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The Cycling Blog

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Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Cycling Performance

mindset Jan 20, 2021

One of the body’s reactions to fear and anxiety is muscle tension. This can result in feeling “tense”, or can lead to muscle aches and pains, as well as feelings of panic, self-doubt and an array of other emotions which are non-conducive to cycling performance. 

Think about how you respond to anxiety, stress or nerves…

Do you “tense up” when you’re feeling anxious or nervous? 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can be particularly helpful in cases where anxiety is especially associated to muscle tension. 

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was first identified by Jacobson in 1934 as tensing and releasing of 16 muscle groups. Wolpe adapted it for use with systematic desensitization in 1948 and Bernstein and Borkovec in 1973 studied adjustments to the technique to fit cognitive behavioural stress management.

Empirical evidence supports the use of PMR in high level tension responses and mind body techniques such as: reducing...

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Consistency versus variation in training

training Dec 30, 2020

‘Great week of training! Let’s do the same next week!’ 

When we plan an athlete’s training there are times when we like routine, to suggest the same sessions, at the same intensity, with the same recoveries in, ideally, the same conditions.

We try to reduce all the variables.

We like it even more if the prior few days have been the same as the week before so that same session is attempted with a similar level of fatigue.

There are also times when we like to have complete change and almost nothing is the same as the prior week.

The weeks of consistency are easier for the person doing the data analysis to see progression. This might be a Performance Analyst, a coach, or you may be a self-coached athlete using any of the range of online tools.

If, on the same day each week, somebody does, for example, 1 x 20 mins on the same gear on their home trainer it is the simplest of graphs on Excel to monitor the results.

As a Performance Analyst and Lead Coach at...

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The Commute

general fitness Oct 01, 2020
By Michael Jordan
Lead Coach / Physiological Performance Analyst 

There is a man in Toronto who gets paid to go to the gym. My friend Tim pays to go to that gym and described the man to me. The man who gets paid to go to the gym picks up and puts down a lot of weights. He also mops, vacuums, dusts and makes the place look nice, ready for the next day. So there he is lifting a 25kg plate with one hand, moving a succession of 10kg plates to the correct spot and then popping the 25kg where they all were. Rack after rack.

 In between our sets of 10 we rest. He’ll do a power clean to put the bar back on the rack. So between his power cleans he cleans. And doesn’t really stop to stretch his piriformis or think about engaging his core.

Tim also introduced me to the concept of 'Farm Boy Fit'. The person who does what is needed on the farm. Putting up fences, moving cattle, generally doing stuff. After moving one pig he doesn’t wait for 3 minutes before moving the...

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Supramaximal Performance

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2020

Performance Analysis is a hobby for me. It is also a job and an area of academic study and will keep me awake as I wonder if a pattern of results has emerged or progress is being made. How can I use this data to help improve performance?

At a course at the University I attend Professor Keith Lyons was described as the Godfather of Performance Analysis. Keith founded the Australian Institute of Sport’s Performance Analysis Unit. He would rather see himself as part of a long story and tips the hat towards those who preceded him in the field; those who noted in books, on backs of envelopes, napkins and so forth where a ball in a basketball game travelled prior to being shot at the hoop, where a tee shot went in golf to make the second shot more likely to yield a better result, by recording that location and the resultant score to give the team or player knowledge of how to improve their performance.

And so we note things. We measure things, we plot on graphs. We like consistency...

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A Road Ride Review to Better Understand Aerobic Training & Physiology

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2020

If you are wondering why a mountainous road ride review has appeared here at the Track Cycling Academy it is because I talk about some physiological changes which the body makes in the course of aerobic training...

These are all physiological parameters which are vital for success in pursuiting and bunch racing and even performance and recovery in sprint. I’m not convinced a sprinter ought to attempt 235km of mountains though…

I did intend to finish. I wasn’t sure how I would have the capacity to ride 235km and climb 4km without, this time, having actually trained for it. The event is the Peaks Challenge, Falls Creek. This is an event I have done previously, and this was my fifth, so I know the course and its demands. I have also worked as the Lantern Rouge in the Peaks Challenge, Gold Coast, in the hinterland behind the towns and surf beaches which will feature in the Commonwealth Games. As the Lantern Rouge the job is to ride at a pace which will bring you home...

