Cycling Roundtable with Andy Pruitt and Rob Pickels

We are joined by Andy Pruitt, an internationally-known fit guru and sports physician, and Robert Pickels, a coach and researcher working at the leading edge of endurance training at the CU Center for Sports Medicine, for a wide-ranging discussion

Are top pro teams training differently from the rest of us? Can you replace lab testing with a power meter and field testing? What should you look for in a coach?

We are joined by Andy Pruitt, an internationally-known bike fit guru and sports physician, and Robert Pickels, a coach and researcher working at the leading edge of endurance training at the CU Center for Sports Medicine, for a wide-ranging discussion that answers these questions and much more.

Episode Transcript


Welcome to Fast Talk, developer news podcast. Everything you need to know to run like a pro.



You got this pyramid and pyramids are very stable because of the base. And the base and in the athletic pyramid is endurance, right? aerobic endurance, and you’ve got power and strength or power and speed, whatever, whatever the other sides of that pyramid you want to be. But the pyramid that’s upside down is too much quality and he’s training on of endurance is going to topple. So that’s, you kind of get that visual, especially for that young athlete. So you’re


Trevor Connor  00:39

talking about these riders are training an hour a day, but bleeding in the ISOC. Every day,



the lunch ride is the lunch race Monday through Friday, and then they go out and get their ass kicked on Saturday, duh.



But they can’t figure it out.


Trevor Connor  00:54

Welcome back to Fast Talk the velonews performance podcast this week. On top of your usual hosts myself, fellow news Coach Trevor Connor, and senior editor Kaylee fretts. We are joined by two good friends, Dr. Andy Pruitt, a guru of bike fitting and cycling medicine, and a co founder, the cu sports medicine Performance Center, as well as Rob pickles, the head physiologists at Pearl azumi, also known as the illustrious Mr. Pickles.



Two series experts.



Yes, right.


Trevor Connor  01:26

Having these two here is a little special for me, because half of what I know about cycling came from countless hours, distracting them from their work, and just getting them to talk shop. So for this roundtable podcast, kailyn, I just wanted to share an hour with you a basket and their knowledge will cover everything from how to get tested and fit if you live in Iowa fueling on the bike, what makes pros different, and why you should change your plan, even if it’s working for you. So let’s tap into that brain power and make you fast. And I’ll ask my first question, what is new in the world of cycling science?



I think before we sort of talk about current trends, right, because things are changing, we still need to remember that most training is still built off of a foundation that’s well known, well researched, and well practiced. And when we’re moving from that as a platform, then we can try maybe some different trading methodologies, then we can try some different altitude camps or whatever else. But if we’re just sprinkling out all of these different techniques than our training is never truly going to be very good. Or even if our training is better, maybe we don’t know why it was better. And so in the scientific mindset, we need to start from a platform that’s worthwhile and build from there. So what would you say that platform is, you know, the platform at this point is to look at energy systems as important topics of themselves, where a lot of people are going to go out and they’re going to be a runner, and they want their base pace to be seven minute miles. So they go out and train seven minute mile. Well, that’s training speeds, it’s not looking at the physiology of the underlying situation. And this is one area where maybe lab testing is worthwhile, because we can look under the hood, we can see what’s contributing to that performance. And by looking in the lab and getting that breakdown, we can say, to improve your aerobic system, you ought to be training at these intensities. And to improve your anaerobic system, these intensities over here. If we’re just basing that based on a performance or formulas of a performance, well, then hey, we might be pretty close, I have no doubt about it, but we might not be perfect. And there are a lot of things that go into performance, maybe it’s the person’s carbohydrate availability, that day was higher or lower, their performance goes up or down, or the temperature was different, or their ability to suffer that day. And so that’s not necessarily the most solid evidence to base training off of, but it is worthwhile because it’s indicative of what somebody can actually do when they’re out in that race. See, a lot of people think that being in the lab and being outside in a time trial or a field test are mutually exclusive, and they’re not. They tell us two different things. Some people say, Well, why lose why spend more money for a lighter bike, you could just lose five pounds off your gut? Well, I say why don’t we do both? Get the lighter by the same thing, field testing and lab testing. They’re both useful information. The laboratory helps us understand the physiology, which is one component of performance. But it doesn’t tell us the whole story. We can’t determine everything within the lab. And if we could race, it would be a heck of a lot less interesting. So so we go out there on race day, and we try to put that physiology along with the other things, maybe controlling our core temperature, maybe pacing appropriate strategies. That’s what makes one competitor better than another and determines who is going to actually win the race.



So Rob, what do you what do you do for that guy who lives in a rural Midwestern town with absolutely no access to lab. I mean, we’re here in Boulder where there’s right that the science and the experts are, you know, waist deep are on town. So what do you what do you suggest for that guy that lives in a small town Iowa?



