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Training

CYCLING: PEDALING EFFICIENCY

JACKRABBIT CYCLING TIPS: PEDALING EFFICIENCY

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | MAY 2019

HOW TO IMPROVE PEDALING EFFICIENCY

If you're a runner looking to use bike training to complement your running goals, pedaling efficiency is as important to cycling as gait is to your running.

Before you start to think about pedal efficiency, first make
sure you are fitted correcly on your bike.  If you're too high, or too low in the saddle, you'll be leaving power on the table and not in your pedals.  

Secondly, consider some kind of way to keep your feet attached
to the pedals.  We recommend clipless pedals, which can scare the pants off runner-cyclists. We assure you, once familiar with the mechanics of how they work, they are probably the single best thing you can do to improve your cycling
efficiency.  Clipless pedals allow the rider to pull up in the pedal stroke as well as push down. 

We checked in with Nicholas Chase, triathlon/bike coach and ambassador at our brother/sister endurance-sports site CleverTraining.com
to learn about pedaling efficiency.  Read on to learn  how to make the most of your time on the bike and how it applies to the different types of gradients/terrain you'll meet out on the road. 

PEDALING: ROCKET SCIENCE, BUT NOT
by Nicholas Chase

It should be as easy as riding a bike!

Certainly, if we are talking about the type of cycling you did as a child, it might well be true. However, when it comes to endurance cycling, there are encyclopedia-type manuals which will
open the floodgates of cycling dynamics you've maybe never thought of.

PEDALING
As easy as it sounds, take a moment and think about what it takes to make that bike move forward. Before pressure is even
applied to the pedal, your head has to have an idea of what it is about to accomplish. Are we just pushing down on the pedal until the bottom arc of the pedal stroke and then the other foot takes over and carries the momentum forward?

Well, if we're back in elementary school and we’re heading to a 7-Eleven for some Charleston Chew candy bars, you might be right. If we're talking about performance cycling, this process is exactly that; elementary.

Pedaling is really what makes us “go” on a bike, but the way we pedal needs some refinement if we're to sustain consistent power over miles and miles. It's also worth noting that there are different pedaling methods
for different types of riding.

PEDALLING TIPS FOR VARYING TERRAIN

FLAT, SMOOTH ROAD
You're really lucky here because without gravity working heavily against you, keeping an efficient pedal stroke around 80 to 90 rpm (revolutions per minute) is quite easy.

ROLLING HILLS
Whether you're on the asphalt or the dirt, hills require a varied cadence, measured in rpm. The overall goal is to maintain a relatively consistent power output by varying your cadence and gear selection. So when you start moving
uphill and your cadence drops below 70 rpm, you can select an easier gear to boost your rpm back to something less grinding.

Grinding should be avoided in an endurance event as it really adds extreme torque to your body and
can cause excessive strain, exhausting muscles which need to be a bit more fresh later in the ride.

STEEP HILLS
If you're bold enough, you'll tackle some steep grades over 10 percent. Usually, even
the most friendly gear ratios will be exhausted by this point and you'll be grinding up a hill near 55 rpm or lower. Even this type of cycling can be efficient, trained for and fine-tuned.

LONG DESCENT

Going downhill on the asphalt can be terrifying, as speeds often creep upward of 50 mph. The same set of fears creep up when on gravel roads or technical, rocky descents. How you decide to pedal while moving downhill (if you even
can) will impact how you can maneuver your body and center of gravity while handling corners.

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR NEW-FOUND PEDAL KNOWLEDGE

Now that you understand there are nearly a dozen different scenarios that require different types of pedal technique, what should you do?

For one, it all depends on the terrain of your event or even where you train regularly. Someone
who is always in the mountains would like to race with a pistol while riding flat for 100 miles since it would shorten the mental anguish and boredom.

On the other hand, when Floridians are met with events that cover over 1,500
feet in elevation their palms start sweating, the phone is almost dialing Mom for some love and maybe they sleep with their favorite stuffed animal the night before the event.

The bottom line, you can train for what is ahead
relatively easily and you don't have to be defeated by your terrain before you even start.

VARIED POWER AND VARIED PRM
Now that pedaling has become 100 percent more complicated than that one time when
you were five and learned to bike with training wheels, how exactly do we apply power and rpm to the pedals to maximize efficiency?

Whether you live in a flat environment or a mountainous environment, there is always an indoor
trainer to equalize the playing field. If you can't find flat roads and need to spend hours streamline or aero on your time trial bike, or your biggest mountain is an overpass.

The trainer can help replicate nearly any environment
your legs will encounter. I prefer smart trainers like the Wahoo Kickr since a standard resistance trainer still has limits when it comes to very low rpm and high power efforts.

