Cycling, Podcast, Training

Marinus Petersen | EP#423

 January 8, 2024

By  Bernardo Gonçalves

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:

Marinus Petersen - That Triathlon Show

Marinus Petersen is a cycling coach and road cyclist, with a win in the 2021 Welsh road cycling championships on his palmarès. In this interview we discuss Marinus' approach to coaching and training.

In this episode you'll learn about:

  • Marinus' overall coaching methodology
  • The importance of nutrition within the training process
  • The value of doing "oversized" endurance rides
  • How to balance aerobic volume and intensity
  • Testing and athlete profiling

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Shownotes

Marinus' background

02:56 -

  • I'm the founder, owner, and sole coach of Kilowatt Coaching, a small coaching business dedicated to cycling. As a competitive racing cyclist, I'm gearing up to move to France to race with a French team next year. 
  • Over the years, I've succeeded in various competitions, including winning national races in the UK and securing the Welsh Road Race Championships.
  • Regarding the athletes I coach, my focus extends beyond road cycling. While most of my clients participate in road and gravel races, I've worked with individuals engaged in various disciplines such as time trials, ultra-endurance, mountain biking, cyclocross, and the unique discipline of hill climbing, predominant in the UK. 
  • Additionally, I provide coaching services and consultations to triathletes, offering one-to-one and insightful consultations.

Coaching methodology

04:20 -

  • In my coaching approach, I consider various factors around the individual athlete. 
  • This includes delving into their physiology, understanding their personality, assessing their lifestyle, and identifying the training resources available to them, such as facilities. Additionally, I take into account their previous training history. 
  • Once I comprehensively understand the athlete, I focus on the specific event they are preparing for, analysing its demands and aligning their goals accordingly. It's working backwards to determine the most effective training approach for the athlete about their event goals.
  • At this stage, I bring my experience and knowledge of scientific evidence to inform my coaching decisions. 
  • I must tell my clients that my recommendations are my best estimations for achieving optimal results tailored to their needs. 
  • The coaching process is iterative, assessing outcomes and refining the approach based on the observed results. The most successful outcomes often come from longer-term collaborations, allowing me to gain deeper insights into what works best for the athlete physically and personally.
  • I maintain a dynamic and adaptive coaching style that evolves. Nutrition plays a crucial role in this integration, and I find it challenging to separate coaching from nutritional guidance. 
  • For instance, in prescribing medium-intensity work, factors like carbohydrate intake within the 24 hours prior can significantly influence an athlete's performance. 
  • Neglecting nutritional considerations in the coaching process would be a disservice, given its substantial impact on training outcomes.
  • As a general approach, athletes starting with me tend to engage in higher-volume training, measured either in hours or kilojoules, with fewer high-intensity days. I emphasise the importance of consistency in training, working towards health, general hygiene, and overall robustness. 
  • This approach allows athletes to consistently handle high-volume training with an appropriate balance of intensity, fostering long-term progress.

