All posts for the month April, 2015


Most of us find Endurance Sports with some sort of goal in mind, whether it be to lose weight, have some fun, enjoy the outdoors, or to qualify for Kona or Boston.  If your just starting in that journey, chances are you have a lot of questions on how to train.  You may even not know the questions you are supposed to ask.  There may be things you’re doing, or not doing, that can easily be changed for added success.  If you want to improve, and take it to the next level, it’s time to ask yourself if there is low hanging fruit in your training!  I’ve outlined five possible areas of low hanging fruit I sometimes find when people come to me for coaching.  Do any of these things deserve a closer look for you?  Grab these areas of low hanging fruit and step up your training!

1.  Time/Consistency

I’m always surprised when I talk to new clients with big goals and they balk at how many days per week I want them to train, or they don’t want to start the training just yet.  That works for people who want to have fun, and run a 5k every once in a while, but doing long course races and making meaningful improvements takes time and consistency.  There are no short cuts.  What a lot of people don’t realize is the need to build consistency before adding training load.  It doesn’t do you any good to go from couch to high intensity track workouts in a week.  That will almost always end up in injury.   I always tell my clients “consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat” in that order!  So take a look at your life and daily schedule.  Align your goals with your time realistically.  Shift things around where possible to find more time needed to stay consistent.  I’ve been know to make home improvements that require less maintenance to find more time in my schedule.  If you have the means, maybe hire someone to cut your lawn or clean your house to free up time.  Find ways to train when the weather isn’t ideal.  Remember to make the proper amount of time for consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat, that aligns with your goals.  It will take you a long way in keeping you injury free and setting PR’s for your next race!

2.  Nutrition

I can’t stress enough how important Nutrition is to Endurance Sports.  Especially once you’ve already built a strong engine!  The old saying “Garbage in Garbage out” applies here, because the majority of us can’t out train a bad diet.  Some people are better blessed in this area with genetics, but deep into those long efforts nutrition still matters.  So whether looking at nutrition for you means cleaning up your diet and losing some extra weight, or finding the best way to fuel your training and races for the best results, ask yourself some questions about your current nutrition.  Be honest with yourself here!  Because fooling yourself is not going to get you anywhere.  If you don’t know enough about nutrition, ask someone to help you!

3.  Form/Fit

Some things are really this simple, and it’s very difficult to judge for yourself if you’re doing something wrong.  There’s no doubt getting help with your form can make a huge difference in swimming, but it can also make a difference in your running or cycling.  Take a good look at your running mechanics and bike fit.  Sometimes we focus so much at the pain and suffering to realize we don’t have a proper forward lean running, or we don’t realize we are breaking plane with our knees while we pedal the bike.  Get someone to help you look at these things and work on them.  They may help you avoid an injury, or even add a bit of power to your pedal stroke.  Either way, it’s an easy mechanical change you can make to help you keep training more and go faster!

4.  Injury prevention

This relates back to 1 and 3.  However, it’s worth talking about a little more in depth.  Staying injury free increases the time you have to train and race.  So in addition to keeping your form and fit in check and following the consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat mantra to stay in the game with your training, here are some other things you should make a part of your training to keep you going and add to your success.

-strength training

-foam rolling and/or yoga

-proper warm ups and cool downs

-proper rest

-keeping up with maintenance of prior injuries

Keep yourself in the game and able to train!  Pay attention to keeping yourself injury free!

5.  Long Term Progression

This is an area a lot of people don’t understand, and it’s difficult to have a broad enough outlook to do this on your own.  A lot of people hire a coach for this reason.  Especially, if you have multiple races per year, it can be difficult to know when the best time is to add in the hill or speed workouts or know what distances need to be built to at what point in the plan for the next race.  Doing these things successfully can really make a difference though.  If your not ready for the hills on your next race, or your not fully rested for your most important race, it can create havoc for you physically and mentally.  Getting these things right will make a big difference to your success.  So take some time at the beginning of the year to do this, or hire a coach to do it for you!

Do any of these areas deserve special attention for you?  Take hold of the low hanging fruit in your training.  Make positive changes to your training and have more success!


Coach Meulen





Well…. The latest beast is back home after its first ride. 

