Getting Started With Indoor Training
November 22, 2021
Indoor training season is coming for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Indoor training does not have to be very complicated. Here is a simple set up that can get you set up on any indoor training platform out there, such as Zwift, Bkool, RGT, Rouvy, etc.
The first thing you are going to need is either a smart trainer, smart bike, or a power meter + dumb trainer or rollers. At the very top of the line of direct drive trainers is the Tacx Neo 2T, which features high accuracy and road feel. The top of the wheel on trainers is the Wahoo Kickr Snap, this trainer features ease of use and high accuracy for a wheel on trainer. Then the top of them all is the Wahoo Kickr Smart Bike, this trainer features the ability to steer in some platforms, and the ability to rise up and down depending on the gradient. Indoor training can cost around $350, or it can cost $3500. Here is a chart with the average cost of each set up.
Smart trainer(direct drive)
Smart trainer(wheel on)
Dumb trainer + power meter
<300(Dumb traner only) 300-1200(Power meter)
Rollers + power meter
~200(rollers) 300-1200(power meter)
Dumb trainer + speed sensor(estimated power)
The next thing you are going to need before getting a Zwift account, is making sure you have a compatible device. Zwift is compatible with most devices that are not too old. To make sure that your device is compatible, see this support article: https://support.zwift.com/en_us/supported-devices-to-run-zwift-H1Cj9QbeB.
The last step is to create an account with a platform. Here is how you get started with a Zwift account. Creating a Zwift account is very simple, and can take around 10 minutes to complete the process. Zwift offers a 7 day free trial, then after that it is $14.99/month. The first ride you do on Zwift will be a tutorial ride that will help teach you how to use the app. Zwift can be pretty confusing at first, but it will all start to make sense once you get a few rides in.
Bkool’s set up is fairly similar. The set up is pretty simple, the hardest part is just getting used to the data on the screen, also called the HUD. The navigation through the app is fairly simple, for a more in depth article on how to get set up with Bkool, head over to this article: https://road.cc/content/feature/getting-started-bkool-279889
I am not familiar with the other training platforms, but they should be a similar process. The company should have step by step instructions either on their website, or support page.
Bkool Vs Zwift
October 29, 2021
Bkool and Zwift, they both have different things that make them better and worse than each other. Bkool and other competitors like Rouvy are definitely more realistic, while Zwift is more for riders who are looking for gamifications, racing, and socialization. Rouvy and Bkool both have live events that riders can participate in and other competitors similar to Bkool and Rouvy have only 1-2 events a day. However, Zwift has hundreds to choose from. Zwift has a lot of routes, events, races, challenges, and customization for your avatar, but they do not have things like changing weather, custom routes, headwind and tailwinds, and even has night mode, which competitors like Bkool have. In Bkool, there are hundreds of routes, you can create your own routes, and create your own meetups. If I were to choose one platform right now, I would have to choose Zwift. Your choice will ultimately depend on whether you prefer a more game-like/social platform or a more realistic/training platform.
Bkool is a much smaller platform than other training platforms such as Rouvy, RGT, and Zwift. Bkool features video instruction workouts that are similar to Peloton workouts, custom route creation, ride videos, and hundreds of different routes from all around the world that are available whenever you want. The routes include parts of the Paris Roubaix, Vuelta, Giro d’Italia, Velodromes, Tour of California, and UCI World Championships. The downside to Bkool is that there are not many riders on each route consistently - this is partly because it isn't as large of a platform, but also because of how many routes there are. Zwift limits riders to only 3 different worlds a day, and it rotates daily. Bkool, like RGT, also has wind, so some days the wind will be strong, and other days it may not. Bkool does not have many workouts that you can do on demand, there are currently around 20 in the workout section, while Zwift has hundreds. Bkool offers a 30 day free trial, then the price goes back to $9.99/month. This is the same price as RGT. Zwift charges $5 more a month.
In Bkool you can also accumulate points and level up. This is similar to Zwift, but in Bkool you can only buy kits. The kits available for purchase are mainly pro team kits (ex, Bora, Canyon, Quickstep). Bkool is definitely more realistic than Zwift in many ways such as the draft, avatars, sprinting positions, wind, and routes/courses, so if you are looking for a realistic platform, then Bkool is a great option.
