Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Zwift For Dummies

Ok so I don't think you're Dummies :) But I thought a post that explains the very basics of Zwift for people who have just started (or are thinking of getting into it) might be helpful. Of note- I have no affiliation with Zwift other than being a paying subscriber. I am not trying to convince you to sign up but rather just going to explain how it all works so that if you do, you'll have at least a basic understanding of what you're doing. 

NOTE: I am SURE there is WAY more to Zwift than I am going to mention here. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to Zwift. If you want that, go to Zwiftinsider.com. This is just information from the perspective of an athlete who just recently started figuring it out! 

Set up: There are a bunch of different ways to set up Zwift for yourself, and lots of info already published about this so I'm not going to dive into it. I'll just share my personal experience- its best for me via iPad. I tried it once with my laptop and the connection (bluetooth) dropped out a few times. If your laptop has better bluetooth than mine (it might! Mine is old) then laptop might be fine. My phone says it doesn't have enough space to load the Zwift app. So my set up is typically to use the Zwift app via my iPad and then sometimes I have the Zwift Companion app running on my phone. 

Zwift uses a ton of battery to run itself. I have to make sure my iPad has plenty of battery and even then it needs to be plugged in while running the program or else the battery dies out quickly. If I start a ride with 80% battery life and ride 2 hours with it plugged in, I finish with like 65% battery life. So heads up on that. Zwift Companion on your phone also uses a solid amount of battery so potentially you might need two power sources depending on how long you plan to ride.

I tried Zwift once a few years ago when I first got my Kickr and I didn't like it at all. To be fair, I didn't understand it at all! And I didn't try very hard to understand it... Generally I'd say I'm not much of a video game person and I don't need a lot of interaction with other people to get my training done, so Zwift didn't hold much appeal to me at the time. 

NOW THOUGH, it's a different story! I suspect my change of heart has a lot to do with the fact that we're not training specifically for races this year but rather training because we enjoy training as a lifestyle... and along with that looking for little carrots we can earn/achieve along the way. Zwift absolutely meets this need in many really great ways. So keep that in mind- ZWIFT IS A GAME. And turns out, a fun game at that! The developers of Zwift have done a great job tapping into the addictive brains of athletes. 

---------

When you first start, Zwift gives you 3 bike frames (in your garage). I did not know this for the entire first month I rode on Zwift! But depending on what route you're riding, you can choose a road bike or a TT bike or a mountain bike (my Zwift Mountain bike is still brand new I wish I could sell it lol). Zwift calculates your speed in the game based not only on the watts you're pushing but also according to the bike you're riding! So if everyone seems to be riding faster than you, know that its possible they have a better faster lighter bike (or wheels!). As you earn points in the game, you can accumulate enough to upgrade your bike frame(s) and wheels several times over. I'll leave it there for now but just know that if you want more detailed info about any of this, find it at that Zwift Insider site.

Like most video games, Zwift uses levels to motivate us to ride more... (LEVEL UP!!). Commonly when you Level up you "unlock" options and prizes... Things like jerseys, helmets, socks, sunglasses, etc become available to you at different levels. For some bike frames and wheels you also need to achieve certain levels in the game. You level up by earning points and typically you get points for distance ridden so the more you ride, the more points you earn! #addiction

You can choose to do workouts (these can be standard or custom but I'm not going to go into all those details here) OR can free ride in different Routes. Zwift uses several 'Worlds' where you can choose to ride. Watopia is always there then the others switch out day to day or week to week. You can plan ahead by checking the calendar on the home page when you first open Zwift. They color code each day so you can see what worlds will be offered on what days.