You know, I think it’s a great question and in Andy’s totally right in that, hey, we’re really we’re, we’re fortunate out here with the opportunities that we have. But the person in Iowa, they can get good quality assessments as well, it might be a little bit more difficult, and they might need to do with themself, but through the collection of data for themselves, then they can help work in this direction, maybe with the guidance of a coach, but not necessarily need to go to a facility to have an expert like myself or somebody else actually collect the data for them. Now, you would go about that maybe by doing field tests of different distances in doing multiple trials, not just your best one off, because that could have been a fluke. But through that, we can begin to model performance. And we can continue evolving that person’s physiology with a good understanding through multiple field trials. And in addition to lab testing,



I sure don’t want to throw IO under the bus. But it could have been smalltown anywhere without access to a university or lab desk. But I think that you can get quality information on your own. But the laboratory is the gold standard. Undoubtedly,



you know, in the end, I suppose that’s a question to ask back towards yourself where there aren’t necessarily bike fit experts in every community in the country, how does somebody achieve an appropriate position without maybe somebody looking at them?



It’s really hard to fit yourself. I mean, it really is. But I would let comfort comfort rule. I think it all begins with the saddle. And you cannot buy a saddle by performing the thumb test at the shop. Right. So you can’t the saddle that has found success for your for your friend may not be the saddle for you the right saddle in the wrong place is just as bad as the wrong saddle. So saddle comfort, you know, numbness and neurological issues, sexual dysfunction are unacceptable, they do not have to be experienced in cycling today. So saddle choice saddle convert that would that would drive that would be that would be rule number one, you can get a lot of things right on your own or at least close on your own. We talked about bike fit, and three planes x and y are the side view, I think that is something that you and a buddy in a garage could probably accomplish relatively close is the z plane, the front view the the shoulder, elbow, hand alignment, the hip, knee foot alignment, controlling excess foot movement that’s unnecessary and cycling all those things that really does take expertise. And I would suggest the guy in small town, Georgia, get in his car and drive to the expert with the almost guarantee you there’s going to be a good fit expert within 200 miles of anybody in this country today. Unless you and it’s



one of those things that you know, people have no problem dropping 2500 bucks for a set of rice fields they ought to be they ought to be willing to spend 500 on a good fit and drive in there. And even a hotel room if they have to get one.



What, you know, Trevor asked me earlier today, you know, if you only have X number of dollars to spend, what would I spend it on? Well, it depends on where you’re starting from, right? If you don’t have anything, well, you got to buy a bike. But assuming you’ve got the basic stuff, you’ve got your shoes, your bike and your your helmet and at least one pair of appropriate shorts. You know, the The next thing is to fit in and get it to get it right.


Trevor Connor  08:46

Yeah, well, it sets in some ways, everything else that you can do. I have an athlete who I’m coaching right now, who actually flew all the way out here to Colorado to get a proper fit. Because all winter, we couldn’t train, she’d be calling me up in the middle of rides, and she’s taking a train home, because she couldn’t ride her bike anymore. It hurt that much. And getting her a good fit. Now she actually is pain free on the bike. Now chicken actually train these things make huge difference they do.



And I think that bike fit is something as Andy said, with maybe simple cases and the simple aspects of fitting it is something that you might be able to do in your own garage with a friend or a spouse. But for true important cases in bike fit, or maybe when things aren’t so easy, being hands on with an expert is important. Because again, as Andy said in the beginning, the evaluation of somebody’s body is very important. And that’s how we need to define what somebody is going to look like on the bike is the pre evaluation before they even get there. Whereas on my side of things in the physiology world, that’s something where, you know, perhaps a remote coach is totally worthwhile and you can do that. field tests and get your data to somebody else for help with analysis, you don’t necessarily need somebody there watching you do your effort, you can do that from afar. And so there are two different realms in that regard. You know, so the small town person for the physiological side of things, they’re in a slightly better place for the biomechanical, if they’re a tough case, or they have special needs, they need to get out of there and into a larger location or just somebody with a with a bike fitting expert. You were



talking about lab testing earlier, I’m interested in what exactly you get out of a sort of a full lab test, you know, go and see you, for example, versus what you can do on your own with a power meter and heart rate monitor what what additional, additional information you’re getting out of your testing?



Yeah, in my opinion, it’s the lab test allows us to look under the hood, it allows us to help explain why we achieved something. If you’re doing a field test, we know that you achieved it, but it’s kind of a black box. Was it anaerobic contribution being high was an aerobic contribution being high. What’s the situation in you in a particular case, being in the lab, we get to break that down, I get to look at lactate concentrations, I get to look at your fat oxidation, your carbohydrate oxidation, I get to look at your cycling economy and your efficiency such that we know what is it about your motor that’s being successful? And what is it about it that we need to tune up? Maybe you have, you know, great spark plugs, but your spark plug wires are very strong, we can kind of determine the difference between those things, and help you as an individual, people can go out and they can do a 20 minute test, right, that’s a normal thing for people to determine their FTP. And, you know, for me, I can far exceed in 20 minutes what I can do for an hour, because I’m a very anaerobic individual. And a 20 minute test is not a very good representation of what my FTP truly is. When we go in the lab, it’s always like, man, my threshold is so much lower than it should be. And in all honesty for me three years, I’d get mad. And I think in some regard that my own testing wasn’t even very good. But I didn’t have the knowledge at that point in time to truly understand what the heck was going on. And it’s the different contributions of energy systems in me. I was a 400, meter hurdler growing up, I’m not a normal cycling physiology, I’m definitely not say like a triathlete type of physiology. And so by the lab testing in the appropriate reading of those results, which is really the hardest part, anybody can prick your finger, but who can interpret it appropriately? That’s where we can elucidate this additional information.