Nutrition practical tips

08:10 -

  • My approach to nutrition coaching is based on individual needs. 
  • If a client is already excelling, we might focus on more minor refinements. The client's ambition and goals are crucial in shaping our strategy. 
  • We delve deep into optimising nutrition for someone aspiring to be a world tour. In contrast, a less ambitious rider with limited time may receive more straightforward guidelines, like ensuring ample carbohydrate intake before a session.
  • Interestingly, even individuals with high-level competition experience, including those from world tour teams, often struggle with fueling appropriately. 
  • Instead of reflecting on previous training, many focus on post-ride nutrition, potentially compromising sleep and other aspects. Some even unintentionally starve themselves on rest days. 
  • I emphasise spreading energy intake more evenly across the week, especially gearing up with sufficient carbohydrates on rest days preceding intense sessions.
  • Educating clients about muscle glycogen is a crucial aspect. Many use terms like glycogen and glucose interchangeably, but understanding muscle glycogen and how nutrition influences it is crucial. 
  • Highlighting that eating during a ride doesn't replenish glycogen stores – a process reserved for the day or days before – is vital information. This knowledge forms the foundation of effective nutrition planning.
  • I guide individuals on what to consume during rides, particularly carbohydrate intake. 
  • I aim to educate them on the intricacies of glucose absorption, highlighting the role of SGLT1 as the transport protein in the small intestine, which acts as the rate-limiting step. 
  • Additionally, I emphasise the importance of fructose, noting that it utilises the glute-5 transporter. To reach the 120 grams of carbs per hour target, I stress the need to saturate both these proteins.
  • In my theory, which I haven't come across elsewhere, I suggest that the challenge with fructose tolerance may stem from its lower presence in our regular diets. 
  • Unlike glucose, which is abundant in various foods, including fruits, fructose intake is often more limited. 
  • This might explain why individuals can easily handle 60 grams per hour of glucose without significant gastrointestinal issues, while fructose tends to pose problems.
  • To address this, I often recommend a specific approach—having individuals undertake sessions with only 60 grams per hour of fructose. 
  • This helps train the glute five fructose receptor without overloading the system, especially during shorter or less intense sessions. It's a strategy that I believe many people could benefit from incorporating into their nutrition plans.

Practical tips to consume fructose

13:35 -

  • I simply mix it with water; it tastes like honey but even better. It's this really pleasant honey-like flavour. What's great is that you can get creative and mix it with other things. 
  • I've tried it with cheap orange or apple juice, both loaded with fructose. 
  • Using fructose powder is a more affordable way to get that fructose to boost while minimising the fibre and unwanted trace elements. 
  • So, I usually keep fructose powder as part of my kilowatt coaching starter pack alongside big bags of maltodextrin.
  • Here's a travel or convenience tip: if lugging around those massive bags of fructose or glucose is inconvenient, you can simply use table sugar. 
  • It has a 1:1 ratio of glucose and fructose. While it might not be absorbed as efficiently due to the need for enzymatic breakdown of sucrose, it works well for general training and endurance rides. 
  • I find it super convenient; there is no need to meticulously weigh out ratios, just a quick tip of the sugar bag. 
  • And if I'm on the go, white castor sugar is available in almost any shop. It's not only convenient but also budget-friendly.
  • Interestingly, one of my friends achieved many of his best race results in UCI races just by fueling with sugar. 
  • It makes you question whether these sports nutrition products are just clever marketing. While I still appreciate those products, I agree that you can save some money for regular training and perhaps invest it in good coaching instead. 
  • It doesn't have to be an everyday training staple, but there's a place for it.

Additional points on nutrition

16:15 -

  • I do encourage people to prioritise supplements, especially addressing nutritional deficiencies. I recommend blood work, mainly checking iron and vitamin D levels, especially in Northern Hemisphere countries during the winter. 
  • For performance enhancement, I suggest creatine, particularly for those engaging in gym work, sprints, or anaerobic capacity efforts. Creatine offers benefits for health and cognitive performance, and its cost-effectiveness makes it a valuable addition to general training. 
  • The only potential downside might be weight gain, which could be considered during races.
  • Additionally, I may recommend beta-alanine if clients have the bandwidth, time, and energy. 
  • While it requires multiple daily doses, it can enhance power output during VO2 max efforts and shorter durations (two to 10 minutes), potentially driving better adaptations.
  • Addressing weight or body composition is not something I dismiss but consider a performance parameter. It might involve gaining weight for health or muscle development or reducing body fat to optimise the power-to-weight ratio. 
  • Ignoring weight can oversimplify coaching advice, as weight consciousness becomes crucial for hill climbs, hilly road races, and gravel events. 
  • Power, weight, and aerodynamics vary across cycling scenarios, influencing the focus on these variables during training cycles.