When the resistance gets tough and the legs start
to get that little hint of a burn, most Floridian-type riders will immediately shift to an easier gear and boost their rpm, lowering the load on their legs. I would argue that if you plan to increase your efficiency and durability on any
terrain, you learn to deal with heavy leg less than 50 rpm grinders and vo2 max type 120 rpm efforts. You must train the extremes!

I highly recommend spending two weeks watching Le Tour De France and then IRONMAN Kona and then
Cape Epic. While you'll really be entertained, it'll also be worth noting the different pedaling style each type of rider will use.

While a pure cyclist will typically spend their time at race effort north of 90 rpm
on flat ground, an IRONMAN type triathlete should be a bit lower, maybe 85 rpm. Finally, a mountain biker will need all ranges, even higher than 100 for sustained periods. The way you vary your power and rpm will greatly impact your bodies
ability to sustain race effort and even long training sessions.

As a professional triathlete, I definitely find it less taxing to have raced with an average rpm of 82 to 88 for IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 distance races. When I
execute any sort of time trial, I'll spend more time at 90 to 95 rpm. However, my power output is usually 115 percent so it requires both high effort and high rpm.

When I'm coaching athletes for general season bike-fitness,
I mix in these types of sessions.
General aerobic training is usually one to four hours with cadence 80 to 90 rpm. Usually, I'll mix in some individual leg drills as well for beginners who find their pedal stroke has a “dead
spot” over the top of the pedal stroke.

LOW RPM WORK
Intervals can range between 5 to 20 minutes and usually involve power production below and above threshold or at sustained race efforts. I prefer
athletes do these on long climbs. However, this is also where an indoor trainer works great since with such high-power and on flat ground, the athlete would always max out gearing and still only manage 70 to 75 rpm. This really builds
the prime movers, engages the core and smoothes out the pedal stroke since the push-pull opposition with each leg is fully engaged.

Usually, my glutes and lower back are pretty sore too so it's really building durability.
A smart trainer allows you to dial in a “set power” and allows the rider to pedal at any rpm they choose.

HIGHER RPM WORK
During some of these sessions, I would almost rather throw my bike off
a cliff or complete a 20 minute time trial instead of burning out at 105 to 120 rpm.

Intervals can be from 1 to 15 minutes at a time and man, they really stress the body in a new way. Additionally, the power is quite low, so
the muscles are taxed more aerobically, rather than with pure torque. Power output is usually 50 to 60 percent FTP and the goal is to stabilize your body.

The first few sessions will have an athlete bouncing in the saddle, cursing
their coach. With practice, this will be quite smooth and less daunting. I've had races where I've been so thankful for this training because IRONMAN Austria has some long descents where you will pedal at 85 percent FTP at 105-plus
rpm in order to maximize speed.

Everyone works hard on the uphill and you can often earn valuable seconds while boosting 5 mph downhill with some bursts of cadence-filled power.

SWEET SPOT
Most
coaches will have this term in their vocabulary and it means without thinking too much, you settle into a comfortable cadence you don't really have to think about. It just happens on its own.

The sweet spot is a balance
of power and rpm that is most efficient for you as a rider, given the race you're taking on. For some, this is 82 rpm and other, it's 88.

Overall, it depends on your background, your style and your comfort level. For
long distance races, this is a place you'll need to make friends with, as it can go on and on…and on.

I think about pedaling in ovals rather than circles because of the top and bottom of a circle are more of a dead-spot
as far as power production is concerned. However, the more you keep your heel down over the top of the pedal stroke, the earlier you can apply that power to the pedal.

SHOP CYCLING AT JACKRABBIT

SHOP CYCLING AT JACKRABBIT

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Training

BIKE TRAINING FOR RUNNERS

BIKE TRAINING FOR RUNNERS – GET INDOORS!

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | MAY 2019

USING A BIKE TRAINER TO SUPPORT YOUR RUNNING

Running is a great sport. Cycling is also a great sport, runners!

As a triathlete, I know first-hand how my running has benefitted from time spent on the bike; leg strength, cadence and cardio endurance, not to mention a
little less wear and tear on my bones.

When time of the essence for any athlete’s existence, indoor bike training is increasingly becoming the go-to cross training for runners for the off-season, as a time-efficient
way to build fitness, avoid injury, and even to assist dreaded rehab.

Bike training can benefit runners in myriad ways:

Avoiding injury: Spreading the load of training over two sports can
help to avoid overuse injuries from a run-heavy training load. Not to mention spinning super easy on the pedals is a non-impact way to move the blood through the muscles for recovery.