Trevor Connor  12:42

I I encountered that with an athlete this winter, who same thing, why would I want to do the lab test? Let’s go and do a 20 minute time trial, which he did. And he averaged 240 watts, but like you, great anaerobic system. So he’s doing all his intervals all winter at 240 watts, turned out his FTP was 190 years doing these intervals, he 50 watts over and after killing himself wasn’t seeing any improvement in his threshold, because he was training the wrong systems.



And it forces a bit of honesty, almost



it does, you know, and with the testing, unfortunately, a lot of people see testing as, as a reading of how good of a cyclist they are. And oftentimes I hear will Well, maybe I’ll come in and test in a couple months after I’ve had time to train. Yeah. And it’s, I don’t see it like that. People asked when when’s the best time to test and I say tomorrow, because that’s when I can start helping you get better, right. And that’s the most important part.



A great analogy is so field testing is like driving your car, you have a speedometer attack ometer and a gas gauge, you take you go to the lab, we actually open the hood and put the electronic dynamometer on there and see if all eight cylinders are actually firing or not. Right. So it’s that that’s the difference. Thank you. Yes, we can all watch our speed, we watch our heart rate. And we know when we’re out of fuel, that we can’t open the hood, but the dynamometer on there and actually measure all eight cylinders. I mean,



and even speaking of being out of fuel or lab testing, we can help determine exactly the caloric intake that people ought to have. You know, when I was talking with a guy this morning, and you know, kind of making recommendations before I came here, and he said, but I never bonk so my fuelling what must be good. Well bonking is the end of the line you bought when you’re done. You know when performance was sub optimal prior to that, and through looking at, you know, somebody’s cycling economy, the ratio of fat and carbohydrate that they’re utilizing, determining what they have for stores inside of them. We can come up with a plan moving forward with optimal performance in mind and optimal isn’t necessarily eating as many calories as possible. That leads to gi distress. It’s more food that you have to carry. That’s not good. But it’s also not eating as little calories as possible. Either it’s finding the appropriate balance for you. One thing that we look at more in a research sense or more in specific cases is somebody’s actual glycogen status within their muscles. And we’ll do testing and I’ll get this inkling that maybe they’re a little bit glycogen depleted based on some stuff that I see in their testing will scan their muscles and they are low on glycogen. Well, we know at high intensity exercise, your body wants to be burning carbohydrate as fuel. And if we’re not full stores, we’re hamstringing that ability, we don’t necessarily get this information from being in the field.



The old there are still guys listening today that I guarantee you say to themselves, I’m not gonna take water with me, because I’m only gonna ride an hour, I’m gonna get a one bottle with me if I’m gonna ride two hours. So they are they’re intentionally under hydrated and under calibrate, and they see that as part of training the system, when in reality, without adequate talking about my secret technique, sharing. But without being appropriately fueled and hydrated, you put yourself at a disadvantage during that training set. And you’re in your you’re resistant to improvement.



You do. And, you know, it’s a fine balance, because the techniques like that have been used through the years. And in some regard, yes, we might be able to get a little bit more exercise adaptation out of training in a calorie depleted state. But it’s very difficult. And I’m reluctant to even say this. Now it’s very difficult because it often leads to bad things. If we do the exact same workout. Once in a well fed state. And once in a carbohydrate depleted state. Our cortisol response goes up our stress hormones increase after we do the underfed workout. Now, oftentimes, people, unfortunately, will take one idea that has been told works, and they’ll apply it to every workout that they did. And when we give people sort of this tool, they often over apply it. And they say, Well, every morning, I ride an hour on the trainer without eating before I go to work, and then I do my real workout later in the day. Well, that’s really stressful on your system. And if you do that day in and day out, you might be fine for a week or two weeks, maybe even a month. But at some point, stuff like that catches up to you. And so yeah, for the most part, the best recommendation is to be well fed and fueled all the time, because you’re going to get 95% of the adaptation, but with a lot less risk for something like overtraining, you overtrain your performance is terrible at that point, nothing was worth it. So this is something



we’ve heard about quite frequently, actually from the pro ranks, which I think is somewhat surprising. And that max actually I think, I hate to single out Jonathan Vaughters, but I also sort of enjoy singing, singling out Jonathan Vaughters.



