Coach Trevor Connor and Chris Case, as well as Coach Ryan Kohler and Fast Talk producer Jana Martin, all chose an N1 Challenge in the fall of 2020. Now, part way through the training and preparation for their big events, they discuss what they’ve learned and the adjustments they’ve made to keep themselves on track.
The premise of the N1 Challenge is that each of the four riders is an experiment of one (n = 1); however, each rider’s training experience can offer lessons for everyone.
For Jana, who is new to cycling and is preparing for a gravel race in the Colorado mountains, that has meant incorporating more structured riding into her program and being mindful of the intensity at which she rides.
For Ryan, a time-crunched husband and father of two who is preparing for Breck Epic, a six-stage mountain bike race, he has found new ways to be creative when planning his weeks.
Trevor, who at the age of 50 is hoping to remain competitive in the pro field at the Joe Martin Stage Race, has been reminded just how hard he needs to train to find that last 10 percent of his form.
Finally, Chris reveals his struggles to determine just how much recovery he needs after big training blocks and camps as he prepares for his first ultra-cycling, bikepacking race.
Chris Case 00:12
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance.
Introduction to N1 Challenge Update
Chris Case 00:18
I’m your host Chris Case, sitting today in the studio with Trevor Connor, Ryan Kohler, and Jana Martin, we, the four of us, all selected many months ago our N1 challenge, and of one was the premise, we are all an experiment of one, but our experiences, our training methodology, our training experiences, offer lessons for all. Today, we want to do a bit of a mid-season check-in, maybe it’s a little bit later than mid-season for some of us, our races are coming up. We want to discuss some of the themes we’ve seen emerge from our discussions as a group as we’ve prepared for these different races. These themes you know, we come back from our weekends, and we sit down and one of the first things we do, because we like to ride bikes, is we say, “Hey, would you do this weekend?” If we haven’t ridden with each other, “Hey, where’d you go?” “Hey, how much did you climb?” “Hey, how much did you hurt yourself this weekend?” And we share these stories and they’re out of those conversations have emerged these major themes, and they’re just very appropriate to talk about for an episode like this because they are fundamental to everybody’s training process, and we want to offer some more lessons from it.
Chris Case 01:42
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Jana Martin: Lessons Learned From Training as a Beginner
Chris Case 02:18
I want to kick things off by turning to Jana, representing the new cyclist amongst the four of us, she’s a beginner, even though she has an athletic background, she’s a beginner when it comes to cycling. Jana, tell us a bit about the theme that we want to address that has come out of your training and the lessons you’ve learned.
Jana Martin 02:45
Yeah, I think I’ve learned a lot probably more than anyone here because I also have the most to learn. I think the biggest theme in my mind has been the intensity factor, both the intensity of how fast and hard the first race was that I did, as well as the intensity of structured riding. So, structured intervals rather than just going kind of hard for part of a climb sometimes when I feel like it, which is what I was more used to. Learning how in that same vein also to ride slow, the long slow distance ride, learning how slow that actually is that you actually probably need to look down regularly and see if you’re keeping your heart rate low enough because it’s pretty easy in my experience to get a little bit too high without even noticing it.
Chris Case 03:38
And to remind people you have chosen a 65-mile gravel race, it isn’t going to be your first bike race anymore because you did one, which was a great lesson for you in itself, but we’re talking about a single day event that maybe takes you four hours, maybe takes you five hours, maybe it takes you only three hours if you’re really feeling good that day, but that’s what we’re talking about for context.
Jana Martin 04:06
Yeah, absolutely. Crooked gravel is also going to be in Winter Park, which is that elevation, I haven’t done much elevation training yet, so those lessons are coming soon, hopefully, when the snow melts, and then the nutrition lessons. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time actually putting those lessons into practice yet, but I have worked with Ryan and wrote an article about some of the major concepts that are really important when looking at a race of this length.
Chris Case 04:37
So, Trevor, we want to walk through each of these major concepts, and Jana has just offered us a lot, as she said, she’s learning a heck of a lot because she’s new to all of this. We want to walk through each of us give sort of a take-home message for Jana’s theme, what would you offer here for listeners?
