Q&A on Intensity within LSD Rides, Finding a Coach, and Coach as Teacher, with Rab Wardell

Coach and pro cyclist Rab Wardell helps us answer questions on adding bouts of intensity into your LSD rides, how to find a coach at your level, and how much a coach should serve as teacher.

Rab Wardell on the West Highland Way

Our guest coach for this episode is Rab Wardell, owner of Wardell Cycle Coaching, who competed at the mountain bike marathon world championships for Team GB in 2021 and, in 2020, set the fastest known time (FKT) for the West Highland Way in the Highlands of Scotland. (Check out the film West Highland Way: Rab Wardell’s Record Attempt, which was selected for the prestigious Banff Film Festival in 2021.)

Rab helps us answer questions on whether adding some intensity to your long, slow distance rides are detrimental to training adaptations, how to find a new coach when you feel you’ve reached your limit with previous coaches, and how much a coach should teach his or her athletes the scientific purpose of training and individual workouts.

Mixing intervals into long rides 

This question comes from Stuart Hardy of Addlethorpe, UK. He writes:

“Are there any detrimental effects to dropping Seiler Z3 efforts into the long slow rides (which are two to three hours for me)? Essentially, this would mean riding easy on the flat and hitting the short punchy hills (1-5 minute) we have around me hard.

Basically, I would be either easy or all-out in the same ride. I suppose the question is: Does going into VO2/Anaerobic during a long aerobic ride cause the body to change its mode of operation and shift energy systems, thus negating the benefits we’re striving for by riding for longer (i.e. FatMax/aerobic capacity)? Does it shift the body towards glycolysis and it doesn’t revert back between the efforts?”

Finding your level of coach

This next question comes from Beth Frankel of Hilo, Hawaii. She writes:

“When I started cycling seriously five years ago at the age of 22, I found a coach that I liked working with and who was also relatively new to the coaching field. We seemed to click and he has been a great partner in my progress. But now I feel like I’ve reached his limit, and therefore, mine. I’m a Cat. 3 getting decent results, but I want to take it up a level.

As I look for my next coach, what are the things I should be looking for? What are the questions I should be asking myself, in terms of what I need? And what are the questions I should be asking the potential coach to understand if he or she can meet those needs?”

Psychology of coaching

This question comes from Dana Parker in Bristol, Tennessee. She writes:

“My coach and I have had some differences as of late as to how she should deliver certain messages and plans to me. For example, while she wants to ‘teach’ me how and why to do certain things, I just want to be told what to do. I have a lot going on in life, and the last thing I want to do as I prepare to head out the door to do intervals is to read an email about some scientific principle or physiological mechanism. Just tell me how hard to go, how long to go, and when I can call it a day.

Is there something I can do to help her understand that the ‘why’ isn’t always important to me? Or can you convince me that the ‘why’ is more important than I think it is? Or do I just need to find a new coach?”

Episode Transcript

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