Indoor Training

"It's sad to see anyone inside on the trainer." That was the comment attached to an article about riding outside all winter lo...

Thursday, July 4

June Results

Some good racing in June for Thelen Coaching athletes - both on foot and on the bike. There were new races, epic adventures and new PRs. All the things I like seeing!

Andrew had a really busy June - racing in both the Dirty Kanza 200 and the Michigan Coast to Coast 200. At Dirty Kanza on June 1, his goat was beat to Midnight. It would be a tall order and require focused riding and good conditions. Last year, he finished in 20:09, so beating midnight would require taking over two hours off his time. Unlike with events like the ITI or the CTR, there's no blue dot watching. The only updates come when he reached each check point - talk about stressful as a coach! Blue dot watching might get boring, "Oh look! Another 400' in the last 10 minutes...." but you can see the forward progress. This year, Andrew reached the final check point - 12 miles out with about 90 minutes left to pedal to beat midnight. Easily within reach if there were no mechanical issues. The official time? 17:37:09 - before midnight and almost 2:30 faster then last year! Andy followed up the performance at DK200 with the Michigan Coast to Coast - a 210 westward push from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. He was riding with a friend, so the pacing was a little different then at DK200. Even so, taking on a second 200 mile Gravel Race in one month? Stout... Michigan turned out to be another successful day as he finished in 17:01:33.

Meanwhile, Judd was prepping for the Sancho 200. This is another unsupported gravel race in northern Michigan. The twist for Judd? He was going to take up stoker position on Don Wood's Tandem. Don is a former Thelen Coaching Athlete and a podium finisher in the Tandem Class at DK. He's also part of the BPR Crew and an all around great guy. As an experienced tandem captain, it was the perfect pairing. Still, taking on something like the Sancho as a tandem? Pretty brave... There was some battling with deep sand and mechanical issues, but the boys kept moving forward. They reached the finish line as the only tandem still standing in 21:17.

Don and Judd at the finish of the Sancho 200 on June 8th
Photo Kristy Charles
Back in Colorado, Dianna took on the hills of the Mueller 25k. This Mad Moose Events race held at Mueller State Park at an altitude of nearly 9,300' is one of the harder 25k races on the front range. The trails aren't technical, but there's enough challenge in the never ending hills to make up for that! This was the stepping stone race - half way to 50k with plenty of time before her goal 50k to learn and revamp as needed. And it looks like we are right on target to s successful first ultra as Dianna finished in 4:15:20!
Dianna finishing her Mueller 25k race on June 8th
Photo Lynne Day

Thursday, May 2

Four Letter Words

We've all heard someone saying it "I'm only doing the 10k" when there's a longer race involved. Or "it's just a 5k,” as if that distance isn’t worth racing. Only and Just - we toss those words around, not realized the impact they have on the athletes around us. Only and Just are as much four letter words as something I won’t print here. But why? Why are those words inappropriate to use when discussing races or workouts? There’s a few reasons.

They minimize the athlete and the distance - regardless if you are talking about yourself or something else. “I’m only doing the 10k” can easily be translated into “I’m not a bad-ass like you are,” when someone is talking a runner doing a longer race. Any distance is a meaningful distance, regardless of what else is going on. Someone else might be doing the 50k race that same day, but that’s their race - not yours. Are they looking down on you for doing the shorter distance? No. At least they shouldn’t be! The race you are doing is your primary race on that day. And there’s nothing only about the shorter races. A 5k run hard can be just as challenging as comfortably paced half marathon. That same half marathon all out can require as much recovery as a 50k. It all depends on the race and the athlete. Don’t minimize the race you have chosen to do by comparing to other runners. Even if it’s not the race you originally planned on doing, instead of saying “only doing xyz event” be proud of what you are doing. You trained hard for your race. Don’t take anything away from that, regardless of everything else around the event.

Just another four letter word when it comes to racing. “It’s just a training race,” or “I’m just doing the half marathon” are the most frequent phrases we hear. Both phrases diminish the race itself or the athletes doing the races. They also minimize the training required for the different events. Yes, we as runners frequently jump into other races instead of doing our long runs or speed workouts. But that doesn’t mean we should brag about that. Telling someone else that its just a training is like a slap in the face for all the work they have done for that event. It’s their A race, their big goal race for the year and you are just training through. Imagine how that feels. So if something is truly a training race, or a supported long run - be respectful of the other runners. You don’t have to toss that Just around as easily as you crank out the miles. The Just when it comes to distances works the same. You are telling everyone around you that the race they are doing isn’t a big deal to you because it’s Just a short little race. How would that make you feel? You’ve trained super hard for a big race and someone else comes around and knocks you down without realizing it.

So what am I saying? Run your race and be proud of the distance you are racing. Don’t feel like you are anything less if you aren’t doing the longest distance the events offers. It’s your race and meaningful for you so enjoy every minute and every mile. On the flip side, if you are doing the longer race realize that the shorter distances are equally important. The runners in those races are working hard for their finish tines. Let them celebrate their finishes without degrading the accomplishments. It doesn't matter if a race really is “only” a short event for you or “just” a fun event. Be respectful of the other athletes around you. You don’t know what that person you are talking to had to overcome to stand on the starting line. Don’t knock them down before the race even starts. At the same time, if you are doing the shorter distance when you normally do a longer race, don’t diminish the race because it’s shorter. Go out and crush the 5k and develop a new respect for the shorter distances within events!

Friday, April 12

Early Spring Athlete Results

Spring may just have started a few weeks ago, but Thelen Coaching athletes have been out and about, turning in some solid performances at races all over the country.