Making All Rides the Same
Trevor Connor 04:58
I think Jana is learning the lesson that everybody learns when they start out or should learn when they’re starting out, I would say some people probably never fully learn it, so full credit to Jana for getting there so quickly. There is that temptation when you go out and ride to kind of make all rides the same, you sort of go hard, you’re sorry to go easy, it’s a bit of a mix of everything, it’s a lot of fun. Certainly, when you’re new to cycling, you can do that for a bit and see improvements. But Jana has quickly discovered after doing her first race, that if she wants to raise her level, she needs to be a little more structured, I’m not saying she needs to sit there every single ride and go, I have to do this, I have to do that, it’s just adding a little bit of structure. So, when she does intervals, she now has a plan for them, and my understanding is instead she has to go and do intervals and go well, Ryan kind of told me to do this, but I wanted to do this more. She’s more kind of going, well, Ryan told me to do this, so I did this.
Jana Martin 05:59
Trevor Connor 05:59
And when you go out for your easy rides, except when you’re going up the wall in Flagstaff, you’re keeping them easy.
Jana Martin 06:09
I’m trying. I’m also learning to be a little forgiving with myself, you know, Ryan is always so encouraging, even if I come and talk to him after the weekend and I say, “Oh, I totally blew up that LSD ride,” and he’s just like, “Yeah, try again next time,” and I really appreciate that attitude, especially as a beginner.
Importance of Structure and Planning
Chris Case 06:30
Yeah, Ryan, what would you add here in terms of how much and how important structure and planning are to somebody at her level?
Ryan Kohler 06:38
Yeah. So, I think Trevor and Jana are bringing up good things here, Jana is building the structure in there, and yeah, Trevor, you’re saying how you are learning how to apply that structure and say, “Oh, yeah, I should be doing this.” So, let me focus more on getting these particular intervals done in a certain way, what I’m seeing here is that the structure and the planning are those keys, and with new riders, they’re bombarded with a lot of information on training, and there’s all this new information that you can consume, so I think it’s easy to try and take all of that and try to do everything like the right way. So, I think what you were saying Jana about being more forgiving, being more flexible, take those fundamental principles, and I think you’re applying them well, and you have that flexibility built in now where you say, okay, I know what the overall goal is, I know how I should do this, but you’re giving yourself that flexibility, and yeah, essentially, that forgiveness, like you said, to know, okay, things are gonna happen, and you’re going to then work into your own structure that becomes like your method. It doesn’t have to be this textbook method of any sort, but you take from that and build what works for you to get the gains you need.
Chris Case 07:53
And I would add to that, and you guys can disagree with me if you’d like, but I think a beginner not only should be more forgiving with themselves as they try to learn how to train because there is an art and a science to that, but they should also be forgiving in terms of kind of throwing all that stuff out too. You don’t want to lose the fun, which is why you got into it, to begin with, by allowing yourself to be bombarded by the information or allowing yourself to say this is the plan intensities on the plan today, I must do it and get into that really bad habit of what’s on paper is what I must do, or else I’ve failed. So, I think that’s an important lesson here as well.
Trevor Connor 08:43
Yeah, I think if you asked a beginner to train the way a pro does, most beginners would quit cycling within a month.
Chris Case 08:50
Trevor Connor 08:50
To do that sort of structure, that sort of sacrifice, that sort of just commitment to the riding, I actually think that’s something you have to grow into and decide you want first. The way I explained that when I’m working with beginners is I have seen beginners or worked with beginners where I will look at their files in TrainingPeaks, and they’ll have one ride listed as a high-intensity ride, and one ride listed as their easy ride. I will literally take a screen capture of the heart rate power profile of both, put them side by side, email back to them, and go tell me which one was the easy ride because they look identical? If you’re a beginner, that’s sort of the level we’re talking about here, we don’t want to see what looks like a pros workout, we just want to see the high-intensity ride, if you look at that heart rate power profile, you can tell, yeah, that was a good hard ride, and when it’s an easy ride you can look at it and go, “Yeah, that was a pretty easy ride.” They should not be looking the same, and that’s really, you know, the sort of granularity that I’m okay with when you’re starting out, you can still keep the fun but just getting that notion of I have my hard days I have my easy days.