If you're trying to earn points and level up, a good way to go about things is to specifically ride ROUTES. If you want to geek out on it you totally can- research your route ahead of time via Zwift Insider so you have an idea what you're getting yourself into. Some routes are way more challenging than others and you can't always tell just by looking at distance and elevation. If you want to get credit and earn a badge for completing a route, you need to specifically choose that route before you start riding. Then you need to know how long the lead in is for that route- sometimes there's no lead in or very short lead in... other times the lead in is long! If you didn't research ahead of time how long the lead in is, you can tell when you've hit it if you're on a road bike bc you'll get a 'Power up' once you officially start the route. So for example, if you chose a route that said it was 26k long and the lead in is 3k, then you'll need to actually ride 29k before earning the badge (and the bonus points!) if you want the badge, you have to keep riding until the 'Achievement Unlocked!' note shows up on your screen. If that alert hasn't popped up, you're not done so keep riding. If you weren't paying close enough attention though, you might miss it. I think that alert shows up on your screen for maybe 10 seconds or so then its gone... IF you miss it and want to know if you passed it, you can hit the iPad screen to get to menu (can do this while you are riding) and from there can check your badges to see if it gave you the badge. This happened to me one time so I'm glad this option is available! The last thing you want to do is get almost to the end of a long route then stop unknowingly and miss the bonus points for the badge because you didn't' know where the end was! One last note about Routes- if you're trying to earn a route badge, you need to ignore all the options to make turns along the course as you're riding. After you get notice that you completed your route, if you want to ride more you can keep going and from there can choose to turn and explore different areas. You'll get points for the extra distance you ride but not for another specific route.

The most frustrating thing for me has been to not really know how long different sections are (climbs, specifically). Some are short and some are really really long... Yes, you can research routes beforehand and get an idea, but when you're new to it, there's definitely an element of needing to let go of knowing what exactly is coming up. #justkeepriding Zwift does give you hints- I recently just figured this out and it helps a lot- if there's a sprint point or QOM section coming up, you'll see a box pop up on the left of your screen with the name of the section... It'll also show you the distance and avg grade if its a climb. If you've done that specific section in the last 30 days, it will remind you of the your splits. It will also then show you the splits of others who are currently riding who have also done that section... This can be motivating! I'll use an example... A box pops up on the screen indicating that a sprint point is coming up. It says that the fastest current female time is 28.6 seconds. It says that I did this section a few days ago and hit 29.2 seconds... So depending on how I'm feeling and what my purpose of the ride is, I might opt to go for a green jersey on that sprint! IF I am riding a road bike and have a "power up" to use, I might hit it if its an aero advantage or a drafting advantage... Don't hit that until the sprint actually starts... you'll see a colored/dotted line when the segment starts and you'll see an arch indicating the finish. I was super stoked the first time I figured out how to use a power up to help me earn a green jersey! #strategicgameplay Yes, it's dumb, but you guys we NEED these carrots right now! :) 

So on Zwift you can choose to do a specific workout in erg mode, free ride route on your own as you feel, jump into a 'group ride' at a specific time, or do a race. You can also initiate more private 'meet ups' where you can arrange to ride with your friends who are also on Zwift. (The meet up is one I haven't actually done yet so I cannot comment on how this works.) 

Group rides are pretty fun! You can find the options for what's available in the Zwift Companion app. I've done a few groups rides now and this is what I've learned... Something like 200 people might show up from all around the world. Sometimes they're grouped by levels according to watts/kg you push, but commonly in a group ride, all levels are there are people who are fast and want to race it start super hard and everyone else is more relaxed at the start. So depending on your goals for the day, you can choose to start hard and find the fastest group you can stay with, OR you can be more relaxed at the start and see what kind of group you land in after a few minutes of riding. Zwift gives drafting advantages, so just like real world you'll be at an advantage and riding faster with a group vs if you're riding alone. Don't use a TT bike in a group ride. The game will not allow you a drafting advantage if you are on a TT bike. You also don't get power ups if you're on a TT bike. I've found group rides to be pretty fun and entertaining! There's something pretty cool about riding "with" people from all over the world and trying to hang with a group... You might get dropped but if you do you can be pretty sure there are more riders coming up behind you so there's pretty much always someone to ride with on Zwift. Depending on your personality, group rides on Zwift might get you in trouble. Just like in the real world, group rides can end up being hard efforts bc people just naturally get competitive (even when they SAY they are just going to ride easy #lies) so I'd def say the fastest way to overtrain yourself would be to jump into group rides all the time. Be strategic about how you use these.