Hydration tips

20:34 -

  • I believe that maintaining proper hydration is crucial for overall performance. I had the privilege of working with Lewis James, a pioneer in hydration research who supervised my final year project. 
  • According to his findings, a 2% to 3% body mass loss can lead to performance decrements.
  • For my athletes, especially before races, we collect data on their sweat rate. 
  • An easy method that even self-coached athletes can adopt is weighing themselves before and after a ride, considering everything consumed during it. 
  • We can estimate an athlete's sweat rate by repeating this in different intensities and environmental conditions.
  • This information becomes particularly valuable when planning hydration strategies for races or long training sessions. For instance, dehydration might be acceptable in shorter races, given the starting state. However, closely matching fluid intake to sweat rate becomes crucial in ultra-endurance events lasting several hours. 
  • High sweaters may face challenges in taking in enough water during events, making intervention necessary. However, it's crucial to carefully balance this with the need for athletes to familiarise themselves with training in a dehydrated state.
  • Research by Lewis James on treadmill running suggests that although performance in a dehydrated state may never match that in a hydrated state, familiarisation can reduce the performance gap between the two states. 
  • Careful planning and understanding of an athlete's sweat rate are crucial to optimising hydration strategies.
  • I often think about the extreme cases, like Haile Gebrselassie finishing a marathon with just about 10% of his body weight lost. It's a significant indicator that habitual training at a higher volume might unintentionally lead athletes to get used to working out in a dehydrated state. 
  • It's something worth keeping in mind.
  • There's this tendency among athletes that I'd call "orthorexic," which may sound like anorexia, but it's more about societal perceptions. 
  • There's this idea that you must always eat healthy foods. Healthy usually implies low caloric density and high micronutrient density. But here's the thing – you need a lot of energy as an athlete. Your energy demands, especially with high-volume training, can be two to three times that of a sedentary person. 
  • However, your need for micronutrients doesn't scale up as much. It barely scales up at all.
  • So, the misconception arises when athletes feel compelled to eat super healthy all the time – like having three avocados when an average person might have one a week. Most nutrients scale with total food volume. Suppose you're an athlete striving to meet your calorie needs without feeling overly full from excessive fibre or highly satiating foods. Sometimes, opting for less "healthy" options with lower satiety, higher energy density, and lower micronutrient density can be acceptable. 
  • It's not about always going for brown rice and oats; sometimes, more refined foods serve a useful purpose in meeting your energy requirements.

"Oversize" endurance rides

27:16 -

  • So, I've noticed that many individuals set a hard limit on their ride duration, usually around six hours. 
  • From my perspective, applying progressive overload by pushing beyond this limit and engaging in seven or eight-hour endurance rides can be pretty impactful. 
  • When considering endurance adaptations stemming from sub-LT1 work, it's not merely about the total hours spent on the bike; it's more about the total work accomplished.
  • Every type of training involves a cost-and-benefit analysis. For instance, if you can achieve the same amount of work in seven hours instead of six by maintaining an even lower intensity, you can experience less neuromuscular fatigue and fuel more optimally. 
  • Conversely, extending the ride duration allows for more total work, especially with higher intensity.
  • In my experience, going even longer, and sometimes even slower, enables individuals to garner more adaptations while remaining fresher for higher-intensity sessions. 
  • During specific training phases aimed at elevating LT1, for instance, incorporating seven or eight-hour rides with blocks of time close to LT1 can maximise an individual's overall work capacity.

