The final wrap up to our 2023 build / season / year is the return of our Festive 5 Challenge!! A take on the well known ‘Rapha Festive 500’, but ours with a twist to ensure everyone can gain the most from the challenge, and make it applicable to you and your goals. Ultimately the purpose behind the challenge is to add a little focus and a training spike over the Xmas / New Year period when many tend to have time off work / extra time to train. Nothing like a challenge to keep (or even increase!) your consistency and compliance over the festive season!
THE INSIDE DETAILS:
Commences: Xmas Eve (eve!) – Saturday 23 December. An extra day this year thanks to the weekend…. ;-p Concludes: New Years Eve – Saturday 31st December (9 days inclusive) The Challenge: Complete YOUR challenge over the duration of the 9 festive days, as you see fit. Indoors or out. Pool or Open Water. On or off-road. You choose!
Here are some challenge options you could take on:
FESTIVE 500 RIDE CHALLENGE The Ultimate: Ride 500km over the 9 days. The Consistent: Ride 50km a day on 5 or more days The Half: Ride 250km over the 9 days The Conservative: Ride 50min/day over 5 or more days
FESTIVE 50 RUN CHALLENGE The Ultimate: Run/walk 50km over the 9 days The Consistent: Run/walk 5km/or 50min /day on 5 or more days The Half: Run/walk 25km over the 9 days
FESTIVE TRI CHALLENGE Swim/ride/run your way over the 9 days: The Ultimate: 500km riding, 50km running, 5km (or more) swimming over the 9 days The Consistent: 50km riding, 5km running, 500m swimming / day on 5 or more days The Half: 250km riding, 25km running, 2.5km (or more) swimming over the 9 days The Conservative: 50min riding, 50min of run/walk, 50min swimming on 5 or more days
Or any other alternative that works for you! (and why not make up a name and share with us?!)
Follow along: More details will be shared over the coming days and we’ll get the chatter started! FACEBOOK: All details, info, chatter and more will be shared in our FB group here STRAVA: If you are on strava, why not follow us online here
CONFIRM: If you are joining in, and what challenge you are up for, as I will program accordingly and provide some guidance on how to tackle the challenge based on your goals.
I’m not a massive fan of ERG Mode in Zwift (and other indoor training platforms). There. I’ve said it! “WHAT?!” I hear you say? “ERG mode is the best! You can just have it set and not have to think!” And right there is exactly one of my points…. Now let me explain…..
Pretty much every athlete these days has a smart trainer for indoor bike sessions. A smart trainer is the ability of the trainer to be able to ‘talk’ to your computer / device / app and be able to control the bike’s resistance without the ‘need’ for you to change gears.
It then goes to the next step of having the ability to ride using ‘ERG mode’. And ERG mode is a setting in many training platforms such as Zwift and TrainerRoad whereas it fixes your power output to a specific target power in a structured workout and then automatically adjusts your resistance to match your cadence. If you don’t have ERG mode on, then you essentially have to generate the power / effort yourself – like the ‘good old days’! ;-p
Power is essentially calculated by how hard you are pressing on the pedals (torque) by how fast you are turning the pedals (cadence). So ERG mode uses these two measures to ensure you hit your prescribed power.
So if your session asks you to hold say, 200watts, the trainers resistance will automatically increase if your cadence drops (ie it will feel harder). On the flip side, it will decrease if your cadence increases – all with the aim of holding that 200watts.
When this feature first came out, everyone loved it. Oh to be able to jump on the bike, hit ‘start’ and simply ride without thinking too much. But lets think about that a little. Your riding without thinking? Without giving much focus on what you are doing – your pedal stroke, how hard you are pushing, what that ‘feels’ like – as long as you are able to ‘keep up’.
Now this CAN be great – especially for those who struggle to pace their efforts and regulate their power. It can also help you work through multiple intervals without being able to ‘slacken off’, or push for those last seconds / minutes when you may have previously given up sooner, or weren’t able to hold the power – think of it like a treadmill. Set a pace on the treadmill – you can’t slow down unless you manually change it. ERG mode does the same.