He’s talked about a number of his riders in the last couple years using that, you know, going on really long rides with minimal food. You’re saying that that’s, at least if not carefully controlled, probably not a generally a good idea. carefully controlled, I think is the operative situation. If you’re doing that once a week. Sure, you’re probably okay, you’re doing it less than that not a big deal. You’re doing it more than once a week, you’re opening yourself up for an increase risk of an adverse event.



It needs to be on the right day of the week, too. You can’t be in a recovery state, right from a big effort and think, okay, now Now I’m gonna spend 300 calories, without repaying the bank and for weight loss, right. So think about Jonathan’s guys. A lot of them are attempting to be climbers. And weight control is crucial for them. The old European model, I mean, my son raced in Belgium for three years. And his guy, his his coaching manager would send them out every morning for an hour ride or an empty stomach almost every day. So it was crazy.


Trevor Connor  18:56

So you’re actually seeing there’s there’s been a whole bunch of research put up by dr. john Holley, he looked into this and yeah, what was interesting, you saw a higher physiological response, you saw higher upregulation of the PG c one alpha. But at the end of the day, there was no performance improvement whatsoever.



Yeah, from doing this. I mean, you know, I want to touch on one point from Kaylee really quick when he brought up Jonathan and maybe just pro riders in general, we have to keep in mind that the physiology of pro riders is a lot different than it is of the average person. And when I’m looking at somebody in the lab, and we’re looking at carbohydrate and fat burning rates, the pros are burning up to, you know, a few hundred calories worth of fat. So that means they’re using carbohydrate at less rate. And we all have limited carbohydrate stores. So they’re physiologically set up to ride for a few hours before they run out of their carbohydrate bag, where the rest of us who aren’t as strong mitochondria aren’t as strong metabolically, we’re going to run through our carbohydrates much quicker Because they’re a larger contribution. Okay, so what pros can do? And let’s be honest, pros are different. Otherwise, I’d be a pro if I wasn’t saving stuff, you know, pros are different. You certainly know enough, right? I know what not. Yeah, and it’s genetics get in my way. You know, they’re different. We can’t, you know, we can look at them as the gold standard, but we can’t do everything they do, because it might not work for us. Now to get on the Indies point, being appropriately fed doesn’t mean being overfed, we can run a deficit, that’s not a big deal, we can maybe run a little bit more of a deficit, if tomorrow’s workout isn’t important, right, we’re gonna eventually eat those calories, refill those glycogen stores. But if we run a huge deficit today, because we’re doing this depleted workout, and tomorrow, we have a race or even a few days from now we have a race. Because our glycogen gas tank is low, our performance isn’t going to be very good. And we do not replace this stuff overnight. We’re looking 48 hours maybe to get back to full glycogen stores. And so we need to keep all of that stuff in mind, it’s back to the appropriateness of this, everything is a tool. intervals are a tool, depleted workouts are a tool, we have to use those tools appropriately. We can’t fix every home project with a hammer. We need wrenches and we need to use wrenches appropriately not hammer on things with them.



I was just asked to be a keynote speaker this summer in a training conference. And my as the keynote, you kind of get to get to do interesting things. And they asked me if I would kind of recount my vision of technology that’s changed over my 40 year career. And in pursuing that information I’ve had I’ve had, it’s really been a lot of fun, think about the early days of bike racing. And all of the training was based on the experience we had from track and field, or some European model, which was really not founded in science. So to see the swing we’ve made in four decades to technically driven science driven training, and that almost everybody has access to power meters and heart rate monitors and adequate coaching. It’s really an interesting thing that everybody can within can’t afford. This technology that dropped talking about everybody, even the guy in the small town in Iowa has access to buy a power meter and heart rate monitor those kinds of things. So how do you use them? How do you learn how to use them? Most people have power meters on their bikes. And it’s nothing more than a speedometer. Right? It’s entertaining the Heather? Yeah, it’s entertainment for them. It’s something to stimulate them while they’re out there. But I think a power meter and a coach, both used appropriately, give us permission to go slow, when we’re supposed to go slow. And tell us when we’re going hard when we’re supposed to be going hard. And also tell us when we think we’re going hard and we’re not right when that that low calorie state or fatigue state where today is supposed to be a x workout. And I can only do minus x. So coaches and technology both can give us permission to do it. Right. But if but you have to listen to your code. So this


Trevor Connor  23:22

brings us full circle to actually a question I really want to ask both of you. And I think that’s the hopefully the key message for today is going back to that Iowa writer and we do love you everybody in Iowa.



The bus rumble over everybody.


Trevor Connor  23:41

You get a call from this rider and their their typical rider training eight to 10 hours a week. And they call you up and say okay, I’ve been told all these new techniques. So what I’m doing is sprint intervals for 30 minutes twice a day, and I never touched carbohydrates. What are you going to tell us? Right? What like when you say there’s a foundation that really hasn’t changed? What are the things both of you are going to tell the riders as these are the things you need to be doing? These are the things to train, right. This is where you need to start, don’t ever change this, and then you can start adding and playing with the rest.



