What kind of trainer are you – ‘chopping logs in the snow’ or ‘monitored efforts on a versa-climber in the lab’ ?? Well we all know what the outcome of that one was. Click here if you’re not sure what I’m banging on about.
(Graeme Obree on his ‘Turbo’.)
However this isn’t a blog just about Rocky IV, it’s about Old Skool versus New Breed. Do you like your gym clean and sterile, with a bank of televisions showing pop videos? Or do you prefer the spit and sawdust of a weighlifting gym, where you’re actually allowed to sweat on the equipment and the background noise comes from the clanking of weights instead of the banal cacophony of Justin Beiber.
In the cycling world, it sometimes seems anyone who has come to the sport within the last 5 years can’t go for a ride unless the data is logged, otherwise it ‘didn’t happen’.
I know that’s a pretty sweeping statement but even if it’s true, is it such a bad thing? If Strava manages to get a recreational cyclist to challenge himself to ride faster, is that such a crime? Then we have Zwift where you don’t even have to leave the house to have a bike race ! But if it’s getting you fitter, where’s the problem?
There is also Old and New styles of coaching, with 50 shades of grey inbetween. Modern coaching involves a lot of number crunching – calculating FTP, assessing TSS and worrying about CTL. At the other end of the spectrum we have the Old Skool coach – Rocky’s Mickey. Eddie Soens would be the closest we have had to this in cycling. One of the most successful cycling coaches Britain has ever seen, developing riders such as Chris Boardman and Dave Lloyd (who also went on to a successful coaching career.) Eddie Soens is now immortalised in the eponymous early season race around Aintree motor racing circuit which attracts the best domestic races from around the country. (This year’s edition is on 12th March).
In the 90’s there was a stark contrast between the training styles and equipment of Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman. Both incredible athletes, but Chris was labelled as the scientific one and Obree more of a maverick pioneer. They both broke the world hour record and achieved time trial times that most of today’s racers could only dream of, even with the advances in training, equipment & nutrition over the last 20-30 years.
I like to think that, as a coach, I fall into one of the 50 shades somewhere in the middle. I use power meters and put a lot of emphasis on testing and measuring progress. But I also see coaching as a creative endeavour. Every client is unique with individual goals and targets and different responses to the challenges they are given. Finding what motivates and works for each individual is the challenge for the coach. The basic principles remain the same, but how a person responds can vary greatly. One of the most successful cyclists this country has ever produced – Mark Cavendish – was famously bad at Lab tests and was nearly kicked off the GB Academy due to his average numbers, but is quoted as saying “Indoor, stationary bike tests don’t take into account tactics, technical ability or a lot of other factors. It doesn’t matter what lines you put on a graph; it’s the finish line that counts.”
I’ll often talk about 5 pillars of performance when it comes to cycling – Endurance Training, Strength Training, Nutrition, Recovery and the final one – Everything Else which includes the X Factor. No, not singing ability, but the inexplicable, unquantifiable trait that is the difference between the winner and the also-ran.
So whether you’re a Rocky or a Drago, there is no right or wrong way to reach your potential, just find the path that works for you.
If you are interested in performance coaching, general training or weight loss, get in touch for a ‘No Obligation’ chat.