5 Ways to Make Your Recovery Easier

It is training Thursday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Recovery from your workouts and races is a critical part of the equation in an athlete’s quest for improved fitness and form.  Below are a few steps to help make recovery quick and easy.

•  Keep a gallon of low-fat chocolate milk on hand:  even if you’re crunched for time, it’s easy to grab a big glass of chocolate milk on your way in from training (and hitting that first important window of glycogen replenishment).

•  Roll out a yoga mat before your ride, so it’s ready and waiting for you when you get home.   It’ll serve as a great reminder to do your core work and stretching, and it’s one less thing to set up when you get in from riding.

•  Plan to make a couple of larger meals during the week, so you have left overs on those days when you’re pressed for time.  By cutting down on your overhead time preparing food, you can put your feet up and get a little more rest.

•  Take a nap on the weekends (or whenever you can).  A little extra sleep can make a huge difference!

•  If you live in a hilly area, consider doing your recovery ride on the rollers / trainer.  It might be boring, but keeping your HR and exertion in the recovery zone, and minimizing torque on your legs is important on for those active recovery rides.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

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Adversity as Opportunity

It is training Wednesday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Life as a competitive athlete is filled with challenges and obstacles of many forms:  flatting, crashing, getting caught out in bad weather, juggling family and job responsibilities with training and racing.  While many cyclists derive satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of a hard workout or race, those other unexpected obstacles can be harder to take in stride.

We can’t control when or where we’ll run into bad luck and adversity on the bike (or anywhere else).  Regular and thorough bike maintenance usually goes a long way to preventing equipment related issues, but flats and other mechanicals are unavoidable.  The same with crashes, last minute problems at work, bad weather, etc.:  we can do our best to avoid these scenarios, but they happen to all of us at some point.

It’s easy to get hung up on the downside of those times when adversity comes your way, but instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, I encourage you to focus on what you can control:  your reaction to the situation.   Did a flat tire take you out of the race?  Focus on trying to get back into the field, and use that opportunity to work on your TT skills and pacing.  Decreasing daylight, and sometimes broken bones from a crash confine us to the trainer.  Instead of dreading that trainer time, why not use it to work on your mental toughness and focus?   Bad weather, delayed flights, and problems at work are all things we can’t control.  But, staying calm and minimizing your stress and anxiety will likely leave you feeling fresher for your workout or race.

Coaches and athletes work together to create an optimal training and racing environment, but many days on the bike are far from ideal.  Embrace the challenges that come your way, and work on controlling your reactions to those obstacles.  Try to make the best out of those situations, and remember that perseverance and mental fortitude are skills that you can train when things aren’t going your way.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

Get Yourself Committed

It is training Wednesday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Part of cycling’s lore and mystique is the unfaltering commitment of its athletes.  We’ve all heard tales of huge training blocks, four-hour basement trainer riders with the lights off, and cyclists’ dedication to training and recovery above almost anything else.  This commitment to the athletic lifestyle and long-term goals often pays dividends in increased fitness and skill.

A long time friend and client of mine brought up an interesting point in a conversation the other day, highlighting the importance of commitment on a much smaller scale.   Juxtaposed with the dedication that comes with being a competitive athlete are those moments in a race when we decide to launch solo off the front of the field, jump across to an early break, or sprint for the finish.   My friend astutely explained that as athletes, we owe it to ourselves to fully commit to that solo break, attack, or sprint, and give it our full focus, mentally and physically.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  I’m not saying that you should burn all your matches following every attack in a race, or take a solo flier at the start of a 100 mile day.  Rather, I’m encouraging you to race confidently and commit to going “all in” during your races.  Try new things, jump on those attacks without hesitation, and embrace the process of learning from those experiences.  By really committing and giving 100% in races, you’ll push your limits, gain fitness and experience, and learn more about yourself and racing, while never having to wonder if that break would have stayed away if you had only taken a few more pulls…

Make a pledge to yourself, or better yet, set the goal of committing during your races:  react to the dynamics of the race and go all in.  Then, after the race, review those times when you gave 100%.  Did those efforts pay off?  What lessons did you learn?  What will you change next time?

