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March 10, 2024

Dave Schell - Kaizen Endurance - All Things Cycling

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In this episode, Coach Mike Ricci interviews Dave Schell, owner and founder of Kaizen Endurance, about the importance of bike handling skills for triathletes. They discuss the benefits of off-road riding for improving bike handling, specific drills to enhance skills, and the difference between normalized power and average power. They also explore pacing strategies for different types of races and the common mistake of prioritizing marginal gains over foundational training. Dave emphasizes the importance of consistency and focusing on the critical aspects of training. The episode concludes with information on how to connect with Dave for coaching and skill development.


  • Off-road riding can improve bike handling skills for triathletes and enhance their safety on the road.
  • Repetition and practice at a bike park can help triathletes level up their skills and gain confidence.
  • Normalized power is an estimation of the metabolic cost of an effort, while average power is what propels the athlete forward.
  • Pacing strategies should be tailored to the specific race profile, with energy budgets allocated to different sections of the course.
  • Consistency and foundational training are key to long-term improvement, and marginal gains should only be pursued once the basics are mastered.


00:00 Introduction and Background

03:33 Importance of Bike Handling Skills for Triathletes

07:11 Drills and Training for Improving Bike Handling Skills

11:20 Normalized Power vs Average Power

14:38 Variance in Power Output for Different Races

18:00 Pacing Strategies for Different Races

26:03 Sacrificing the Critical Few for the Trivial Many

33:00 The Pendulum of Training Methods

34:11 The Benefits of Cross Training

34:58 Where to Find Dave Schell


Mike (00:00.955)
Hi, Coach Mike Ricci here for the D3 podcast. This week's guest is Dave Schell, owner, founder, head coach of Kaizen Endurance. Welcome to the show, Dave.

Dave S (00:11.17)
Thanks for having me, Mike.

Mike (00:12.967)
Dave, we've been friends a long time and I know that you've got a strong background in all types of cycling, not just road cycling, but gravel, mountain bike. And I know you've coached triathletes and we all know triathletes aren't the greatest bike handlers, right? I mean, they ride those aero bikes that are not easy to move around. So to get them off road is kind of scary. What's been your experience?

Dave S (00:28.706)
Glad you said it.

Mike (00:40.217)
you know, just taking a triathlete and putting them off road and what happens to their abilities once they get back on the road.

Dave S (00:47.282)
Yeah, I think, I mean, as you mentioned, it's like we poke fun a little bit about the handling skills of triathletes. But I think one reason that people are drawn to the sport is that it's the barrier to entry isn't as scary. It's like a lot of times you're not having to ride in a group. You're just riding in straight lines, maybe a few right turns and stuff like that. And so it doesn't require a lot of handling. And so people might take it for granted. And for me, I think like even if you're not riding in a pack, I think just having

the safety aspect of it is super important. And so a lot of times in the off season, I might recommend that a triathlete try to get off road, whether it's doing gravel or getting a mountain bike. And just by getting used to your bike moving under you and having to work on balance and the handling skills and stuff like that, when you then go back to racing and triathlon on the road, your skills are gonna be leveled up. And so...

that becomes really important. Let's say that somebody tosses a bottle and all of a sudden you run over it and your, you know, your bike's moving under you, you're going to have that experience and be able to counter that versus overreacting and potentially causing a crash and ending your race.

Mike (02:02.447)
Yeah, those are good points. Do you have any specific drills that you'd have triathletes do? Or is it just, you know, go ride some single track, go ride something on your mountain bike, like where would you start? I guess.

Dave S (02:15.574)
Yeah, I think you and I are lucky that we have a really awesome bike park in our backyard, Valmont, and that is somewhere I've taken lots of athletes to just start if they're new to riding off-road and the handling skills and stuff like that. The reason it's such a good place is that it starts with the beginner loop, which is something that the kids are doing with very small rocks and a few features and stuff like that.