In Zwift, there are thousands of riders on the platform at every hour of the day, making it very social and engaging. Another plus side is that there is always someone you can draft behind ;). There are group rides and races every hour, different worlds for every day, and if a group ride doesn’t work for your time, just hop on with a Pace Partner! There is almost always a huge group riding with the bots. Zwift is by far the best out of the three of these gamification-wise - you can buy bikes, wheels, unlock new kits, helmets, gloves, socks, shoes, and even glasses! You could sport your dream bike, or pick up the bike you ride IRL in the drop shop!
Zwift has 9 worlds. That may not seem like a lot, but the worlds are very well designed, and have lots of hidden things in them. Zwift supports a ton of smart trainers, power meters, and speed/cadence sensors, which makes it pretty easy to get started on the platform. In Zwift, you can chat to all the Zwifters around you in the virtual world, create meetups with your friends, and give riders a Ride On to keep them going! Furthermore, you can level up, accumulate drops (Zwift’s in-game currency that you can spend on upgrading your ride), participate in races, earn route achievements, and complete challenges. When you go under each banner/arch in Zwift, you will get a power-up, which can help you in various ways. You could get some extra XP or go invisible! This adds to the gamification and strategicness of Zwift racing, which some appreciate and some dislike. Zwift also has over 1000 workouts that are available for you whenever you’d like. Zwift costs $14.99/month and offers a 7-day free trial.
Have a Spooktacular Halloween on Zwift!
October 29, 2021
Just a few hours ago Zwift added some new Halloween pace partners. There are three new pace partners, Mecha Masher, Darwin Dino, and Carly Cyclosaurus.
Carly is paced at 2.5wpk, Mecha is paced at 1.3, and Darwin is at 1.2. Instead of getting drops from the progress bar, you will get pieces of the costume. The progress bar seems to move slower than usual, but this may be intentional. However, after the 31st of October, you will not get to keep these costumes. The usual pace partners are up, but keep an eye out for other spooky surprises. I have already noticed lightening in Watopia. Unlike last year, the paces will not be fluctuating. Last year there were also issues with the pace partners u turning randomly, this has not been an issue so far. Leave a comment below with what you find!
Zwift Pack Dynamics 3.0 Details
October 29, 2021
After numerous test rides, Zwift has just opened up pack dynamics 3.0 to the public. This update to the pack dynamics is supposed to make the group roll smoother, and have less of the riding through other riders. This also helps with “sticky draft” but does not completely eliminate it. However, Zwift has only released the new pack dynamics in London, and the other worlds will eventually get it once Zwift verifies that this is bug free. To ensure that you are using the latest pack dynamics, make sure you are on the latest version of the app. As of 11/18/21, that is update 1.19. Update: The new pack dynamics are available in all worlds. Enjoy!
The old pack dynamics
Here is a video of the “old” pack dynamics that are still being used in every world except London. See if you can notice the changes!
Today I hopped onto a group ride in London to see what the pack dynamics were like. This was my first time with the new pack dynamics because I missed the test rides due to school. Zwift is aiming to make the draft more realistic like “a school of fish.” So far the pack dynamics are much smoother than previously and there is much less sticky draft. I found that it was much easier to move through the group, and it was easier for me to have a position in the middle of the pack, rather than always being dangling at the back. The pack dynamics have improved a ton since a few months ago. The updates are also supposed to make rider positions more accurate, so that everyone sees each other in the same position. I look forward to trying the pack dynamics more! Here is a video recording of the ride. So far I have done 2 group rides with the new pack dynamics and they have both been great. I did try a race with the new pack dynamics and this may not be related to the pack dynamics, but it was very hard to get a position in the lead group. This could have very well been because I am a average cat B and it was a mass start race with 500+ riders. My group ride experience has been great. There have been a few issues regarding using steering with the new pack dynamics enabled. This is an issue that Zwift is looking into.
How you can test it
The best way to test the new pack dynamics is to join a group ride in any of the worlds and see how it feels. You will still see a difference when just free riding, but it will not be as noticeable when there aren’t as many riders to draft behind. The new pack dynamics are currently only in Makuri Islands, London, and Watopia, but expect them to be rolled out to the other worlds once Zwift makes sure there are no issues.