By having the power fixed to a specific target, ERG mode allows you to target specific training adaptions – ie if you are wanting to train in your threshold zone, or working on your VO2, and great if you are after a recovery or endurance ride and not go into that grey tempo zone…. ERG mode will make sure you are hitting those specific zones to stimulate the adaptions you / your coach is looking for.
To a lot of athletes, this can be GREAT! And don’t get me wrong, it can be, BUT there are also many reasons why I don’t love ERG mode……
WHY WE DON’T LOVE ERG MODE
ERG Mode is set on a specific percentage / target of FTP. Instead of a range. So when an athlete is aiming to target say VO2, ERG mode will force you to hold one defined power number. But this is not THE only number, there’s a range you can be in and still hit your target. So if you are ‘stuck’ in ERG mode, you could actually be putting a cap / ceiling on your training effort. Not ideal!
Your FTP can change based on the training load you are in, how recovered you are, the amount of fatigue you are carrying, etc etc. So some days your FTP will feel/be spot on, and others it may feel too hard or too easy. So some days, if you are in ERG mode an effort might feel too hard, and on others, it might be too low. Those athletes who have used training platforms such as zwift for awhile and know and understand this can adjust their bias / difficulty to reflect this, but an unseasoned athlete might just blindly follow along without understanding and adjusting accordingly…. And therefore not training as effectively as they could be. OR over train….
ERG mode can turn into a downward spiral if you start to fatigue / are fatigued and cadence drops below that comfortable range. The resistance will increase – like someone is tightening the screws, and this increases the feel of the effort for the same power. If you still can’t hold it, resistance continues to increase and your cadence will continue to drop . If you kept persisting, you may eventually not be able to turn the pedals! (for anyone who has done a ramp test on Zwift you will know what I mean!) ;-p This isn’t a space where you want to get to in a training session and should be avoided at all costs.
ERG mode has a ‘lag’ in the changes to your power targets. So if you doing a workout that calls for short sprint efforts, it can be an issue as it takes a few moments to bring the power up, and then the other end, takes a few moments to drop the power when your interval finishes! It will also mean short sprints won’t give the ‘feel’ of a true sprint – ie that big power spike as you take off, then the drop to the power you can maintain for the remainder of the sprint.. Not really gaining the biggest bang for your buck.
Athletes can get a little lazy and not even change gears on their bike while using ERG mode. Some could see this as a benefit, I certainly don’t! While we are using the trainer to increase our fitness and performance, we should still try and replicate the outdoors as much as possible – and this includes changing your gears. So if you’re not, then make sure you start.
I have also seen athletes who use ERG mode too much, loose their ability to be able to gauge their effort and pacing, being able to control power output with the appropriate gear selection and most efficient cadence and having the mental resilience to be able to push hard ‘on their own’ without being ‘forced’ to by ERG mode… Not ideal when you take your training and racing out on the road !
Depending on the session, the effort, and how you are feeling, sometimes ERG mode efforts can feel ‘artificial’. A way I describe this to my athletes is, it feels like your trainer/device is generating the power for you, and you don’t feel in control of the power yourself. You might be hitting the targets and the power and cadence but it just doesn’t feel like ‘real life’ riding. As if your fighting against the trainer a little to get the outcome, rather than being on top of it and riding smooth with great technique at the effort required. If you do this too often, bad habits can form…
I will often have athletes who love ERG mode, start with it on, but then during the session switch it off, and quite often they are actually able to push the same or MORE power with LESS effort. Go figure! And this comes back to that feel. When you generate the power yourself, you are nearly always going to get a much better feel than if you are pushing against the push/pull effort of ERG mode.
So – as much as there are some great aspects of using ERG mode and it certainly has a place in indoor training, I make sure my athletes aren’t using it ALL the time. I coach them to be able to know when it’s right / a good time to use it, when they may need to scale their bias/effort, or when they should switch it off and push the effort themselves.
