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Cycling Training – Fact, Fiction, Formula or Philosophy?

By Jennifer Sage On April 20, 2012 Under Business of Coaching/Teaching, Form and Technique, Outdoor Cycling

This is from Gene Nacey’s (founder, Cycling Fusion) new blog Evidence Based Cycling. Gene and I share a similar passion of merging indoor and outdoor cycling, as well as working to spread the word of indoor training techniques based on science and proper training principles utilized by the top cycling coaches. You know, evidence-based cycling! The title of Gene’s blog is brilliant, isn’t it? I for one will be following this closely, and will contribute whatever I can to his goal of doing our own research to help this industry do its homework.

Gene has agreed to post his ramblings here on Sage Cycling. Make sure to follow his new blog as well, and to like Cycling Fusion on Facebook. Enjoy!

Cycling Training – Fact, Fiction, Formula or Philosophy?
By Gene Nacey

I’ve decided to start a new Blog. It will be a cacophony of Rants, Research and Reality Checks. In 2007 I took the proverbial “red pill” (see original Matrix movie if you are not familiar with that reference – it will be good for you ), for Indoor Cycling and the science of training, and ever since I’ve been wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off taking the blue pill. Ignorance is bliss after all.

Truthfully, I have no regrets. As in much of life, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a very real difference between exercise and training, and that difference can be felt through and through; body, mind and spirit. Furthermore, the science behind creating this change in our fitness and performance on the bike is thoroughly captivating; compelling me to want to learn more and more.

However (you knew the other shoe would drop eventually, right?), the bad news is that seemingly opposite techniques can sometimes yield the same results. Educated, respected and credible sources can, and often do, disagree vehemently with each other with regards to methodology, technique and overall approach to training.

Each one will site well vetted and published research, making their respective cases as to why their methods are superior, or at least founded on science and therefore the proper way to achieve their desired results. So what’s the big deal you might ask. Everyone has their own way of doing things, right? The “big deal” is that I want to make sense out of this stuff, and it gets dog gone hard to separate fact from fiction, or formula from philosophy.

For example, there are studies showing VO2 increases from very intense H.I.T. type training, and there are studies showing VO2 increases from doing a ton of steady state riding in the low heart zones like zone 1 and 2. Likewise there are coaches that swear by weight training to augment your strength objectives, while there are others who won’t let their athletes near the gym; both siting research to support their position.

Yet we can see these extremely different methods produce equally successful athletes in many cases. It’s as if the body is somehow affected by the belief the athlete and coach have about what they are doing, and not the science behind it. Am I the only one that thinks this is completely illogical, weird and by the way, maddening?

So what’s a coach or educator supposed to do? Well, I’m not throwing up my hands… at least not on this account. Actually, not on most accounts. Instead, I have been doing the only thing we control freaks know how to do in the face of confusing facts and information. That is to take matters into our own hands, and do our own research. If one or more of these philosophies seems to ring true, we do our own homework, set up controlled studies, and we base our methods and techniques on the reality of our own findings – of what works – where we can see it, feel it, record it, and repeat it.

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