Jana Martin 10:03
Chris Case 10:05
Chris Case 10:06
Let’s turn our attention to Ryan. Ryan, you’ve chosen a six-day mountain bike stage race, Breck Epic, also at altitude. Big meal you’ve chosen to chew on here, what have you learned? You are a time-crunched athlete, you’ve got a couple of kids at home, you’ve got a job, you’re running around coaching juniors, what have you learned?
Ryan Kohler: Lessons Learned Training for the Breck Epic
Ryan Kohler 10:30
Yeah, my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach with this one.
Chris Case 10:34
No, come on, you’re going to do great.
Looking at Training Differently
Ryan Kohler 10:36
Yeah, it will be fine. But yeah, coming from the time-crunched perspective of it, one of the major points is that I have the ability to commute, and I have consistent training time with the junior team like you said. So, what it’s allowed me to do is build in a structure that’s now becoming a new normal. So, when I can commute and build that structure around the training, that’s my consistency, and it turns out to be more within the weekdays that I can find a lot of that, what I was doing in the past and started to fall into this even the over the spring of this year, and then finally noticed it and only took, I don’t know how many seasons to figure it out, but I’ve always had that structure with the junior coaching, so this gives me either a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Monday through Thursday, a great block of multiple days to get in building commuting that I can get the consistency. So, that allows flexibility and how I can build intervals. What I’ve done in the past is I would continue to strive for those bigger weekends as well, and then recovery would become an issue, and then I would get stale, and this was the theme over like I said, multiple seasons. The light bulb finally came on this year, so I was able to really started looking at the training differently, and using these blocks, looking at recovery, and seeing that, okay, I’m tired when I come out of Thursday, after that last training session. So, I’ve started to take actually more days off the bike and just build in additional recovery. So, what I’m finding is by doing that, it’s really prioritizing the mental aspect of recovery, it’s less about the physical for me because I don’t have tons of hours on the bike, so what I’m finding is that the mental recovery is just as important, if not more important, in a time crunch scenario, because that’s where I notice as mood would change, things like that, where you just feel a little bit stale, but then you still have that mindset of, oh, I need to go hit the big weekend ride, so I can tell Chris on Monday morning, the cool things I did.
Chris Case 12:42
I’ve been putting pressure on you.
Ryan Kohler 12:45
All your bike packing adventures, yeah. But yeah, there we go into having that mental stress of oh, now I need to keep doing these big weekend rides, but what I’ve shifted to, is to just pull back on that and actually take more days off and just put the bike away until I’m mentally fresher, and that way when I come out, yeah, there’s these longer days, I just had a four-day block where I put the bike away completely, and actually came out of that feeling fresher than I have in the last few months. So, this is really a new way I’m looking at training and a new approach to it that I think is going to help, because now I can get say three or four days in a row midweek, maybe get a long weekend ride in, but I’m not shooting for Saturday and Sunday big rides anymore, it just doesn’t happen.
Chris Case 13:28
So, I feel like there’s an overall theme to this episode, which is the crucial nature of making an assessment somewhere in the midst of your training, maybe it’s a midseason check-in, and maybe it’s earlier or later than that, but at some point, you have to ask the question, am I on track? Am I off track? And adjust accordingly, you have to drill down as well I feel into every week of your training, and ask those same questions. Am I on track? Am I off track? Did something at work come into my life that threw those puzzle pieces, scattered them all over the calendar, and now I have to replace them in a different way? So, my point is, as a time-crunched athlete, Ryan and I would throw myself into that same category, the commuting can fit in, the recovery aspect that you’re bringing in, these are all things that just in the back of your head almost all the time and you have to let life enter into the equation and you have to spit out a new answer constantly, today everything’s looking good, had a good night’s sleep, cut my breakfast in that I wanted, the ride went well, great, check that off, move on to the next day, move on to the next day and so on and so forth. I really do like the fact that you’re saying the weekend warrior attitude doesn’t work for you, and it’s actually the weekday warrior that you’ve turned yourself into, because that’s more effective, more efficient, and it’s just what your body is needing and craving. So many of us, I think, struggle to fit it in during the week and then cram every weekend and you get into that pattern, and then you get stale, or you overdo it, or it just isn’t as effective anymore.
Chris Case 15:29
So, Jana, I know, you also use commutes, you’ve already mentioned that. How have you been able to incorporate that into training effectively?