I've only done one race so far. I cannot say I really understand these that well but I'll note a few things then maybe come back and edit this post once I have more experience racing on Zwift... Races tend to have fewer people than group rides. If you're looking to just ride hard with people, a group ride might be better option than a race. The race I did there was some confusion about which 'group' I was in (at one point I accidentally ended up at the start line of an "A" group race... I def had no business being there and I have no idea how that even happened but I managed to leave that start line before the race started... I ended up in the "D" group (again not sure how this even happened) but figured I'd go with it and just see what happened... Ended up a very diverse group but only 8 people total. I rode with the front group of 3 guys for maybe 12min before getting 'dropped' and finishing by myself. It was for sure a way harder effort than I would have given on my own, but I'd say maybe not as much fun as the group rides I've done. There are races specifically for women. I might play around with those more in the future, but racing on Zwift is not my priority so doubt I'll give a ton of energy to that. If you want to get serious about racing on Zwift you totally can... There are teams and everything! But given that this is a 'Zwift for Dummies' post, we'll leave that for another day.

Anyway, will leave it at that for now. I'm sure there's 100 other things to know about Zwift but these are the things I've learned so far... Just keep in mind that ZWIFT IS A GAME and if you play it strategically, it can be a super fun way to really bump up your bike fitness even in this crappy year we're calling 2020. ;)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

So You're Saying There's a Chance

It's amazing how much can change in a month.

At the beginning of April, I launched this Gold Star Project for TeamBSC. My vision was that maybe each athlete would pick 1-2 specific targets (short ones) and train specifically to hit a personal best (as recorded in Training Peaks) at that target. Training Peaks keeps track of specific distances/durations for bike and run so those were the ones we were going to use. Since races are far away, I figured focusing on short distance peaks (5" up to 10min) made more sense bc long distance peaks would mean you're in race shape (!) and well, we don't really want to be in peak race shape when there are no races right now!

This project taught me so much this month... Both as an athlete and as a coach. Initially I just sort of thought maybe it would be a decent distraction from the wacky world we all find ourselves living in right now, but it morphed into a motivating quest for personal bests! It also ended up being a really great team building thing as we cheered each other on with our attempts.

As a 46yo athlete with 20+ years training for triathlon and 8+ years of pace/power data recorded in my Training Peaks account, some of my All Time Peaks are pretty solid. In all honesty, I looked at my top 3 all time run splits for 400/800/mile and thought there wasn't a snowballs chance in hell that I was going to be able to hit those this month. I mean, no way. I was way too far off. Part of me definitely thought that it was silly to even try.

But here's the thing. My athletes were trying! And many of them were surprising themselves! It seemed like every time I logged into Training Peaks, there was another file from an athlete who had just achieved a new personal best at a short distance. I do believe that leaders should model the behavior they expect from their people, and I decided that the behavior I wanted to really emphasize was the effort... I kept saying, The value is in the attempt. And I totally meant that! Some of my athletes have crazy huge peaks in their past. I definitely didn't want them to be discouraged if they were trying but not hitting them. So I figured that it truly made sense for me to try as well, even if I didn't really believe I'd hit any running peaks.

So 4 weeks ago I headed out and attempted a 'fast' mile. I was almost a full minute off my best mile time! Ha! Kevin attempted a mile as well. His initial report was that he wasn't even in the ballpark. Casey had a similar story the first time he tried. I kept preaching that it was fiiiiine... the value is in the attempt! So we all tried again the next week, and we got a little closer.

After one of my key runs, I studied the file and thought, I'm in the ballpark here... Like, not that far off... Maybe there's a chance? At the same time, some of my athletes were posting files that showed giant gains in their fast running paces. If they could do it, maybe I could too? Heidi knocked out a run where she just nailed it- fastest splits ever from 400 up to the mile! She's turning 50 next week and she also has a long history of training recorded in Training Peaks... She was making my excuses invalid. Hmmm.

So then a few days ago Casey posted a run file that showed he'd hit All Time PRs at the 400 all the way up to the mile. Wow! Solid Gold! Casey is also my age, with a long history in Training Peaks. What was my excuse again?

Momentum is a powerful force, you guys.

