Getting Neural

Hands up if you have been following the program?

Keep your hand raised if you did any of the SS sessions?

OK, keep your hand raised if you did any of the bike SS sessions?  Anyone, anyone, anyone? Beuller ?

I didn’t think so.

Two of our athletes performed their 30 min tests on the Computrainer not so long ago and we were able to show them visually what is often written about in terms of the “gaps” in power during a pedal revolution due to inefficient pedal technique. The drops in power, for both, were quite pronounced at the top of the pedal stroke (i.e. between 11 and 1 o’clock). This accounts for around a 1-2% wattage drop.

On average we pedal 85 rpm per minute. In a 5hr 30 min (32.7 kmh average) Ironman bike ride that is about 28,000 pedal strokes.

Assuming the above rider weighs 88 kg, has a 9kg bike (two water bottles) and rides a flat course.

At that speed the rider would need an average output of 153 watts over the 5 ½ hours.

A 2 % increase in efficiency of wattage would result in average watts of 156. Those 3 extra watts would shave 3 ½ minutes off that time. Just through technique !!! [ Don’t even get me started on all the other benefits of good technique such as injury prevention / improved transitioning from bike to run / improved times / qualifying for Hawaii etc etc ]

These technique improvements translate across all three disciplines and are what we call the “free fitness” part of our program. So why don’t athletes regularly do them ? Probably because we like to feel like we have travelled at least 50km in our 2 hour ride, probably because it looks uncool to be doing ILD (isolated leg drills) on the road or we just read SS as “Sleep Soundly”.

Proper technique is not just something that comes about by making a conscious decision one morning to “spin a full 180 degrees” or get my arm in the proper catch position at the start of the stroke. Proper technique comes about after spending days and days and weeks and weeks of rehearsing correct movement. Ask any top golfer; they practice hours and hours just trying to groove that perfect swing. Why ? To create neural pathways ! These pathways are sending the correct signal from the old noggin to all the various muscles involved in a complex human movement in a certain sequence and position. Neural pathways aren’t created overnight.

You’ve got the training plan. Get stuck into the drills in swimming, cycling and running as well as the core and strength sessions that are set.