Incorporating Commutes in Training
Jana Martin 15:38
Yeah, I think that even though I’m not time-crunched in the sense that I don’t have family and kids, it’s always great to be efficient with your time and the commutes have been great to do some intervals on not only does it make the commute go literally faster, I’ve gotten some commute PRs doing intervals on the way home, but you know, it also mentally goes faster, and you know, you get into that mode, and it’s almost kind of fun when you get into it. Another thing I’ve done is I’ve added at least one day, more days coming, one day climbing a little bit on the way home because we are right here at the base of a few of the best climbs in Boulder. So, it’s not too difficult or time-consuming to just tack on a few minutes, 20-30, something like that on the way home sometimes.
Chris Case 16:28
Right. And to do this effectively I would refer everybody to listen to the episode we just put out a couple of weeks ago with Neal Henderson on two days, because this is essentially what we’re talking about if you are a computer to and from work, and there are good ways to do that, and there are some potentially bad ways to do that. Trevor, what would you add to this conversation here about the importance of fitting in the puzzle pieces, picking your work carefully, that sort of thing?
Trevor Connor 16:59
I think he covered most of it. I would just say if you are time-crunched, you’re going to have to be creative. Figure out the ways you can be more efficient with your time. So, using your commutes, when I was up in Toronto, a lot of the athletes up there just got up really early in the morning and went for their rides, which has its own challenges, but can work. I would just caution against the I have limited time, so what I’m going to do is hop on the trainer and do a virtual race every single day and just go hard all the time. That is the temptation, I get that temptation, I particularly when I talk with time-crunched athletes, and I say well, you need to do an easy ride, they go but I have so little time, is that really giving me any gains? So, that question is yes, this is my belief, we’ve had these long conversations, but I still think limiting yourself to those two, three hard intensity sessions a week, and making the rest of it easy, even if you’re only training six hours a week is still the better way to go.
Chris Case 18:10
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Chris Case 18:57
All right, let’s turn our attention to you now, Trevor, and some of the lessons you’ve learned in your training as you prepare for your N1 challenge, which is the Joe Martin Stage Race out in Arkansas.
Trevor Connor: Lessons Learned Training for Joe Martin Stage Race
Trevor Connor 19:08
I am going to read to you the lesson I have learned, which to me is a really valuable lesson and it’s one that you don’t fully get I’m discovering until you learn it yourself. So, a book that I absolutely loved, a book I read early in my cycling career that made a big impact on me is Jack Daniels’ Running Formula. In the first chapter, he starts by explaining the 10 principles of training, and this book was my first exposure to the overload principle, a lot of those principles we talked about, but he had a 10th principle which unfortunately he took out later versions of the book which I wish he would put back in and the name of the principle is time erodes memory, and he says, “runners tend to forget how hard they trained early in their career when they are disappointed by how difficult it is to make a comeback, this is the time erodes memory principle.” This is what I am experiencing. So, any of you out there who have been around as long as I have, and you’re trying that comeback, the lesson here is you can get to 90% of your potential, if you take the level that you can hit in a given year, you can get to that 90% relatively easy, it takes hard work, you got to be dedicated, but it’s not a huge struggle, I am discovering to get that extra 10%.
Chris Case 20:37
Trevor Connor 20:38
Exponentially harder. What I’m discovering is the level of commitment it takes, the level of fatigue that you have to put yourself through, and that’s really dangerous because it’s differentiating that this is good hard training fatigue, from oh boy, I’m starting to cook myself and I didn’t do a great job this spring, I did go over the razor’s edge a little bit. I eat generally pretty well, but we have plenty of days whereas happened today, I have to go and run, grab a slice of pizza for downstairs because I don’t have a lot of time. All these little things that are usually okay if you want to hit that 90%, not okay anymore.
Chris Case 21:21
Yeah, and that would be my lesson here for you, you’ve already said it, but that last 10% is walking on the edge, you’re walking on the edge. To get it, you have to take some risks, there’s more risk involved than there was within the 90%. You have to have discipline, you have to do all the things right, whatever that is, you can’t really cut the corners, and that’s your nutrition or sleep, or foam rolling, or whatever it is that gets you to tick off those last few percentage points. I don’t want to be too dramatic, but I guess it’s kind of a dangerous place, right?
