Can You Learn To Suffer Like A Pro? | Ask GCN Anything

Can You Learn To Suffer Like A Pro? | Ask GCN Anything


– Hello and welcome to ask GCN Anything! – This week, we are
answering your questions on mental fitness, smooth pedaling, and why team mechanics sit in the back of the car and not the front. – Good questions, then, and
a little bit of everything. Don’t forget for your chance to be with a free three month subscription to Zwift use the hashtag #ASKGCNTRAINING and for anything non-training
related use the hashtag #TORQUEBACK when you leave a question. Or, just pop it in the comments box. – Exactly. – Yeah. – First up then, we have a
question from Eduardo Lorenzo. Any tips on how to make sure both legs are exerting the same amount of effort other than using a power meter? I often feel my right leg is
more tired than my left leg. – Well, that’s quite a good question. Actually, I think most
people have an imbalance in leg strength and while we would all love to be symmetrical, most of us aren’t. I remember discussing this with some sports scientists on a training camp once and they point out that
everyone is asymmetric and even if you can pedal evenly with both legs at low power,
normally when you’re really at your threshold working hard, one leg is stronger than the other. Normally, the longer leg I think. Yeah, almost no one is symmetrical but if you’re really worried about it, and you don’t have a power meter that shows both sides, what you could do is head to a gym where they have a work bike, or similar, which
could show you both sides. And then if there is a big imbalance that’s giving you problems,
you can work to correct it. For example, if you do single leg strength exercises, you can
work on your core, try and get the right cadence for
you, there’s lots you can do. But single leg strength exercise is the way to correct it and to find out, head to a gym or a local testing
center where they can measure that imbalance for you. – Yeah and whilst you’re at it, you could always check out Si’s
“Pedal Smoothly” video that’s playing in the
background right now. – So when our pro’s
aren’t pedaling in their less smooth way, what they’re effectively doing is putting out more power on the downstroke and then less for the rest of the way around the pedal stroke. Except there is one thing and that is that we can’t differentiate
between positive force and negative force using this test. So effectively, we can’t
split the difference between pushing down and then unweighting on the back of the pedal stroke. Meaning that Marco
Marcato could, in theory, actually be pulling up on the pedal stroke which would explain why there is that great a discrepancy between peak power and average power per pedal stroke. – Staying on the subject of pedaling, Joseph Campbell asks: I keep reading about mixing in high cadence work
into my indoor training. What is the purpose of this? Well, the cliche is “spin to win” Joseph, but I hate that cliche. What do you think Chris? – Well, you’re not wrong, because actually science shows that the most efficient cadence is around 60 RPM and I’m quite sure cranks as well through the oxygen use
and everything like that. But, science also has shown that by including some really
high bursts of cadence, you help make your muscle contractions more efficient and the culmination of everything is, well, it’s more in tune and it’s actually a
really useful thing to do. So, you’re not looking to do load of really long efforts at high cadence but really short ones of really, really high cadence and up towards 170 or more has proven to be really good. – And the thing I’ve noticed anecdotally is that cadence is a very personal thing. So, some people prefer, Yanil Ricks preferred to ride at a very low cadence and I always raced at a very high cadence. I had shorter cranks as well and there’s no correct cadence, you do what’s best for you and
what you do best at. But often people find if they train the limits, so do big gear efforts and high cadence efforts, that that can help your pedaling technique
to improve, basically. So, that’s probably one of the reasons. – And if you wanna see further on this, you can check out the video that James did with Dan in Moscow. – And they’re pedaling pretty fast. – Session number two is
like a micro-interval session that is focused on cadence. So you want to get that same 15 minute warm up in at which point you’re going to start your first block where for the first 30 seconds, you’re at 130 RPM which is really going some and then for the next 30 seconds, you’re down at 90. You can repeat this 4 to 6 times per block and between, a slightly longer recovery of between 5 and 6 minutes. Try to get in 4 to 5 blocks per session before you do cooldown. – Next up we have a question
from Christopher Jenkins: Hi GCN. Can you help with
any tips for mental fitness. In this I mean being
able to suffer and deal with it or manage the
effort you are trying for. Many times this has let me
down over actual fitness. Particularly on a hillclimb
when I didn’t have the mental strength to
cope with a substained maximal effort when I
could have pushed more. – Well I think that’s an amazing question. It’s an absolutely fascinating topic and I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly seen athletes who weren’t necessarily the fittest but they were mentally the strongest and they could suffer the best and win over athletes who were physically fitter. So, it’s a great question and there’s so much interesting theories and scientific evidence out there about this. Basically, your mind