You know, I think before I say anything to anyone, we need to go on a fact finding sort of mission. And I need to learn about this person as an individual and I need to learn about their goals. Because ultimately it’s the rider and what they’re trying to achieve. That’s the most important part of this. And as a coach or consultant, my job is to help get them to their goal as best I can. But if we talk about sort of pillars of training, everybody needs to work hard at some point in time. Okay, that is a foundation sort of moment. But at the same time in the majority of the work that you’re doing ought to be quote unquote easy as a lot of people would like to say appropriate It is what


Trevor Connor  25:00

I would like to say that what do you mean by ease? Yeah,



exactly. What I mean by that is, is that work with the aerobic system is actually handling the effort without being overwhelmed without calling on the anaerobic system or fast twitch fibers to achieve it. That’s where we tend to see the best aerobic improvement in people. And let’s face it, Cycling is an aerobic sport, first and foremost, that is going to be the limiting factor. Now, how do you determine that is a big question right in the lab, it’s easy, I can, I can collect some data in through appropriate interpretation of that, I can tell you, okay, and it’s much more complex than I can say, in the next five seconds on this tape recorder. But if, if we don’t have those, well, then we need to collect a lot of power data, or we need to do some field tests, or that person needs to be very astute at listening to their body and what that means. And so we don’t need one particular method to go about it. But this is where a knowledgeable coach, or an athlete who wants to be a student of the sport and a student of physiology can help determine for themselves, but we need to determine what that steady state sort of area is. We can be, you know, just utilizing formulas based off FTP if you have an appropriate FTP number, but the question is, is it appropriate or not, and you know, doing a one off best sort of effort that you can never touch again, on a power meter that wasn’t calibrated appropriately. It doesn’t give us good information. So that’s where working with somebody who is knowledgeable, is able to determine what’s appropriate and what isn’t. And I know in some regard, I’m talking in relatively vague terms. But I also have a difficult time without an individual telling them exactly what they need to do sitting in front of me.



Maybe that’s the lesson is that there are a few things out there that are just going to work for everybody. Yeah. So you know, taking your training out of a book or trying to take just one, one example and apply it to yourself is maybe not the best idea.



Yeah, I mean, the pillar is, the majority of your training at least 50% ought to be in that appropriate aerobic area. I can definitely say that to everybody. But I can’t necessarily tell AMD or Trevor you Kaley exactly what your heart rate or your power should be just by looking at you is just too difficult to know, you’ve tested



me enough times, you probably couldn’t tell me.


Trevor Connor  27:27

I’ve also tested me but usually shook your head.



Give me an answer. He says to me really good for an old guy. This is all relative. But But going back to my historical view of things, again, we always talked about the athletic pyramid, right? So you’ve got this, you’ve got this pyramid and pyramids are very stable because of the base. And the base and in the athletic pyramid is endurance, right? aerobic endurance, and you’ve got power and strength or power and speed, whatever, whatever the other sides of that pyramid you want to be. But the pyramid that’s upside down is too much quality and he’s training out of endurance is going to topple. So that’s you kind of get that visual, especially for that young athlete. So you’re


Trevor Connor  28:12

talking about these riders are training an hour a day, but bleeding in the ISOC. Every day,



the lunch ride is the lunch race Monday through Friday. And then they go out and get their ass kicked on Saturday, duh. But they can’t figure it out. So the really good athlete, the coachable athlete rides alone a lot, because they’ve got a script that they’re going to follow that day. And that’s not social. And and their teammate may have been a slightly different program. So in my age is much old guys that ride and we all ride we all try to hurt each other, right? So I can tell you, the Saturday and Sunday are going to be hard. I got to figure out my Monday through Friday, so that I get my endurance in during those during those days. So that lunch racer needs to be careful.



And I know that that word base pyramid like Angie just described it. It’s not the new sexy thing.



So this gets back to our original question is what like, you know, I speak to and sort of live in this in this Pro Cycling world that has a lot of discussion of things like reverse periodization, which I don’t personally totally understand. And we hear a lot of things I like Team Sky saying, oh, we’re doing this new thing that’s going to totally revolutionize training. kerrison said that recently. There are definitely if you’re sort of the lay person you hear all these things like you could you could get the impression that training is about to change very dramatically, and we just haven’t heard about it yet. That doesn’t sound like something you agree with. I’ll get



I’ll guarantee that it’s not Yeah, for most people, the tried and true stuff if done appropriately. Not just thinking you’re doing it appropriately, but truly doing it appropriately, are going to get you 85% of your maximal adaptation with relatively little work or thought. And you know, what, if we do include methods like say, reverse periodization, or minimal gain sort of things, that sky is going after Sure, they very well could be eking out a couple extra percent. They have entire teams of scientists working on this, they’re millions of dollars in budget, you and I don’t have that for us as individuals, it’s important for them, right? They’re professional athletes, they’re looking to do well, for their sponsors, they’re looking to, you know, create this business sort of situation, but



there’s probably danger in taking what you think they’re doing and trying to apply it to yourself. Absolutely.