And then you can, as you get more confident, you can start to move up doing bigger features and stuff like that. And I think the biggest benefit of that is the value of repetition. And if we were to just tell somebody to like, oh, go ride the trail or go ride a route, it's like you're experiencing something once over the course of an hour or two hours. But by going to a bike park and riding loops, you can experience that same feature five, 10, 20 times.

in the course of an hour. And so you can make little mistakes. You can see, OK, well, if I do this, what happens? OK, I tried this, and that wasn't quite right. But then you come around and do it again. And so you get that immediate feedback in a really close succession. And I think you can level up your skills in a couple of sessions like that.

Mike (03:33.711)
Yeah, that's awesome. And you know, yeah, there's nothing worse than, you know, being a new rider. And even for an experienced rider, when you hit some of that like rough pavement and it's like, oh man, I gotta deal with this for a mile.

Mike (03:48.787)
think about in terms of, do I need to have two hands on the bar? Can I still reach for the bottle? Am I going to, you know, what's my balance look like? Should I be able to hold the bar, you know, with the right hand and reach for the bottle or should I do it on the left? You know, I mean, it just, there's lots of things to think about. And then, you know, never, never mind learning to go through an aid station and take a bottle when you're going 20, 23 miles an hour. I mean, that's a skill as well, right? Like I've worked plenty of aid stations during races and the pros think that they're going to catch a bottle at 30 miles an hour.

Dave S (04:07.511)

Mike (04:18.031)
When a person is standing there like a statue and they're trying to grab the bottle and their hand is rigid and you try to grab a bottle out of their hand, I've seen plenty of people go down and it's ugly. It's really ugly.

Dave S (04:29.394)
Yeah, I think about, um, was it Joanna Zeiger during one of the 70.3 championships and got essentially taken off her bike and I don't know if she broke her collarbone or, but that was a race, you know, and it's like, yeah, we take it for granted, you know.

Mike (04:33.558)

Mike (04:39.363)
Yeah, that was the race, world championship. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And if you are a volunteer out there, realize that if you're working on a station, run along with the cyclist and hand in the bottle. Don't just stand there stagnant because it's like hitting a wall, you know? So, and that's great. So where did you come to learn all these skills? Like, what's your background in terms of, I know you've been riding a long time, but just give me a little bit of background about what you've been up to.

and how you've gotten to the point where, you know, you're an expert now. You're certainly an expert. We help people, you know, overcome these, these issues. And this, this isn't as bad as learning to swim, but it's, it's a close second in terms of, you know, learning how to deal with, uh, you know, bike handling.

Dave S (05:18.477)

Absolutely. And for me, I think, I think a lot of people take it for granted or maybe I like, and maybe I take it for granted, but I, my exposure to bikes started at a very young age and I was always riding my BMX and at the dirt jumps and just like always riding. And so it just became a thing. And then I got into triathlon and did that for a number of years. And when I went back to mountain biking, it was this thing where

my fitness kind of outstripped my skills. And so it's like, I was never at the limit of my fitness because I just didn't have the skills to get there. And so it was really exciting for me to, you know, you've been training for 10 years, 20 years, and it's like, there's diminishing returns and you stop to see the gains in fitness. And so to be able to go to the trail and go to Valmont and start to see that progression and skill so quickly, and rather than having to wait weeks, you're like something you weren't able to get up on Tuesday, now you're getting up on it on

Friday, you know? And so with that, I started riding mountain bike quite a bit more and got into off road cycling. And so I think what really helped me with newer athletes is that it wasn't too long ago that I went through that same experience. And so like I said, a lot of times people take it for granted and it's like, they can't tell you what they're doing because they're like, I don't know, I just do it. But for me, having just gone through that same process, I'm able to kind of translate

those skills and what I'm feeling and what I'm thinking as I'm going through that. And I mean, I'm still learning. I like, there's still like, I have a hard time turning left, you know, and it's something that I'm like constantly working on. And so it's just really exciting to like be able to work on the skills and have that make you go faster versus trying to get five Watts on your FTP.

Mike (07:11.255)
Right, we'll get to the watts in a minute. But if I'm, let's say I'm a new cyclist, I've been, you know, I bought a road bike, I'm gonna do triathlon, but I do want to improve my bike handling skills. Do you think this is something that's a frequency thing? Should I go and ride trails twice a week, three times a week? I mean, the more I do it, the faster I'll get the gains. Is that what you think, or is there a law of diminishing returns?

