Category Archives: training updates

Let’s show some love

It’s the world road cycling championships. It’s the time where pros swap their work colors for country colors in bid for honour and glory.

There is sometimes a mixed reception to world championships. Not just in cycling, more often in professional sports.

A non-professional sport is when the world governing body does not have a professional league/circuit of any sort. Rowing is an example. There isn’t the equivalent of the WTA, NFL, PGA, NBA, UCI WorldTour etc.

This insta post came up that is absolutely heart wrenching and almost brought me to tears.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B26WoKqnj8T/?igshid=tjmjjigp49vo

This should be what it means to wear your country’s flag on your shoulder. This should be how much you really cared.

I don’t talk much about the journey I embarked on 12 years ago. It brought back some memories. The feeling of complete helplessness, is absolutely heart breaking. I know what it’s like. I can remember every minute of it, all 3 different occasions.

It’s hard to find such passion these days. Certainly not in this generation of athletes I have come across. As sad as I am to watch it, it’s encouraging to know it still exist.

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Road Nationals

Sometimes you think you’ve ticked most of the boxes, but still, fall miles away from the drop zone.

There was certainly more preparation done this year than last. The course is different but I didn’t take much of it. Probably one important box I should have ticked. I had a slight hunch I was in trouble at lap 3 but didn’t instinctively take action to get out of it. I couldn’t do anything to help our main man get onto the top step.

It was still time well spent with the boys. From good banter to the serious topics on and off the bike, we learn something about ourselves by hanging around people we trust.

We’ll keep trying. There will always be that amatuer, self-proclaim pro rider out there who will tell you that you won’t make it. There’s a difference between professional bicycle racing and amateur bicycle racing. It’s not rocket science why the even the amateur bicycle racing community continues to have an extremely elitist image. None of us are after a pro contract.

Great job to all who pinned a number on. Keep at it and enjoy the process.

Big thanks to the team from Recovery Systems for the awesome snaps.

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Data-driven? Or data collector?

It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t feel good after realising they have achieved what they have set out for or gone better. Most of us enjoy the feeling of going that little bit faster, finishing that extra rep, setting a new PR, hitting that target you have set for yourself.

It’s also fairly easy to convince yourself that you’ve gotten fitter and faster. Technology has certainly played a massive role in helping us with that. You can now monitor speed, heart rate, power and even your position in real time. If you just started diving in on output measurement, take your time to understand what the numbers really mean and the assumptions that might come with some of them. It’s easy to convince yourself that you now have the physical ability to ride constantly at an average speed of 35km/h when you were sitting in the bunch the entire time, just as an example.

There is also the option to dive a little deeper to find out how your body is responding to physical activity. What used to be only accessible to really highly competitive and/or professional athletes, physiological testing is now more readily available to the masses. But because of its perceived elitist status, it still hasn’t quite caught on with the age-groupers.

“Why would I want to know how efficient my body is in delivering oxygen throughout my body?” If you’re serious about preparing for an event and time-crunched while doing so, it might not be very efficient use of your time if you aren’t working on an aspect which might be holding you back. It’s not often you meet someone who high-fives at the thought of doing something they aren’t particular good at. More often, there is a greater inclination towards the feel-good factor.

With the help of technology, we can now easily get a whole bunch of numbers. But if it was that easy to make any sense or put those numbers into reliable perspective, for them to be of good use, everyone would be a world-class coach or sports science practitioner.

What’s your approach? Are you data-driven? Or a data collector?

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Training, Coaching, Exercise

The number of exercise and/or fitness programs has certainly increased in recent years. Along with our society promoting greater accessibility for an active and/or healthy lifestyle, it’s so much easier now for someone to pick up a new sport and/or a new fitness regime.

I don’t have the figures, but I’m fairly confident that just based on your social circle, the number of people who is a member of a gym or part of a fitness/exercise group of some sort now as compared to just 5 years ago, has drastically increased.

We all have our reasons for partaking in exercise. Again, with no figures for verification, my assumption is that the vast majority are on the path of active lifestyle or as a social activity, or both. There is the growing minority who have set themselves slightly more tangible goals. It could be an aesthetic goal: to slim down, build muscle etc. It could be a competitive goal: to prepare for a sportive, race, etc. It could be a quantitative goal: to lose or gain X amount of weight, lift X amount of weight, run X distance in X amount of time. It’s easy to transit from one to another to another and back to where you started.

You hear ‘I’m going for training’ being used often. If you have a competitive or quantitative goal, you are training for something. But if you aren’t, you are exercising. Describing your time in the gym or your run session as training to have an active lifestyle can be slightly exaggerating. Your body does need time to adapt to increased physical activity. But I would hardly consider that a training regime.

