Friday, December 14, 2012

Performance Tests

I have been working with Robbie Ventura and Vision quest over the past year. We have been helping each other and our athletes and while some see us as completion, I guess Robbie and I just don’t see it that way. Both of us run successful coaching businesses in the Chicago land area and both have a passion for helping athletes anyway we can. So if we share information, and even help each other’s athletes we see that as an overall win for everyone.
In that spirit I have recently asked Robbie for some help with my own cycling. I have felt in the past 12-18 months my cycling has hit a stagnation period in which some of the same tactics were yielding fewer results. I needed a new set of eyes on the situation and advice. I trust Robbie’s opinion as he has had a lot of success helping both cyclists as well as triathletes.

A great example of the above two points. I coach John Naab, who is also a VQ member. The relationship works quite well as he benefits from both influences. In the last year I have helped him shave MASSIVE time off his overall Ironman and 70.3 race times putting together the complete plan, however with VQ’s help he is also one of the sports best cyclists. Chris Mewes is another VQ athlete who can simply rip the legs off any triathlete I know.

I wanted to get some of the same advice these ubercyclists were getting – so I went right to the source.
I decided to do the full performance testing package to let RV really get into my cycling background and physiology. I went to VQ Highland Park . When I walked in the place was quite, Robbie sat in his office like the Wizard of Oz waiting for the next Tinman to come in asking for a new heart. Unfortunately I was the Tinman this day. HA!

We started with all the basics. Questionnaires which included sleep patterns, blood pressure, weight, diet, self-evaluation, and embarrassingly even body fat composition. After lots of explaining that I was in my off season, he finished all those measurements. Lucky for him I was giving him a lot of low hanging fruit to point out. LOL!
We then went into the gym which I wasn’t entirely ready for. I should have had a clue when I came out in my cycling gear and he told me to grab my running shoes. He did several strength evaluations, flexibility, and range of motion tests. What was even better was while he was testing me he took the time to explain to me why those tests were specific to cycling, holding aero position, and producing power.

Once finished with all of these items we moved to where the real work began. I got on my bike ready for the test. While I was ready to impress, RV wouldn’t start the test until he just did a look over of my fit, how I sit on the bike, cleat position, and everything he felt effected performance. Not only would he check these things, but he also did a great job explaining to me why he was looking at each thing, and how minor adjustments would affect how I feel on the bike, and issues to look out for and in the event I experience any of these things, how to adjust.
Lucky for me, my fit was pretty good. What I think is cool is I fit this road bike mainly on feel and when he actually put a tape measure to it, I was within .2cm of my seat height. It’s always amazing to me how in tune with your bike athletes are.

When the test started we did the blood lactate test which included steps up in wattage while tracking my RPE and blood lactate. Without boring you with the actual protocol we established my LT right now and more importantly my weaknesses. He gave me some advice I thought was in valuable for things I could incorporate into my schedule to significantly not only increase my cycling performances, but also my runs off the bike.

What I liked was it wasn’t just “you should ride easier” answer. In fact he thinks most triathletes do not ride hard enough! That is very dependent on ability and you need to make sure it applies to you. We talked about high end training, ways to give myself more range, and eventually push my power to weight ratio up. All good stuff.

I will spend some time now talking with Ryan Bolton, my coach for 2013 and see how we can best fit RV’s advice into the running, swimming, weights, etc. When we start coming up with some strategies, I will try to post what we do or talk about them on our podcast.

I would say this however. Whenever you get what seems like good advice, if you are like me, and most type A personalities, all you want to do is go implement all the new ideas! Make sure you incorporate things at a measurable rate. This circles back to why I think VQ and TBC work well together for triathletes. I have multiple smart people looking at the situation for a few angles. Together I feel confident that the plan will be good.

For a few hundred dollars I think getting a performance test with VisionQuest is well worth it. If you decide you want to do this, here is the link. I believe so much in it that if you get this done, we will give new athletes 100.00 off coaching with TBC with a copy of your results.  

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