Brenda traveled to Moab for the Mad Moose Events Behind the Rocks 10 mile race. This was a new experience for her, having never raced in Moab before. Trail running in Moab is a different kind of running - trail running, but more like concrete due to the hardness of the rock. She handled it well and had a great race, breaking 3:00 hours for the technical 11 mile race. Yes - there were some bonus miles at the race...
Brenda at the finish line of Behind the Rocks

Jen returned to the trails for the Mountain to Sea Challenge, a 12 mile point to point race in Raleigh, NC. While the results wasn't as fast as she wanted, there were still some great lessons learned. And that's what racing is all about, learning things we can apply to upcoming events. She still managed to break 3 hours under some challenging conditions and beat her goal time for the race.

Dianna went east for the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race, a bucket list event for her. Given that its a lottery entrance, just getting in is a feat. With family in DC, there was also a vacation for her. Yes, taking 43 photos during a race is perfectly normal when it's cherry blossom season! Even with stopping to take all those photos, she still had a great race breaking 2:00s for the 10 mile event. That's a great performance for her after a hard start to the season and I'm really proud of her pulling through and finishing strong.
Dianna's photo of the Washington Monument at sunrise

New athlete Andy is getting ready for Dirty Kanza and as such is hitting the gravel circuit to prepare. He returned to an event from last year, the Rough Road 100k, with the goal to beat last year's time and work on some fueling and pacing strategies. And not only did he beat last year's time, he smashed it - riding the 60 miles over an hour faster! Next up for him is the Barry Roubaix 100 mile race.


Friday, March 22

Iditarod Trail Invitational

Two Thelen Coaching athletes took on the Iditarod Trail Invitation this year. Dennis returned to the trail in the 150, a new distance this year that replaced the 130 he won last year. I'll have his report posted once I get it. After getting stymied by the weather at JP's Fat Pursuit, this was the goal for the winter. It wasn't about place or time, it was about reaching the finish line safely. It was also one step closer to the ITI 300 in either 2020 or 2021. Every race is an opportunity for learning and that becomes even more important with the extreme weather winter racing can throw at athletes. This edition of the ITI had some unexpected challenges including a sudden temperature drop and a malfunctioning tracker that required a longer then anticipated stop at the first check point. Overall, his plan of forward momentum and assessing the upcoming conditions at each checkpoint proved smart. Dennis reached the finish of the ITI 150 in second place this year.
View from the trail
Photo - Dennis Staley

Dennis at the finish of the ITI 150

Judd had some demons to face for the ITI 300 this year after a challenging 2018. His strategy this year was to act like a rookie and take on the trail in a new way with one of the other BPR racers, Steve. They had a plan in place for staying in the back of the pack of the cyclists, but ahead of the foot traffic churning up the trail. Just between the wave of racers, they were able to utilize the checkpoints and aid much easier and able to keep moving throughout the race. They did take two zero days to recover from the effort of riding and pushing the singlespeeds, but breaks were worked into the plan. They managed the sleep demons, the temperature plummeting to -35 in the first night and then the inconsistent trail conditions that lead to pushing more then 50 miles of the race. In the end, they still finished a few hours faster then Judd's last time on the trail in 2017.

Judd at the summit of Rainy Pass
Judd has a great race report with some awesome photos on the BPR site. Check it out for more details.

Wednesday, February 20

Indoor Training

"It's sad to see anyone inside on the trainer." That was the comment attached to an article about riding outside all winter long. And yes, there is a certain joy to being outside in the chilly air, getting fresh tracks on a snowy trail. The terrain changes under the snow and old trails become new. But with the changes in terrain come the hazards associated with winter - ice to mention one. Like with everything, there is a time and a place for both outside rides and inside workouts. Instead of demonizing the athletes who choose to take the workouts inside, we all might gain some perspective if we really think about why.

Here are just a few of the benefits for taking workouts inside during adverse conditions.
- Time savings. There's no bundling up in three layers of clothes to ride inside, nor the extra time required to wash all those extra clothes. In order to get a quality workout inside, you just need to throw on bibs and jersey. You can be pedaling in 5 minutes after walking in the door after work, freeing up more time to do other things.

- Monetary savings. Not everyone can afford the fancy clothes to ride outside, or the lights required for safety on a cold winter night. If you haven't tried doing a hard workout without some of the breathable gear, it's a challenge. There's only so far zipping and unzipping layers can do to keep you comfortable and dry. The same goes for running, although a treadmill or gym membership is a little more of monetary commitment then a simple trainer.

- Safety. Ever try doing a hard workout on a sheet of ice? Doesn't work so well, does it? It only takes one small patch of ice hidden under the snow or camouflaged by dirt to derail not only that ride, but possibly the entire season. Riding a fat bike doesn't always protect against the ice either. And for running, trying too hard to get outside under those conditions can mean wearing traction devices. Those are great for shorter runs, but frequent and continuous use can affect gait pattern leading to injury.

- Ability to do workouts at any time.Very few people work at a job where they can take a long lunch to be able to run during the warmest part of the day. Taking a few of the workouts inside means that you can still get the ride or run done before work, regardless of weather conditions or road conditions.

- Ability to do focused workouts. Some workouts, like single leg pedaling drills, are best done inside anyway. You can isolate one leg more effectively and safely on a trainer then outside. Speed workouts on the treadmill can be targeted for specific paces, without the risk of injury associated with running on a track

- Training for early season races. Heat acclimatization takes some time and is very important for early season races in warmer climates. Taking workouts inside allows the body to start to acclimatize to heat effectively, thus improving performance at the early season races.

Naturally, some things can't be translated to inside workouts - like the ability to ride on packed snow for the winter ultras, or testing gear for cold weather races. Riding inside all the time also does not improve bike handling skills or technical riding ability - it just addresses fitness.  But with judicial use of the trainer or treadmill for workouts, there can be the perfect balance of safety, quality training and fun adventures.