The Never Going Pro Podcast – Episode 6 – Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Exercise Options for Family Vacations

In this episode, Shayne, Ken, and Chris chat about heart rate variability: What is it? How does it work? Is this a helpful tool for cyclists? And exercise options for family vacations when you don’t have your bike.

Our special guest this week is Jone Gravdal from the Indoor Specialist team. He is a high level Zwift Racer and has recently started incorporating HRV training as an extra tool in his training toolkit. While not completely dependent on it, it was interesting to hear how he uses his HRV score along with his physical sensations to make training decisions. Our apologies as his audio quality is not the best!

Available on iTunesStitcherSpotify, and SoundCloud

Show Notes:

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.

HRV is affected via the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and more specifically the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) – “Fight or flight” – and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) – “Rest and digest”. The SNS is responsible for shortening the beat-to-beat interval at rest, versus the PNS which will lengthen it at rest. Said another way, an athlete who is relaxed will have a higher HRV score, and an athlete who is stressed will have a lower HRV score.

High HRV = Good

Low HRV = Bad

Measurement of HRV

The gold standard to measure HRV is via an electrocardiogram (ECG) and measure the time between “R” waves (shown below), however current monitors in the market employ an optical sensor which utilizes photoplethysmography (PPG) and measures the steepest increase in the signal prior to the peak, which marks a heartbeat. The latter is still under scrutiny for its accuracy which is why I, personally, take this data with a grain of salt and do not base my, nor my athletes, readiness to train solely off of HRV data.

As you can see from above, the ECG data provides superior beat-to-beat variability, via RR-interval measurements, and more accurate data overall as opposed to PPG.

So, in a nutshell, HRV is a useful tool for cyclists to recognize patterns, and change behaviors. Example: going to bed late and/or drinking alcohol lowers my HRV, but meditation raises it. BUT, basing your training off of it entirely will result in a likely fitness plateau since you’re never providing enough stress to the system to create an overloading stimulus. Remember, not all stress is bad, and you need stress to become fitter and more resilient to the same stressor that once fatigued you (like building a callus). So, using HRV to create better behavior is great, but basing training off of a likely inaccurate number is not my recommendation at this time.

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Show Transcript

Hey, do you guys want to hear a dad joke?

More than anything.

Fantastic. Have you heard of the dyslexic, agnostic insomniac?



He stayed up wondering … Here, let me start that … I’m going to do that over again.

I don’t think we should ever [inaudible 00:00:19].

Hey, do you guys want to hear a dad joke?


I do.

Have you heard of the dyslexic, agnostic insomniac?

Named Ken Nowell?


He stayed up all night wondering if there was a dog.

Silence. Dog. Get it?

Yeah, dog, instead of God?


Man, y’all are stupid. Everybody else got that joke.

I don’t think my college education is high enough for that joke.

Well, all two people who are still listening to this after that joke both got it.

All right, well, welcome everybody to the Never Going Pro podcast by Dad’s Inside Riding Trainers, where the jokes suck. We’re featuring GC Coaching. This is a podcast about riding bikes and parenthood and trying really, really hard at both. I’m your host, Ken ‘the badger’ Nowell. And with me, is Shayne Gaffney, owner of GC Coaching.


And Chris Gorney, fellow DIRT teammate, passionate cyclist and outstanding dad.

How’s it going everybody?

So let’s take a few minutes to catch up. How’s everybody doing this week?

Well, my family moved to California in the last ten days, so, I’m sitting in a garage surrounded by a boxed up grill, my bike on a trainer, and thirty-two hundred diapers. It’s probably the best soundproofing room I’ve ever had for a podcast.

That’s pretty good.

Yeah, but other than that, we’re doing really well. Turns out I can bike commute to my job here pretty easily, and that has made the transition pretty fun, so we’re doing great.

Very cool. Now you’re near Zwift Headquarters now, right?

Right, that’s what I was going to say.

Yeah. I’m just a spy. That is my goal. I’m four blocks from Zwift Headquarters, and I’m just going to slowly work my way in. We’re going to get all the inside scoop.

Fantastic. How about Shayne? He said he’s getting a new driveway put in in his house.

I am, yeah. Driveway’s thirty years old, and it’s New Hampshire winter, so, it has many, many frost heaves and bumps and looks pretty jagged, so we’re getting a new one today, which is great. You may hear some machinery and equipment on my end, but I’ll do my best to edit it out in post.

Is your driveway an anthropomorphism for you? Who you are?


Many New Hampshire winters [crosstalk 00:02:49]

It’s about thirty years old, a lot of jagged edges, a lot of cracks. Yep.

Not so much frost- Frost heaving been replaced with dry-heaving.

Not so much frost heaving, yeah. That’s pretty soon though.

Frost heaving? Frost heaving is a great band name, by the way. Frost heaving?

That is a great band name.

I would listen to that.

It would be. And you know what? A lot of southerners don’t even know what it is. It’s basically when the ground freezes underneath concrete and lifts it up, and drops it back down, but usually not evenly, and it cracks it.

Nope. All gross.

[crosstalk 00:03:25] So yeah man, Yep. Getting ready for winter up here.

Moving out here to California. So, I grew up in the prairies. So, I feel like I was raised to be this tough, hearty man with weather and all these things. And I’m moving out here to California, and it’s 75 degrees and people are walking around in sweatshirts. And, I have this deep fear that I’m going to become one of them.

Yeah, you’ll get softer for sure.

That’s what I’m saying, man. I was on a ride the other day, and it was 68 degrees, and I saw people in full tights and like a face mask.


I know. I’m really afraid. I’m going to have to figure out how to step into the freezer or something, or punish myself. So, anyway, that’s full confession.

You have to move to Belgium.

I know. Well, I just both full-confessed a fear and insulted all of southern California at the same time.

It’s okay. It’s a pretty small cycling community down there, so, I’m sure nobody’s listening, you know, it’s [crosstalk 00:04:16]

Yeah, we should be fine.

Yesterday, we were on a walk, and I know no one to bike with here, and we’re half a block from our house, and it’s dark out, and I see this guy, who again, hopefully doesn’t listen to this, and he is working on a bike on a bike rack in his garage. I look at my wife, and I go, “Oh my God, there’s my people. He’s one of us,” and I said, “I’m going to go over there and talk to him.” My wife goes, “No, don’t do it, leave him alone.” I just charged into his garage and say, “Hey, can we talk about biking?”

Turns out, he’s an awesome guy. He’s a part of the cycling community. He had 30 kits on a rack in his garage and like six bikes. It was clear his garage was for bikes and not cars, and so I think I found my entrance into the community.

It just shows you, bike people are good people. You can walk right onto their property.

I’ll tell you, man. Got a California bromance already. That’s fantastic.

Yeah, I’d tell you his name, but it’s still pretty new and special to me, so I don’t want anyone else to know.

Well, so far my week has been pretty good. I had my big A event of the year about a week ago. The Beaver Dam New Light Challenge. 22 miles of single track, 11 miles of road, and it was awesome. It was really hard, it was really hot, and I hit all of my goals. Things are good there.



Good job.

So, tomorrow, if you are one of the DIRT team members or not, we are starting our epic KOM challenge, where we’re going to be racing up the epic KOM, recording your time, spending the month of October getting fitter, and then we’re going to come back and do it again on Tuesday, October 29th to get a retest time. So if you want to join us, please do. That should be a lot of fun.

But only if you’re in the Eastern Time Zone, correct?

Yeah, there are people that are pretty upset about us only having a 5:30 AM Eastern Time.

I meant to say that a lot meaner, but it came off too nice.

Well we created a spreadsheet, so you can do it on your own. Put your time into the spreadsheet and still participate. We’ve got a work-around there.

What time are you going for, or aiming at?

I don’t know.

Do you know yet?

I’m thinking around the 20-minute mark. It’s going to be different because drafting is going to be turned off, so, that’s going to have an effect. Every other time I’ve done it, it was like in a race, so, yeah. It’ll be a lot of fun.

[crosstalk 00:06:45] be using the same bike too? The same frame?

[crosstalk 00:06:48] Since we’re not doing any sort of prize for the best, this is more like an individual effort, but we’re doing them together, so, I’m just going to keep my tron bike, I believe and retest on the tron bike.

Yeah, I think as long as you use the same frame.

So cheating is what you’re saying. You’re cheating.

Cheating. Hey, I earned that bike.

Well, the tron bike is actually not going to be the fastest. It’s going to be…

That’s true, you want a climbers bike.

… really helium with the lightweight meilenstein. That’s probably going to be the quickest.

The what bike?

Zero aerodynamics. I think it’s the helium. I can’t remember. I think it’s a Ridley. I think it’s a helium, yeah. But, it’s whatever bike is super, super light, because when climbing, you want a light bike, you don’t want an aerodynamic one. So, tron bike is the best of all worlds, but there’s faster bikes that are aerodynamically better, and there’s also faster bikes that are climbing.

I love when people say the phrase, “I earned the tron bike”, because in my mind I just see their wives shaking their heads, going, “I miss my husband.”

My favorite post ever on Zwift riders, the Facebook group, is when people complete the Everest challenge, but they’re only at 10 percent. “Oh, I got to the top of the mountain, where’s the tron bike?” And they have no idea that it’s not there. A million plus elevation more.

Yeah, I had to have that conversation with a buddy. He was so excited. He was like, “Hey, I’ve climbed 36,000 feet, I’m going to get the tron bike.” Nope. Keep going. Keep going for another six months.

I gave up on that a long time ago, just because especially because again, not trying to say anything bad, but since I use trainer road a lot as well with Zwift, it’s not as conducive as going for the tron bike.

No, no, no I’m going to disagree with you there.

Am I just being wrong?

That’s how you get the tron bike, yes. So, in other words, make sure you’re signed up for the concept bike challenge, and then when you do all of your trainer road workouts, make sure you’re doing them up one of the big climbs, and you’ll just rack up tons and tons of points. Make sure you save your ride at the end of your Zwift session, and if you end up getting both your Zwift and your trainer road ride ship populating [inaudible 00:09:22], just delete one of them. That’s it. There you go.

So now I feel like I’ve not been cheating, and I’ve been wasting a ton of time. So, that’s better somehow.

Cool. Well, you’ve got all winter to get that bike.

I don’t. I don’t have all winter. That’s what I was talking about. I don’t have winter anymore.

Oh well, good for you.

It’s like 65 degrees all the time. I know, I’m complaining. This is a really weird complaint. But, I’m still going to be on Zwift, because I have a daughter. Anyway, let’s move on.

Let’s move on. We’ve got a couple of topics today. One is heart rate variability, what is it? How does it work? And is it a helpful tool for cyclists? And topic two is exercise, options for family vacations when you don’t have your bike. So, I’m going to turn this over to Shayne to start talking about exactly what heart rate variability is. For those of you that are just hearing about this for the first time, you may have heard of a device called Whoop, which is really popular. That’s probably the biggest heart rate variability monitoring app out there right now.

Shayne, would you say that’s where it is?

For terms of Whoop being the biggest market share?

No, that was maybe a worse joke than the one we started out with. And I’m really sad I’m the only one who got it.

Oh, like whoop there it is.

Although, to be fair, I think it’s wop there it is.

You’re way ahead of me.

I know.

No, its whoop, there it is.

That was the song my daughter was born to. That’s a different conversation, and podcast.

Wait, you guys were in the hospital and Whoop, There It Is was on?

I made a playlist of things coming out of other things. Baby, Push It.

God, you’re weird, man.

I know it was strange but all the nurses were dancing. She was born to Whoop There It Is. Anyway, moving on.

She was probably conceived to it too.

It’s the only song we play. That and Chumba Wumba. That is the only two songs we play. Anyway. So, variable heart rates, Shayne.

Anyway, yeah. So, heart rate variability is also called HRV. You might hear or see that in literature. But it’s essentially the variation of time between each heartbeat and the variation of each heartbeat is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. So, the autonomic nervous system, or the ANS is something you don’t really have control over. And you divide the ANS into sympathetic and also parasympathetic nervous systems. So, you might have heard fight or flight response. That is the sympathetic nervous system and you also may have heard of rest and digest, which is the parasympathetic nervous system. So far so good?

So far so good. But, I guess the question is, you are saying, it’s the time between heartbeats, so this differs from heart rate. So, can you explain the difference between heart rate variability and heart rate?

So, heart rate is beats per minute. I’m going to put something in the show notes, which is a PQRST wave. So, a PQRST wave is what you get over an ECG or an electrocardiogram. The difference is in the R wave is what the heart rate variability is. So, they measure that in milliseconds. So R wave to R wave is what your HRV is. Versus a pulse rate is just when your vein throbs, that’s just 1 beat 2 beats 3 beats.

Now that makes sense.

And I’d like to throw in a qualifier that none of us are medical professionals and please do not use this for anything real in life that may or may not save your life.


Disclaimer. Not doctors.

So high HRV is good, and that means your parasympathetic nervous system is turned up relative to the sympathetic, which means you have less heart beats per minute or per second. And that means you have wider space between R waves. And then vice versa, low HRV is sometimes called a bad thing, and that means your sympathetic nervous system is turned up or you’re just more stressed than usual. Which means the R wave is going to be more narrow between beats.

All that being true, I suppose the next question is: Is learning how to increase the essentially healthy R wave distance something that can help my training, and if that’s true, how do I do that? What’s the effect on my time in my garage here?

So before we do that, let’s talk about the measurement. So we’ve talked about Whoops already. So Whoop uses an optical sensor to measure HRV. So the ECG or electrocardiogram is 6 or 12 leads, and that’s the gold standard to measure HRV. Obviously that’s very expensive, you have to have medical training to know how to use it. So if you’re trying to see the distances between R waves on a PQRST waveform and you’re using an optical sensor, I don’t believe it’s accurate enough to actually give you a true accurate HRV number. Which is where the scrutiny still is with these companies, they may give you data, but is that data actually accurate and reliable enough for you to make decisions based of?

So what you’re saying is there’s some lower market alternatives to this that people could try to do themselves, but it’s not necessarily helpful data to actually make life decisions on.

Right, I think it’s helpful data to recognize patterns and to change behaviors, but I don’t think it’s at the point yet to base your entire training block or all your training stress off of. So as an example, if you go to bed late or you drink alcohol or whatever you’re going to usually see a lower HRV or you’ll see those R waves become closer together which is a bad sign. And then vice versa, meditation or taking a walk in a park, or something that makes you feel good and less stressed, that’s going to result in your HRV being higher, or again, those R waves being more spaced apart.

The problem is, when you’re training you’re inducing stress onto your body, because that stress is what causes the overload stimulus to occur and then hopefully the adaptation to occur when you allow it to rest. So if you’re causing stress to the organism, you’re causing stress to your body, that’s going to lower your HRV. The problem is if you keep on measuring HRV inaccurately, at least in my opinion with an optical sensor, you’re never going to truly cause enough of an overload to create that actual stimulus to adapt your body to it. So you’re going to get into the point where you’re almost plateaued, because whenever you see you have a low HRV you won’t train, and then vice versa if you have a high HRV you’ll train. So I don’t think it’s a good way to kind of base all your training off of.

Later on in the podcast you’ll hear an interview that we did with indoor specialist pro Jone Gravdal, and he was saying that he uses heart rate variability, but even if he’s showing a high HRV score which is indicating he should get some rest, if he’s doing a training block, he pushes forward with his training anyway, even though it’s saying technically he shouldn’t be. So I found that that was interesting use of how he uses the device.

Yeah, and I think that’s going to be a helpful perspective, Ken. Because where I, after I was reading all this research that Shayne posted on slack, and we were going through it, my thought is: how does this actually help me make decisions? Because is seems kind of like a black hole. If I’m really hyper focused on potentially inaccurate HRV data, then I’m going to say, “well maybe I shouldn’t have this glass of wine when my friends are over because I’ve got to wake up and get on the trainer.” But if there’s a possibility of looking at what’s my heart rate, what’s my watt output-age, and then of course just the relative perceived effort, how do I feel… It seems like there’s maybe some more variability in there. So I don’t have to hyper focus, unless I’m really going at it with a professional coach and trainer like Shayne. Would you say that’s pretty accurate?

Yeah and even then still, I think HRV is good if you have access to an ECG. But if you’re using it to base training off of, I just honestly wouldn’t use it to base your training off of. Use it to base off of patterns, if you notice your HRV is lower and you feel like you’re getting a sore throat maybe back off at that point. You might be getting sick. Or if you have an issue with going to bed late, or whatever, use that to go to bed earlier, or meditate more, just take care of yourself more, to change your behaviors.

To put this in a nutshell, my point here was the accuracy of what’s out there right now is okay, but it’s not great, because again, it uses an optical sensor as opposed to a 6 or 12 lead ECG. And then I’ll link the two different examples in the show notes. And if you’re basing training off of HRV then you’re never going to create enough of a stress to overload your body and create [inaudible 00:19:04] you need to adapt to it. So you need to have some stress to become fit and more resilient, and I equate it to building a callus. The more you do something the harder that skin is going to get. And the same thing with your training, the more you train and the more you overload, the better resiliency you can have and the fitter you’re going to become.

I think that some good information especially is these companies that are coming out there may be promising a lot, but just go into it with a little bit of skepticism. And now we’re going to move on to topic 2 which is exercise options for family vacations when you don’t have your bike. As we get into this I want to share a little bit of an anecdote. One of our founders, Jason Stern, he was a college runner. And during his vacation, he had not been running, and he ran about 40 miles that week. From all his cycling fitness, he could easily carry that, but he also injured himself. His hip or his leg muscle, something got tweaked. So this is something that cyclists need to be really careful about as they can push really hard, but it might not necessarily be a good idea.

Well and I know Shayne’s going to immediately say, “Stop running”. Because he and I had this whole text conversation a few weeks ago when my wife and I were visiting my family, and I texted him and was like: “Look man, I went for a run!” And he was like: “Stop it! Don’t run. If you want to be purely a cyclist,” I think your exact phrase was like: “If you want to have sport-specific fitness, running is both physically and metabolically very very tough on a cyclists body”

Yeah, I would never say, “Never run” to anybody, but if you’re training for a specific event, or you’re very close to the event is, then changing your training drastically, and especially doing a 40 mile week, when you haven’t ran in months and months probably isn’t the best idea, just because A, it’s going to make you crazy sore because of those eccentric load to your muscles that running exhibits on them. So I don’t think it’s just the best use of the time if you have an event very soon. But for the off season or the preparation season I think it’s great.

I felt so terrible the next day. I mean I ran, I felt fit. I was making jokes. My wife was not laughing at my jokes…

We don’t laugh at your jokes either.

That’s fair. That’s fair, so we’re basically married. So, the next day I got up and I was just like, “Oh god, I can’t move”. And I used to compete in triathlons. I used to run all the time.

If you run all the time you can run all the time, but if you cycle all the time you can’t run for beans. And then, like you said, you’re going to have one great day and then have 5 days of lost training because of soreness.

So here’s how I’d answer that question with less joking: Vacations for me are probably less of a topic as much as traveling for work. We haven’t been on a vacation in probably a year or so, just with moving and live stage and things like that. But I do travel for work quite a bit and so when I’m traveling, clearly I’m not bringing a bike. And kind of the two things I do, not saying this is the thing to do, but it’s three things I do. But this is what I do.

I walk as much as I can. A lot of times when I travel I’m going to bigger cities so I avoid taking Ubers or taxis. I walk as much as I can, I take the stairs as much as I can, so if my hotel room is on the tenth floor I try to take the stairs most the time up and down. And then I try to get like- It also helps with just life rhythms. I get up in the morning and I’ll go to the gym at the hotel or a park or something nearby and I’ll try to do some sort of conditioning work out that isn’t super taxing.

But something just to kind of get my heart rate up. And kind of get endorphins going and make me feel like I actually did something. So yeah I might not be on the bike but I kind of try to take those seasons, even if it’s just a three day trip or a five day trip, similar to vacation, as an opportunity to rest my legs, rest my back, and work on a little bit of core strength. So, that’s what I do. I don’t know that it’s been wildly successful, but it definitely hasn’t hurt me.

So what’s your advice, Shayne?

I guess it depends on where the athlete is in terms of their season. So if the athlete is at the end of their season and they need a mental break, then I’ll give them- you know like we talked last week, kind of those no garmin, no rules kind of rides, or athlete-choice rides where I’ll say “You know what? Enjoy the week. Do what you want to do, and then talk to me when you get back.” And the vice versa, if they’re having vacation when they’re two months or so out from their target event, then I’ll probably have them bring their bike and their trainer, and then kind of business as usual. Depending again on how mentally fresh they are or burnt out they are. So it kind of depends on a few things what I require- not require but what I have them do. And the biggest thing for me is just mentally how they feel. And then physically what they need to do to get themselves ready for their event.

That makes sense.

Politician response, but…

Well here’s one thing that-

That’s what I want to know, what you do when you travel.

I don’t take vacation much, at least not the past five years. [crosstalk 00:24:31] So step one would be take vacation. But I think it’s the same thing. Before if I was training for something, then I would bring my bike and my trainer and just be business as usual. Or pick a location that has decent infrastructure for cycling. And then vice versa, if I just needed time, just to relax and chill out then I’ll leave my bike at home and just go for a walk or a hike or something like that. Typically not a lot of impacts, because the stuff we talked about before, just because if you do impact you’ll be sore for days afterwards. So kind of hiking or just enjoying it, swimming, kayaking, whatever I want to do. More of a mental refresher than anything else.

So one thing that you had talked about was the importance of planning out your year. And usually these vacation things are not off the cuff, they’re planned out months in advance, so what I do is I try to really load up my training stress the week before. Go a little bit deeper into fatigue, and then I still usually get to take my bike down to the beach, but I mean my focus is on my family.

And that’s one thing that I think is really, really important to point out is, let it go and be there with your kids, splashing around at the beach. Take your wife on a date, drink an extra glass of wine, eat some extra hotdogs, and go and have fun. You can load up a little bit before, maybe have a little harder week when you get back. And just make sure that you’re getting out of your vacation what you need to get out of it. Because one thing that I’ve seen on our DIRT social media pages is these guys almost not panicking but getting stressed out about going on vacation and losing gains, and from our previous podcast, what you pointed out is you really don’t lose very much fitness in one week.

No. And like you said, if you need the mental break then that’s more important than keeping physically to the plan.

So I think that that is really good advice for you guys out there, and ladies that are looking to go on a vacation. Don’t panic. Your fitness isn’t going to tank. You might come back a little bit stronger. If you come back a few pounds heavier, just dial it in when you get home. And have fun.

Well, it’s fuel to burn on your next ride.

There you go. Like Joe Rogan would point out, it gives him a project to work on when he gets back.

Right. I agree with all that. Plus this is getting into family-ethos questions, but my family when we vacation we really enjoy active vacations. So my wife and I on our honeymoon we went hiking. We went to a bunch of places we could go hiking, and pretty much every one of our vacations is going somewhere remote, beautiful, where we can kind of be active. And you’ve never seen someone so tough and impressive as a 6-month pregnant woman hiking up to a fire watch tower. So we’ve done some very fun weeks here and there around the US where we actually came back feeling mentally refreshed. And my wife, I’ve mentioned on previous podcasts runs marathons, so she’s always kind of on a training plan too. [inaudible 00:27:58] just spent a week doing something different. It kind of made our bodies feel rested, and our minds feel rested, and we had fun, and we kind of came back and started even feeling better on the run and on the bike.

That’s awesome.

I think the mental aspect is huge. Plus, now knowing that I’ve got two weeks to just be lazy before I start losing fitness is huge.

Yeah there you go.

That’s how I heard that podcast by the way. Oh I’ve got two weeks to be lazy, perfect.

Yeah just train one week on, two weeks off, and you’ll keep building. And yeah, make sure you keep track of your Whoop score.

Hey Shayne, that’s going to be your book. That’s going to be your four hour work week thing. “One Out of Three” can be the book title. One week on, two weeks off. And that’s how you train.

You have to do something crazy epic every day of that week, but you could probably do it at some point.

Talking about that, as we’re segueing, have either of you watched the 50 iron men in 50 days thing on Netflix?

I have not. That sounds stupid.

Okay great. I’m going to reserve my narcissistic and cynical commentary on it. But you should both watch it, and everyone listening should both watch it- both watch it? Both two people listening to this podcast- both of you guys, should watch it and we should talk about it next podcast.

Alright, that sounds good, so we’ve got a homework assignment, everybody.

And I get a cut of proceeds now if our huge audience goes and listens to this.

Alright, so I want to take a minute to introduce our guest. To tell you a little about this guy, I’m slaughtering his name, his name is Jone Gravdal. And he is one the racers on the indoor specialists race roster. If you don’t know who indoor specialist is, the current US national champion Holden Comeau, that is the team that he races on, and there’s a bunch of fantastic riders. Well I reached out to Jone, and he is a high level Zwift racer as mentioned, and he recently started incorporating HRV training as an extra tool into his training toolkit. While not completely dependent on it, it was interesting to hear how he uses HRV score along with his physical sensations training decisions. So enjoy the interview, and here we go:

Jone, thanks for joining us today on the Never Going Pro Podcast. So I understand that you are on the indoor specialist race team. Perhaps you can start with a better introduction of yourself, your first and last name, and how you got linked up with indoor specialist.

Yeah thanks. Glad to be here. My name is Jone Gravdal. [inaudible 00:31:02] It started a long time ago, it was a coincidence. I was racing for a team called PNC. We were racing CBR world cup league. And one morning we did a race in London and we were two teammates up front and the third one who was outnumbered was really persistent and strong, it turns out his names Matt Gardner. Think it’s maybe 3 years ago or something. So we won, me and my teammate [inaudible 00:31:57] and he was outnumbered. But after that race he was [inaudible 00:32:06] I sent him a message, and we start chatting, and we got to be friends. We were never on the same team, but we started cooperating in the CBR world cup league, and the first season it turned out we both had a shot at winning our time zone. But I could go to final, and it was really tight.

[inaudible 00:32:44] [inaudible 00:32:44] We decided anyway that we were going to be a team, even though we weren’t teammates. So, that’s kind of how our relationship started. [inaudible 00:32:59] [inaudible 00:32:59] So to know that I got to be at the [inaudible 00:33:15] [inaudible 00:33:15] CBR world cup live event in LA. And then it turned out like magic that I got to go to the event in Vancouver afterwards, and he was kind of helping me out. And then I got in contact with [inaudible 00:33:32] and [inaudible 00:33:34] guys so I joined the [inaudible 00:33:37] together with Matt. We were I think starting our own team but that’s not the [inaudible 00:33:47] we’re on the same team and we forget. So we’re happy riding [inaudible 00:33:53] A lot of things happened last year.[inaudible 00:34:02][inaudible 00:34:23] We went from a top team to specialists.

Fantastic. And so we love the indoor specialist guys, they’re sort of… we’re all linked up dads inside riding trainers, and indoor specialists more or less being the professional end of the pointy end of things with Zwift racing. I understand you are also a dad inside riding a trainer, so you’ve got a couple of kids yourself?

Yeah. I’ve got two daughters, 10 and 6 years old. The oldest one, her name’s [inaudible 00:35:05] and the young one just started school now. [inaudible 00:35:10] It’s a bit of change now because now both go to school and the youngest one I’m sure…. It’s always things changing everyday so you have to kind of adjust training and everything around that.

Sure, well that sort of brings me to why I invited you to join us on the podcast today. One of the topics of the week that we’re talking about is something that’s pretty new in the cycling training and endurance training world, and really the fitness world at large is heart rate variability training. So I imagine you know, you’ve been a high level cyclist for quite a few years, and you’re trying to balance family, work and riding your bike. How did you first hear about heart rate variability training and what platform do you use for tracking it?

I’m not quite sure. I’m kind of always prepared for, I listen to a lot of podcasts and I love training studies and papers and everything around training, all the theory. I really like to read and listen to everything about it. So, I think it was [inaudible 00:36:44] podcast, but some podcast they mentioned it and then I started searching around for more information, and I ended up at the elite HRB page, they have a lot of webinars and information they have a free app. And they’ve been kind of, I’m not sure, but I understand it like I have been at the forefront of pushing this out more like to the masses. Speaking about a lot of different ways to use HRB. [inaudible 00:37:27] In relation to pain. So I figured I’d try it. Then I stumbled across a couple of challenges, because it’s not all heart rate monitors that use the [inaudible 00:37:52]. I got a new heart rate monitor, and I thought I’d give it a shot. I tried to get all the information I could, [inaudible 00:38:07] [inaudible 00:38:13] I just went into it, to see if there’s something to it.

Sure now, so have you discovered when you are feeling run down that the heart rate variability score is predictive of when you’re going to be over tired or predictive of when you’ll be performing well?

Yeah. I use it more like its relation to how I feel or if something unexpected is going on or something. I don’t know how to say it, but my life’s been pretty hard the last year. I lost [inaudible 00:39:12]

I’m sorry to hear that.

She had a brain tumor, so I wasn’t… my body’s feedback wasn’t like it used to be, and I was really run down, there’s a lot of external stress. Basically what it boils down to is you have to establish something like a true baseline. Of course if you start HRB training when you’re at the end of a hard training, I think that if that is your baseline, then everything will be skewed.

Oh okay, that does make sense. Right, you’re starting at a place where maybe it recognizes… it may think that you’re in a recovered state when actually you’re highly fatigued.