Increase endurance:
 Cycling is an endurance sport, and you can use the non-impact bearing training to build endurance over the off-season or early season by following training plans that are available.

Build strength: Biking is perfect cross training to build leg strength where running cannot.  Glutes are where the power comes from in running, and peddling on the bike builds that strength without a squat in sight.  

Increasing run cadence:
 This is a huge win for cycling in a runner’s mind.  If you’re working towards a certain run cadence, cross training is a strong guidance to mimic the cadence to get the body in tune with the rhythm you’re looking for.  

THE INS AND OUTS OF INDOOR BIKE TRAINING

Indoor bike training is the most time-efficient way for a runner to get rolling on two wheels.

We turned to pro triathlete Nicholas Chase for his take on the pros and cons of indoor bike training; he knows his stuff on this topic;
he’s done it all!

Nicholas is an ambassador for the JackRabbit sister/brother site, CleverTraining.com.  Nick is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach, IRONMAN Certified Coach, ISSA Elite Trainer and Co-Owns TRIBAL Multi-Sport.

In his role as coach, Nick works with athletes around the world, which means means exploring all training modalities, including indoor cycling. 

Here’s what Nick has to say on the pros/cons of the bike trainer. 

PROS AND CONS OF INDOOR BIKE TRAINING

Indoor Bike Training - Pros

Pros: Indoor Bike Training

Let’s face it: the risk of being struck by a vehicle drops to 0%. For cyclists who have families, have seen friends recover from vehicular impact or have experienced the perils of
road-riding first hand, indoor cycling is ideal.

Indoor cycling can improve the quality of your training session. Not everyone can walk out their front door and ride up mountains. Some have to fight for 30 minutes to escape
endless traffic signals and distracted drivers. Why waste that time when you can immediately start your ride without breaks? For those of us who live in flat areas, it’s nearly impossible to get in any sort of climbing…and, no, bridges
don’t count as a climb.

An indoor trainer can add the same type of sustained resistance that a 24-mile ride up a mountain can dish out. Plus, there aren’t any breaks, descents or stop lights…your legs only stop if you decide
it’s time (unless you’re on a fixie).

Cycling indoors will reduce wear and tear on your gear too! Granted, you will need to cover your bike with a towel, since you’ll probably sweat profusely, burning through countless bottles
of hydration as your alien-acid sweat soaks into your surroundings. Protecting your bike from road grime, heavy rain and bumpy roads can help sustain its life cycle too.

Indoor cycling is now a social experience when you
have a ‘smart trainer’ one that can connect to the Internet.  Applications like ZWIFT make indoor training less boring, as your avatar blasts by other riders who are also on their indoor trainer. 

With technology taking
bigger steps toward virtual reality, we can probably expect a helmet that has a built-in screen and maybe a fan that mists water on your face if it’s raining in your virtual world.

Finally, smart bike trainers can also be
controlled directly by those third party applications via Bluetooth or ANT+, meaning the rider’s only job is to control cadence…working with that sweet spot, hitting low cadence power-sets or spinning their feet off at 110 revolutions
per minute.

Indoor Bike Training - Cons

Cons: Indoor Bike Training

Since we’ve hit some pros, it’s only fair to address the cons associated with indoor cycling. The list is short and will very from person to person based on opinion and outlook on
their fitness, but the fact remains…it’s indoor cycling is NOT outside on a mountain.

In fact, indoor cycling can sometimes feel like a “pain cave” dungeon where the rider stares at a barren wall, counting the cracks.

Being indoors means you lose that “road” feel (unless you’re riding on rollers). And novice cyclists can miss out on vital opportunities to improve bike-handling skills like descending and cornering. Let’s also not forget stopping
at intersections without tipping over.  Odds are 3 out of 5 cyclists have heard “TIMBER” as they toppled down in front of their friends and loved ones because they forgot to un-clip from their pedal. Nope—you won’t get that kind of
experience from training indoors.

Aside from those few areas, the cons of indoor cycling are quite small, especially when you consider that regardless of the setbacks, indoor trainers let you take your ride indoors during
winter or rainy season.

After all, an indoor ride is better than no ride.

CHOOSING A BIKE TRAINER

SMART BIKE TRAINERS
Welcome to the land of Wahoo, Tacx and Elite – three of the biggest brands in the bike ‘gaming’ space. These are well worth the investment if you are committing to using biking as a key part of your training or live in a colder climate and want to make the most of the darker months.

With a smart trainer, you remove the back wheel of your trusty iron horse.  When connected to the device it can automatically set your resistance via your favorite app, opening up set training programs, races against other
virtual riders across the globe, and the ability to be programed with a coach’s workout so there is no slacking allowed!

