1. You are not your FTP.
FTP, or functional threshold power, is one of those terms that cyclists and coaches toss around casually. Simply put, FTP is the average number of watts that a rider can sustain for over an hour in a steady state scenario while it can be a useful number in terms of measurements, I’ve banned it from the FORM Performance method for a few different reasons.
The main reason being that people constantly define themselves with their FTP. Their FTP becomes their identity. It’s no surprise because so many training software programs like Training Peaks, and Zwift all ask you to input your FTP.
It makes sense because these training programs need something to compute to and FTP has become the standard benchmark for cycling fitness.
A standard that can be helpful finding direction especially for those wanting to self-coach. A couple of minutes on Google and you can learn a whole lot on FTP; how to test it, some regular workout plans to increase it. In fact, it's relatively simple to improve, science says just train just below it, and it will go up which is true. So It provides an easy access point for those wanting to get into cycling coaching.
But at the end of the day, it’s a test. In my opinion, it’s a test that tests something that doesn’t actually translate to cycling performance.
What it does provide is a benchmark in for a steady state effort. The problem is we all know that cycling is not, in fact, a steady state sport. Think about it, group rides, races and gran fondo’s, none of them occur in a controlled state. Not even time trials are a steady state if you are executing them correctly.
My other problem with it is it encourages athletes and coaches to, “train for the test.’ They are doing everything to increase that one specific zone hoping it will translate to overall increased cycling performance. Athletes are using it to justify their training and coaches are using it to justify the cost of themselves.
We’ve seen just how well this work’s in our public schools. Instead of equipping our students with the knowledge to function as adult human beings successfully we teach them to test well. From 5 years old students begin standardized testing and teachers have to prepare students for the test to get funding for their classrooms. I understand that administrators need a benchmark to assess schools, but this should be one small part of evaluating a student's overall intelligence. A high SAT score does not necessarily translate to balancing a budget, filing taxes, interviewing for jobs investing your income or working on a team, skills that you need to be successful in the sport of life. Imagine if we placed less emphasis on standardized testing and more focus on teaching teenagers these valuable life skills before they graduated high school.
The same occurrence lends itself in cycling. Instead of looking at cycling as fitness as a whole; people tend to oversimplify and focus on one small part of it. And what happens when you pour all your attention into one measurement? The rest goes mostly ignored, and you're left with a high score with no way real-world way to apply it.
Finally, like I mentioned when we started, the biggest beef I have is people are externally defining themselves by their FTP. Athletes are going to group rides and events with a predetermined marker of how good they think they are. Or worse yet they aren’t even showing up at all. They did the test and calculated their power to weight ratio. They’ve researched on the internet of what’s considered good and bad. They’ve put it in their Zwift accounts and training programs. Even if they aren’t consciously aware, they’ve tied up their self-worth with this number and it’s holding them back.
If they have a lower PTW number then they don’t try on climbs, they don’t jump in breakaways and they don’t push through in the moments when the elastic splits. Instead, when things get hard, and the doubt starts creeping in, they think about their shortcomings and use it as an excuse to sit up when it could have been an opportunity for a break-out performance.
I find that FTP can also be detrimental for even those with high numbers. So many people call me up and use their FTP to explain how they good they are. But again, it does not directly translate. By default, strong riders often times have high FTP numbers.
These same guys with really high FTP tend to “bleed” or waste power everywhere. They pull for too long and too hard on the front of the peloton. They are constantly, wasting energy with super pulls, moving up the peloton in the hardest places, not attacking, just riding hard at the front hoping they will just ride everyone off their wheel. But if you waste all your energy whether that number is high or low, you will not win. Now, it doesn’t matter how high your FTP is, you are still going to get beat.
So guys, whether you have a high FTP or low FTP, it just does not matter.
Instead of using FTP in this book, I'm offering a better solution. We are going to identify the type of rider you are by looking at natural strengths and weaknesses. Along with your mental mindset and natural tendencies to build a cycling program based who you are as a rider. And in the process help you realize that how well you are going to in the actual sport of cycling is not defined by the number you can hold in a 20-minute test.
2. You have to go low before you can go high.
If I were to ask someone how they plan to get from where they are now to where they want to be fitness wise on the bike, chances are their answer would be something, along the lines of "more power, more volume, more hard work."
It’s not a surprise, many of us go to group rides, and feel pinned from the start. We sign up for races only to get shot out of the back. So people think to themselves, "well I’m getting dropped where I’m at, so I need to train above the place." But this doesn't work; it's quite the opposite actually.
The key to improving your upper zones is to focus on your lower zones first.