To stay updated on the new pack dynamics, head to this forums post where you can catch up on all the latest comments about the pack dynamics: https://forums.zwift.com/t/pack-dynamics-3-0-update-october-2021/560239. Notice any bugs? Leave a comment on the forums post to let Zwift know! Thanks for reading and enjoy the new pack dynamics!
The Lazy Athlete/Chef’s Breakfast Tacos
August 10, 2020
- 2 eggs (I strongly recommend pasture raised)
- A handful of power greens (or spinach/kale etc.)
- 1 slice Canadian bacon diced
- 1 tablespoon of diced sun dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons black beans
- Sesame Bagel seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 flour tortillas
- Prepared guacamole
Preheat the pan to medium-low heat and add in the olive oil right before you are ready to cook. Briefly heat the oil up and then add in the greens, Canadian bacon, black beans, and sundried tomatoes. Stir it around occasionally to cook evenly. While you are doing this, crack two eggs in a small bowl and mix them up.
Once the greens are wilted enough, add in the eggs. Then, season with the bagel seasoning (or salt and pepper whatever you choose to use). Mix everything around until it is cooked evenly and thoroughly all over.
Remove from heat. Heat up the flour tortillas for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Spoon a tablespoon or so over guacamole in the middle of the each of the tortillas. Split the egg mixture and spoon it into each of the tortillas.
You’ve now got an unbelievably healthy and well balanced lunch. This is my favorite after an intense or long workout. Filling, healthy, and delicious!
Testing The Limits #missionpossible
May 19, 2020
So you've slipped on a set of Normatec Recovery Boots at race expos and seen ads with pro athletes using them, and probably asked yourself "I wonder what that device can do for me." Well, this May, we are partnering with Scotty Banks, the regional trainer for Orange Theory Fitness in Indiana, to see what the Speed Hound Recovery System can do for him. Scotty and a group of his friends will be putting their bodies, their minds, and the Speed Hound ProPerformance Recovery System to the test by tackling David Goggins' 4x4x48 challenge to raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On May 20th starting at 8pm EST, they will run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours, totaling 48 miles. In between these runs, the team will be using the Speed Hound ProPerformance Recovery System to help recharge their body in prep for the next 4 mile challenge and taking them to the finish line. This extreme use case for our recovery system will really test the merits of our compression therapy system.
Here's Scotty's Why:
"About a year ago at Orangetheory in Carmel, Indiana, Derek Jones pulled me aside and told me that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV, follicular non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He wanted to thank me for getting him physically and mentally in the best shape of his life, so he could beat cancer’s a$$. It honestly wrecked me. As he was telling me, I was looking at his three beautiful children and wife in the lobby. An immunotherapy drug known as “Rituxan”, originally funded by LLS, currently has Derek’s cancer in remission. However, the battle isn’t over. Derek’s cancer is chronic and will likely return. Rituxan has bought him more time, but the cure is yet to be identified. It may be the dollars you donate that saves Derek’s life or one of millions of others who are forced to step into this fight. As a candidate for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year campaign (MWOY), I am raising funds in honor of Derek."
Derek Jones and his family
With this effort, Scotty is looking to raise $48,000 for LLS and patients who suffer from these diseases. Please support him by making tax deductible donations by clicking here.
You can follow Scotty and his journey on Instagram @scotty_banks.
Irwin Newsletter - April
April 01, 2020
STAYING FOCUSED AND MOVING FORWARD DURING UNCERTAIN TIMESBy Elliot Bach
Many uncertainties are present right now amid COVID-19, and many people, athletes just like you, are wondering how to stay motivated and focused during this time. With more races being cancelled or postponed daily, it may seem like there is no reason to stay motivated. While this is a difficult time for many, there are many things that can be done to stay focused. Just because races are getting cancelled or postponed, it does not mean we have to completely forget about goals and why we do what we do. First, it is good to remember that normalcy will return eventually, and that this is a great time to work on some weakness that may be pushed aside during regular training. It is also a great time to remember the value of having an accountability partner. Staying positive, being adaptable, and looking for alternatives, can help us come out on the other side stronger than ever.