90% of Potential vs. 10%
Trevor Connor 22:07
So, this has reminded me of something I used to say to athletes, when I was working with development athletes who are trying to go pro, when I was working with Team Rio Grande with you know, with these riders that were trying to hit the high levels, there was a talk I used to give, which I have completely forgotten about, and I got reminded about it now, which is, you know, tell them to get to that level to get to the level you want to achieve, so to get to your 100% of what you’re capable of, you have to train at a level that is actually not sustainable for your body. Then you have to use all the other things the sleep, recovery, nutrition, intelligence, intelligence in how you’re training to basically get your body to be able to go through it and handle it. So, that’s the difference between getting to that 100% versus the 90%. The 90% is something your body can handle that you can sustain, to get that little extra bit, yeah, you’re taking risks, you’re pushing a level that if you do it wrong if you’re not really careful, you’re gonna pay a price. I wasn’t as good about it as I want it to be this spring and did pay a bit of a price for it. So, I’m now learning, making some adjustments, but remembering, boy, I used to make a lot of sacrifices. Boy, I had to do a lot of things a lot more perfectly than I am now.
Chris Case 23:28
I think what also makes this extremely difficult is how do you actually identify 100%? Do you know what I’m saying? Like, you could think you’re at 100% already, and then some other coach could come along, or some method could come along, or some training tweak could come along, and you could actually gain 2%, and then you weren’t at 100%, you were only at 98%. You can have kind of an endless conversation with yourself, what else could I do to get that .5% left out of myself? Then you’re really talking about dangerous places that you would go to.
Trevor Connor 24:09
I remember going out to dinner with the center back in I think this is 2005, and Roland Green joined us, and this is right after he had been two-time world mountain bike champion, and at the time, I was thinking man, I couldn’t train any harder. Like I am just tired, beat up all the time, and sat beside Roland and we got into a conversation about training, and he started telling me how much core work he did, like if he was watching TV, he wasn’t on the couch, he was on the floor doing core while he’s watching TV, and realized, oh, I guess I could train harder.
Chris Case 24:43
I’m a lazy bum compared to this. Yeah.
Trevor Connor 24:45
And I started doing the same thing. If I was watching TV, I started doing core work. So, I went from doing probably 30 minutes of core work a week to doing five hours of core work a week, and sure enough, I got stronger, oh, I can train harder. But you’re right there, you keep finding these little things, there is a point where your body is going to react to it.
Chris Case 25:06
Yeah, I think, Ryan, that brings up a point you wanted to make about how do you figure out the rest component to this, right?
Rest Component of Training
Ryan Kohler 25:13
Yeah, I mean, we’ve looked at some of your old training files as you’re going through the process, and I think they’re from what? 10 years ago?
Trevor Connor 25:20
2009, was what I was showing you.
Ryan Kohler 25:22
Yeah. So, from there, I mean, we’re looking back to see, what is that 10%? What do you have to do to get some of those pieces of fitness back? So, yeah, that brought up the question of how do you balance that need now for the additional rest, with the search for that 10%? It’s a totally different lifestyle now.
Trevor Connor 25:42
Yep. Another factor to bring into this is just knowing where you’re at, I haven’t been at that level for a while, I’m also a lot older. So, I looked at what I was doing in 2009, instead of I tried to do exactly this, I would just be a piece of jelly on the floor, all over. So, I didn’t use TSS back then, but it was interesting to look at the TSS and back then, what I considered a just standard, easy or not easy, but a standard training week, you know, didn’t beat me up, was 900-950 TSS, which is big. So, this whole spring, I was just doing 700-750 TSS every week going, boy, I’m training hard. Then I looked at that, and my big weeks back, they were like 1200-1300, this would absolutely kill me. But also realizing I got to do that sort of training to get to the highest level, to accomplish this N1 challenge, I have to do something like that. So, what Ryan and I concocted is, back then I probably body recovered a little better, I probably didn’t need as much rest, so I could do week in week out like that, I need to do weeks like that now, but what I should be doing is like two weeks at 900-950 TSS, and then a good recovery week, and then another two weeks, maybe three weeks at that higher level and then recovery. That’s probably what’s gonna have to be different now from then, and I think part of the mistake I made the spring is not realizing I need that more frequent rest, and trying to train at that 750 TSS but doing it every single week. That’s still beat me up.