You need to develop the muscular strength and cardiovascular efficiency.
To build each of these things, you need to work on them separately.
When you train at a low intensity, you’re teaching the muscle fiber to fire in a specific way — training the hands, core, and legs to support these neuromuscular connections. Wiring your brain and body, they unconsciously know exactly what to do when it's go-time.
I want you to envision your cycling fitness like a ladder, and each rung represents a specific fitness zone. Each of those fuels systems use a different ratio of fat to sugar. In order to, build a tall ladder with lots of rungs you need to build the lower rungs, so you have somewhere to step when installing the higher rungs. The same applies to fitness zones. You need the lower zones to stand on so you can efficiently ride in the top-end zones with the correct fuel systems.
Most people do the opposite because naturally, we are attracted to the top part of the ladder. That’s what we see on our group rides in our races.
But without any foundation, the top part of your fitness zone ends up being as high as they can reach from where they are currently standing. If you try and build out your top levels while you are still standing on the ground there won’t be any space between your low zones and high zones this limits most of your options as a cyclist.
This is the process but I've seen it time and time again. We go on a ride with a friend who is better than we are. So we think to ourselves those watts, that number where I’m pinned I need to train above it. The place where you are flooded with lactate is not ground zero. That’s not your starting point. Training this way often leads to injuries, burn out and experiencing a lot of pain for not a lot of gain.
You could head the gym, pick up the absolute heaviest dumbells you could find. Bicep curls 2 or 3 times until your muscle fails. Sure, you did a lot of weight but what do you think your technique looked like? How do you think your arms are going to feel the next day? It took everything you had everything physically had to get through it, so you can't expect to create any solid neuromuscular pathways.
In fact, your muscles are breaking down; you can’t recover efficiently from that effort, you aren’t burning any fat and chances are you skipping over critical technical components to the exercise.
I will teach you how to build the low zones first. There are for low 4 zones. Each burns different amounts of fat. Yes, they are essential for endurance, but they are critical to establishing the foundation for the higher end work. So first, establish them. Once developed, then you can start walking up until you’ve built a really tall ladder or in this case a dynamic cycling engine.
3. Planning for your workout is part of your workout.
Planning for your workout is as important as your performance in the workout.
I think so many of us don’t think of planning as part of our training. But the planning process around our training, getting ready for the ride, mapping the route, prepping our equipment, proper fueling all majorly affect the quality of the session.
The first step is to place all your workouts in a calendar where you can look at your obligations and commitments. At a minimum, you should be looking at your workout the day before better yet even the week before. Treat your workouts like a doctor's appointment or work meeting and schedule it in ahead of time. You wouldn’t casually blow off a business lunch with your boss. Keep this commitment with yourself so you can show up in an even bigger way in other aspects of your life.
I promise you, if you try and “get it in when you can” you will not have the consistency needed to attain the next level.
The next step is to plan your nutrition. This may sound like a no brainer, but it is one of the most common derailers of progression. The quickest way to turn a V6 engine into a V2 engine is to starve it of gas. The same applies to your body, so you must make sure you are fueling yourself with the correct macronutrient ratios before and after the workouts.
An example of planning for nutrition is system I use for coaching. I categorize all the workouts I give my clients based upon the fuel zones they use so they can gauge how much fuel they should have in the tank to get the job done.
I suggest you try something similar. When you are “planning” and looking over your workout the day before, think about what fuel systems you are going to be using and make sure you have the right food at the right time needed.
Finally, my biggest “planning” recommendation is scheduling your workouts in the lowest friction part of your day. Take a look at your schedule and ask yourself when is there the least amount of resistance? What hours of the day can I usually get away? This is your window of least friction and try to schedule your workouts during that time period.
Plan for rest days as well. Schedule them on the highest friction days period. Ask yourself, what days of the week feel like an all-out sprint? Is there a day you like to use to catch up? Make those days your rest days.
I struggled with planning immensely when I made the transition from pro-cyclist to an entrepreneur so I will use take myself through the process using myself as an example first as poor time management as a pro athlete, and then today as good time management as a business owner, Dad, and husband.
As a pro-cyclist, on the days when I was not racing, I had all day to ride. I fully admit that I would turn it into an all day process. I would get up in the morning and make a good breakfast, catch up on the latest cycling news, do my core exercises, get my bike ready, and map my route. Then I would wait until it was warm enough to ride. Next, I would head out on a 3-5 hour ride. When I arrived home I would make my post-ride meal. Next up, it was time to sit in the recovery boots, then foam roll, and then look at Twitter for a while! After that, it was time to head to the grocery store, buy my groceries for dinner, make a healthy meal, watch a couple episodes of 'Entourage,' go to bed early and do it all again the next day!