The best thing you can do during this time is to work on weaknesses that may have gotten pushed aside during regular season and training. For many, diet is one of those things. How are you doing with this? Is it something with which you continually struggle or find that you lack time to prepare proper meals? This time could be used to learn more about nutrition and how to prepare new things to insure that you are getting the proper nutrients you need as an athlete, so that when you are back to racing you perform even better. In my coaching experience I notice that many athletes get the swim, bike, and run right but easily forgo proper nutrition. Another area may be stretching/injury prevention exercises. This can be a great time to pull up a you-tube video for a new routine, or ask your coach (if you have one) for one that you can follow.
In fact, having a coach or an accountability partner is a great and sometimes essential thing to staying focused and motivated! One of the hardest things when isolated is self-motivation and self-discipline. Accountability keeps one another going, and helps when adjusting training as necessary, such as needing a swimming partner in a lake, as alternatives take the place of regular routines.
While you may not have access to a normal gym or a pool, there are always alternatives and other exercises you can do instead. Besides a lake option, you can use swim cords at home and do short, abbreviated workouts. While these are not as optimal as a lap pool, they are a great way to maintain fitness and to keep from falling behind when pools are re-opened. Maybe you need to adapt your strength training program while your gym is closed. There are several different body weight programs that can be done at home to ensure you keep up a level of strength training. I encourage my athletes to stop what they are doing several times a day and do some sit-ups or push-ups. Instead of becoming stale and stagnant at home, you can add strength exercises, stretches, and other little exercises throughout the day. If you are working from home, try standing at your desk for a few hours instead of sitting, or grab a stability ball instead of your regular chair.
Thinking outside of the box is huge and can be a game changer for you. Despite an imperfect training scenario, this time of being home could actually produce stronger athletes when we are back to normal again. It is possible to use this time to come out of it stronger than ever!
Irwin Newsletter - March
March 01, 2020
How to PR (Personal Record) Your Bike Split
By Elliot Bach
With there being so many ways to improve in cycling, and tips from soo many sources, one of the biggest and most common ones I have experienced in my coaching experience and being involved with the sport is how to improve or PR (known as personal record) one's bike split. While there are several different things to do or change, I will cover some of the top things I feel will have a great affect on your bike split.
+ Proper Bike Fit/The Right Bike
One of the first and in my opinion one of the most important things for any athlete trying to improve their bike performance is to have a professional bike fit done before purchasing a new bike. As an athlete, you want to make sure you are on the right size bike and that the fit is done by a professional. Massive gains can be made from insuring that you are on the correct bike for you. If you already have a bike and want to stay on it, I would suggest you take it in as the variables that can affect your bike fit are quite long. Some of the major ones are flexibility, stem length, crank length, how low your bars are, etc. Sometimes the most aggressive fit is not always the fastest for the individual. Taking the time and money to go see your bike fit specialists will reap huge benefits to your bike PR and overall performance.
+ Base Miles - No wasted bike miles always ride with a purpose
Another excellent one in my opinion is the goal of riding with a purpose - not having useless miles or junk miles as I like to refer to them as. Every time you ride, there can be a purpose and point to the session. One example would be an easy/recovery ride. While ideally you will keep this low stress and lower HR typically, on this ride you can work on proper pedaling dynamics, good posture, and practice working on some higher and lower cadence. Another good one is to use a ride as a time to work on your handling, try riding down a bike path or through neighborhoods that require you to work on different bar handling positions. The before mentioned mixed with long endurance rides will translate to overall better bike experience and handling and in turn help you ride faster on race day or in you harder sessions.
+ Interval Training
Interval training is probably the most painful to do but reaps some of the biggest returns. Doing intervals is great for several things, and they do not have to always be super long or short - you need a good mix of both at the right time during your training cycles to see improvements. Some of the things that benefit and increase from intervals is your V02 max, which deals with the amount of oxygen your body will absorb. When you work on intervals and do bike efforts at close to max heart rates and power, these train and condition your body. Overtime your heart rate and RPE (rate of perceived exertion) is going to come down as you condition your body to doing the harder efforts. You want to train your body to know what that harder efforts feel like so that on race day when you compete, you're more prepared and conditioned for it.