Dave S (07:35.134)
No, I think there's certainly a law of diminishing returns in that. In, I guess, kind of not like doing a workout, but it's like when, when you're working on skills, you want to be somewhat fresh, I guess let's liken it to the pool. Right. You want somebody working on their drills when they're fresh and making the right movements and stuff. And at some point you get too tired and you're like getting sloppy and stuff. And at that point you're just ingraining bad habits. So you definitely.

don't want your sessions to be too long because you don't want to reinforce bad habits. So, you know, once or twice a week. And I think the other thing that you have to be mindful of when you're riding off road is that it's a lot harder on your body, especially if you're riding single track and climbing hills and everything else. So a lot of times there's not an easy mountain bike ride. And so just paying attention to what are the, what's the focus of the workout that day?

and then choosing a route that's going to serve that purpose.

Mike (08:37.307)
That makes sense. That makes real good sense. OK. I like that. OK, so new rider frequency, but frequency with good skills, not letting skills deteriorate. Awesome. OK. Well, let's switch gears a little bit. Let's talk a little bit about normalized power, common mistakes and misconceptions with it. And maybe you could even go into common, not the, you know.

Dave S (08:46.498)

Mike (09:03.343)
average power versus normalized decoupling. I mean, all these things are terms out there that, you know, some people have heard them, maybe they don't know what they mean. You know, long time ago when, you know, Joe Friel came up with decoupling, I just created a spread spreadsheet and I'd pop in, I'd split the workout in half from Training Peaks and put average power, normalized power, heart rate, and we'd see the decoupling and, you know, it was an easy way for me to point out to my athletes. But now you actually have it built into, you know, metrics like Training Peaks and platforms like that. So that's pretty cool.

But let's just start with average power versus normalized. Maybe we start there and just kind of go through that.

Dave S (09:38.634)
Yeah, and I like to talk about these because I see it, I don't wanna say mistakes, but it's like, I think a lot of people may not fully understand what the difference is. And so I see a lot of people like reporting on their workout and I did, oh, I did this much normalized power and I, you know, things like that. And I think what people should be aware of is that normalized power is not.

a real thing, meaning that it's an algorithm that's supposed to estimate the metabolic cost of an effort. And so it's like really, how did it feel to your body? But it's just math. And so if you were to go out for a ride and let's say you were doing zone two, but every three minutes you did a really hard 30 second effort, you're going to end up with a way higher normalized power. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you went faster. And so I like to say that normalized power is how it felt.

Whereas average power is what moves you. And so when we're out there working on our pacing for 70.3 or Iron Man or whatever, we really wanna be more concerned with the average power because that means that we're keeping it steady, that that's what's propelling us forward. And so if you have a big discrepancy between normalized power and average power, that might be a place for you to work on. I see this especially with...

newer triathletes who maybe they're afraid to pedal downhill, where there's a lot of times where they're coasting and stuff like that, they're going to end up with a higher normalized power than their average power. And so that might be something to work on over time where you try to bring those closer together, which means that you're producing power more evenly across the race.

Mike (11:20.343)
Yeah, that makes sense. So if I were to, so let's just take a couple examples. Let's say I do a race like Ironman Florida versus a race like Ironman Lake Placid. And obviously if I sit there at Ironman Florida, for example, and ride 200 Watts, I really shouldn't have any kind of variance. I mean, my variance should be zero. I shouldn't have a normalized power of, you know, 220. It shouldn't be a 10% difference, right? I mean, it should be, I rode 200. My normalized power is probably 200 or 202. I mean, it should be.

Dave S (11:28.269)

Dave S (11:37.304)

Dave S (11:42.56)

Mike (11:48.187)
Couple bridges I have to get over, right? I mean, maybe that's it, I stand up. But Lake Placid, right, you got some long climbs, but you also have some punchy climbs too, and some of those little steep rollers that maybe you have to get out of the saddle, or you change from 53, 17, and you go to your bottom bracketing and end up going whatever it's gonna be, 42, 12, or something like that. So there's definitely gonna be some change in power.

Dave S (11:48.297)
Pretty close. Yeah.