Needless to say, that is no longer my reality. Looking back at it now it from my new perspective it makes me laugh a little bit. Imagine all the things I could’ve done with all that time!
Fast forward, today. I am now a business owner, a father to two children, a husband, and am much better with time management. I create the time to get what I want and need done, despite having tons more in my life then when I was a pro cyclist.
You are probably thinking “wow, he must all have the time in the world to train by owning his own business.” Well, you are partially correct. The nice part of being a business owner is that I can technically train whenever I want without my boss being upset with me! On the flipside, however, the success of my business relies on my putting in work and there is always work to be done. I like to be the best, so I choose working super hard on the business, and this means limited time for training.
On top of having limited training time from being an entrepreneur, I am also a dad and a husband. I have a pretty good idea of what is required to fulfill these three roles. I am aware of when my business is the busiest, I know that I still need to be present for my kids. I also can feel when my wife needs some attention. I know all of these times are non-negotiables in my life, so I need to make sure my training does not fall during those times.
Initially, the biggest problem I faced is the time I am the most efficient in my business happens to be the most optimal time for a workout. Which for me is very early in the morning. I would come downstairs and start working at 5 am. I start flowing. My inbox is empty. My phone is quite. There are so little distractions.
I would get into the zone, and before I knew it it’s 10,11, 12 o’clock and I haven’t gotten my workout in. Not only have I not gotten my workout in but it’s now the highest friction time in my business. The time I need to review my clients' workout graphs. The time I need to manage the other coaches. The time for creating new workout phases. It’s not realistic for me to get away and ride during that time.
So what I’m stuck with is either not riding at all or doing my workout in the evening. So let’s imagine I do it in the evening, my wife is trying to make dinner. My daughter has gymnastics practice. My son wants to go on a bike ride around the neighborhood.
Now imagine if I say to them sorry I can’t help with dinner, sorry I can’t watch your gymnastics, sorry I can’t go on a ride with you I have to go on my own ride. I cringe at it imagining the looks on their faces.
Not only am I’m physically tired from the day my muscles are crunchy from sitting at my desk all day. But now just created a boatload of friction between my family and I. So even if I end up on my bike I am distracted, feeling guilty, totally not checked in and the workout quality suffers. When I do finish my ride at endorphins are flying at 7 or 8 pm. The kids are getting ready for bed. My wife is tired from the day. My window is closing to be a husband and a dad.
I’ve just forced my ride into my families life, so they dislike my cycling. I’m exhausted and frustrated, so I’m resenting the bike as well. Worst of all, my day’s over I do not get to be as big of an influence on the I love. I end the day frustrated which often carries over into the next day.
So I started asking myself how do I feel after my rides? When do I get the highest quality of workouts in? The answer is clear, right after my ride! I feel fantastic after my rides. The days I start with a workout are clearer. Answers thoughts and ideas come to quicker. I’m more patient and less reactive. Not to mention, creativity flows out the wazoo.
Now what I do now is I get up early, come downstairs set my bike up, eat my oatmeal, catch up on any work I didn’t finish the day before. Then I train from 6-7:30. After I’m done training, I put bike racer, Tom, away and step into my other roles, and I’m not stressed about getting it in. How much more simple does that sound?
Now would I love to ride outside 3 hours every day? Absolutely. But at this point in my life, that’s not my reality. On Sunday’s that is possible but during the week waiting until 11 when it’s warm enough to ride outside in the Winter months is just not feasible.
Now I have a system for the days I don’t train as well. I mentioned earlier that you should schedule your rest days on high friction days.
For me, my rest days usually are Saturdays and Tuesday. Saturday is my family activity day whether it’s a mountain bike ride or ski day we try and do something fun and active as a family. No one is stuck waiting for me to finish my workout. I can sleep in, make pancakes, relax. Whatever, I am doing I can be 100% present. If I’m training hard, I will typically take Tuesday as my other rest day. My work day is cut short for various reasons, so I need that extra time.
A lot of the athletes I work with prefer like to have Monday and Friday as rest days. That way they can use Monday to get back in the groove and Friday to wrap everything up and do some longer rides on the weekend. Now your situation might be completely different. Right after work might be the best for you or during your lunch break or in between classes if you are in college. But through my coaching, I’ve seen time and time again. That busiest people are often the most consistent. Because they schedule it in, they know if they miss their window their workout is not happening so they make it a priority every day. Training at the same times on the same days conditions your mind and body to know when it’s go-time. Your cycling training should enhance your life not become another chore on your to-do list. Realize, that with the correct planning, you should get better at life from your workout. Yes, you heard that correctly!