Chris Case 27:30
Right. Jana, as a beginner here, does this frighten you this talk of the 90% and the final 10%? What are your thoughts?
Jana Martin 27:38
It doesn’t really because I think I know already that I don’t necessarily see myself going for that 10%. I think I went all the way for 100% before in another sport when I was a figure skater, and I’m not really looking to replicate that, I am just trying to learn all that there is to learn in this 90% first, and there’s so much
Chris Case 28:02
That’s a prudent approach.
Jana Martin 28:03
There is so much that I haven’t implemented yet into my training. So, I feel like I have a lot of work cut out for me, and who knows what could change in the future, but for now, the 90% is quite a buffet to choose from.
Chris Case 28:19
I think that’s a great point, honestly. The final 10% isn’t for everyone, it shouldn’t be for everyone, it starts to you know, we’re talking about being on the edge, and having some potential for danger and stuff, I think it also takes some of the fun out of it, or a lot of the fun out of it.
Trevor Connor 28:35
So, Ryan and I were talking about that as well. I said that flat out, which is if I’m successful, this is remarkably rewarding, at 50 If I can achieve this, go to a race like Joe Martin and be competitive, that’s going to feel amazing, but this is not fun.
Chris Case 28:55
Trevor Connor 28:56
The training at 90%, was fun, what I’m doing now, this is hard work. So, anybody who’s listening to this, if you are thinking about this, be aware of that, the benefits are otherwise, where there is a reward, but not enjoyment.
Chris Case 29:13
Trevor Connor 29:14
So, Chris, this is probably a good segue to you, because you’re taking a very different approach, where I’m being very results-oriented and very, very structured and directed, you’ve kind of moved away from that let’s try to be competitive to this more experiential type thing. That’s a huge challenge in itself, you’re basically biking around Ireland and not the shortest route.
Chris Case 29:37
Right. 2500k. Yeah.
Trevor Connor 29:39
Yeah. You look at your profile and you’re touching almost every part of the whole island. That’s a huge challenge, but it’s a very different challenge. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what’s motivating you and what you’re learning from it?
Chris Case: Lessons Learned Training for 2500k Ireland Race
Chris Case 29:53
Yeah, the motivation is to do something that I’m not sure I can do, to explore my limits as an athlete, my potential as an athlete, and honestly just explore a place and a new genre entirely of racing a bike. One of the most critical things I’ve learned, or actually questions I’ve been asking myself, to put it more accurately, as I’ve been training for this is how much recovery do you actually need when you’ve upped your volume so much, or if you’ve put in these training camps, or particular blocks where you’re stacking days together, how much recovery do you need? I think the maybe even more important question is, how do you actually determine what you need? I know that there are, there’s data you could look at, there’s feeling, there are questionnaires you can take, there’s a lot of tools, but none of them is going to tell you, you’ve done this much work, you need this much rest. A WHOOP strap might give you an indication, or your Garmin, when you finish the ride, it says you need 36 hours of recovery. Okay, sure. That’s not all that accurate, how many thoughts you actually put in that?
Knowing When To Rest
Chris Case 31:15
So, that’s the question I’ve been asking myself over and over again. I come out of this long 11-day training block that I put together for myself, capped it off with a huge ride to Wyoming and back, which was an 11 hour day or something like that, and I think to myself, oh, definitely take a couple of days off the bike, and then two-days go by, I get back on the bike, I feel okay, but by the end of that week, I feel like garbage, and I’m like, oh, shit, did I come back to you soon? You start doubting what you’ve done, and I know that there’s a reason for this, maybe Trevor, you can explain why somebody goes through this interesting undulation in terms of how they feel after a workload of that size.
Trevor Connor 32:06
Recovery is a really strange thing because your feelings are going to fool you. Generally, you feel the opposite of what’s actually going on. So, when your body is in recovery, doing its repair work, you feel lousy. When your body is really damaged and heading towards that cliff, you feel amazing. So, this serves a lot of people off because when they finally are convinced to go and do a recovery week, they get to the end of the recovery and go, that felt awful why would I ever want to do that to myself?