Yeah or your parasympathetic nervous system [inaudible 00:40:35] [inaudible 00:40:35] I think that will kind of create a baseline and when you recover take some time for it to adjust. I think if you’re starting with it, it’s best to start when you’re feeling normal. I think that that’s kind of what happened to me in this period. Nothing was normal and I kind of used it but I didn’t kind of apply [inaudible 00:41:19] information. But some periods seem to correlate more with how I felt, but how I used the information. When you’re training usually you have like three weeks of loading racing, training load and then you have a rest week. So it’s kind of like your HRV will go down, so it’s kind of like it’s planned. Then I would typically ignore it because I know that okay, I only have two days left of hard training so I will have one rest week and then you kind of get…

So you’re not necessarily… you’re still following your training program, even if the app, the HRV app is telling you it’s time to rest, if you find you can still hit your numbers during your training, you’ll just go ahead and push through for the last few days?

Yeah, it’s expected that it will be harder for a week if you’re ramping up the training load, and preparing to take a rest week. Then things usually are harder to achieve, and you plan training around this… [inaudible 00:43:05] So then you recover, and you start a new block. So those are kind of like predicted, but I can see that if I did a really hard workout Tuesday then my HRV score is low Wednesday, and my resting heart rate also is higher. So it’s almost like using resting heart rate in the morning, but you get kind of additional information.

Right, around the clock information.

I just use it like a morning reading and it gets me a score. Typically what we’ll do is that if I know kind of the reason, if I had a bad night sleep, or the previous day was really exhausting, then I know okay, this score is low, but it’s because of yesterday. So maybe I would just push through the training anyway because I know that that’s the reason. But maybe if it gives me a really low score or something unexpected result in the reading, then I will think through… it kind of gives you a reminder that you need rest. And if I don’t have a good reason for why I get that reading that morning then I will typically jump on a bike, and I will sit a couple days [inaudible 00:45:14] So I kind of use the information to back up my decision in a way, but it doesn’t judge. It’s not like okay, today is 4 which is a low score, then I decide okay, I’ll go easy. Do you know what I mean?

Well I definitely appreciate you sharing your insight. And I hope that our audience can get something out of that, and so just to summarize what I’m hearing is that it is a great additional tool. It doesn’t necessarily dictate how you’re going to train on any particular day, but it also is just one more tool in your arsenal to maximize your training, especially as a time-crunched athlete.

Yeah, and I think maybe the most interesting thing about it is that it kind of binds your sympathetic or parasympathetic [crosstalk 00:46:22] is activated. And I think that has made an impact on how I plan my day, because I may try to do some training, but if for instance you get indication that your parasympathetic nervous system is really activated, then there’s also a lot of techniques you can use to activate to recover. Maybe if you take a walk, breathing methods, maybe napping, sleeping. So you can use kind of additional exercise [inaudible 00:47:12] enhance recovery when needed. So there’s really a lot of information.

Well thank you very much for sharing that, and we’re going to go ahead and get back to the podcast here. Jone thank you for joining us today, and we hope you have a great weekend. And if you haven’t joined any of the live-streams for indoor specialists, check them out. It’s great fun watching Zwift racing with these guys. Ride on, and have a great day, Jone.

Thank you so much for having me. Have a nice week.

I hope you enjoyed the interview, and thanks again to Jone Gravdal for taking the time be on NPR… shoot.



Now we’re NPR. This is good, this is the closing that should be on.

Right. 3…2….1… and…. I hope you enjoyed the interview, and thanks again to Jone Gravdal for taking the time to be on Never Going Pro. Chris and Shayne, thanks again, and great catching up with you as well.

Thanks everybody.

Bye, guys. Thank you.

Thank you everyone for listening to Never Going Pro. Ride on and I will see you in Watopia.

The Never Going Pro Podcast – Episode 5 – Ramp Testing and Optimal Post-Workout Recovery Routines

In this episode, Shayne, Chris, and Ken chat about ramp test results, and why they likely over-inflate your FTP, optimal post-workout nutrition (hint: what you do post workout isn’t as important as you think), and our special guest this week is Chris Schwenker, PT, who speaks about post-workout body maintenance. Enjoy!


Available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud

Show Notes:

Carbohydrates are paramount for performance and training adaptation in endurance sports!

Burke et al. (2001) –
Kanter (2018) –
DAILY CARBOHYDRATE NEEDS – 5-7g/kg day for lower intensity days, 7-10+g/kg  per day for moderate to intense days, and 12+g/kg for the really crazy days

DURING TRAINING – Jeukendrup (2013) –

Stellingwerff et. al (2014) –

In short duration exercise situations (∼1 h), oral receptor exposure to CHO, via either mouthwash or oral consumption (with enough oral contact time), which then stimulates the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, provide a central nervous system-based mechanism for enhanced performance.

The above strategy was also used during Victor Campenaerts, UCI Hour Record, as you can see him sipping and then spitting it out right before the attempt below.

POST TRAINING – Aragon et. al (2013)
Probably the least important aspect of things IF you get the daily right, especially if the majority of of your training is <90 minutes, which I’d bet most of our listeners is. However, Ingesting 0.3-0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight with 1.0-1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight improves the absorption of protein 1-3 hours post exercise.

So, in a nutshell, the optimal post-workout recovery routine nutritionally is one that is as minimal as possible. It can be minimal only if you do your job the other 22-23 hours a day though, i.e. you’re not an athlete only when you’re working out, you’re an athlete all day long.


D.I.R.T. : Dominance Includes a Ripped Trunk! (6 pgs)

Show Transcript:

Ken: Hey, you guys want to hear a funny joke?

Chris: Yes.

Shayne: Yep.

Ken: I bet my butcher he couldn’t reach the meat on the top shelf and he refused to bet me, he said the steaks were too high.

Shayne: I’m not laughing. I’m not going to laugh at that.

Ken: Come on, man, that was a good one. One of these days I’m going to get a laugh out of you guys.

Chris: That was real bad.

Ken: Man. The steaks were-

Shayne: That was one of the worst one. Yeah, this is Episode Five. That’s part of the worst ones [crosstalk 00:00:29] but it’s okay, it’s a bad joke.

Ken: All right, good, progress the jokes are getting worse. Welcome, everybody to The Never Going Pro podcast by Dads Inside Riding Trainers featuring GC coaching. It’s a podcast about riding bikes, and parenthood, and trying really, really hard at both. I’m your host, Ken, “the Badger” Nowell and with me is Shayne Gaffney, owner of GC coaching.

Shayne: Hey guys.

Ken: And Chris Gorney fellow DIRT teammate, passionate cyclist and outstanding dad.

Chris: Hello.

Ken: So let’s take a few minutes to catch up with everybody. So how’s everybody doing? Let’s start with you, Chris.

Chris: I’m moving to California next Thursday, so my life is a tumultuous at best.

Shayne: Great word.

Chris: I was a little afraid of messing that word up on a podcast.

Ken: Well, I hope you’re excited about it. I mean, certainly you’re in either what Kansas City or Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas?

Chris: Missouri, but I don’t like to talk about the Missouri part.

Ken: Okay, got you. Shayne, how are you doing?

Shayne: I’m good. I’m tired. My six month old is not sleeping through the night consistently, so she’s starting to slowly I think kill us. But otherwise I’m doing great, man.

Ken: That’s good. That’s good. Business is good?

Chris: I think that just gets worse until they’re all 18, they’re just going to slowly and slowly kill you.

Shayne: I think that’s true too. My almost three year old now he sleeps like a champ, he can go down and sleep like 14 hours straight, and he’s been doing that since he was probably three months old. So this is a little bit different for us just being six months, almost seven months and still not really sleeping totally. But yeah, business is great man. Crushing it, so I’m happy.

Ken: Sounds good. You’re crushing it, and helping other people crush it.

Shayne: That’s it, man. Helping it, I love it. Probably you Ken, what’s up with you man?

Ken: So I have been dealing with this ongoing back injury. I injured it and then re-injured it trying to jump off of a high dive. And then I finally-

Chris: What?

Ken: They still have high dives in some areas, right?

Shayne: You can’t just glaze over that, you have to explain that.

Chris: Where were you?

Ken: I was in Greensboro at the country club.

Chris: [crosstalk 00:02:42] islands, what were you doing?

Ken: And I tried to do something called a preacher seat, which does an even bigger splash and a can opener and it jacked up my back. But I’ve been going to the chiropractor, and the physical therapist, and doing yoga every morning.

Chris: Can you describe what a preacher seat is?

Ken: So basically you lean back just like a can opener and you cover your face but both legs are sticking out, and you stick your bottom into the water first and it makes an epic splash.

Shayne: So is that like a cannonball?

Ken: It’s more like a can opener but with both legs extended, and your hands covering your face. Yeah, it’s awesome when you do it right.

Shayne: Both like extended. Oh, I see what you mean.

Chris: Clearly your doctors and chiropractors think it’s awesome.

Ken: Yeah, it’s keeping them in business, that’s why they love it so much.

Shayne: Hey, didn’t you do a FTP test yesterday?

Ken: I did an FTP test and finally broke the 300 mark that was a lot of [crosstalk 00:03:37]. So we did a group FTP test called last man standing. You can find it on YouTube on Dads Inside Riding Trainers page, and so the way it worked is we all did a countdown, we started the ramp test at the same time and since we’re on a flat road, it kept us all together and just one by one riders started falling off the back.

Shayne: Who won, You or Jason?

Ken: I beat Jason.

Shayne: Yes.

Chris: Nice.

Ken: That’s the most important thing.

Shayne: I can’t stand that guy.

Chris: It’s like two of the main founders of DIRT going head to head. And you’ve got to pick a camp, are you a Jason man or are you the Badger fan?

Ken: Yeah, it’s you can’t like his both. So I beat him by about seven watts, I think he got 295, I got 302 I made it just past the… I just completed the 400 watt interval, and when I hit 420, I fell apart.

Chris: As many do.

Ken: As many do.

Shayne: Let me not be that guy, but I’m going to be that guy. So I would argue you didn’t find your FTP, you found what your max aerobic power was because you did a ramp test.

Chris: He just called your effort trash.

Shayne: I didn’t want to be that guy, but that’s what we… we should talk like I think for sure because a ramp test is a great way to judge what your max aerobic power is or VO2 max things like that. But a true FTP test should be a lot longer like 20 to 30 minutes, ideally. And then if it’s a 20 minute tests, you should ideally do some kind of burn out effort, like I think Zwift uses the three or five minute 115% effort before because you’re trying to decrease your anaerobic contribution to the power produced. That’s why people have a ramp test and they have a super high FTP because it’s being over inflated.

Chris: That sounds like episode three or four repeat right there. Like you’re bringing it back.

Shayne: We talked about that a little bit. Yeah, we briefly talked about it, I think in episode two.

Ken: So I do have a question, as long as I’m being considered… like whenever I set up a new training plan, I’ve been using the same… well, using a ramp test to set my numbers is that good enough or am I at a serious disadvantage for having doing it… being done that way?

Shayne: I mean, personally, I wouldn’t use ramp test, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice because you’re training off of an almost vanity FTP instead of a true FTP. So, yeah, personally, I think you’re doing a disservice. But that’s also why things like sweet spot training, I think have been really successful because sweet spot is 88 to 93% FTP. And I’ve noticed that ramp tests tend to overestimate FTP by like five to 10% sometimes, so by training at sweet spot, you’re actually training closer to thresholds.

Chris: So that gives me a couple of thoughts. One, he just basically demolished your “I finally broke 300 on my FTP”, so that means you’re actually like 285, so that’s-

Ken: If even.

Shayne: I think like 220, 230 though.

Chris: You’re talking kilometers an hour, right? Metric?

Shayne: I mean, possibly even. Yeah.

Ken: Well, man, that sucks.

Shayne: But that’s what it means, so like, I don’t want to be that guy.

Chris: But hey, so seriously, Ken and I were having a text conversation yesterday because I was eating lunch, and he was hating his job. And I was talking about doing an FTP test with them, and I told them I didn’t want to do it because I’m always afraid that I’m not going to be as strong as I want to be or as I feel. And I’ve always kind of felt FTP is kind of like a measuring contest, like it’s never really felt very relevant because I’ve had many a time I’ve done like a ramp test. And then I’ve been on a training plan, and it either felt too easy, or too hard, and I ended up messing with my FTP until it felt appropriately difficult. I’d say I’ve probably never gone through a training plan without messing with my FTP a little bit if it’s been based off of a ramp test.

Shayne: Yeah.

Chris: So that’s interesting to think about. So really, FTP ramp tests are trash.

Shayne: No, they’re not… They’re trash for testing FTP, but they’re not trash for testing what your max aerobic power is, which is important to understand too. So like when I do FTP testing for my athletes, I test them in a one minute and a five minute and then in a 20 minute power last. So I’m getting what their anaerobic capacity is at the one minute, I’m getting close to what their VO2 max is in the five minute, and then I’m getting ideally what their FTP is in the 20 minute, but the key is the FTP test is last when their anaerobic capacity will ideally be diminished. So it won’t be just anaerobic revealed.

Ken: So just to feel… go ahead.

Shayne: I was going to say at least threshold the way I understand it is, it’s the point where exercise intensity when the energy source your body is using to fuel the activity changes significantly. That’s I think, a better way to understand what threshold is, because FTP I mean, it’s been debunked plenty of times now, it’s not 95% of a 20 minute maximal power tests, it’s not your normal power for an hour. It’s not your highest power for an hour, because then you have to figure out what your FTP is, and then secondarily, what’s your time to exhaustion is after your FTP, which we talked about as well in previous episodes. So FTP is very hard to, I guess, nail down to one or two things. It’s a very multifaceted thing.

Ken: Right. And so the new thing is using computers to model all this stuff for you.

Shayne: Yeah, I use WKO to do that modeling for me.

Ken: Very cool.

Shayne: And you can also use excerpts and other stuff like that to do that as well.

Ken: Okay, very cool. One thing that amazes me is when you look at the tools that we have now versus what the pro cyclists were using in 2000, the Pro cyclist in 2000 would be killing to use the tools that any amateur could set themselves up with for about $1,000.

Shayne: Absolutely.

Ken: It’s unbelievable. And I think that one of the reasoning that the trainer road guys use the ramp test is that they want something that is repeatable, every cycle that you’re not going to dread to do, and so I kind of get where they’re coming from there a little bit as well.

Chris: Also so I agree with that, because I hate the 20 minute ramp, I hate the 20 minute FTP test. Everybody hates it, it’s literally the worst thing you do ever because it just feels-

Shayne: Bad.

Chris: Bad. Yeah. And so I mean, I love the idea of something that is shorter and easier just grit your teeth. But even that, I wonder like… I mean, the group of guys I ride with there’s always this discussion about power over strength. And we’ve got a bunch of guys who are a little bit bigger, and we hit these quick descendants, and they’ve got so much power, and they just burst the power to weight ratio going down hills, pretty good for them. And they fly down these short hills and pass the lighter guys but then we get on these longer descents, two three mile descents at like three percent. And they just run out of gas, and I kind of think about that with the FTP ramp test versus the 20 minute tests, you can almost just like grit your teeth and force an FTP, like higher number for the ramp test but then the actual 20 minute test to me is like… that’s like just a deeper pain, a much deeper pain.

Ken: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I dread doing that more. And one thing that I will say is the way that we did it the other day where there was like five or six guys doing it together, it really was a lot of fun. It was just like I’m going to hold on just long enough to drop that guy. And so it was a good time, and I think it was repeatable, so I think that what we can do is just say that everything’s going to have an advantage and disadvantage. And depending on how seriously you’re into training and how accurate you need that number to be, it’s going to make a difference in what type of testing you need to do as an athlete.

Shayne: And then please make your FTP tests longer. Gosh, that’s what I would say.

Ken: Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. So let’s go ahead and move on. This week we had some great crowdsource questions from Dads Inside Ridding Trainers, and the first topic that we… the one that hit the top of the queue with the most votes was a discussion about post workout recovery routines and how to get the best recovery in when you are limited on time. Is that a pretty accurate description of what we’re going to be looking into today, Shayne?

Shayne: Yeah, he kind of said, optimal post workout recovery routines when you’re already pressed to finish the workout. So I think, post workout recovery routine is on a time budget or when time crunched. I think I would look at it that way.

Ken: Got it. Now, did this include nutrition and off the bike training such as stretching?

Shayne: I would think so. Yeah. So I took a deep dive into the nutrition aspect of things, and then we have… I know a special guests who will talk about more of the stretching and mobility type stuff off the bike.

Ken: That sounds good.

Shayne: Who is like… what’s his name? I can’t remember his name. Sorry, but maybe you can fill it in.

Ken: Yeah, his name is Christopher Schwenker, and he is a physical therapist.

Shayne: Schwenker?

Ken: Yep. Schwenker, that’s really his name.

Shayne: Schwenker.

Chris: It’s just a name you have to say again, and again.

Ken: You know what it is, it’s a combination of schwing and wanker.

Shayne: Is he a doctor, Dr. Schwenker?

Chris: [crosstalk 00:14:03].

Shayne: I don’t want to [inaudible 00:14:05] him, but Schwenker.

Ken: No, man, he loves being called the Schwenker, so I don’t think he’s going to be offended by this at all.

Shayne: The Schwenker, that’s hilarious.

Ken: Yeah.

Chris: I mean, all I can think of is Wayne’s World now.

Shayne: Of course. Yeah.

Ken: Schwing.

Chris: That’s part of the podcast right here.

Ken: So, before I get all the nitty gritty, why don’t you talk to me about what your guy’s typical post workout routine is? Like what do you do? Why don’t you start Chris?

Shayne: Okay, so all right, I’ll go ahead and start. So as soon as I’m off the bike, I come into the house and I almost always eat the exact same thing which is two packets of instant grits, two eggs made into an omelet with four ounces a ham and a slice of American cheese and ketchup on it.

Ken: Okay. Remind me what are grits again?

Chris: It’s what rednecks eat from the south.

Shayne: It’s a redneck meal between the American cheese, the ketchup on the eggs, it’s a really good traditional Southern breakfast. Grits are made out of corn on that have been soaked and lied to remove the shell.

Ken: Okay, so it’s kind of like oatmeal-ish?

Shayne: Very similar to oatmeal. Yeah.

Chris: I’ve never really liked grits to begin with and now actually hearing the description of it, I want them less.

Shayne: Well, you guys don’t know what you’re missing, because it’s so good. Yeah.

Chris: Soaked then lie, sounds strange.

Shayne: So it’s about a 550 calorie meal, I think it’s about 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat, 30% protein or there abouts. And that’s usually on top of drinking Gatorade while I’m on the bike and usually I have a banana before I ride.

Chris: That’s a good conversation about sugar structure and drinks because I’m very… I’m actually wildly against Gatorade. So let’s make a different podcast.

Ken: Well, Chris, tell us about what you eat.

Chris: Yeah, when I get done ridding, it honestly changes a little bit. It depends on three things. One, How hard did I ride? Two, is my daughter awake yet? And three, what food do we have in the house, because I am the guy who with my wife, if she’s doing the grocery shopping that week. And she’ll go, hey, what do you want from the store? And I’ll go, oh, I don’t care, whatever, and then I’ll actually have opinions later that I forgot to express. So I kind of just deal with what’s in the house. Ideally, if I ride pretty hard, I’ll come in and I’ll usually have a banana, and then I will make a couple of eggs on a piece of toast with some Trader Joe’s everything seasoning and some Irish butter in the pan.

Shayne: That sounds quite good.

Chris: Yeah, and so kind of getting sugars, and then sugars which again, form of carbohydrates, actual carbohydrates and then protein from the eggs. I’ll either mix it up with two egg whites and then one full egg or just two full eggs. Knowing that the protein from the egg whites is not processed as well without actually, yolk as well, I have learned and read. But then if I’ve worked out really, really hard, I’ll actually have like a half a PB&J.

Ken: That sounds good.

Chris: Yeah, so I’m a big proponent of RPE workouts, and just general nutrition like listening to your body. So I kind of really try to listen to my body as silly and granola as that sounds. I feel like I can kind of feel when I need sugar or feel when I need protein. And so it kind of changes a little bit, I make all the jokes about donuts and stuff, but I actually don’t do that. I don’t come in and just eat a short carbohydrate.

Ken: So Shayne what do you usually do for your post workout nutrition chain?

Shayne: I usually do a recovery shake, which is typically a weight gainer shake. So I use Optimum Nutrition pro gainer right now, depending on how hard the workout is, I also just might use an ultra gin which is, I guess, a less calorically, less everything compared to a weight gainer. Because it’s interesting the more I talk to athletes, the more I feel like they’re under feeling. And the under fueling, I think is resulting in a decrease adaptation and just overall performance too. Which I’ll kind of get into with the research I have, to kind of back that up too. But yeah, usually that’s what I’ll do. I’ll get off the bike, I’ll make an actual recovery shake within, typically half an hour afterwards, and then I’ll eat my normal diet otherwise.

Ken: Because I’ll say that’s one of the things in the research you sent out to us in the past few days talking about your diet, and tell me if I’m paraphrasing this wrong, but your diet right off the bike is… less than 90 minutes of working out, typically, your diet off the bike is not as important or right off the bike, your nutrition isn’t as important if you’re actually fueling like an athlete the rest of the day. Is that [crosstalk 00:19:20]

Shayne: Exactly, yeah. So that’s totally right. So that’s kind of in a nutshell and what we can talk about in the next 10 minutes or whatever, because the question was what’s the optimal thing to do after your ride? And my response is it’s what you do after the ride, I think is the least important thing. I think what you do the other 23 hours of the day or 22 hours of the day is more important because if you’re entering a workout in an under fueled situation, you’re going to perform less than you would ideally. And then if you need to really recover after the workout, you’ve done some wrong during the day or over the course of the day. So let me just kind of get into it, I guess I broke it down into carbohydrates are, I think the most important part for any endurance athlete. And I know the keto and all kinds of stuff is becoming really popular and probably going to get some comments on that which is fine, we can talk about that in another episode, but for performance and for high intensity-

Chris: I would love to talk about that in another episode.

Shayne: For sure. But for performance and for high intensity training, you need carbohydrate to actually do what you need to do. So Burke in [inaudible 00:20:34], I’ll link all of his research to the posts… to the show notes as well. So Burke Cantor, they have a daily requirement the most endurance athlete should get, so you’re talking to five to seven grams of carbohydrate per kilo per day for lower intensity or just everyday maintenance days. Seven to 10 grams per kilo for a moderate to more intense days. And then the really crazy days, and we’re talking like World Tour kind of stuff, it’s 12 plus grams per kilo for those days. So I’d say most athletes should be in the five to eight grams per kilo day, if you’re training very intensely.

Ken: So just to put some numbers to that, so you’re 70 kilograms or roughly 150 pound male, it’s 70… it’s seven grams per kilogram a day that’d be seven time seven that’d be 490. Wow, that’s a lot that seems…

Shayne: It’s a lot of carbohydrates.

Ken: It is a lot of carbohydrates.

Shayne: Yep. So it’s 55 to 65% of your daily caloric needs should be from carbohydrate based on the research that I read and that I’ve kind of learned. So high carbohydrate diet for intense training, and for performance is important. For weight loss, it’s a total opposite I think approach, and that’s where things like keto and intermittent fasting, and that kind of stuff comes into play. But for performance carbohydrates are crucial.

Ken: Okay, and so one thing that people seemed to get really dogmatic a number of years ago about, you need to be drinking your shake with so much protein and carbohydrates within minutes of getting off the bike or you’re screwed. And like I said, people were really dogmatic about that, and now it sounding like that’s not so much the case that your glycogen stores are being replenished throughout the day, unless… and you don’t really need to worry about that crucial window minutes after the workout unless you’re going to be doing a double workout that day or something along those lines.

Shayne: Right, exactly. Yeah, I’ll link so Aragon did a nutrient timing revisited article which I’ll link to the show notes too. And he goes into that carbohydrate window, which is what it was coined, so the carbohydrate window was supposed to be 30 to 16 minutes after your workout you want to consume about 0.3 or 0.5 grams of protein per kilo with one to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilo to aid in absorption. That’s been a little bit… I shouldn’t say it’s been debunked completely, but there is some research that says now as long as you were feeding your body, and you’re doing all the things correct, within 24 hours, your glycogen stores should be right back to where they were before. So what you do, again, to push this point further home, what you do right after the workout, isn’t that important as long as you’re doing stuff right, the other times of the day.

Chris: What I love about this is what we’re really telling people is, and I should be clear, we’re talking about performance and not weight loss because… So we’re talking about the guys who they’re already pretty fit or within five to 10 pounds of their ideal weight, weight is not a concern, those things will be true. If we’re saying hey, cycling is the best sport in the world because you can kind of like… encourage you to have a beer at the end of the ride. It encourages you to enjoy some healthy carbohydrates, especially in a world where everyone’s saying carbs are bad. Keto good, carbs bad. I kind of love it. It’s like, oh, yeah, actually I will have those chips with my meal. Thank you. Not eating healthy but…

Ken: And I agree with what you’re saying when I got out of certain circles that were almost again dogmatic about the Paleo diet or don’t eat any grains, and sort of got away from that universe, and started enjoying a big bowl of rice. And noticed that I got significantly leaner, my performance on the bike got better. So I think that we’re really speaking to two different audiences here. In the ethos of what we wanted to do with this whole podcast being never going pro, which is simplifying things and saying, guys, it’s going to be okay, if you don’t eat X amount of carbs and protein within 30 minutes of getting off your bike. You’ve got a little bit more wiggle room than that. But when we look at our core audience, it’s one, people trying to lose weight and two, people trying to improve or get faster. So what do we do with a guy… So as far as the folks that are trying to lose the weight, where are we at with them?

Shayne: I think we should push that to another episode.

Chris: I agree.

Shayne: Yeah, because that’s going to be more about energy deficit, keto, carb, all that kind of stuff. Fasting, that’ll be more about that stuff, so I think we should push that off.

Ken: So Shayne, we’ve been kind of talking loosely and on our kind of planning you put everything into three categories of daily, during, and post. And I think we really covered the daily of the fact that if you’re not trying to lose weight, you need to fuel like an athlete all day long regarding carbohydrates and then afterwards what you’re eating doesn’t matter as much, but we haven’t really talked about during. So you posted some really cool articles, there’s a 2013 article, and a couple really interesting examples. Can you talk to us about during fueling because I have quite a few stories being in some Iron Man races and some other races where I have quite literally seen people fall off their bikes passing out from under fueling. And so I know it’s not usually that extreme, but I’d love to hear what the research says like even just as a normal Dad, what can I do that doesn’t require a professional degree or coach to help me during my ride?

Shayne: Yeah, so I like to refer to Juke [inaudible 00:26:39]. He had an article chosen 13, which I’ll link to the show notes as well. Essentially, the shorter the workout is, the less important the fueling during is, and then you seem to get the breaking point once you get past two hours, that’s when the fueling becomes more and more important. So he broke it down into 30 to 75 minute workouts, there really isn’t any need for fueling as long as I said before you’re getting your daily carbohydrate intake, and your glycogen stores are full before you get on the bike. After 75 minutes to two hours, they recommend about 30 grams of carbohydrate per hour.

Ken: Can you put that in terms of like… because I think it’s easier to say 30 grams per kilo or 30 grams per hour.

Shayne: Per hour.

Ken: Yeah, per hour. What kind of food would fit in those categories? Like make it stupid for me? That’s like a power bar, that’s a… you know what I mean?

Shayne: So power bar, yeah, but I think better foods… so when you’re eating off the bike, you want to have ideally complex carbohydrate. And when you’re eating on the bike, I think simple is better, or like more refined carbohydrate. So that way your body can absorb it rapidly.

Ken: So give me an example of each one of those.

Shayne: Like on the bike, it would be a gel or a shot block or a date or something like that, a very easy to digest food. Typically, most of the carbohydrate is in 25 gram increments. So like if you look in like a goo, or a shot block or whatever most serving size is around 25 grams, and the same thing with like a scratch bottle mix, it’s about 25 grams of carbohydrate. So most of the time it’s easy to break it down into one bottle or one gel or one shot block or whatever, it’s about 25 grams of carbohydrate, so you can break it down easily. If you’re aiming for 30 grams an hour, it should be one bottle of mix or one bottle and mix plus one gel, which is 50 grams an hour or one bottle of mix plus two gels which is 75 per hour. You can kind of break it up that way.

Ken: Can I ask have you ever seen someone on a bike pull out a packet of dates and start eating them?

Shayne: I do all the time. For sure.

Ken: Seriously? You pull out some nice Turkish dates?

Shayne: Turkish dates, yeah. Really, really ripe dates that are almost like gelatinous, so there’s really little to no…

Ken: You’re very classy, very classy cyclist.

Chris: Well, I never would have thought about that, I would [crosstalk 00:29:12] with my grits and American cheese.

Shayne: Yeah, it’s because you’re stuck on your daily routine.

Chris: So usually what I do when I’m on the bike is I drink about… once I hit about a half an hour, I’ll start drinking Gatorade and for an hour to 90 minute workout, I’ll drink about a half a bottle to a bottle of Gatorade, which is I think somewhere in line with that, those guidelines that you were talking about.

Shayne: And yeah, so for our audience, it’s mostly going to be working parents busy, busy, so 90 minutes or less is typically going to be the workout window. So really, during the training itself, you don’t really have to worry much about anything in terms of fueling, aside from just keeping yourself hydrated. And then what you do before and afterwards is what matters. So once you get over two hours, two to three hours then you want to ideally consume about 60 grams per hour. Now you start to get into the tricky area of where you have to train your gut to absorb, so you don’t get GI distress, and you can also use different forms of carbohydrate, like fructose and glucose, so different pathways of absorption in your gut. So 60 grams an hour, typically you can get away with just a one source just with glucose.

