What Makes VQ Special?

I often hear our athletes, visitors and special guests comment on the unique nature of Vision Quest. Many times it is stated in an almost inquisitive way, as if they know it, but can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that make VQ special. Is it the training philosophy? The classes? Or maybe the people and the wonderful camaraderie? So, I ask myself: “what makes VQ special?” I am reminded that the VQ experience has been evolving for over 15 years and, while we have offered a variety of different class structures, content, camps, clinics and services, there are a few things that have been part of who we are since the beginning. I find those elements critical to the VQ experience and what makes VQ VQ.
Over the last several months, our team has worked hard to define, articulate and actually write down what “it” is that makes VQ VQ. “It” is something most of our athletes know and feel. “It” is what allows VQ to help our athletes perform at a level higher than they thought possible. The pursuit of defining “it” led us to a reshaping of the VQ Value Statements.
Zeroing in on our exact value statements was not an easy process. Thankfully, we had a lot of help on our journey. Tim Zoph spearheaded the process during a three-hour brainstorming session with full-time staff. We talked about many things that are important to all of us and what defines who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. It was a great exercise and one that brought the team and mission together. It crystallized the objectives of the company and really made all of us feel good about the direction we are headed. The next stage of the process was to distill all the notes into ten value statements with supporting statements and facts that back up our values. This was an ever-evolving process that took several more meetings to get right. We ended up with seven statements, each with a supporting statement showing evidence of how we live those values.
In December we shared the value statements with all 50 coaches, instructors, ride leaders and office staff at the end-of-year staff party. They all had a chance to review the statements and give their feedback on what they liked, what they thought needed to be changed and how the statements lined up with their own ideas about who VQ is and what we’re all about. I was again reminded of the quality of individuals who make up the VQ team. They are a group with powerful and impressive minds! We are so lucky to have them all as part of our team.
The feedback was terrific and after compiling and organizing all of it, several consistent themes emerged. First, make the statements shorter. Second, have fewer of them. And third, simplify the message and supporting statements.
After a few more meetings to apply all the feedback, we came to agreement on our most current VQ Value Statements, now down to five from that initial seven. These statements embody who we are and what we believe. They are things we think about before making any decisions and things we build our programming around. They are woven into my presentations, our coaching lectures, workouts and philosophies. They are the cornerstone to our “secret sauce,” if you will, and they have been formed over the 15 years we have been in business. But, make no mistake, they are not afterthoughts. These values are VQ at the core. They are inherent to who we are and everything we do. I am proud of these values and we, as a company, will strive to support them at the highest level in anything and everything we do.

So, without further ado, the VQ Value Statements:

We believe in the athlete’s journey

…every member is an athlete, sharing commitment to personal growth, realizing you are more capable than you believe yourself to be, measuring growth and building confidence, finding the athlete within, purpose and structure for every workout, goal-setting, continuous learning, no easy way, facing challenges, suffering, managing setbacks, attitude, taking risks, achievement and courage (cycle: assess, train, perform)

[as evidenced by: athletic journey of >5000 athlete accomplishments: >1000 Ironman athletes, >1000 first-time century ride athletes, >1000 first-time triathlon athletes; our athletes have cycled >40 million miles, run >4 million miles and swam >400,000 miles…all with the support and guidance of VQ]

We believe in community…

…great athlete experiences, team bonding and friendship, getting better together, knowing the value and satisfaction of winning and training as a team, being a model for other athletes, treating everyone as an individual, immersive experiences, always being positive, treating employees with respect, clean and well-maintained facilities, having fun, flexible, cared for, cohesive, compatible, collaborative, being selfless, telling the truth, facing the facts, valuing feedback and giving back

[as evidenced by: >90% of athletes participate in a VQ event or camp, 90% organic growth via athlete referral, 7 training centers with >5000 group workouts a year; diversity of athlete age from 17-77 years; the VQ family has raised >$1 million for charity]

We believe in life balance…

…focus on nurturing the whole person, balance training with work and family, proactively looking for signs and symbols of balance, build for longevity and you can do this forever, strong and stable with range of motion, being an athlete enhances all aspects of life

[as evidenced by: new measures to follow including # coaching conversations, use of supporting methodology and lectures or forums]

We believe in safety, always

…safety is a high priority in everything we do, coaches and athletes fully committed, create a culture of safety, ever present, part of every ride, obeying the rules, highest standards of training, latest technology, ongoing prevention and risk management, start and finish together