Chris Case 32:40
Trevor Connor 32:42
You do a good recovery week, you’re going to come out of it feeling pretty flat, not feeling great, riding the bike is going to hurt. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel that and go, I never want to feel that way again. So, that was a mistake, and they’re very reluctant to take that time off.
Chris Case 32:57
Trevor Connor 32:58
So, you had probably done some good damage to your body, and then you did that rest, and we’ve talked about this a bunch of times your body has those natural painkillers, they all got sucked up and you’re not, they’re not flowing very well anymore, so you get back on the bike going, I’m recovered, I got all this rest. Well, now you are feeling every little bit of pain, now you are feeling every little ache, and you just don’t feel that good on the bike.
Ryan Kohler 33:24
Well, we had these very timely forum posts that came up recently questioning, how do you know that you’re assimilating training? I think it goes to this of how do you know that you need recovery? How do you know when you’re coming out of recovery? It was from the recent podcast with Dr. San Millan, where he talked about monitoring training. But I think it’s interesting for you, where you don’t really train with data, so you have to find those other sources to inform you. I’m a big fan of mood, you know, whether we track it or not, or we just sort of keeping this tally in the back of our mind, but it brings up the question of, are there specific sensations or specific moods that you see that you can target, and say, oh, yeah, when I feel like this, then I need more time off, or when I feel like this, then I know I’m still okay, and I can go train. But yeah, how do you break that down?
Having a Conversation With Your Body
Chris Case 34:23
I think you know, to bring it back to me for just a second, and everybody might have their own method, especially if you’re denying yourself the tools of data, which can only take you so far, but it’s a conversation strange as it sounds, I think you have to have a conversation with your body. The tricky part, of course, is that sometimes you’re trying to put yourself into a hole, and so you have to ignore the signals your body is sending you to a point. When you’re coming out of a week, where you’ve gone deep into a hole and you want to recover I think there is a conversation you have to have with yourself every day, you wake up, you see how your legs feel, you walk down the staircase, you sense what’s going on in those legs, you maybe look at your mood, your appetite, all of these things factor into, am I ready to get back to training? Do I need more time? There is no perfect formula for that, and I’m sure you guys can speak to that as well, this conversation you have to have to get to that point.
Trevor Connor 35:29
I always tell my athletes when it comes to recovery week, they can’t schedule it. You can’t say I’m going to give myself five days, and then my legs are going to be ready on the sixth day. Your legs tell you when they are ready. I have had recovery weeks where three days in, I’m feeling good and ready to go. I’ve had recovery weeks, where after eight days, I’m still not there. So, you really do have to listen to your legs, it’s also really important, remember, there are two ways to talk about recovery. So, there’s you just finished an event you’re beat up, so let’s say the event finished on a Sunday, and you have a stage race that’s starting on Friday. So, you’re trying to undo as much of the damage as you can from that previous event and be as ready as you can for the stage race. You don’t want your body falling apart in between, you don’t want the painkillers to clear out because you’ll arrive on that Friday and get killed. So, that’s where it’s less about adaptations, you want to keep the painkillers flying, so you’re going to really bring down the volume, but still keep riding the bike, maybe do one, possibly two short intensity sessions, just to keep those painkillers flowing, but let your body do some repair. The other type is that longer-term, I’ve just done a whole bunch of damage, and I want my body to fully adapt and get stronger from this. That’s where you go, I’m going to take a longer period, I’m going to let my body fall apart, and then get back to things. In that scenario, you need to know it could be a week or two before your legs are going to be good to go hard again.
Chris Case 37:04
Right. I think you want to take baby steps too throughout that entire process, you don’t want to go full bore in one direction. I think people get concerned if they take too much time off or recover for too long that they’re just going to lose everything they just gained, and I know that’s not necessarily true, but there’s a balancing act there.
Trevor Connor 37:26
Let me give you an example of something I just went through. So, I did a race a few weeks back where I realized at the end of that race, I had dug myself into a hole, and I needed to recover. I was like if I do this right, I should adapt from it. So, I took a good five days off, took it really easy. The Sunday, so the one event finished on Saturday, but the following Sunday, I had a race that was Superior Morgul and went to that race, I had a good six days recovery and I lasted 18 minutes, just wasn’t there, wasn’t motivated, legs weren’t there, it hurt, it felt lousy, and went, that was just dumb, why did I show up? Then continue the recovery, so now you’re getting a solid two weeks, and then on this Sunday, so two weeks later, hopped on Zwift and put out the best numbers I put out in two years. So, that’s how long it can take, but you can still see gains after that length of time.