Shayne: But once you get to two and a half hours plus that’s when you ideally want to aim for about 90 grams per hour, and that’s when you want to have multiple carbohydrate sources. So fructose and glucose being the two most popular ones. So a fruit and then a gel or whatever.

Ken: Perfect. That’s exactly what I was going to say is give us examples of all those, both of those I can buy at the store.

Shayne: Yeah, so you can get like a fruit gel, or you can get baby food in the containers that you can fit in your jersey pocket to do those things, plus a gel or whatever.

Chris: Just like get… not the glass ones [crosstalk 00:31:05].

Shayne: No, not the glass ones.

Ken: Hey, so I think that’s interesting. Even just looking at this graph, it’s like… and I feel this too, it’s if you’re going to go out and punch an hour and a half ride in the morning with some friends, no big deal, wake up, eat a banana, and go. And then eat well when you get home, but it’s the longer you ride, the more you need per consecutive hour. So if I know we’re riding three hours, I need to be fueling more hour one, hour two, and hour three to finish strong. Whereas if I know I’m only riding an hour and a half, there’s much less maintenance that needs to happen. Is that kind of summary, simplified summary?

Shayne: Yeah, I think so. And that’s why you see people kind of bonking at the end of an Iron Man because they may have only consumed 30 to 45 grams per hour. But if you extrapolate that out into 10 on plus hours, you can have enough glycogen on board to fuel the effort and you’re going to bonk and crash.

Ken: Well, and I always like the comparison of like your body is… like in endurance sports, your body is an engine, and if you keep it fueled properly and running right, you can go all day. And this is just kind of putting some numbers to that for me. So I think this is really helpful.

Shayne: Yep. And then I think more just kind of an offshoot and very interesting thing was the… which I didn’t really understand quite why this works. But I’m going to link a video to Victor [inaudible 00:32:24] and it’s our record, and you can see him consuming a liquid, and then spitting it out. So the theory is that the oral receptors and their exposure to carbohydrate via mouthwash or an oral consumption where it stays in contact with the taste buds long enough, it stimulates the pleasure and reward center of the brain. And that provides an actual performance enhancements. So I think if you really into like, [crosstalk 00:32:52]-

Chris: [crosstalk 00:32:52] and stuff.

Shayne: Or whatever, you can kind of take like a swig of something, hold it in your mouth a little bit, and then swallow it or spit it out afterwards, but you don’t have to worry too much about wait, where it was Victor was worried about his watt per kilo the whole time he was over there. So I think that’s why he spit it out, so he wouldn’t have to take on any more liquids. But yeah, it’s kind of cool.

Chris: That seems crazy.

Ken: Yeah, it does seem crazy. But hey, if it works… Any hack will work when you’re trying to break a world record.

Shayne: I think that’s down to just the dopamine response in the brain as a great painkiller. So I think if you have dopamine in your brain at a high level, you can push into that pain threshold a little bit more. But I can’t prove that by science and nobody can at this point, but that’s something that they’re working on right now, which is kind of cool. And yeah, that kind of brings us back to the posts, that kind of the running of the conversation where as long as you do stuff right, I think pre and during, posts shouldn’t really matter that much at all. But to give you some ideas, ideally ingesting 0.3 or 0.5 grams of protein per kilo, with one to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilo will improve the absorption and the recovery.

Ken: Got it. Well, Shayne, this has been very informative. I appreciate you doing all the research and giving us some guidelines to focus on for making sure that we get the best out of whatever experience that we’re looking for as far as our performance. Yeah, our interview this week is with Chris Schwenker physical therapist. He recently wrote a core workout for our team titled DIRT Dominance Includes a Ripped Trunk. Chris and I got to chatting about a month ago on discord when I was talking about a back injury and was remarking how I’ve only become fit at one thing which is cycling. And I really enjoyed my conversation with Chris and I hope you will as well. So here we go. Chris Schwenker.

Ken: Chris, thanks for joining us today. How are you doing?

Chris Schwenker: My pleasure. It’s an honor.

Ken: Yeah, well, so tell us where you’re joining us from.

Chris Schwenker: I’m speaking to you from the East End of Long Island.

Ken: East end of Long Island. Fantastic. How’s the weather up there today?

Chris Schwenker: The weather is beautiful. It’s a little bit humid, but nice here on the beach, a little bit isolated for a climber in this flatland area.

Ken: So that’s your dominant aspect as a cyclist, is a climber?

Chris Schwenker: Yeah, and it’s a little bit tough to train on sand dunes and bridge overpasses.

Ken: Yeah, I feel you, so all the better for having Zwift in our arsenal of tools to get faster.

Chris Schwenker: Absolutely.

Ken: And I think you and I have very similar attributes as far as cyclists. I see us both hanging out in similar places when we race together. So for our audience, Chris is a physical therapist. He was actually a valedictorian of his high school and went on to Brandeis. And so tell us a little bit how you got interested in physical therapy.

Chris Schwenker: Well, I was always into sports, and I was blessed with the ability to do fairly well in school, so I went to Brandeis was able to get a full scholarship, which was very fortunate because I came from very meager upbringing and I wouldn’t have been able to go to college if I hadn’t worked to achieve that. So I just figured that the next logical step for me would be to go to medical school, so I got into medical school. I was one 10th of the one percent of the applicants to get into the school that I went to. And when I got there, I realized that it really wasn’t for me. So I took a leave of absence, which I’m basically still on which I doubt that they’ll take me back, but then I looked into other ways to get in the health field while also remaining active in sports way of things. And that’s what drew me to physical therapy. And I’m so happy that I did, and I love every minute of every day that I work.

Ken: That’s fantastic because I know a lot of us can’t say that, I definitely have a job that pays the bills, but it was never anything I’m passionate about. So kudos for you for getting in and you have your own practice now, right?

Chris Schwenker: I absolutely do. I own a practice, we have about 20 employees now, it’s not a huge practice, but my wife is a registered nurse. And when my children were born, she stopped practicing as a nurse. She was able to stay home, which we all know that’s the whole genesis of DIRT, I started training really early in the morning, and that’s where I found you guys because I didn’t want to train in the evenings when the kids were home doing things. So she and I built up the practice together and now it’s basically on a cruise control, so I have the opportunity to sit back and watch my staff do things, and get the opportunity to work with my wife, which is also really special.

Ken: That’s fantastic. So in your practice, you work with a lot of athletes and specifically you are a bike racer, and you work with competitive cyclist. And so I think that gives you a really great insight both being somebody that does a lot of riding yourself, but what are the types of injuries, and shortcomings that you see with cyclist?

Chris Schwenker: Well, there’s a myriad of injuries that cyclists get, and the majority of them are overuse injuries, which are based largely in improper positioning. And I’m not talking about like acute injuries from crashes or running your mountain bike into a tree. I’m talking about overuse injuries, because in the course of a 50 mile ride, you might turn the pedals 100,000 times. So if you’re not properly positioned, then that wears on you. So, as cyclists we’re in prolonged periods in one static position, and that’s basically in a flex position, so your hip flexors get really tight, the musculature around your lower back becomes overly stretched. The hip rotators, such as the Piriformis get overworked, there are structures around your knee that if your saddle isn’t correct, become an issue.

Chris Schwenker: So there are a myriad of issues and it’s a matter of identifying them, and then recommending the proper fit and going from there.

Ken: Got you. And that’s really something that I noticed this recent injury was a lower back injury and then it sort of gravitated around into my right hip crease. And when I’ve gone to a physical therapist and a chiropractor, they were really digging into my Solaris, and my obliques, and some of those muscles. So what’s happening to those muscles that makes them so painful?

Chris Schwenker: When you’re maintaining a static position, and when I mean a static position when we’re riding, we’re hunched over, we’re flexed, so those muscles are shortening over time. And when you activate a muscle it actually causes it to shorten at a more rapid rate. So what we are doing in effect by our positioning on the bike is basically training that muscle to be shorter and shorter and shorter. So if you don’t actively stretch it when you get off the bike, if you don’t actively do things to break up any adhesion, anything that’s in there such as… through rolling or otherwise, then those muscles are just going to get shorter and shorter and shorter. Whilst the reciprocal muscles, the muscles on the other side, the lumbar paraspinal, the hip flexors, and the hip rotators those will get longer and longer, and will create imbalances, and that’s where injuries occur.

Ken: Got you. So one of the things that we see with a lot of our riders is they feel so much pressure to spend every minute on the bike that they can because they are time crunched parents. And so they may have seven hours a week, and they don’t want to spend an hour of their seven hour exercise window stretching and strengthening. What would you have to say to them or what are some exercises that you would have them do, that don’t take a lot of time, but they could help with some of those propensities to repetitive use injuries?

Chris Schwenker: Well, I’m certainly from the same mind frame is that when I first started cycling, I just figured that the longer and harder I rode, the better I would get. And I eventually plateaued, I burned out. I was extremely upset about it, and the best advice I got was to speak to a coach. And the coach basically has taught me how important recovery is, that recovery is as equally as important as your workouts. And I joke that my coach basically protects me from myself. He’s there to make sure that I don’t do anything stupid, right? So, prevention and recovery are the-

Ken: Sure, yeah, that makes sense.

Chris Schwenker: Yeah, so prevention and recovery are essential, so when you say you don’t have time if you don’t have 15 minutes a day to maintain through core training, through stretching, through rolling, and that causes you to spend one day, two day, three day, four day, five days, a week, or two weeks, or a month off the bike, then are you really saving any time? So what I recommend to people is you set up a core training program, you set up a daily stretching program, and when you streamline it, you can do that in 10 or 15 minutes. And that’s what I do every day. It’s not like you have to do an hour of it after you train, it’s just a matter of being consistent because consistency is where you’re going to get your gains. And they’re going to be minimal gains, which for a lot of us is basically all that we can ask for.

Ken: Right. Now you wrote a workout program for us DIRT Dominance Includes a Ripped Trunk. And so I’ve looked over this thing, and done some exercise on it, and it’s good stuff. And it doesn’t take a lot of time. Now, one thing I do notice with these types of routines is, the more you get into them, the faster you can get through them, without having to take long rest from moving from one exercise to the other. And you don’t have to look down at your piece of paper for every single bit of nuance that’s been put into the workout, you just sort of flow through it faster over time.

Chris Schwenker: I agree. And I’ve been doing it forever, because I’ve… eventually, through my profession and having a whole host of injuries, which as a physical therapist, I’m almost embarrassed to say, but I never stop. I work through everything. That’s just my mentality. So I will work through the pain and I will figure out what is the best formula for me. And that’s what I have figured out, that I need to do at least 15 minutes of stretching and core strengthening after each training session in order to maintain the level of fitness and ability to keep pushing the pedals every day.

Ken: Got you. So what are your thoughts about like sort of general yoga workout and maybe… the internet is full of 10 minute yoga videos versus something more specific for cyclist?

Chris Schwenker: I don’t know too much about yoga because that was never something that I got into, I’m a science based empirical thinker, so yoga wasn’t something that I was ever attracted to, I was more inclined to just set up a stretching routine, and to streamline it, and to just do it every day. And when I first started doing it, I was as tight as… to use a Long Island phrase as a clam’s ass. But I’ve since then become very flexible, and I’m extremely flexible now it’s just a matter of making minimal gains, and over time they become maximal gains. And that’s some of the best advice that I could give.

Ken: Got you. Well, Chris, I really appreciate you writing that workout for our team. And also, being somebody to bounce some questions off of as I’ve been going through this recovery from my back injury, I had dry needling this morning. And so that’s a fun and painful experience. But I think that your advice here really will resonate with a lot of our athletes. So yeah, thanks for joining us today.

Chris Schwenker: I hope it does. And I want to tell everybody on the team if they ever have any specific questions that, we have a number of different ways that we can reach each other and I’m more than happy to help out.

Ken: All right, that sounds great. Well, thank you for joining us, and we will see you… I will see you online here in a couple of days I’m sure.

Chris Schwenker: My pleasure Ken, I really enjoyed it.

Ken: I hope you enjoyed the interview and thanks again to Chris Schwenker for taking the time to be on NGP. Chris and Shayne thanks and great catching up with you as well. Thank you everyone for listening to Never going pro, ride on, and I will see you in Watopia.

The Never Going Pro Podcast – Special Guest, Eric Min, Co-Founder & CEO of Zwift

In this episode, we have the honor of chatting it up with Eric Min, Co-Founder and CEO of Zwift – Enjoy!

Available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud

Show Transcript:

Ken: Welcome to the Never Going Pro podcast by Dads Inside Riding Trainers, featuring GC Coaching. It’s a podcast about riding bikes and parenthood, and trying really, really hard at both. I am your host Ken “The Badger” Nowell, and with me is Shayne Gaffney, owner of GC Coaching.

Shayne: Hey everybody. How you doing?

Ken: And Chris Gorney, fellow DIRT teammate, passionate cyclist and outstanding dad.

Chris: How’s it going?

Ken: And with us, we are excited to announce our special guest. Welcome Eric Min, fellow dad and CEO of Zwift. Hello, Eric!

Eric: Hi, thanks for having me.

Ken: So where are you joining us from today?

Eric: I’m sitting in my car in New York, so I can keep the noise level to a minimum. I’ve got three kids in the house running around, so I thought I’d spare all that noise for you guys.

Ken: Oh, that is so awesome. The CEO of Zwift has to park in the driveway to do a podcast. I’m out here in my shed trying to keep the fan running at a quiet enough level not to disturb the podcast because it’s hot out here. So yeah, sounds like a Dad Inside Riding Trainers candidate for sure. Well Eric, each week we like to take a few minutes to catch up with everybody, and we’ll start off with Shayne. Shayne, you had a wedding you went to. You were cutting the rug.

Shayne: Yes, sir.

Ken: And you also celebrated your own anniversary.

Shayne: You got it, yeah. So we had a wedding two weeks ago now. Cut a little too much rug at the wedding, but everything went pretty good. And then yeah, it was our six year wedding anniversary, and our 15 year of kind of dating anniversary, if people still track that. She was my high school sweetheart and we married, so it’s pretty cool. Two kids later, and here we are, you know?

Ken: Fantastic.

Shayne: We’re good. Chris, how you doing man? I heard business is taking you from one end of the country to the other in the last 10 days. That sounds pretty crazy, man.

Chris: Yeah. I was texting you guys. It’s been Kansas City to LA, to Kansas City, to New York, and back home tomorrow. So, I forget what my family looks like, but I hope they still recognize me when I get home tomorrow. But it’s good, I’m doing good. Still nursing a pinched nerve in my neck from riding that bike, that ill-fitted Pinarello that we talked about.

Shayne: Uh-oh.

Chris: So keeping my doctor happy and paying for his kid’s college, but other than that I’m doing okay.

Ken: For me, I’ve been nursing an injury as well. Hurt my lower back and that’s been a little bit of a nag, and I’m just trying to do some stretching and some other stuff that I don’t do very often. Had a bike race that was scheduled for Sunday and that got canceled, unfortunately. But it’s always kind of a relief to get a cancellation, so I just ended up doing some yard work that day instead. And so Eric have you had a pretty busy week?

Eric: Yeah, so I was in Long Beach actually all of last week. Flew in late Friday night. My oldest son had his SATs so I had to get up at like 5:30 in the morning the next day. Got that out of the way, and then did an outdoor ride yesterday. It was fantastic, because the weather was just amazing, so-

Ken: In Long Beach?

Eric: No this is in… yeah Long Beach for a week and then I’m in New York now. And did an awesome ride outdoors actually in Connecticut with a bunch of guys. They actually called the ride “In Real Life Watopia Slam”. It’s a Slam group-

Ken: Really?

Eric: Out of Connecticut. They’re all Zwifters, but they created a nice route for me. They said it was flat, but I swear it was not flat.

Ken: So I’m just curious, where did the name Watopia come from? Is that your brain child?

Eric: No, actually it wasn’t. It was the game team came up with the idea together. We had started, we had set the company with an island called Jarvis. And Jarvis happens to be a real name, right? A real island, South Pacific. But the gaming team, they’re pretty creative. And they wanted to come out with a name that we could really own, and they had Utopia, Watopia, Watts, that’s how it was formed pretty early on. And we created a pretty expansive island that extends into the ocean if you noticed.

Chris: Can I be honest? Am I just getting this? Is it Watopia as in watts? Like a bike-

Eric: Yes. Yes.

Chris: Wow. I am, I’m here now guys. I’m on board.

Shayne: Well you’re a little late to the party.

Chris: Okay. I’m here, I’m awake, I’m on board.

Ken: All right, cool. Well Eric we’re going to loosen you up a little bit, Shayne’s got some rapid fire questions for you, and then we’re going to dig in.

Eric: Okay.

Shayne: All right. So KOM or Sprint jersey?

Eric: Oh, Sprints. Every time.

Shayne: Ooh. Every time.

Ken: Ooh, we got a Sprinter on our hands.

Shayne: I’m a Dots man myself, but it’s okay.

Shayne: Lightweight meilenstein or disc wheel?

Eric: Disc wheel, because I can’t ride those in the real world.

Chris: You could, but you get blown –

Eric: And they’re pretty fast in the game.

Shayne: They are very fast in the game.

Shayne: All right. Watopia or a guest course?

Eric: Oh, it’s always Watopia. The guest courses are always an acquisition marketing tool, but everyone loves Watopia.

Shayne: Oh, me too.

Ken: Did you guys know that Watopia is like watts? It’s like a utopia for watts?

Shayne: I just found that out, actually, that’s amazing. That’s so weird.

Chris: Yeah, thanks for sharing.

Shayne: All right. Safety bike or tron bike?

Eric: Oh, it’s going to be tron bike. It took me over a year to earn that thing.

Ken: Oh, you had to earn it too? I would’ve just told them to give it to me.

Eric: The team does not give me anything for free. I have to earn it for real. I get respect in return, though.

Ken: Okay, gotcha.

Shayne: What’s your favorite Zwift training plan?

Eric: You know, I like FTP Builder because it doesn’t matter what condition you’re in. It’s just going to keep kicking your ass, every time.

Shayne: I love it man, I love it. That’s it. Thank you for that.

Chris: Shayne, is that one of yours?

Shayne: It is not. The Build Me Up is mine, but it’s okay. I still love him.

Ken: Oh man, that’s a awkward moment, that he picked somebody else’s training plan, not yours.

Shayne: I still love him, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it.

Ken: All right, well. Let’s get into some questions, some little long-form stuff and get to know you a little bit better, both as a cyclist and as a dad just trying to make it all work. I know Chris has got one he wants to start off with.

Chris: See, now that I know that your son just took the SAT, I feel like had we known that, we could have included some SAT questions and made this a lot more fun. Math questions, literature questions.

Chris: Okay, no, for real Eric, thank you. I know we’ve been emailing back and forth for a couple weeks. We’re really grateful for you giving us some of your time. At Never Going Pro, we kind of presume our listeners are both parents and Zwift users. So we all love what you’ve created, we all love Zwift, it helps us be great parents and not sacrifice fitness. That’s kind of why we’re all on board with this. It’s created community for us, which you and I were talking before here and you said that you guys were kind of surprised that the community just popped up out of nowhere. So we’ll probably ask you about that here in a second because that’s super interesting.

Chris: We know everyone wants to talk to you about Zwift, but we actually want to start talking about you as a dad. A working guy who started something who’s still trying to be a dad of three kids and be part of a family, so tell us. How do you balance this? What’s your big fight right now? What’s it like to be a super busy dad and still stay on the bike?

Eric: It’s tough because I have to travel so much. I live in London and our headquarters is Long Beach so I’m out there every two to three weeks. My usual schedule is leave first thing Monday morning, come back by Friday afternoon. Every other week, nearly, I’m gone, so it’s tough on my wife to have to take care of three teenage – even though they are teenage kids. But I make sure that I am home on the weekends and I make sure that I don’t do any long rides on the weekends. This is where Zwift comes in. I don’t have that pressure of having to ride outdoors, the kind of pressure we all used to experience when the only place you really considered riding was outdoors. I’m free of that. That was one of the reasons why we decided to start this, because it was just, all of us who are cyclists are just very short on outdoor riding and this was just a way to make that part, indoor riding, something that we can all look forward to.

Eric: Interestingly enough, all the traveling I do, the balancing I have to do with family, I’m probably in one of the best shape in the last ten years. The proof of that was I guess it was yesterday, did a nearly 70-mile ride and I had no problem keeping up with the fastest guys. These guys were 25 years younger than me. So that’s always good evidence that something like Zwift, or anything that you do regularly, integrated into your daily lives can really have an impact both physically and mentally.

Eric: That was long-winded, sorry about that.

Shayne: No, it’s great. I’ve seen that too, just from a coaching perspective. It’s revolutionized what I can do with my athletes. I can make a 6-10 hour a week availability and turn that athlete into somebody that can ride 70 miles fairly easily, even though they might have only ridden for 90 minutes tops the past four months. Because the quality on Zwift and everything about it is just so good relative to what you used to do, was stare at a wall or stare at your Garmin for two hours, just watching your watts go up and down. It’s amazing the differences that indoor training has made over the past couple years, obviously as you know.

Eric: You know, I only ride one hour and I can do long endurance rides with one hour rides. I do one hour rides five days a week. It’s amazing. It’s all about fuel management after that when you go out and do endurance efforts.

Chris: You know Eric, I have a two-year-old daughter and the month she was born I bought a smart trainer and got signed up on Zwift.

Ken: I should have done that.

Chris: I know. Because she was born in the winter, and the only time I could ride essentially, I’d put her down for the night and my wife would usually go to bed pretty early and I would get on the trainer. What’s funny is, I totally understand what you’re talking about because I am now busier than I’ve ever been and exponentially stronger than I have ever been. So much so that the group of guys I ride with curse Zwift regularly because none of them get on Zwift, I’m there doing workouts like the FTP plan or the build, I’m doing that. I get onto the road with them and just want to burn it, so they kind of hate you and everything you stand for because it makes them suffer.

Eric: Yeah, well, I hear stories about the spring races getting faster and faster. People don’t want to admit, some of them don’t want to admit that they’ve been on Zwift all winter. We call them closet Zwifters in New York.

Ken: I want to share a little story. When I first moved into my house, before I got my shed, I had a traditional trainer and a power meter. In the winter, I’d have my baby monitor sitting on the hood of my wife’s car with my iPad on the hood of my wife’s car, and I’m watching Global Cycling Network YouTube videos and looking at my power meter. This is the wintertime in full winter kit and it was awful. Maybe a couple years after that, two, three years after that, I had been putting off trying Zwift because I didn’t think my inexpensive laptop could take it. But I plugged in a cheap ANT+ dongle and it worked perfectly, and it changed everything.

Eric: That’s great. That’s awesome. I’ll tell you another story. We support this training series called the El Dorado Crit in Long Beach. It’s one of the oldest crit races, training races, in the U.S. It’s been going on for about 40 years now. They needed a little bit of support so we decided to go in and support them the last six weeks. So I actually went to do the race on Tuesday. It’s my first race in five years. Admittedly, I was a competitive junior when I was a kid. The racing blood is still in me. For some reason, we’re four laps to go, there’s a breakaway, I get away with this with a few other guys. For some reason, I thought I could actually win the race. This is without any racing for five years. And it just goes to show. I thought I was going to win, I got second in this sprint, but it just goes to show the general fitness you get from Zwift. Literally, that was the last race I did, five years ago.

Chris: Incredible. That is incredible.

Eric: Particularly, if you were an ex-racer, Zwift can get you back into shape really fast. Really, really fast because you have the years of experience. The one thing that Zwift can’t teach you is all the race craft that you get only from racing, the bike-handling skills. And I don’t know how to combat that because that’s also the fun part and distinguishes a good racer from just the strong rider. But it is what it is. I always thought, if we could get Zwift to be 85% of what outdoor cycling is, then that’s a home run. So we’re not trying to simulate outdoor riding, we’re trying to emulate. In many cases we’re trying to make it different, and it some cases even better.

Ken: Thanks for sharing your input on that. I found a similar situation last year where I’d always been a mid-pack mountain bike racer, and I jumped in my first mass-start race of the season last year, and I was in front and I was like, I’m doing something wrong. I’m over-pacing it, I’m over-clocking it, I’m gonna blow. And I then never saw anybody else again and I took my first win. That was the first winter I had been on Zwift. It’s just like, whoa, you know? It’s just something that the mountain bike community, they’re starting to get on board with it, but I think that they maybe haven’t had the same adoption rate as the road bike community.

Eric: Yeah, it’s funny you should say that. It’s true. We have not done any marketing to off-road community. And that is probably half the cycling community out there, and certainly the faster-growing segment within cycling. If you think about Zwift, what is the difference between cycling and triathlon? It’s all the messaging and the content, and of course assets in the game, tri assets versus road cycling assets. For us, we of course need to go after that larger segment that we haven’t been speaking to at all. That’s our plan, is to speak to the mountain bikers and the off-roaders and the cyclo-cross community, so expect to see more of that coming this winter.

Ken: Oh, wow.

Shayne: That’s awesome.

Eric: Yeah, and I think even in the game you’ll see assets and you’ll see perhaps things that just, I think off-roaders would identify with. Not just tarmac, for example.

Ken: Right. Well, you know, I do have kind of a personal question for you. Before this, I was a crossfit instructor, and my wife and I ran a gym for a number of years. One thing that I found was when I was in charge of running this business, I would come in and people would leave their barbells laying out, their plates on the floor, chalk everywhere, or they’re doing things that are unsafe. I had a hard time relaxing and enjoying when I just went in for my own workout. I always felt like I was on, I never felt like I was off work even when I was trying to take care of my needs for exercise. When you’re on Zwift, is that ever a problem? Are you ever not able to disengage from work and you’re always looking at things from the eye of a CEO and what could be different and what could be changed, or are you still enjoying it?

Eric: It’s a good question. I’ve told John Mayfield, my co-founder, I will let him know when I get tired of Zwift.

Ken: Okay.

Eric: I’ve been at it for five years and it still amazes me, how engaging it is and how motivating it is, how much I look forward to the work. Because when I tune into Zwift there’s so many things I could do, and there are things that we’re already thinking about in the future, how we could even bring more content to the fore and just give you the choices that you would see for example, from Netflix. What is that for Zwift? On-demand, in real time, whether it’s competitive to social, we need to make sure that you can find all that content in a much more intelligent way, the way Spotify serves me content or Netflix serves me content. So there’s a lot more we can do with the platform, with Zwift, to make it even more engaging.

Ken: That sounds great. And I know Shayne, you’ve got some questions for Eric.

Shayne: Yeah, kind of similar to where Chris was going. For me, my setup is in my office so if I have a spare hour I can just hop on the bike and be going on a Zwift workout or a group event very quickly. How does your setup look? Is it in your office? Is it a traveling setup? What does your usual setup look like?

Eric: I have a setup at home. I have the luxury of having a treadmill, and my bike with a smart trainer and then a smart bike, I’ve got a Wattbike Atom. And this way, any member of my family can join me as I work out. So that’s a great setup, it’s in the basement, I can get there anytime I want. I usually do my workouts in the morning, and then I’ve got pretty big screens in front, and this is the perfect setup. But, I have a nice setup in New York and then of course, in each of our offices we have what we call labs. They’re effectively gyms. They’re set up pretty nicely and we encourage certainly everyone to work out. The sessions are pretty amazing, and to answer the question from before, when I get on Zwift I am another customer, just like you guys. I’m happy about some things and when I’m unhappy about what I see and areas of improvement, I’m pretty vocal internally about making sure that those things are addressed, until they tell me all the other important things that they have to do first.

Eric: This is typical of a software company where they make you choose what’s more important.

Chris: I would like to say though Eric, one thing I never want you to fix is the glitch, I’ve said this before on this podcast, when all of a sudden someone will just pop out of a mountain or a bike will just [crosstalk 00:20:43]. It just makes me laugh every time I’m riding, because I’m just wondering what is that person thinking? Like, they’re just lost and I love it. Whatever that is, don’t fix it. I think it’s perfect.

Eric: You know, I’m not so sure the person that’s actually in the air is seeing what you’re seeing. Just so you know, that kind of, of course it’s a bug, at the end of the day it’s a bug, but what happens often is that you’ve got someone who’s got an outdated version of the app and it doesn’t sync up with the current version. That’s often the culprit for that. Because on iOS, you have to manually update in some cases. Whereas on PC and Mac, we kind of force that.

Ken: Are your kids into riding?

Eric: So my kids. I have to say that my kids, I’ve taken them on bike trips in the past, they are just buried in school work right now. My oldest son has just finished his SATs and now he has to start thinking about college. He does a sport that requires the least amount of time and it turns out to be ping pong at school. But my second and my youngest, they’re fencers. My youngest is actually nationally competitive and she’ll use Zwift to stay fit. So she’ll do one-hour rides from time to time just to keep herself fit when she’s not training for fencing.

Shayne: That’s really cool.

Eric: Yeah, yeah. There was a time when I thought, how can we get them on a program? But the truth is that they have far less time to play. When I was a kid, I used to play quite a bit. There was an interesting article in the New York Times a couple weeks ago about how children’s behavior and the way they socialize with one another have changed, and the article pointed to the fact that parents don’t let their kids out of their sight like they used to when I was a kid. My parents would just say, “Just come home before dinner.” I would never say that to my kids now, right? At this point, they stay home, they probably end up playing video games or doing their homework, and they have to connect with their friends on social media. These are all things that are replacing what used to happen in the parks or in the neighborhoods. Kids don’t ride bikes anymore. This is an area that I’m most concerned about, and one of the reasons why we give away Zwift to kids, because we want to encourage kids to be active at home with parental oversight, right?

