Gear, Podcast, Science and Physiology, Training

Physiology, coaching and aerodynamics with Jamie Pringle, PhD | EP#288

 May 31, 2021

By  Mikael Eriksson

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:

Jamie Pringle in an exercise physiologist with a background in academia, applied work over several Olympic cycles with the English Institute of Sports, coaching and advising many high-level athletes, and currently working in the aerodynamics and cycling biomechanics field at Vorteq, a spin-off company from Formula 1 located in Silverstone.

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Physiology, finding individual limiters, and athlete profiling
  • The role of the coach, and how to be a scientist as a coach
  • How to assess and improve aerodynamics on the bike
  • The importance of biomechanics, and not chasing aerodynamic gains or "lower is better" at all costs
  • Aero-considerations (and biomechanical ones) when getting a trisuit, cycling shoes, and calf guards for the lower leg

Sponsored by:

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Shownotes

Background

04:45 -

  • My original background is as a scientist, I am a physiologist.
  • At the moment I work for a company called Vorteq Sport, which is focused on improving aerodynamics in several different sports, including triathlon and cycling.
  • Over the years I have also to some extent coached athletes, even though I wouldn’t call myself a ”coach”.

    Being a ”coach” in my mind requires a specific set of tool skills, which is very different from being a good scientist but I do believe that to be a very successful exercise physiologist/scientist you need to be able to put the ”coaching perspective” on from time to time.

Top three pieces of advice

13:25 -

  • Go out there and do things!

    There is a lot of evidence that suggest that you more you do things, the more competent you will become doing it, and frequency might actually be more important that overall duration.

    And of course, also make sure to have fun along the way!
  • Be precise with what you do!

    Be diligent with the intents of the sessions, make sure that the easy sessions remain easy and the hard ones become really hard.
  • Enjoy the journey!

Physiology

16:10 -

  • I do believe that for most endurance sports, the central capacity, i.e. the heart, lungs and blood’s capacity to transport oxygen to the working muscles is the limiting step in the equation.

    However, the longer the duration, the more important does the peripheral (muscular) capacity become and for ultra long endurance events (such as the Ironman), I would say that most athletes are peripherally limited.
  • When it comes to physiological profiling, there are different ways to do this, from laboratory tests to simple time trials.

    For most amateur athletes, I do think that tracking your training by power, pace and HR is good enough to get an idea of how your body is behaving and works in different scenarios.

    I do believe that HR is an important training metrics, as this reflects the stress you put on your body, however, it reaches its fullest potential when combined with other metrics such as power, pace and perceived exertion.
  • In recent years I have been doing a little bit of physiological modeling, which is more ”basic” than it might seem.

    It’s pretty much about dividing the aspects of performance into sub components and analyst each sub component by itself (e.g. how easy/hard will it be to improve this aspect?).

Aerodynamics

39:25 -

  • There are basically three ways to evaluate aerodynamics: the wind tunnel, the track and the road.

    Whenever you can measure speed and power, you are getting insights into aerodynamics.
  • At the moment, the wind tunnel is my ”weapon of choice” as it offers the greatest way to measure, evaluate and control aspects of aerodynamics.

    The results in the wind tunnel is indeed very representative in regards to real life conditions.

    A lot of work that we are doing at the moment is directed towards finding a position that is the best possible ”maintainable” position for a long time.
  • When doing aerodynamics testing, we are always paying attention to how the position is affecting power production, and in recent years the development has gone towards not going too low in front as this results in a more powerful production, to achieve good aerodynamics for a ”high position”, working with the ”shape of the body”, making it more ”arrow like” is crucial.

    To get a good ”arrow like” position, it is best to start working with the front, the placement and angles of the elbows and hands.

Equipment advice

54:20 -

  • Skinsuits: Here is where you can find the largest gains in terms of change in times.

    Fit is obviously important but the textile and fabrics are very important as well, overall things are highly individual and the most expensive suits are far from always the fastest for everyone.
  • Shoes: Generally the lower legs are more important than the shoes, however, some gains can be made here as well but
  • Lower legs: Putting on calf gards can make a major difference, sometimes even larger than any difference that a skin suit can make.

Coaching

01:03:40 -

  • My biggest advice for athletes who feel that they have ”plateaued”, is to go back to the specific, train for the specific demands of the event and also try and figure out what has been working well in the past and try and capitalize on that.
  • The most important part of coaching in my opinion would be the communication with the athlete and try and figure out what makes the athlete ”tick”.
  • My biggest advice to coaches and self coach athletes who would like to apply science on their training would be to try and write as much down as possible and be very systematic about your implementation.

    If I would give my younger version of myself a tip, it would be to write more things down!

Rapid fire questions

01:12:20 -

  • What is your favorite book, blog or resource related to endurance sports? Anything by Stephen Seiler!
  • What is your favorite piece of gear or equipment? My new Scott bike and my Scott ski boots!
  • What is a personal habit that has helped you achieve success? Make sure to focus really hard when you focus, and when not focus, then make sure to really relax!

LINKS AND RESOURCES:


Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal. Please contact me if you have feedback on the podcast or want to make suggestions for improvement or send in a question for a Q&A episode. If you are a long-time listener and appreciate the value the podcast brings, please consider taking a couple of minutes for leaving a rating and review on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you can think of leaving a rating and review.

Mikael Eriksson

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