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Those of you that have been following my blog and recent column know I’ve been doing a “look back at training 20 years ago theme.”


Today’s post featuring “Hotshot Lance Armstrong, Age 16, Plano, Texas” has several  key features I’d like to point out:


  1. Earlier this spring I read a column written about Lance Armstrong where the author claimed that Lance’s VO2max as a young person had never been documented or published. I don’t recall the author or column title now and it’s not really that important; but, the author claimed that Lance's high childhood VO2max was fabricated and later published to give cover to high VO2max numbers posted when Lance was well into his professional cycling career. I knew I had read about his high VO2max when he was a youngster, but I couldn’t find the information anywhere in my files. I finally found it in a 1988 Triathlete magazine column. At age 16, his VO2max was measured at 79.5 (world class) - documented below.
  2. In the training column I wrote recently, I noted that in the late 1980s people were doing very high volume training schedules. At age 16, Lance was swimming 10,600 meters, cycling 320 miles and running 30 miles in the given sample week training schedule. Doing some rough estimates at 2700 m/hr swimming, 18 mph cycling, and 8 minutes per mile running (all average because not all workouts are done at race pace) I come up with a weekly training volume around 25 hours. This is a big load and is typical for many of today’s professional triathletes.
  3. “Junior” loves his mom.
  4. Prize winnings went into a trust account.
  5. It’s a fun column to read.




(Click on the column to get a larger and more readable view.)


Have a great weekend.


If you find something or someone inspiring, let me know.  Drop a comment below.

5,423 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training_volume, vo2max, lance_armstrong, training_schedule

Fall Funk

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Oct 27, 2009

It happens every year, the Fall Funk. There is a period of time after my last race of the season that I’m enjoying residual fitness and doing all kinds of fun things like long hikes and exploring new trails on the mountain bike. After riding that fitness wave for some four to eight weeks, I notice a few things start to occur simultaneously:

  • I’m not motivated to get out the door and go for a bike ride in cool weather. (The kind of “cool” that will be “warm” in just a month or so.
  • The days are noticeably shorter.
  • As much as I love snow, I don’t want summer to end and I’m crabby about the thought of how fast summer passed.
  • I’m not motivated to skip eating treats or eat small portion sizes.
  • I know I’ve got it really bad when I’ll rake an entire yard of leaves rather than ride the bike in coolish weather.
  • I walked the dog to do errands at the post office and the bank, rather than going to all that bother to get dressed for a run.
  • I can’t stand the thought of a spin class or going to the gym, I’d rather crab-out and day dream of the good old days (two months ago) when I was in prime fitness.


In short, I’m in a funk. The annual Fall Funk.


It usually lasts only a couple of weeks and thankfully I’m on the back side of it now – I think.


Snow is coming tomorrow and I actually feel motivated to go to the gym and do something – anything (spin class, weights, yoga). That’s today anyway, I hope that feeling survives until tomorrow when I need to actually follow through.


The funk will pass. It always does. I look forward to a new routine with the colder weather.


How about you, do you get Fall Funk? 

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Ah yes, classic. In the quest for more speed athletes often look to make workouts harder with more drag. In this 1987 product review column, the Para-Shirt is reviewed and priced nicely at $26.95


(You can click on the image to make it larger and more readable.)


What are you using right now, for training and racing, that people will laugh at in 20 years?

Just in case you missed the Seat Leash, find it here.

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The Seat Leash

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Oct 21, 2009

In my ongoing series of looking back at old issues of Triathlete magazine, I found a column on this new technology called “The Seat Leash”. It provided leverage by keeping the cyclist from sliding backwards on the seat.  Apparently the Italians used a similar design at World Championships for cycling.


(February 1988)

I believe the technology was nixed because the governing body for Cycling, UCI, deemed it an unfair advantage and triathlon followed suit. Anyone with more information on that ruling?

