taking it outside

written by Coach Bill Martin

It’s that time of year in Wisconsin when athletes are starting to do the majority of their workouts outdoors after being inside for much of the winter months, whether at an indoor pool, on the bicycle trainer or the treadmill.  It’s always exciting and fun to get outside, but it’s also very easy in that excitement to forget about a few key factors that change when you go outside.  Here is a list of a few important things to keep in mind when training outdoors that you probably didn’t have to consider while training inside.


If you’re moving from an indoor pool to an outdoor pool, there’s not a whole lot that changes.  However, you will need to consider the sun.  That might mean you need a different pair of goggles if you’ve been wearing clear ones during the winter.  You’ll also want to watch your sun exposure.  It can be easy to forget after a winter of not having to worry about it, but sunscreen or limiting your time being exposed can help you to avoid some nasty sunburns.

If you’re moving from the pool to open water swimming, the most important thing you need to consider is your safety.  Regardless of how strong a swimmer you are, it is never safe to swim alone in open water.  We highly recommend finding a swimming group that provides oversight by someone on a kayak or other boat, but at the very least swim with other people.  And if you are someone who doesn’t normally wear a swim cap in the pool, don’t forget a brightly colored swim cap in open water.  It’s important for your safety so that others in the water (swimmers and boaters) can see you.  In addition to the safety component, be aware that you may feel more fatigued than usual, like you’ve lost fitness.  Just be aware that if you feel this way when you move to open water, it’s because you don’t have the “micro breaks” that you get in the pool, so your core strength and endurance are being challenged more.  It’ll just take some time for your body to adapt to that, so be patient with it.


Before you hop on your bike and take off down the road, make sure to check your bike over to make sure it’s still in good working order after riding on the trainer all winter.  This is one of the best times of the year to get your bike tuned up, just to make sure everything is good to go.  You want to make sure that things like brakes, shifters and the drivetrain are all working smoothly and that all of the bolts on the bike are tightened down appropriately.

The other main factors to consider are traffic and the conditions.  On the trainer, you can get so engrossed in your workout or your intervals that you tune everything else out.  When you’re on the road you really need to make sure that you don’t do that.  Awareness of what is going on around you is crucial at all times while riding on the roads, including during hard sets where you’re focused on maintaining a certain speed or power output.   This is one reason we encourage some riding be done on trainers, even during the summer, if you are a competitive athlete.  As for the conditions, make it a habit to always check the forecast and dress appropriately before heading out for a ride, and always remember to bring your phone with you in case something comes up and you need to get picked up.


Besides dressing for conditions and planning routes, you may need to reduce your volume initially.  If you’re running on pavement, the ground is harder than a treadmill so the impact forces are higher.  Your body may need some time to adapt to this before bringing your volume back up.  The other factor to consider as we approach the summer months is dealing with the heat.  It’s a factor on bike rides as well, but it’s much more significant when running because at slower speeds you don’t have the same level of cooling from the air.  It’s really important to plan out your hydration, including electrolyte intake, so that you don’t run into problems on your longer runs.

Once you’ve taken these things into account, you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the nice weather.  Happy training!

SBR has a variety of small group coached practices for indoor pool swimming, open water swimming, cycling and running from now until the end of August. Join us for a few or all of our group training. Head over to our Small Group Coaching page for more information.

yoga to restore, rebuild & strengthen your swimming, biking, running and/or tri-training

Written by Coach Mali Gaber

Yoga is an increasingly popular practice among athletes of all disciplines. Athletes and non-athletes alike practice yoga for a variety of reasons, from mental health benefits to fitness gains. Among a wide range of these diverse benefits include: improving mobility and flexibility, building strength, aiding in injury recovery and prevention, stress management, increasing focus, and boosting other areas of mental health.

Choosing the Right Yoga for You

While there are many benefits to yoga, choosing the right yoga practice for you and your training is important. It’s critical that your yoga practice compliments your training without any negative impacts.

There are many different types of yoga, including flow-based or sun salutation based practices, while others are a set sequence of static poses. Different types of yoga offer different benefits. Some forms of yoga are invigorating and challenging while others are calming and restorative.

A common mistake many athletes make is taking a yoga class on a recovery day, but end up doing a vigorous session. If you’re looking for a restorative yoga, opt towards Yin, Meditation, or a mild Vinaysa (Slow Flow) practice. If you’re taking a class in a Hot Room make sure to pay extra attention to hydration before, during and after the class.

Anyone Can Do Yoga…. Anywhere

One of the beauties of yoga is its simplicity. Yoga can be done almost anywhere, without any equipment. (A mat is useful, but not necessary.) Furthermore, you don’t need to take a class to practice yoga. You can begin reaping the benefits of a routine yoga practice by brief self-practice sessions at home.
Kick start your yoga practice with an achievable goal, such as two to three 10 minute sessions a week. If you don’t know where to begin with self-practice, try a few cycles of sun salutation in addition to some static poses to meet any personal needs.  There are many helpful resources online including the Yoga Pose catalog from Yoga Journal. Being able to search by benefit makes it easy to find the right poses for your practice! http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/

Building Yoga Into Your Training

Whether you already include yoga in your training or are looking to start incorporating yoga into your life, identify what you’re looking to get out of your yoga practice and appropriately select a yoga style to compliment your training. Depending on the week or time in your training, you might have different needs. The best time to start incorporating yoga into your routine is during the off-season. Be cautious in trying a new exercise close to a race.

Whatever your reasons or interest in yoga, it can serve as a great reprieve from the performance driven world we live and train in. Let yoga be an outlet to become more connected to your mind and body. Save the data for a different session; learning to listen to your body is an important skill as an athlete!

Here at SBR Endurance Performance Center we’re all about helping you become your personal best. Everything comes full circle - training, recovery, nutrition, sleep, along with your mental health and well-being.

Alternatives To Hitting The Pavement Hard


The unpredictable winter and spring season is a great time to try alternatives ways to increase your run fitness while indoors besides the treadmill.   Pool running and using an Elliptical machine are two such alternatives.  These are great ways to build the necessary base you need for the rest of the season and to evaluate and work on your running mechanics. The key is to keep moving consistently and focus on building a strong foundation of fitness and proper form to take with you outdoors.

Pool Running

Most runners discover pool running only after they get injured. But you don’t have to wait for misfortune to strike to start reaping its benefits.  

Benefits of Pool Running:

 --   Getting a lot of “miles” in while reducing common impact-related injuries.

 --   Replacing running completely if the pool is your only option. As with the treadmill, you can simulate most of your typical training runs – tempo runs, fartlek, speed intervals and progression runs – in the water.

 --   Gaining strength. The water’s resistance affects your whole body; in addition to giving your legs a good workout, you’ll also develop strength in your back, shoulders, core and arms in the pool.

How to incorporate it into your training:

 --   Start “short” and build up. Pool running takes some getting used to. Start with 30-minute sessions and add 5-10 minutes a session.

 --   Use pool running to complement the rest of your training program and “add miles” to the miles you’re running on the roads, trails or treadmill. Try for 2-3 hard pool sessions a week. Some examples:

 --   Tempo run: Run for 20-30 minutes at around 85% effort.

 --   Fartlek run: 1/2/3/3/2/1/2/3/1 hard running with 1-minute rests.

 --   Speed intervals: Simulate 400s, 800s, 1Ks, etc. by simply running your repeats in the pool in the same amount of time they would take you on the track, insert 1 minute of easy pool running between each one.

 --   Progression run: Start out at 70 percent effort and work up to 90 percent in 5-10 minute increments, adding 5 percent effort for each.

 --   Warm up and cool down rules apply; “run” easy (or swim) for at least 5-10 minutes before and after the harder work.

 Tips for getting started:

--   Borrow a flotation belt (or buy an inexpensive one); many rec center pools have them on hand.

 --   Learn proper form. Your tendency will be to hunch over at first, which strains your lower back and does not simulate good running form. Have a friend who pool runs coach you through a session or two, or take an aqua running class. --   Use a watch to periodically stop and check your heart rate during workouts, which should match whatever your targets are for road or track workouts. Note that it can take a little longer to get your heart rate up in the pool.

Elliptical Machines

If you don’t have a treadmill or a pool at your disposal, the elliptical is the next best training tool for runners. But you can also use it to supplement other forms of training if you want to give your legs and cardiovascular system a workout while reducing impact.

Benefits of elliptical training:

 --   Building or maintaining aerobic fitness and endurance.

 --   Keeping your “track fitness” by doing intervals.

How to incorporate it into your training program:

 --   Remember that using the elliptical is not the same as running. It uses different muscles. So introduce the elliptical to your training regimen gradually, with a run of 30-40 minutes to start with, then adding in time as your body adapts.

 --   You’ll see many users of the elliptical setting the machines to the highest resistance or inclines. Remember that as a distance runner, you’re focused on leg turnover as well as on leg strength. Use settings that will allow you to use around 180 strides per minute (or higher for intervals).

Tips for getting started:

--   Look for a machine that does not have handle levers. Running “hands free” will allow you to more easily achieve something close to a natural running form.

 --   If you’ve never used an elliptical, your impulse may be to hold on for dear life. Train yourself to run with your hands free by alternating holding on with letting go for 30 seconds at a time. Once you can run at a moderate effort without using your hands, you can work on running faster.

 --   Do a 5-10 minute cool down by reversing the direction of your feet (running backward) – but hold onto the machine when you do this so you don’t fall off the back

No matter what season it is, SBR is always here to help you reach your personal best. Stay tuned for our Spring/Summer running programs to supplement your training schedule. 

Off Season Events


This time of year is the off season for most athletes in Wisconsin, but despite that, SBR gets very busy in the month of February with multiple events.  On three back-to-back weekends we host a 24-hour Winter Cycling Relay Challenge (WCRC), a collegiate sprint triathlon and an age group sprint triathlon (Winter Wonderland Triathlon).  The WCRC has seven teams entered, and each team has someone riding each hour for the full 24 hours.  The Winter Wonderland Triathlon consists of a 750m indoor pool swim, a 20km bike ride on the CompuTrainers at SBR, and a 5km outdoor run.

Besides the fact that these specific events are great fundraisers, off-season events in general can serve multiple purposes for your individual training and athletic development.  (Each year the WCRC event works with a partner charity. Our partner this year for the WCRC is the Wisconsin Bike Fed. The Winter Wonderland Triathlon each year raises funds for the UW Triathlon Team to travel to Collegiate Nationals).

1. Motivation to continue working through the winter months.  The off season can be a time where the purpose and specific components of training are often different from in-season work, but that doesn’t mean there should be lots of time spent totally off.  Having events to do during this time can help to fend off the temptation to procrastinate during this time.

2. Short term goals or fitness checks.  The body can’t physically be at peak fitness year round, and as an athlete, you shouldn’t expect it to be.  The goal of off-season events shouldn’t be to always hit PRs, but they can serve as short term, or stepping stone goals along the path toward your goals for the upcoming season.  They are good check-in points to see how things are going, which can help you to determine how your body is responding to your training.