Now get to planning and take the momentum being consistent in your workouts and bring it into the rest of your life. Here are steps to help you achieve that:
Look at your schedule
Identify high friction times and days of the week
Schedule workouts during the lowest friction times
Schedule rest days on high friction days
4. Group rides are for practice of strategy and for fun, they do not count as training.
This might be a shock , but group rides do no translate to better cycling.
In the majority of group rides, the strongest person dictates the pace. If you are not the strongest, you are essentially participating in someone else's workout. The chances are that workout is above your ceiling this kind of intensity is costly both in physical energy and mental stress. Riding above your zones for long periods, reacting to hard efforts and the emotional energy expended can put you in such a deficit that it comprises your training for the next week.
Just because you are riding hard does not mean you are working in the areas needed for actual improvement. The zones used in a group ride to do well are not the same zones that you would use in a competitive event or ride to do well.
Because of the short duration of the ride combined with predetermined stops with regrouping attracting a type of cyclist, I’ve dubbed the “kamikaze.” Like the kamikaze airplane, these are the heroes of the group. They look amazing. They usually are pretty strong. But most importantly, a kamikaze is willing to take themselves down in order to blow up the group. Their favorite tactic? The super-pull of mass destruction! These are the type of riders when you are riding along in the peloton, and all of the sudden the pace becomes incessantly hard and you look up to see who the heck is on the front. That’s a kamikaze.
If it were a race or a longer ride, these types of efforts would not be sustainable. But because of the way so many group rides are structured kamikazes can detonate themselves and blow up the group with little consequence. What you see is not what you get.
What upsets me about this whole style of riding is that is that so many athletes have low self-esteem from being shelled out of the group in these scenarios. When in reality super pulls and 'Ninja Star Pace Lines' where the focus is getting rid of people from the group rather than go faster as a group is really just lousy cycling. I've been on these rides the leaders sit up, and the pace slows down dramatically once 80% of the group is dropped.
Whether you make the headlines as the strongest kamikaze or you're just trying to avoid getting shot down, these rides do nothing for you improving in the right areas.
Here is a typical weekly schedule of a successful group ride kamikaze Champion:
Saturday: REDONKULOUS GROUP RIDE.
Sunday: Body bag, easy ride.
Monday: Still wrecked, no ride.
Tuesday: Easing back in, easy ride.
Wednesday: Motivated, good training day.
Thursday: Rest day to be ready for the group ride.
Friday: Opener ride to get ready for the group ride.
Look familiar? If you look closely, this group ride champion only gets one day of training a week that actually makes them better. Don’t get into this trap of thinking you are improving by doing this.
Now group rides have a place and a purpose. In fact, I host one weekly with the local clients in our coaching group. The simple fact is that not all group rides are created equal.
A proper group ride purpose should fall into two categories. It should be: A. therapeutic in some way or B. allow you to practice execution skills.
In the therapy category, group rides can be a lot of fun especially if they are organized correctly. If you find yourself out doing what you love with your friends then that’s therapy. If it’s increasing your overall mojo and you feel better after it’s over then yes, by all means, keep attending. We all know that cycling is an individual sport, but it should be practiced as part of a group and the social aspect if a big part of it. For many, we are busy and we don't have a lot of free time to see our friends. Group rides are a great way to socialize and connect with people that are on the same wavelength.
The other reason and my personal favorite, is to attend a group ride is it can be a great place to practice execution techniques. We all know riding in the peloton is entirely different from training alone. There are so many different components to riding like a pro. Group rides can be a fantastic opportunity to work on real-life scenarios. Use the ride to practice your zones in the group, positioning in the peloton, and conserving energy. Try out different strategies and tactics figure out what works before your next race or event. Work on the execution of techniques like attacking, cadence changes, decelerating and body position.
Most importantly, participate in a way that’s conducive to the type of rider even though you might be among many different rider types. If you are newer, something you could be working on is as simple grabbing a bar out of your pocket it and eating while riding. Or you could work on remembering to drink during times of stress.
An example of a high level concept you could work on could be by practicing mentally checking in when it's go time and detaching when it’s over. Create an intention before the group ride and focus on executing on that intention rather than just reacting to other people.
Bottom line is practice and therapy are what you should seek to get out of group rides. If your group ride does not provide you the opportunity to do either of those things, it’s time to look for a new one or better yet, create your own.
If you want to take a step further, create your own group ride and designate yourself as the leader. Every group ride should have a leader that assigns the rules, routes and maintains the order.