Chris Case 38:36
Jana, do you have thoughts on recovery? I know you come from a different sport long ago, does that inform how you think of recovery now?
Jana Martin 38:47
Well, I’ve also been working on this podcast for over a year now, and I hear how much Trevor, and you, and all of our guests, and Ryan will talk about how important recovery is. I think I’m pretty good at taking recovery, I will happily take days off the bike, not because I don’t want to but if the weather’s bad, I don’t really have a problem at this point in my beginning training and taking time off, and I also like to do other things. Riding the bike for me is a big part of just being outside when it’s nice, so if I know I’ve done a massive ride on Saturday, then on Sunday, I’ll go for a hike, and I did that recently and I was really sore after the hike, not necessarily the ride, I know more active recovery different muscles systems. So, I feel like that’s going well for me maybe sometimes feeling bad for taking too much time off like feeling lazy when I should be training, so kind of battling that. Yeah.
Chris Case 39:52
So, Ryan, I’m going to start with you, you know that we like to close out our regular episodes with a 60-second take-home message from each of the guests. What would you say your take-home messages is from your N1 challenge, and the lessons you’ve learned throughout the training process.
Ryan Kohler Takeaway Message
Ryan Kohler 40:08
So, as a time-crunched athlete, I think you said it really well initially with having those weekly puzzle pieces to play with, and we know there needs to be flexible, it’s fluid, right? The training that we go through and the time we have. So, my take-home is to take that week that we have, any given week, and also look at the bigger picture to look critically at it and see if, based on your goals, see if that’s really suiting them. So, as I said, it’s been season after season of achieving the same level of fitness, but I’ve never wanted to sign up for something like Breck Epic for that big of an event. So, this year, I look at it as I want to do something different, I need to train differently, I need to adjust and it needs to feel different day-to-day, there should be a different feel to this. So, we’re really, I think taking that critical look at things, am I really doing things differently? Or am I still getting stuck in the same old routine that’s going to leave me fatigued by August? So, that’s my take-home, every once in a while, take that step back. If your time-crunched, you know the fluidity is involved, take a step back, honestly assess things, and then decide if you need to make some adjustments to make things work more in your favor.
Jana Martin Takeaway Message
Chris Case 41:23
Jana Martin 41:25
Structured riding is a huge take-home. Learning how to ride fast, learning how to ride slow, learning how to look at different rides as either hard rides or easy rides. It sounds very simple, but when you’re changing the way that you’ve ridden for whatever period of time, it’s a big change.
Chris Case 41:44
Trevor, what do you got?
Trevor Connor Takeaway Message
Trevor Connor 41:45
Getting to 90% is challenging, but it’s fun, it’s doable, and can be very rewarding. To get that extra 10%, if that’s what you’re trying to do, remember, it is dangerous, it is hard, and it kills a lot of the fun. So, make sure,
Chris Case 42:03
That’s not putting a very positive spin on that 10%. You sure you want to do this?
Trevor Connor 42:08
Very rewarding if you accomplish it. So, decide how much that’s worth it to you.
Jana Martin 42:14
Chris, what’s your one minute?
Chris Case Takeaway Message
Chris Case 42:17
I think I could sum it up pretty quickly, and that is you need more recovery than you think you need. I think that is a generalization of course, but you can apply that more often than not, especially after big races, or big training blocks, or a training camp that you’ve assembled for yourself, three-day, four-day, five-day, whatever the case may be, you probably need more recovery than you think you do, and you just have to listen to your body to make sure you get it.
Chris Case 42:52
That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast and be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. As always, we love your feedback, join the conversation at forums.fasttalklabs.com to discuss each and every episode, and particularly the challenges that Ryan, Trevor, Jana, and I have taken on, we will be available to answer any questions about how much we’re suffering through our training and preparation and so much more. Become a member of Fast Talk Laboratories at fasttalklabs.com/join and become a part of our education and coaching community. For Coach Trevor Connor, Ryan Koehler, Jana Martin. I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening.