Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I typically remain quiet on gender issues. My experience has taught me that speaking out isn't generally a great idea. However, the whole issue comes down to harassment.
I think the creation of a group for women to chat is an excellent idea. It isn't so much about the exclusion of men (while that can prove to be a benefit on some occasions) but rather the inclusion of more women. And don't think for a second that I don't believe men and women have some similar issues when it comes to sport, but there are some situations that need a different audience - an audience that isn't critical because they really can't understand/can't see it/don't believe it.
For example - if I post about my period or and IUD, or tampons, pads, or the diva cup, in a gender neutral group, I'm likely to take some flaming and get told to take that down because it's inappropriate for that group. Yet, we're still cyclists. And we're still faced with issues relating to that time of the month. So when something comes up and we (the women) are looking for some advice on something related to being a girl, a post leads to some serious criticism. "But that's wrong, and the people criticizing the women should be told it's wrong," you say. True. But who is going to do that? In the meantime, women are shamed for having the guts to post in an open forum. And no one shames the arsehole that shames us. Forcing women to leave the cycling community. It's embarrassing to be told that your conversation is gross, inappropriate, or otherwise shamed,
So let's talk about the time I had to change bike shops because a very well respected mechanic was hitting on me. I mean REALLY hitting on me... Rather than burn bridges, I started frequenting somewhere else. "You should have done something about it! Told the manager!" you say? Right. Have you ever read the news? See what happens to the woman involved? She gets torn to pieces... "She asked for it." "She should know that kind of thing happens in cycling." And then it gets worse. See, taking a stand creates more issues and harassment than it solves. There's this victim shaming attitude that pervades any harassment issue that goes public.
How about the time I wanted to ask someone about some pretty specific saddle sores in a pretty specific location? I'm not describing my junk or the location of the saddle sore in an open forum. Especially at the risk of posting such a description in front of a perv who will take it as an invitation to start a private conversation that is unwanted.
How about when your body fat has dropped so low that 1) people tell you to eat more and you can't possibly be healthy, 2) you can feel every single bump, lump and knot in your breast tissue, 3) you have to start bone scans because your doctor worries if you're healthy enough for strong bones, 4) you don't know anymore if you're healthy or not?
How about the time that I was having problems with my period and wanted to talk to other women about it? I'm not posting that in an open forum where people can offer advice without ever having had the equipment to really understand.
How about the time I went to ride in a group ride as a beginner and couldn't keep up.
Shall we chat about the lack of women's jerseys in the game we were discussing, the fact that there really isn't a well developed pro women's cycling circuit (or a women's Tour de France), or that some coaches still don't see much of a difference between female cyclists and "long legged sluts?" (Seriously - google that one)
If I want to really vent about how some dude was a real jerk to me, I want to hear other like minds' opinions on the matter. Not "that's how cycling is, get used to it!"
Shall we discuss the number of pros (men vs women) at the Ironman World Champs? "Oh but look at the demographics!" You say. "They don't support equal numbers of men vs women..." Let's talk about creating the atmosphere to encourage equality, rather than keeping a certain gender limited... (Why the hell would women need to vote??? They must be crazy.)
Understand, I'm not trying to change a culture. I simply want to connect with people who have similar issues - physically AND socially. I don't want to hear "get used to it" with no real solution. I want a plan to handle it, or some empathy when nothing should/can be done.... I want to know how OTHER women have handled the situation - not given advice by people who really don't understand the true social/professional cost to the woman of handling said situation. And most of those who can understand just happen to be female.
See, speaking out about harassment or perceived inequalities garners a serious negative response. And frequently the whistle blower faces consequences. Don't believe me? Google it. Or just wait for the comments to start coming in on this post. One of the other things is that this post is based on my experiences. Which brings up the most crucial point of this post. You might be surprised how rapidly people will disqualify your actual experiences based on their opinion. But you can't change the past, so your experience simply doesn't matter and doesn't count toward the actual issue being discussed.