From 2007 to 2011, I was training to qualify and compete for the Olympics. The goal was crystal clear. So were the short and mid term goals. I fell short of that. To be precise, I was never given that chance in 2011 to attempt for qualification. When I switched to racing bicycles, the goal was not crystal clear and I didn’t have the short and mid-term goals. In short, it was a complete mess. I made the huge mistake of not getting a coach on board, primarily because of the costs involved. I began straddling the line until the grey area got too big that I went no where.

It’s not just about telling your mates that you’re going for training or exercising. Knowing where you are on the spectrum affects a bunch of other factors in your life: lifestyle and diet choices, work and/or study vs life priorities. If you have goals you are working on achieving, and serious about it, I strongly suggest getting a coach on board.

A coach should not only be giving you a training program to follow, you have to trust him/her as a life mentor. There’s much more to do between the ears than most would expect.

There’s now a whole bunch of cycling coaching groups/companies out there. If you don’t know where to start, give Kristján Snorrason, aka Snozza, a ping through his website:

Cyclingtraining.CC

His knowledge and experience in sport, along with his people skills, naturally steers people to put trust in him. Trust that he will get the best out of you, trust knowing that he has your best interests at heart.

After all, it’s still a two way street. There is no template to find out who you trust your personal goals with. But if even we ourselves aren’t sure what they are, no amount of training or exercise is going to get us there.

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OCBC Singapore National Road Championships 2019 – Team Time Trial

Last weekend kicked off this year’s Road Nationals with the TTT. Plenty of buzz leading up to it, with heaps of fancy TT bikes getting serviced and riders getting TT-fitted on social media.

It’s a discipline about numbers. How much power can you put out against the drag against you. You can pretty much buy the least amount of drag you’re up against with the best bike fit and the best equipment suited for you. What amount of power you can put out, well, money can’t buy much of that. But if you’re handicapped in one aspect, you can only hope others aren’t as strong or as aero as you.

The cyclingtraining.cc boys lined up in the quad to lend our support for local racing. I’ve never had a proper go at time trialling, even though rowing was a lane racing sport. But that was a long time ago. The few subpar IPs i’ve done on the track should not be mentioned as well. But it’s a good 40+ min effort, so I put my hand up.

Photo credit: Kelvin Liew Fu Lin

Coming out of it, it’s clear I need more work on my position on the bike. I would love to get a professionally/scientifically done $500+ bike fit, which everyone seems to be getting but my athletic goals don’t justify that. I remember clearly when I just started to have a good go on the track, that I thought a bike fit would do me some good. A couple of experienced local riders snuffed and suggested I should just ride more first. The culture has gone a long way.

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Getting back in

All has been on the quiet front here and it’s probably a good time to kick start things again.

Being able to ride my bike has been absolutely brilliant. Another is going back to rekindle an old flame with my first love, rowing. I haven’t got around to getting back in a boat, but the erg has definitely sparked something. They say looking back isn’t particular helpful in moving forward. I do however believe in never forgetting your roots and to always have the people who have stood by you, close to your heart.

I’m excited to pilot Row Revolution‘s technique workshop class, where I will be sharing with you the little experience I have gained throughout the years with all my amazing rowing team mates and coaches, and hopefully help you to row better on the ergo.

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Row Revolution, Singapore first and only indoor rowing studio is a great platform to experience and give indoor rowing a go. With 12 Concept 2 rowing ergs, it is also an excellent venue for crossfitters to get in a solid rowing workout with your squad.

Their class timetable is available here. The technique workshop will kick off on 8 May, 2019, at 7pm.

I will also be taking the regular workout classes pretty soon! Ping me if you want to find out more!

 

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Full steam ahead

The power of a positive environment. My competitive sporting career literally withered away over the past 3 years, not being surrounded by the right people, to put it nicely. With it, so was confidence, trust and belief. I would lying if I told you that it was a breeze trying to find a new life. No one from any sporting body will be there to help once you’ve done your service. There wasn’t even a ‘thank you’.
The working world was a whole new unknown. I stepped in on what I would consider as coming out from the lowest point in my athletic career. Not the best way to start, but what the hell. All I can say is that Decathlon helped me back up on my feet. The power of a positive, nurturing environment. I’ve always believed in it. It’s great to be part of one again. Thanks G.Horan, AB, Lizzi and SuBC, Al, Sandy and Mercs, Plews, John L, Andrea, Cormac, J.Baran, Big Dave, John H, Louis, Muzz and TCWA, Noda and CCC, DB, Wibbs, Matthews, Chuas and A.C for being the amazing people that you are.

I’m excited to see where this new journey with another bunch of amazing peps will take me.