Today was officially the last day of the Gold Star Project. Last night, as a team, we had 185 total stars (counting 1st, 2nd, or 3rd all time bests as recorded in Training Peaks). I mused that it would be fun if we hit 200! Could we hit 15 more today?? That seemed like kind of a big ask. Several of us had planned attempts on our schedules but I wasn't sure if those would be successful attempts or not? Maybe? I threw it out to the team thought that if anyone had any more that they thought were possible to get today, take one for the team and go get it! Monika and Michelle both did that (!) so we ended up with 7 bonus stars that hadn't even been planned attempts... That put us right in the ballpark to hit 200. So you're saying there's a chance?

I was so inspired. I got all dressed up in my Coeur team running kit and I planned my route and I ripped my own legs off (panting wheezing breathing hands on knees afterward kinds of efforts) but I managed to get Top 3 All Time stars in all 4 distances today. What?!! I wasn't actually planning on going for all 4 distances but I was motivated to help the team get over 200 and I thought maybe I could... Its amazing what happens when you start to truly BELIEVE. Then I got home and checked Training Peaks again and saw that Kevin went out and did it tooooooo. In all we had our biggest day in star collection today, with 25 more stars collected. 210 in total!

I am incredibly impressed and inspired by this team. I feel like this project was a success beyond my wildest dreams and that's a credit to the tenacity of the athletes I have the honor of being able to work with. On Saturday we're going to have a team Zoom Party to celebrate everyone's accomplishments (there are so many individual stories of success!) and to share some 'war stories', because isn't that the best part of racing? Sharing your stories afterward?

I'll keep processing the valuable lessons learned this past month. But off the top of my head right now, I'd say that success seems to come from an idea/goal that you find motivating... believing that it might be possible to achieve... watching other people do it... and being motivated to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself.

Congratulations to everyone on TeamBSC! I'm super proud of you all. ⭐

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Inspiring a Sense of Personal Pride

We're half way through April!

I feel like I'm settling into a new routine of sorts. I sense that we all are. Much of the unsettling upheaval feeling has dissipated and now things are sort of rolling along in a way that feels like a new normal has been established. It's one I think my family and I can live with for a while.

How have things shifted for you? Generally speaking, these things come to the top of my head:

~Everything in our days (speaking about my family here) seems to have been shifted back an hour or so. We wake up a little later (ok I don't but husband/kid do), lunch is a little later, dinner is a little later, bedtime is a little later, etc. I don't feel like I'm in as much of a rush to get things done 'on time' bc time is so abundant. That said, sometimes days just FLY by and I'm like HOW is it 4:00 already!?!

~I spent a lot of time learning how to use new apps. Its easy to see why Zoom is popular. It's so simple to use. No learning curve required! Just download the app and put the meeting code in and you're there connecting with your people! I've started hosting weekly TeamBSC Zoom meet ups just so we can connect and chat and that has been a positive change that we will keep going even after society goes back to 'normal'.

~I've also been playing around with the new 'group ride' option on Trainer Road. This one was a lot more complicated for me, but I think it was because the new desktop app that is required had some bugs when it was first released. After ripping my hair out in frustration trying to get it to work, eventually I did, but not without unloading and loading the app a bunch of times. That said, once you get it set up, I think its potentially quite a 'value-add' for coaches and athletes because we can be riding at the same time together. I've sort of come to the conclusion that for *us* *right now*, the best use of these group rides is just to do our aerobic rides together. That way we can actually talk! We tried a harder ride but I think most of us are pretty good at pushing hard on our own so we'll probably do more of our aerobic riding together and consider them more like social hour spins. :)

In a weird way, I feel like this recent upheaval has actually been a good thing for me as a coach. It's forced me out of my comfort zone, forced me to find new ways to connect with my athletes and motivate them since races (as we are used to them) seem to be a ways off. Though maybe not too far off?? WTC announced a new dates for Puerto Rico 70.3 today (Sept 6) so there must be some officials somewhere in Puerto Rico who are at least mildly optimistic that they'll be allowing travelers in by then. So maybeeeeee....

It's been good for my kid (in some ways) too. Right now, as I type, she is on a Zoom Meeting with some of her neighborhood friends as they conduct a "Book Club". They came up with this idea all on their own... They picked a book, gave each other time to read two chapter, and are meeting right now to discuss it. They are 8-11 years old. So impressive.