Bottom line? Harassment toward women exists in the sports culture no matter how long it's been since Suffrage, Title IX or since the first woman snuck into the Boston Marathon. If you want to see more women in the ranks, you need a place where the more experienced female cyclists can help mentor newer women, and give them tips on how to maneuver a tricky social situation. You need them to have "refuge" in a way that they can respect the opinions of those who have been there before, not given the opinions of those that don't want to believe problems still exist. Want more women in the sport? Give them a place they can blossom rather than a place they remain silent. Give them the start of confidence, and courage, and enable them to further develop those traits in a atmosphere where they can thrive. Give them the best of both worlds.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
The device is simple. It's essentially built into a heart rate monitor. The Pioneer fits on the garmin premium soft strap, and... done. Set your weight in the app (which has come out since my last post) and go run.
I'm not going to get into the workings, mostly because dammit I'm a firefighter, Jim, not a computer programmer.
So far the device works VERY well on pavement. And the potential is huge. But as I get more used to the device, there are some things that need development to really access the potential the device has.
I've been told the device stores data, and also has the potential to measure run metrics like the new garmin run heart rate monitor does. Right now, accessing that data is pretty limited, and unfortunately if you have to choose between the garmin hrm run and the stryd, you're missing out on a dataset that the other doesn't provide. The Stryd has also not been set up to be used on a treadmill. Which is somewhat frustrating, as the device was originally supposed to clip on and be used separate from the heart rate monitor that WOULD provide that data. Add that to the data recording side where you can record in run mode without power, or cycling mode without run metrics.... But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Let's talk about run zones. Can you tell me how to set them? No? Me either. Basically, no one knows anything about how to set run zones. As with cycling, when power came to the sport, it took a long time to figure out just how to apply it. That's were we're at. BUT... Here's the thing.... Using the protocol developed by Stryd, I was able to set my threshold at 240 watts. Taking it out and playing with it resulted in an endurance pace between 190 and 210, and a tempo pace of 210-230. Recovery falls below 190. So there are clearly some defined zones. After three weeks with the Stryd, I've tweaked the zones for the following:
Z1 (recovery) < 82%
Z2 (endurance) 82% - 88%
Z3 (tempo) 89 - 95%
Z4 (threshold) 96% - 104%
Z5 (anaerobic) >104%
Definitely not the same as in cycling. Which, when you think about it, makes a ton of sense because in cycling, you're using a mechanical advantage with a fixed method of reading power (torque on a chain or a pedal). In running, you're using the data from an accelerometer. You're having to read data as it is interpreted from movement rather than as torque. Problem? Not really. As long as you always run on the same surface.
So when discussing power, you're talking about the force used to push a body through space. Force production rather than force absorption. Which - for where I want to go with this post, I will have to come back to. In the meantime, when you run on sand, on soft surfaces, where the absorption of force is higher, your power tends to read a bit lower. Which tends to mess with consistency a bit. So while it may take you 280 watts to push your feet out of sand, the fancy accelerometer that you've attached to your chest may interpret the data as 220 watts.
See the problem?
Since I'm a pavement runner (not a fan of cactus lined trails) this really doesn't affect me much but it is something that will need to be addressed in the future. Personally, I suspect you could do the critical power protocol from Stryd to figure out profiles for different surfaces, then apply that offset to the power later. For now, you might have to figure that out manually, and set different profiles in Training Peaks.
What's that you say? Different profiles in Training Peaks? Yep!
Training Peaks has the ability to set different power profiles in the software that you can apply to different activities. I've set power zones on my own account for running, and it appears that once the data is safely nestled in the arms of training peaks software, the training stress score is calculated based on power... The way it is in cycling. HOWEVER.... This is when we get to the really frustrating part. Garmin hasn't seen fit to enable power recording in run mode using their watches. So you have to run in cycling mode, then update the run after you've uploaded to whatever software you're using. This is infinitely frustrating because it requires a great deal of babysitting the data. So if anyone at Garmin is reading this, this is something that needs to be addressed. Immediately. In respect to other methods of recording data - I've paired the device with Maximum Trainer, and attempted to pair it with Zwift - both had differing levels of success. It all comes down to that little ability to predict distance on a treadmill. (Which I'm told the ability to predict distance is coming).
Trust me, I totally get it. I'm using first of it's kind technology and getting frustrated when it isn't supported by companies that stand to make a profit in conjunction with it... But when something this potentially ground breaking comes out, you better believe that if someone wants to use a power meter when they run, then you better have that channel open to recording. ASAP.... (To be honest, if I were someone of any importance at Garmin, I'd be hanging over Stryd's shoulders, waiting for it to be released... "Is it ready yet, is it ready yet, is it ready yet? It is? RELEASE THE FIRMWARE UPDATE!!!")
To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure why Garmin has to only have a single mode that uses multiple sports for that mode. If you could record on all channels during a single workout, those of us with high maintenance tendencies could create the laps later based on gps and data recorded. A true "Multisport" mode that records all the data, all the time, based on what data to expect, I can set up laps later and determine what is a swim, bike, run, or transition after the fact. Meaning, I can record power in that mode during any segment I want.... Problem solved.
As a runner that crossed over to triathlon, statistically, my bike has predicted a slower run, or my run predicts a faster bike... (Either way I need to spend more time on the bike...) Now, for the first time, we can see the links between power on the bike and power on the run - something we have previously had no real way of measuring against each other. "What about heart rate" you ask? Well, about that... There is at least one small study that indicates that when pure cyclists run, their max heart rates are identical to what they can produce on the bike. Ask any triathlete what their heart rate max is, and they'll ask if you want to know bike or run. While the study I just mentioned suggested that the ability to push heart rate to insane levels comes down to muscle fiber recruitment, obviously, we're looking at different scales here. Ever try getting your heart rate to match on a treadmill vs outdoors for the same pace? Not happening. So, for the very first time we have a metric that is uninfluenced by outside (pun intended, lol) factors where we can really get into the brass tacks on how bike power and run power are linked. Forget power - we can start to see how run ability/potential and bike ability/potential are linked. For the very first time. And did I mention - we can finally see the links for the first time? So if I follow the data, the difference between my bike threshold and my run threshold is about 20%... I came over from running and can definitely speed up on the bike. If a pure cyclist has a difference of 0%, then I suspect the well balanced, fast triathletes are at a difference of 5-15%. It seems that to propel a body forward on a bicycle through space would take less power than to propel a body upward and forward with no mechanical advantage. The study linking heart rate and muscle fiber recruitment might be the key to finding balance - are cyclists only able to recruit muscle fibers for running that they use while cycling, or are runners not able to recruit their entire leg when they get on the bike? I suspect the answer lies in the middle somewhere. Say around 5-15%?
So let's go back to force produced vs force absorbed. I'd heard someone say that if power came down at the same pace under similar conditions, that meant form had improved. The more I ran, the more I thought about that - and the more I'm convinced that may not be the case. I get the impression that producing less force at the same pace might actually mean better muscle efficiency - but not necessarily form. I think a better measure might be force absorbed.
See - as coaches, we tell our runners to quicken their cadence with the idea that with faster cadence comes shorter strides and less force absorbed - with the endpoint being minimizing force absorbed by the runner, because all that shock absorbed just wears those poor little runner legs out. With better form, we assume that people get faster. And as you get stronger at a faster cadence, your strides lengthen again because you can hurl your body through space faster.
But no one is measuring how much force is absorbed by the body.
Now that we have a device that measures force produced, it seems that the other side of the equal sign would be force absorbed. If you can measure that with some degree of accuracy in runners across the spectrum, you'd probably get a better picture of runners across all terrains, all surface types. Obviously force absorption increases when running downhill if you lean back into the run, but lean forward, and force absorption decreases...
Meaning - you can use force absorbed in combination with force produced to determine how hard a runner is working to move through space. The bottom line is now that we can measure power with some degree of accuracy, I think we're missing a significant part of the picture.
Ultimately - here's my view on the Stryd Pioneer. The device is a bad ass little piece of technology that is going to reshape run coaching as we know it. It's going to reshape everything. We're going to get a better picture of how run power is linked to cycling power - whether you come from running or cycling - and we're going to be able to use that to tune our athletes and ourselves better with regard to which sport needs more work. We're going to be able to look at run form in a new light. We are going to train differently, look at the data differently, and we are going to be able to achieve because we can apply the same principle to different data with better results. I'm very excited that the Stryd Pioneer is out, and I'm even more excited to see where the industry goes with it. I believe that run power is going to reshape the industry the way cycling power did. So when Garmin enables power in run mode, and Stryd enables the device to do run metrics and to measure distance on a treadmill, I think the device is going to be a game changer.
For myself - I'm excited to be using the device. As my power profile fills out, it's telling a very interesting picture. Now we just need the software/firmware support on the end user side to support it as thoroughly as bike power is supported.
Friday, September 18, 2015
My stryd device came in the mail today and I immediately connected it, laced up and went out for a stupid hot and uncomfortable 4 mile run.
So, let's start with the basics. My power was INSANELY high compared to what I was expecting to see. Come to find out there's a preset weight. Basically, there's an average weight built in to the device that allows it to calculate expected power from a couple of complicated algorithms. You can't change the preset weight without the app, and the app isn't in the app store yet.
So, is the offset linear, curved or exponential? No clue. But rather than making the device useless, it just means you have to view the data a bit differently. Remember when virtual power first came out and everyone was all cranky about how virtual power was wrong, it didn't match, it was useless because it was wrong.....
Here's the bottom line - it doesn't matter what the numbers say - you just need the right decoder ring.
When I finally went after an actual power meter, I found out that virtual power was 30 watts higher that actual power. No biggie. Did the training change? Nope. Did my effort level change? Not a bit. What did change was the scale. Same situation (I believe) here. Data is still valid and can be used for training. Just don't say that you can push 500 watts for a 15 mile run if you're 120 lbs dripping wet unless you've qualified for the olympics.
Now that we've gotten the negative out of the way, let's move on with the positive.
Power is going to overhaul running. It's going to revolutionize coaching runners. (And coaches, you better get one and get familiar with it, because it's more affordable than power meters for cycling - and will easily be within financial reach of those willing to hire a coach to get to the next level.)
We can now look at a run and instead of seeing heart rate climb and pace drop off and wonder "Is it over training, fatigue, or a strong south wind?" exactly the same way that we can see the effect of a headwind when on the bike. Finally we have a method that is "absolute." That is, power doesn't change because you had 3 monsters before you went out for a run (I really hope that's a short run...) Power doesn't change because you didn't sleep well last night. Your ability to produce power will, but not the actual numbers themselves. Heart rate lag and the associated susceptibility to countless factors (caffeine, hydration, nap status...) makes pacing by heart rate frustrating when you live and train in
And to be completely honest, I'm looking forward most to the power profiling. The same way we profile cyclists according to their bike power. One study I read recently posited that pure cyclists do not have a different max heart rate on the bike vs the run, and related this to the ability for a cyclist to recruit more muscle fibers when on the bike than runners can. As most of the triathlon industry isn't made up of pure cyclists, we've been writing zones differently for cycling and running for years. Now we really get to see the differences.
NOW we get to really start seeing potential vs ability - especially when looking at power across both sports.
My n+1 is that I'm a runner who crossed to
Run form anyone? Maybe this will finally make the foot strike/form debate subside when power data starts getting compiled from all the heel strikers, pose runners, barefoot (not-in-scorpion-country-thankyouverymuch), and countless others.
The device is slightly larger than the garmin hrm. And fortunately, it fits the new garmin strap. This is important because garmin used to use the type of strap that came with the stryd - the same strap that left me with the post-long-run-shower-scream. You know - the OMFGTHATCHAFINGHURTSIMNEVERRUNNINGAGAINIHAVENOSKINLEFTTHEREFROMMYHRM scream? So, major plus that I can use my premium hrm strap with the device.