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Keeping up

Still settling into the life of a weekend warrior. It’ll take a bit of getting used to. Trying to squeeze some decent ks or efforts in before work. Staying alert and putting on a smile at work with the help of 5 coffees. Late finishes, late commute, same early shit the next morning. Sleep-ins are now legit. Smashing yourself on off days. Two things haven’t changed: 1. Being out there makes me happy. 2. Dealing with snarky comments by sedentaries

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Finishing on a high

2015 has been far from smooth sailing. Sits up there with the rockiest of times. It’s been a year of revelation, soul searching, coming to terms, finding myself.
It’s exciting to be part of something new. New people who hopefully will become new mates, new opportunities, new goals. Let’s not forget what defines you. I’ll always be the athlete.

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New beginnings?

The recent election of the new Singapore Cycling executive committee, to some, has been much anticipated and very much welcomed. It comes at what would seem like an appropriate timing, after our some-what successful SEA Games campaign, depending on what benchmark you’ve set as successful. Looking at a slightly bigger picture, a new ex-co one year out from Olympic qualification is far from ideal. That’s like changing your cleats from Shimano to Speedplay 5mins before you roll up to the start of a 100 laps points race: recipe for disaster. Well that’s only if we are in contention for Olympic slots, which at the moment I don’t think any are, so maybe that’s not a cause for concern. Or maybe not?

The freshness and new energy that comes with a new committee is always something to embrace. They called upon the cycling community for their first dialogue and feedback session. Good turnout, as expected, as many I’m sure were hoping to air their concerns. While their openess and honesty were definitely appreciated, the session didn’t seem to address some fundamentals.

Policies and benchmarks isn’t exactly rocket science. At the start it seemed like the objective of the session was to explain the selection policies and criterias for team selection they have put in place, but of course it was bound to get side-track because a benchmark is just a number and I think everyone is clear what the benchmark is. So someone bravely fired the first slavo on issues relating to competition and that’s when the session become more engaging.

Then came a critical point when it was brought to their attention that the criterias they have put in place is far beyond the current standard we are at at the moment. When world-level times are set for qualification to the Asian Championships, it’s telling us that ACC is the benchmark of races and will be legitimate for Asian Games qualification and beyond. Makes sense. I might be new to cycling but I know my way around high performance sport. I went through the same thought process when I was rowing. The concepts are the same. So what bugged me the most was that they didn’t address at all HOW they plan to get someone to do a 10.3 flying 200, or 1:04 kilo or 4:34 IP. Coincidentally, when I started out trying the sprints, 10.2 was the target I set for myself, because that was what I felt was a time that would indicate you can be competitive in the sprint and keirins. Back then it was still a question mark to whether that would make the cut, because there wasn’t any benchmark. At least now there’s something to work towards to.

I brought to their attention how many of us have been investing heaps of their own resources racing and training abroad but not knowing if we’re on the right track. They didn’t quite get it. Maybe I should have been more direct. While there’s now a legitimate target to work towards to, the system remains the same: we’re all still left to our own devices, to find the results which we need. The domestic racing scene is literally non-existent, which means there’s no way to breed a champion locally. You find/plan your own pathway. Someone suggested they come up with a racing calendar. Well that’s definitely a start, but I can copy and paste that from the UCI website. And if you’re reaching out to the riders’ network for invites to domestic races, it’s a sign you’ve been sitting too much in the office.

If we don’t have a track, a high performance framework would require a little more understanding on what is happening on the ground, what the scene is like elsewhere, where the available resources are. Should we invest in putting a group of riders somewhere where there’s a track? Indoors or outdoors? For how long each time? How often? Short stints  or longer stints? Should we try to link up with other countries? Will be there a conflict of interest?
Let’s not forget the roadies. While the dynamics of road racing is as complex as the benchmark itself, how do we go about becoming an international competitive national road team? Get riders a stint into conti teams? Or a high level domestic racing team? Europe? America? Asia? Oceania? Is it worth setting up the national team to go conti?

At the end of the day, if the mandate isn’t passed down on what the pathway should be or you’re not involved at all in the process (fyi, simply setting the benchmark is not being involved in the PROCESS) , people are going come up and invest in their own 4-year or 8-year plan on how to get a 1:03 kilo or top-5 at an Asian level stage race. When you only put your foot in when  selection time comes, you might be faced with riders having either contractual or non-contractual obligations to the team of people who are directly involved in getting them there because with those benchmarks, it’s likely they would have gone through some serious high level racing. And lets face it, if I can do a 10.3 flying 200, it’s unlikely I’ll be hard up for a new chain or tyre which comes with obligations you want the rider to be bound to because you want to instill some form of team element at the very last minute. Some might be a little more understanding. Just like how some grown ups can more accepting of a parent who left for whatever reason during those childhood years but later hopes to reconnect. A team needs to be nurtured.

So it’s still early days. Baby steps, but taking steps. There might be something in the pipeline. Who knows. We can only work with what we know.

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