So we're half way through the month with our TeamBSC #GoldStarProject and I have to say, I have been FLOORED by the peaks my athletes are achieving right now. I mean, ok maybe some have some low hanging fruit if they've never *really* attempted specific peaks for short durations, but I'd say the vast majority of the stars they are earning are just outstanding efforts and its been so inspiring for me to open files all day long and see star after star after star pop up. ⭐ We're mostly going for short distance peaks from 5" to 10min on the bike, though some people have earned peaks over longer distances if they're jumping into other challenges like the IM Virtual races and such... I don't think anyone has earned Gold Stars for all 4 short power peaks YET (5sec; 1min; 5min; 10min) but a few are close with 3 achieved already! Personally, I've got my 1min and 5min peaks... I've earned a 2nd and 3rd best all time 5 second sprint peak and am still trying to mentally prepare myself for the effort required to hit my 10min one... I have a distinct memory of the effort I put out to achieve the one I did several years ago and would be lying if I didn't admit I have a little bit of fear about whether or not I can do that again! I will give it a go though! If I hit my all time 5min peak then it makes sense that I have the fitness to hit the 10min one too so... #confidence

Keeping track of the peaks on the graph Moana created has been a fun project too! I swear, I thought *MAYBE* if we had a great month we might collectively hit 50 peak performances by the end of the month... But here we are half way through April and we have 67! I've had to rescale this graph several times already to make sure all the stars can fit. #triathloncoachproblems

Some of these are short distance running peaks as well. I'm a little more hesitant to tell some athletes to go after the shorter run peaks bc the potential to hurt yourself is way higher... I don't want anyone ripping their hamstring or groin in an effort to get Training Peaks to award them a gold star! But as they're ready some are going for it and its been invigorating! Truly. The feeling of personal pride is something everyone cherishes regardless of the crap that's going on in the world around them. I'd argue that the feeling of personal pride might be even more important now than it's ever been. I mean, you can just feel how stoked Casey is with his shiny new All-Time 5min peak power effort!! This is what I was hoping this project would inspire...








Monday, April 6, 2020

In Hindsight...

When I was a freshman in college (at University of Hawaii), I lived in a little dorm room (Johnson Hall B, baby!). I had a really great roommate from Kauai. This was 1992 (I'm aging myself, yes!) so internet was only just sort of becoming a thing. I didn't have a TV. I didn't have a computer nor a cell phone. How did we even survive? Can you imagine? Lol. Somehow though, we managed. I even had a social life! It was called, go to the one bar that most of my friends would go to most often and see who else might happen to be there. That was our social life. If we needed to communicate with each other, we used landline phones and left messages on answering machines.

One early morning I remember hearing a really loud siren... over the public emergency broadcast system. I don't have a great memory of a lot of past events, but I have some vivid memories of that. It was a Friday morning, around 4AM. Someone went running down the hall shouting HURRICANE IS COMING! HURRICANE HITS AT 4! CLASSES CANCELLED!

I was from Ohio and honestly didn't really even know what a hurricane was, but I remember feeling somewhat grateful that classes were cancelled, because I was kind of hung over.

With absolutely ZERO understanding of what was coming, we did all the dumbest things one might think people could possibly do in that scenario. I remember watching one of my friends get on the bus with his boogey board. I was like, "Where are you going???" He replied, "To the beach! Surf's up!" The rest of us headed to the store and got cases of beer and spent the day drinking together. Things get a little fuzzy in my memory around that, but I do remember that night being outside as the wind was ripping and it was DUMPING rain and the street outside my dorm had morphed into a raging river and we danced outside in that rain and honestly I remember it being super fun.

The next day, I remember my roommate being super upset. She told me that the restaurant she used to work at on Kauai had been flattened by Hurricane Iniki. That storm brought winds of 145mph and damage to the state of over $1.8 billion. 14,000+ homes damaged. 6 people died. Meanwhile, I was the dumbass out dancing in the rain.

Knowing what I know about hurricanes now, my/our behavior that day was ludicrous. Having full access to news and such now (pick a source! There's access to news everywhere.) I know that they warn about hurricanes coming 24/7 for at least a week before the hurricanes get anywhere near our islands. That day in college, the first I'd heard about any hurricane was when the sirens went off. Seems crazy now, but that's the difference between paying attention to news vs not paying attention to news.