Ken: Well, one of the things that I’m sure has come on your radar is NICA, National Interscholastic Cycling Association. I started as a NICA coach with a high school team this year, and so we’re starting to see… our motto, or our mission, is “more kids on bikes.” It’s starting to work, but the amount of things that compete for a teenager’s time are unbelievable. Everything from video games to school to girls to sports, it’s a lot.

Eric: No, absolutely. It’s not limited to cycling. I mean, it’s I think sports across the board. It’s not just video games, it starts with the parents not feeling safe about letting their kids out of their sight. And then because of that, video games fills a vacuum and so does social media. And I don’t know what the consequences of that is in 20 years time, right? I’ve no idea. But it’s going to be different from today.

Ken: Yeah, it’s an experiment for sure. And one we’re playing out every day.

Eric: Yeah.

Chris: As I hear you talk, Eric, I’m thinking I’ve always loved cycling. As a kid, we just had bikes and my parents would say exactly what you just said, like “hey come home before dinner.” And we would just go out into the neighborhood and ride our bikes for hours, build jumps, and as long as we stayed in the neighborhood we were fine. I’m sitting here thinking, I would never let my daughter do that.

Eric: As a nine-year-old, I used to roam the streets of the Bronx back in the ’80s. I mean, can you imagine any parent doing that? No freaking way.

Chris: Well, your kids are fencers, your kids are just walking around with swords. So I mean, they’d probably be okay.

Eric: But, getting back to NICA, that’s an interesting topic. There’s a part of Zwift that’s focused on CSR. One of that is programs like this El Dorado Criterion, we want to support the local community, how do we get inner-city kids into sports, and how do we integrate even the sport of esports, Zwift esports, into schools? I think NICA would obviously be the natural place to try to form that kind of collaboration. To try to get more kids into the sport and of course they’re going to extend into the track or the off-road or the road, but a great way to start could potentially be indoors.

Ken: I agree with that, and just speaking from experience I think one of the biggest challenges for the kids is the equipment and the things and just making it simple for them to get set up inside. It’s already hard enough, one of our missions is obviously, when you think of getting more kids on bikes there’s a lot of youth out there that it’s not an option to spend $1500 on a entry-level hardtail. So those are some of the things the league is working around. And they’re doing a good job, so it’s a lot of fun to see it unfold.

Eric: So what’s going to happen is, and this is before we announce anything formally, but there will be sanctioned national championships around the world this March. So coming up in six or seven months, sanctioned by the federations. We’re working hard to announce a partnership with the UCI to host the World Championships in September, a year from now, in Switzerland. So all of this will be announced in the next two or three weeks, but what we want to do is try to get more kids on the platform so that they can compete in these big events. You’re going to find talent and they will be picked up by federations or trade teams, but that’s our goal. Our goal is to have programs, invest in programs, where we can have a pipeline of more people coming into the sport.

Eric: Because if we don’t do anything, this is just bad news for the whole industry. How many ebikes to I need to buy? I only need one right, I don’t need five. The number of customers are declining every year. I’m hoping that with the support of the industry, whether it’s the state and of course Zwift, we can create a whole new pipeline, even if they start virtually and indoors.

Ken: What’s interesting is you say that, and you’re both in the States and the U.K. and back and forth. The U.K., particularly in the last ten years, has just ruled to a large degree, particularly the Tour de France. The U.S. has struggled for decades for talent development. I haven’t really thought about it until now, but Zwift, you guys have positioned a really, especially with video game culture and how pervasive that is, this could be an amazing boost to the potential of developing American talent in cycling, whether it’s in road cycling or mountain biking.

Eric: You can quote me on this, but in the next ten years, a Tour de France winner will have been found on Zwift.

Shayne: Yes! Love it.

Chris: Ken! Probably talking about you, Ken.

Ken: Hey, I’m there. If they have a 50+ Tour de France in ten years, I’m taking it.

Chris: I think you’re right, Eric. I think you’re 100% right.

Eric: I stopped at the World Championships. But we are vying for the 2024 Paris Olympics. We are vying the 2028 L.A. Olympics. That is the ten-year vision, is for us to at least achieve the L.A. Olympics, but I think we can achieve far more before that.

Chris: That’s amazing.

Ken: That is amazing. I mean, who would’ve ever thunk. I can see this synergy of these different elements of indoor training and also the viral explosion of the youth leagues is coming together to make our country a powerhouse of cycling. It’s about to explode in ways that I think that a lot of people that aren’t straddling into these different worlds of cycling, they don’t really understand. But it’s happening and it’s a lot of fun to be in the center of it.

Shayne: So Eric, just to summarize here, you guys are pushing really hard into youth leagues and development, getting kids on bikes and having fun, getting kids off couches. You guys are doing that. You guys are developing things to get mountain bike and gravel riders more engaged in the platform, that sounds exciting. You guys are vying for Olympics, you guys are partnering with UCI, I mean, dang, man.

Eric: And I’ve got my 85-year-old dad on Zwift every day.

Eric: I think the perfect example, and I’ve used this before in other interviews, which is you can have tennis at the highest level. But then you can have two people just playing tennis, right? How do you turn Zwift into something that’s highly competitive with a professional league, with amateur development, and allow people like you and I just to have fun Zwifting? That’s what we want Zwift to be. It’s all of those things.

Ken: Yeah, I definitely agree. You know Shayne is a trainer, so he has all kinds of certifications. I think he has a few questions for you about how you structure your, you said five hours a week?

Eric: Yeah, so I ride generally five, sometimes six. It’s one hour, that’s all I have time for. In one hour, you can do a lot of damage in one hour. But most of my riding is probably just right below threshold. I’m not training for anything in particular. In fact, I would say that I’m more of a fitness person than I am a bike racer. So managing weight and just having enough fitness where I feel like I can go out and do a three-hour group ride. That to me, I’m a 52-year-old. General fitness is probably more important for me than anything else. I suspect that there’s a pretty big cohort of our community where Zwift is really just about general fitness and wellness and weight loss. That’s sort of where I fall in.

Ken: The weight loss stories, we’ve seen you hanging out on the DIRT Facebook page a little bit. If you see some of the success stories of guys that have lost 10, 20, 40 pounds, there’s just so many of them.

Eric: That’s life-changing stuff. It’s great and it’s inspiring, because it’s not easy losing that kind of weight.

Shayne: I have a guy that’s lost over 100, believe it or not. 100 pounds in three years, just riding Zwift.

Chris: Wow.

Eric: That’s amazing.

Shayne: Pretty cool man, what you’re doing over there, for sure.

Chris: That brings up something we talked about earlier in the podcast, and Eric and I spoke before about. You mentioned that you guys didn’t really foresee the huge community aspect, like groups like DIRT popping up. To me, I thought you guys planned it, but you said it was kind of a happy surprise.

Eric: You know, I think it was probably a good idea that we didn’t have social media features set within the game. It went off-platform to places like Facebook, where if you were to a search, there are probably over 200 Facebook groups right now dedicated to all sorts of purpose, from kids to masters to racing to fighting depression. We could never have imagined that. Then of course, then there’s all the international aspect. The U.S. is only 30% of our overall business. We’re super international. We had no idea that was going to happen. I’d be lying to you if I said we did.

Chris: We’ll be sure to edit the podcast, say both that you won the crit that you raced, you didn’t second, and that you planned Zwift to fight depression, [inaudible 00:34:51] obesity, voter fraud.

Eric: It’s really interesting, if you look at virtual cycling, it’s been around since the late ’80s, early ’90s. People have been talking about virtual racing. There were a couple of other platforms that did a little bit of this. But what they didn’t have back then was social media, they didn’t have the mobile, they didn’t have internet or they didn’t have broadband penetration that we have today in the homes. So much has changed, they had the right idea but they were 25 years too early.

Ken: Yeah, I’d definitely agree with that. And one of the things that has kept me so engaged is once I discovered a way to engage with the Zwift community while I’m not on the platform, throughout the day on work, we have a really active Discord channel, the Facebook page, the Strava group, and it’s just this sort of motivational ecosystem that we’ve created for each other and it’s just been way more engaging that just being on Zwift alone. I think that’s been one of DIRT’s success stories, but also the Zwift success story.

Eric: Absolutely. It’s people that keep people accountable. Machines can’t do that.

Ken: Definitely.

Eric: So the community and the social accountability, these are all things that are highly motivating. Although it failed me today. I was so tired, I couldn’t get up. I got up two minutes before the start of my Zwift academy group training ride, and I just can’t do it. I can’t do it.

Chris: And you’ve got that social pressure, people are like “Oh, that’s Eric Min.” And then if you skip, they’re like “What the hell, Eric? Where you at, man?”

Eric: Yeah, when I commit to something I have to show up. I was doing a free ride this morning just because I was tired from yesterday’s ride, and then someone messaged me saying, “Hey, our group is about to go off in 20 minutes, can you join?” And I joined and it was fantastic. It was a recovery ride, and I think 160 people, the Ascenders recovery ride. Those guys are great. There’s so many good clubs out there. It’s amazing that these are just virtual clubs, right. And we haven’t even created the tools for clubs like yourselves.

Eric: One of the things that we want to do is curate all the tools that we create for our own content and make that open and available to the community. In many ways I think we’re holding back the growth of our community because we’re not giving you the tools to make it easier to organize yourself.

Eric: So I just gave you something big. That’s a big, big feature set for this coming winter.

Ken: Very cool. Mountain biking and team pages.

Chris: It seems like you guys are developing slowly, because everything you’re developing comes out really well and strong. I mean, it seems really-

Eric: I appreciate that. I really appreciate. Some of the things take a lot of time because we’re trying to build it in a way that’s scalable. And also, we have technical debt. I don’t know how many of you guys are software developers, but when you’re trying to do things rapidly you take shortcuts. These shortcuts amount to technical debt that you have to repay. So when we do work, we’re not only putting out new features or new maps, but we’re paying down the debt. And that’s why it feels like it’s going slower than it should. For us, it feels slow, but we know the heavy lifting that’s happening behind the scenes so that we can do things in a more scalable way in the future.

Ken: That sounds good. Well, Eric, we really wanted to say thank you for taking your time today. We’ve got one more question, which is: is there a question you have always wanted to ask Zwift users but haven’t? Now is the chance.

Eric: Yeah, I’ll tell you. We have a highly engaged community, and some people, for many Zwifters is what they’re looking for. For others, it’s not. And I just wonder, where do they go? Because if they’ve committed, they’ve got the smart trainer, they can’t possibly be going back to staring at a wall. I try to convince myself, it’s like me in the old days when I probably turned from Netflix several times and eventually I said okay, Netflix is my go-to content for on-demand video. And I’m hoping that is what’s happening because we’re trying to understand why people sometimes do leave, and trying to learn from that, but it’s hard to learn from that if they’re no longer part of the community.

Eric: To the extent when people feel like there’s something, that Zwift isn’t for them, we need to really understand that and try to address that, because I can’t imagine they’re going back to staring at the wall. That can’t be. Or watching YouTube. As a consumer myself, that’s not engaging, there’s no community there, but nevertheless it does happen to some people who try Zwift, and then they like it or at some point they move on to something else. And I want to understand better what’s going through their mind so that we can solve that problem.

Ken: All right, so Zwifters, there you have it. Those are some great questions for Eric. I just wanted to say to everybody, thank you for joining us this week, I know everyone has a busy schedule ahead of them. I know for me, my daughter starts kindergarten tomorrow, so I’m a little bit emotional right now. That’s a big deal.

Shayne: That’s awesome, man.

Eric: Wow, congrats.

Ken: Thank you very much. Anyway, for all of our listening audience, thanks for tuning in today and joining the Never Going Pro podcast. Ride on, and we will see you in Watopia.

The Never Going Pro Podcast – Episode 4

In this episode, Shayne, Ken, and Chris discuss Zwift Academy so far, motivation vs. discipline, and how planning comes into play for success in both aspects, and some science in regards to our audience question – “Why can’t I get close to my Max HR while cycling?” Enjoy!

Available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud

Show Notes:

Muscle Activity and Power Output Between Stationary and Outdoor Cycling –

Max Heart Rate –

In a nutshell, the common calculators out there are inaccurate, and prescribing training based on max heart rate – taken from a calculated measure – is useless in our opinion when you have substantially better training prescription methods – like power. However, for monitoring response to training, judging fatigue, and seeing when you need rest, heart rate has its value.


Fox Article – Formula = 220 – age:

Tanaka Article – Formula = 208 – 0.7 × age:…548?via%3Dihub

Sarzynski Article –

“The purpose of the present study was to examine the association between estimated HRmax using the Tanaka et al. (2001) (208 – 0.7 × age) and Fox et al. (1971) (220-age) formulas and measured HRmax in sedentary individuals…Our findings show that based on the standard error of estimate, the prevailing age-based estimated HRmax equations do not precisely predict an individual’s measured-HRmax.”

Effect of Fatigue on HR –…heart-rate-u85GS

Show Transcript:

Ken:                       Hey, guys. How’s everybody doing?

Shayne:                Good, man. How are you?

Chris:                     I’m doing good.

Ken:                       Good. Good to hear from you. Did I ever tell you guys about the time I farted in a packed elevator?

Shayne:                No.

Ken:                       It was wrong on so many levels.

Shayne:                That’s much better.

Chris:                     That’s … I’m hesitant to us the word “better” with that joke, but it was better than the last one.

Ken:                       Okay. Good.

Chris:                     It’s better than the last one.

Ken:                       Well, hopefully our audience will enjoy it as well. Welcome to The Never Going Pro Podcast by Dads Inside Riding Trainers, featuring GC Coaching. It’s a podcast about riding bikes, and parenthood, and trying really, really hard at both. I am your host, Ken “the badger” Nowell. And with me is Shayne Gaffney, owner of GC Coaching.

Shayne:                Hey, guys.

Ken:                       And Chris Gorney, fellow DIRT teammate, passionate cyclist, and outstanding dad.

Chris:                     How’s it going?

Ken:                       So let’s take a few minutes to catch up with everybody. Chris, how’s your week been?

Chris:                     Exhausting. I spent a week and a half on jury duty, and then flew out to California for work for three days, and then got home late last night. So I’m exhausted, although when I was out there, a friend of mine let me borrow a couple-year-old Pinarello to go on a ride, and had a lot of fun test-riding a bike I’ve never ridden before. I’ve never ridden a Pinarello before.

Shayne:                Did it feel plush?

Chris:                     Honestly, it was terrible.

Shayne:                Was it? Wow.

Chris:                     Yeah. It was loose. I don’t know how to say that other than the bike felt really loose, and it didn’t feel responsive. It wasn’t very stiff. It was an all-carbon bike, but it was, I felt like it just flexed so much, so you know.

Ken:                       That’s-

Shayne:                Those are really expensive frames. A really expensive company too. I’m surprised they felt that way.

Chris:                     Yeah, well, maybe it was me [crosstalk 00:01:56].

Ken:                       I wonder if it was maybe the wheels perhaps. Who knows.

Chris:                     Well, it could’ve been that I also didn’t adjust the bike fit for the first 20 miles. I just got on it and started riding.

Ken:                       There you go.

Shayne:                So that could definitely be part of it.

Chris:                     That might’ve been half the problem, but so adjust your bikes before you ride. Lesson of the day

Ken:                       So you’ve made it back home to your own rig?

Chris:                     I’m home. I’m going to go on a bike ride right after this, actually.

Ken:                       Fantastic. Cool. Well, I had a good week. I had a vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, got to ride every day, also put on a couple of pounds, and just had fun, and hung out with my wife, and my kid, and my in-laws, so that was a really good time. But I hurt my back, so that has kind of sucked. I think-

Chris:                     How’d you hurt it?

Ken:                       Well, I think it was a couple of things. I did a little bit of kettlebell work down there. And I haven’t done anything core or stability work in months. And then I was in the drop bars on my road bike, and since I’m always on Zwift on the thing, I’ve never used the drop bars. And so I felt my back a little bit tight towards the end of the week, and I got out of the truck yesterday after a four-hour drive and picked up a heavy cooler out of the bed. And that just did it in. So yeah, my back is out of sorts. And maybe Shayne has some advice on that.

Shayne:                Usually what I see is an issue with the hamstring shortening, especially if you’re getting out of a truck after four hours, because your knees tend to be bent for that four-hour time, which makes the hamstring muscles in the shortened position. And then if you combine that with riding the drops, which then elongates hamstring muscles and makes them work a little bit differently, that can spell disaster for your back. So I would think more hamstring stretching and maybe some form rolling, see if that makes it feel any better.

Chris:                     Well, if I know anything about Ken, it’s that he’s always had really tight hamstrings. Just it’s the only important thing I know about Ken.

Ken:                       Yeah, the hamstrings are tight. And I am absolutely terrible about doing anything stretching. I have limited amount of time to train. And so I spend every possible moment that I have on the bike, which I know that’s a mistake, but at this time-

Chris:                     I have hamstring issues way more on Zwift than I do on my bike out on the road. And the fit is the same. And I’ve never figured it out, but it’s when I ride the trainer, it’s just it must be because I’m sitting different or my weight’s just a little bit different. But during the summer season when I’m out on the road, I have no back problems, no hamstring problems, no injury problems, and I simply put my bike on a trainer. And all of a sudden if I ride too hard a couple days in a row, my hamstrings start hurting. It’s a strange thing.

Shayne:                That’s I think from glutes not inactivity, but just decreased glute activity on the trainer than on the road. I’ll link the article I’m talking about in the show notes. But there’s this really good thesis that somebody did for a college. I think it was a college PhD. But he combined the muscle activity from outdoor riding to indoor riding. And the only difference he found was that the glute activity was a lot less on the trainer than it was outdoors, which can contribute to increased hamstring engagement because the muscles have to produce the power. So if the glutes are working less, the hamstrings and quads have to work harder to produce that power.

Ken:                       Is it just because you’re locked in one position on the trainer and we tend not to stand up very much, and we’re not going around turns?

Shayne:                That’s a good question. The study didn’t really go into the why. It just kind of went into what the findings were. But I think the-

Chris:                     I really appreciate studies like that: “We found this. We don’t know why it’s happening, and it’s not really helpful, but, hey, we agree your hamstrings are hurting. Thank you.”

Shayne:                I’ll take my PhD now, and I’ll be out the door. No, but I think the issue is that the trainer does keep your body in a fixed position, so you’re not having to keep the bike pointed straight down the road. So you’re using the stabilizing muscles and the hip abductor muscles a little bit differently, and that can decrease the gluten engagement. But, again, I can’t prove that by science.

Chris:                     There’s a new trainer out there by Bkool, B-K-O-O-L. I think they had some troubles getting it to market, but it’s they’ve inserted some sort of like left-right pivot action into the trainer. And so it’s your bike’s almost kind of suspended from the back. And apparently it’s supposed to mimic like on the road riding more so for a virtual trainer. Interesting. I’ve never tried it.

Shayne:                I’ve seen that with Cor Kinetic. Cor Kinetic has that Rock and Roll trainer. And then the Rocker Plate is another big one too that people are making with just tennis balls and mounting the trainer onto it to get that left and right, back and forth motion. Chad McNeese has a really good video on the Zwift Insider website about he made one just out of I think pieces of plywood and then I think three or four tennis balls. And it’s pretty simple to make because some of the ones, they’re a few hundred books to actually buy one.

Chris:                     And I know this is probably me being cynical but who is it? Is it Wahoo who’s got the bit that’s supposed to mimic incline and decline?

Shayne:                Yeah, that’s Wahoo. That’s the climb.

Chris:                     I mean, I’m sure I would love it if somebody gave me one. But, I mean, you’re on a trainer. I mean, that … Anyway, and we could probably do a whole episode on people going crazy with their Zwift cave. Like they’re-

Shayne:                Oh my God, yeah.

Chris:                     I’ve seen some crazy videos that people have gotten really … It’s almost like a VR room.

Ken:                       Well, and I think as Zwift and other indoor training platforms become a sport, you’re just going to see more and more of that, where it’s not the thing to do in lieu of riding outside, it’s just the thing that you’re doing for the sake of doing that. So, Shayne, what’s up with you? What have you been up to?

Shayne:                Been up to same, same thing: going on vacations here and there, a couple long weekends, went to the beach last weekend. That was really cool, with the fam. And then I finished up all my work for the Zwift Academy. And now I’m just kind of enjoying people’s responses to it and answering questions and stuff when I can, which has been really fun to see people are really [crosstalk 00:08:19] this year.

Ken:                       For our audience out there, many of you may not know that Shayne does work for Zwift. He’s written some of their training programs, but you also had quite a bit of a hand in Zwift Academy. Tell us about your involvement with it.

Shayne:                My involvement with that was the messaging component. So the other coaches designed the workouts, and I came in and kind of overhauled the messaging component. So all the typos and the misspelled and all that stuff is all from me.

Chris:                     So when I get that encouraging like, “You can do it. You’re almost there,” I can just like-

Shayne:                That’s me.

Chris:                     … mentally curse you?

Shayne:                Yeah.

Chris:                     “Shut the hell up, Shayne.” That’s what I’m going to be thinking the whole time.

Shayne:                That’s right.

Chris:                     That’s good.

Shayne:                You can blame me for all that stuff.

Ken:                       Right. And so I did I think workout number two, which was a race simulation. And that was tough. I barely made it through. There were three times during that workout that I thought I was going to quit. But it seems to me like any sort of well-designed workout which is based on your FTP is going to make you feel like you can’t finish it at least a few times. But you can if you just stick with it.

Shayne:                And that’s where I try to time those motivational messages. At certain points where I kind of know that the athlete is going to feel like they’re really struggling and want to give up, I’ll kind of plug in a motivational messaging at that point, just hopefully give them a little bit more motivation to keep going.

Ken:                       Well, so I have another question: How many of you were on the Zwift Academy design team or whatever you would call it, the specialty team?

Shayne:                One coach, Kevin Poulton, he designed the Power Duration Curve Measurement Tests, so the 20-second, and the five-minute, and the one-minute power duration. And then another coach, Elliot Lipski, he designed the race simulation workouts and the more kind of fun and loose workouts. And then I was involved with all of them in terms of the messaging. But I didn’t do any of the actual workout creation, the workout design. I just came in and did the messaging component of it.

Ken:                       Very cool. Very cool, man. It’s really cool to have a Zwift insider with us on this podcast. And so yeah, with that, so we got some cool topics for this week. And I wanted to go ahead and go over with them, with our audience really quick, the first topic is motivation and discipline. Topic number two is some practical tips and tricks for making ride time for yourself. And then topic number three, we have a focus question: Why can’t I get close to my max heart rate while training or cycling?

Ken:                       And so with that, let’s talk a little bit about motivation and discipline. My take on this, and I did a YouTube video for us and a article, and it was that motivation is good for your start-up energy to get started on something. But discipline is going to be that thing that carries you for the long haul because motivation can be very fleeting. And I’d love to hear what you guys have to say about those things and how it’s played out for you.

Chris:                     Shayne, you had a couple interesting articles you posted when we were kind of preparing for today that seemed to describe a good difference between motivation and discipline, right?

Shayne:                Article that I was referring to was the Central Governor Theory, which isn’t so much about motivation and discipline, but it kind of goes into the play of how hard can you actually push in a workout? And is it you that’s pushing your body that hard, or is it your brain that’s allowing you to push yourself that hard?

Shayne:                Some coaches think that the motivation and the discipline comes from a purely internal, or some coaches believe that it’s purely external. So I’m kind of a little bit of both, where I think you have to have some internal discipline and motivation to get up in the morning and get on the bike.

Ken:                       So with that, did they talk about external goals? For me, I’ve always tried to have a event that I’m preparing for that keeps me motivated.

Shayne:                I would agree. So I think the first thing for any athlete is to have a goal, because that’s going to keep you motivated on a daily progression towards it. So that can be, like you said, an event. So it could be a charity event. It could be a race. It could be you want to get a FTP number or time or duration. It all depends on what you want to do for that week or that month.

Ken:                       And so, Chris, what are some of the things that keep you motivated? Or how does that sort of affect you?

Chris:                     That was my awkward silence there, is because I’m trying to … I was like, “Man, what does motivate me? Man, I don’t think I have a goal right now.”

Shayne:                Well, your goal right now is just to smash KOMs.

Chris:                     That’s true. I was texting you that the other day. Back here in Kansas City, there is these two guys who are like semi-pros or pros who are … One of the guys clearly just like came through our city for like a week and just was on Strava and decided to go own everything. And then the other guy I think lived here for a little while. And I was coming off of a hard training season where I was just really, really strong a couple months ago. And so I decided I was going to go recapture KOMs for the honor of my city.

Chris:                     And so I’ve been doing a little bit of KMO hunting and really reveling every time I get one in front of these guys and I know that they’re getting an email that says, “You’ve been dethroned.” And then like, I mean, I’m sure they don’t care, but I’ve made my little nemesis. It hasn’t made the group I ride with as happy. But it’s fun. So that’s kind of my motivation right now coming out of a hard training season without any like races coming up. But I’m now actually beginning to think, what’s it look like to do let’s say starting in October, in another month and a half, what’s a winter training plan look like? And what do I want to start working towards coming out of the winter? So that’s kind of a fun thing. Discipline’s a little harder for me.

Chris:                     I actually first think of discipline in terms of family, like what’s it look like for me to be a good dad, and be disciplined in communicating with my wife, and scheduling things so that it’s not just getting up early, but it’s sometimes there’s race times that are in the middle of the day or something. And I actually find that a less or a seldom talked about discipline is communication like with family. If we’re saying parents and being a parent and being a family is more important than biking, than being disciplined to like schedule things and not burn your family down is actually a really hard discipline.

Ken:                       You said your wife is really active too. And so you’ve mentioned that it’s like high-fiving on the front porch as you both, one’s coming back from an activity; the other’s heading out. And that really struck me as being true for my wife and me as well.

Chris:                     Yeah, I was going to say it’s been a rhythm. When we first started dating, we went on a lot of runs. Actually, the morning of our wedding, we did a 10k race together. And we were going to run a half marathon that morning, but everyone complained so much. I don’t know what they thought was going to happen. I don’t know if they thought we were going to have heat stroke or get hit by a truck or something. I don’t know. So we shortened it. And ever since then, we’ve really made it important. And so it’s actually not a joke. I’d say three or four days a week, we high-five on the front porch because our daughter’s still sleeping.

Chris:                     So I’ll come home. And she’ll be sitting on the front porch with a bottle of water and then kind of say, “Hey, good morning. See you.” And then she’ll go for a run. And I’ll go inside and make coffee.

Ken:                       That sounds good. And so we also, we’re going to talk about tips and tricks for making ride time. And so I got some that I’d like to share. For me, I don’t ever really decide to work out, it’s just something that I do. Like waking up and going to work or feeding myself, exercise is just something that’s on the schedule. And I don’t really think of it as an option anymore; it’s been so many years. But there’s a few things that I do every single night to prepare. I set a bedtime alarm. So when that thing goes off at 8:40 at night, I know that it’s time to brush my teeth, to put down any screen time I have going on, and get ready for bed; otherwise, there’s no way I’m going to get up at 5:00 in the morning.

Ken:                       I lay out my kit. I lay out my socks. I put water bottles on my bike. And then I get a banana ready, and I get coffee set up. So I don’t think very clearly in the morning. And if I didn’t have that discipline, if I didn’t have those habits and was trying to think about what are the things that I need to do in order to be on the bike by 5:30, I’d never be able to do it. So those are the tips and tricks that I have for making sure that I’m getting in my ride time. Shayne, I know you’ve got some tips for us.

Shayne:                Yeah, I have basically the same things that you do, which is just planning everything ahead of time, ideally the night before, if you’re going to be riding early in the morning. So I really don’t have much to add to that aside from maybe just making sure that Zwift is up to date, because I’ve had some issues in the past where people were going to bed and Zwift did an update that night before or whatever. And then they missed their group ride start time or whatever. So that’s the only thing I can add to that: Just make sure that you have Zwift up to date before the ride.

Chris:                     Hey, when I was living out in California, like you guys know, a couple months ago, the house we were renting, the WiFi there was so bad. You’d be fine if you’re on your phone or whatever. But then I’d get on and all of a sudden it’d be a Zwift update, and it was just like, I’m not even kidding, it pretty much canceled my ride. The WiFi was so bad, I mean, I probably took 30 minutes to update, so I’m like, “Well, I guess I’m done.” That happened to me like three times out there.

Ken:                       So you’re not kidding. That’s a great tip.

Chris:                     Yeah, definitely.

Shayne:                What about you, Chris?

Chris:                     For me, I actually, I don’t know, I don’t want to kind of just continue to beat the same drum, but for me, it’s prep in the sense of just like it’s … This is going to be a little too vulnerable, but I will routinely find like underwear in random places in our house because we have a two-story house and our daughter’s bedroom is right above the front door. And so basically my goal is to get up and out of the house as quiet as possible without waking up my wife or daughter, which means I will take all of my stuff and put it in the kitchen, like on the kitchen floor the night before if I’m going to ride, either going outside or getting on the trainer.