I think changes in technique, work, because you’ve been following a certain program for X number of years, you’ve developed those energy systems by that technique. And then you change coaches, or you buy a new book, and you and you change them, you may you may tap into an energy source that you didn’t, you weren’t training before. So there there is, there is purpose in training that teaches me changing training purely for the sake of changing and all honesty, right, not to mention



the mental aspect. What’s



new today? What’s new today was all yesterday, right? I mean, so I think there’s a real reason I see young athletes ahead, the same coach, sorry, triple B’s, I hope yours, your coaching still doesn’t leave you. They should know, I see young athletes, the same coach, you know, for X number of years, and the coaches hanging on hanging on hanging on when in reality, they should encourage them to try somebody else and something new, purely because they’ve they’ve they’ve developed them as far as they could with their techniques. So there’s a purpose and changing doesn’t mean, so new is a relative term, right?



New can just be different,



right. And at the same time, you know, that coach in himself should not be applying the same technique to all of his athletes, all the times of the year,



but you know, better. Exactly, exactly.



You know, and that’s, you know, I said that a pillar is that at least 50% of your time should be in that appropriate aerobic zone. But with, you know, athletes that I’m working with, sometimes it is only 50%. And sometimes it’s 85% of what they do, based on what I’m trying to achieve with them in January in July are two very different months when it comes to racing, and we need to be working in different ways to get there. And so yeah, change is very important. If we do the exact same technique every day, for the rest of our life, then we’re going to hit a plateau, let’s be honest, and then we will change and we’ll we’ll do something different, say, CrossFit. You know, and, and we’ll unlock this new sort of potential within us, because we started including more high intensity intervals than we had ever done before. And so we removed a different limiting factor, you know, in but that’s not to say that CrossFit is the best training method is just to say, for that person who was missing that aspect, they found their key, at least for that time being anybody that walks out the door after a consultation with me, I tell them, within three to six months, my recommendations for you are going to be different than they are today. Because I hope that you’re a different athlete, based on the training that you did,



I go to at least three different protein camps, a winner, or three different teams, a winner and multiple camps. And I’ve seen over my 40 years, that, at times, teams all have individual coaches. And that is I’ve seen that to be successful. I’ve also see teams not allow any individual coaches and everyone is coached by two or three people within the team staff. I’ve seen that be successful. I’ve also seen it all be a nightmare across the board. So I think what Rob said is really crucial that not one formula fits, fits all athletes. And that formula should change, no doubt.



And it changes based on what you’re trying to achieve as an athlete. Are you wanting to be a time trial specific person? I’d train you differently. Are you trying to be a climber? Are you trying to be a sprinter? Or are you say a runner or a triathlete? You know, all of those events have different needs for good performance. And as we were kind of getting to before different body types or physiology types. They’re just going to be successful in different areas. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful.


Trevor Connor  34:53

So to flip that around, what I’m hearing from you is definitely even within an athlete, what was right for that athlete and to that And 13 might not be right now that you have to be changing what you’re doing. So to flip that around as coaches and doctors working with the athletes has been anything recently where you just went, Wow, I need to change what I’m doing.



For me personally,


Trevor Connor  35:17

as a physiologist, as a coach,



you know, it um, maybe I’m a funny individual where I was a great hurdler, and I achieved a lot of success. I’ve competed on the national stage in that event, and I’ve moved over to cycling, you can’t hurdle when you’re 32 3034.


Trevor Connor  35:40




  1. Now I think, you know, and so cycling for me has always been experimentation. That’s what I like about it. I love cyclocross, in a sense, because I love experimenting with different lines through this corner with different tire pressures. That’s the science side of me. And all the hurdles are



great and very,



you know, but I almost every year for myself, change my training, just to see what happens. Because you know what, I’m never going to be a great cyclist, I’m always going to be a mid pack Colorado cat three and cyclocross. Let’s be honest here. But I want to know, well, what if I do, maybe block periodization, where I’m doing, you know, a week of really hard workouts followed by three weeks of not as many intensity intervals, it just to see how it works for me, you know, and then, you know, kind of recently, I’ve been into this sort of rise with a lot longer blocks, or a lot more blocks with a lot longer rides in them, you know, maybe two really long rides per week. And then the fillers are just kind of an hour or so, just to try different sort of things. I found stuff that works for me and stuff that doesn’t, you know, with this longer block, hey, I’ve certainly gotten better at longer mountain bike rides, like go figure, and we kind of saw that happening, you know, and so the experimentation, I think, is fun for the sake of experimentation. But I’m okay, personally, if a season doesn’t go quite as well, because my training was bad, because I got to learn that that was bad training. But for some other people where performance is the most important thing, it’s a little harder to experiment like that, because you run the risk of doing something in inappropriate for you.