I share this now mostly bc I suspect that even though access to news these days is abundant (for most of us), I suspect there are a lot of people (young people especially) who actively disengage from the news. Shoot, our own president* has tried to drill it into our heads that any news we don't like is #fakenews. Given that backdrop, is it any wonder that we're having a hard time coming together and acting collectively as a society to combat a pandemic virus?

Whenever I read comments people make about this whole thing being over-hyped, my first thought is that they do not watch/read the news. I suppose it's possible they just watch different news, because for sure there are some networks that were actively downplaying the threat of this virus. I think a lot of that has stopped this week, as the death toll across the country continues to rise (and that's hard to lie about). Even then though, watching the news at all has become an act in critical thinking, because there is a ton of bias. Trying to figure out who is telling the truth vs who is exaggerating for effect vs who is just straight up lying to cover shit up is one of the major challenges of our times. Given all that its really no big surprise that many people just tune out the news altogether. That is a big systemic problem in our fight against this new virus.

I suspect that in hindsight, some people might view their actions during this pandemic differently than they currently view them. I can say 100% that I view my actions during Hurricane Iniki differently now than I did then. #themoreyouknow


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Who's Judging Who?

The other day Francesca sent me an article about Moral Fatigue. It was really well written and I think many of us can relate. Like, all of a sudden, every decision we make feels like it takes on a new weight... It's not "just" all the readjusting we are doing right now, but also like all decisions feel like they could be the potential difference between life or death. And what a crazy sentence to even write? I mean, it sounds like a complete exaggeration, but in some ways it's potentially not an exaggeration at all. The decisions we make as individuals and as a society right now are important.

But here's the thing. Guidelines of what we are supposed to do or not do change daily. It's hard to keep up. Should I be wearing a mask or not? Currently people are arguing both sides of this. I suspect that in another week it'll be very very normal to see everyone wearing a mask. Then we'll get to judge each other on that decision as well. Did you see Karen went to the store and she wasn't wearing her mask??? Shame!

Currently in our world (triathlon world), it feels like a lot of our personal moral decisions are about cycling. Most of us (though not all) have accepted that group rides are taboo right now. I don't know what the percentage is (maybe half?) have decided that riding outside at all poses too great a risk, so they're riding 100% indoors now. I understand this thinking, though I'd say personally I'm not there. I guess I think about the number of times I've started a bike ride and ended up in the hospital... Has it happened? Yes. Once. In ~25 years of frequent riding. That's how I justify it in my head that I can ride outside and not have it be an excessive risk. I mean, I ride in my garage probably 6 days a week then on the 7th day, if its nice wether, I go out. I rode outside today and it was glorious. I enjoyed it very much.

When I'm making these decisions for myself, I think about a lot of things... I weigh the pros and cons. Is there a potential to get physically hurt riding outside? Yes. That potential is not actually any different today than it was a month ago though. In fact, in some ways it may be even safer to ride outside now than it was a month ago because there are FAR fewer cars! So what's the risk of catching COVID19 by riding outside? I'd guess that it's very low. Especially if you're riding alone (or with someone you live with). I passed some other riders on the road today but truly just never felt like I was in a position where there would be a possibility of coming in contact with the virus. I didn't stop at any stores. I didn't touch anything other than my own bike. Overall, risk felt low. If I were to rate the risks I encountered today, I'd say my greatest risk were the two off leash dogs chasing me in Waimanalo. They gave good chase! One of my goals today was to try to hit a new peak 5" sprint power so maybe those dogs were just trying to help...

On the plus side, I can definitely say that my enjoyment factor felt high! People who are non-athletes might not understand this, but all athletes know... When we get our 'fix', there's a sense of satisfaction (could we call it "relief"?) when we get to go on a nice long ride in the sunshine. I came home today having achieved most of the goals I'd set out to achieve. ⭐ I felt happy! I was able to then spend the rest of the day working on projects with my kid. I think (and I have always thought) that if we neglect to take care of ourselves- if we skip doing things we love- we are not then 'better' people. If I want to be a good wife and a good mom, its super important that I not neglect my own needs. I'm a good wife and a good mom because I'm a happy person. I think many women give up a lot in an attempt to take care of other people (typically their families) and while the intention there is good, I think in the long run it backfires because at some point she realizes that she's just flat out exhausted. Exhausted women don't make good wives or moms. Take care of yourselves, ladies.