Frequency of the long rides

29:35 -

  • It depends on where the athlete is in my training history and how much time the athlete has available. But generally, I'd say anywhere between five times a week and once a month. 
  • What I've noticed, especially with time-restricted individuals, is the benefit of incorporating these oversized rides, particularly on the weekends. 
  • Rather than trying to squeeze in shorter rides during the week, I often suggest dedicating a significant chunk of time on the weekend, like seven or eight hours.
  • For those facing time constraints, I prefer a strategy where the total volume is distributed across longer, more dense rides, including these extended weekend sessions. 
  • Training in a glycogen-depleted state during the latter hours of a long ride can offer unique benefits. If an athlete can achieve the same overall volume but with longer rides, it's a preferred approach when time is a limiting factor.
  • Another scheduling benefit is the potential for more recovery days in the week. 
  • Incorporating three oversized rides leaves room for four recovery days or shorter, easier sessions, ensuring better freshness for high-intensity efforts. 
  • The approach depends on periodisation, athlete characteristics, and time commitments.
  • Despite initial apprehension from athletes about the idea of longer rides, many have found it effective. 
  • Taking it easy, exploring new routes, and maintaining a positive mindset contribute to a successful experience. As for nutrition during these rides, I often recommend using a handlebar or saddle bag for convenience. 
  • Carrying a little freezer bag with carbohydrate powder allows easy refilling at various taps along the route. This method avoids stopping at gas stations or stores, especially towards the end of a ride when in a glycogen-depleted state.
  • For those concerned about fitting snacks, having additional bottles or planning loops to refill during the ride can help maintain time efficiency. 
  • Breaking down the ride mentally into smaller segments, like two loops of four hours each, can make the challenge more manageable and organised, especially considering daylight constraints.
  • So, just to illustrate the point, it can leave you fresh despite doing this big volume and these longer rides. I've achieved my best five-minute power after just one recovery day following an eight-hour ride, and it happened so many times. 
  • Then, to top it off, I won one of my biggest races last year at the end of that week, with multiple seven- and eight-hour rides in there. So, if people are concerned about the fatigue it generates, if you're doing it properly—riding easy enough and eating enough—it's surprising how not fatiguing it is if that makes any sense.

Training prescription for 5-6 hour rides

35:37 -

  • When driving adaptation within sub-LT1 work, I focus on the total work done. I consider the constraints of an individual's time and adequate fatigue budget—the amount of fatigue they're willing to allow during a ride. This depends on the phase of the cycle and their load tolerance.
  • If someone has limited time, like a 90-minute window for an endurance ride, I position it close to LT1, providing some margin for error because it's better to be slightly under than over. When calculating the total work done, even a tiny difference in intensity, say 10 watts within a one-hour ride, can significantly impact the required duration for the same work. 
  • So, I often advise riders to aim for a slightly lower intensity, generating less fatigue.
  • Riding closer to LT1 during shorter sessions is effective for those with time restrictions. I encourage riders to understand that even adding just ten extra minutes to each endurance ride, six days a week, accumulates to a meaningful increase over the year—potentially 50 additional hours that contribute to improving mitochondrial density and overall performance.
  • However, I caution against starting a ride too close to LT1 right from the beginning, only to realise it's too demanding for that day. To avoid this, I often recommend a gradual approach. 
  • For example, if someone has a two-and-a-half-hour session, they might start at a 2-3 out of 10 in terms of perceived effort (RPE) and gradually increase to a 4-4.5 out of 10 as they warm up. 
  • I also emphasise spending time testing LT1 and ensuring riders understand how to ride close to it while staying just below the threshold.

Testing LT1

38:16 -

  • So, a test I've been using recently, particularly effective on the trainer with erg mode, involves subtracting around 30 watts from what an individual perceives as their LT1. 
  • After this, it's a comfortable ride for 30 minutes to two hours. Then, in 10-minute stages with a constant cadence, the power increases by 10 watts per minute. 
  • I've observed that there's often a noticeable decoupling during these stages, typically occurring in the first stage beyond LT1. While not foolproof, it provides a good resolution.
  • When applying this in real-world scenarios, I usually subtract another 10 watts for a margin of error. 
  • LT1 is the highest power that feels somewhat effortless, where blood lactate and fatigue metabolites should be similar to resting levels. 
  • Breathing is elevated, and effort level ranges from some to more significant, significantly as LT1 increases. While it can be demanding on the legs, the ability to hold a conversation or even sing a few tunes is a good indicator. 
  • I've even collected recordings of clients singing during LT1 blocks to confirm they've hit the right intensity.
  • One powerful aspect is the post-session feeling. After intensity, there's a high, pumped-up sensation. 
  • On the other hand, staying sub-LT1 leaves you calm and content, not electrified or zapped. It's a distinct feeling that becomes more recognisable with increasing training experience.
  • The final crucial point to consider is the deterioration of LT1. It's a bit variable from day to day and diminishes throughout a longer ride. Factors such as feelings and hydration play a role, but your overall durability is also a key player. 
  • Being able to sense LT1 through both heart rate and RPE is crucial. 
  • This is especially significant for those with less training volume, as their LT1 might decline by up to 20% even by the fourth hour of an endurance ride. 
  • What initially feels like a comfortable pace at the beginning could become a tempo effort towards the end. The last thing we want is unintentional intensity on what was meant to be an endurance day.