[as evidenced by: all VQ coaches and instructors are USA-, LOB- and/or USAT-certified, including CPR and first aid certifications, all ride leaders and athletes must complete a rigorous cycling certification program anchored in safe cycling that has been refined over 20 years’ experience]

We believe in innovation…

…cutting edge and high quality training programs, the gold standard for nutrition, expert speakers and advisors, state-of-the-art performance centers and training technology

[as evidenced by: developed >4,000 athlete-specific training programs for >20 years; thousands of training videos created, >5,000 lactate threshold performance evaluations used to enhance our performance training, engage an elite team of exercise physiologists and sports scientists including Allen Lim, Stacy Sims, Max Testa and Phil Skiba]

When I reflect back on this entire process and look at these VQ Value Statements, I realize that it is the people, training philosophy, workouts and camaraderie that make VQ special. Each is tied to our values and reflects who we are as a whole.

Ciao~
Robbie

The Importance of Effort Over Talent OR What I Learned on Winter Vacation

Day after day I am reminded how critical work and effort are to success. Some of us need to be convinced that performing at high levels, in just about everything, is possible, if we put in the work. Sometimes we lack the ability to learn something quickly, but once we learn how to do it, we can manage to get really good at it through hard work. I have seen people who thought they had no talent get really good at something by working hard. And as they progressed, they actually started to believe they were talented at the given activity. They often credit a “hidden talent,” rather than the hard work. It is true that talent presents itself at different times during improvement curves. However, if I had to bet, I would say it is the effort. I have also seen this work against us. Sometimes people give up in the first stage because they watched someone else (more talented, they presumed) learn it quickly and pass them by as they struggled. Often, if they just keep practicing, they too would learn the skill and, in time, potentially outperform the person who learned it faster.
This was the case when I took my family to Costa Rica to learn to body surf. My son, who is not known for how quickly he “gets” different sports, is not short on hard work and perseverance. He managed to become the best surfer of all of us because he outworked us. His raw talent was not his ability to time the wave or paddle harder, but it was in his ability to learn from every good and bad experience, making micro-adjustments and staying after it wave after wave. He was being supported by all of us and had some excellent coaching by his uncle (a total aqua-man and expert body surfer in his own right). The water was just right and the waves were also perfect for learning to surf. He was clearly struggling for a good portion of our time in the water, either missing waves or getting crunched by them. The difference was that after everyone else was content at the level they were surfing, he continued to work, grow and improve. Toward the end of the day he was doing things differently than the rest of us, allowing him to ride almost every wave no matter what the size. This caused many of us to watch in awe as he not only rode the waves, but learned to cut and turn along the wave and not just ride it straight in. Everyone said afterwards that he must have natural balance and feel of the water. NO! Not really. He just worked hard, learned from every experience and did not get discouraged as he watched everyone else get the hang of it much more quickly. He did not catch the first or second wave or even the tenth, but once he did he could repeat how he did it. He gained knowledge and understanding from all the falls, allowing him to exceed everyone else’s natural ability.
This story offers a couple of parallels to VQ. At VQ, like those perfect ocean conditions in Costa Rica, we try to create a program in which everyone has the opportunity to improve. We do this by providing a safe environment that allows for taking risks and not being judged; a place where coaches and athletes help everyone work smarter and harder. We hope we have created a collaborative environment where everyone is helping others improve without expectations based on “raw talent,” but on consistency and grit. We strive to give positive support when athletes improve and keep them focused on the process when they struggle.
The take-away here is this: If I could only have one, either talent or grit, I would rather have GRIT any day of the week. Moreover, I would rather coach people with grit over talent as well.

 