3. Fun community events.  In contrast to the frequent summer events that bring many in the fitness community together on a regular basis, often the winter months are spent in lonely, somewhat isolated training to prepare for the season ahead.  The events that do occur during the winter are great for bringing the fitness community together.

The off-season is also a great time to increase your knowledge base in order to help prepare for future training and/or competition.  At SBR, we are holding a few seminars this month on learning how to use your power devices and learning about recovering properly from training.  More information can be found here- http://sbrenduranceperformance.com/events/

At SBR, we would love to help you make the most of your off-season.  Please contact us if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do for you!

Process Goal Setting For The New Year

Written By Mali Gaber

With the New Year upon us resolutions and goals are trendy topics of the season.  As athletes, we set goals for many reasons. Goals keep us motivated through the long Wisconsin winter and give us a sense of purpose. They help us focus and can lead towards greater satisfaction in training and racing. However, if the goals are unsuitable or unsupported they can be a setup for disappointment.

In order to set yourself up for success, it’s critical to set realistic yet challenging goals that are within your realm of control. The main pitfall for many athletes is they set outcome-based goals and focus solely on performance rather than dialing into the process.

When setting goals, athletes typically dream along the lines of “top 10 in my age group,” “average 20+ mph on the bike,” or “qualify for Kona.” The issue with these outcome-based goals is that they are outside of your control to a certain extent. External factors such as weather, mechanicals, or other competitors can affect performances. 

Instead of focusing on the result, shift the focus to the process and what’s in your control. How do you do this? Break down the performance by setting complimentary process-based goals. Such as, “maintain a high elbow in the second half of the swim,” “keep my cadence in check during the bike,” or “focus on keeping my shoulders relaxed during the run.” As the examples illustrate, the major difference between process-oriented goals and outcome-based goals is that you have significantly more control over process goals.

Retraining yourself to focus on the process rather than the performance will lead to greater goal satisfaction, and in many cases a better outcome.

Our mission at SBR is to help you become your personal best. We educate, guide, and motivate you to the athletic goals you want to achieve. The coaches at SBR Endurance Performance Center want to help you succeed at your goals. Contact info@sbrcoaching.com for questions or to set up an appointment to set up a plan to achieve your goals. Spend an hour with us for specific goal setting and we can help you create a plan of action.

Back on the trainer- Cycling through the winter

By Coach Bill Martin

It’s getting to be that time of year where the nice days for riding outside are becoming fewer and further between.  Though many cyclists lament this fact, if you can learn to love the trainer then winter is actually a great time to improve your cycling fitness and enjoyment of the sport!  While there are certainly many benefits to riding outside that you don’t get on the trainer, the same is also true the other way around.  Here are some benefits/reasons to look forward to putting your bike up on the trainer for the winter.

Specificity of training- The trainer puts you in an environment where you have total control of intensity and duration of your rides and intervals.  You don’t have to worry about stops, turns or terrain dictating your output or interval time.  Because of this, riding a trainer is a very efficient way to develop your physiological systems on the bike.

Safety- Riding outside is fun and enjoyable, but there are risks associated with it that aren’t an issue when riding indoors.  Even during the summer time, I personally like to do my key workouts on a trainer so that I can focus fully on the workout without having to make that my secondary focus behind being aware of traffic, etc.

Have fun training with anyone- Most people have more fun riding with others.  When you’re on the trainer in a group setting, it doesn’t matter what everyone’s ability is.  You can all get great workouts without worrying about keeping up with others or sticking together out on the roads.  Training in a group setting like this helps keep everyone motivated as well throughout the dreary winter.

Personally, when I started with the sport, I didn’t look forward much to winter training on the bike.  However, as I moved my training from my living room to a group setting, started using power data to refine my workout specificity, and came to appreciate the benefits of indoor riding, I came to look forward to the winter as a great time to improve my riding ability.

If you’d like to improve your riding this winter in a fun and motivating environment, SBR has multiple riding groups available.  For more information, please email info@sbrcoaching.com  

Starting with the swim – Tips for triathletes

by Coach Mali Gaber

Plagued with the “survive the swim” mentality? Even for seasoned racers and tough competitors, sometimes the game plan starts on the bike.

If you’re one of the many athletes who dread the swim or are frustrated with your progress in the pool, it may be time to make some changes in your training. The off-season is the best time to make major changes in the pool and hone in on technique. Check out these areas to work on in order to become a stronger overall swimmer!

Frequency & Focus.

If you want to become a better swimmer, you have to get in the water. Not a revolutionary concept, but don’t expect to see large gains in the water if you’re only getting in the pool twice a week. Get in the water frequently to develop comfort and a good feel for the water. It’s important that workouts have a purpose and incorporate variety. Avoid swimming monotonous laps at the same pace. Mix it up by integrating sets that focus on endurance, speed, stroke work, and technique.


A problem area for many triathletes is having “one speed” or “one level” in the water.  In order to develop the ability to swim at different paces, it’s crucial to incorporate a variety of speed work into your training. Just as you would vary intensities on the bike and run, it’s important to work at different efforts in the water. Sprint, build, and descend sets are great ways to include speed work into swim sessions. Working at these different intensities in the water will promote the development of distinct levels and cultivate depth in your abilities.  


Swimming is arguably the most technical discipline of triathlon. Even if you have the engine, without good technique you won’t maximize your performance. Technique is important in the water to be efficient and avoid wasting energy. Drills are a great way to exaggerate and isolate certain technical aspects of the stroke cycle. While practicing drills make sure to be engaged and know the purpose of the drill. If you don’t know why you are doing the drill, it’s difficult to carry the benefits of the drill over into your stroke. Lastly, remember when working on technique to focus on form, not speed.


As freestyle is the primary stroke used in a triathlon, many triathletes don’t see the benefit of learning other strokes besides free. Time permitting, working on other strokes – backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke – can help you become a stronger overall swimmer by building a better feel of the water and strengthening muscles essential to swimming . Furthermore, supplementing non-free stroke work adds variety in swim sessions and helps keep you fresh in the pool.

While working towards changes in the water remember that developing sound technique and gaining fitness takes time and consistent practice. It won’t feel good every day and positive changes will likely feel awkward at first. Good habits take time to form! Integrating these areas into your swim training will help you build depth and confidence as a swimmer. Shift away from the survival mindset and challenge yourself to start the race in the swim!

Here at SBR Endurance Performance Center we can help you reach your swimming goals! Consider a swim stroke assessment to receive structured 1-on-1 direction in the pool. The evaluation includes video analysis, corrective guidance, and drill prescription. Click here for more information about our evaluation services at SBR. 



Off Season Is A Prime Time To Dial In Your Nutrition

by Coach Tammy Coplien

What are your plans for the off season?
Are you ready to take your training, racing and overall health to another level?

'Tis the offseason - a time to work on your technique in swimming, biking and running, your strength and flexibility.   It is also an ideal time to work on your nutrition -  to train your body to start burning fat for energy which will result in a number of benefits in not only your training and racing but in your overall health.   This way of eating will train your body to be Metabolically Efficient (ME) and involves a nutritional lifestyle that teaches your body to burn fat as a fuel source.   It is not a short term diet but a lifestyle change involving a change in what you eat and in what proportions.  Eating this way has profound benefits for everyone, not just athletes.  It improves cholesterol levels, decreases the risk of developing diabetes, and can help prevent or manage other chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, etc.   Stabilizing your blood sugar also prevents extreme fluctuations in energy, increases your overall energy, improves concentration and improves mood.  Oh, and it also reduces body weight and body fat and given our long Winter, what an ideal time to add this to your off season training.  For athletes ME has a performance effect as well by virtually eliminating GI distress (nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea) in endurance athletes by reducing the amount of carbohydrates needed per hour of exercise.  It does this by training the body to use fat for energy, especially at higher intensities, and not using up the limited carbohydrate stores one has resulting in bonking or needing to eat frequently, often in the form of simple sugar, to keep replenishing these stores, then ending up with abdominal pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting.

ME does not require perfection nor deprivation.  It requires consistency and following the 90/10 rule.  Stay on track with a proper ME plan 90% of the time and allow yourself to have a “miss” the other 10% of the time. We are human. We work and train hard and want to enjoy some cheese curds or a beer now and then, and you can.   What it involves is making a decision to contribute to your health and training in another way and to another level.    Just like your other training it will take preparation, execution and commitment,  but over time will take less concentrative thought and become second nature.  This is an ideal time to make this decision, to learn more about Metabolic Efficiency, having your current nutrition analyzed and then having a nutritional plan developed specifically for you.  It you are ready to take your training, racing and overall health to another level, schedule a consult with me and we will work together to get you on a more metabolically efficient path to feeling and performing better!

Training With A Coach


Some have recently finished their season, while others are considering endurance events and training for the first time.   Either way, this is a time of year when many people start looking forward toward next season, next year’s race, or next year’s fitness goals.  One important decision to make in this process is whether working with a coach will be a part of the plan.   There are many benefits to working with a coach.  Here are just a few:

Structure- Leave the plan structure to someone else.  Working with a coach takes the guesswork out of your training and helps you to focus on putting the work in.

Time- It takes time to create a quality training plan.  Many athletes are time crunched, so working with a coach will give you more time to put into the training itself.

Knowledge- Having a knowledgeable coach in your corner means you can trust your training plan to be effective, you have someone to bounce questions off of,  and someone to teach you the most effective ways to train and compete in your sport.

Accountability- While some athletes are highly self motivated, having someone looking over and managing your training will always add another layer of motivation to complete your workouts well.


Once you have decided to go with a coach, the next logical question is “who should I hire as my coach?”  Well, I’m not going to answer that question, since the best coach for one person may not be the best coach for another.  But I will list a few things that I feel should be high on the list of qualities you look for when selecting a coach.

Knowledge- A good coach will have a reason behind a workout or behind how a plan is structured.  Your coach needs to be knowledgeable about the events and training that you’re looking to do.  Some coaches have specialties in certain areas or disciplines.   Consider the coach’s educational background and experience, not just as an athlete but as a coach.

Personality- No one personality type is going to get the best out of every athlete.  Each athlete is different, and is motivated by different means and coaching styles.   Good communication is critical to the coach-athlete relationship, so finding a coach that you communicate well with is key.

Dedication- It’s crucial that your coach is dedicated to doing the best they can to help their athlete reach their goals.  This starts with a belief on the coach’s part that the athlete is able to accomplish their goals.  From there, the coach has to care about the athlete and be willing to work hard for that athlete.  The coach needs to care about the athletes’ successes and help them through difficulties without giving up.


These are just a few of the benefits of working with, and things to look for in a coach.  If you are considering a coach to help you work toward an event or accomplish a fitness goal, we would love to talk to you!

Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Riding (Part 2)


In Part 1 of Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Riding we touched on gear, safety, and maintaining aspects of indoor cycling. In Part 2, we’ll focus on retaining variety in workouts, how to get the most out of key workouts, and bike handling. If you missed Part 1 check it out below!
Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Riding


Hopefully by now you’ve been able to get out on the road at least a few times and maybe even snuck in an early season race. While it’s still early in the season keep these tips in mind in order to continue building through racing season and maximize your cycling training this summer.

Maintaining variety in workouts.

Mix it up! Avoid falling into the trap of monotonous workouts outside. Going on that same ride, on the same road, at the same pace can lead to mental and physical staleness.  Stay fresh by varying intensity, volume, and route during your rides.

Intensity. Working at different intensities during rides will work different energy systems making you a better all-around rider. After throwing down intervals on the trainer all winter long, sometimes we gravitate towards the same long endurance ride during the summer months. It’s important to work at different intensities to have depth as a rider. If you always go on that “long ride,” you’ll find you lose that top end and feel like you only have “one speed.” Two examples of workouts that incorporate intensity are hill repeats and efforts at (or above) race pace.

Volume. Intensity and volume are linked. Generally, as intensity of a workout goes up, volume decreases. For example, an endurance ride is going to tend to be longer than a hard interval ride. Larger volume and lesser intensity for the endurance ride in contrast to smaller volume and higher intensity bouts for the interval workout. Remember, quality over quantity. The longer the ride doesn’t necessarily mean the more beneficial the ride.

Route. It’s natural to have a favorite route but avoid doing all your riding on the same roads. There are plenty of great cycling roads in the area. Riding a variety of routes and incorporating new routes will help keep you on your toes (or on the edge of your saddle) mentally and physically.  Mentally, the change of scenery keeps rides fun, helps avoid monotony, and promotes mental sharpness. Variety increases attentiveness versus riding on “autopilot.” Physically, the different terrain – flats, rollers, and hills – opens more opportunity to build bike handling skills, develops breadth as a rider and ability to ride different types of courses.

In the same way that doing the same workout over and over will not yield improvements, riding the same route repeatedly will not either. There must be variety and progression in training to keep making gains.

A prime example of over-riding a route would be athletes preparing for Ironman Wisconsin. We’re fortunate to have the course in our backyard, but over-riding the loop can lead to mental and physical staleness. Go check out some new scenery once in a while!

Remember to always check out roads and routes prior. Exploring can be fun a bike but don’t get caught on heavily trafficked non-cycling friendly roads. Safety is always number one!

Getting the most out of key workouts.

There are more elements to deal with outside; traffic, other cyclists, road conditions, abiding to stop signs, and other road rules.  We’ve all had an interval cut short or interrupted during a ride on the roads – it happens. It’s easy to pawn off the trainer as a tool for the cold months or rainy days. Consider utilizing the trainer even during the summer months to do high intensity or interval work. Continuing to do key workouts indoor can be very beneficial. Without the additional external factors of the road we can hammer out intervals without interruption. It’s worth riding indoors once a week (even on a sunny day) if we can get a higher quality work out in.

Bike handling.

While indoor riding has large fitness benefits that translate outside, keep in mind that no amount of indoor training will equate to bike handling skills learned on the road. Cornering, climbing hills, descending and holding a line on the road are just a few riding skills only developed outdoors. Even tasks like hand signaling, reaching for a bottle or nutrition can take time to feel comfortable with. Take the time to practice skills such as these to build your riding comfort and to avoid hindering performance. Additionally, remember to check out course maps ahead of races in order to practice skills such as u-turns prior to the race, especially for technical courses.

As you dive deeper into summer training utilize these tips to get the most out of your cycling training, whether on the road or the trainer. Train smart. Be safe. Have fun. Happy riding!

T.R.A.S.H. Scholarship Winners 2016

Spring and summer time brings us our T.R.A.S.H. Scholarship athletes. Over the years, SBR owners/coaches Mark Kochanski and Tammy Coplien have seen tremendous value in the sport of triathlon physically, mentally and spiritually.  A few years ago Mark and Tammy became motivated to help support up and coming triathletes who attend UW Madison, who are serious about their training currently and plan to continue the sport after graduation. This year is the 3rd year of the scholarship opportunity, and it is being provided to two aspiring student-athletes. 

The scholarship co-created by SBR and Tammy and Mark, includes a personalized training plan with Coach Bill Martin for the Summer, a weekly email check-in for accountability and updates, and a monthly one-on-one coaching session.  Also included is the participation in a minimum of 3 group weekly practices (including open water and pool swimming, bike and run practices).

This year's winners are Brenna Utphall and Andrew Maxfield. Watch for them at your local races! 



Triathlon has become an enormous part of my life, physically, socially and mentally.  Physically, triathlon has made me realize that with consistency and hard work, I can do things I never thought I’d be capable of.  Socially, I have made many new friends who share my passion and love of triathlon. In addition to races, the team plans socials and training trips throughout the year.  My teammates have become some of my best friends.  Mentally, triathlon has alleviated my stress by helping me balance work, school, and practice.  Going to practice at the end of the day is very rewarding and my favorite part of the day. 


Joining the team here at UW-Madison was what made me fall in love with the sport of triathlon.  Not only do I get to compete in the sports I grew up on, I get to train with people who are equally passionate about what they do.  I can confidently say I’ve made some of my best friends here on the triathlon team.  The sport of triathlon and the people I train with help push me towards my goals, both on the course and off.  The satisfaction of hard work and achievement that triathlon brings for me isn’t comparable to anything else I do.

With your SMART goal setting in play, use your CHARM to achieve success along the way


Last month I talked about SMART goal setting.  These guidelines for goal setting have been around for a long time and for the most part they are great. They make sure your goals are not too broad. They make sure you can actually tell if you achieve your goals. They make sure your goals aren't too hard or too easy and also make sure you have enough time to achieve them.   So what is next?   Achieving them and using your CHARM to achieve them. Over the years as I have worked with athletes of different levels, I came up with this acronym to help my athletes stay on task, as well as myself as their coach.