Other types of tests

43:44 -

  • I prefer to assess individuals through various power tests covering different durations. 
  • Typically, I include a test in the four to six-minute range, a longer one spanning 20 to 40 minutes, and an evaluation of sprint anaerobic capacity within the 30-second to two-minute range. 
  • Critical power modelling can be effective, especially when incorporating a more extended test, providing a reliable estimate of anaerobic capacity.
  • I often prescribe a 40-minute duration for the extended test, though adjustments are made based on an individual's training status. In some cases, athletes familiar with their FTP may opt for an all-out effort, leading to instances where ultra-endurance athletes sustain their FTP for up to 70 minutes. 
  • However, for newer athletes with less training history or those unfamiliar with pacing and the demands of prolonged exertion, I might recommend starting with a 20 or 30-minute test to gauge their threshold more comfortably. 
  • It truly depends on the specific needs and capabilities of each athlete.

How testing informs training decisions

45:27 -

  • When I assess athletes, I often consider whether they are more centrally or peripherally limited. It's about understanding if their limitations stem from their VO2max or if they need to focus on fractional utilisation. 
  • For those who have accumulated a lot of volume but not much intensity, targeting the central side of their VO2max could be beneficial. 
  • This might involve incorporating heat training, specific VO2max efforts, or both.
  • Conversely, individuals with less training history can see substantial improvements by dedicating one intensity day or even less per week while significantly increasing their volume. 
  • Including middle-intensity work, such as threshold and sweet spot training, can be highly effective. Considering anaerobic capacity is crucial, especially in cycling and Olympic distance triathlon. 
  • Some athletes may have it as a weakness, while others excel, and our training approach should align with that.
  • Moreover, having a higher anaerobic capacity can enhance the effectiveness of increasing VO2max and engaging in VO2max efforts. This perspective often leads me to recommend supplements like creatine and beta-alanine, which may involve incorporating anaerobic capacity training blocks. Understanding that anaerobic capacity is vital in sustaining efforts close to VO2max. 
  • For instance, in sports like 1500-meter running, athletes hit VO2 max early on but rely on anaerobic capacity to continue the race. 
  • On the other hand, some ultra-endurance athletes with limited anaerobic capacity struggle to sustain VO2max efforts for an extended period, shaping my prescription of VO2max type training based on individual needs.

Peripheral vs central adaptations

48:26 -

  • I believe that assessing someone's LT1 can serve as a valuable test. 
  • Additionally, considering the gap while factoring in anaerobic capacity, particularly the difference between power output in a shorter range (around four to 10 minutes) and power at 30 minutes or more, can provide insights. 
  • A substantial gap might indicate a lower under LT1, suggesting a higher likelihood of peripheral limitations.

Common testing mistakes

49:14 -

  • It's crucial to ensure that the data remains consistent and reliable. I've encountered cases where individuals excel in shorter tests, such as vigorous five-minute hill climbs on the road, but lack the ability to sustain power for longer durations, such as a 20-minute climb. 
  • Consequently, their power for the extended test may inaccurately appear much lower than their performance in the shorter test. 
  • This could lead to a misguided interpretation that they are more peripherally limited when, in fact, that might not be the case.
  • Maintaining a consistent testing environment, especially regarding the data input into the model, is paramount. 
  • It ensures the results accurately reflect the athlete's capabilities across various durations. 
  • Additionally, when making implications about someone's athlete profile based on these results, it's essential not to make assumptions hastily. 
  • There's a risk of misinterpreting data and concluding that an athlete is fast or slow-twitch dominant, leading to potentially incorrect assumptions about the training that might be most effective for them.
  • Understanding the uncertainty in hypotheses is crucial. While you may have a working hypothesis about an athlete's characteristics or response to training, it's essential to acknowledge that it might not always be correct. 
  • Being attentive to observations that could disprove the hypothesis is critical to refining and adjusting training plans for optimal results.

