This post is for anyone who is looking for a cycling coach and wants to know a bit about our approach at Toguri Training. It is also a post to let readers know that… The Fall Season was a HUGE success! In fact it was so successful that I just didn’t have time to blog. So expect a series of blogs over the holidays as I bring you up to speed on what we’ve been up to and where we are going.

As a brief aside, if you are interested in computraining with us during the Winter session I strongly recommend you check out the Winter schedule and contact Michelle ASAP:  The majority of classes are already fully booked and we cannot keep up with demand for peak hours.

OK, so here’s a recap of the Fall Session that describes some of the coaching strategies offered by TTS: 

We added two new computrainers, modified the training platform to provide ez access to wiring, and reorganized the training area to accomodate the new bikes. When I say “we”, I really mean Michelle Paiement and Joe Shama. They set things up and the session ran problem-free!

When it came to reorganizing the training area and doing the heavy lifting, coach Michelle Paiement ran the show: "I'm smiling but I'm holding a drill. Get back to work!"

We added more training times, classes filled and business more than doubled thanks primarily to word-of-mouth referrals and general buzz within the YM-YWHA.

Provide bikes and they will come!

We altered the Fall training program and it really worked! Last year I was unhappy with the Fall program and really wanted to improve it. I made three significant changes:

1. The use of Rider Profiles:

In Montreal there is a real fixation when it comes to indoor training on your “threshold watts”, which usually refers to the highest average watts you can maintain for 15-20 min. Riders are often coached to measure their abilities in relation to their 20-min efforts–as if that was the entire measure of their abilities and fitness. This is a misguided approach to training and it narrows the experience of the sport to only one key element of cycling while devaluing others. In order to begin changing the mindset of many of our clients, we have adapted the use of rider profiles created by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan to our needs. Throughout the Fall session we collected data from workouts that measured anything from their peak power to their average watts over 30-sec intervals all the way up to 20-min efforts. This allows our coaches to have a broad profile of our clients’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as their ability to recover from intense workloads. Crucially, this will help us not only shape the Winter training session but also we’ll be able to better communicate with riders during workouts. A better understanding of a rider’s needs will lead to better coaching. Finally, using these broader profiling methods allows us to also compare our clients to those trained by Allen and Coggan. For example, we’ll be able to tell riders more accurately where they stand in relation to a larger pool of riders. This is helpful to us when we design outdoor training groups for the summer.

2. We changed the vocabulary through which we communicate workload, or an interval’s intensity.

We used to ask clients to train at specific percentages of their 20-min threshold watts. They would train in “zones” articulated as percentages (“8 min at 95-105%”). As a coach, I’m dedicated to teaching CYCLING. I have always found the language I used to train people indoor too abstract. Outdoor we use terms like “tempo” or “full out” or “threshold”. We’ve started naming our ranges “endurance”, “tempo”, “lactate threshold” etc, as the benefits of this FINALLY dawned on me. We are actively trying to get clients to understand the physiological effects of riding at, for example, “tempo”. We want clients to be aware of how “tempo” feels in their legs at the onset and 1h down the road. We want them to better recognize their recovery and respiration patterns while riding “tempo”. And we want them to better understand the importance of good gear selection to prolonged “tempo” efforts. We believe this will help lead to better performance when riding with challenging groups.

More abstract terms like “full out” need to be explained in relation to the scenario. We’re therefore taking time to explain what “full out” means when doing short power intervals, and what it means when doing 40-min “full out”. In my experience both recreational riders and racers can benefit from explicit instruction on how to pace and how to conduct themselves during power workouts. I dedicated two workouts this session to explaining not only how to go “full out” during short intervals, but also how to recover and maintain focus between efforts. Better management of one’s energy through good gear selection, riding postures, breathing patterns PLUS better bike/training habits were the main focus of these workouts. The watts came second. We’ll focus on the watts now that clients have a basic understanding of the demands of the drill, along with strategies for how to best express their fitness on a bike.

3. More muscular endurance. Last year I used a power-orientated approach that worked really well with Elite racers. I got caught-up in a specific model of workout and reduced the actual time spent on muscular endurance. The training was adequate, and people got stronger–especially in the Winter session. I did not, however, feel like it was the best approach and it led to unnecessary levels of fatigue. The reorganization of this year’s training has really worked. Almost all clients have gained significant levels of fitness and they are not burnt out or fatigued. I spent time during the summer re-reading texts and examining current research regarding training for cyclists. The changes made have improved our coaching. In fact I have never been more satisfied with a fall training regime. The challenge now is to build on this momentum for the Winter!

Again, if you haven’t signed up, check out the Winter Schedule and contact Michelle ASAP:

Here’s a list of other things we’ve been doing. We’ll be blogging about them over the holidays:

• We now offer indoor Strength Classes for cyclists in a small group format. They’re run by Richard Tardif and Lucas Pellan, in consultation with me. So far, so good. Expect a blog on our approach.

• We expanded the racing team’s calendar and budget, while adding a new title sponsor. The Elite Men’s Team has been training with me on Sundays, and aside from one of them throwing up during a day of testing everything has been going well! More news about the team shortly!

• We offered a Spin Certification seminar in December, as we try to contribute more cycling-specific knowledge to all the hugely successful spinning programs in the city. Spinning vs Computraining? A blog is on the way!

• We are working on a spring training camp in Italy!

• We will have club kit available in February so you can look great for the spring.

• Lastly, we got a Nespresso Machine in the office!!

The Tower of Power

Unfortunately we may have created a dependancy in the case of Provincial TT champ, Judith Hayes (!) who knocks an espresso back and then seems to repeat “po po po” really fast with a high-pitched helium-affected voice for about 20 min.

Ultimately, our goal is to bring people together who use cycling as a means to get fit. We want to teach the ability to express that fitness in a variety of cycling scenarios. To end, here’s a photo of a women’s group we helped assemble through group training rides, then they took over and started organizing themselves for a couple end-of-the-summer rides. Cycling networks that work!!

Heading into winter... towards the promise of Summer. From L-R: France Bordeleau, Judith Hayes, Daniella Schwartz, Helene Gagnon, Debra Brown, Anik Mercure, Gale Yanofsky and Vanessa Cheong

About Scott Toguri McFarlane

Scott Toguri McFarlane is a former Elite racer, and the founder of Toguri Training Services. For more than a decade, his approach to training has helped aspiring professional racers, provincial team members, and recreational cyclists of all ages and ability achieve their goals, including gold medals at National and Provincial Championships.

Express your thoughts