C – Consistent action:   You need to DO something to achieve a goal and these actions require consistency in order to make changes over time.  If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed then break your goal down into smaller goals.  This will allow you to plug away at each step along the way with consistent action and not let those feelings paralyze you.

H – Honesty:  You need to be honest with yourself on many levels; when making a SMART goal and deciding if it is realistic and achievable, when doing your workouts/following the plan or being honest with your coach about your training: what you are actually doing or not doing and why.  You will be successful if you stay true to yourself and your goal.

A – Accountability:  Tell someone about your goal; have someone to report to regularly.  Having this to hold you accountable lessens the chance of being dishonest with yourself or get off track for too long.  Don’t see this as being watched or punished; see it as an opportunity for support and feedback, for feeling that you are not all alone in this quest and as a motivator for consistent action.

R – Re-evaluating and modifying:  Regularly re-evaluate your goal and monitor your progress.  Be willing to modify your goal if unforeseeable circumstances arise or if you come to the realization that your goal is too much right now and needs to be broken down into smaller goals .  Set yourself up for success, not failure!

M – Motivation:  This is inner driving force that drives your effort and moves you toward your goal.   It is the WHY of your goal:  Why is this goal important to me and how does this goal reflect my values?   How committed am I toward achieving this goal?  Do I believe this goal is truly achievable?  Have a heart to heart talk with yourself to answer these questions from the beginning when making your goals.   Ones motivation to change or achieve something is ultimately driven from within and understanding this from the beginning by answering these questions will help you get through those rough times andmaintain consistent action.

Remember, what you get by achieving your goal is not as important as what you become by achieving your goal.    So use your SMARTs and CHARM and dreams can become reality.

Specificity of Training


In my experience, both with my own personal training and that of my athletes, most athletes are more likely to do a given workout on their plan if they know the specific purpose behind it, or at least that there is one, and that it will benefit them. Not only are they more likely to do the workout, but they are more likely to do the workout as it’s written.  For some endurance athletes the former is periodically an issue but much more frequently the issue is with the latter.  A good training plan isn’t random in where various workouts are placed or with what specific intensities are called for at different times.

Aerobic exercise does many things to the athlete’s body.  It increases the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used in a given amount of time through multiple means.  A few examples of how this occurs are increased cardiac output, greater capillary density in the muscles being trained, and the increased size and number of mitochondria.  Other physiological changes occur as well, such as improvements in the body’s cooling systems.  Anaerobic activity, on the other hand, does not improve those things.  It does improve other aspects of performance, though.  Some of those, such as improvement of the creatine-phosphate energy system, have basically no beneficial effect for endurance athletes.  Others however, such as improved neuro-motor connections, do. 

Just by understanding the basics of what I’ve explained above, I have seen some athletes get noticeably better at sticking to the prescribed durations and intensities of their workouts.  Add on top of that the different zones within aerobic training that stress certain physiological pathways to different degrees.  To many endurance athletes, myself included back when I was getting started with triathlon, there is the idea that every workout needs to be hard and leave the athlete gassed.  One big problem with this approach is that the easy workouts aren’t done easy enough, and then because of that lack of recovery, the hard workouts aren’t done hard enough.    What ends up happening in this all too common situation is that many physiological systems aren’t trained at all, and the ones that are aren’t given the recovery needed to make adaptations as well.  The end result is often a hard working athlete who’s not seeing the performance gains that they might have the potential to make if they trained differently.


Do you use SMARTs when you make your goals? Do you use CHARM to achieve them?



(Have a piece of paper and pen ready as you will have a little homework at the end.)

Do you use SMARTs when you make your goals?   Do you use CHARM to achieve them?

Most of us have something we want to improve or achieve with our training and/or racing.   The question is are you committed and willing to put in the effort required to achieve it?  If your answer is Yes, then your best chance of success comes from using SMARTs and CHARM.   This week I will discuss using SMARTs.

A goal is defined as “the end toward which your effort is directed” and “it is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”.    There are different types of goals: Outcome based which specifies the end product such as a desired time (I want to finish the Verona Triterium sprint in 1 hour 20 minutes), there is Learning based which involves change or growth (I want to learn how to pace the bike so I have fresh legs to run and not have to walk) and there is Process based which are the practices and procedures that enable you to achieve a goal (I will ride the bike course weekly keeping my power in zone 2 going up the hills).   The Learning based and Process based goals lay the foundation to your ability to achieve an Outcome based goal.  They clearly define and structure what you will need to do to achieve your desired Outcome.   To develop these goals use SMARTs – make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Specific – breakdown a large or vague goal into smaller, non- overwhelming goals:  “I want to get faster“  becomes“I want to run a 26 minute 5K at the Verona Triterium”.  You need to answer the 6 W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why and Way (or how) to develop a specific goal that you can successfully work with.

Measurable – in what time frame, establish concrete criteria to measure your progress, how will you know you met your goal, are on your way to meeting the goal or need to re-evaluate.  “By June 1st I will be running a 30 minute 5K”.                       

Achievable – the goal needs to motivate you and give yourself a chance to succeed.  Also consider the resources you will need to help you reach your goal and make sure they are available.                                             

Realistic – the goal must represent an objective toward which you are willing and able to work.   Set yourself up for success, not failure.   Also make sure your ability to achieve your goal is under your control and available to you.   You need to trulybelieve it can be accomplished.

“R” can also represent Relevant – your goal is consistent with your big picture or mission/what is important to you.

Timely – the goal must also have a specific time frame built into it.   This gives you structure and a sense of positive urgency or motivation to put in the effort necessary to get you to where you want to be.

So here is your homework:  Write down one Outcome based goal then one Learning based and one Process based goal using the SMART guidelines.  Next week I will talk more about goals including using CHARM to help you achieve them….