Practical tips for balancing training load

51:31 -

  • I've never enjoyed having more than three intensity days weekly in my coaching approach. 
  • While I might consider it in the future, currently, I find it beneficial to use double days strategically, especially for VO2 max and other intensity sessions. 
  • One example is having a client engage in a morning VO2 max session followed by an evening Zwift race.
  • I prefer to keep the total intensity days relatively low, usually less than three. More often than not, it's either one or two intensity days. 
  • For newer clients, I often start them with just one intensity day per week. 
  • This allows us to maximise the benefits of endurance riding, ensuring they get ample work done and then providing sufficient time for rest and recovery two days before their high-intensity session.
  • My philosophy revolves around ensuring that any intensity session, whether middle or high, is genuinely worthwhile. Rather than adhering to a vague notion of a specific number of intensity days, I prioritise freshness. 
  • I want my clients to approach these sessions with the ability to hit them hard, ensuring they achieve the desired adaptations. We stick to endurance rides if they're not in the optimal state.
  • I structure training blocks with a deliberate focus on manipulating the volume of work derived from endurance riding. 
  • I increase the volume during specific periods by riding more hours or incorporating harder efforts. 
  • In contrast, during other phases, I dial back on overall volume, balancing it with an increase in high-intensity days, occasionally incorporating double days for a comprehensive training approach.

Recovery periods

53:55 -

  • I usually incorporate at least two recovery days for individuals, spread across eight days rather than strictly within a week. For those with full-time commitments, the structure often involves three days of training followed by a recovery day, repeating the cycle. 
  • Additionally, I make it a point to grant a complete day off most weeks, recognising the mental benefits it brings.
  • I do not like the Andy Coggan model categorising training into discrete zones, particularly the clear boundary between recovery and training. Instead, I prefer a more nuanced approach. 
  • For instance, a 20-minute ride in mid-zone two might qualify as a recovery day, while six hours at a level just 10 Watts below zone two wouldn't. It's about acknowledging the spectrum.
  • In my training plans, I often prescribe what I like to call a "recovery ride," although I'm not fond of the term. These rides are deliberately kept short, lasting around 60 to 90 minutes. 
  • The goal is to keep it accessible, with a perceived exertion level of one out of ten. 
  • During recovery periods, which I typically schedule every three to six weeks, these low-intensity rides become a staple, allowing individuals to take it easy and facilitate recovery.
  • And I believe our cycling and endurance sports terminology can be confusing or misleading. 
  • The concept of zone one recovery, especially in a five or six-zone power system, doesn't sit well with me. 
  • I prefer to label zone one as easy endurance and zone two as steady endurance, but both are fundamentally about endurance. 
  • The differentiation serves as a specifier rather than implying a distinct recovery phase.
  • Being on the bike in zone one is still a training stimulus, albeit a light one. While it may be light enough to support recovery throughout the day, no evidence suggests that being on the bike facilitates faster recovery than simply resting in bed or on the couch. 
  • Opting for rest without physical activity might be more effective if the goal is genuine recovery.
  • Interestingly, some individuals feel less than optimal after a complete rest day. While not universal among my clients, I generally avoid prescribing full rest days right before demanding sessions. 
  • I lean towards incorporating a more extended warm-up following a rest day, which often addresses any post-rest day challenges.