But Rob, is there anything new in your literature on how long it takes to peak and how long the peak can last? If you really achieve your, you know, your current genetic,



that’s not the one that comes back to our team sky? Yeah, making some some hefty claims. It’s, I,



I don’t necessarily know if anything is new. So to say, um, I will say that peaks cannot true peaks cannot be held for very long, a couple of weeks, maybe. And then we’re definitely starting to decline. And we need to start rebuilding back up. And things like that make planning of our racing season, very important. You can’t be good at the beginning, the middle and the end of the season. If you’re trying to do that you’re going to be mediocre at all three, and then especially if you’re trying to ride road and cyclocross and do these multiple sort of sports, right. But Andy, in all honesty, I can’t think of new, worthwhile research that’s changed sort of any of the previous thinking on that.



So what’s quite what sky claiming about?



Well, we just we’ve seen instances, and it’s not just sky, but it seems like this is mostly anecdotal. peaks are getting longer. I think the last Olympics was a perfect example of both Wiggins and Froome, managing to extend this sort of pre Tour de France all the way through to an Olympic Tom trail.



Yeah, but they both they both disappeared four times



they did, but there was only about lose what a week or two in between, like that two weeks in between the two, we just heard, again, mostly anecdotally, like riders just just coming out and saying, you know, I’m going to be fast for this whole period. It seems like that is a trend lately. And again, you know, there’s no, there’s very little, there’s there’s no real science to back that up other than just what riders are telling us. But it does seem like they, they believe they figured out a system where they can hold at peak a little bit longer.



I think that the question is really, what do we consider a peak? What performance improvement above baseline? are we calling within that? And, you know, for me, I’m thinking the top top top of the curve, how long are we really holding that, but if we extend that in and say include, you know, just be a little bit less of a closed box, maybe with our performance, then we could Call a peak longer because it’s all on a curve, right? We have an upslope and we have a peak and we have a downslope. How much of that do we want to include? Right? You know, and oftentimes people can still be on the upslope. And frankly, they’re just better than you are. And so they when they’re not at their peak



yet, or even on the downslope I mean, we’re talking, we’re talking to Wiggins, maybe he went to gold, even though he’s on his way back there, though.


Trevor Connor  40:23

That was the question, were they on a peak, or they just said, 95%, they’re not



saying could beat everybody else. And that’s what we see in local racers, where, you know, they’ll be a, maybe a racer that I work with, so I know what his training is. And I’ll be talking with another racer, who doesn’t know that person’s training, but they say such and such must be peeking from the beginning of the year, because he’s always beating me in August. Well, that’s not necessarily true, it just might be better than you know, because I know for a fact that he is not peeking in August, right.


Trevor Connor  40:59

So this is actually a fact approach I take with all my athletes, when you talk about commonalities, you coach every athlete differently, but there are some commonalities. And what I tell everyone my athletes is, if you’re only strong, when you’re on a peak, you’re gonna have to good races all year. So we really what I really tried to do with him is I want to get your base level up. So you can go into a race at 80%. And you’re not going to win it. But you can be finishing with the league groups and you can be competitive, then you can be competitive in a lot of races over the years. And when you have those couple peaks, you’re untouchable. And that should really be the goal of your training. Right, certainly. So



one last thing, I think from the medical practitioner side of things, talking about peaks, you know, I think is a, it’s a knife’s edge between being healthy and not healthy. Yeah. So we talked about, you know, athletes are healthier, well, if you stay just below your peak, your your immune system is strong, when you hit your peak, or you go over the top, and you’re suddenly fighting illness all and I’m trying to give our listeners a clue in the maybe they’ve gone over the top other than just performance. So your weekly Time Trial time starts to suffer, okay, you’re probably not recovered, you’re probably, you know, on the downside, you better think about your training, most most masters tend to train harder when their performance falls off. And that’s right. And if that’s your if that’s what you do, you’re going to get sick. So illness is the bottom of the over over, trained over raced, yep, trough, right, it’s the bottom, you’ve gone over the top of the peak and you’ve fallen in so I just wanted to give our listeners that that what it was going over the top look like right. And that’s performance starts to go down, my heart rate starts to go up, I started to get sick. If you’ve gotten sick, you’ve gone too far. Right?



And you know, we’re looking at peak, you know, try to draw this as a visual representation, right? peak is sort of a curve, and the very top apex of that curve is 100%. Well, if we back up a little bit to 95, or we move forward to 105%, it’s the same performance, right? So we’re a little bit safer being at 95%, than we are pushing over to 105% because we ain’t getting any better. But we’re that much closer to overtraining to getting sick. And each person has their own sort of overtraining, you know, sort of pattern that they fall into, you need to be very cognizant of that, to make sure you don’t end up at that point, right.



Okay. Success is addictive, though. And it leads overtraining.


Trevor Connor  43:29

physiologically, how are pros different from your average amateur besides genetics? That’s what makes it different. Yeah, fair enough.