To tell the truth - I'm really wanting to wait for a full review until the weight issue gets resolved (I'm told I should be able to at some point this weekend) and I plan to try and pair the stryd device with my favorite indoor cycling programs - to make the unavoidable dreadmill run a bit more interesting.
I am incredibly excited about this - I honestly believe that this is going to be one of the most informative times for runners and coaches since 220-your age was developed in the 1930's and 40's by someone with no sports physiology background at all based on olympic athletes. (Leaving out the majority of the demographics represented in the sport in 2015, much less 1950's onward...)
So... Stryd on... And I'll be back with more next week.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
I'm not really sure where to begin.
|IWBMATTKYT - if you don't know.....|
Several years ago I started incorporating Sufferfest videos into my training regimen. At some point I noticed early on that there was a challenge. Complete 10 videos, back to back, and achieve Knighthood. If anyone reading this has ever done a Sufferfest video, coupled with the Trainerroad workout, you'll know that this idea lies squarely between insane, stupid, inspiring and determined. Maybe a little bit of all four...
Either way, the idea rested on my bucket list between "maybe someday" and "man, I'd really like to accomplish that."
About a week ago, in a conversation on facebook, another cyclist posted that he was going to make an attempt to century on Zwift - an online game and gaming community for cyclists forced indoors for one reason or another (okay, cyclists that are addicted to the game). The conversation that ensued convinced him to make a bid for Knighthood. I decided that it was time for me to cross it off the bucket list as well.
Two days ago, I got up at stupid o'clock in the morning, and got on my bike...
But I'm skipping ahead.
After Ironman Texas this year, I wasn't really happy with my performance. In looking over my records, I realized that if I wanted to play the part of a fast athlete, I was going to have to start acting the part. I needed to give myself the foundation to be what I want to be and see where things go from there. So, after conversations with two coaches that I highly respect, I increased my training hours. I changed the structure. I started getting up crazy early and knocking out workouts so I would stop procrastinating/skipping workouts.
When I decided to make a bid for Knighthood, it didn't really scare me. You know that "Ah hell, I have a race in a week, what the f$^& was I thinking?" It wasn't there. I kind of felt like "okay - just a really long training day..." I planned to start as early as possible (yaaayyyyy 4 am wake up... NOT) and just hammer out what I could before the minions woke up. Fortunately, one minion spent the night with our amazing friends and their son, and the other minion is old enough to do summer homework while mommy does crazy stuff.
So I got up, got changed, got some
Video done. YAYYYY ME! Still felt good.
But I realized that I *might* need some moral support for when I hit those dark places.
So I posted in the Zwift Rider's group on facebook:
|Still feeling good|
Next up, Angels. Another great workout. During this one, I figured that I'd use the effort level x 25 watts to keep myself honestly suffering but able to continue the workout. That put me at roughly 80% of recommended intensity for the workout. After two hours on the bike, I was tired, but still moving.
And an incredible amount of support was still pouring in.
|Running Sufferfest, Zwift and |
Then I fired up Downward Spiral. Considering this is where I started really feeling the fatigue, it's appropriate. This is where I stopped taking notes of how things were going. Fortunately, the Zwift community on facebook kept an eye on me virtually (you can see other riders in the game, their distance, their power... Think of it as virtual cycle stalking). Two great friends - one in Houston, the other on the east coast - kept messaging me to make sure I was still alive. Even when I started growling through messenger at them. So to Tami and Julynn - thank you - you guys kept distracting me. At some point Julynn message me to let me know that I had blown up facebook, and everyone was pulling for me - I responded "I can't give up now - too many people supporting me."
|Nutrition - Infinit Custom Mix|
And Base Salt
The next video was A Very Dark Place. Also very appropriate. By this time I was hurting and miserable. My butt hurt, I was getting queasy and felt weak, and just wanted to get off the bike. I always use liquid nutrition, and an Infinit Custom formula is my nutrition of choice. After this video, I used my break to locate my Base Salts (no, not bath salts) to see if it would help with how queasy I was getting. Fortunately, during There is No Try my stomach settled down (okay, this was also well timed... Yoda kept telling me "Do or do not," and I really hope that's in the soundtrack to the video, because otherwise I was hallucinating.)