Periodisation

57:27 -

  • While many tend to overemphasise the importance of intensity, I still acknowledge its significance in training. 
  • The fundamental principle I adhere to is progressing from more general to more specific as an athlete approaches their goal event. 
  • Focusing on gym work takes precedence in the initial phases, particularly after an off-season break. Weightlifting, being non-specific to cycling, is better suited for this period.
  • Moving forward, during the bulk of the training period, I prioritise enhancing an athlete's VO2max or addressing its peripheral limiters. 
  • This, in my view, contributes more to overall performance. Given a solid base, specific endurance can be improved relatively quickly in a month or two. 
  • Hence, I prefer allocating most of the training phase to address limiters that maximise threshold levels and extend the duration an athlete can sustain them.
  • I am cautious about excessive focus on middle-intensity work throughout the year. While it's crucial for specific endurance in certain muscle fibres, spending too much time here without an established framework for raising the threshold further can be counterproductive. 
  • Instead, I opt for building the capacity to enhance threshold levels in the future, primarily through VO2max work.
  • Peripheral adaptations that amplify threshold and VO2max can be achieved through increased volume, especially for athletes with time constraints. 
  • In cases where time is less restricted, middle-intensity work can be beneficial, but I prioritise riding closer to LT1 in the initial phases. 
  • It's a delicate balance, considering various factors, and I approach the decision of when to incorporate intensity with careful consideration.

VO2max training blocks

1:01:42 -

  • I've never seen anyone successfully sustain more than three weeks of consistent VO2 max efforts without incorporating sufficient rest. 
  • Quality is paramount in training, and pushing individuals into overreaching doesn't align with my coaching philosophy because I don't believe it brings substantial benefits. 
  • While some can manage three weeks, I find it perfectly acceptable if someone opts for a two-week approach.
  • In many cases, I prefer incorporating mixed blocks, combining medium intensity with VO2 max efforts simultaneously. 
  • I've observed positive outcomes for those who engage in only one weekly session, especially amid additional stressors like high volume, gym sessions, or weight loss goals. 
  • This approach seems to work exceptionally well with just one VO2 max session a week. However, it's important to note that when individuals attempt four or five weeks, the dynamics change, and the success often hinges on the frequency of the sessions, particularly when limited to one per week.

Aerodynamics

1:03:16 -

  • It depends on how someone values it, but what I often like to incorporate into training blocks, especially those close to LT1, is practising riding in the aero position. 
  • Riding at middle intensity provides an excellent opportunity for this. 
  • I frequently prescribe sessions where riders can focus on practising their aero breakaway position, even towards the end of a long ride when fatigue sets in. 
  • In a race scenario, riding in aero while fatigued is crucial, focusing on speed rather than going all out.
  • For more well-trained individuals, riding close to LT1 in the aero position helps identify what limits power output at higher intensities, more so than staying 100 to 100+ watts below it. I incorporate this approach frequently. 
  • However, I don't emphasise it as much in VO2 max workouts and only occasionally in threshold efforts. Sometimes, during a sweet spot session, I might suggest incorporating under-overs, but I also believe in a more ecological approach. 
  • For instance, I recommend efforts on the road with a specific average power, encouraging riders to explore how fast they can go within that power range. 
  • This helps riders understand whether they should push significantly above the average power, emphasising climbing speed, or stay slightly above, focusing more on aero efficiency.
  • In the context of winning solo in a breakaway towards the end of a race, speed becomes the determining factor, not just raw power output. 
  • I often highlight the importance of practising power placement and riding strategically to maximise speed. It's surprising how much more effective this approach is compared to maintaining steady power output, akin to riding in erg mode on Zwift. 
  • Mastering this skill requires practice, but it's a crucial aspect of race strategy.

Tips for time crunch athletes

1:06:30 -

  • When dealing with time constraints, it's often not just about the sheer hours available but managing overall stress. People with busy lives, balancing work, family, and commitments, might be limited by the total stress they can handle. 
  • It's not solely a matter of time commitment; it's about finding a balance that aligns with one's life.
  • I've noticed a common misconception among time-restricted individuals who think they must pack every workout with intensity. Sometimes, they even experiment with nutritional interventions that make them more tired. 
  • In my experience, suggesting a shift to more riding, incorporating less intensity, riding easier, and focusing on better fueling has yielded positive results.
  • One client, accustomed to 8-10 hours of intense riding weekly, found that riding more with reduced intensity improved his energy levels and positively impacted his personal life. 
  • Many individuals fall into the trap of pushing every ride to the limit, thinking it's the most effective way to train. 
  • However, this approach can be counterproductive, negatively affecting training effectiveness and personal life.
  • It's crucial to reassess the training approach. Rather than assuming that time constraints require constant intensity, consider whether maintaining or increasing training volume while reducing stress is viable. 
  • Sometimes, training less intensely, especially when the volume is limited, proves more sustainable. Riding closer to LT1 on endurance rides, with the assistance of a trainer, can help manage intensity effectively.
  • Moreover, being kind to oneself during stressful periods is essential. Life can throw unexpected challenges, and adjusting the training plan is okay. 
  • Moving a hard session to a less stressful day is a more sustainable approach than consistently pushing through workouts under unfavourable conditions. 
  • Finding a training routine that fits life's constraints and minimises stress is critical to long-term success.