is incredibly powerful and it’s not a muscle but it’s a bit like a muscle in that you can train it to suffer more and it’s something that I notice through the season is that if I do enough hard sessions I get better at the suffering. The thing is though that your brain wants and needs to protect your body from damaging yourself so just in the same way that your brain protects you from putting your hand on a hot stove, it protects you from overexerting yourself and literally training or
racing yourself to death. So, those pain receptors are important but obviously you want to override them to a certain extent so that you go faster and there’s a balance to be had there. And there are lots and lots of tips and tricks for trying to push through that pain barrier. It’s unlikely you’ll kill
yourself so don’t panic. What about you, what tips did
you use when you were racing? – Well, and that’s absolutely right and it’s one of those things
that is trainable, learning to suffer, so the more often that you try and do it, the better you’ll get at doing that and also, actually, it’s been proven that the fitter you get, the better you are at suffering as well. So, I persevere with it and trust in the fact that the more often you do it, the better you’re gonna get at doing it. And I’m actually reading a book about how to suffer, basically, and how to push through in races
and it’s fascinating. There’s loads of
different ways of thinking about it but some people find that goal setting really helps,
you know, visualizing breaking the challenge
down into little chunks and just focusing on the next one. Some people that’s a terrible
idea and it makes it worse. So for some people, they need to zone out from the race and the pain and think about something else, almost. And some people just need to focus on it and almost sort of suck up
the pain and really want it. There are many different techniques. You really need to read up on those techniques and practice them yourself and find out which ones work best for you. – Yeah, everyone has their
own way of functioning and their own coping mechanisms. So, good luck with that and let us know. (dramatic music) – Now we’re going to our
Zwift winner question. Jonathan Evans is the lucky viewer who wins three months
free Zwift subscription and he asks: I ride with mates at the weekend and put in a couple hours training during the week on the turbo. As I don’t have a whole lot of time would my time on the turbo be best spent interval training , or
am I better just having fun chasing PRs on Zwift segments. My aim is to both stay fit and also increase FTP so I can climb hills, and sprint to road signs, faster. Thank you. Well, I share your goals Jonathan. – Well, it’s a good question for a start and if Emma shares your goals then it’s definitely a good one. So, with limited time to
train during the week, you want to make sure that you’re making them effective and you’ll need to include some intensity. And one of the best ways to do that if you’re saying you’ve got two hours available, you’re gonna want to try and split those sessions, so let’s assume that that is possible for you, and then you’ll want to include some really high quality workouts. So, you’ll need one structured session with some intervals and that will give you an opportunity to really push and increase your threshold, which is great for climbing
and things like that. – And there are loads and loads of sessions on Zwift for this. You’ve got a huge choice
which is fantastic. – Yeah, it makes it a
lot easier, actually, to break it down and decide
what you’re gonna do. The second thing you wanna do is then aim to work on the high intensity but with less structure, you know, so it stays mentally a little bit fresher and you can kind of enjoy it more. So things like taking
part in the Zwift races that Emma and I do is a
great way of doing that and we’ve seen James and
Oscar do that haven’t we? – Yeah, I did my first Zwift
race quite recently actually. I got dropped on the last
lap, I was a bit upset. On a hill of all things and I thought that the hill was gonna
be the best bit for me but no, it was really
hard and the great thing is that it was an hour of really quite intense work so it was super intense training but I didn’t feel like, mentally as draining as it does to go out on the road and push hard on your own for an hour. So it’s super time efficient. You know, less time sorting out bikes and stuff and going out on the road and an hour of really good quality workout that didn’t feel mentally as tiring, it was quite exciting and fun, yeah. – That’s neat. And if you met the other session, that really structured dedicated session that’s really goal oriented then you get a good balance
throughout the week. – Yeah, and those two quality sessions with limited time, you can’t do much more than that in a week anyway so that’s actually perfect to balance out with your weekend more fun relating where, you know, if you’re doing a longer ride with your friends you’re not getting as much intensity apart from sprinting for those road signs obviously, so it’s probably quite a good balance even on quite
a small amount of time. – Good luck! – Our next question comes in
from Lorenzo Relia and he asks: #torqueback It is not
hard to see pro mechanics adjust riders bikes in the middle of the race hanging from the car without stopping, so why
are they always sitting behind the passenger’s seat
and not behind the driver? The majority of adjustable things on a bike are on it’s right side? Good question! – Yeah, and it’s true, most of the things are on the right hand side, so with that in mind, it’s actually