Genetics, genetics. in some regard, we could we could sit here with a laundry list of an hour’s worth of differences, right? What I’ll say is, for the most part, pros just have a higher amplitude of the things that we want to see in regular cyclists, they’ll have a little bit more at least in pro cyclists, right, we’re talking about endurance athletes here, they’ll have maybe a slightly higher percent of slow twitch fibers, and they’re going to have a higher percent or a higher density of mitochondria and a better blood supply. All of these things that help them do work, aerobic Li pros are probably going to be better responders to exercise, right where they can almost do any exercise and man, they get leaps and bounds better because their body is just set up to create those proteins or their DNA and codes a little bit better. And so there are certainly measurable differences, where oftentimes people you know, say take like Evie Stevens, for example. She was a tennis player, right, mostly an anaerobic sort of sport. She got into cycling later in life. And she very quickly made it to the top of the sport, right? She had this natural innate ability to get there and she reached her potential through good training through hard work and everything else. You can certainly find people who are low level maybe they’re continental pros because they don’t have have quite as good genetics, but man, they work their butt off and they’re really getting all the potential they have. You can find other continental pros that should be international pros, but maybe they don’t have the work ethic, maybe they haven’t done the right workouts for them. Or you have the combination where people really get up high, you know, and that’s we’ll see highview to Max’s and great economy, you need both to be a pro. Most people like myself, I have a great vo two max or it’s mid 70s at the very least, but my economy’s not very good. So I’m just using more oxygen. You know, I’m spinning my legs, so to say and I’m not quite getting all the workout that a pro would be getting. But I can compete I can be going right for the finish line head to head with a guy with a low vo two max but really good economy that makes us both average


Trevor Connor  45:48

revenue. you’ve discovered a lot of top pros. Was there anything that you said that you saw early on? He said that this distinguishes them like I can tell this person’s going somewhere? I don’t know that I can take credit for



discovering them. But I had the pleasure of coaching law young young people that have survived in the sport for several decades for sure. What’s interesting about Cycling is that we don’t all look like if you stood Peter cigar next to some typical of a climber in last year, California, right. And Dombrowski got Dombrowski standing next to Peterson gun. But yeah, who won the Tour California last year? Peters ago, right. So there’s a guy who is tough as nails, and has an incredible anaerobic system. He was a good sprinter, good non bike racer, who has turned into a multi day racer who has turned into a guy who can get over the climb. So he has that best of both worlds with the psychology that goes, What I really like about Cycling is that we don’t all have to look alike, we really don’t. And then there’s there’s Cavendish, who is this little tyke of a guy sprinting against Marcel Kendall, who’s it was a giant of a guy. So it was calves aerodynamics, he was like a bullet where he could compete with guys with with watt outputs 30% higher than his. So that’s what I really like about Cycling is that you can use this mechanical tool is a great equalizer. I like cycling, because it lets a lot of different people have a ticket to the dance.



I think that’s why I was drawn to cycling as well. I mean, I was a hurdler growing up for years. And there is a large technical component to that race, the winner of that race isn’t necessarily the fastest runner. Right, it’s technique plus physiology, so to say plus grittiness and determination, you know, and as Andy was saying, I mean, Cycling is such a multifaceted, complex situation that it’s very difficult to predict. Now, if we look at, say, a one day classic, we know the kind of rider that’s going to be good there. And if we’re looking at stages in the tour, we know who’s going to be good there. But because we’re looking at so many varied events, everybody wants everybody but multiple people get to be very successful. Based on that.


Trevor Connor  48:16

Yeah. So can we have a concluding question? And 30 seconds each? You have the air Iowa listener base.



We had your exposure,


Trevor Connor  48:28

right. So So here’s the question. For all of our listeners, if there is one piece of advice you could give everybody, what would it be?



Money, no option,


Trevor Connor  48:44

no obstacle, though, whatever. Yeah, see what you want everybody in Iowa to know, to



get fit on your bicycle. Make sure that it is comfortable. numbness and pain are unnecessary in today’s world. Get comfortable on your bike, have the right equipment, and then build your base train appropriately. So if money is not an obstacle, get a really good fit. And either get a good coach or buy a library, not just one book. It’s several books that you can read from and pull the pearls out of which worked for us good fit, good advice, listen to it.



If for me, the number one advice that I have is is being honest. Because that’s where everything is built off of. And when you’re looking at your training, you need an honest assessment of who you are and the things that you can do. Because if you are inflating based on ego or anything else, and we all do it, let’s be honest, or at least we all want to do it, then you’re not getting the appropriate training. And you need to be honest with your goals. What do you want to achieve and what can you achieve that is going to help steer you in the future. Appropriate direction, find somebody that helps you move in that direction.


Trevor Connor  50:05

And that was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Webb letters at competitor group comm subscribe to Fast Talk and iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. While you’re there. Also check out our sister podcast the velonews podcast, which covers news about the week and cycling you can hear Kaylee share his thoughts on that one as well. Become a fan of Fast Talk and slash velonews and on slash velonews Fast Talks produced by velonews which is owned by competitor group, and thoughts and opinions expressed in Fast Talker those are the individual and this case the opinions we got are probably pretty good ones. So for Kelly frets would like to say thank you again to Dr. Andy Pruitt and Rob pickles. I’m Trevor Connor. Thanks for listening.