Chris:                     And so inevitably I’ll be like cooking dinner or something the next night. And I’ll be like, “Who the hell … Whose underwear is in the kitchen? Oh, that’s my underwear,” because I’ll just walk downstairs [crosstalk 00:19:16]. And, I mean, it’s like people are coming over. I mean, I’d say that’s like two or three times a week. So I apparently have enough discipline to plan that but not enough discipline to put my clothes in the hamper.

Shayne:                So I got to ask, boxers or briefs?

Chris:                     I’m a brief guy. I like the snugness. What can I say? Also, many a time just ridden to work and then done the kit under the jeans all day long.

Ken:                       Are you serious? [crosstalk 00:19:44].

Chris:                     Which I have to [crosstalk 00:19:46]. But yeah, it is, not to [crosstalk 00:19:52] kind of underwear I wear all the time, but it is both gross at the end of the day. I’ve also gone the other way where I’ve biked to work and I remembered all my work clothes except underwear. And then you have the dual choice of do I wear dirty kit all day, or do I just go commando? So that is-

Ken:                       Just commando.

Shayne:                Commando.

Ken:                       Yeah, that’s my vote.

Chris:                     That’s me hoping that no one from my office listens to this.

Ken:                       Yeah, me too. Well, one of the comments, we sort of put this out there on the DIRT Zwift page, and we had a guy, Cory, he asked, he’s like, “How do you deal with getting yourself out of bed? I’m a morning person for the most part. And I can set my alarm for 4:00 AM to hit the road.” But he struggles getting on the trainer.

Ken:                       And so this brings me to another tip that I had: If you are struggling to get on the trainer and find it interesting, then you need to make it more interesting. And we had a comment from Jason Stern, our founder. He said, “Find the fun. Find events. Find races, and find friends. The only way this will work for you long term is if you are having fun.”

Ken:                       And I have definitely found that to be the case. And one of the best places on the Zwift Universe is the Dads Inside Riding Trainer Discord page. Those guys are on there all day. I don’t even think they have jobs. They’re just typing all day, making wisecracks. And then in the morning time it is just a radio cackle. There’s a radio chat for every single group and every single event that we do. And it’s super fun.

Ken:                       And once we get into race mode and we’ve got that audio going, and the team chat going, I swear I don’t even remember that I’m on a trainer. I mean, I might as well be on some single track or hitting the roads outside of town. If feels the exact same. It fools my brain.

Chris:                     I don’t know. Not me. I remember I’m on a trainer. I’m the antithesis.

Shayne:                I love it. I love the trainer.

Ken:                       I want to get you doing more Zwift races this winter, and we’ll throw down together. And I promise you-

Chris:                     Well, I mean, I was getting up to race East Coast races last winter. And I think that just burned me out, because I was getting up at … You know. I was getting up at like 4:00 AM to ride with those guys because I wanted to help. And I just wanted to die. It was so early.

Ken:                       Yeah, it is a concentration of population on the East Coast. And so we’re trying to develop more events for Central Time. But it’s just a little bit …

Chris:                     It’s gotten better.

Ken:                       It is getting better. It is getting better. But I expect Zwift will grow quite a bit this winter.

Chris:                     I think I complained enough to Jason that at one point he was texting me, saying, “Hey, man, what time can you ride in the morning?” And he was I think scheduling races so that I was like just not complaining about getting up at 4:00 AM anymore.

Ken:                       Yeah, definitely. So those are some of our practical tips and tricks and motivation and discipline discussion. And we have a focus question: Why can’t I get close to my max heart rate while training/cycling? So let’s put our scientist on the line.

Shayne:                So the big issue is finding what the max heart rate is. So the two main calculators are the Fox and the Tanaka. So Fox is from 1968. That’s the old 220 minus your age, which I’m sure everybody has heard about. And then Tanaka is 2001. And he says 208 minus .7 times your age. And I’m going to link all this stuff in the show notes too.

Shayne:                So the issue is the study by [Zorsinsky 00:23:33] in 2014, and they compared the Fox and the Tanaka as well as gave just a little bit of a error tracking too. So they found a 12.4 beat-per-minute error on average for the 220 minus your age. And they found an 11.4 error for the 208 times .7 times your age. So both are off by about 10 to 12 beats per minute in terms of max heart rate. And the other issue is how do you actually find your max heart rate? Because the only way I know of us if somebody held you at gunpoint.

Chris:                     So I’ve been watching … kind of thinking about this question of the last couple weeks. I’ve been a lot trying to figure out my max heart rate and kind of just like, when does it peak? And I swear that there’s been a couple times that I’ve had like a really high heart rate. And I’m like looking back over my ride. And I’m like, “Man, I don’t remember working that hard.” And then I remember there was a time where a car almost hit us or something. And I’m like, “I think that was it.” I’m not even kidding. I think that there was something scary happened. And it like shot my heart rate up because I was just terrified.

Ken:                       Yeah, well, you don’t want to keep your kit on under your clothes after days like that.

Chris:                     Yeah, definitely commando days on those days.

Ken:                       Yeah, no kidding there. So is there a method for determining that max heart rate? Because I think what he was saying was he was doing like a 20-minute power test. And he would hit like a threshold heart rate. But certainly he could push it higher somehow.

Shayne:                Right. So I guess that’s my point here is that knowing what your max heart rate is kind of useless. And it’s really useless if you’re trying to base training and prescribing training off of when you have access to a power meter. So I just wouldn’t use it, honestly. I would use power, or if you have it. And then if you have an ability to do an actual threshold test, which is typically the 20-minute version, you can take what you’re average heart rate is over the 20 minutes after you see that initial ramp-up. So it’s usually your heart rate will ramp up for about two to three minutes. And then it’ll stabilize and slowly trickle up after that.

Shayne:                After you get that initial two- or three- minute ramp-up, then you’d see the trickle up, that’s the point that you want highlight. And that should be around what your average and threshold heart rate is. So it’s usually 17 minutes out of the 20-minute test. And then I would base your training prescriptions off of that or ideally just based off of what your functional threshold power is if you have-

Chris:                     See, I’m so grateful to hear that because I ride with some guys who have … I mean, there’s one guy I ride with who’s probably 35. And by God, he gets his heart rate to like 202, 204 every ride. And I’m not sure if I’m impressed by that or if I’m afraid he’s about to have a heart attack, and when I see that … And I know a couple guys like that. And I know another guy who’s in great shape, and I’m faster than him. And his heart rate is always on average 20 beats faster than me. And he’s not out of shape. He’s trained. But he’s just … It’s just different. And so I’ve kind of come to personal observational conclusion that max heart rate’s just crap because there’s a huge genetic difference, it seems, even just among people who are trained.

Shayne:                Yeah. I mean, what’s your threshold heart rate?

Chris:                     Threshold? My threshold heart’s probably 155 to 160.

Shayne:                What’s yours, Ken?

Ken:                       If I’m really getting after it, maybe 165, if I’m racing, yeah. And when I’m racing it gets higher. I think there’s some nerves going on there, some nervousness.

Chris:                     Shayne, are you asking, when you go from zone three to zone four, what’s that heart rate? Is that what you’re saying?

Shayne:                Yeah. So if you were at your FTP or your estimated FTP, what would your heart rate be around? What number is that?

Chris:                     160 or so.

Ken:                       165.

Shayne:                160. Okay. I’m at 180 to 182. And I’m the same age as Chris is, because I’m 33 and Chris is … How old are you, Chris? You’re 32?

Chris:                     33.

Shayne:                33. Yeah. So that’s kind of like a huge thing there would … Me and Chris are the same age, and we have a 25-beat-per-minute difference in threshold heart rate.

Ken:                       Well, and one thing that is true is I started using a heart rate monitor kit around the age of 30. And that was 14 years ago. And I cannot get it up to 180 anymore. I haven’t seen 180 in years, where I used to regularly see it on every single ride back then.

Shayne:                Yeah, so the heart rate is really I think an output of the training, but it’s not really an input. What that means is the input is the actual work being done based off power, and then heart rate is the output of that work being done.

Chris:                     So here’s a question, Shayne: What’s your FTP right now?

Shayne:                Right now it’s low. It’s only 235, 240.

Chris:                     See, that’s what’s interesting, is mine would be … I mean, I haven’t done the test for a little while, but it was like 290-something. I was right around 300. And my threshold’s 20 beats lower than yours. To me, that’s just so crazy. But you can ride side by side with a guy, pedal for pedal, and the heart rate data would be just wildly differently. That’s why I’m such a huge fan of perceived effort, because that way you can actually [crosstalk 00:29:30].

Ken:                       I do have a question for you, because I’m assuming there’s a lot of mountain bikers in the audience. And most of us have not invested in a power meter. So what about using a estimator for training stress for outdoor mountain bike rides? I mean, certainly there has to be some value in that.

Shayne:                Absolutely, yeah, and like Chris was saying, just using RPE is a great-

Ken:                       Okay.

Shayne:                Because if you’ve been racing or riding long enough, you can basically know just off of feel where you’re working at. It’s almost like when you’re driving a car at 40 miles an hour for a decade, you know how fast 40 miles on hour feels like.

Ken:                       Yeah. I guess you got a-

Shayne:                [crosstalk 00:30:10].

Ken:                       … good point.

Shayne:                You know what zone three, and zone four, or zone five, you know what that feels like just based off of experience. So RPE is great, especially if you’re racing where you don’t have time to look at your computer every three seconds to make sure you’re in the right zone or whatever. And if you’re also at the whim of a Peloton, you really can’t have control, you have to just go with the moves. So RPE is great, I think.

Chris:                     I’ll tell you that the most helpful thing that I’ve ever done for a long period of time training, and I didn’t know I was doing it on purpose at the time, but back in the day when I was single and I was competing in triathlons, I really stopped enjoying riding bikes and running because I was using heart rate monitors, and I was cadence. I was just tracking every … I was just hyper tracking the data. And I just started hating it.

Chris:                     So I decided to just pull everything but a watch off my bike, no heart rate, nothing. I’d literally, I had an old Timex watch, and I just started a clock. And I knew I needed to ride for three hours, and I needed to do a certain amount of it. And I started just going by perceived effort and like why this ride needs to feel like an eight to nine for an hour, or whatever.

Chris:                     And it was the most helpful thing I’ve ever done because not only did I start riding and having fun, now I’m back to using tech and stuff. I have all that on my bike. But it helped me listen to my body more than I was, because I was relying on tech rather than listening to how my body felt. And that year period where I just kind of learned to listen, it just made all the difference.

Chris:                     And now I can. It’s like you said: I know what “40 miles feels like,” 40 miles an hour feels like. But I also, I’m not so sure it’s not a good idea to go out and ride without tech for a while, even once or twice a week and just really feel what your body feels like.

Ken:                       Yeah, throw your bike computer in your back pocket and just go and have fun. I’ve seen people mount it upside down on their bars. So there’s certain things that you can get your information. But yet you’re not focused on it, and it’s not taking away from your experience.

Chris:                     For sure.

Shayne:                Now we’re drawing on this a little bit too, but there’s this thing called No Garmin No Rules. It’s this website. And these people just sell the stickers, which is an old Garmin head unit. And it says “No Garmin No Rules” on it. So I literally give my athletes those types of rides, where I’ll just say the same things: “Put your computer in your back pocket and have a No Garmin No Rules kind of a ride because you need it for overall balance and I think just for mental health.”

Ken:                       Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Well, thanks for getting into the science behind that heart rate training. I think that’s really useful information to know. I also wanted to introduce to you guys a dude named Ed Zook. He is one our DIRT teammates. And Ed’s got a really interesting story. He’s figured out a creative way to use the Zwift platform to stay motivated. And at this time, Zwift does not support group workouts in their meetup feature yet.

Ken:                       So in other words, if you and I wanted to do the same workout, we’re going to have to work around it because meetups can’t do it. And so Ed and his training partner Nat realized they are very close in ability. So they start their workouts at the same time. And it’s because of the drafting dynamics, they’re able to stay together throughout any course that they ride on, which I think is really cool. So here is the interview with Ed. Enjoy. Ed, welcome to the Never Going Pro Podcast. How are you doing today?

Ed:                          I’m doing pretty good. I’m getting some rides in and feeling good.

Ken:                       Good. You get a ride in this morning?

Ed:                          Yep. It was the Tuesday DIRT ride. I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me, but got a little of recovery, maybe just a little bit of a recovery.

Ken:                       Sure. It was probably either Rolling Thunder or Watts Up.

Ed:                          It was Rolling Thunder. That’s what it was.

Ken:                       Fantastic. That was one of our early rides, which is basically not too long of a ride. It would be a building ride for our cat C and D riders and probably a endurance ride for B riders. One of the reasons I wanted to reach out to you was this week’s podcast we’re going to be doing some practical training tips to make sure that you get in your time on the bike every week. And I’ve noticed that you and Nat have come up with a solution to making sure that you get your rides in. So I’d like to hear a little bit more about it.

Ed:                          Well, so I guess Nat and I, I guess got together back in November when we both first joined DIRT and started doing rides and races and noticed each other. And we were about the same level. So we both planned out rides for this September. And he started talking to one of our other buddies about putting together a training plan. Then I kind of luckily joined in. And that was roughly 12 weeks ago when we started out.

Ed:                          So essentially came up with a 16-week plan before our events. And we just basically linked up on Messenger and planned out our times that we ride, which is 4:15 to 4:45 AM for me, being Central Time. And for him it’s between 7:15 and 7:45 PM in Australia.

Ken:                       Oh, wow, that’s really fascinating. And so for those of you that aren’t super familiar with Zwift and how their training plans work, there’s no real way for you to do training plans together. So the two of you have had to sort of adapt and overcome with some of the current training shortcomings in Zwift. So how do you piece that together? Are your numbers just so close that you can do the same intervals and the same zones without any issue?

Ed:                          Amazingly, yes. It’s pretty close. So what we ended up doing is we’ll message each other and figure out what time we’re going to start. And then we also put a ZWO file together, which we usually create just on one of the online create tools and email those back and forth. And once we do that, we load it in and we can’t even do a meetup because you can’t do a meetup and a workout at the same time. So we just plan our time, pick our route, and then meet on Zwift. And then we do a three, two, one countdown, and we unpause our workout, and we start rolling.

Ken:                       I think that that is just an amazing use of your resources. And then you use Discord so that you can chat in real time.

Ed:                          That’s right. That definitely helps with motivating each other a whole bunch.

Ken:                       Yeah, I’m sure, because I see you guys on their in the morning all the time, because I’m a lot of times jumping in, doing my own training workouts and see you guys on there. And we’ll catch up and we’ll shoot the bull for a little bit, usually when you guys are not doing an interval.

Ed:                          Definitely. That’s definitely right.

Ken:                       Sure. So what are some of the things that you do ahead of time to make sure that everything is ready to go? Because I know when that alarm goes off so early in the morning, so for you, what time are you actually getting out of bed?

Ed:                          I usually have my alarm set for 3:30. And I get up at 3:30. I make sure my water bottles are ready. And if I need a gel, I’ll try to pop that right away or eat a banana. Most of the time, I just go in fasted unless I know it’s going to be a really, really difficult ride or a longer ride, and take care of getting dressed and getting Zwift started, and all that stuff. We message each other, make sure we’re both up and moving. And if we have to delay 15 minutes one side or the other, then we do that. And yeah, we go from there. It’s just coordinate the night before and then make sure we’re coordinated about 15, 20 minutes ahead of time. And we hop on and get moving.

Ken:                       That sounds great. So do you put your water bottles on your bike or next to your bike the night before and get your kit out the night before?

Ed:                          I usually have my kit out, and it’s ready to go. Water bottles, what I’ll normally do is I’ll get them ready, and I like them chilled, so I’ll put them in the fridge. And then as I’m going upstairs to my family room where I have the bike set up, I just reach in the fridge, and grab them, and grab my phone, and head on upstairs, and make sure all the kids’ doors are closed so I don’t wake them up, and go from there.

Ken:                       That’s really good stuff. Are you getting enough sleep? I guess that’s one question that all the dads have.

Ed:                          That’s a really good question. So I guess it depends on who you ask. I try to get as much as I can, so normally in bed by about 9:30. If you look at the required amount of sleep that we’re all supposed to have, no, I’m not making it. I try to take a day on the weekend and try to sleep in a little bit. We have two rest days normally, so I try to make up for it on those days. But I’m generally getting roughly six hours, five and a half hours of sleep every night, so …

Ken:                       And for some people, that’s enough. For me, I definitely, I don’t think I could do that. I’m usually in bed around 9:15 or 9:30 and usually up between 5:00 or 5:30. I have to get my eight hours of sleep. And so for me, I’ve discovered if I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I’ll just roll over, turn the alarm off, and sleep in until I get as much sleep as I need. So you’re also career military. Is that right?

Ed:                          Well, I’m National Guard. So yes, I’m in the military. But being National Guard, I go one weekend a month, two weeks a year. It’s actually it ends up being more than that, but my regular day job is I’m an engineer with the Corps of Engineers.

Ken:                       Okay. I got you.

Ed:                          So-

Ken:                       I didn’t know if some of your military background got you into waking up really early in the morning.

Ed:                          Yes, I would say it did. This is a little bit earlier than what I’m normally used to, but yeah, normally between 5:00 and 5:30 would be a normal wake-up for me anyway.

Ken:                       Sounds good. So one last question for you. You said you’re training for an event in September. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Ed:                          It’s really not a race, but it’s just a long mountain ride. And being from Texas, people kind of give a little bit of a giggle saying, “Mountain ride? Where’s there mountains?” Texas is quite huge. There’s mountains out west, the Davis Mountains. And my ride is a 76-mile loop. And it’s about 4,500 feet of climbing. There’s a couple major climbs in there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Ed:                          I did it last year, but I also, last year I did it after having been back on the bike for about a month and a half. So my goals this year are dramatically different than just surviving. Last year, that’s basically what it was is, “Oh man, I’m at the last rest stop. Can I make it the rest of the way?”

Ken:                       Sure. Well, best of luck to you. You feeling ready?

Ed:                          Oh, yeah, definitely. Doing it this way is so motivating, and it keeps you going towards your goals when you have somebody else that’s striving for a very similar event. And you’re on there to talk to each other and get each other through the had workouts. It’s just great. I know I’m ready for it. In fact, we just had a test event this past Sunday. And as it probably sounds, we’re going for our long ride, so we both increased all of our output tremendously. For basically 60 minutes on up, we’ve made huge strides. So it’s great.

Ken:                       All right, Ed. Well, it sounds like you’re ready. And thanks again for joining us for the Never Going Pro Podcast. And I will probably see you one morning next week as soon as I’m back from vacation.

Ed:                          All right. Appreciate it.

Ken:                       Thanks, Ed, for taking the time to let us interview you and share your story with the group. We really enjoyed hearing that. Again, everybody in our audience, thanks for tuning in. I’m Ken “the badger” Nowell, and we look forward to seeing you next time. I know that Shayne and Chris want to say a little something as we depart for this afternoon as well.

Shayne:                I think, just to wrap the two topics up, motivation becomes discipline through proper planning. That’s what Mr. Gurney, Mr. Gorney has said, excuse me. And then take it a step further, motivation, discipline, and planning create a positive feedback loop that produces improvement. I think it’s a really great way to kind of marry those two aspects of training together.

Shayne:                And then about heart rate, don’t use it if you have your power. That’s in a nutshell, because it’s not a good way to base your training off of, in my opinion, in my experience. That’s it for me. See you later.

Chris:                     My finished thought would be this last week I got a message from a buddy who had said our group rides had become too competitive, and too cocky, and just not fun anymore. So that just was a good reminder to me that whether you’re on Zwift itself or you’re out with friends, that if it’s not fun, if it’s not making your life better, you need to change something up. You need to not do it. It needs to be something that raises the bar in your life. And again, just like Jason says, find the fun. Make it fun, and motivation, discipline, and planning will all be way easier.

Ken:                       I agree with all those statements. Well, thanks again, everybody. And we will catch you here in a couple of weeks.

The Never Going Pro Podcast – Episode 3

I’ve just gotten an upgrade and gone from near top of one cat, to near bottom of the next…how can I get competitive again?

Available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud

Show Notes:

Performance Management Chart (PMC) background + Differences in training between athlete levels:

-TSS = Training Stress Score = Developed by Dr. Andy Coggan + Hunter Allen: Allows athletes to objectively quantify their workouts based on their relative intensity, duration, and frequency of workouts. Example – 100 TSS at 100% FTP at 60 minutes. Using RPE – Think of intensity as an RPE value on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the hardest. If you exercised at a level 5 for two hours, then you would accumulate 50 TSS/hour or 100 total points.

-CTL = Chronic Training Load = Fitness = an exponentially weighted average of your last 42 days of training stress scores (TSS) and reflects the training you have done over the last 6 weeks. However, the workouts you did 15 days ago will impact your Fitness more than the workouts you did 30 days ago.

-ATL = Acute Training Load = Fatigue = An exponentially weighted average of your training stress scores from the past 7 days which provides an estimate of your fatigue accounting for the workouts you have done recently.

TSB = Training Stress Balance = Form = Yesterday’s Fitness (CTL) – Yesterday’s Fatigue (ATL) represents the balance of training stress. A positive TSB number means that you would have a good chance of performing well during those ‘positive’ days, and would suggest that you are both fit and fresh. They’re “On Form Today!” means high fitness + low fatigue.

Long story short, there is no short cut to fitness and becoming competitive ‘quickly’. “It never gets easier, you just go faster”

Greg LeMond

Personal Insights:
-The more fit you are, the greater the training stimulus needs to be to continue to improve. Also, the more fit the athlete is, they typically have a better handle on nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery, etc. i.e. if you want to get to the “next level” you can’t be living the “dad bod” lifestyle.

-Higher level athletes tend to become more specialized and hone in on a certain discipline, then again at a class in that discipline, and more importantly they train what makes them good in that class. I.e. a IM triathlete wouldn’t do well against a track pursuiter (typically), and vice versa. VERY FEW athletes are good at everything – and they can thank their Mom and Dad for that ability.

Helpful Links:
How to Plan Your Season With TSS –…-stress-score/

Response to Training Differences –…-198805020-00001

Episode Transcript:

Ken: You know, I got a story I wanted to tell you guys.

Shayne: Oh yeah?

Chris: I’m all ears.

Ken: Yeah, did you hear about the time I overdosed on Viagra?

Chris: Gosh, no.

Ken: That was the hardest day of my life, man. All right and here we go.

Shayne: [inaudible 00:00:21] that’s perfect.

Chris: Now there’s only six people listening.

Ken: Now there’s only six people left. Welcome to the never going pro podcast by dads inside riding trainers featuring GC coaching. It’s a podcast about riding bikes and parenthood and trying really, really hard at both. I am your host Ken the badger [Knowles 00:00:47] and with me is Shayne Gaffney owner of GC coaching and Chris Gorney fellow team dirt made passionate cyclist and all around outstanding dad. So how is everybody doing this week?

Shayne: Doing well man, doing well how about you?

Ken: Good. Going through Tour de France withdraw. What an exciting year it was to watch the tour.

Shayne: For sure. That mudslide was insane the last one on the ultimate climb-

Chris: The act of God clause in the contract.

Ken: Not sure it really would have changed the outcome much, but still it made for some good dramatic television and some good debates among my cycling friends.

Shayne: And the French don’t win again, unfortunately.

Chris: Hey man the French have not won in my lifetime.

Ken: Yeah it’s been 33 years, you’re a youngen.

Chris: I know. It’s close, it’s barely but now I’m kind of rooting for that. I want to see how long they go without winning now.

Ken: I mean pretty good at putting the race on. You think they could win it every now and again.

Shayne: I’m from the Boston area so I went through the Red Sox not winning the World Series for however many years that was. So we’ll see if they can maybe match or beat them.

Chris: The curse of the Bambino.

Shayne: That’s right, the curse of the Bambino, yep exactly right.

Chris: This is the curse of the, I don’t know.

Shayne: Galla Phillipe or something.

Chris: Yeah.

Ken: Who knows man.

Chris: We’re all idiots.

Ken: Chris you were telling us that you went to Bentonville, Arkansas to go mountain biking.

Chris: Yep, rode with some people from my office there. We have a little satellite office in Bentonville and one of the guys was riding a hard tail and crashed on his way to the trails and got terrible road rash down his arm and his leg.

Shayne: Oh, no.

Chris: Ironically rode the trails wonderfully and just tore it up, but tore himself up on the turn on a sidewalk. He looked like he powerslid into home with his bike. He just hopped right back up.

Shayne: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: So anyway.

Ken: So for those of you in our listening audience, Bentonville, Arkansas has become a mecca for mountain biking. The Walton family, the Walmart people they’ve put like 80 million dollars into the trails down there?

Chris: Something silly.

Ken: Yeah something ridiculous like that and it has become pretty incredible.

Chris: One of the guys I rode with said that Slaughter Penn is trash and you should ride the new trails at [Koler 00:03:24].

Ken: Okay. So you’ve all heard it.

Chris: Well it’s not my opinion. I’ll blame, I’m going to leave his name out of it. But it was not me. So anyway.

Ken: Well I’m glad you got some trail time in.

Chris: Just so fun.

Ken: Yeah that’s a good deal. So a couple things that we’ve got going on this week. We’ve got a dad interview with one of our teammates, his name is Graham [Partaine 00:03:52] he lives down in Florida and he’s a guy I met online. As a matter of fact what he did is he gave me a PC to set up in my shed, a very nice gift from him and we’re going to put him on here in a few minutes and listen to what he gets out of training inside with a big group of like minded people. So I hope you enjoy that. We also have our focus question for the week. Shayne would you like to introduce our focus question?

Shayne: Sure. Let me just find it quickly. Oh, there it is. So the focus question is, I’ve just gotten upgrade and gone from near top of one catch to near bottom of the next. How can I get competitive again quickly? Competitive again quickly? So you can’t, but I’ll explain why.

Ken: You can’t get competitive again quickly.

Chris: I reject your answer immediately, podcast done.

Shayne: More donuts for Chris Gorney that’s what you need.

Chris: Dude, I had some amazing ice cream last night that replaced, anyway keep going.

Ken: So it’s a conundrum and for one a lot of us feel ourselves tickling up against the edge of the next cat up and it just feels like we will get lost in the bottom of the next wrung and I went through that. When I started racing C and I started winning some races and I got categorized up and and it was Zwift power and here I am. I’m at the bottom of B and I suck all over again.

Shayne: Yep and we should define categories for Zwift too before we go further. So there’s A through D, so D is one to 2.4 watts per kilo. C is 2.5 to 3.1. B is 3.2 to four and then A is four to five. There’s also an A+ category on Zwift power which I believe is-

Chris: What? I did not know that.

Shayne: Five plus. It’s either 4.5 or five plus I can’t remember.

Ken: I think it might be 4.5 and above. I don’t remember. But yeah you’re right.

Chris: All right we need to call confess what grouping we are in so people can know that and judge us about it and then look us up later and see if we’re lying.

Shayne: Okay. You go first.

Chris: Ken what are you?

Ken: Come on man.

Shayne: I will if you will.

Chris: This is good. I’m upper B towards the lower of A. That’s where I’m at.

Ken: Okay.

Shayne: I am the same. I am upper B towards low A. Previous A+ though.

Ken: No kidding, you made it all the way up there?

Shayne: I did, I did but then I had a kid.

Ken: Yeah baby will knock you back a couple of categories.

Chris: Think you’re a dirty, dirty liar.

Ken: Yeah I’m starting to race in the upper level of the B as well. Haven’t quite made that consistent 4.0 watts per kilogram.

Chris: I have a friend who was racing Mr. Dustin Elliot out of Philadelphia to give him a little shut out, shut out and shout out, both of them. It’s been a long day. A little shout out. He is the guy I’ve had in mind as we’ve been talking about this topic for the last week because I … well it was probably about six months ago he went from B and got into A and started just like racing against a whole other class of guys and he was kind of demoralized. He was winning races all over the place and then all of a sudden we’re rolling with these guys that were putting out 4.8 watts a kilo for an entire race and he’s just gassed. So it was pretty frustrating. He actually kind of worked himself into a hamstring injury.

Ken: No kidding.

Shayne: Oh, that’s not good.

Chris: Yeah. So his legs just fell straight off.

Ken: Wow. I was wondering what happened to Dustin.

Shayne: You only have a span of six watt per kilo in C. Eight watt per kilo in B and then a whole, sorry I should say .6 watt per kilo in C, .8 in B and then you have a full watt per kilo in A. That four to five is a humongous difference in talent and ability versus 3.2 to four isn’t that much difference. But four to five is like going from a cat three to a cat one. So that’s a different category too so maybe we should define those two. So the road category is USS cycling has cat five which is entry level beginner to cat one and then they have continental pro and then they also have world tour pro. World tour pro is the Tour de France guys you see on TV. So those guys are the best of the best.

Chris: That’s like the badger.

Shayne: Just like Ken the badger.

Ken: Pretty much. Yeah when I was younger five years ago. So one thing that I found interesting is the disparity between the different categories and how much training volume they’re putting in. So what Shayne does every week for our audience is he puts up some notes and some case studies and we get to look through it and pick out and decipher as much of it as we can. I was just amazed. These cat one, two guys are training what are we seeing, 14 to 20 hours a week annual training stress of a lot. Yeah.

Shayne: Yeah.

Chris: Does anyone else hope that those guys just have no friends? When I hear that people ride that much I’m like I just want there to be one thing wrong with them. They can’t be great people, they can’t be great dads and they can’t be freaks on a bike. They need to at least be the guy who doesn’t mow his lawn or something you know what I mean?

Ken: Yeah.

Chris: He’s got to be something.