This blog sort of took a tangent! I was planning on focusing on the feeling of excessive moral weight of our decisions right now... Back on task!

I have tried these last few weeks to consciously not judge other people and their reactions to our world situation right now. But I'll admit, when my neighbors next door (adult, grown men) were having a little day party in their backyard yesterday... drinking beer and smoking cigars and laughing, it was hard to not be judgmental. I looked out my window and just thought Gah! What are you doing?? But then I don't know... They probably saw me dressed in colorful lycra rolling down the road on two skinny tires this morning and thought Gah! What is she doing?? 


And meanwhile I'm over here on my moral high horse because I wasn't the coach out riding with my whole team today. Did I judge them for their group ride? I did. Is it my place to do that? I don't know. I can say that I saw a few of my athletes out riding today and my first instinct was to flip a u-turn and go ride with them for a bit. In 'normal' times I totally would have done that! It felt super sad to think to myself, Wait. No. Don't do that. I mean I guess for both their safety and for mine... I'm pretty confident right now that I do not personally have the virus. I just don't think I'll be an asymptomatic carrier if I get it. But I'm not 100% sure on that so I'll continue to adhere to the current guidelines given to us.


So that said, my plan is that as long as we are allowed to ride outside, I'll ride outside, sometimes. I'll still do the bulk of my riding on my trainer for the same reasons I was doing the bulk of my riding on my trainer last month. It's good training! I will not ride with any other people until this has passed (and I'm actively trying to NOT think about how long that time frame might be). I'll try to not judge you if you're riding in a group, but if I'm honest, I'd admit that I am judging you. But then there are probably people who are judging me for my decision to ride outside at all right now. This is where we are folks. Judge away, I guess. Don't exhaust yourself though in doing so.





Thursday, April 2, 2020

Count Your Lucky Stars

I don't know how you're feeling but man I feel like days are just flying by now. Like all of a sudden it's 5pm and I'm like how did that happen?? Must be because we're having so much fun. ;)

I actually feel like I have more to do now than normal, but it might just be that some transitions are still taking place and such. I can say I DEFINITELY have more dishes to do now. Holy cow. I try to be pretty positive and not dwell on negative things but last night I did start to lose my patience and just flat out told Scott and Moana to put their damn dishes in the dishwasher. I swear every.single.day they make every.single.meal and leave every.single.dish on the counter and I suppose if that's my biggest gripe about this shelter in place situation then I can count my lucky stars. But sheesh.

Speaking of lucky stars... ⭐ Yesterday I officially declared Moana to be TeamBSC's new administrative assistant. She likes her new title! Her first task was to figure out how to make a graph where we could display the stars that TeamBSC athletes are earning this month for hitting ALL TIME PEAKS. Francesca got one yesterday and Heidi got 2 today so we're off to a good start! I figured a graph showing numbers going up in a positive way would be a nice respite from other graphs we're all seeing every day where we don't actually want to see those numbers go up... Anyway, Moana had not actually had any experience yet with Google Sheets but she fooled around with it for a few hours and got it figured out! How cool is this??
She's projecting that we might (as a team) accumulate 50 stars this month... I'll post it each week so we can watch our progress! I've spent 4-5 hours the last few days combing through everyone's files trying to edit out erroneous garmin data that shows false peaks (#fakenews!) I don't think any running peaks/PRs should be counted when done on a treadmill. I mean, treadmills are VERY useful tools, yes, but garmin does a crap job of measuring pace on them so all the peak paces that showed athletes running 3min/mile got deleted in the last few days. Also, sometimes garmins go crazy and spike up to 3000w in the middle of an easy ride- those peaks all got deleted too. I think in a big picture sense, running peaks will be harder to hit than short distance riding peaks. MOST of the running peaks I combed through the last few days were from races. Its hard to hit peak running paces when not racing, but that doesn't mean some folks won't try! Honestly the beauty of this gold star project is the trying part. It's all about the journey, as they say. I look at some of my short distance running peaks (mostly from 2012, but a few from 2017) and think they're way out of reach... but I suppose that's the beauty of this project... and why it would feel so amazing to even get in that ballpark again!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Gold Star Project