Parent?  A smart trainer is an even smarter investment to add to your ‘my-kids-are-sleeping/doing homework/watching
tv/getting-up-to-mischief-and-I-need-to-train’ scenario.

RESISTANCE BIKE TRAINERS:  
The leader in the trainers using resistance as their protocol is Cycleops.
 Resistance cycling trainers are compact, easily movable for space, and it’s just clip in your bike and GO.  

The magnetic resistance is smooth and you control the intensity of the workout as you would outside, with your gears.

Resistance trainers are great entry points for anyone ready to up their cycling game. To make resistance trainers ‘smarter’ you can add an additional speed and cadence sensors to use them with training apps such as Zwift.  

SHOP BIKE TRAINERS AT JACKRABBIT

SHOP INDOOR BIKE TRAINERS

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Reviews

MOBOT FOAM ROLLER BOTTLE

 

MOBOT FOAM ROLLER BOTTLE

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | MAY 2019

 

 

INTRODUCING THE MOBOT FOAM ROLLER BOTTLE

Have you ever packed your foam roller with you for a day at the office? Probably not.  Well, now you can with the new MOBOT Foam Roller Bottle, the first water bottle that doubles as a foam roller.

Trigger point therapy and foam rolling is a well-known recovery technique for runners after training or when injured, but rolling can also be of benefit to anyone as a daily practise much like yoga or meditation.  

The rolling rituals of using the MOBOT are impressive for preventative measures, increasing circulation and range of motion for us desk-jockeys. Rolling can also be beneficial to general well-being and stress relief from being able to ‘step-out’ of the moment for some self care. 

TRIGGER POINT AND HYDRATION – A PERFECT MATCH

Every detail of the MOBOT Foam Roller Water Bottle has been well thought out so that you’ll want to take it with you and have all-day access to hydration, stress release and the physical benefits of SMR and trigger point therapy on the go.  All with a very precise goal of being eco-friendly.

The long-term benefits of foam rolling are related to the consistency and number of times you can actually do it. Therein lies the key benefit of Mobot; it’s there with you, at your side when other foam rollers are not. 

MEET LANI COOPER: MOBOT FOUNDER

Listen to founder Lani Cooper talk about the mission and vision for the MOBOT Foam Roller Bottle.  So much more than just a bottle/foam roller combo, she teaches the benefits behind hydration/recovery in a product that is designed to feel good and do good.
 

THE MOBOT WHY

It all started with a bottle that’s a roller.

MOBOT was created as a way to inspire people to be part of a bigger wellness community; a way of helping people to look after themselves with the belief that if you look after yourself then you are in a position to look after others and ultimately our future and that of the planet.  

The goal of the MOBOT bottle is a product that gives you tangible motivation, with an easy portability so it’ll always be at hand to use.  What better way than bringing the water bottle and the foam roller together.
By designing a more portable bottle/foam roller, the more likely you are to have it at hand you are therefore the more likely to use it.

Consistency is key when it comes to well-being and the practice of trigger release from rolling can have life-long benefits for athletes and non-athletes alike.  Foam rolling might be a tiny bit painful at first, but the more you practice, the more malleable the muscles will become and ultimately the better your body will feel and perform.  

SHOP MOBOT

MOBOT SUSTANABILITY: MIND + BODY + PLANET

 

It's Earth Day every day at MOBOT.  

Born out of the frustration of plastic water bottles, MOBOT takes on plastic head on.  Not only are plastics part of oceanic problems and resulting devastation to many parts of the world, they also leach toxins. Consumption of those toxins can have a knock-on impact on the endocrine system of the body.  

Stainless steel is one of the most eco-friendly and recyclable products available. Each MOBOT bottle features bottle made of recycled stainless steel, covered with high-density non-toxic foam  in one convenient easy to carry package. 
 

“MOBOT IS FOR YOUR BODY, WHAT MEDITATION IS FOR YOUR MIND – A DAILY PRACTICE IS ESSENTIAL”
– LANI COOPER, CREATOR AND FOUNDER OF MOBOT

 

ROLLING OUT WITH MOBOT

The MOBOT Foam Roller Water Bottle can be used by anyone, anywhere (within reason), and comes in a range of sizes, colors to reflect what you need and what suits your athletic mood. 

We all know the benefits of foam rolling as runners, and anyone who can make rolling more fun and convenient PLUS hydrating muscles for better recovery is a win in our JackRabbit minds.

Check out the different ways to use MOBOT, right click on the image and save to your phone’s photo repository to have them at hand whenever you have the inclination to roll.