Halfway through. And the entire Zwift community was pulling for me.
Nine Hammers. Nine painful intervals. By this time, I had adjusted my power downward again - 20 watts x effort level. Considering that 10 is right at ftp for me, I was still working hard, and staying around 75% of recommended effort level.
Everyone says this is where you make or break it. Once you get past six and seven, it's all downhill (not really )from there. I don't know that I've ever, in my entire life, looked at 3 hours remaining on a bike and thought "Yeah, only 3 hours left - I'm most of the way there!"
First time for everything I guess.
Then came Fight Club. At this point, I didn't have much for the many sprint attacks. I focused on not dropping my power and keeping that effort up. My legs were burning, my back was hurting, my, uh, saddle contact points were screaming.
My oldest minion came back with a big cup of ice water (she'd been my water girl for the last four videos), and told me we were out of ice. The entire damn ice box was empty.
Finally.... That moment. I'll never figure out why the last 10 minutes of ANY race or event feels like it lasts longer than the entire event up to that point, but it does. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
I was done. And leave it to the amazing support on facebook to chamois dance for me when my legs hurt so much that standing wasn't easy.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
1. Hey this feels good to get the legs spinning.
2. Getting. Bored. (Turns on Planes: Fire and Rescue)
3. Cute movie
4. Probably a bad idea to call a firefighter "Mayday." You don't want your entire fire team evacuating every time you try to get his attention.
5. This workout sucks.
6. This REALLY sucks. May have to dial it down a bit.
7. No. I want to see how much I can do. How much my athletes can do. Better leave it alone.
8. Omg. I hate my coach.
9. Crap. I wrote this workout. I hate me.
10. Ugh. My athletes are going to hate me.
11. Finally. A rest interval.
12. I want waffles.
13. (Rewinds the movie) ugh I missed ALL of the movie so far.
14. This workout is NEVER going to end.
15. This really sucks.
16. I would rather be feet up watching blacklist.
17. I wonder what my coach would say if I did this next threshold interval as a zone 2 interval.
(Rewinds movie again)
18. Oh okay. Fine. FINE. I'LL DO IT.
19. THIS FREAKING SUCKS.
20. (2 hours in) Why the hell am I doing this?
21. I want ice cream.
22. I hate this.
Omg I love this rest between intervals
23. These shorts suck. Forty something years of triathlon and the seams on the chamois are still in the most undamncomfortable places.
24. I'm 2:15 in. That last hour isn't really *that* important.
Ugh I can smell my shoes.
25. I can finish this later. Can't I?
(Rewinds movie again)
26. Okay. 55 minutes. Less than an hour.
27. I may actually make it.
28a. Ugh. 52 minutes left. I want to quit.
29. I don't really need that last 45 minutes.
(Forgets the movie and just starts some music on pandora)
30. Sooooooo cloooooosssse....
31. This. Is. Never. Going. To. End.
32. OMG 19 minutes!
33. Omg. 14. Minutes.
34. What the hell is wrong with me?
35. Yay! 10 minutes!
33. Oh f@$#! This workout is longer than I thought it was!!!
D. I'm going to cry.
Ff. This interval is never going to end.
FFS WHEN IS THIS INTERVAL GOING TO END!
Z. I suck at this.
Whatever. I'm never doing this shit again.
That spot on the floor looks really nice to lay down on.
I want froot loops.
OMG I'M FREEEEEEEE!!!
This floor feels amazing.
Someone is going to have to find a mop to get me out of this puddle off the floor.
My athletes are really going to hate me.
Think I'll play a few levels of candy crush until I can feel my legs again.
I am so glad I didn't give up. Maybe my coach isn't so evil after all.
I programmed that workout. Yeah. I'm still evil.
Soooo.... Next week, I guess. Same bat time, same bat channel.