SO – if you are using ERG mode often, I encourage you to switch it off every now and then, even within a session if you have repeat intervals, do one with ERG mode on, one with ERG mode off and see / feel the difference. Which one ‘feels’ more real life? And which one feels more artificially generated? And always go with the real life feel – even if it means your power is slightly lower….
The month of May this year saw the majority of our team embark on a challenge of their choosing. A chance to set a goal motivating for them. They were then tasked with the challenge to fulfill that, whatever it may be. But the aim was to set the goal, have a reason behind the goal and find the discipline and determination to work towards that goal, even when they may not have been ‘motivated’. You can read more on the challenge and what was involved here.
And the results were amazing and awesome to witness ! We had such a variety of challenges chosen, which just reminded me of the variety of individuals coached within our group. Some of the challenges chosen included:
‘Run every day in May’ – we had a few take on this challenge!
Walk every day in May
Swim every day in May
Eat 2 x pieces of fruit a day
Drink 2litres of water a day
Activations prior to each training session
Complete S&C each day / each week (aiming to solidify this habit!)
Daily cold shower / cryotherapy brrrr !
Consistency challenge, of training every day
And so many more!
There was hundreds of kms and hours (literally!) dedicated in May for this challenge, all aimed at forming a new habit, or breaking an old one.. Sparking personal growth, building mental resilience or simply trying something new. A great challenge to take on alongside their other training when most of these athletes are in their off season or base season.
Some added bonuses that came out of our challenge included:
Sense of self satisfaction and achievement
Body fat loss. (bonus!)
New healthy habits formed
One athlete even stated “it did wonders for my body, but more importantly for my mental health“… can’t get much better than that !
As a Coach, this challenge reiterated the importance of community, of belonging, of taking ownership, of pushing oneself…
And as an athlete myself, what did I learn of my challenge? I will always join in challenges with my crew as I feel like it’s important to feel and understand what they are going through, the challenges they may face – the same with training. I complete many of the training sessions I prescribe because then as a Coach and an athlete myself, I know what that session will feel like…
So for me, I took on the challenge of running every day in May, plus adding at least 10min a day as ‘me’ time (something I find hard to do!), as well as daily cryotherapy. Either hot/cold shower or cold plunge every day. Oomph – a hard one in cold weather! But man did I see the benefits! These were not only invigorating, but I felt I slept better when I did this before bed – especially during the luteal phase of my cycle when a females core body temperature increases – try it ladies! Plus not to mention research into the many other benefits.. Read more here.
The run portion of my challenge – although was the most time consuming and physically demanding of my 3 goals, it was actually the easiest in a sense. And I find that many athletes are the same. As we love to train. We love to push our bodies and we love a challenge. But something like taking 10min out of your day to simply sit and be – oh how much harder that can be for many! (more on that…) Personally I decided to include the run challenge as I’d had a love/hate relationship with running for a few months – probably longer. I just didn’t feel in flow, and just generally felt clunky. Mainly due to my lack of consistency. (so surprise surprise!). So nothing like a run challenge to up the consistency and boy has it made a difference !