I recently read the book, Mindset by Carol Dweck. In it, she describes how talented kids who are repeatedly told how great they are struggle to live up to that level day in and day out. She details how people who rely purely on the fact that they have talent never develop enough grit to really get uncomfortable. She also explains how “super smart” kids never want to take risks for fear of not being called or seen as “super smart” if they fail. The same goes for any and all athletes. Time and time again I see the people who tested poorly take more risks, work harder and fear nothing. They know they can only improve because they “need” hard work to grow. These people blow their own expectations out of the water and enjoy the process of improving. They don’t leave anything on the table and stay focused on the future, rarely looking back. It’s as if they are lucky not to be blessed with a 60-80 VO2 or a 150-beat HR reserve or a naturally explosive sprint…because they have no expectations. They are free of the stress anyone, including themselves, put on them.
Too many times, though, I see the opposite happen. Growing up, my dad would often say, “With great potential comes the burden of living up to that.” It’s the potential that can cripple people. We actually see it every day here at VQ. Sometimes the “talented” athletes either: 1) give up when the going gets tough, 2) improve only a little and feel it necessary to make excuses (“think how good I would be if I did as much as that person”), 3) rarely take any real risk and stay with people they can dominate or choose “safe” events or 4) the rarest: work their asses off regardless of “perceived talent” and leave nothing to chance, make no excuses, enjoy the process of improving and win and lose like the rest of us. The last is very rare to find because that understanding of having natural talent affects a person’s mindset–usually in a negative way, believe it not.
I don’t often use words like talent or potential in isolation for the simple reason that it doesn’t help anyone. Using those phrases within the correct context is very important because the truth is, without hard work, it really doesn’t matter how talented a person is. I prefer to tell athletes what can be done to improve and that, if they work hard, they will grow. I also tell them that in life we need risk, we need failure, we need success, we need others to push us, we need coaches and we need to believe we can do incredible things. I make sure they know they are not at the top or at the bottom, and the biggest difference between any of us is hard work and attitude, not TALENT!
Ciao~
Robbie

The Importance of Adaptability
This time of year presents many amazing opportunities. We often get a few days off work for the various holidays we celebrate, allowing us to sneak in more training or family time. With family and friends around, these opportunities might also result in a loss of training rhythm since we often choose to spend more time at social events and family gatherings. The weather also may eliminate training opportunities as the temperatures and snow start to fall.
I have always valued the importance of routine and consistency. However, there are certain times each year that prohibit routines, causing us to adapt our training. Here are my top tips for navigating an ever-changing life schedule and getting through the holidays with minimal fitness destruction.
First: Adjust your expectations…a little and prepare for the adjustment by planning. Write down your entire schedule from now through the first or second week in January. Write down every day off and every day you will be out of town. Include any social responsibilities that will impact your normal training routine. Once you have done this, determine how many training days you will miss. Next, write down the days you have training opportunities that you normally don’t have. Try plugging in some “missed days” to your days off or your existing workouts. Most of us will net out fewer days to train, but that does not mean we have to do less overall training volume.
Second: Take advantage of other opportunities to stay fit. You have all heard the phrase make hay while the sun shines. Well, the holiday season is all about making hay when you have the opportunity. When you get a few days off work, you might be able to get a few more workouts in. It is OK at this time of year, even if they are back to back. The key, when you get in a little two- to three-day holiday training block is to keep the intensity a bit lower early in the block so you can manage two to four days in a row. It will help keep the training effective. These blocks will move the needle when it comes to getting stronger and banking some volume. This can hold you over a bit during the windows when you are not able to train. For those of you who might be traveling, figure out what training tools you have at your disposal in order to stay active. There are often rental bikes in warm climates, hotel gyms to get good strength work or decent swim and run opportunities. Try to map out a workout plan that incorporates these things to keep your fitness while away from home. It is important to remember that places you visit might also have local activities or events, like scuba diving, snorkeling, skiing, wake-/snowboarding, etc., that keep you more active than just sitting around. Try to encourage your travelmates to get up and get moving too.
Third: Enjoy with moderation and be mindful of your diet based on your activity level. Watch your diet and really try to keep your weight in check. Often, the holidays create opportunities to eat and drink more. If your training volume is reduced, you will gain weight unless you also reduce your caloric consumption. The math is pretty simple on this one. Now, gaining a couple pounds over the holiday season is OK because we want to be able to enjoy the festivities, but putting on five to ten pounds is not good and you will not be happy with the deadly combo of gaining weight and losing fitness. So remember to base your diet on your activity level and enjoy within reason.
Fourth: Keep your eye on the ball. Have an early spring goal? Keep your focus, but learn to be OK with losing a little fitness. Just having the goal on the books will increase your mindfulness toward better choices. It is important to enjoy the holidays, vacations, parties and out-of-town guests even if you know it will negatively affect your fitness. This is when prioritizing your fitness comes into play. Making the most of the time you do have helps reduce the stress of meeting early season goals and allows you to keep your eye on the ball while also keeping in mind that the fitness goals/events can never be at the expense of things that are more important in our lives. Believe it or not, this is an acquired skill. Once you understand there are ways to limit the effects of training loss, you can start to have fewer of those feelings and better engage in the opportunities this time of year brings.
Enjoy the holidays, make hay when you can and, once the holidays are gone, focus more fully on your spring goal. Whether it is a half-marathon, a cycling training camp or an early season triathlon, getting back to your routine and tuning up your diet will get you back on track and who knows? maybe some of those holiday fitness blocks will leave you in a better place than before the holidays started.
Good luck and happy holidays!
Ciao~
Robbie