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Anaerobic Capacity and Maximal Power in Sprinting

sprint training Dec 16, 2019

Which is more important of these two attributes in a kilo or a 500m Time Trial? For those new to our sport these are individual timed events. They are great fun and don’t hurt at all. Actually that isn’t true. If you are good enough to go quickly they are utterly brutal.

Back to my question. Which is more important in a kilo or 500m out of maximal power or sustained power? Let’s use other terms. For maximal power we can say maximum wattage, and average that over 3 seconds for example. Instant measurements need laboratory standard machinery and would give somewhat unusable results, hence using an average of 3 seconds or so. We had a Piezoelectric footplate at my University which could assess force over tiny fractions of a second, and power (described in watts – named after James Watt) is a unit of work divided by time. So instant power is academically fascinating but not really something we can often apply to track cycling coaching. There are exceptions, as...

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Why peak watts doesn't necessarily decide the winner...

training Nov 10, 2018

Somewhere in the world there may be an interview question where the candidate is asked how many things this image could be... An ECG trace? Climate graph pairing rainfall and humidity? Underwater depth and biological life charted against each other? Macchu Picchu?

It is none of the above. There is a green line and a yellow line…

  • One is the cadence of the cyclist and
  • One is their speed.

I have taken off all of the numbers so you can’t see what this rider, an elite female, recently achieved, and for the purposes of today it doesn’t really matter... The cadence and speed chart (next to each other) whilst riding on a fixed gear is good. When a rider is still travelling quickly and is no longer recording a relevant cadence this, in our sport, is bad... Hopefully it just means a loss of data, as opposed to a crash.

The blue line is the temperature, which doesn’t concern me greatly over the course of the effort but certainly I am aware a Flying 50m or Flying...

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Why Motorbike Assisted Efforts Aren't Imperative to Cycling Performance

training May 18, 2018

If you’re a sprinter and accustomed to following a motorbike as you complete flying efforts around a velodrome, than you’ll attest to just how fun this type of activity is. 

But are motorbikes imperative to cycling performance? 

We think not… 

Whilst they’re a great training tool for overspeed efforts, utilising the motorbike isn’t imperative to cycling performance and in this blog we’ll explain a few reasons why.

First, lets talk about how motorbikes are used on the track. 

In sprinting, motorbike lead activities can include activities such as motor-jumps, motor-paced gradual accelerations and motor-paced flying entries (to name a few). 

The motorbike leads the cyclist around the track and thus deflects most of the air resistance, allowing the cyclist to maximise their speed (ride faster than they would without the motorbike) due to minimal aerodynamic drag. 

The motorbike (if ridden well by an experienced pacer)...

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WORLDS: High Speeds & Fast Finishes

training Mar 07, 2018

“Did you see Chris Hoy’s post on Twitter?” asked Shane Perkins in a conversation yesterday. “No” I said, what did he write?”…

Sir Chris described the amazing performances by Jeffrey Hoogland, Matthew Glaetzer and Theo Bos, all of whom rode their 1km (called the kilo) time trial in under 1 minute at the World Championships. Jeffrey Hoogland’s 59.459 is a sea-level world record and won him the gold medal.

The eight points on the graph represent the half-lap splits. It shows that after one full lap not one of the three riders is up to the maximum speed achieved as the point at 375m is the highest, leaving two-and-a-half laps of reducing speed. Reducing speed, slowing down, sounds a lot more relaxed than any ride averaging over 60kmh could possibly be.

The shape of the graph is similar to a graph of wattage of a 30 second anaerobic power test, in that it ramps up to its peak and declines before the end. Wattage and speed won’t...

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Cut the bad fats and start performing!

nutrition Feb 28, 2018

Optimal performance and health starts with the body - if you are fuelling yourself with excellent quality foods and staying hydrated you’re giving your body the best chance to perform at its best in all situations.

In this blog we will focus on one specific food group area - that is the fats. It’s a really interesting food group to delve in to and understanding the types of fat that you need to stay away from, or consume, is worthwhile.

So good fats and bad fats, what’s the difference and how will they impact on your performance? 

The Bad

Trans and saturated fats are the worst to consume - and the science behind why is fascinating…

These types of fat remain solid at room temperature – think about the white bits on meat or coconut oil in a jar. It's also the primary variety used in processed foods like cakes and biscuits. 

If you want to get scientific, saturated fat has a single bond in its molecular structure, which makes it more difficult...

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