Ken: Yeah well this podcast isn’t for them.

Shayne: Yeah I would probably argue not dads of young kids.

Chris: That’s true. If you’re an A+ rider please stop listening right now.

Shayne: I do work with one A+ rider now with a kid, but he’s a genetic superstar and he’s got a huge volume of training in his history. So he can get away with six to 12 hours a week.

Chris: He can keep listening.

Shayne: But yeah, most of those guys or gals are typically kidless or older kids and they have the time to actually train those hours. So if we run through the hours quickly, so a cat five which again entry level you’re talking three to eight hours per week on average. A cat four is six to ten. Cat three nine to 14 and then as Ken was saying cat one/two is 14 to 20. Then typically what I’ve seen is continental pro is 25 and the world tour is 25 to 35 per week give or take. So as you need to increase your fitness you have to increase your training density like we’ve talked about a couple times not on this podcast. So the easy way to do that is just by making more time to train. So that’s why you should see that disparity between the categories.

Ken: Sure and I guess the thing that amazes me is that you could even ride a bike and absorb anymore training at 25, 30 hours a week or more.

Shayne: For sure, yeah.

Ken: What is going on? What is the nuancy stuff going on with the body at that point that is even yielding any sort of benefit from riding that much?

Shayne: Yeah. That’s when you get into nature versus nurture argument.

Ken: Okay.

Shayne: So a lot of those world tour guys are genetically designed to ride a bike where the average person wouldn’t be able to A, tolerate and absorb that much training stress and B, they’re response to that training wouldn’t be nearly as good. So which we can get to later in the podcast because I have research on this too. But trainability is a big thing where if you give 10 athletes the same program you’ll get one athlete that responds ridiculously well, one athlete that responds not at all and you’ll get six or eight that respond somewhere in that bell curve even though they’re all doing the same amount of training and the same training stress. So you have to have a good setup to that.

Chris: Where would you if you were saying we’re taking cat five through pro, where would you say the line per, this is going to be purely subjective I’m sure. Where do you think the average line if you’re going to compare that to Zwift categories. Clearly the upper one, two pro all those guys are going to be A+. But in your opinion where do you think B lands? Is that cat four do you think?

Shayne: I think that’s cat four and bottom three. Then A is like you were saying one, two. Then C, D is typically four, five.

Ken: Sure.

Shayne: That’s what I would say. ‘

Ken: Sure.

Chris: So let’s come up with a case study here. So you are let’s say a guy is C category and he’s been doing pretty well, been winning some races, feeling good at it. He gets online and goes, oh, surprise I’m now looking at Zwift power and I’ve been bumped to B and now he’s in the B races getting up early, racing those he’s just dogged. What do you say here? He’s like how do I get back to the top of the heat?

Ken: Lose some weight.

Shayne: That might help yeah. Lose some weight. But to a point because Zwift tends to penalize people that are lightweight, at least in my experience where most of Zwift races are relatively flat. So you want to have semi-weight behind you so you can keep the momentum going. So for me I’m only 142 pounds, so if I do volcano flat I have to put out four watts per kilo plus to stay with a guy that’s putting out 3.2 watts per kilo that’s 60 pounds heavier than I am.

Chris: You only weigh 142 pounds?

Shayne: I do, yep.

Chris: You’re like a small little, very cute.

Ken: For our international audience what’s that in kilos?

Shayne: 64 kilos I think.

Chris: Ken, how much do you weight? What’s your kilo?

Shayne: Yeah 64.4.

Ken: Just a few tenths below 70 kilos right now. So 154, 155 and I’m carrying a little extra weight right now. I’m trying to get back to that race weight which is closer to 150.

Chris: Well I am the Clydesdale of this group. So that’s good.

Shayne: How much do you weigh?

Chris: I’m like a buck 60, buck 65.

Shayne: That’s not bad. That’s not bad.

Chris: I like to think I’m more powerful than both of you though, so.

Shayne: Yeah you’d probably smoke us in a flat race you know?

Chris: Yeah we’ll see, we’ll see. That’s a weird conversation. A bunch of men talking about how much they weigh.

Shayne: Well that’s very appropriate for cycling though.

Chris: Very appropriate.

Shayne: More [inaudible 00:15:09].

Chris: So what do we do here? I’m 160 pounds, I just got into B and everything is terrible.

Shayne: Yep.

Chris: So losing weight is not really an option.

Shayne: Yeah losing weight’s okay but it depends if you have weight to lose honestly. The most hard part is what we’ve already spoken about is just don’t let the psychology of losing races get to you because you’re at a new category and a new level of fitness. So that’s probably number one, don’t beat yourself up about it if you’re getting dropped consistently. Then number two is as you get more fit, as you get to and the cream continues to rise people will typically specialize in their role for a team or what events they compete in. So that’s why you have domestiques, you have rollers, puncher, you have the GC guy, you have the climbers, the sprinters. You have those guys that train for their ability and that’s really what they specialize in. So as you get closer to B and A you may want to start to target and actually train your strengths and actually race the races that will adhere to those strengths best, as opposed to be 160 pounds and doing Alpha Zwift you’re probably not going to do very well there. But you may do really well at volcano circuit or something like that.

Chris: I’d like to tell the world that when I got married to my wife I weighed 145 pounds and she made a comment that I was scrawny. So I started doing CrossFit for like four years just to gain weight. So I feel less scrawny, but I’m a little slower on a bike.

Ken: Yeah well you can throw your bike a lot farther than you used to.

Chris: Yeah that’s true when I get mad it’s perfect. I just crush my bike in half.

Ken: So Shayne one thing I’m looking at here is I’m looking at these volume guidelines for cyclists and I think that there’s probably some wisdom that can be gained from this. You probably got up to a category C by riding your three to eight hours a week and now you’re tickling at the bottom of a cat B and you’re frustrated. Well one thing that I did when I first did my first couple of mountain bike races and I just got hammered by these guys is I peeked at all of their Strava profiles and I was like, huh every single person that beat me rides a bike more than I do. Yeah so I think that this specialization is certainly one piece of it, but also getting right sized with how much training volume you’re doing. I feel that it’s realistic if this is important to you and it’s a hobby you find worth pursuing, I feel that the average parent can find six to ten hours a week if they’re dedicated, if they’re willing to turn Netflix off and get into bed a little bit early to set the alarm a little bit earlier and just to make training a priority.

Ken: You can do that without taking away from the other important things in your life, but there’s almost always slack and fluff in everybody’s lifestyle that they can get rid of to find something more meaningful.

Shayne: That’s the thing too. This podcast is geared toward parents that tend to be time crunched. So it may just not be in the cards right now for you to actually train that nine to 14 hours per week which is okay. You may just have to deal with being at that category for a little bit longer, or just maybe expect the gains and the changes to happen a little bit slower, not as rapid as they did when you first started training which I think is true for everybody. The more fit you get, the slower the changes become and the more you have to work for those changes.

Ken: Gotcha. So we talked about the volume piece here from going from category from a category C to a category B. Well what about the intensity factor?

Shayne: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You mean the training stress?

Ken: Right. So in other words so maybe you take a good look you’re like okay I’ve been a cat C and I’m already riding eight hours a week, now I need to take a look at what I’m going within those eight hours and seeing how can I make that eight hours more fruitful?

Shayne: So yeah intensity factor is one where you can generate more TSS per hour. But like we’ve talked about I think the first episode where if you’re just grinding yourself down day in, day out that’s not really good for longevity in training and also in the sport where you tend to see more burn up that way. So typically I’ll see once athletes get to a .85 to .87 IF average for the week that’s basically all the intensity that they can tolerate. Very few can tolerate a .90, .92 IF average for eight hours per week. That’s basically doing VO2 max intervals every time you get on the bike which are horrible. So it takes a very special person to do that.

Ken: Right, right, right.

Chris: That’s the only way I ride. Just get out of my house, I just sprint as hard as I can until I pass out. That’s all I do.

Shayne: So intensity if one way to do it, but it’s okay to do it. But it’s not going to be able to maintain for awhile because you’re just going to get burnt out because VO2 max intervals are horrible. That’s why people do them usually once a week, not five days a week.

Ken: Gotcha.

Shayne: So you know the true best way to do it is by increasing volume.

Ken: So we’ve talked quite a bit about training stress and we’ve defined it, or TSS and we’ve defined it as your training stress score. But you actually broke it down further in your notes for this week’s podcast and explained exactly what that is relative to FTP and I never knew this. So if you wanted to tell our audience about just exactly what it is I think it was definitely illuminating for me to read it.

Shayne: Sure so TSS is an important metric to understand if you are looking to get a little more serious and train with power especially. So TSS like Ken said is training stress score. It was developed by Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen. You probably all know Hunter Allen from Peaks coaching group. He’s a celebrity type coach and Andy Coggan you may not know. If you don’t know him he’s a great google. He’s done a lot of the grunt work and the science behind the cycling. So he’s a great google. But anyways TSS is a way for athletes to objectively quantify their workouts. So you do this based on intensity, duration and also frequency. So if you were to ride 100% FTP for 60 minutes that would be 100 TSS for that hour. You can also think of it as rate of perceived exertion or RPE where if you exercise at level five for a couple hours you would accumulate 50 TSS per hour or about 100 TSS in total.

Ken: Gotcha. So simply put the 100 TSS is one hour at FTP. Yeah, good luck with that right? It’s much easier to do a 90 minute or two hour long workout and try to accumulate that same training stress. I don’t know anybody that can really hold their FTP for an hour. We spoke about that earlier. You’re like wait a minute functional threshold power, you should be able to do that for an hour, but that’s not exactly how it works.

Chris: Right.

Shayne: Correct, correct. Yeah so the true definition is FTP is your maximum power you can maintain in a semi-quasi steady state for approximately one hour. That’s the true definition. So the other thing is time to exhaustion or TTE. So that’s how long you can truly hold your FTP for. So you can do that through WKO with the model say, or you can see what you’re FTP is and then see how long you can hold it for. That’s truly what your TTE is at FTP. Some athletes are 30 minutes, some athletes are 45 minutes. Like you said very few athletes are over an hour.

Chris: That’s crazy. That just makes me want to … just remembering doing FTP tests is the worst thing in the world.

Ken: So coach Shayne how do you test your athletes? I think I’ve seen you basically say that there are shortcomings with doing a ramp test and a 20 minute power test like the 20 minute power test it’s hard to pace it. With a ramp test it may benefit certain physiologies more than others. So how do you run somebody through? So say for instance I call you up, I’m like, “Shayne let’s do it. I’m going to sign up to have you for the next three months. What’s day one look like?”

Shayne: So day one will be typically an FTP test if you haven’t done one in awhile. So I like to test one minute, five minute and 20 minute power all in the same session. So the one minute power gives me an idea of what the athletes anerobic capacity is, or their FRC which is their functionally reserved capacity. The five minute power gives me an idea of what their VO2 max is and then the 20 minute power is at the end on purpose because I’m trying to reduce their anerobic contribution to FTP which is what I spoke about in my article is what I’m testing and things like that. So you’re trying to pre-exhaust the athlete a little bit that way their FTP test is being generated aerobically as much as possible. So reducing anerobic capacity or sorry reducing anerobic contribution doing FTP is crucial.

Ken: So that’s similar to I think I’ve seen that the suffer fest does something along those lines.

Shayne: Very similar.

Ken: Gotcha. So with that data, so you’ve got the one minute, the five minute and the 20 minute power test. Like how do you determine the FTP from there?

Shayne: So I plug it into WKO and then WKO plugs me a modeled FTP.

Ken: Okay.

Shayne: Then I judge that against other charts and other models in there and then if that looks all good and it all jives then that’s what the athlete’s modeled FTP is. Like I said WKO also gives me what their TTE is or their time to exhaustion. So I’ll know approximately how long they can hold their FTP for. So I think that the question is going to be if they can’t access their WKO what would they do?

Ken: Gotcha.

Chris: Right that’s what I was going to ask.

Shayne: So if they don’t access the WKO then you want to do an either longer duration FTP test. So that was my next thing. If I have athletes that are doing iron man or doing really aerobically based stuff, I won’t test one minute power because I don’t really care too much about the FRC and if anything I’m trying to reduce their FRC because I’m trying to up regulate their aerobic capacity. So I’ll do five minute and then I’ll do a 30 or even 40 minute long FTP test and then vice-versa for the track athletes I don’t really care too much about what their FTP is. I care about what their pursuit is or their sprint is or whatever. So I’ll do a 15 second test, I’ll do a 30 second test. I’ll do more testing in the short ranges to build up power duration curve better. So the testing has to meet the demands of the athlete. But most athletes can get away with one minute, five minute and 20 minute tests.

Shayne: If the athlete doesn’t have access to the WKO then make sure you’re doing a hard effort before you do the FTP test. I think Zwift has a three minute effort at 115% FTP before the FTP test and that effort is there to basically decrease the inter contribution you have to the FTP test.

Chris: Interesting. I’ve always wondered that because the first time I did one of those I just looked at the profile and saying bad words to myself. Like I’m about to do this 20 minute effort but that actually is trying to give you a more honest 20 minute effort.

Shayne: Exactly yep. So your FTP is comprised of anaerobic and aerobic energy sources. So you might have on one minute 80% anaerobic and 20% aerobic and then as it goes out you’re going to get less and less anerobic contribution and more aerobic contribution. So the key with FTP test is making it as aerobic as possible. So that’s why you do that initial effort that is quite challenging because you’re trying to fatigue that anerobic system. So you want to start the effort slightly tired, but that’s good because that means you’re going to get a more accurate FTP test.

Chris: Well that’s what we’re here for is accuracy.

Ken: Right and some ways do you think that in the cycling world that it seems to me that we’re falling short by not spending more time talking about time to exhaustion.

Shayne: Yeah I mean it depends on the goal. If the goal is to do time trialing then TTE is really important. But if your goal is to increase your 20 minute power then that’s totally fine. Some athletes goal is to make their FTP higher and what’s wrong with just basing FTP off of just the 20 minute number? So that’s when you get into the argument of how serious do you want to get into this whole ecosystem? How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? You can go really far down the rabbit hole or not.

Chris: Really what you’re doing is based on the athlete’s priorities. You’re saying let’s come up with a standard unit of measure, use that and judge everything against that. If you’re just trying to get stronger on Zwift with FTP it’s okay to listen to everything you say, say hey that’s really interesting, put it on a shelf and go take a 20 minute FTP test and just use that as your comparative. And yeah see I’m thinking about our audience and what people are talking. If I’m saying I’m going from C to B and my FTP is I don’t know, my FTP is 300 or whatever, I have no idea what my FTP is right now. You’re saying well hey as long as you know that’s your standard and you’re seeing that go up appropriately than it’s fine to use that even though that’s not super accurate. If you’re a professional but for us dads that’s fine.

Shayne: Yeah exactly. I mean I’m not going to train my pros the same way I train my cat fives. That would be kind of foolish. So the different strokes for different folks and I try to mold myself to the needs of the athlete not the other way around. So I try to treat everybody as individual as I can because if I gave a cat five a 45 minute FTP test they would not work with me very long, and also it wouldn’t be worth it. It would be just way too much … you can get away with a much fun way to test it which is one minute, five minute and 20 minute power.

Ken: Right and that’s the whole point of having individual coaches because they drill down exactly on what you need rather than the commodity style downloading a training program online or which works well for some. But not well for everybody.

Shayne: Yeah I’d say it works well for the majority of the population.

Ken: Sure.

Shayne: Then you can just critique it or tweak it if you need to see something different.

Chris: Or skip the hard workouts is what I just heard you say.

Shayne: Yeah, right.

Ken: So Shayne when you work with the pros are they mainly … I mean do a lot of these folks have day jobs or just jobs that have a lot of flexibility or they’re getting paid just to ride bikes or do triathlons?

Shayne: A little bit of each. Some you’re getting paid just to ride a bike. Some are getting paid to ride bikes and also work and some have very flexible jobs. So a little bit of each.

Ken: Right so I know a lot of fast, competitive runners that they might be considered pro but I’m not sure. But they work in running shops and stuff like that or they work as running coaches and that seems to be they’re always in that ecosystem. They have something to do with the fitness industry that keeps them close to the ability to train.

Shayne: They’re more ingrained and down the rabbit hole you go, typically the more you absorb the culture and you become totally enthralled with it. Kind of like Zwift, people get obsessed with Zwift and they become enthralled by it. So it’s the same thing with the IRL guys too I guess.

Ken: Sure.

Shayne: But typically the athletes that are getting paid to do their sport are technically professional and the level of when you get paid to do it is I guess different. But technically if you’re getting paid to do it then you’re a pro, you know?

Ken: Right. Right, I guess for all of us that have read cycling on $10 a day by Phil Gaimon just the brutality of working from the college ranks all the way up to the pro ranks and that he was at one point making a few hundred dollars a month and I don’t know how he was feeding himself. But it was just insanity. He got free bikes and kits which would be amazing, but definitely not enough to live on.

Shayne: No. It’s not a sport you want to make your millions off of unless you’re the top one percent of the world tour guys. Otherwise you’re not getting paid much money. But one of my favorite sayings ever is it never gets easier, you just go faster. So it’s true. It never gets easier. Each category upgrade or each workout or each FTP bump it never gets easier, you just go faster. So it’s the same amount of work if not more work.

Chris: That’s a good life motto also.

Shayne: Yeah for sure.

Ken: Yeah that was Greg Lemond if I’m remembering.

Shayne: Yep.

Ken: Well thank you for all your feedback and research on that stuff. I think that you’re seeing how it plays out and I’ve seen folks that have become masterful in staying just within their category. So there’s definitely some tricks around that and the main thing that I can tell you is stay in the pack. If you want to win without busting category then learn how to sprint.

Chris: Or just continue to change your weight and never get high enough where they have to actually test your weight in person, which I have for sure seen some people who’s weight … you look at their weight listing you’re like how did that change so quickly? You’re seeing it go up and down just a little bit. I think we’ve all probably seen that on there. It’s a little shady. A little dirty Zwifting.

Shayne: Yeah for sure. My favorite recent one is the height thing. Did you see that? People were adjusting their height.

Chris: Really?

Ken: So tell me about how height plays into the algorithm? I was talking about this earlier but it makes a big difference in your drafting doesn’t it or aerodynamics?

Shayne: Huge difference, yeah. The shorter you are the more aerodynamic you get on Zwift and then vice-versa. The taller you are the more drag you experience. So people were instead of changing your weight because weight has been tracked on Zwift power for a long time, they would just change their height and get away with it Scott free. So people would be like two feet shorter for some races than they were other races.

Ken: Yeah that’s a big difference. So it looks like a bunch of five foot tall body builders that are all 160 pounds.

Shayne: Yeah.

Chris: Well that is one advantage that I have.

Shayne: Now they’re all being tracked on Zwift power.

Chris: I am short. I might not be as light as you guys, but I am short and compact.

Ken: Well there you go, you’ve got the draft advantage.

Chris: I love it. That’s good, so summarizing. If I went from C to B not going to get any easier, I’m just going to have to keep working harder, take my time, be patient if I don’t have more hours.

Shayne: Yeah that’s right.

Ken: Yep.

Shayne: Then ideally increase your hours first and before you increase intensity because intensity is a little bit of a fickle beast where you can do it, but you can’t do it for a long time and it stinks doing VO2 max workouts every day of the week or races every day of the week. So try to increase volume first if you can.

Ken: Right. Gotcha and I think for a lot of folks out there and I think racing all the time you just getting the same stimulus over and over again and eventually you’re just not going to make those improvements. So for me when I took a step back from racing three days a week to doing three training workouts a week I started to just see big improvements in my fitness.

Shayne: For sure.

Ken: Yep.

Shayne: That’s where a sweet spot comes in which is my favorite thing for our time crunch guys and gals.

Ken: Yeah and that’s mainly what I do sweet spots and over/under and that’s about it.

Shayne: I love it. So I will link all those articles and pretty charts and stuff to the show notes like I did last week.

Ken: Great.

Shayne: If anybody is curious and wants to learn more about it.

Ken: Sounds good.

Chris: Does this put us into the dad story Ken?

Ken: All right. So this is the never going pro podcast and we are interviewing one of our team dirt members and his name is Graham Partaine, he lives in Florida. So Graham and I met on Zwift and we’ve done a lot of racing together and we’ve become pretty good friends. One of the reasons I wanted to reach out to Graham is because we’ve talked a lot about balancing work and fitness, family, business. Graham has his own business and often times keeps regular hours, has some travel involved too. So we’re going to get Graham to join us and tell us a little bit about himself. So Graham hello where you joining us from today?

Graham: Hey, yeah in my office at home in Gainesville, Florida.

Ken: Fantastic. So I hear you got the day off today?

Graham: Well I’m running into vacation. We’re getting ready to leave for a trip to head up to Atlanta to go to the Atlanta Aquarium and then Great Wolf Lodge.

Ken: Awesome.

Graham: So preparing.

Ken: So basically Great Wolf Lodge is a giant indoor waterpark and hotel right?

Graham: Yeah it is one heck of a workout too.

Ken: Yeah I think I remember after you said you felt like you had done a triathlon the last time you went.

Graham: Yeah you got to run up and down stairs all day and there’s really not any lines, so there’s no break and the kids are so excited that they don’t slow down. I don’t know where they get their fitness from but they challenged me.

Ken: Sure. Well so how old are they?

Graham: My girls are nine and 11.

Ken: Nine and 11, man I bet they are wide open.

Graham: It’s such a fun age, it’s the best.

Ken: Yeah gotcha. Well so I guess some of my questions for you are so how did you get into riding Zwift and what does it add to your lifestyle?

Graham: You know it’s funny. I’ve always been into the gaming stuff a little bit. I mean growing up and I always thought it was interesting. So I remember seeing on Strava some guys I know it looked like they were riding in the middle of the ocean somewhere on this island and I was trying to figure out what’s going on and where are they? This is when Strava, I mean Zwift was still really new and was still in Beta. So I got in touch with one of the guys and he started telling me about it. I was like man, I got to try that. So I had a dumb trainer with a power tab wheel set up this funky rig in my garage and started doing it. It just fit and I was at a time in my life, you know this was probably five years ago when I was trying to figure out how to stay fit, how to get rides in, how to work and be a dad and it was this awesome thing. I just started having fun with it. Been there ever since.

Ken: Yeah I think I feel part of the same thing. Part of my story was I was always a gym rat, I did a lot of CrossFit and after an elbow injury it just left me so I couldn’t go to the gym. The summertime wasn’t a problem. I would ride my mountain bike before work and then after that happened and it started getting dark and cold outside here in North Carolina I was just really struggling looking for something to do and that’s when I got set up on Zwift. But for me a lot of it has been about meeting this group of people, most of them obviously dads inside riding trainers and it became this huge and unexpected support network for guys that are really going through a lot of stuff. Whether it’s changing jobs, newborn kids, going through a divorce. I mean we see a lot of it.

Graham: Oh, for sure and that was part of it for me. I’m on my second marriage and my first marriage ended I would say is my selfish attitude about my fitness. I was doing iron mans and training like crazy and there’s a lot that went into it. But it was a big blow going through that and I realize now this opportunity I’ve been with my wife now 12 years. But five or six years ago I was running into the same problems and I realized if I go down that path again I cannot imagine going through that with my girls and being responsible maybe with my selfish attitude which I tend to have. So I was not only going through refocusing on my marriage, but I was spiritually trying to refocus myself in a way where I could be a better dad and this all fell into line. It was interesting, when I ran into [inaudible 00:41:10] riding around on Zwift, like “hey man join our team. Bunch of dads riding bikes.” All of a sudden this community came around me that were all trying to do the same thing. We’re imperfect people trying to stay fit.

Graham: We do want to stay fit, it’s great. We want to ride our bikes, but also man being a dad is like the hugest privilege and a lot of work and I found this community that they are doing it with me and I got all kinds of cool support and met great people, met you. It just grew from there. I immediately became attracted to the group.

Ken: That really I think has been the story I’ve heard over and over again. It’s funny to me when you say you were selfish in any way because I’ve never seen that side. I mean you’ve always been willing to put it all on the line for the sake of the team and have always been in that helper role in a lot of ways even though you’ve got the engine, you can definitely win some of these B races. You’re often taking one for the team and I think that is a really cool thing, even if it is just a video game. It is fun to have that opportunity.

Graham: You kind of forget it’s a video game sometimes.

Ken: Yeah, right I know.

Graham: We get so serious. We’re on our headsets, my wife comes out of the garage and talking to each other and it sounds really weird from her side of it. But it’s really great, you know? It’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely made me stronger on the bike. I mean it’s no doubt. It’s up to my fitness level because we’re burying ourselves for each other trying to win races in this awesome game.

Ken: So it is true. So I have a couple of questions for you. What is your next big fitness endeavor? I hear you’re doing some running.

Graham: Yeah there’s some guys that are runners. It was funny when they discord they started a running channel on our discord channel I was like this is a horrible idea. Nobody is going to be okay with that and all of a sudden we had an opportunity to start conversing about the running side of our fitness. I’ve always wanted to run a sub 25 5k and I came three seconds close to it 15 years ago. I was like you know what I want to do this. I started talking with a couple of the guys and one of the guys is a running coach and I was like I really want to try to do this. I’ve actually lost some weight thanks to your help and some of your advice on nutrition. Down 15 pounds.

Ken: Wow.

Graham: Was like this is an opportunity to really go for it. So my goal is this winter to run a sub 25 k. I just got done with some intervals this morning, it’s hard.

Ken: Well if you stick with it you certainly have the aerobic base from all your Zwift training.

Graham: Let’s hope.

Ken: So well Graham best of luck with your 5k and thanks for jumping on with us today and we will see you in Watopia.

Graham: I’ll look forward to it, thanks buddy.

Ken: All right thanks Graham. Thank you again Shayne and Chris for joining us tonight. Shayne really appreciate all the research that you do for these articles and also again thank you for dirt dad Graham Partaine for sharing a little bit about what his experience is like training indoors. I also want to give a shout out to a gentleman named David who is on our team. He put a lot of work into getting our dirt in real life kits put together. We now have a pack Temo store. I think I’m pronouncing that name right. Anyway you can go to and pick out all kinds of variety of different branded clothing with our dirt team name on it. Anything from arm warmers to nice cycling bib shorts and jerseys. So check that out. We need to get an order in by August the 5th, so a little bit of urgency there. Check it out. I think you’ll like what we have to do. Thank you everybody again for tuning into the never going pro podcast and we will talk to you again in two weeks. See you in Watopia.

The Never Going Pro Podcast – Episode 2

When your training schedule gets derailed by work or family commitments – what’s the best way to get things back on track?

Listen on Sound Cloud –

Now Available on Stitcher and iTunes!

Show Transcript

Ken: So, you guys like jokes?

Chris: I like jokes.

Ken: Okay, cool. Well I got a joke I’m about to drop on you. So a thief … It’s so bad.

Chris: It took everything inside of me not to click on that link you said do not click on.

Ken: I know, don’t click on the dad jokes link. A thief broke into my house last night looking for money.

Chris: Oh yeah?

Ken: So I got up to join him.

Shayne: What? Wow.

Ken: That’s a classic dad joke.

Chris: Yeah, yeah, that’s a classic dad joke. So it just sort of reflects everything about dads inside riding trainers. Just a bunch of cheap dads cobbling together systems like this is not your peloton photo op when you look at the photos of where these guys are getting it on with their trainers every morning.

Ken: Getting it on with their trainers every morning.

Shayne: Yeah, I get it on with my trainer every morning.

Ken: Yeah, that’s great. All right. Welcome everybody to the Never Going Pro podcast featuring dads inside riding trainers featuring GC Coaching. It’s a podcast about riding bikes and parenthood and trying really, really hard at both. I’m your host Ken the badger [Nowell 00:01:10] and with me is Shane Gaffney owner of GC Coaching and also Chris [Gorney 00:01:15] fellow dirt team mate and our marketing consultant. So let me just take a few minutes to catch up with everybody, see how everyone’s week is going. So guys, how is everyone?

Shayne: Everyone’s good here man.

Ken: Kids good?

Shayne: Chris has a sick one at home.

Chris: Yeah my daughter is a champ until things don’t go her way. Then it’s like two legos that don’t connect the right way. It is the world ending. So no, she’s got a fever. She’s fine. I think she’s smart and realizes that when she’s sick she gets to eat all the cheese crackers and blueberries she wants.

Shayne: Oh, boy, yeah.

Chris: She’s not dumb. But no she’s fine. A sick kid at home is often worse on the parent who is watching said sick kid, than it is for the kid.

Ken: I tell you I never minded it too much when I would call in sick and my daughter, she was the most cuddly thing all day. We would just cuddle up on the couch all day and watch silly shoes and maybe the occasionally mountain bike video. So anyway, how old are your kids guys? I’m sure our audience would like to know.

Chris: That’s great, go ahead Shayne.

Shayne: I have an almost three year old named Finn. He’ll be three in September and I have a five month old, well almost five month old named Grace.

Chris: that’s great, I actually thought your kids were older.

Ken: Yeah five months old already. I remember when you were going on paternity leave there for a little bit.

Shayne: Yeah that was back in February, so that was awhile go.

Chris: Ken, you were there at the birth right? You caught the child?

Ken: I wasn’t so lucky. I was down here in North Carolina. I missed the whole event. How about you Chris, how old are your kids?

Chris: I have kid.

Ken: Kid?

Chris: I have a nearly two month, two month old, way off. Terrible father. Nearly two year old little girl named Charlotte.

Ken: Awesome.

