for fun till about 87 miles where the people riding the 100 miler, they started 30 minutes after us, turn off to head back to Steamboat and we head out for more fun in the way of climbs.  From 87 to 95 miles we head up hill on some pretty sandy roads and this was when I realized how far behind I was from the front as the lead back was coming back down.  At 94+ miles they have an aid station and then you head downhill for a half mile or so then turn right for a 9 mile climb that then descends with a few steep climbs back to the previous aid station which is now at about 115 miles.  I was feeling good but still taking it easy on the climbs and just making sure to stay hydrated and fueled as while not far to go there was still some ground to over.

In going back down the sandy section it was not as bad as I had feared as I was able to keep up some good speed but had a few sections it got a little squirely.  Once down this section we come back the previous turn off, now at 124.5 miles, to head back to town and started coming across those doing the 100 miler.  In looking at the map I knew there were a could hills still to do in the last 18 miles or so.  The first came about ¾ of a mile past the turn and it is called the Corkscrew and is about 1 mile long with about a 7.6% average climb with pitches of up to 13.5% - sure glad this was on a paved road.  Needless to say this was a leg burner but that was not the last climb as there was one more to come.  About a mile and a half later came the last climb at 1.3 miles long and an average of 5.7% with a section at 9+% on gravel.

After this climb it was close to all downhill to Steamboat with some short punchers but first we had to go down through Cow Creek Rd which was slightly downhill but what made it exciting were there were free range cows wandering along the lane and then there were very rocky sections that cropped up so had to just hang on through them.  I will say my wheel and tyre set up with the Enve G23’s and Donnelly X’Plor MSO 700 X 40 Tubeless along with Cush Core Gravel.CX installed did great as no flats and worked great.  That last stretch was a good test as it went from hard pack to some sections with large rocks and I know I hit a few as there were four of us going pretty quick down that stretch.

After Cow Creek it was a small section of hard pack roads then back on the blacktop to the finish.  Just kept up a good pace to the finish as extra pushing was not going to make much difference by then.  I finished in 9:35:20 (9:33:12 chip time) with my moving time per my Wahoo was 9:11:10 so spent about 22 minutes in the aid stations which is probably not bad but could be better.  I ended up 441 OA and 18th in the 60+ being about 50 minutes out of being on the podium.

The 3D map of the course, ignore the title as I goofed up the typing and could not edit it:

Looking back I think I could have probably pushed it a little harder – enough to take of an hour out of the 9.5 hours I was out there – but since I was not sure of what to expect I think taking the safe route was the best bet and now I know more I can better adjust next time.  For sure I know I can work harder next year at Gravel Worlds as it is not at altitude so that is good.  I also know that while my training had plenty of long rides I need, at least for me, a few longer rides were milage is not the issue as being in the saddle 8+ hours just to be ready for that.  Along with that I need to add in some intervals to better be able to push the sections I need to so as to stay with a group when that push is needed.

As far as nutrition I think it was pretty good in that I did not seem to have low periods and finished feeling good.  I was trying to figure out my caloric in take but the following is sort of an estimate as I did not really finish any water bottles in total as topped them off at each aid station and add some of the extra drink mix as I figured it was needed.  Only turned to the Maurten Gel with about 20 miles to go and while I did take some Coke at one stop at about 45 miles as knew there was a push coming and then had one at 95 miles but sadly when I usually really like them they were out in the last 30 miles.  Here are my total for my pre-ride fueling and ride fueling:

  • Pre-Ride:  537 Cals, 21.6 G Protein, 11 G Carbs, 44.3 g Fat
  • During Ride:  926 Cals, 21 G Protein, 149 G Carbs, 29 G Fat

The only issue I came away with from this ride were some very bad saddle chaffing.  I knew I felt some discomfort in the last 30-40 miles but never really checked it when done.  Usually when I have had chaffing the after ride/run shower is, how shall I put it, unpleasant but I did not have this after the ride so figured I was good – not so.  The next day I went on a shakeout ride of 30 miles and felt really good but then at about 15  miles things got very uncomfortable.  AS I had no choice but to finish the ride I did but when done I did get that unpleasant shower.  I think what happened is the skin had not broken but was very chaffed but when I did this ride it broke the skin.  Not sure the cause of this other than I have never ridden my gravel bike this many hours and not ridden the saddle than far.  I had gone that far on my road bike saddle so maybe I need to change the saddle as I noticed the way it sits the flare out in the back while padded on top does have a hard edge which may be where it chaffed.  I do need to figure this out before the next time I do such a long race.  Also, I think I will take some chamois cream with me as well to reapply as it cannot hurt to do so.

All in all while I am probably overly critical of how I rode I think I did just what I needed to do and was ready to do.  This ride will better prepare me for my next long race – hopefully the Grave-Worlds next year – and other races along the way.  This helped me to better see what I need to do in training, what worked with nutrition and that I need to work some on my bike set up.

Here are the things to work on for next year:

  1. Intervals
  2. Fast Endurance Rides
  3. A few longer rides time wise just to get used to being in the saddle for 8+ hours
  4. Work on faster climbing on long rides
  5. Nasal breathing to help with EIA
  6. Figure out saddle/set-up issues
  7. Continue to work on nutrition as rides get faster

I am looking forward to what is ahead and looking for the next adventure.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

It has been some time since I have written anything and am in the process of getting back into the swing
after the holidays and being super busy with work.  Also, I have in the plans to change my blog from Bluegrass Runner To Bluegrass Endurance and not sure yet how to do it.  Blogger says it can take an existing site and copy it over but for some reason right now it does not want to.  Not sure if I can just change the name and change the web address to point to the existing site – we shall see.

The reason for the change is simply that since I have been riding more and running by focus has shifted to be more than on just running and since even though I may not do Triathlons I would like to report on the them and other endurance events I may come across.  Thus the change and now to just get it done so as not to lose some connection with my old blog.  

As far as the second part of the title of this blog I figured I would put off posting on my training for now as a weekly post but may go back to it at some time.  Instead, I will be doing a series over the next month or so on “What I Use/Do” with regards to a number of areas such as: Nutrition, Riding Equipment, Running Shoes and Clothing, Training Software and any other things I may think of.

I realize that I am me and as we are individuals so simply because I use, or do, something is not necessarily a reason for someone else to do the same but it may give you directions to look if you are so inclined.  I will add here, and repeat it when it is applicable, that at present I am an Ambassador for a couple products: SFuels and AMPHuman (Well I was last year and this year is not sorted out yet – but I will still use the product regardless) and wanted to be up front about that.  With regards to SFuels I have been with them for a number of years as the product fits very well with my LCHF approach as it also allows for racing on more carbs as needed. 

Hoping to get the first new post up in the next week – till then keep up the training and stay healthy.


As a reminder, you can join the SFuels Strava Triathlon Club, Running Club and/or Cycling Club - Signup for them all if you like.  Join others on the LCHF for Endurance journey

Also, check out the whole line of SFuels products: SFuels Life , SFuels-Train and SFuels-Race products.  Also, just back after reformulating them are SFuel LIFE Bars.  You can also access the new QuickStart Guide.

Receive 5% off with code TONYK5