For some self myofascial release, position the roller on a knot or tight muscle and lay for 10 – 30 seconds, about the time it takes you to take 6 deep breaths.  This is enough time for your brain to send your muscles the instruction to relax and to release tension on the spot

 
 

 

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Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

 

 
 

 
Categories
Reviews

MUST-HAVE CYCLING ACCESSORIES

JACKRABBIT CYCLING: MUST-HAVE ACCESSORIES

by CHASE HAWES  | MAY 2019

MUST-HAVE CYCLING ACCESSORIES

When you’re looking to crush your personal best, taking to the road for extra training hours can only get you so far. We believe that having the best gear and accessories can be the key to reaching your goal when seconds count.

There’s a plethora of cycling accessories out there – ones to make you go faster, some to make your ride more comfortable, and others to keep you (and your bike) safe: helmets, indoor bike trainers, lights, locks (and the
all important fuel!)

Here are our top JackRabbit recommendations for all things cycling accessories.

FOR THE TIME-CRUNCHED ATHLETE  

INDOOR BIKE TRAINERS

If you’re down to spend hours in your basement spinning in place, these are for you.  There’s many different kinds with varying levels of bells and whistles, but if you really take it to the
limit, you can snag a great trainer like a Wahoo KICKR Core that is relatively quiet, easy to set up, and records loads of
stats and data for you. Check out our full selection of bike trainers here.

TRAINING APPS FOR CYCLISTS
To go alongside these trainers, if you’re spending your cycling hours indoors, a great app is the perfect
complement to help you not only gather more data and train harder, but keep you entertained!  

The three most popular apps out there are Zwift, Trainer Road, and Sufferfest.  

The most social of the three, and our
personal favorite, is Zwift – take your digital avatar out on the open road for group rides with other cyclists!  They’ve also got a solid library of training plans and workouts, but this isn’t just the
app’s strong suit. If you don’t have a training plan or haven’t hired a coach, then these apps are a must-have.

FOR THE ATHLETE CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY

BIKE LIGHT AND CAMERAS
If you ever cycle in the dark, you HAVE to have good cycling lights for visibility.  Having multiple lights on the front and back are best – and a great pair to check out are from Cycliq – the Fly 12 CE122 HD, and the Fly 6 CE601 HD.  These are front and rear lights, respectively, and both have an HD camera – great for reliving your rides, or for evidence should you ever find yourself in a collision or accident.

BIKE HELMETS
This goes without saying! Every cyclist needs a great helmet.  Many these days are equipped with lights, built-in headphones, MIPS protection technology, and more.  Our helmet selection is coming soon!

FOR THE CYCLISTS WHO HAVE TO HAVE THE BEST

A WAHOO TRAINER ECO-SYSTEM
If you’re training hard and want to really take it to the next level (and impress all your friends), a Wahoo indoor training ecosystem might just be the ticket.  Here’s the lowdown:
A smart
trainer.  This one’s fairly obvious – check out the KICKR CORE and KICKR SNAP.

WAHOO CLIMB
The Wahoo Climb accessory device pairs great with Zwift, and will increase
or decrease the incline of your ride based on what your virtual gradient is. It can go as high as 20% incline, and go down as low as -10%.

WAHOO HEADWIND
The Wahoo Headwind “smart” fan can increase the speed of air based on your heart rate, and it can also be controlled by an app to simulate biking against the wind. How neat is that?

WAHOO TRAINING DESK:
If you’re a go-getter
who always needs to multitask – or someone who’s always binge-watching some streaming service – the Wahoo Training Desk is a nifty accessory
will allow you to use a laptop, keyboard, tablet, or other device while cycling.

WHY BIKE ACCESSORIES MATTER

While having a great bike is certainly key, it’s important to take into account just how important accessories are into getting you in the best shape for your next race.  Also take into account environmental factors – if you live somewhere
cold or rainy, having an indoor trainer might be paramount for you as you’d be able to train indoors any time of the year!  

Another one – if you live in a city or somewhere with busy roads, having bike cameras & lights
are great for when you have to bike in the early morning or evening.  This way you’re visible to drivers, and have recordings should anything bad happen. These accessories don’t just benefit cyclists who are the top of the top – they’re
great for beginners too!  

Bike computers help you find where you’re going, and cameras can help you capture fun memories of your rides through beautiful locales. No matter how serious of a cyclist you are, there’s an accessory
(or two, or three…) for you!

SHOP CYCLING AT JACKRABBIT

SHOP JACKRABBIT CYCLING ACCESSORIES

FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW

Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.  
Comment below how many
pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!