I'm the leader of my group ride with my CINCH clients. It's my responsibility to make sure everyone has the skills they need to ride safely in the group.
I don't randomly show up to other people's group rides expecting everyone to know my rules and do things my way.
That's why I host my own ride because I even at my level I don't want to participate in what I mentioned above.
The CINCH group has ridden this way for so long that we are a well-oiled machine. We operate as a team similar to what you would see in a World Tour Race.
Most importantly, athletes know what to expect when they show up to the CINCH group ride. In case you want to try this on your group ride I'll lay out how I host mine.
First, we have “social time’ about 30-45 minute warm-up at a relaxed pace.
People can chit chat, catch up, riding two by two pulling for a few minutes then drifting to the back of the group.
Next is where the real fun begins and what gets me super excited!
I create a specific race scenario and assign roles to each of the riders.
One scenario might be putting the weaker riders in a breakaway group and giving them three minutes while the group chases behind.
We might have a specific rider that protected that we have to save for the final climb, and we can only use designated domestique riders to bring back the gap. The strongest riders can't attack when the breakaway group is caught. Creating race scenarios makes it possible to structure your group rides in a way that everyone can participate and get a lot of out. Get creative with it! Create different teams with different types of riders. Find ways to handicap the stronger riders, so they have to out-strategize people rather than just out ride other people. Give opportunities to the less experienced riders to be protected in the group or in breakaways with a head start so they can gain experience and learn from the more experienced riders. This is how the sport of cycling should be played!
We usually have three scenarios in a 3-4 hour group ride. If someone makes a mistake in one of the situations, it’s not a big deal because we regroup and move on to the next activity. Setting the scene in your own group rides creates the environment for learning the big lessons before competition day.
5. Focusing on averages (power, speed, TSS) make you average.
That’s right Folks. Stop focusing on averages. Whether that’s average power, average cadence, average speed, average weekly distance, and average TSS (training stress score). These metrics are best used like words in a language; for communication. You use them to guide yourself to executing an intended exercise or activity. Or you can use them to define a planned workout or event.
When you focus on the averages of these metrics, well, you tend to try and game the system. This usually looks like riding above your intentions to improve the average score.
When you focus on averages, you stop focusing on the things that matter. As a coach when I make an interval or workout, I am putting in concepts. They're certain zones I want you to work. Specific neuromuscular connections you need to make. If you are focused just on the average, you might as well just throw these all the things that make an interval an interval out the window.
For example, a super simple interval might be 10 minutes at your medium or Zone 3 power I want you to do your Zone 3 which is 200 watts. I want you to do it for a duration of 10 minutes with a cadence of 100 rpm. In this interval, I’m asking you to do this low power maintaining a high cadence without spiking the power.
It’s a specific zone. In this case, it’s the highest amount of power output you can use burning fat as fuel. When I give you that interval, I’m working on the low-end zone and cadence control creating neuromuscular pathways that will help with inefficiencies in your pedal stroke.
You might finish the interval with an average power of 200 watts but when your power graph looks like an EKG, spiking and dropping but you averaged 200 watts, so you aced the interval. Right?
Sorry, but I looked at your graph I saw you did time at 150 watts zone and 250 watts zone. These are entirely different zones. That require different muscle recruitment, different fuel sources, and neuromuscular connections. While the average for 200 might be spot on because you did not control the power you did not complete the task.
So if you are looking for averages, you’ve passed, but we are looking for specific growth in specific areas.
Averages often encourage athletes to do too much work by accumulating fatigue. They even have a measure for this TSS. Training Stress Score (TSS) is a composite number that averages the duration and intensity of a workout to arrive at an estimate of the overall training load and physiological stress created by that particular ride.
I have a term for the athlete who loves to game the metric averages: “The Fatigue Millionaire.” Yes, the fatigue millionaire loves to go around and knock out the big averages in watts, speed, weekly distance, and my favorite (straight, pure fatigue) TSS. They collect this fatigue in their fatigue bank account and then wait for the right time to cash it all in. “Yes sir, I have an important race coming up, and I’d like to cash in all my fatigue now for race winning fitness. Sound ridiculous? Well, it is! Unfortunately, this is how most people believe training is done, and it just doesn’t work. It’s a sloppy way for coaches to coach. It’s rooted in the very basics of exercise 101. Which is to create a bunch of strain on your body and hope something happens.
When you become a fatigue millionaire, there’s no direction. Sure, maybe you’re growing in your ability to overtrain. But you aren't becoming more efficient you are just putting your body under stress and will have to pay the bill later in the form of injuries or burnout.