The first week I was off to a slow but good start. It wasn’t a chore and I enjoyed having a goal as my motivation. Nice consistent week to begin. Week two felt much of the same, but I could feel it becoming easier, I was getting faster for the same effort. Into week three and I had some on and off days. One day I felt light as a feather, running faster and at ease than I’d felt in some time, then two days later I was day 1 of my cycle and felt heavy and as slow as a slug. A reminder to athletes that not every day you will feel amazing! And female hormone changes throughout the month can play a part in this.. Into the last week and I backed it off a little, I’d been doing 50km weeks along with my other training, with the longest run being an hour-ish. But leading into the last week we had a 24km ‘Pub to Pub’ Run – where a group of local runners would run from one town pub to the next town pub. I knew I hadn’t trained for the distance, but I was banking on the run kms in my legs carrying me through and that they did! I felt awesome the whole run and finished feeling strong, in control and ticking along at a nice pace! So another reminder to athletes that you don’t have to train for a specific distance to be able to do the specific distance well. If you have consistency and that general base fitness, you look after your body and recover well, you will be able to complete a challenge over and above what you have been training for. So don’t ever be too scared to take on a challenge ! But in saying that, my legs pulled up rubbish after this run! I could barely walk! lol So even though I managed the run well, my muscles definitely weren’t ultra conditioned for it, so I hobbled through the last 3 days of the challenge completing run/walk recovery runs. Job done though! ;-p
Onto the 10min of daily ‘me’ time. Call it mindfulness time if you wish. It was time where I could just take 10min to myself – that DIDN’T include using a device! I used a variety of options over the month including reading a book, sitting in the sun eating my lunch, taking a small walk, having a bath, sitting on the river after a run and just listening, feeling and being in the moment. Honestly, I really enjoyed this small amount of time each day of simply just being present. BUT at the same time I really found it a challenge to make it a priority. For someone who is naturally a ‘giver’ I found it tough to take back and give to myself. Note to self, must continue with this and continue to make it a priority!….
Moral of the story – consistency is ALWYAS key. It doesn’t have to be every day. But stay consistent in your approach and it will get easier, you will improve and you will reap the rewards… The whole idea for implementing the Motivate in May Challenge for our crew was to first motivate them into action, but then showing them that it is the discipline and the commitment to the goal that will carry you through to the end.
And I am pleased to say, our whole team did such an amazing job, physically, mentally and emotionally reaping the benefits that will carry them through into the coming season. So we are already one step ahead!
Until our next challenge….. 🙂
Here’s a little snippet of the fun everyone got up to !
Choose your challenge. Make a habit. Or break one. Spark personal growth Build mental resilience. Or try something new. Motivate in May is for you!
If you are off the back of a long season (regardless if you raced or not), or embarking on a new season / training program, then this is the perfect time to lay the ground work for your best 2023/2024 performances. It can be easy to lose the rhythm of training as it gets colder and darker outside. Or you may be without a key race to inspire you to jump out of bed in the morning… SO I INVITE YOU – join us in a challenge to help continue to build your physical resilience and positive daily habits.
NO ONE is immune to the allure of wanting to stay in bed on a cold, dark, early morning. That’s where accountability matters. And that’s where our CPC community will join together, encourage each other, share your daily ‘wins’, – and maybe even your struggles! Set yourself up NOW – and your winter / base preparation will set you up for the weeks and months to come….
This challenge falls in line with our learnings of setting goals (in this instance a challenge) and defining your why, so we can measure our success (read more here). Our May challenge involves you choosing a goal (challenge) to complete over/during the 31 days of May.
Swim /Run/Ride 25/50/75/100k in May Train every day in May Strength / Mobility / Pilates/ Yoga Challenge in May Try a new way in May (ie commit to finding a new training route week/each session) Try something new in May (ie a new gym, a new exercise/sport/hobby) Zwift route challenge in May
The ideas are limitless, the benefits endless !
You want to make it specific (and challenging) for you. Something to drive you in May, and encourage you to make (or break) a habit, spark personal growth, build mental resilience, or simply try something new!
So get thinking, get creative, have a WHY and share with our CPC Community. Nothing like sharing your goals to stay accountable !
CHOOSE your goal | CHALLENGE yourself | SHARE your wins | EARN points | and WIN !
POINTS & PRIZES
EARN POINTS 10 points for joining the challenge 15 points for sharing your challenge 5 points for each social tag & share 20 points for completing your challenge BONUS points awarded each week
PRIZES UP FOR GRABS! CPC Socks CPC Trucker Caps Movie Voucher Book Voucher Surprize prizes!
This time of the year for many athletes is the perfect time for reviewing your past season, setting new goals, but most importantly defining what success is to you. Then building a framework to measure your success. In sport (well in life really!) the performance journey goes well beyond simple concepts of becoming faster, stronger, finishing or winning… Results are important. However, a broader perspective provides a healthier and more productive framework to measure success over the long term. And that’s where an athletes WHY comes into it….