If you need help becoming SMART feel free to contact one of our SBR coaches to help!

training for long term success


About 7-8 years ago I was on a roll.  I had been in the sport of triathlon for a few years and was starting to realize my potential as an athlete.  When I started triathlon I never expected to win anything, but I had been training hard and results were starting to show.  I was faster than I’d ever been or ever expected to be, and podium finishes at races were becoming a regular occurrence.  Things were going well, so I decided to step it up to the next level.   To me at the time, that meant pushing as hard as possible, as often as possible.

I didn’t consider recovery to be of much importance.  I was young and not worried about losing steam.  And I didn’t think much about whether my training schedule was sustainable with everything else I had going on in my life.  I did follow much of my coach’s training plan, but I also took liberties of tacking on lots of extra distance or intensity when I felt like it.  I liked sexy workouts… workouts that sounded cool when I would tell my friends about them.  On one occasion, I recall deciding on a whim that I wanted to see if I could ride 200 miles in a day, purely for bragging rights.  I had done 125 before, but not recently at that point.  Wisely, I shared my intentions with my coach ahead of time.  He told me “physically, you could probably do it, but at what cost? What benefit will it serve?  You’ll be on your back for a week or more afterwards.  I’d rather you get a quality week in.” Foolishly, I attempted it anyway.  I made it 187 miles, fell apart, and then didn’t have a quality workout for over a week. I was also bad at communicating with my coach and recording my workouts on a daily basis, so he didn’t always know when I was overdoing it so he didn’t have the information he needed to make adjustments to the plan.  After a few years of this (coupled with poor nutrition), instead of stepping it up to the next level, what I got was stagnating results and adrenal fatigue that lasted years.

Around that time I was also starting to get into the coaching side of the sport.  I was realizing that what my coach had been saying for a while about recovery and sustainability was actually true, and did indeed apply to me.  I was realizing that I couldn’t look at my own training without bias as I could another athlete’s.  I was realizing that training hard was only helpful if there was a method to it and if the body was able to positively respond to it.  That would depend on how I was fueling my body and if I was allowing it to recover from my hard work.  So after making those adjustments, what I started to see was an improvement in performance that I hadn’t seen for the previous few years.  Once things started going up again, I did end up meeting my goal of earning an elite card, but much later than I probably could have if I had understood these things sooner.

So that’s my personal story on the importance of a sustainable training plan for long term improvement in performance.  Unfortunately, my story doesn’t stand alone, and many others find themselves in similar situations and wind up burnt out, injured and/or over trained.  You might wonder, “How much is the right amount of hard work to put in and how much recovery is needed to see improvement?”   What are the best types of workouts to do?  The answer is that it’s different for everyone, so I can’t offer a universally right answer to that.  We all come from different athletic backgrounds, have different goals, have different strengths and weaknesses, and have different stressors outside of our workouts that affect us.  Whatever you and your coach come up with, it’s important that your training plan is sustainable over the long term if your goal is long term improvement in your sport.

Transitioning From Indoor To Outdoor Riding (Part 1)


After months of trainer sessions through the winter and hard work stuck indoors it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of riding outdoors once again.  Spring weather, sunshine and clear roads are the perfect way to get any rider a little giddy. You should be happy and pumped about finally hitting the roads again, but it’s key to be mindful of the aspects of cycling you’ve worked on over the winter. 

Cadence, body position and intervals will all follow you outside, but there are a few external factors to deal with such as weather, road safety, and gear. Continuing to focus on these topics will make your transition to outdoor riding more successful. If you haven’t ridden outside yet, I’m sure the first outdoor ride of the year is soon to come! Keep in mind these tips while transitioning outside.


Riding outdoors simply requires more gear. It’s been a while since you’ve gathered all your outdoor gear together.  After changing out your trainer tire you might be asking yourself, what else?  Always carry saddle bag with a spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridges (with adapter), and/or a hand pump. It's also a good idea to carry an ID (or RoadID with emergency info), cell phone, money and some sort of nutrition while you ride.  While you’re getting back into the routine of riding outdoors, remember to stick to the basics.  Keep it simple and leave the kitchen sink at home.

Road safety. 

Just as you’re getting used to being back on the roads again, drivers are getting used to seeing cyclists on the roads again. Make sure you’re visible and abiding rules of the road. Pay attention to daylight hours. There were multiple vehicle accidents involving cyclists in the greater Madison area last year. Safety should never fall off your radar. Stop at stop signs. Use hand signals. Ride one abreast. 

Remember when you ride you’re representing the cycling/triathlon community. Don’t be ‘that person’, who gives the community a bad rep with drivers. Your actions as a rider reflect on the hundreds of other riders in the community. Be smart, be safe and have fun.

Conserving what you practice indoors.

Time to transfer all the hard work we’ve done on the trainer to the road. 

Cadence. Maybe that hill at Blue Mounds seems a little bigger than last year and you find yourself crawling up at a slow cadence.  Or you realize you’re spinning faster than normal while whizzing past cornfields. Remember to keep your cadence in check. This is essential for keeping your legs fresh for long rides and bricks.  

Body position.  Getting back on the roads can sometimes feel like you have sea legs. It may take some time to feel as comfortable on the road as you did last season. Even though you’ve been working in your drops or aero position on the trainer (or you should have been), these positions might feel less comfortable on the road at first.  Work towards getting comfortable on the roads again but safety is always paramount. 

As you transition to longer outdoor rides, you may experience some positional aches or discomforts. It takes time to build up that endurance, so listen to your body and ease into the distance.  Break up long rides by short periods on your hoods or out of aero but the goal is to spend the majority of time training in the position you’re going to race. 