easier for the rider to hold onto the car at which point he’s able to maintain the same
distance from the car. A mechanic can reach
up and over whilst also holding onto the rider himself, it’s a little bit ungainly, and then adjust things without pushing the rider away from them impulsively. So that’s a lot easier. You can also sit opposite the driver, so not on the same side as the driver so that you can actually see through what’s going on. [crosstalk] – They always take the headrest off the passenger seat so the mechanic can see what’s coming up as well because it’s very useful for the mechanic to see crashes ahead and
see what’s happening. Also probably so they don’t get carsick. And because it’s very boring sitting in the back of a car in a race if you can’t see what’s
happening in the race. – And finally, normally
you would pull over to the right hand side of the road if you stop so when the car opens you don’t want to be opening your car door into moving traffic. – Or into the race, which would car door a rider which is really bad form. So yeah, it is actually a really, well obviously, its a really hard job being a race mechanic. They basically have to be sprinters and amazing mechanics as they have to you know, when they see a rider holding up they really have to be able to dash out there as quick as possible. – And don’t panic. – Yeah, and don’t fall in a ditch. I’ve seen mechanics injured
by falling into ditches. It’s a bloody hard job, yeah. And if you wanna see more about being a mechanic in a race, you can check out this video here which
is a day at the tour – In the Mavic Neutral Service car. – Which is very exciting to a
cycler to sit in with Mavic. (upbeat rock music) [mumbling] – God! Fuck this shit! – Izzytdi: Just finished my first summer of easy coffee run group rides and want to train hard this winter to come back much faster next year. I’ve gotten my VO2 max estimate from garmin and its a rather
disappointing low 47. Is it low because I have not done much hard training in the past or will I expect that it will go up this winter, and how would I
best go about doing that? – Well, first of all, don’t panic. Your VO2 will probably have dropped if you’ve spent a whole summer doing easy rides and not
doing any hard training. Don’t worry there is good news, but also kind of bad news. The good news is that you can improve your VO2 max 2 training up to a certain limit but if you haven’t been training hard, you definitely
haven’t reached that limit. So there’s loads of scope for improvement. Bad news is, it’s gonna
take some hard, painful training sessions to
make those improvements but that’s okay, because we’re butt riders and we love pain, right? – Apparently. Anyway. – Sometimes. – Yeah, sometimes. On a good day. We’ve got a good video
though. With Dan and Si telling you exactly the sort of intervals that you wanna be doing. So, probably worth checking that one out. – Check that out, I
probably should as well. – Our second session is a little bit simpler but no less painful. We’re doing 4 minutes almost at max. So, power meter uses, that means again, about 120% of your FTP. Either way, when you get to the end of your first 4 minutes, you should feel like you have a little bit left in the tank, but not very much. – Now we’ve come to the quickfire round so, hold on tight, it’s gonna be fast. First question is from
disgruntledtoons who asks: What’s a good strategy for introducing children to cycling? #torqueback I suspect this might be
worth an entire video. Chris, how do you introduce
your children to cycling? – Well, I had a brilliant answer until you said what you
thought was the best way to do it and that was just ban them from cycling. – Yeah, I reckon kids love a little bit of rebellion, especially if it was teenagers, I’d say forbidden to cycle and then they’ll really want to. – Yep, failing that though, you could just introduce them to the shiny pictures and videos that we have on the channel because, well that’s what everyone likes is about cycling isn’t it? Originally? Beautiful sunshine. – Yep. – Stunning bikes, that sort of thing. And then take them out
on the bike perhaps, somewhere quiet like a park. – Yeah, I think the key thing is it’s gotta be fun hasn’t it? You don’t really want to be forcing your children to take up cycling. I think a lot of my friends’ kids who see their parents loving cycling they automatically want to take up cycling because they see how fun it is. But I think that pressurizing children to do a sport or anything else for that matter is probably not great, unless it’s homework which everyone has to do. But give them the opportunities and let them enjoy it and make it fun. – Yeah, kids did exactly that. They took up cycling because they saw that I enjoyed it so they wanted to do it as well. – Yeah, there you go. You just have to be a perfect role model. Next question comes from Aaron who asks: I am relatively new to
the world of structured bike training and was wondering if it was reasonable to do various months long structured training plans year round until I can get as fit as my physiology and mental commitment will allow? Should there be a couple of weeks break in between plans? Love the show! – That’s a great question Aaron and the answer is quite simple: you can’t continually train
without taking rests as it’s those rest weeks that allows your body to adapt and
actually get stronger. So two to three weeks of building an increased load or
intensity and then a week to recover and kind of
absorb those efforts. – Yep. – Easy. Next up we have Erik Matonickin. How do your years, say your age, have an effect on cycling? Does age matter in cycling?