So I’ve been wanting a new road bike for quite some time now. My old one was one of the first bikes I ever bought. It was used when I bought it, and I put quite a lot of miles on it over the years.  I replaced everything except the frame and fork somewhere along the way. So this year I finally pulled the trigger, and I knew the guys up at Spokes in Wheaton, Il were the guys to go to.   

After all my research I decided on the Tarmac. I had contemplated the Venge as well.  However, what sold me was that the Venge did not have a similarly equipped bike with UDi2 and I kind of had my heart set on trying out the electronic shifting. So I ordered the Tarmac, and Alex at Spokes sized me up and fit me. You should know that process couldn’t have gone smoother with the guys up at Spokes. 

Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to higher end bikes. I have a higher end TT bike that I’ve been training and racing with. But some of the technology today was new to me.  The Tarmac itself is just a great bike. There’s no doubt!  So what I’ll be focusing on here is the UDi2 group set, the disc brakes, and the Roval wheels. 

I’ve had the pleasure of riding a lot of different group sets. I’ve ridden red, 105, and some campy over the years. The UDi2 was completely different for me. In my experience Shimano was alway a clunky definitive shift, SRAM was much smoother, but not as definitive. I always liked the smoothness of the SRAM but on a TT bike I wasn’t always sure I went one gear or two. With Shimano there was never a doubt, especially on the TT shifters. To be fair, the SRAM double tap on a road bike might be more definitive than I know.  Either way, I would describe the UDi2 as smooth like SRAM. As for definitive, it definitely is definitive by default, because with every touch of the button it always shifts without fail. It took a little getting used to the two buttons for up/down, but by the end of a 50 mile ride I had it down pat. It really was incredible. The mechanical shift was the norm for so long, and it worked well. But this electric shift is just REALLY nice. I can’t say that I “need” it.  But now that I have it I don’t know how I’m going to like going back!

I have a similar feeling about the disc brakes. I’ve ridden hydraulic disc on my MTB. So I knew they would be good on the road bike, and they were!  Stopping power is greatly increased, and I know from the MTB there will be added benefit in a variety of riding conditions.  I would imagine this is the way the industry will go in the future as well. I can see all kinds of doors opening for wheel and bike design since the area in the frame where the mechanical brakes mount don’t have to be reinforced, and wheels don’t need a braking surface. I would look out for more advancements on this in the near future. The only complaint I would have is the pads do vibrate a little at times, but barely noticeable unless your on a really rough patch of road. I imagine there is a slight disadvantage for weight and aerodynamics too. However, I don’t see it as enough of a hinderance to worry about it over the added benefits. 

Lastly, I wanted to mention the Roval wheels since there’s always a lot of emphasis put on wheels, and most people change the wheels that come with the bike at some point. In short, I won’t be changing these wheels.  In the car world they always refer to the noticeabilty of increased power gains as “the butt dyno”. I think that applies here too I don’t have any fancy equipment to test this stuff in a wind tunnel. However, I have seen differences in wheel upgrades on my other bikes and I know what my butt dyno tells me. Especially from aero differences. The wheels on the Tarmac are 45mm deep. IMO that’s just deep enough to see some aero benefit and added stiffness, but not deep enough to make them unmanageable in windy conditions. The day I took the Tarmac for its first ride was very windy here in Chicagoland, where it frequently gets that way!  Not once did I feel the wind blew me out of control. The wheels felt just as stiff and responsive as other non-deep wheels I’ve ridden, and definitely stiffer than the set of Jet 9’s I have on my TT bike. I really noticed the difference anytime the road turned up to a climb. The bike as a whole was more responsive than anything else I’ve ridden. They ride smooth and feel like they cut through the wind well too. So I have no complaints on these wheels at all!  

Overall, I’m thrilled to be riding this Tarmac this season. My road bike always seems to see the most use of all my bikes, and I’m glad to finally have a great bike for all those miles. The Tarmac itself is a stiff, responsive bike. The flat black paint is perfectly awesome. The thing looks fast just standing still!  Just look at it!  Thanks to the guys at Spokes Wheaton for the great service and support!  I’m looking forward to a great season on my Tarmac!

Coach Meulen

Brian VanderMeulen