Most athletes start their goal setting process with a goal. It makes sense right? ! Set a goal, and lay out the stepping stones to help you achieve that goal….
But what if I got you to look at goals from a different perspective? What if I said, without a WHY your GOAL won’t be able to determine your success? What if I got you to first determine your WHY before you set your GOAL and in return then determine your SUCCESS? How do you think this would differ?
Here’s an example. An athlete set a goal of breaking 5hrs in their next Half Ironman. They loved the idea of going ‘sub 5’! Their previous best was 5:30hrs. They laid out the steps they thought they needed to get there, they trained hard, their family / training / life balance was a bit out of whack, they were managing a little niggle, but they had a goal so stuck to the plan….. Come race day they finished in 5:10hrs. 10min off their goal time. What feelings do you think they had? Disappointed in their result? Because they didn’t hit their goal time…. DESPITE still hitting a 20min PB!
But what if that same athlete was asked the question – what is your WHY ? Why do you want to do a sub 5hr? Why do you train hard, and push yourself and why do you race? After some thought, the athlete wrote down a few things such as: to inspire my children to work hard, to not give up on a goal, to be a better version of myself at work and at home for my family. Their WHY was far more than simply hitting a 5hr time barrier. This doesn’t mean they couldn’t aim for both. Of course they could. But their WHY is what is deep, it gives purpose and means much more than a time on a clock…… That WHY is what should also help drive you – not the goal itself…. Read on >>
A WHY is a statement of purpose that describes why you do what you do and why you live the lifestyle you do. A GOAL is the object of ones ambition or effort; an aim or a desired result. SUCCESS is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
Success cannot thrive without a goal (aim) and a goal cannot thrive without a why (purpose). So when setting a goal, to determine your success of achieving your goal, you want to know the WHY behind it.
Why do you want to achieve X? Why do you push your body to train every day? Why do you do triathlon / cycling / running?
“Your WHY is what will set you apart. It will help inspire you to take action. It will also drive you in your training and your racing.”
So as you sit and ponder your WHY, here are some action steps on helping you to determine your WHY:
1. The first step is to ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. This could be related to your sport. Ie I want to complete an Ironman, or, I want to qualify for a World Championships, or I want to have a balance in life and training etc….
2. When you determine what this/ these are, the next and most important step is to ask yourself … WHY do I want to do / achieve this?
Now, there are some key things to remember when developing your WHY.
Your WHY should be powerful: When setbacks or obstacles (such as an injury or a bad race) arise, use your WHY because it is powerful enough to overcome the setback/obstacle.
Your WHY should be deep: Having a shallow why can be easily broken. (ie I train because I enjoy it) Instead, you should focus on a deeper meaning. (ie I train because it helps my mental health and makes me happier)
Your WHY should be intrinsic: Don’t base your WHY on extrinsic factors (ie I want to do an Ironman because my best mate is) instead look inside and feel your WHY (I want to do an Ironman because I want to test my own physical capabilities)
Developing a WHY is the best way to ensure you are avoiding setbacks and continually making progress towards your goals. AND the best way to then measure your success – which I will touch on in my next instalment….
So I encourage you firstly to take some time to write down your GOALS AND YOUR WHY. Remember to make them powerful, deep, and intrinsic. And you need to write them down. Not just have them in your head. Find some paper and write (or type) it out and have it where you can see it. In your phone, beside your bed, on the fridge… Somewhere you can visit them regularly. And if your why truly means something to you, then you will find a way to make your goals happen and you will more likely lead to a happier success…..
The coaching philosophy at CPC was born out of the desire and passion to not just coach, but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal per4mance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life…
Coach Sarah recounts a recent forced reflection and sets a reminder for athletes to take stock, and reflect, particularly if you are towards the end of a long season / training block…. But even if you are not, and you feel like things ‘just aren’t quite right’ – then this is your little reminder to look a little deeper to ensure you are performing AND living to your optimum.