Focusing on averages encourages athletes to push yourself in between intervals in hopes of banking lots of TSS and Kilojoules for average power. But the worst offender of average speed. I hear it all the time, “yeah it was a pretty good ride, "21 average" or they use it describe themselves, "I average about 17 miles an hour.”
I have no problem with people looking at averages post ride or race, but only for fun. Looking at the averages during the ride typically encourages athletes to go to hard between intervals. There should be a clear separation between intervals I often see athletes blending it all together to increase your average speed. If you're worried about this, you most likely lack quality and intensity in the top end intervals you should be doing.
Step away from averages and step into a calculated and cutthroat approach to maximizing time and energy investments on the bike.
6. In your workouts and events: Struggle = Growth, Ease = Practice.
There is no pass/fail only progress only growth or practice.
Have you ever found yourself, stopping in the middle of a workout, blaming it on a bad day?
Have you ever found yourself, dropping out of a race when things don’t go right, blaming it on a lousy month leading into it?
In a mental funk, blaming it on a loss of motivation from your year not going right?
If you said yes to any of these, listen up. Stop wasting your time trying to categorize your experiences, efforts, days, and years as good or bad. You are just finding excuses to justify what you already know.
Things don’t work out; life happens, we fall short, our realities do not always meet our expectations. It is part of the human experience. The action of labeling every occurrence does not help you progress; instead, it forces you to stay stagnant and lose momentum.
But so many people do it. Most athletes go into events and rides and score their performances on if they met or exceeded their expectations. Did measure up to my expectations? Did I measure up to the expectation of others?
Once a blue moon when all the stars align, we are absolutely ecstatic because we had a good race, we met or exceeded that expectation.
But more often than not we are left feeling like we failed. Because we did not meet whatever arbitrary metric we assigned to that particular event. That could be a number on the results sheet or a certain PR time. Chances are even if you didn't receive that outward validation of a podium, you still experienced progress in your event.
The reality is, the “bad” is where you actually find what you need to create the “good.” You don’t move forward until the bad happens and you’re forced adapt. You need to implement the skills, develop the new ability and find the direction. You will move forward in the sport of cycling without having to pivot, make changes and overcome the adversity.
From now on I want you to reframe your experiences. Experiences, events, and days that go as planned, or “good” should be reframed as practice. You just practiced you were already capable of doing. You are refining the process using the ability, skill, and direction that you already have. If everything went right, you were in the correct position, you nailed the nutrition, you had the expertise for the job, it was a great day of practice. It is nice when it comes together. It’s your moment to enjoy.
In contrast, experiences, events, and days that do not live up to our expectations let’s now reframe as growth. Growth only occurs in moments that we fall short, we pivot and have to adapt. When things don't go as planned, there's no reason to get down. You just found the barrier to your next breakthrough. Now use this opportunity to turn your detours into successes.
To progress in life, from a high-performance perspective, you need both continuous practice and growth. Progress is a constant balance between these two.
With this new mindset, there’s no reason to beat ourselves up when we fall short. You are getting stronger. You are becoming better. You are finding new barriers to grow whether it’s in your focus, fitness, execution or nutrition. So let's change our mindset and by default own all our of experiences because we are either practicing or growing.
7. Chasing to reach people’s level pulls you further away from improving your own.
Ask yourself, how many of you know people that are better than you?
How many of you base your objectives on what those other people are doing? How often do you set sights on peers friends rivals? Almost all of us are guilty of it.
Looking at other people for direction takes you in the wrong direction.
But when you try to become another person, you become much worse at being yourself. Trust me, being yourself is the only way to achieve success. You are 100% not going to win at being someone else. It's impossible to become the best version of you when you're focused on becoming the best version of someone else.
One of the biggest mistakes people is participating in group rides and events with people that are much better than them. The idea is, that if I ride with people that are better than me it will force my body and brain to match theirs.
Sure, it’s an easy way to push yourself hard, but you are pushing yourself in the wrong direction. You might say, “but I feel a lot of pain when I go hard on these rides chasing the better riders, and pain equates to gain right?” Sorry, that's not how it works.
If you are outside of you zones trying to be with someone else. You are not creating your own zones. You have no footing. You are building with a roof with no foundation to stand on. You certainly aren't focused on the type of rider you are.
Each cyclist has a unique Rider Type. Your Rider Type is your natural born mental and physical capabilities. You were born with these genetic predispositions, and with that Rider Type comes a specific set of God-given talents and gifts. But your unique capabilities needed to be cultivated. It's your responsibility to cultivate the specific abilities, skills, and direction. When you chase other riders around that are better than you, you go above and outside of your Rider Type zones. Because your intensity level is so high, your focus is compromised, and you are unable to execute a proper riding technique.