Chris: We call her Charlie.

Ken: Okay.

Chris: We live on Charlotte Street, which was an accident but is not everyone the joke they tell us is if they’re the first people to say it. So that’s our thing now. Oh, Charlotte on Charlotte Street. We’re like yeah that stinks. That’s like dad joke number 11484118910 now or whatever.

Ken: Yeah well I’ve got a little girl. She’s almost six years old. So we kept her for an additional year in a five preschool class. So she’ll be starting Kindergarten here soon. Got a birthday in two weeks and yeah, just living the dream man.

Chris: Hey can we briefly, I know this is a podcast about dads, parents, moms which we’re all equipped to talk about of course. Featuring, well we’ll have moms on here soon and training. But can we talk about the Tour de France?

Ken: We can talk about the Tour de France for a few minutes, assuming everyone’s seen today’s stage. Congratulations to Caleb Ewan his first time in the tour I believe.

Shayne: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: Huge. Inches, inches.

Shayne: That is very unfortunate. I haven’t watched one second of the tour this year.

Chris: That’s because you don’t know anything about cycling.

Shayne: Not too much.

Ken: I mean that’s actually a good question is Shayne, are you a big cycling fan or it’s just work to you these days?

Shayne: I’m a huge cycling fan and yeah it’s just work between GC Coaching, Zwift and then obviously two very young kids. I just don’t have a lot of free time on my hands to watch the tour. So I’m hoping to catch up on it this weekend if I can.

Ken: Cool. Well-

Shayne: There’s this sports gold app and it’s really nice because it has a lot of nice recaps of episodes.

Chris: Well it’s not actually nice. Here’s the thing. Here’s my opinion on that which everyone needs to know. It’s not that it’s good, it’s that this year it sucks slightly less than it has.

Shayne: You mean the app?

Chris: Than in previous years. And so, the app. I mean NBC has got to have money, right? They just need to hire one good app developer who’s hopefully not listening right now. Anyway, every time I put it on my sole goal is to not have the stage ruined.

Ken: The first year they came out with that app I actually sent a message to NBC. It was the year where I was like yeah, as soon as … like most of us can’t watch this until we get off of work if you’re in the United States and I jumped on and saw that on the front page or on the home page Wiggins won the time trial with Froome in a close second and they were one and two and I was like, thanks. Good job.

Chris: Thanks guys. Well hey full confession, I have watched nearly every minute of the tour so far. I realize how boring that is, but what I do is I put it on in the background while I’m working and I listen for the words attack or crash and then I go back over to it and back it up 15 seconds and it is an amazingly soothing way to watch the tour.

Ken: Yeah, that’s true. It is a good way to watch the tour and I did that in year’s past. But being the cheap dad that I am, obviously you’ve heard my sense of humor. I now use a different app called Reddit where I go on the peloton community, ourpeloton and just watch the highlights everyday about an hour after the stage ends. That’s it.

Chris: That’s probably a much better use of your time.

Ken: Yeah I actually get stuff done in July now.

Chris: Yeah actually when we got married we didn’t have a TV for a bunch of years because we just wanted to give that a shot. Then my wife got tired of me being sad every July. So one July I got a surprise gift and we have a TV solely so that I can watch the Tour de France.

Ken: That is awesome.

Chris: Which shows you how awesome my wife is and how unhealthy I am. Cool, well it is a good tour. It’s like a changing of the guard. You’re seeing some guys, some older guys seemingly final performances maybe and then some new guys. A lot of cyclo cross guys that are just monsters.

Ken: Yeah I’m seeing a lot of that. But I think the really exciting thing for me is to see how exciting cross country racing has gotten watching the let’s get France race last week and Andora I guess one or two weeks before that and this woman Kate Courtney if you’re not familiar is just probably the most dominant American cyclist right now and maybe one of the most dominant cyclist in the world.

Chris: She’s a phenom.

Shayne: For sure.

Ken: Yep she is amazing. She came out of the NICA system which is basically a high school mountain bike league and it’s proliferating throughout the entire United States. It’s National Interscholastic Cycling Association. So if you are looking to get involved I’ve been coaching as a NICA coach for a local high school for the last season. It was a very rewarding experience and I just love it.

Chris: That’s why you’re always posting stuff with high school students going mountain biking? Makes a lot more sense now.

Ken: Yes.

Chris: I just thought maybe you didn’t have anybody else to ride with.

Ken: Yeah I don’t just show up at the high school and you know.

Shayne: You guys want to go ride bikes?

Ken: It’s a volunteer position but I love it. I pay to do it. It’s awesome.

Chris: I’m sure they would let you pay.

Ken: Oh, they do. Well cool, so this week, so last week we talked about a couple of topics. I can’t remember the exact questions or I want to say two weeks ago. But the focus question for this week is when you’re training schedule gets derailed by work or family commitments, what is the best way to get back on track? So I know that Shayne has done quite a bit of research on this and he’s about to drop the knowledge on us. So Shayne we’re going to turn it over to the brains of the outfit, hear what you got to say.

Shayne: All right.

Chris: We have research. You did research and have citations, is that right?

Ken: Yes.

Shayne: I do. Yeah I try to make sure I can back up what I can hopefully say.

Chris: One of us should.

Shayne: When I read that question I thought of two forks, I guess one fork. One prong of the fork is to talk about detraining and the other prong of the fork is to talk about how to get yourself back on track again.

Chris: Could we call that detraining and retraining?

Shayne: You could, yeah.

Chris: Or is that just stupid?

Shayne: No, not at all. I would say that’s retraining or getting back into shape again. However you want to say it.

Chris: I like the alliteration.

Shayne: So detraining is essentially you’re losing aerobic, anaerobic sprint, endurance, strength. Basically all the things you’re trying to build up with training you’re slowly and steadily losing that. So long story short is as you detrain you lose your high end performance first and you lose your strength and endurance typically last. So that’s why you may have noticed if you do a Zwift race after a long time off you get completely smoked out the gate but you can go out and ride for a couple hours without too much of an issue.

Chris: Okay just to clarify your high end performance, are we talking our one or three second sprint wattage here or something a little longer?

Ken: That’s a good question.

Shayne: I would say something a little longer. So I would say somewhere between the 30 second to five minute range.

Chris: Hm, okay.

Shayne: You actually maintain your strength and your sprint fairly well, the short sprints like five to ten seconds. But once you start to extend that out into the VO2 max range that’s when you really start to see the differences between the detraining.

Chris: So how would I know I have entered, because I’m always thinking every man terms and things like that. How would I know if I have entered a VO2 max effort when I’m out on the bike so I even know if I have it or don’t have it?

Shayne: So typically VO2 max is something you can sustain for five to eight minutes and by the time you get to that five to eight minutes you are completely smoked. So you literally can’t turn the pedals any further.

Chris: What if that’s everyday I get on my bike and I feel it? Is there a problem? Am I doing something wrong?

Shayne: I don’t think so, no.

Chris: Good.

Shayne: Typically you can establish what your VO2 max is in a lab doing a ramp test or you can also use things like WKO software models think your VO2 max is. What your VO2 max is that power, you can sustain that for like I said, five to eight minutes typically depending on your level of training. With the more trained you are, you can sustain it for longer and then vice versa. The less trained you are you sustain it for less. So the big change is in the VO2 max. So VO2 max changes happen because you have decreased blood volume which is essentially your blood plasma, your red blood cells. So you lose your ability to carry your oxygen throughout your body. You also lose your leg strength and your heart can actually shrink in size too, which means the muscles don’t pump as efficiently. You also lose your fat utilization during your training and you become more reliant on carbohydrate which is a big issue because you have a very finite supply of carbohydrate on board and you have practically limited the supply of fat on board.

Shayne: So we train to become … it’s a buzzword to become fat adapted. So we train to ideally increase the amount of fat we use in substrate and then we ideally try to reduce the amount of carbohydrate we use just to maintain it for longer.

Chris: Okay I want you to create me a training manual.

Shayne: Okay.

Ken: Good you just earned another client.

Chris: Hired.

Shayne: You also become less insulin sensitive which means you lose the ability for your muscles to uptake glucose in your bloodstream. It’s like a double-edged sword where you burn more carbohydrate for every pedal stroke, but you also absorb less carbohydrate that you’re intaking.

Chris: Wait, say that again.

Shayne: You become reliant on carbohydrate and then you also reduce your insulin sensitivity which means that your muscle’s ability to uptake glucose into them decreases.

Chris: Oh, so it’s really a two-fold thing. So you can’t get the glucose, which is carbohydrate into your cells.

Shayne: Right.

Chris: But your body is now requiring that you burned more carbohydrate to fuel your efforts. So now it’s like oh, no man your body is basically saying I’m going to burn through these carbohydrates super fast and there’s nothing stored in the tank to keep me going. Okay, okay got it.

Shayne: You got it.

Chris: So donuts is the answer?

Shayne: Donuts is great, yeah. As long as your stomach can tolerate them when you’re going at full gas for sure.

Chris: It’s interesting. As I’ve gotten older my ability to go out and just eat crap food has for sure gone down as it does.

Shayne: Yeah.

Chris: But I think because I’ve both been training on a bike, but also including so many café stops with pastries over the years, that I’ve also been training my body to be able to continue to eat tons of trashy pastries. So I might not be able to go eat fast food anymore, but I can still hammer a ton of donuts without getting a stomachache and I think it’s because of cycling.

Shayne: Sure.

Chris: Which is an amazing joy.

Ken: Yeah that’s good. So I guess Shayne what are your thoughts on fueling with stuff like donuts? Is the fat content too high in them to be really ideal?

Shayne: Yeah the fat content would be too high and it’ll be more-

Chris: Don’t ruin this for me jerk.

Ken: You’re adapted, this doesn’t apply to you.

Shayne: How heavy the food is. The more heavy, the more rich, the more dense the food is the harder it’s going to be for you to digest it. So, that’s why things like easily absorb foods like gels or shoplocks things like that have become popular and also just eating bananas, kind of a more easy to digest foods are popular too. But I think a donut is fine or a pastry is fine or whatever if you’re at a rest stop because it’s something that you’ll enjoy to eat and something that’s going to be absorbed relatively quickly because it’s pretty high in sugar, then I don’t see any problem with it you know? But for a race, probably not good.

Chris: Plus café stops. I know it’s not riding indoors on trainers like we do.

Shayne: For sure, yeah.

Chris: But café stop I think is a crucial part of outdoor cycling and I think everyone’s got their mileage. Ken do you have a mileage minimum you have to ride before you allow yourself to have a café stop?

Ken: Man, no not really. Usually my bike rides being a dad with a tight schedule I rarely get the luxury of doing the café stop. I usually have just enough time to … and for me it’s not road riding anymore. I can tell you a little anecdote about why here in a minute. But I threw my bike in the back of the truck and go to the trail and I ride for as long as I can and then drive back and fortunately I’m close to having some really close single track trails to my house. I’m mainly just a mountain biker or riding on Zwift. I can ride my bike straight to the trail head from here. But yeah, one morning about it was almost two years ago I was out mountain biking. Had just hit a whole bunch of PRs and was segment seeking for Strava and got some top tens and just cruising back through town in a bike lane and somebody pulled out in front of me and sent me over their hood.

Ken: You know ever since that day I just have not had the desire to go out on the road and I’ve only been on the road maybe a half a dozen or ten times since then and that was two years ago.

Shayne: I can’t blame you at all for that one.

Chris: Those are scary things man.

Ken: This is not for anybody, I’m not trying to use scare tactics. That’s just my reality and my risk assessment. I haven’t missed it. Once I got onto Zwift it was so engaging the way dads inside riding trainers or DIRT had set it up with the voice chat and we started creating our own races and it’s such a rich community that it’s very engaging. Then I get my outdoor fix by going out on my mountain bike when I can.

Chris: What a funny ad to the discord, like the target audience. They started this thing and they’ve got it all built around video game chats and all of a sudden thousands and thousands of strangely and awkwardly fit middle aged people all of a sudden get on discord to talk about cycling at five in the morning. I’m sure they’re just sitting in their office going, “I mean okay I don’t know what this is about maybe it’ll make me more money sure.”

Ken: Yeah this is fantastic. Who are these guys? Yeah.

Chris: Yeah seriously.

Ken: No that would be great. So Shayne I was looking under your notes and there’s some really shocking things that I saw that what you mentioned you typically see a fitness decrease two to three times as fast as it is regained in sedentary people?

Shayne: Yeah sedentary people.

Ken: Okay, so tell me a little bit more about that versus somebody like you mentioned Miguel Indurain later in the article and so explain the difference between your couch potato that’s just been riding for the summertime and has gone back to the couch versus Miguel Indurain.

Shayne: Sure. Yeah so I wanted to take two different athletes types because Zwift is very encompassing and hopefully the podcast listeners are too where some athletes are going to be very highly trained and some athletes are going to be more of a summer fair-weather type riders. So the big thing with detraining is the more fitness you have the less the detraining is going to affect you and the slower the decreases are going to be. So this one study I found published by Nolan he took a group of sedentary individuals and he had them do a 13 week training routine and then he separated it out into two groups, one group didn’t do anything for a month and the other group did a decreased amount of exercise for a month. So both groups lost a considerable amount of fitness because I think, I can’t remember the exact number, but it was a 60% decrease in training for the group that still trained. But what was shocking was the group that didn’t do any training after just one week of doing no exercise, all of their response training was abolished completely. So it was almost like they never had never trained before a day in their life.

Chris: Wow that is crazy.

Shayne: Remember we’re talking sedentary. So, if you’re the kind of rider that rides from June to September and then you put your bike away, you’re going to lose all that fitness you’ve gained in about a week or two weeks believe it or not.

Chris: Damn.

Shayne: That’s why it’s really key to, which we’ll get to later, is to keep yourself going ideally all year around doing something. It doesn’t have to be necessarily cycling, it could be cross training, but something that’s going to be cardiovascular demanding for you to do.

Ken: So did you say there was a second group that just trained less, like they lowered their volume down?

Shayne: They trained 60% less than they did during the 13 weeks and they also had decrease in VO2 maxes, things like that. But their diminishes were nowhere near as bad as they were for the group that did one week of nothing at all.

Ken: Gotcha. So the key is just don’t go back to the couch completely, just keep doing something.

Shayne: Exactly. Yeah, especially if you are a sedentary type where you’re getting into things because by the time you get to the 13th, 14th week you’ll have some decent fitness built up. But the fitness is going to be very fleeting where you only have about a week before you lose it all if you don’t do anything at all.

Chris: So essentially if you’re someone who’s relatively fit and staying active in some way then you’ll maintain a decent base is really the terminology we could maybe use?

Shayne: Sure, exactly. The more fit you are and more importantly the longer you’ve been fit the better it’s going to be for your longevity in terms of fitness where you’ll lose fitness a lot slower than the average person that is more sedentary, more sitting for work, things like that.

Chris: I tried to pull up some of the graphs you sent us while you were talking but then I quickly gave up because I know absolutely what none of this means. So I mean I feel like we could do a podcast on you describing how to read these graphs, but no one would listen to that.

Shayne: Yeah I don’t want it to be like that either. I want to give the information in a digestible and understandable format. I know when I get into physiology, biology all that stuff because that’s kind of boring.

Chris: Would you say that your description of this study would be like a simple carbohydrate that you could digest easily for quick absorption, not a donut.

Shayne: Not a donut yeah.

Chris: Perhaps.

Shayne: But like I said too, I mean if you like donuts then live life man, enjoy it.

Chris: Okay, I should be clear. I’m using donuts as a cloak wheel, shorthand for pretty much all pastries. But, that’s a different podcast.

Ken: Yeah okay so tell us what happened. Tell us the story about Miguel Indurain, we’re dying to know.

Shayne: So the other side of this coin is an elite athlete and Miguel Indurain is obviously a freak of his time. So just to give you some-

Ken: And for our audience he won the Tour de France five times.

Shayne: Right.

Ken: He’s one of three people that have ever done that.

Chris: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s like ’90 or ’91 to ’95 or something like that.

Shayne: Yeah.

Ken: Right, right.

Shayne: So I’m going to give you numbers from testing he did in 1996 and then I’ll compare that to testing he did with this test which was I should know that number. What year that was done. It was 14 years after his retirement. So he’s 46. So let me pause here just so I can get what that year was.

Chris: I also want to share with you because I wanted to pull it up and look at photos, he and I have the same birthday.

Shayne: Oh, you do?

Chris: Miguel Indurain and I have the same birthday, which was yesterday.

Ken: Oh, man that’s awesome.

Shayne: There you go.

Chris: Put that on the fun facts for the podcast.

Shayne: Let me start that over again. So on the other side of that coin you have professional athletes and I found a very interesting study of Miguel Indurain which was produced by [Moochica 00:25:32] I don’t know how you say his last name. Sorry if I’m butchering that. But he compared his testing from 1996 to a testing he did 14 years after his retirement in 2012. So just to give you an idea of the differences. So his VO2 max in 1996 was 80, which is off the scale freakish.

Chris: Sure.

Shayne: His FTP, which this scientist measured it for the onset of black lactate which is about four millimoles was a 505 watts which put his-

Chris: Oh, my god.

Shayne: Which put his-

Chris: So that would be 20 minutes. 20 minutes of that.

Shayne: Well we’ll get into that later, but FTP isn’t necessarily 90% of your 20 minute power, but we can go into that later.

Chris: Sure.

Shayne: So 505 was his FTP, that put his watt per kilo at 6.23.

Chris: Geez.

Shayne: We talked before the carbohydrate to fat reliance. So, his FTP as a percentage of his max power was 88% in ’96 which means he can work 88% up to threshold by burning primarily fat, which is huge.

Chris: Wow.

Shayne: So he can work up to very high zone three tempo zone, almost into low threshold with burning primarily fat or carbohydrate. Then his last minute for his ramp test was 572 watts. So you can tell just an absolute freak.

Chris: That is a freak man.

Shayne: The testing basically said that he did … you know he still rode during the 14 years between the tests and the current test but it was obviously nowhere near what it was before. So the test he did in 2012, his VO2 max went from 80 to a 57, but a 57 is still superior for his age. His FTP went from a 505 to 360 and his watt per kilo went from 6.2 to 3.9. So even with relatively low training, being detrained he’s still a very solid B, if not A racer.

Ken: Right so that would still put him at, you said that was 92 kilos which I believe is about 200, 205 pounds. So he’s not a little dude.

Shayne: No. He was 81 kilos during his test in ’96. So he’s about 11 kilos bigger.

Ken: Wow he’s a big boy.

Chris: So I mean part of that was with him eating some more cheesecake and drinking a little bit more wine between those two times.

Shayne: Sure.

Chris: Wow.

Shayne: The big thing I said was the carbohydrates. So his FTP as a percentage of max power went from 88 to 80% FTP. So now you’re talking 80% FTP that’s when the transition between fat and a carbohydrate starts. So he’s burning primarily fat at 8% less than he was in ’96.

Chris: Gotcha.

Shayne: So just less “fat adapted.” But the point being he didn’t do jack nothing, well he did. I can’t say he did jack nothing, but he did way less training for over 14 years and he’s still a solid B+, A- racer relative to a sedentary individual who does three months of training and they take one week off and they lose everything that they’ve gained.

Ken: Right, right. He was probably training 20, 25 hours a week for a decade.

Shayne: At least. Probably, if not more.

Chris: You know he could still dig and find a gear and just hammer for a few minutes.

Shayne: For sure. Yeah I mean his last minute of the ramp test was still a 450 watts. So there was 572 in ’96.

Chris: That’s just stupid.

Shayne: It was still a 450 in 2012.

Chris: A couple weeks ago I was on a group ride and there were these two older guys whose names I won’t share, but they, wow they were probably both 60 plus, both of them were Olympic medalists in different cycling events from years gone by and holy crap. It’s exactly what you’re talking about. These guys were just leading the train and I mean they were working hard, but even if you didn’t know … I mean if you would have just joined the group and you didn’t know that these guys were Olympians you’d be asking like who the heck are these guys? It was just a different-

Shayne: It’s a different animal.

Chris: It’s just a different level.

Shayne: Yes, absolutely.

Chris: Yeah it’s unbelievable.

Ken: So Shayne let me ask you this, so I’m somewhere in the middle between Al Bundy and Miguel Indurain-

Chris: Yeah just like everybody else.

Ken: … right exactly. So I’m detrained. So let’s say I’ll give you an example. A couple years ago I got the flu and then I got a sinus infection and then I had a reaction to Penicillin it took me out for like a month. What does getting back on track for our typical listener look like?

Shayne: Before we do that let’s talk a little bit about the differences in zero to two weeks, four weeks, nine weeks and 12 weeks. So for a trained athlete the first two weeks he really won’t lose much of anything and if anything, you’ll actually probably absorb and adapt to the training you’ve done before as long as you were coming into that illness or that time off pretty fatigued. So you’re almost using that.

Chris: Almost like a taper?

Shayne: Exactly, almost like a taper.

Ken: Yep.

Shayne: So the biggest changes I see with the research is two to four weeks where VO2 max can decrease anywhere from six to 20% in two to four weeks which is crazy. That’s where you lose all the blood values. You start to lose your ability to carry oxygen, your stroke rate decreases, all those really unfortunate bad things change. So zero to two weeks you’re in the clear. Two to four weeks is where everything really start to cap and go downhill. Then nine plus weeks that’s when you’re talking a 20 to 25% loss in VO2 max.

Chris: Wow.

Shayne: So it’s almost like if you can salvage it within two weeks you’re pretty good and you definitely want to try to salvage it within four weeks. After four weeks you’re going back, not to ground zero like the sedentary group would, but you’re losing about 25% of your aerobic capability at that point. It’s going to take about two to three times the time you were off to rebuild what you lost.

Ken: Wow.

Chris: Wow. That’s depressing.

Shayne: So everybody don’t take a four week break.

Ken: Right, don’t take a four week break by choice. Obviously things happen.

Shayne: Right, sure. Don’t take it by choice if you can predict it. As far as getting back on track, yeah I like to first take a step back and reevaluate how long have you been off for? What were you off for? I had an athlete this year who got the flu in February and he literally wasn’t able to breath deeply until about May. So even though he could train, he really couldn’t dig because the flu attacks your lungs. So he couldn’t breath deeply because he just had scratching in his lungs from the flu. So it depends on what you had going on, why you took that much time off. Then once you do that then come up with a plan to rebuild the fitness that you lost. Again the plan depends upon how long the break was. The biggest issue I see is people try to jump right back into where they were before their time off and that typically can lead to injury or really burnout because if you can’t hit the same numbers you were hitting six weeks ago and you come back and try to do a workout you could do six weeks ago and you fail it over and over and over again, that’s not going to really be great for the psyche and the overall motivation.

Chris: I was going to say I’ve heard it said many times and Ken, you and I were texting back this yesterday or the day before. If you’re trying to ramp back into a training plan maybe been at rest or whatever and you start finding that you’re failing workouts, isn’t the smart thing to do to decrease your percentage and finish well rather than redline it and fail every time. That’s kind of what you’re saying. If you’re entering back into it, maybe you need to say take a long term perspective and say my goal is fitness not just some sort of idle inside my own heart about feeling a certain way or I’m the hard cyclist. But saying actually I want to get stronger the right way, smart.

Shayne: Right.

Chris: And maybe that means riding less hard for awhile.

Shayne: Yeah I would agree. Ideally you want to rebuild volume first and then intensity second. But, if you’re time crunched then you’re going to have to do what you have to do. But typically I like to rebuild volume first if I can with my athletes and depending how much time they have available to train and maybe zone two, three for the first couple weeks to a month and then maybe throwing in some sweet spot and then maybe going up into more of a VO2 max type efforts after that. But typically I like to play with the train load based off training stress core or TSS, which we talked about last week. Typically you want a TSS decreased by about 50% of what you could tolerate before. So if you were tolerating 800 TSS per week and you took a month off, I would probably come back around 400 to 500 TSS the first week you come back. I actually did this with Eric [Slain 00:35:38] he was another DIRT member, linked this into show notes too as long with the articles.

Shayne: But he went on a two week holiday and his CTL which is his fitness was an 83 and he came back. He left the week of March 18th. He came back the week of 4-8 and his CTL dropped by 20 points. He was tolerating 700ish TSS per week in March and I started him off at a 530 the first week he came back and then you want to slowly rebuild the CTL that you lost.

Ken: Let’s just give a quick shout out to Eric. He is the founder and I guess editor and chief of Zwift Insider.

Shayne: That’s right, he’s my man.

Ken: An awesome Zwift blog, probably the most popular one. So that’s our guy.

Chris: He’s going to write all kinds of great articles about this podcast.

Shayne: Yeah let’s hope.

Ken: He did. He posted an article about our first one. It was a good article.

Chris: So you were talking about TSS score and these guys they talk all the time about peaking and being in good form and why some guys, they’re saying well if they’re going to ride the Giro they’re not going to ride the tour and all the things like this. Why the Dauphine is so important. Is that a metric of them doing a ramp up and they probably have this all graphed out and mapped out of them trying to peak and then not lose because you said that two week window. So that just starts to overlay a beautiful complexity to these training plans. It’s like wait, even me as a normal guy I can apply some of that to my life too. You’re demystifying it a little bit, which I appreciate.

Shayne: Absolutely. Yeah so typically an athlete will have one or two A races that they’ll want to be in quote, “peak form” for. Typically it’ll be one in the early season, one late season just so you have some time to do a little bit of rebuild and transition in between events. Some athletes just have one event per season that they want to peak for. So like we said last time, when you’re on form you have high fitness and low fatigue. So you want to be overloading the body during the base and build phases to ramp up that CTL or that chronic training load which is your fitness based on training peaks. You want to slowly ramp that up over the course of months and then the last week or two weeks that’s your taper phase where you want to try to maintain the CTL as best you can, but let the fatigue drop off so that your form rise. So high form is again low fatigue and high fitness.

Shayne: So you can do that by planning out an ATP or annual training plan and you can do that by year, you can do that by event, whatever you want to do. But it’ll give you a little bit of a roadmap on how much TSS you want to hit per week and then when your taper will be, when your transition will be. So like we talked last week about planning your yearly versus a weekly. It’s always I think better to plan yearly because you get a better idea where the hard weeks will be, where the easy weeks will be and just get a better idea of where you’ll be for your event that day.

Ken: I can see that being beneficial especially with what I’ve been tackling with structured training programs this year. Some of my goals. So I went on vacation just for a week and just ate terribly, put on like six pounds and had a race. I got back on Friday and had a race on Saturday or maybe on Sunday, but I just felt terrible. I had failed a couple of workouts. I had decided to take my old wheel on trainer to the beach with me and do workouts with a power meter instead of erg mode and it just, I lost my confidence from failing all those workouts. Then coming into that race I just wasn’t in a good head space and just got shellacked. But what I’m hearing is I probably in real life hadn’t lost any fitness. It was just a variety of other factors. Maybe bad sleep, bad eating and getting in my head with losing a few or failing a few workouts and that was a big factor.

Shayne: Yeah I think confidence is definitely an under talked about thing in endurance sport which we can talk about at another podcast too. But having confidence and having motivation and drive is I think as important as having good fitness is.

Chris: well they say bonking is as much between the ears as it is in your legs, so they say, whoever they are.

Ken: I can definitely believe that. A friend of ours did a 100 miler, Jason [Muchler 00:40:31] you may have read about him. He was wounded really badly in action and he found Zwift and it’s been really life changing in a positive way for him. But he had a solo 100 miler and one of our friends pointed out like your head is going to give up before your legs do. He suffered it out and he’s one of your clients, Shayne.

Shayne: He is, yep. He averaged 21.2 miles an hour and did it in four hours and 45 seconds. Sorry, four hours and 45 minutes, excuse me. So yeah he crushed it compared to what he was doing last year which is great. I’m stoked for him.

Ken: Yeah that is pretty amazing. So I think this week what we decided to do is really unpack this question in a lot of detail because it applies to so many of us whereas last week we tried to touch on multiple questions. I think we are starting to run a little bit short on time. I was going to get into some of the DIRT origin story, but we can save that for our next episode and have a little fun with telling the story behind that.

Chris: We’re going to start doing dad stories too, right?

Ken: Yep, we’re going to start doing some dad stories and we’re going to pick out one of our members and profile that person and so we’ll really put a human face on what we have going on with dads inside riding trainers.

Chris: Ken, can we ask for stories from dads?

Ken: For sure.

Chris: Are we allowed to do that?

Ken: We are allowed to do that.

Chris: That’s great.

Ken: As a matter of fact on the you can already read quite a few stories about some of the members of our team. Just fascinating people from around the world and they’re all just like us. They’re all doing the deal, trying to stay fit and balancing life, parenthood, work.

Chris: All of the above.

Ken: You know how it is. All of the above. Well guys it’s been an excellent episode. Thank you both for joining in. Shayne thanks for all the hard work and the research putting into this and Chris Gorney again for his marketing efforts and our logos. We will see you all again in two weeks. So everybody ride on and have a good week and we’ll talk to you soon.

Chris: Perfect, thanks guys.

Shayne: Bye everyone.

The Never Going Pro Podcast – Episode 1

In this episode Shayne, Ken, and Chris speak about advantages of planning out yearly training plans vs going week to week, and how to deal with mental fatigue when the body is still strong.