General Questions

1:09:40 -

Topic Marinus is interested at the moment

  • Currently, I'm delving into heat training—exploring how to effectively periodise it, identifying complementary training modalities, and figuring out the best protocols. 
  • This is a personal interest and something I'm incorporating with some of my clients. 
  • I recently included heat training as part of my ride.
  • It might seem counterintuitive, considering no imminent hot-weather race is on the horizon. However, with some early-season races in Britain potentially being cold and wet, I find it essential to prepare for various conditions. 
  • The primary goals of heat training are to enhance haemoglobin mass and increase plasma volume, which, according to the current evidence, can improve performance even in temperate climates.
  • One aspect I'm navigating is the type of heat training I'm engaged in. Active heat training, like incorporating it into my rides, appears more effective than passive heat training, although it comes with added fatigue. 
  • Balancing this fatigue involves adjusting volume or intensity to ensure the overall training load remains manageable.
  • Another question that intrigues me is the timing of heat training. Is it more beneficial to integrate it concurrently with VO2max training for a synergistic response, or should it be strategically reserved closer to the peak performance phase as a final stimulus? 
  • The literature doesn't provide a clear answer, and it's an area where I'm eagerly awaiting more insights.

Advice to younger athletes and coaches

  • Two crucial lessons I've learned along my cycling journey are tied to nutrition and injury prevention. Initially, I underestimated the amount of food required to sustain the energy demands of cycling. 
  • Despite my increased activity, my appetite didn't always align with the heightened energy expenditure. This led to rapid weight loss, accompanied by health issues. Recognising the need for increased food intake when taking cycling seriously is essential.
  • The second lesson revolves around strength and conditioning training. I regret not incorporating it into my routine earlier. While there might not be direct performance gains for everyone, the health and robustness benefits are undeniable. 
  • Strength training can prevent injuries, ensuring consistent training over the long term.
  • Regarding injuries, my first cycling season was marred by patellofemoral pain that persisted throughout the racing season. This could have been mitigated with early intervention. 
  • The subsequent injuries were related to poor bike fit and footwear choices. 
  • Using cycling shoes that were too small led to stress fractures in my navicular bone and stress responses in the first and fifth metatarsals. Proper bike fit is paramount to preventing such issues.

Rapid-Fire Questions

1:15:05 -

What's your favourite book or resource related to endurance sports?

Fueling Endurance. The fantastic advice shared on the podcast has expanded my knowledge and empowered me to articulate nutrition concepts to my clients more effectively. It's a valuable resource.

What's an important habit you've benefited from athletically, professionally or personally?

Never accept information at face value. I always question and evaluate whether it aligns with my understanding and intuition. Scepticism has been a critical element in my approach.

Who's somebody that you look up to or that has inspired you?

My mom is someone I genuinely look up to and who has been a profound inspiration. Even after her passing in 2019, her legacy lives on. She maintained an active lifestyle, practising yoga and teaching it well into her 80s. Her fearless and outgoing nature, sometimes bordering on recklessness, encouraged me to pursue my passions. Despite having an academic path laid out, I followed my dreams of becoming a pro cyclist and establishing a coaching business. That rebellious attitude, I believe, has its roots in her influence.

LINKS AND RESOURCES:


Bernardo Gonçalves

Bernardo is a Portuguese elite cyclist and co-founder of SpeedEdge Performance, a company focused on optimising cycling and triathlon performance. He writes the shownotes for That Triathlon Show, and also produces social media content for each new episode.

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