While you may argue that you are learning better technique watching a better rider, you are so cross-eyed you cannot even see it clearly! Additionally, in these rides, you are also using much of your valuable energy stores so that you are left with little fuel and mental strength. Often time compromising your training in the days ahead.
Instead of looking at other people and trying to emulate, understand who you are, what you want to do and the current level. Specific work your way, your pace. Your perspective, outcome and your dreams and outcomes in focus. By chasing after someone’s level, you are left with a subpar version of your level. Instead, spend your precious time and energy learning and developing your personal Rider Type and the become the best version of yourself!
8. You create your own motivation, you don’t find it.
Motivation is your responsibility. Motivation is within your own power to create. No one can give it to you. You can’t take it from someone else. Someone can guide you in helping you create your own. But it’s not a service someone else can provide for you. As a coach, I often hear, “I’m not motivated, or I’m running low on motivation. It makes it sound like you’re a victim of low motivation. As if you were just walking down the street and low motivation fell out of the sky, and you got hit. Now I need a doctor to help me get my motivation back. Life gets hard sometimes, but in my experience, low motivation almost always stems from a lack of a vision. If you are continually looking every which way wondering what you should do? You are not focusing on what you want to do or what needs to happen over the long-haul. To get motivated, you need something to inspire you. The only way to identify what will inspire you is to perform the introspective work to get to know yourself inside out. Learn what aspects of the sport you feel passionate about, and map out a plan for a cause greater than yourself. That is your vision. Commit 100% to the process of achieving that vision.
Instead of viewing motivation as something you need to go learn or find. Work on becoming more of yourself. From a bird's eye view imagine yourself in 20 years if everything goes right, what is the outcome that I want? Write it down! That’s your motivation. You just have to remind yourself of, who you want to be. Who do you want to do? What does the ideal version of myself look, act, and feel?
Focusing on your vision creates motivation. You don't just get in your car and drive aimlessly around the same is true for your cycling training. You need a picture of what you want and a direction forward. Find something worth accomplishing and map out a plan with a daily process that will get you there.
Now not all motivation is created equal are two types of motivation. Intrinsic is the motivation that comes from within ourselves and extrinsic motivation that occurs from outside sources. But so many of us use on "carrots" to keep us motivated. But what happens when that event passes by or we receive that reward? We often find ourselves out of motivation. So many of us need to be continuously incentivized to stay motivated because that's how were raised. As children, we are told to do X and receive a reward, disobey and get punished. But think about what you've accomplished, what you are really proud of in your life? The chances are that motivation came from a fire within. External motivation doesn't lead to long-term achievement. Long-term progress is intrinsically motivated because your passion is in the drivers seat.
If you struggle with motivation chances are you are relying on external motivation. Is your motivation for achieving your vision extrinsic or intrinsic? Are you motivated to do it by "carrot and stick" consequences? Or is it intrinsic, a vision based on your values, that is burning in your core, demanding to be fulfilled? Extrinsic motivation is shallow and typically doesn't last. If you're counting on external factors like race wins and other people to keep you motivated, you may feel like you are on a rollercoaster. Your motivation will be more steady if you shift your motivation to values that align with your character.
Spend the time and energy to be clear about your vision. If you lack confidence in your vision, introspect to determine why that might be. Do you need to clarify the specifics of your vision better, or do you need to find a new one about which you can be passionate?
Once your direction aligns with you the person, you want to become, visualize your vivid, specific, and ambitious goals for your cycling. You need a detailed map before you can get anywhere. Picture your vision in your mind and on paper to make it more real.
If you feel yourself wavering from motivation on a vision, you might just need to reconnect with your vision.
Now build your vision deep into your daily life. Review it daily, post it prominently, write about it, check-in with a coach daily, whatever it takes to keep you focused on your vision and in turn stay motivated.
9. Consistency training in the Four Pillar's is king.
Have you ever wondered how some cyclists endlessly are progressing, while others seem to work just as hard but achieve very little?
The answer lies in their consistency.
There’s no substitute for putting in the work every single day. There's no gene that you are born with that makes someone consistent or not. No amount of talent that trumps consistency. Many people think the magical rides. The ones that create a buzz on Strava filled with KOMS trophies, kilojoules and hundreds of kilometers are the difference makers. But it is the daily grind that counts. You must develop an empowering process that you can realistically performance in every single day that keeps you on the path to on your highest priorities and goals. A lot comes down to your ability to hold yourself accountable for the daily choices. You and you alone are responsible for what you do and what you don't do.