Show Transcript

Ken: Welcome to The Never Going Pro Podcast. Podcast about riding bikes and being parents and trying super hard at both. My name is Ken “the badger” Nowell. I’m on team DIRT, stands for Dad’s Inside Riding Trainers and it’s a group of dads that met on the Zwift Platform, riding early in the morning trying to get our training in and our hustle on before we got our kids ready and got to work. And along the way, we’ve met some really cool people such as Shayne and Chris, which I’ll introduce now. Shayne, would you like to introduce yourself?

Shayne: Sure, so my name is Shayne Gaffney. I’m the owner and head coach at GC Coaching. I’m a level one USA cycling coach, a certified power based training coach and I’ve done a bunch of work for Zwift with their structured training plans and the build me up training plan. Chris, do you want to go?

Chris: Yeah, I’m Chris Gorney and I’m pretty much none of those things that Shayne just called himself. I am just a regular dad. I got involved with DIRT and Zwift because a year and a half ago, my wife and I had a little girl and our time was pretty limited and our little girl got sick early on so I wanted to stay home and stay somewhat fit, so I got into Zwift and just kind of fell in love with it.

Chris: I kind of came on as a marketing consultant and kind of a strategic specialist which is what I do kind of in my regular job. And just fell in love with it. So that’s it, my role is to kind of be the non-Shayne, the guy who’s just trying really hard every day and probably taking myself a little too seriously while cycling outside with my friends.

Ken: Sounds good, well thank you both for joining up tonight and so one thing that we aim to do with this podcast … Obviously we all met on Zwift so that’s important to us and I think the biggest thing that we’ve seen that all of us on team DIRT have had in common is time constraints and really trying to balance, balance family, balance between our own ambitions and training goals. Getting healthy again, which I’ve seen lots of guys come in and lose weight and hit all kinds of fitness record. And also just having a good time and not taking ourselves too seriously.

Ken: And so what we’ve done is we reached out to some of our members and if you are familiar with team DIRT, Dads Inside Riding Trainers, we have over 2,000 Facebook members, about 1,500 Strava members and a pretty large roster, we’re one of the biggest teams in the world. So we crowdsourced some questions and we went to our members and we wanted to find out what they wanted to hear, especially from Shayne because he does have a lot of experience coaching and all of us, we have a lot of questions about how we can reach our goals. So, Shayne if you want to take a look at our questions and introduce some of them and we can start to dig in.

Shayne: Sure, so the first one that got the most kind of up votes on Facebook was the advantages of planning out a yearly training plan versus going week to week or racing and riding all the time.

Chris: You’re saying like racing versus only doing workouts, right?

Shayne: I think that’s what the question was about yeah, so it was kind of “Can I race every day of the week or is it better to do more structure and then how far out should I plan that structure?”

Ken: I mean I have a slew of questions just around this topic right here. So, for instance, what happens to somebody when they race every day? And because what I discovered, for me, was when I started racing three or four days a week on Zwift, for a long time I kept getting faster. I kept hitting power records but that didn’t last forever. I did that for about a year and kept getting better and better and then I started to hit a plateau. So I guess the question is why? What happens to the body or the mind or your system that keeps you from making gain by doing that?

Shayne: Sure. Once you expose your body to the same stimulus over and over and over again you’re going to get diminishing returns on that same stimulus. Once you’re doing a lot of intensity you can get a really good uptick in your fitness relatively early and you can keep that fitness uptick pretty consistent, as long as the races are challenging you. The problem is once you reach your peak of return on training investment doing races, eventually you’re going to plateau like you experienced and then you have to change the training stimulus by either increasing the duration, increasing the intensity again. Increasing the frequency, things like that. But if you just keep doing the same thing week in and week out, you will definitely make improvements, but those improvements will diminish over time.

Chris: Well as you say that it blows my mind because I might be the crazy person, but when I get on Zwift it doesn’t occur to me to even race. I was just blasted by a bunch of friends because they always wanted to do races and the times never worked out and so eventually I just started doing workout plans. So my goal became just get on and basically punish the hell out of myself for an hour. I might have blacked out, almost blacked out on my bike only once, which is what happens when your air conditioning doesn’t work well and your fan stops working, while you’re riding.

Shayne: Ouch.

Chris: That’s a true story. But I started getting really, really bored and then I even found out because if we’re talking about Zwift it’s not as simple as races versus workouts because the racing on Zwift actually takes game skill. If you just get on and hammer, so it’s like the difference between racing and training is actually bigger than just effort, perceived effort and gains. You have to practice both and then you only have what is it Shayne? You said the average rider, the average dedicated amateur which is what I’d consider myself and Ken, we’ve got six to seven hours a week?

Shayne: Yeah in my experience it’s usually around five to seven hours a week and that consists of three to four rides per week give or take.

Chris: I heard Ken does exactly seven hours and one minute per week.

Shayne: That’s good.

Ken: That’s pretty much yeah. If you look at the last year that’s pretty accurate. It’s right around seven to eight hours, very consistent. That’s the only slot that life allows and on these weeks where I go on vacation it’s either way less or way more. So if I’m at home or on vacation I can get 10 hours in and that might happen once a year.

Chris: So how do I pick? Where’s the balance? Outdoors is easy right? I’ve got a race on August 15th, so I’m going to throw a training plan on and I’m going to do it. But with Zwift it’s different because I can race Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I can race anytime now.

Shayne: Right, I don’t think the intensity is a bad thing. The problem is if you overdo the intensity you can get burnt out and like Ken was saying you also will eventually reach that diminishing return point where if you do the same thing every single week, eventually you’re not going to get any return on training investment and the other issue too is if you are recovered before a race you can dig a lot deeper during that race and that’s going to create, I think, a much better stimulus train and your training response is going to be better as opposed to doing a race fatigued. You’re not going to be able to dig as deep and that’s going to result in maybe a decreased response. So your hard riding and your easy riding all turns into a moderate pace riding. So you’re losing that polarized training approach which has proven to be pretty successful for most people.

Shayne: The less trained you are, the less important it is to do really structured training because you can get a return on fitness just by riding your bike more. So once you get to a point where you’re becoming fitter and you’re getting not to your biological potential but once you’re maximizing whatever time you have available to train, that’s when it’s important to become more structured because that’s when you actually can change what you’re doing. But if you’re out of shape or you haven’t been training for years and years and years, the structure I don’t think is crucial unless you feel like you’re already at that plateau point.

Chris: So less is more, so that more is more.

Shayne: Kind of and it’s also important in the beginning to have fun because if you start off and just drill yourself with structure, because structure is very mentally demanding, especially if you’re time crunched and you have other life stress going on. You have to enter a really stressful structure workout pretty fresh mentally and also physically to get the most out of it. So if you had a busy day at work or you have a sick kid at home or whatever, then you’re not going to be able to dig as deep in that workout and if anything, you’re going to feel the workout which is going to demotivate you for the next time you do it.

Chris: So tell me this Ken, because you race way more right? What’s your best and worst race experience?

Ken: So obviously the best race experience is winning is a lot of fun and I have won a handful of races. So well I started as a-

Chris: Clean though right? Did you do an appropriate drug test before this race?

Ken: Yep, I did. Racing clean. Got a clean tattoo on my arm. But what I did is I started as a Cat C and you touched briefly on the gamification and I had a really, really hard time at first staying in the pack. I was shooting forward through the pack and then falling behind. Then shooting forward to fall. Basically a yo-yo through the pack. It was really exhausting. You just can’t do that so many times before I just popped. Even as a C racer, I never had a very strong sprint. So I could find ways to win by packing at strategic points and dabbing the whole group. But I was never really able to win very many sprints.

Ken: Then in Category B, it’s so competitive and I’ve only won a handful of really small races. For me the reward comes in being able to be helpful to my teammates because it’s such a fun field and it’s very rewarding where we’re on a discord chat channel and we can come up with strategies. My role has been a long range climber. The climbs that are over five minutes long, that’s where I really have … that’s my biggest strength and being able to make the race hard for other GC contenders I can do that in those areas.

Ken: But, one thing that I see a lot of is whether it’s comments on whip gliders or even Reddit you see people comment on the platform and they’re like, “I’m way out of shape I haven’t exercised in a long time, I’m just getting into this. What training program should I do?” I think Shayne touched on this a minute ago, basically it seems to me and I’ve had experience training athletes before as well, is you can almost do anything when you’re really out of shape, you can get in better shape. It doesn’t really matter. You can be very non-specific in what you’re trying to do.

Ken: So I think a lot of people that are new to Zwift are putting pressure on themselves to do certain events and training programs. But it’s like just ride, go have fun. Hit the like button on some people. Give people some ride-ons and make some friends and the friends will keep you coming back.

Chris: Ken you and I met on Zwift.

Shayne: We’re basically best friends now.

Chris: Everyone should know Ken we did have a miscommunication and he sent me a used kit to try on and I thought he was sending me a new kit to try on and so I started wearing it without washing it, not knowing the amount of sweat that I was just absorbing through my skin of just Ken’s funk. So I now know we wear the same size kit and I’m closer to you.

Ken: Shayne what advice do you have for somebody who maybe isn’t very fit, doesn’t ride very much and is just getting into Zwift for the first time?

Chris: That’s a good question.

Shayne: Sure. So I think my favorite national board is the Canadian High Performance Sports Institute right now. They have a really good long term athlete development framework that they use that I like to implement with my athletes too. A few different stages, but the first really four are an active start, the fundamentals and then learn how to train and then train to train. So active start and fundamentals are really when you’re just having fun, getting some interest in the sport. Maybe competing in local organizations or local sports. Once you do that for a few years, get some experience under your belt, enjoy the sport, then you want to get more serious about it then it’s actually learning how to train which is where a coach may come in at the very ground level and teach you about progressive overload, recovery weeks, how to judge your training stress, how to involve nutrition and hydration. Just the real basic, basic stuff. Then once you feel you have a good grasp on that, then it’s time to train to actually train for a specific event.

Shayne: So I feel like people that are coming in new to Zwift they jump right to level four which is train to train or even train to compete and they miss the fundamentals. They miss learn how to train and they miss just an active start, just having fun. So I think the first thing is give yourself a little bit of a break and go in, enjoy the training, enjoy Zwift for what it is. Make some friends, maybe join a team. Get some community and then once you figure out how to use Zwift if you enjoy it, then you get more serious about the fundamentals and maybe learn how to train first.

Chris: What would you say if I got onto Zwift and I’m just going in too hard. What are some warning signs if you’re saying, “hey, I’m listening to this podcast because I saw the name on Zwift, this is my third time riding ever.” People are riding right now are probably listening to this podcast. But they’re not sure they’re into it. What are some signs that maybe you need to chill out, take your time and not just dive in all the way to racing immediately?

Shayne: Well I think the biggest thing is are you actually enjoying what you’re doing right now? If you’re just going in and burying yourself from the get-go that’s really not good for longevity in this sport I don’t think. That’s number one. Then number two is if you are enjoying it, are you giving yourself time to absorb the training stress, time to relax or are you just going in day in and day out just beating yourself up every single day? One thing I’ve noticed people do is they get really motivated but they get almost too motivated and they ride their bikes for three weeks straight and then they burn themselves out in just a month.

Ken: Yeah.

Shayne: That’s true with everybody, especially January, February. New Year’s resolution this is going to be my year. I’m going to go to the gym every single day of this week. I’m going to get up at five in the morning and that’s awesome, but it also has to be sustainable, so. If you’re making changes to your life, they have to ideally be semi-flexible. They can’t be so rigid, but they also have to be sustainable too.

Ken: Shayne one thing that I’ve noticed is that when I’ve gone too deep and I’ve just had a run that seems like when you’re on top and everything is clicking, it seems like it’s never ever going to end. It’s like I’m going to be able to maintain this build up of fitness forever and smash all the segments in my local tracks and then all of a sudden I get to a point where I don’t even want to look at the bike and I feel depression. I feel, yeah. It’s not a favorable feeling. So that’s something I think this leads to a question too, which is how do you deal with the mental fatigue when the body is still strong? That’s one of the questions that was crowdsourced in our poll. So how do you get somebody to reset after hitting that? I’ve seen this happen over and over again. Guys are on cloud nine, they’re so excited maybe they’re screaming and making videos and they’re all in with Zwift and then all of a sudden they’re just gone.

Shayne: So I think in that case having some variety to the training I think is important. Then even riding your bike outside, that’s important too. But if you can do Concept2 row machine or an elliptical or go for a run or just do something that’s not riding your bike that is still active, I think that’s crucial. Then getting outside, I think that’s a big one too because Zwift is so good and they made it so well that it’s very addictive. But sometimes your body just needs to be and your brain just needs to be outdoors, just enjoying the sunlight and it doesn’t have to be riding your bike. It can be just going for a walk or going for a hike. So I think variety and then getting outdoors, I think that’s the two biggest things that seems to work.

Ken: Do you have times of the year with your athletes where you just them off the program altogether?

Shayne: I do, yeah. So we do at least a two week transition period after their last day race of the season. Then we’ll do at least a one week transition period after they have two races in the season. Then some of my athletes will need around this time of year when you’ve already been racing for a couple months and you’ve had a pretty long build up from February to March and April, they may need a week just for doing some kind of athlete choice rises is what I call them. So I’ll basically say go out, ride your bike but don’t worry about cadence, speed, heart rate, just literally put your computer in your cycling pocket and just go ride your bike because they need that down time and they need just to feel the wind in their hair and the sun in their face.

Chris: Wait, so hold on you’re saying that it’s supposed to be fun?

Shayne: Yeah. If I can get one thing across this podcast, cycling should be fun, first and foremost. The title is very tongue and cheek, but it’s also never going pro and it’s true. Very few people go pro at this sport. So having fun is very, very important. Granted, I’m not saying don’t take it seriously, but don’t take it too seriously either which is a hard balance to have.

Ken: Right.

Chris: Yeah. I feel you. I personally like the mental fatigue thing you talked about Ken, I mean that’s huge for me. I would get into these training plans and I used to compete in triathlons and I got up into some of the longer iron man distances and I just got into these rhythms and it was focus, focus, focus. I was the buzzkill who Friday night it was sorry guys got to go to bed at nine o’clock because I got to be in the pool at five and it seems like even just naturally like I only had that level of dedication in me for so long. Then I got to the race and I just didn’t want to do anything anymore. Even that with Zwift I’ll find that I’ll go through seasons and it’s hot or cold. So really trying to find that balance of motivation with training with trying to be productive with still racing. It’s a really hard balance. Then you throw in kids and my daughter is going from two naps to one nap and it’s like just when I get in a rhythm everything changes. It’s like a bowl full of chaos and if somebody can discover a way to continually get stronger on a bike while being a good parent and not lose your job I’d pay those people a million dollars to share their wisdom with. Maybe that’s you Shayne, maybe you’re the dude.

Shayne: Well I know a little bit, but unfortunately there’s no way to make a linear increase in your fitness month over month. There’s always going to be ups and downs to everybody and like I said in the very beginning, most athletes have five to seven hours a week to train. So, once you really get to that seven hours a week training and you’re having quality training every single hour of that week, then you have to either increase the volume and just make more time to train or increase the intensity further and a lot of times the intensity is already pretty high on the seven hour a week training plan or the seven hour a week athletes. So really they have to increase their volume and that’s really hard to do. That’s why pros don’t train seven hours a week, they train 30 hours a week, 20 hours a week whatever it may be.

Chris: Sure.

Shayne: But that’s actually a good segue to go back. Sorry we kept going back and forth. But the first question, the main question was what’s the advantages of planning a yearly training plan versus going week to week? I think you just hit it on the head where if you can plan out your training on a yearly basis you’ll know when the recovery periods are coming. You’ll know when the transitions are going to be. You’ll know when the hard weeks are going to be, when the easy weeks are going to be. I think that’s a great way to keep yourself motivated through the hard times because you know there is a vacation coming or you know there’s an easy week coming. So instead of going week to week which is a little bit helter skelter where some weeks may be hard, some weeks may be easy and you might have a month of hard workouts which can lead to burnout on the fifth week.

Chris: Sure.

Shayne: So that’s why I like training on a yearly basis. Not just yearly basis, but at least having some prioritized approach to your training and I think that’s important for a lot of reasons and I think the motivation and not having to deal with the mental fatigue is one of those big things.

Ken: So where do you get an athlete started with an annual training program. What’s square one?

Shayne: Well square one is counting backwards. So ideally they’ll have a goal then that they want to do well in and then I’ll count backwards from there to whatever day that we start with working together. So some athletes they wait until the last minute. They say hey, I have six weeks before I’m competing in X race. I say well, I hope you did your training because I’m not going to help you much in six weeks.

Chris: Unless they’re willing to write you a really big check.

Shayne: Boy, even then I don’t know. By six weeks the hay is in the barn. But it’s pretty much there. You really can’t cram too much more for that test. So ideally it would be a four to six week build. So it would be the very traditional base builds peak transition, base build, peak transition approach where we’ll do progressively overloading the body during the base phase and then we may continue that progressive overload in the build phase. But usually we’ll do a block approach where we’ll hit X TSS three weeks in a row, have a fourth week of lower TSS and then do the same thing for build number two.

Chris: All right so define TSS. You just said lots of words that make sense to me but I’m also a super geeky bike guy. So explain TSS, talk about peak, talk about overload, even base phase. We’ve got a lot of guys and I ride with some of them who are just brand new to all of this. They bought a bike two months ago.

Shayne: Sure. So base phase I like to define as the period where you increase your aerobic capacity. So basically improving your aerobic ability to generate energy and power the bike. TSS is training stress score. So that’s a way to objectify the training load on your body and it’s also a great way to plot it out on a chart over the course of a week, over the course of a month to see where your trends are and how to keep everything balanced.

Ken: Really quickly just about the training stress score. How is that calculated? Do you use … and again I know some of these things but what software do you use and what metric are you looking at to calculate the TSS?

Shayne: I use training peaks when I plan all my athletes training out. But TSS can be found in a lot of different things and if it’s not called TSS it might be called something else on Strava. I think Strava calls it training load. Then today’s plan may call it something else. But everybody has a way to measure the load on your body.

Chris: See, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with that. You get on, and I’m not saying the whole world needs to get on one boat. But, I think a lot of people out there are going to be on Zwift, they’re going to be on Strava, I also and I’m not trying to say a dirty word amongst Zwift people. But I also love trainer road and I know Mr. Frosty Badger likes trainer road as well. So each of those things has a different score and I know they’re each accurate to themselves, but I’ve always been trying to figure out. So do you have any super specific experience with some of those programs to help us navigate looking at across to translate the different language. I know for instance Strava and Zwift’s are super different. If you’ve got the Strava pro they show you your weekly progression and those scores are ludicrously different than Zwift.

Shayne: Right. So I would think the best way to do it would just be to see what your power is producing, where if you use two power meters you never know exactly how much power you’re producing because the two meters are always going to be different just like a man with two watches never knows what time it is. It’s kind of the same thing.

Chris: Hm, Proverbs.

Shayne: I would pick one program and use that program. You can use the ones like I use Strava for the social component for the pretty pictures things like that. But trainings peaks is what I use for the actual data, the actual analysis the communication things like that. Same thing Zwift is my training platform, but training peaks is my actual analysis platform. After the base phase is called the build phase and that’s where you start getting into more specific training and specific intervals for the goals and the demands of the event. So this is really where the training starts to become more individualized to the athlete where the base phase, it’s a little more general, a little bit more again just about improving aerobic capacity. The build phase is where you start to get into skills work and race specific skills or cross specific skills. Even Zwift specific skills if the athlete is doing a Zwift race.

Shayne: So after that you go into you call it your taper or your peak or whatever you want to call it. Usually it’s a week or two weeks, depending on how long the build up to it was where you decrease the volume, but maintain intensity that way you keep your legs feeling good, but you allow the fatigue to drop off which allows your form to rise up. You might have heard it on the Twitter France or whatever, he’s on good form this year or he has good form today or whatever. Form is essentially when you have high fitness and low fatigue which is what you want to have on race day.

Chris: That’s it. You just changed my life. Good form is high fitness and low fatigue.

Shayne: You got it. That’s what form is.

Chris: Man that’s it. That’s my new tattoo.

Shayne: Then after that most importantly you go into your transition phase which is when you have a one or two week athlete choice ride, whatever you want to call it where you don’t do any structure, you just go out and ride your bike or not. You can go and eat donuts and burritos all day long. Just decompress a little bit and enjoy life for awhile. Then you start back up again either with a build phase if your event is coming close, or if you go into the winter you can do your strength phase or power development phase or whatever it might be.

Chris: Ken I don’t know about you, but the more he talks the more I realize I know absolutely nothing about training that I’ve been doing my whole life.

Ken: Well one thing that I’ve decided to do is I was very confused about training and especially diet. It’s like I feel like I can get on my trainer and do this constructive stuff and follow a trainer load program or I can follow a Zwift training program and do the work. But those workouts usually stop at no more than two hours. It’s easy to eat a granola bar and a couple of Gatorades and I’m fine. But for doing a three a hour bike race in the middle of the summer heat, I was really struggling. I was falling apart. So I reached out to Shayne and he went over my diet, he went over my training. He gave me a little bit of direction that got me going in the right direction like we talked about proper fuel. There’s still a lot of room to grow there. But just having somebody who does this for a living give me some direction was really helpful, it’s worth the time.

Shayne: I appreciate that. Also let me put a giant asterisk right now where this is my opinion and what’s worked for me. It’s based on science as well, but this is my opinion so other coaches may have complete opposite opinions than I will. So take that with a grain of salt.

Chris: I actually think that’s like a huge point too. You know we’re talking about the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m surprised that when I talk to people how few people actually eat while they’re on Zwift. It’s like they’re not outside, they think I don’t need to eat. But if you’re on a trainer doing something for an hour and a half, there’s no way at least for me, there’s no way I can do that with any quality if I’m not eating something halfway through.

Shayne: Sure and it really depends on how long the ride is and how intense the ride is going to be. So as long as you have enough glycogen in storage in your liver and your muscles, you can get through a pretty strenuous 90 minute workout without too much need for extra calories or food. Once you get over that 90 minute mark or if you enter the ride in a nutrition deficit that’s when you have to start to supplement earlier. So that’s where nutrition isn’t a breakfast, lunch, dinner kind of thing. Nutrition is like a 24/7 kind of thing.

Chris: Okay. So let’s get specific. So we were talking about doing stories. Ken I asked you earlier about your funny race stories or your biggest race stories. My worst one was I had a friend from a city, I won’t name, and another guy who they became archrivals on Zwift and they became just to beat the other guy. They never even met. But I guess everybody needs a dragon to slay. This guy was like, I guess it would be funnier if I just named names. So we won’t do that. So he for the very last race for their series on Zwift was like, “hey man, you’ve got to get up. You’ve got to help pull me up this mountain et cetera, et cetera.” He’d asked me for weeks and finally I relented and it ended up with me getting up at 3:45 in the morning central time to be warmed up and ready to do a 5:30 race for eastern time. So I was on my bike at 4:30. I understand I hear the laughter. But I was dead man. I got up to try to eat and it didn’t matter. We started the climb and I was just done. I might as well have logged onto Zwift and then laid back down in my bed.

Ken: Yeah I think I was in that race and I think I know the guys that you’re talking about.

Chris: You know who I’m talking about. So you know.

Ken: Without us getting into too many inside jokes. So we had a 12 week long series and it was the closest battel between the two B guys I had ever seen. The way it played out was beautiful and yeah.

Chris: Let’s call the first guy just Dustin. Let’s just call him Dustin. Might not be his name.

Ken: Yeah. I don’t remember the other guy’s name but it was a really close race. But yeah, I have definitely seen people take Zwift too seriously, to the point their rage is like angry teenagers. Throwing the mic down, throwing the controller down and walking out the room and I’m just like guys if you ever get there it might be time to unplug for a little while.

Chris: So Shayne tell me, okay let’s say I’m going to race like an idiot at five in the morning which I’m never doing again by the way. That was my first and last ever again. I want to race at like 2pm with only retired people. They still beat me, but at least I’ve got lunch in me. So is there ever nutritionally is there even a way to get your body primed and prepped to do something that early that doesn’t require getting up at two in the morning or something? How does that work?

Shayne: Yeah you have to kind of fold your clothes the night before where you want to have a really carbohydrated dense dinner that way your body will replenish the glycogen storage in your muscles because you may wake up in a fasted state which means your glycogen in your liver, but your liver is low on glycogen but your muscles should still have glycogen in them. The fuel, like I said a 60 to 90 minute workout depending on nutrition status entering the ride. Then you can easily top off the blood sugar just by drinking some orange juice or eating a quick bagel or something like that. Typically the earlier or the sooner you have to race the less you want to eat and the more simple the sugar should be and then vice versa. The more time you have you can eat more actual food where you have two or three hours before an event.

Chris: So if I’m going to get up at five and race at 5:30 I should just eat six spoonfuls of sugar.

Shayne: Or honey on a English muffin, that’s a really good one.

Chris: Yeah that’s probably better.

Shayne: A glass of orange juice, things like that. Something that’s really, really simple to digest and something that you would ideally practice before. So the old saying, “nothing new on race day.” Even though it’s a virtual race, it is still a race. So you want to have practiced what your body can tolerate and what you can stomach before. But it’s really important to enter it recovered. So what you eat for dinner or for dessert or whatever is more important than before, because that’s when you have the time to actually make an impact in how you enter the race.

Chris: You guys did not think my spoonfuls of sugar joke was very funny.

Shayne: Sorry.

Ken: We’ll edit in some laughter after. But yeah-

Shayne: Your mic is so loud over there. Yeah I’m going to have to mute your mic. I keep hearing the gate opening.

Ken: Sounds like you’re sucking out of the top of a Redi-Whip can.

Shayne: What are you doing over there?

Chris: I’m sitting down. I’m literally doing nothing.

Shayne: Maybe it’s Ken.

Chris: Maybe I’m a mouth breather.

Ken: All right so Shayne I guess one question that I do have, if you are one of these people you are waking up and you’re on the bike within 30 minutes of your feet hitting the ground, are you just going to have to accept that you’re making some performance sacrifices that you’re never going to be 100% at that time or is possible that obviously you find that some of your athletes do perform best first thing in the morning?

Shayne: I think athletes tend to perform better in the morning, but not first thing in the morning. So they tend to perform better after they’ve had 90 minutes to drink a cup of coffee, have an actual breakfast, kind of wake up a little bit, then ride. I don’t think anybody feels great after waking up and then getting on the bike and then hammering 30 minutes after they wake up. Then the other issue too is we’re not going to bed, well typically I can’t speak for everybody, but we’re not going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 5am. We might be going to bed at 11, 11:30 waking up at 4:30, 5 o’clock. So you’re not getting 10 hours of sleep, you might only be getting six or seven hours of sleep. Also the sleep we’re getting isn’t usually, it maybe quality, but there’s always one eye open or one ear open listening for the baby monitor making sure that there’s no coughing and they’re both still breathing and all those things that go through a parent’s mind the whole time.

Chris: Breathing children are crucial to a strong Zwift race.

Shayne: Absolutely.

Ken: Yeah and I will say this looking back when I first started, when I first had our daughter and I didn’t have a shed yet it was still too cold and dark and my wife she’s a personal trainer so she leaves really early. I would have the baby monitor and watching DCN videos on my iPad and I would set my trainer up in the carport in the freezing cold. So she would wake up and I would hear her on the baby monitor. She was like one years old, two years old. It was miserable and I could maybe do that two days a week just to keep my fitness in the winter time to keep me from going to zero.

Shayne: Sure.

Ken: Is the best I could do. Then I got my shed and got Zwift and even with the most basic laptop setup and space heater next to me, it was a world better than I had ever experienced before. So one thing I think that’s important to keep the knowledge in this podcast is that we’re really in the golden age of indoor training. I mean there’s options and trying to get this across to my cycling buddies, been at it for decades. When I try to speak to them about, “hey man, try Zwift it’s fun.” They just cannot conceive of it because they’ve always done traditional rides on their training and heart rate monitor and they just don’t know better. But that start up investment of spending a $1,000 on a trainer or a power meter and downloading the software and making sure you have the equipment to run it, it’s daunting and it’s hard to see.

Chris: Yeah and it’s a hurdle.

Ken: Yeah it’s a hurdle. It’s hard to say like, “hey listen training on an indoor trainer just always sucks. You’re not going to get me to pay $1,000 to start doing it more.”

Shayne: Right and I can also say that same thing for cycling coaches and triathlon coaches that thought this was just going to be a fad and it was never going to last and why a I involved in Zwift so heavily and why am I involved? It’s the day to days well look at it now. What other cycling team or what other cycling program got 120 million dollar round B evaluation or investment?

Ken: Right.

Chris: Well from my perspective I mean I used to just watch Netflix and be on a stupid fluid trainer and I hated life. But I really felt like I was just trying to hang onto fitness.

Ken: Sure.

Chris: I wasn’t growing at all. But then I started using Zwift through this last winter and I came out of the winter strong and I’m out riding with my buddies and it was let’s be real, it’s more fun when you’re the guy causing people to suffer versus the one who’s at the back of the train suffering. That was just Zwift doing races and doing some soft training plans. I came out of the winter not tired, but I felt strong. So it’s worth it. I think it’s worth the investment.

Shayne: 100%. 100%.

Chris: Free infomercial.

Ken: Yeah hopefully my friends will listen to this podcast and get with the times. Oh, yeah absolutely. Thank you everybody for taking the time to join the never going pro podcast about riding bikes, being parents and trying super hard at both. Thank you both Chris and Shayne for going today and for all of the folks that put forth questions. We really do appreciate it and we hope that you’ll come back and listen to more. So that’s it for tonight and thank you for joining and we will see you next time.