Another Epic Adventure for the Books

Lotoja 2015 is done and over with but its memory lives on! I am so happy with how this event shaped the year for many VQers, both individually and collectively as a VQ group. After reflecting on the event and the lessons learned, I have some good personal and professional take-aways…

Lesson 1: Epic Events Bring Extreme Fitness and an Improved Mindset
An event as challenging as this kept many of the attendees on their toes all year, resulting in all-time highs in fitness levels. Many athletes hit new heights in power and threshold power output. Several told me that they had achieved the best fitness of their lives. This is the most exciting part of Lotoja for me.

Often, the goal is just the target that propels us through a process or down a path. The event itself is magical, but results like improved fitness from a long, hard journey are rewarding and motivating, encouraging better choices and boosting the mindset in the future. Not only is there an increase in physical threshold, there is also an improvement in mental threshold. A lot can go wrong over the course of 12 hours, so the fact that 45 VQers used this event to achieve their fitness goals is wonderful.

Lesson 2: Knowledge is Power
The more information you have about an event, the more you can reduce race-day stress. For this event we really tried to make sure that all the VQers knew everything possible about all aspects of the course, feed zones and training to prepare for the event. We gave them more articles, videos and training advice than they could handle and we re-sent the information in multiple formats to make sure they processed it. Bottom line: I think it worked. Our 45-strong VQ crew was pretty relaxed during the days leading up to the event and I think it ultimately helped them perform at their best on race day. Consider: when facing big challenges, overwhelm yourself with relevant information.

Lesson 3: Quitting is Contagious
During the event, more than our usual share of people dropped out. I am convinced it was because as people dropped out, they were visible to the other riders. We had a feed zone full of “late-day droppers” who figured as long as they were out of the race, they might as well help and support the other riders–a nice gesture and a great reflection of what makes VQers so special. The downside was some of the riders who were still riding, but now very tired or dehydrated, saw that crowd of people that had dropped and decided it was much easier to call it a day when they knew they’d have company. I am not saying they wouldn’t have stopped at that point anyway, but it was ironic how many people decided to stop that ride there and join the others.

The take-away is: ride your own event! When you see others withdraw from an event, realize that what you are seeing is their journey, not yours! And if you do drop out and want to cheer on our VQ team: help them stay in! If they pull off in your presence, encourage them to keep going!

Lesson 4: Luck Matters
Ultra-long events have a huge component of luck. The longer the event, the more opportunity there is for things to go right or wrong. Crashes, hot foot, stomach issues, mechanicals, bugs in your eyes, cramps, hot spots on your body, neck pain, etc. Sometimes the event can become more about how you tolerate issues that hit you than your fitness, power or tactics. If you are not up for trying to navigate the potential list of obstacles that come along with longer events, do shorter events to have more control over the outcome.

Lesson 5: We are Capable of More
We are all capable of way more suffering and discomfort than we think. If we have support and support others, if we just don’t stop moving, if we keep food and water coming in…we can do pretty much anything! It really is a mental lesson and threshold that can be trained and developed only by pushing ourselves beyond typical experiences. It takes going outside of “typical” to experience what it means to expand your thinking and willingness to suffer. So remember that dealing with adversity and pain is trainable! The more you suffer, the more you can tolerate suffering!

Looking to 2016, I am anticipating some killer events. The bulk of the events are under six hours long with options for road, TT and cross bikes. This will keep things interesting. Take a chance on something outside your comfort zone in 2016. Like many of this year’s Lotoja athletes, by taking that leap you may find yourself in the best shape of your life and focusing on something that will require hard work and attention.

Ciao~
Robbie

Big Goals = Big Fun…most of the time

This time of year is very conflicting mentally for many of us. Many athletes have big season goals approaching and those can cause a release of many emotions. Depending on how we feel after a workout, weigh-in, prep event, physiological test, etc., these feelings can change on a dime.