I find myself watching the news less and less these days. For a while I was pretty obsessed with the news. I think that's because I was trying to form my own action plan. I felt like I needed to know everything that was happening and I wanted to understand it from all angles so I could make good choices for myself and my family and my athletes. Now, I read and listen to enough that I feel like I know basically what's going on, but then I tune it out and retreat back to my own little world here, focusing on things I can control. I think I feel like I don't need to know every single thing that's happening because I've made the decisions I needed to make and we are taking the actions we needed to take to keep ourselves safe as well as to do our part within society. #stayhome #doingit

Currently my focus is on my athletes and trying to find ways to help them stay happy, motivated, fit etc even when there are no immediate races on the horizon. I understand the feelings and the challenges because I am still a competitive athlete myself! As athletes we need goals, right?

Here's how I'm seeing things currently. Most of my athletes were building super solid fitness because they had spring races on tap. It's possible we'll still get to race later this summer/fall, though I guess if we're honest, we don't even know that for sure. But I'd say I'm planning AS IF those races will happen, because as of right now they are on the calendar and have not been cancelled. So what's the best way to proceed when you've built up solid fitness in anticipation of racing but then races aren't coming for at least several more months? This is the question all athletes and coaches are faced with right now and there are different opinions about the best path forward. I'd say that there is no one BEST path that will work for everyone, because a lot will depend on current mindset of the athlete... What drives them? I'd say that the vast majority of the athletes I work with are driven by just wanting to push themselves and see how fit-strong-fast they can get. So ok. We can measure this without paying WTC a ton of money and putting a timing chip on our ankles.

I posted this on Instagram last weekend. Long story short, I'd say that I had pretty much conceded that my prime athletic days were in the rear view mirror... Training Peaks keeps track of your highest recorded power from 5" up to 90minutes... It keeps track of your fastest running paces for distances from 400M up to the marathon. It gives you this silly little gold star when it detects a new peak performance. I had pretty much conceded that my prime athletic days were in the rear view mirror, and that I'd never see another silly little Training Peaks star <sadface>. But earlier this year I went on a group ride and saw that my peak 1min power was only 1 watt off my 3rd best ever. That sparked a little something in my brain and made me wonder if I could get Training Peaks to give me a silly little star? I told my husband that I was going for it last weekend. When I was doing it I wasn't really sure if I was doing it... all my focus was going straight into my pedals so I wasn't watching my garmin... but I KNEW that effort was a really really solid one and honestly, regardless of what the numbers would have said I would have been proud of that effort. Anyway, I held my breath a bit as my garmin was uploading after the ride, and when the gold star popped up showing that ALL TIME peak power I squealed out loud and yelped to my husband I did it!!! It sounds sort of silly but it was one of the best feelings I've had in a while.

I went for a 5min effort that day as well and while it was my peak for 2020, it was 10w short of my all time peak. Can I get that 5min ALL TIME peak in April? I don't know but I'm going to try. I find the attempt in and of itself to be super motivating. I'm also gong to see if I can hit a top end 5" sprint power. And maybe even a short distance running one too? TBD on that we'll see how the month progresses.

So back to my athletes... I'm throwing the Gold Star Project out to them as well! I've been combing through their Training Peaks accounts the last few days, looking for errant data that is incorrect (ie when you're running on the treadmill and your garmin thinks you're breaking the world record running 3min/mile pace) and I've cleaned up a lot of that, so folks have legit peaks to shoot for. They have solid baseline fitness, so in April we're all going to try to raise our ceilings a bit. Go for those short sharp efforts and see how high we can get them! How many watts can you push for just 5 seconds? Have you ever really tried that? #goldstarproject

I'm hoping this attempt to collect stars will be a little bright spot for TeamBSC this next month. Its perfect timing because we're not screwing up specific race prep by embarking on this project right now. And the goal is really very personal. Its us against ourselves- not us against each other- which somehow feels super cool to me. We can cheer each other on as a team as we reach new personal bests. As a team we'll try to collect as many stars as we can, and while gold stars are coveted, silver and bronze ones count too!

Let's do this, April.