+ Race wheels
Of all the ways to PR your bike split, if you do all of those right and then invest in a great set of carbon race wheels, you are almost guaranteed to PR your next bike race or triathlon. There are so many different types of race wheels out there and I will explain a few different types and what you would use them for. If you are racing somewhere where it is primarily flat and not tons of wind running, a Carbon disk wheel in the rear and a 80m wheel on the front is going to be your fastest set up just about every time. If you were to race somewhere a little hillier or more technical such as in California, using wheels that are closer to a 60m for front and back is going to handle a little better sometimes. When racing on a course that requires you to climb the little less depth will help with climbing and being a little lighter. Race wheels are a way of buying speed in a way, while I still highly suggest you work on all the other forms of faster PR, these are, in a way, the icing on the top and they make all the hard work all the more worth it!
Ironman Arizona - What you need to know
February 12, 2020
Race Day Gear Essentials - Perspectives from a Pro
February 07, 2020
When I show up to event day, I like to keep things as simple as possible (it’s all relative, I am a triathlete after all). I think when it comes to the equipment you choose, the #1 most important thing is that it has been tested extensively prior to race day. Because I am a total tri gear nerd, I thought this would be a great way to give some insight into what’s essential for your best performance, and maybe you can take away something useful to benefit your race day experience.
Always two pairs of goggles (one clear and one mirrored)
You can never be too sure how bright or cloudy it might be at your given start time. I use the Speed Hound Alcatraz goggles. (Link here) They have plenty of peripheral vision for sighting in open water and I can put them on out of the box with NO leakage. BIG win.
This is going to be a lot of personal preference. Typically some of the higher end suits have a lot of fancy panels and hydrodynamic components, but the biggest difference is in the flexibility. In general, wetsuits can take some time breaking in, so it’s always a good idea to get in the water with it as much as possible before race day. I highly recommend checking out your local tri shop or events where brands have demo opportunities.
An aero helmet does look pretty dorky on almost everyone, but it does help when it comes to performance. Keep in mind the fit, because at the end of the day, it does need to protect your noggin. There are plenty of links to aero testing data these days to make some fairly informed decisions. slowtwitch.com has a lot of great information from both users and published contributors.
I prefer a tri-specific shoe which has closure systems that allow for a quick on-and-off transition. For longer races, a road shoe may be a better option for some in terms of comfort and lockdown feel on foot when transition times aren’t a huge deal.
I always pack my Speed Hound hat or visor. (Link here) It provides cover from the sun which is super important in hot races and keeps the sweat off my eyes and face.
Definitely my favorite piece of gear to geek out on, I have gone back and forth between very cushioned racers to lighter, more responsive type flats. Ultimately, fitness is going to get you to the line in your best time, but there is certainly data out there to support some of the new carbon fiber plate technology. More to come on that in this space…
Hopefully this gives you some ideas on not just the equipment we use, but why we use it and how to go about investing in it. This is a great sport, and it should be fun and not overly stressful or out-of-reach financially. I highly recommend checking out the triathlon race day checklist provided by Training Peaks on their site. (Link here) I use that one literally every time I pack my bags for a race weekend. Best of luck and happy training!
70.3 Oceanside Race Preview
February 07, 2020
This race, along with 70.3 Galveston the same weekend, kicks off the North American racing season in a big way. As age group and pro competitors alike are chomping at the bit to get back out on course, it tends to bring out top notch competition. With a slightly challenging ocean swim, a rolling bike course with one significant climb, and a fairly fast run course with ocean views, it is a great test of early season fitness.
Oceanside sells out incredibly fast, so it’s important to get on top of early registration, and book accommodations simultaneously.
Oceanside is one of several smaller towns strung out from nearby San Diego, giving it that laid back SoCal vibe where surfing is prominent, and the people are generally very polite and friendly. The Ironman Village expo is set up right along the boardwalk, so staying in a hotel or Airbnb near there is ideal. Accommodations near Camp Pendleton are also nearby, but will require a short drive. Transition is about a mile down the road from the expo area, right along the Oceanside Harbor, where a good portion of the swim takes place. As far as logistics go, 70.3 Oceanside is one of the least stressful, which makes it much easier to bring along family/kids/significant others without having a full on triathlete meltdown (no one wants that!)