I woke up on the weekend like a truck had hit me. I couldn’t move out of bed, I had this overwhelming sense of pure exhaustion that was over me and a thumping headache. So I slept. And laid about. Literally all day. I moved from bed to the couch, slept a bit more there, had a dip in the pool in the hope it would wake me up. Which it did, for a tiny bit, the exhaustion did lift though, it just hid it for a wee bit… So I filled up the bath soaked in a magnesium for 2hrs! I made myself go out for a walk for some fresh air in the evening. Not for exercise, more for mental health – there’s nothing worse than feeling cooped up inside all day. I often include walks for recovery. This was far from that. I felt like an old woman. Moving slowly. Unsteady. No energy. Having to take breaks along the way – and that was just around the block!
But I made it back home, had some nourishing chicken broth soup and was tucked in bed by 8:30pm. Wow. I have not had a day like that in forever! But I wasn’t going to fight it, not this time. I couldn’t even if I wanted to ! And so as I was laying in bed last night, a heavy cloud of exhaustion over me I was wondering – where has this come from? Why was I perfectly fine yesterday and then down like a sack of potatoes today? Admittedly I have been feeling a little flat of late, just not having the spark I normally do. And although competing sessions everyday, they weren’t feeling as good as they should. And it was playing with my mind. Had my motivation waned? Did I not want race anymore?… And then it dawned on me. I donated blood the day before. That in itself can create some exhaustion as they take around ~500ml of blood. For an averaged size person that’s around 8% of your blood volume, but for me, it’s around 12%. And there’s a reason for this story..
When I was doing the blood pressure and HR check before donating, the lady asked – is your HR and BP normally so low? (HR was 40, and I silently kicked myself for not doing a few star jumps before I walked in!) ;-p And so I explained to her (like some of you when docs see your low resting HR) ;-p ) that I train and race and so yes it is normally low. So we got past that and then she did the haemoglobin finger prick test and she again said, hmmm is your haemoglobin normally so low? I was below the range they allow for donating – so essentially far from optimal. And so I thought back when I had my last blood tests done with my Dr, and I couldn’t remember when that was. Definitely over 12mths ago! She did say they can do a more accurate test to check it again so that I could still donate though. So we did that and it was just above the minimum marker – JUST! So I went through the process and did my bit. Looking back – I should have put my own health first – but there is a theme here….
So why do I share this? Well, looking back on how I had been feeling in general, the wall I hit yesterday after donating blood and I realise I hadn’t been looking after myself as well as I could have over the past few months. And for someone that has a history of low Iron, to not have had regular bloods done recently I was kicking myself. I was in my groove and didn’t think about it. I needed an outsider to point it out!
I’ve been running the tank dry. Trying to do all the things and forgetting about number one. And number one is ALWAYS YOU. Not just for performance and training, but for health and vitality. I’ve been trying to be all the things – the parent that helps at the kinder, the mum who catches up with the other school mums, the mother taking kids to all the sports, and making the fancy lunch boxes, the the wife trying to cook everything from scratch. All while working and training… And as we know, it we burn the candles for too long, or we burn them from both ends, without a rest/reset then eventually they will dim. And Mine didn’t just dim, it went out !
And so I’ve had to remind myself – that I can DO ANYTHING, but not EVERYTHING. And so some self care is coming my way this week, that massage I’d been meaning to book but just hadn’t made the time for – that’s happening this week.
Those bloods that I should have had tested 6mths ago, and checking in with my naturopath will be done this week to get me back to my optimum. And I’ll be saying no when I and if I need to…..
Only then will I be able to find my equilibrium again and feel like my cup is full, my candle burning bright and back to my healthy and vibrate self again!
SO – this is YOUR reminder. Take stock and check in with yourself – BEFORE it’s too late… How ARE you doing? We train, race and compete for the love, because we are able to, reach our lofty goals – but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of our health…. So next time we chat – I’ll ask again, how are YOU doing….
And if this resinated with you, get on the front foot and book in a chat with your coach or health professional to ensure you are performing AND living to your optimum. 🙂