To be consistent, you need to be able to focus on the present moment while maintaining a long-term view of what you want to become. Even though the concept of staying consistent seems pretty straightforward, most people struggle with it's execution. I get it. It's hard to remain consistent in today's world with so are so many distractions. So many of us are constantly being pulled in so many different directions having the discipline to stick with something in the short-term in hopes of yielding long-term results can be challenging
But I believe there is a solution to all of these derailers of consistency.
The only way to maintain consistency is to be 100% confident you are taking the right steps and the right path with constant feedback. Feedback takes the guesswork out of progress. Without proper performance feedback, athletes are forced to guess about their results. Many of us are often left scratching our heads wondering if we are actually moving the needle forward with our efforts. With the technology available to us today and the key performance indicators I will teach you about his in the book you won't have to worry if you are improving or not.
Your daily process should consist of two components: adaptation, and evolution. Through the repetition, we are building the pathways and neuromuscular developments in training so our bodies can adapt. It’s about mindfully repeating the same actions over and over again; tracking feedback from these actions and adjust and evolve as needed to improve continuously.
We attend school for seven hours a day, five days a week because that’s what is most conducive to learning. The best way to learn is daily and in small increments. School also becomes more advanced as we become more advanced the same should be true for your cycling training. This is not about mindlessly banging your head against the wall with three by 20-minute intervals, over and over again. It’s about learning, growing and changes your process as you develop. This is about gaining ever greater insights and knowledge about what it is you are doing, and afterward making the important modifications to these actions to help improve your outcomes and performance over the long-haul. We want to focus on increasing your effectiveness and efficiency at each step of your journey.
From now on don't stress about the big rides for the show. Keep it simple. Develop a daily process you can execute 5-7 days a week. That is where you will find the progress.
Consistency is what breeds change to experience this shift; you must stay vigilant and focused on putting it the daily work and making adjustments as needed and not just maintaining the status quo. Use the adaptation and evolution in your daily process and own your consistency.
10. Never give up, never sit up. There’s nothing good back there.
Never sit up. Never give up. It sounds simple right? It’s not.
I've used this mantra to get through some of the hardest moments of my life both on and off the bike.
The premise is that when you're in the moment of difficulty.
When you feel as if the pain is too much to bare, when the physical pressure so great, you think your head might explode.
When you feel like you can't do it anymore, this is your moment! This is the exact moment you have to endure. This is the moment that the selection is going to happen. This is the moment you have primed for a mental, physical and emotional breakthrough. You must give it our all because if you don't, there is nothing good is going to come from giving up. “Back there” are where your past regrets, old versions of yourself, bad habits and toxic patterns exist.
But many of us never get that breakthrough because so many people make the mistake of thinking, “I can’t do this forever,” so they sit-up.
Let’s say you’ve signed up for a 100-mile race. The start gun goes off, the pace is hard, but you're protected in the peloton but 20 miles into the race you start up a medium length climb. Guys start attacking right at the bottom of the climb. The pace is getting harder; your respiration is through the roof. You feel the burning sensation as the lactate fills your legs. You start thinking to yourself, “I’m only 20 miles in, I can’t do this more 80 miles.” The negotiations start, and all you can focus on is the pain. Pain, burning, more pain. Until you hit the “screw it, switch,” swing off and sit up. You’ve pulled the parachute, and in the process given up on whatever it is, you wanted to accomplish when you pinned that number on in the first place. Even worse you have to ride 80 miles to go by yourself.
You’re upset because you’re no longer in the place you think you should be. To top it off all your legs still hurt. The negative self-talk starts. The talk show in your head, “you’re not good enough” “you don’t work hard enough,” “your job is too stressful,” “your family isn’t supportive enough.” “Your bike isn’t good enough, “you’re too heavy.”
You’re frustrated, and it’s going to take you longer to get to the finish.
Not only is it going to take you longer but it’s going to be harder than when you were in the group.
You find a couple of guys to ride with, but they aren’t as strong as you are and aren't much help. It then hits you that if you just held on a little bit longer, the group probably would’ve slowed down after the selection happened.
It’s never better behind. I know that when your suffering it feels like sitting up will bring you relief. But it won’t. You need to hang on and recognize. The moment you are under pressure if your moment of urgency your moment to break through. Embrace it. Fight for it. Because on the other side of that movement is the outcome you wanted when you signed up for it in the first place.
You love the challenge; you love to overcome the pain, you love the hard work. So the next time you are feeling the pressure embrace it and recognize that there is your moment and there is nothing good back there.