In typical SoCal fashion, the weather is fairly mild and almost always is around 70-80 degrees F (21-26 C) during the day in early April and much of the year. It can be a little chilly coming into T1 and out onto the bike initially, as the air temperature is about the same or slightly colder than the water temperature. After just a few minutes, that will subside as you warm up and the sun continues to rise. Many people are starting their year at this race after a long winter indoors, so it is definitely a bonus for many that you do not have to super prepared for extremely warm conditions.
In years past, the swim has taken place entirely in the Oceanside Harbor, with very calm conditions, and only a slight swell as you make the turn out by the mouth of the harbor. Last year in 2019, that was changed to a beach start into rather choppy conditions, and then a right turn around a buoy to head back into the harbor. With the new course, I would say that it is not as beginner friendly, but there is also no need to panic, as it is a small portion of the swim and overall race. I would just advise getting in and experiencing those initial waves so you can learn how to navigate that.
The bike is fairly rolling, and certainly not the fastest course. It is, however, very engaging with a number of turns as you flow in and out of Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base that allows special access to competitors on race day. You are required to wear your race belt/number on the bike for this reason. There is one significant hill right around mile 30 that will take several minutes to get to the top. I recall it being named “Hell Hill” or something along those lines, which could be somewhat true depending on where you come from! After that notable point, there is a no passing speed limit zone at mile 39 with timing mats set up at the start and finish points of that section. The speed limit is 25mph for age group competitors, so make sure to have your speed reading displayed on your watch or bike computer! From there, it is mostly a flat stretch back to T2.
The run starts above the pier along The Strand AKA the boardwalk, and weaves through a neighborhood where the turnaround point is located on this two-loop course. It is one of the faster run courses I have experienced, and the only really notable “hilly” sections are the ramps taking you from beach level to street level and vice versa. Be cautious going down the ramps as you can gain some momentum pretty quickly and it can be tough to slow down from there! The ramps to street level are very short but also steep, and it is important not to try to rush to get up them to avoid heart rate spike and lactic buildup in the legs. Otherwise, pretty straightforward!
The finish is right on The Strand, with tons of spectators lining the red carpet. No matter the outcome on the day, it is one to soak in.
Now that the most difficult part is over, relaxing and getting quality time with family is not hard to do in Oceanside. Hello Betty Fish House, located very close to the finish line, has a great outdoor/rooftop seating area with food selections to accommodate everyone, and an extensive drink menu.
Spend some time at the beach or make your way over to one of the bigger cities like San Diego or LA if time allows, and your possibilities are endless. I’ve heard LegoLand in Carlsbad is quite the experience if you have kids!
Speed Hound ProPerformance Recovery System Awarded FDA 510(k) Clearance
February 06, 2020
Menlo Brands, LLC announces that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has provided clearance of its ProPerformance Recovery System as a medical device marketed under the Speed Hound brand. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has designed this as a Class II Medical Device and evaluated under regulation 21 CFR 890.5650. The testing and evaluation included, but not limited to, bench testing of all software, controls, indicators, safety and performance. The device also complies with the latest IEC standards on electromagnetics.
This clearance validates the use of the device for the relief of muscle aches and pains and for increase in circulation in the treated areas. This system works by using dynamic pressure to inflate and deflate the sleeve balloons to simulate kneading and stroking of the limbs and tissues in order to promote blood circulation and lymph flow. Use settings approved for marketing and distribution are hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, hospitals, in addition to home use.
The ProPerformance Recovery System provides a wide range of adjustable pressure ranging from 20mmHg to 200 mmHg, the ability to turn individual compression zones on or off, and two different massage modes (therapeutic mode to reduce muscle soreness and flush mode to reduce swelling).
“We are extremely excited about this. Pressure is a very individualized thing and our system allows the user to customize their recovery with a wide range of pressures and zone toggles. This presents a significant advantage compared to existing systems.” said Sam Chi, MSPT, CEO of Menlo Brands, LLC.