In addition to those epic training rides, skipping out on the family hiking trips, and politely refusing dessert, don’t forgot to capitalize on those precious race-day opportunities, or better yet, make your own opportunities!  Commit yourself 100% to the decisive moments that make up each race day, objectively review those efforts, and reap the benefits of your commitment as you learn and improve.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

Setting Goals For Your Cyclo-Cross Season

It is training Wednesday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amatuer teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Writer Peter Drucker is generally credited with the quote, “What gets measured, gets managed.” While this theory is most often applied to business management, the same idea should be applied to your athletic goals throughout the year.

In my last article, I wrote about the importance of setting goals that are specific to your training objectives, race calendar, and resources. Once you’ve set those goals, and drawn up a plan of how to achieve them, it’s important to periodically revisit those goals to assess your progress. I recommend setting aside 30 minutes during your rest week to review your goals, and make any needed changes to your training plan or race calendar at that time.

Consider this scenario: Paul’s season goal is to place in the top ten of the local ‘cross series in half of the series races. In support of that objective, he has outlined several supporting goals:

  • Compete in all 10 of the local series races.
  • Improve bike handling in muddy conditions.
  • Increase repeatable 5-minute power to 300 watts for four intervals.
  • Plan ahead for proper race-day nutrition by bringing plenty of food and water to the venue, helping to save money and lower stress at the races.

In Paul’s case, his goals are fairly easy to measure and assess: has he attended all of the series races held so far? Has he been training in muddy conditions to improve his confidence and handling? Can he average 300 watts over the course of four, five-minute intervals? Has he run out of food at a race or had to spend money where he could have brought food?

Because Paul checks his progress towards his goals every few weeks, he still has time to adjust his training and racing to make sure he’s on track throughout the season.

It’s easy to get caught up in the travel, shorter days, and frequent bike maintenance of ‘cross season, but don’t forget to reassess your progress to your goals. Keeping track of those goals can help you decide where to focus more energy, or affirm that your hard work is helping you move forward in pursuit of your best ‘cross season yet.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

Off-The-Bike Tips for Cyclo-Cross

Today we have a guest post for our series on training. Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amatuer teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

3 Off-the-bike Tips for Your Best Cyclo-Cross Season Yet

As the late summer and early fall approaches, many riders are ramping up their training for the upcoming cyclo-cross season.  Before you roll to the start line this year, consider doing a little homework off the bike.

Set goals that are specific to your training objectives, race calendar, and resources.

Before the season starts, take some time to write a set of goals for your upcoming ‘cross season.  Think about what skills and areas of fitness you want to improve, as well as how races will fit into the big picture of your training year.  Sharing those goals with your coach can help you both come up with a great training plan for your ‘cross campaign, and give you a set of objective benchmarks against which to compare the season.

Prioritize your core work, stretching, and yoga.

So many cyclists will spend 12+ hours per week on the bike, but neglect to do a few 10 – 15 minute sessions of whole body strengthening and maintenance.   Try to work in a yoga class on Mondays for recovery, and make a habit of doing a thorough core routine 3 times a week.  Couple that with gentle stretching of your glutes, hamstrings, quads and hips (at a minimum) and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining the healthy and balanced body that you rely on so much while riding.

Be meticulous with your equipment preparation.

Cyclo-cross is demanding on your equipment, and regular maintenance is a must.  If you’re not a competent mechanic, it’s worth your time and money to take your bike to a local shop every week or two during the season.  And, make sure you’ve got a full compliment of spare and back-up parts when you head to the races.  Some great additions to your tool kit / race bag for ‘cross include a spare set of pedals and shoes; extra tires, chains, and brake pads; and, a bucket and brush for that quick post-race bike wash before the mud cakes on.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.