Thank you for your answer. – Well, yeah, age does matter I’m afraid but less than you might think because cycling for most of us, road cycling, is an endurance sport and your endurance gets better as you get older so there are actually some very successful pros still
racing into their 40s. For example, there’s plenty of men but there’s also, for
example, Kristin Armstrong who won the her last gold medal in the Olympics in her 40’s. Quite a good example. And there’s plenty of 60 year olds, 70 year olds, still
super strong on the bike. What you might find though is that balance of your physiological
strengths changes. So, people normally, their sprinting gets weaker because your muscle strength generally tails off as you get older but your endurance gets better so older athletes, older cyclers should try and do more strength
training, basically. – Yup, there you go, that’s
a good answer to that. Tommy Tom writes in: Do cyclists carry on shaving their legs in the winter, over the winter months when they wouldn’t be wearing shorts? – Well, I do, I don’t know about you. What do you do Chris? – Yeah, I do, I don’t think my wife would let me in
the house if I didn’t. – If you didn’t shave your legs? – Yeah, it’d look so weird where you shave them year round and then all of a sudden you grow hairy legs. – Well personally I think that if I can be bothered to shave my legs then my partner should as well. So, I hope he’s listening. Next question from Dennis Sujik: Is it better to buy a pre-build
bike or build your own? – That’s a really good question and one you should probably ask the tech channel but you’ll probably get a better value for money if you buy a pre-built one however you can completely customize it if you build it yourself. – Yep, and you also have to
have the skills obviously – Well, yeah. – To build it yourself. – If you enjoy the project it’s a good way to spend your time. – Next question, Dan
Bates: is e-tap worth it? – I would answer that one with simply surely it is because
imagine life with no cables. – Yeah, I find electronic shifting for all reverences it doesn’t make you faster, I definitely prefer it. Small hands, less force needed, love it. – Yeah, especially in the winter when you can’t feel your fingers anymore. – Yeah. – Alright then, Nick Bonne: I have an old set of rollers and I’m looking to use a smart trainer on the cheap in the Spring. Is it possible to train on basic rollers? – Well, yeah, you can
definitely train on them. People did for many, many decades. It’s especially good for
high cadence work and trying to train your
smooth pedaling technique. They’re also kind of
a bit more interesting than a static trainer because you’ve got that added thrill of
“am I gonna fall off”. The only thing is of course, that you can’t really add resistance to rollers so you can add a little
bit more resistance by reducing the tire pressure but basically you’re stuck to spinning and if you want to do intervals, you’re doing super high cadence intervals ’cause you can’t add any resistance. – You ride with rollers Emma. – I have done, I’m not saying I can now. But I had to at certain points. – You just don’t strike
me as a track rider. – No, I’m not a track rider. I had to in Beijing before, between road racing and time trial we didn’t have any turbos for some reason and the mechanic, bless him, held the back of my bike while I got going and promised he would hold
it for the whole session. And so I could do my training
session on the rollers. And then I look ’round about halfway through and he’d gone and I was balancing all on my own and I was so freaked out I fell off. – That sounds like everyone’s
introduction to rollers. – Alright then, Cyclone Fruitbat, I’m guessing that’s not your real name: After rides, the muscles in between my shoulder blades are always tight. How could I fix this? – Well, you can do some stretching and check your position, it might be that you’re holding your shoulders funny on the bike and if you’re also carrying too much
weight on your arms, if your handlebars are really low and your seat’s far
forward, then that’s gonna really stress the muscles in your back but likely it sounds like you’ve got a funny shoulder position
so I definitely look at your position and then to loosen the muscles off once they’ve got sore you could try using a tennis ball and putting it between your back and a wall and rolling it around. That works pretty well for
easing off tight back muscles. – Yeah, definitely. – HappyPhace asks when riding over 5 hours how important is it to use electrolyte replacement tabs in one of your bottles? Similarly how should I be using? – Well, that is a really question. Answer is quite dependent though. So, it depends on how much you sweat personally, but also how hot it is where you’re riding,
and the intensity of the ride you’re doing, more so
than the duration of your ride. You can test all of those things, or you can certainly test how far in intensity you’re riding but you can also test your sweat rate so it’s worth researching that
online and having a go. TV ZERO writes in: How can I balance my training with school? How can I make sure that my
training is actually enough? – Right, well unless
you’re a teacher, TV ZERO, the chances are that if you’re still at school age you don’t really need to be doing much more
than 6 to 8 hours a week because you’re still
growing and developing so you don’t want to overdo it. But it is a great age to build cycling skills and a base for later. So, skills on the bike, comfort, pedaling technique, all these things, sprinting, but you definitely don’t
need to be doing many hours. I think there’s a danger if you do too much too young that you can actually do some of a bit of harm. So, concentrate on high quality but also having fun and those skills that I wish I had learned as a kid but I didn’t ride a bike as a kid so I can’t do a wheelie,
can’t do a track stand. – It’s a great time to be getting comfortable riding in a group as well. Most kids, most of the pros that you see were great bot riders when they were kids and that’s because they met up with their mates and they went out and they pushed each other’s limits, not just physically but
technically as well. – You learn to ride on a peloton, on a wheel, all that stuff. – Hopefully you found some
of these answers useful and if you have any of your own questions remember to drop them in the comments below and use the
hashtag #ASKGCNTRAINING for that chance to win
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