Utilize these tips for a safe and smooth transition from the trainer to the road.  Happy riding!

What's This New Trend "Metabolic Efficiency" All About?


Metabolic Efficiency (ME) is a nutritional lifestyle (way of eating) that focuses on combining the proper types of food to control and optimize blood sugar, teaching the body how to use fat better as an energy source and preserve carbohydrates.   It is not a short term diet but a lifestyle change involving a change in what you eat and in what proportions.  Eating this way has profound benefits for everyone, not just athletes.  It improves cholesterol levels, decreases the risk of developing diabetes, and can help prevent or manage other chronic diseases such as heart disease.  Stabilizing your blood sugar also prevents extreme fluctuations in energy, increases your overall energy, improves concentration and improves mood.   Oh, and it also reduces body weight and body fat and who doesn’t like that!   For athletes ME has a performance effect as well by virtually eliminating GI distress (nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea) in endurance athletes by reducing the amount of carbohydrates needed per hour of exercise.  It does this by training the body to use fat for energy, especially at higher intensities, and not using up the limited carbohydrate stores one has resulting in bonking or needing to eat frequently, often in the form of simple sugar, to keep replenishing these stores, then ending up with abdominal pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting. 

How do you get Metabolically Efficient?   The most basic way to begin is by paying close attention to your carbohydrate to protein ratio when you eat, whether it is a meal or snack.  In brief if a 1:1 or 2:1 carb to protein ratio is maintained your blood sugar will stabilize, which leads to the cascade of positive effects as I listed above.   For athletes these ratios are tweaked based on the training cycle you are in to support your energy needs, bodyweight/fat goals and immune system.    A general meal would look like this:   ½ plate consists of a lean source of protein and healthy omega-3 rich fat, ¼ to ½ plate of vegetables and the last ¼ may consist of a fruit or carbohydrate source/whole grains or a healthy starch.    This is very general but gives you the idea.   

But, but, but.... relax, ME does not require perfection nor deprivation.  It requires consistency and following the 90/10 rule.  Stay on track with these steps 90% of the time and allow yourself to “miss” the other 10% of the time.   You are human and life happens so don’t stress out if you have the occasional miss (a piece of birthday cake, a beer etc.).   Because it involves a change in behavior and lifestyle it will take a few months to really get into the habit of eating this way.   It takes knowledge of what foods constitute a carbohydrate, protein or fat, and then some effort to plan out your meals and snacks in a metabolically efficient way.  It will take preparation, execution and commitment but over time will take less concentrative thought and become second nature.   If you are interested in learning more please schedule a consult and we will be glad to help you get on a metabolically efficient path!

Tammy has spent time training with Bob Seebohar and has been certified as a Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist in 2015. To contact Tammy you can reach her at tammy @ sbrcoaching.com. 

Kicking Your Swim Into Gear


This post focuses on the flutter kick.  The information is relevant to any swimmer, but I focus on triathlon here.  In general, I believe that the kick is the most underrated and under-trained part of swimming among triathletes, to their detriment. It is true that a strong kick is not necessary to finish a triathlon.  And in no way should this post be taken to mean that the kick is the most important part of swimming... it's not.  It would be a mistake to read this post and then train the kick just as hard as the pull or the complete stroke.  The issue is that many triathletes do almost no work on strengthening their kick.  Being a strong kicker can really benefit an athlete's swim times and can make swimming a lot easier.  Generally, in a standard non-drafting triathlon an athlete shouldn't kick very hard during the swim.  That would cause the legs to carry significant fatigue into the bike and run portions of the race for gains during the swim that are relatively small in comparison.  However that doesn’t mean that an athlete shouldn’t work to improve their kick in training. 

Increasing the power of the kick over time will allow an athlete to get more forward propulsion at the same perceived effort.  You can think of it like FTP on the bike since that is a familiar concept to many triathletes.  In most triathlons athletes race at a sub-FTP level; let’s just say 70% as an example here.  At this intensity it doesn’t feel that hard unless it is kept up for a long time. If an athlete increases their FTP by 20 watts, then 70% of that athlete's new FTP still feels exactly the same as it did before; same perceived effort, same heart rate, but power output is higher and they go faster.  Propulsion from kicking in the swim works the same way.

The kick also provides lift to the lower body.  For some who already have great body position in the water, this isn't a huge benefit.  Most could use the extra lift, though.  Without lift from the kick the hips and legs tend to sit lower in the water.  This increases frontal drag, causing the athlete to slow down.  Wetsuits basically take care of this in races where the water is cool enough. In those cases the kick is less important than in a non-wetsuit swim, though a strong kick is still helpful in wetsuit swims due to the additional propulsion and because of the third primary benefit of the kick.

Going beyond the propulsion and lift provided by the kick, a strong consistent kick also reduces the changes of speed during the stroke cycle, which saves energy.  If you ever watch someone with a slow stroke rate pull with a buoy or swim without kicking you will notice that they speed up as they pull and then slow down during the glide in between pulls.  With higher stroke rates it's less obviously noticeable, but it's still happening to some degree.  It takes a lot of effort to re-accelerate every stroke.  The laws of momentum dictate that it takes less energy to maintain a given speed evenly than to maintain that same speed by constantly slowing down and speeding up.  Your car will use less gas at a consistent 40mph than it will if it averages 40mph by constantly fluctuating between 35 and 45mph.  The propulsion provided by the kick in between pulls keeps the swimmer from slowing down as much, meaning the next pull doesn’t have to be as forceful to keep the speed up.  Less change in speed=less energy cost=more energy efficient.