Working hard, sacrificing other priorities, investing money, effort and, most of all, time into something important all help to create high expectations. These expectations supercharge our athletic experiences to a pretty high voltage. This is why “checking ourselves” when we feel like we’re getting amped up–positively or negatively–is so important. We spend more time in emotional extremes at this time of year and that is not always the best thing for us or those around us. So we must remember to keep things in perspective.

The key is to anticipate these high emotions, realize what is happening and work to minimize the impact it has on us and those around us. It will happen, make no mistake about it. When we have a bad day before a big event, the emotion will take us down mentally. The closer it is to the event, the greater the impact on our mood. Equally powerful, but on the other end of the spectrum, is when we have a good workout two weeks before a big event. This will elevate us so high as we feel we have really “nailed it”.

These emotional swings consume energy that needs to be harnessed for event day. My advice is to have confidence in the training and in the plan. Know that we all have tough workouts as we enter the home stretch of any big goal so it could be possible to feel the effect of a hard workout more than usual. There are many reasons for poor performances close to a big event, so take some time and think about it. Although we all might have different reasons for why this happens, there is one truth for all of us: the way we handle these setbacks and accomplishments can make or break our big goal events.

As a coach, I try to make sure all my athletes know the last four weeks are going to be emotional. It is hard to feel great and then swing to also feel really negative and tired. Some of my athletes’ biggest training volumes come just two to four weeks before an event, making them pretty tired. I let them know that they will not feel their best from four weeks to five days out because of the increased training load plus the recovery and growth period needed to grow. I also give them micro rest cycles to pop up their form, giving them some confidence that what we are doing is working and they are getting stronger. This way they see the improvement. They expect to be tired from the increased workload and they are confident because they know after the rest they will be even stronger.

The thing about training for a big goal is that we all know this. It still makes us nuts! It is human nature. Second-guessing whether it was all worth it and if we did too much or not enough comes with the territory. It is important to extend goals to include enjoying the process as much, if not more than, the event itself. I also find it helpful to think back on some (more) words my dad told me: “Don’t stress over things you cannot change.”

…Sometimes, that is easier said than done. So here are my top five tips to reduce the emotional roller coaster the peaking process delivers:

  1. Put into perspective how important this is in the big scheme of things (health, family, job, friends, etc.).
  2. Review the training plan (if you are not feeling your best) and try to find a reason for the bad workout: big intensity, big volume, flat legs from big rest, etc. Most likely there is a plausible reason behind the result.
  3. Communicate! Call a coach, mentor or someone who can understand the goal and the training. It is easy to get so focused on what we are doing that we miss something apparent to another.
  4. Revisit what was neglected due to increased training and make time for it. Sometimes our minds are so tight that we need to let them reset. I like to play my guitar and go for ice cream, two things that don’t happen when I am training a bunch. This re-connection to other interests re-motivates me.
  5. Reflect on the joys of the process: more fitness, friendships, knowledge gained, health benefits, etc. Remember that the journey brings great gifts.

These five tips will help turn some of that nervous energy into the positive energy that can help fuel us not only to our best performances, but keep us and the people around us happy!

Ciao~
Robbie

New Season, New Service

I am really excited about a new service coming to Vision Quest Coaching in July. Your VQ team is being prepped and trained on DexaFit: a DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scanner that measures body composition.

Since my first DEXA scan 15 years ago, I have longed for a repeat and the follow-up data it provides. This particular machine is the gold standard in measuring muscle mass, body fat and bone density. It is more accurate than any product I have ever used or researched. It really portrays the entire picture when trying to figure out the next steps to a healthy body. There are many people who “look fine”, but in actuality might have unknown issues that limit being able to reach the best level of health and fitness. The information provided through DexaFit helps identify potential physiological blind spots and allows for prescribed alterations to current workout routines or lifestyles.

An example of this unknown is low bone density. An individual with low bone density needs to incorporate more weight-bearing activities to help build this area. This is not uncommon amongst cyclists and swimmers, but the only way to know is to measure.

DexaFit also measures lean muscle mass. It does so in all areas of the body and adds a valuable piece to the body composition puzzle. For those people who have low body fat, but really lack muscle, gaining a few pounds of muscle will make them significantly healthier. This information is hard to know unless it is measured through an accurate tool. Understanding the amount of muscle one has is just as important as understanding how much fat one has and where it is located. The DEXA scan also measures body fat, both subcutaneous and visceral. High amounts of visceral fat (fat surrounding key organs) can be far more damaging than subcutaneous fat that is sometimes found in the arms or other areas away from the organs. Understanding where fat is located and how much is key to figuring out next steps.