3,783 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, the_seat_leash

I found this old column and thought you’d get a kick out of it. In 1988 Triathlete Magazine picked five athletes to be stars in the upcoming year. They featured this photo of young, 16 years old, Lance Armstrong with a photo caption: "If he can handle the psychological pressure, he may become one of the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen.”


The column goes on to tell that though his sponsorship with McDonalds fell through others came through, including current sponsors Nike and Oakley.


Mental toughness is one of his best, if not his best, assets.






Questions and discussion can be found on my Facebook page.


Cycling and mountain bike training plans can be found here.

23,954 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlete, lance_armstrong, psychology
Last week I asked people to post pre-race rituals and superstitions on the community message board. People have rallied and added some great posts. SlowBarney added a third category, pre-race follies. Loved it. If you don't have rituals or superstitions, ever have pre-race follies? Read other people's comments and add yours to the board.
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Sometimes, I wish I was brave


Last spring a group of us from Colorado took a trip to Moab, Utah to do some mountain bike riding. From the Front Range of eastern Colorado, a drive to Moab takes some 5.5 to 7 hours depending on which city marks your departure point. So that the entire first day isn’t consumed by driving, many people stop in Grand Junction or Fruita to ride for a few hours before continuing the trek to Moab; which is what we did on our spring trip.


I wish I was stronger

On both ends of the Moab trip, we stopped at a trail head titled “Kokopelli Loop Trails”. While we thought it was a great warm-up day for Moab, on the homeward stop we decided that the Fruita area deserved a trip dedicated to riding the local trails. That trip happened over the Columbus Day weekend.


I wish I could feel no pain


We left the Loveland area at 7:00 am, the temperature was a frosty 18 degrees Fahrenheit, it was snowing and the roads were slick. Though the weather forecasters predicted the storm would be over before we reached Denver, it turned out we had snow and icy conditions well onto the westbound I-70 portion of the trip. An early morning accident at the Eisenhower, Johnson Tunnel rerouted us over Loveland Pass. (Note to skiers, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Basin have both been making snow and each have one run open.)


I wish I was young


When we arrived at the Kokopelli Loop trailhead, it was 68 degrees Fahrenheit – well worth the 300ish mile trip. We began with Mary’s Loop and headed right to Horsethief Bench. There is some great video of this trail on website by Pete Fagerlin. If you watch the Horsethief Bench video, you’ll get a good idea of what the trail is like. That written, anyone that has ever shot video or even some still shots of mountain bike terrain knows the camera does not do true justice to the difficulty of any given section. To give you another perspective, below is a photo of Scott Ellis and Todd Singiser on the way back up the most technical part of this trail.




I wish I was shy


After a day of playing around on several of the trails in this area, we headed back to Fruita for some excellent food at Fiesta Guadalajara. After filling our guts and rehashing the day, it was back to the hotel to watch several of the videos on Fagerlin’s site and decide the strategy for the next couple of days.


I wish I was honest


On Sunday we popped into the two local Fruita bike shops, “Over the Edge” and “Singletracks”. Both shops were out of the waterproof maps, but we did end up asking one of the people in Singletracks what his recommendation would be. He told us he considers the best area of riding to be the area we visited the previous day. Then, he said if we wanted “rocky, ledgy and more technical” we should visit The Tabeguache Trail system outside of Grand Junction, and ride an area known by locals as “The Lunch Loop”. If we wanted smooth, flowing trails, he suggested we ride the Bookcliffs area, also known as Road 18 Trails and North Fruita Desert Area. We decided to do the tougher trails on Sunday, smooth and flowing on Monday morning before the drive back home.


I wish I was you not I


If you look at a trail map, there are three parking areas for the trail system. Start at the lower trailhead parking lot. If you go back multiple times, explore the higher parking lot areas. We started on the Tabeguache Trail and stayed primarily on that trail, finally connecting to the Gunny trail. There was definitely enough challenge here for us. I was short on photos today, but you can find video of the Gunny loop on Fagerlin’s site.


Sometimes, I wish I was smart


On the final day, we decided to hit the Bookcliff’s area and ride several of the connectors to Joe’s Ridge. After two days of riding, our legs were tired and we decided “smooth and flowing” trails sounded good. Do not assume “smooth and flowing” means mindlessly easy. No. It does not.


I wish I had power


We rode out of the lower trailhead and made our way to Chutes and Ladders. This is a fun trail with shorter, steepish climbs and equally described descents. While the entire trail system is probably smooth sometimes, we found a number of sections deeply rutted from significant rains. The three- to six-inch ruts kept you alert and picking your lines wisely. One false move on a deeply rutted section would grab your front or rear tire. Sometimes the error was recoverable, other times not.


I wish I could lead


After Chutes and Ladders, we headed to Joe’s Ridge. Just as it sounds, the trail runs along the top of a ridgeline. There is not much room for error, should you drift off of the trail. In some sections, there are only inches to spare and in other sections, one to two feet. A tumble down the side of the hill isn’t like falling off of a rocky cliff, but it would be awhile before you stopped rolling. Fagerlin has video of Joe’s Ridge and below is a still shot.




I wish I could change the world


For anyone looking for great singletrack and plenty of options for ride difficulty as well as varying terrain, I’d highly suggest the Fruita area. A couple of good resources include “Fruita Fat Tire Guidebook” and the “Fruita Grand Junction Colorado Trails Recreation Topo Map.” There are also single-page maps available at the trailheads, if they are in stock.


Let's start over
Let's start over


Note: The italicized sections of the blog are portions of the song “I Feel So” by Box Car Racer, heard at the beginning of the Fagerlin Horsethief Bench video. We felt motivated, and encourage others to do the same, to add our own words after:


I wish I was…

I wish I could…

1,901 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_biking, fruita_colorado, grand_junction_colorado, lunch_loop, joe's_ridge, horsethief_bench, mary's_loop

I've have, and have had, my fair share of pre-race rituals and superstitions. In honor of this weekend's upcoming Ironman race, tell me about your pre-race superstitions and rituals on this community board.


To get you started, I'll let you know my current pre-race meal is French press coffee and steel cut oatmeal. I've been known to pack my French press, burr grinder and coffee beans on all kinds of trips.


One of my old, dead, pre-race meals (the word "meal" used loosely) was coffee and powdered-sugar donettes. Raced really well for a long time on this combination...then one day I didn't. The cause was obviously the donettes.


I like defizzed Coke (can't be Pepsi or any other brand because they don't work as well, it must be Coke) at some point during really long races.


I found out I should be fearful of mixing particular brands of drink products with other brands (and Coke) because there is some sort of battle in my GI system and I might explode or something similar. Unfortuneatly I found this out after I had been doing the mixing routine for quite some time. I continue to  ignore the manufacturer's warning. So far, so good.


How about you?

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For years, I’ve suggested that if employers want optimal performance from their employees (translated to optimal business performance), they should employees like high-performance athletes:

  • ·         Be sure to include periods of rest and recovery within the day, across a week, months and year. (Encourage people to take breaks during the day. Encourage them to take vacation.)
  • ·         If a period of high volume (a relatively large amount of work hours) is required, know that intensity (work speed and perhaps accuracy) will be reduced.
  • ·         A period of high intensity (high work speed and accuracy) needs to be relatively short or include ample rest intervals.
  • ·         If you want a high performing business (i.e. highly profitable), develop strategies of loading and unloading work for employees to accommodate customer needs, yet yield high employee productivity. This is similar to planning peak performance for racing.
  • ·         Know that extended periods of high intensity combined with high volume will eventually yield lower performance, illness or injury. Any of the three, or combination of them, will be costly your business.
  • ·         If you tell your employees they need to go fast and furious for a period of time (run a 5K) do not inform them at the finish line that the fast and furious time has been extended for some extended time. (You’ll need to run that 5K pace for a full marathon now.)


Is job burnout basically the same as “overtraining”?


Would your business perform better, perhaps achieve new PR performance, if you treated your employees like athletes?

1,648 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: job_burnout, high_performance_employees