DexaFit measures these various factors precisely through low grade x-ray. Now don’t get scared about this level of x-ray. There is more radiation on a flight from Chicago to New York than in a DEXA scan. This technology is completely safe and incredibly accurate.

Obviously, the DEXA scan itself cannot make you healthier, but it can isolate and measure what needs to change so the proper steps can be taken to achieve better health. To my knowledge, this is the only machine that does all of these things–and at a level of accuracy I can support. DexaFit offers reliable, objective data which is something I love. I am thrilled to be able to offer this service and I think we can continue to change lives and help people become healthier.

I hope everyone is having a great start to the summer. I am really eager for the weather to become a bit more consistent and typical for this time of year. With our seasons getting more and more mixed up, we really have to adapt our training to the ever-changing weather patterns. By that I do not mean ride six hours every time it is nice or not ride when the weather is poor. I am saying that when there is a nice day and you have a 75-minute interval day planned, consider tacking on an extra hour or more after the hard work is done. Conversely, when you have a six-hour day planned and it is 42 degrees and rainy, you may be better served shortening the day a bit and riding more tempo intensity. Save that longer day for when the weather gets better. The key is to have an idea of what you’re trying to accomplish each week/month/cycle and focus on that goal, but also allow for some flexibility when training with inconsistent weather. Of course, there are critical times in your training that require appropriate work on the appropriate day no matter what the weather, but those really specific weeks are only essential a few weeks a year and most training can be adjusted slightly as long as the focus is there and the intensities and durations for “key days” happen. The order in which they happen can be changed as long as rest and recovery are accounted for.

The more you know and understand about your goals and your areas of needed improvement, the more easily adjustments and modifications can be made in response to unknown variables. I encourage you to fill your toolbox with all of the information you can. Knowing your power and threshold numbers, understanding the purpose and intention behind your scheduled workouts, being aware of your body composition and balancing your nutritional needs all help you make well-rounded decisions.

Please be on the look-out for other new and exciting services coming to VQ this fall. And come by and get a scan: you will not be disappointed! Click here to book a Dexafit scan.

Ciao~
Robbie

Coming Back and Getting Out…

As I move forward with my comeback from shoulder injury, I continue to feel better and increase my fitness. One thing I notice about getting a later start on training and losing a bit more fitness than typical during a winter is that I am easily motivated to train hard and grow. I see my fitness return and power numbers increase and the motivation to train increases as well.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between “wanting” to train and “having” to train. Regardless of whether you are a pro athlete, beginner or strong masters/age-grouper, there will be days that fall into the category of “having” to train.

If I go back and look at days when I wanted to train and days when I had to train, there is no comparison in the effectiveness of my workouts. The days I wanted to train were significantly more effective in making me better. Happiness, desire and motivation play key roles in the ability to perform. We all perform better and work harder and smarter when we have these things in place. Developing a routine/balance where there are more days when you want to train rather than have to train will significantly increase your training effectiveness and may be able to increase your fitness in less time. So, if you are feeling like you have to train, ask yourself: why? Think about it. See what you can correct and then try to shift into the want to mindset.

One huge variable in helping get in the wanting to train zone is the weather. Spring is like the light at the end of the tunnel: good riding weather is on its way! I am sure everyone is getting excited to get outside and enjoy this weather. I have my fingers crossed that the snow, ice and freezing temps are behind us and we can all put away our thermal jackets, balaclavas and lobster claw mittens. As the weather opens up and we get more motivated to train, I want to offer some words of wisdom…

First, start slow and grow training volume over time. Most people can take about a 10% increase (maximum) in workload a week. As soon as we get some decent temps, we get excited, triple our training volume and end up cooking ourselves in the first two weeks of spring. Take it slow and build a little each week.

The second piece of advice is to approach group rides with caution and make sure you get your skills back in order before really engaging in tight formations and fast pace lines. It takes a bit of time to get the “feel” back and it also takes other people time to get comfortable riding in groups again. Keeping the pace a bit slower, leaving more room between cyclists and not going into the red zone on your first few group rides will give you and your group a safer transition into the fast-paced excitement and benefits of group rides.

Above all, keep it safe and enjoy the ride!

Ciao~
Robbie