Mike (12:17.951)
And there are some parts in Placid where you may have to stand. And if you're going to stay in the big ring, you may want to stand up and just push it over the hill, which may not be what I would recommend. I usually tell athletes every time you stand up, that's five seconds a mile on the run. So don't do that. That's just something made up, but it keeps people in the saddle, right? I mean, they keep something in the saddle spinning. So what do you think the variance should be on something like Placid versus something like...

But we're still looking for the same TSS, right? We're still looking for three, you know, less than 300 TSS, but there's different ways to get there, right?

Dave S (12:53.714)
Exactly. And I'm glad you brought it up because that's such a good point. And it's something that I use in helping people prepare for off-road races. And so, and maybe we're getting into the weeds a bit here, but when we're comparing normalized power to average power, that's another metric we call variability index. And so depending on the type of race you're doing

Mike (13:08.217)
Oh, that's okay.

Dave S (13:19.99)
the amount of variability can be kind of captured in that. And so, like you said, if you're doing a very flat race like Ironman Florida, then we might be looking for a variability index of like 1.05 or less, which means that your normalized power is 5% higher than your average power or less, which makes sense. You should be pretty steady the entire time, maybe coasting a bit through corners or taking a break here and there, but it should be pretty close. Versus Lake Placid, maybe we see that number go up to like 1.1 or...

10% variance between the two. Now to bring that into kind of perspective, for gravel races, a lot of times I see 1.15 or a little higher. For mountain bike races, it might be 1.3 or higher, which means that it's a lot of on-off, a lot of stochastic or punchy stuff in there. And so what you can do is if...

either if you've done the race before, or if you know somebody else who's done the race and you're trying to prepare for it, you can look at their file and look at what their variability index was. And then that gives you kind of an idea of how variable that race is and how you can best prepare for that, whether you're on the trainer or in Colorado traveling to a different state.

Mike (14:38.459)
So let me ask you this, when, let's just say I'm doing a crit race, right, versus a mountain bike race or even an Xterra race. In a crit, are we looking at like 1.2, 1.3 for variance?

Dave S (14:53.794)
Yeah, because a lot of that race is about sitting in and conserving your energy. And so like there might be some accelerations out of corners, there might be some attacks, stuff like that, but it's like a lot of times it's. I've heard, um, coaches, it's really who can conserve their energy the best and then be there for the end, you know? And so that would be because there's a lot of coasting time.

Mike (15:15.399)
Right, so even though, let's say mountain bike, let's say an X-Tyr or a mountain bike race is 1.3 and a crit is 1.3, they're completely different ways of getting there. One is you're conserving, coasting through the corners, accelerating huge at the end, or maybe to make a break, right, versus mountain biking where, like you said, you're coasting through corners and maybe you got to push really hard to get up a hill at VO2, and maybe that's extended even past VO2 for a period of time. And then...

You're not pedaling the downhills, right? Cause it's technical and you're really just weaving your way through rocks and stumps and all that stuff. So, but that variance can still be the same. And, you know, my argument would be, you know, I guess the crit would be, you'd burn more calories and more energy in a crit, but at the same time, I've always felt that mountain biking, you've got to stay mentally engaged or you end up on a, you know, wrapped around a tree. So, you know.

Dave S (15:47.119)
Exactly. You can't.

Dave S (16:10.514)
Yeah. And I think what's hard with mountain biking is that a lot of it's not captured in the power. And so like you said, you're descending for long periods. And so yeah, your watts are zero, but your heart rate's still high and you're still working a lot because you're, and you have all these muscles working, you're having to stabilize yourself and then staying focused or like having the mental capacity late in a race is really big. And that's something I work on with athletes that are...

especially doing stage races and stuff, it's like you get to a point where you're tired and you can't lift the wheel quite as high or you're not making decisions quite as quickly and you make dumb mistakes. And so it's like, we wanna be prepared for that and work on that kind of like mental fatigue resistance as well.

Mike (16:54.495)
And how do you do that? Is that something where you say, okay, we're going to do a two hour ride and we're going to do five times three minutes hard at the end? Or like, what do you do to make that mental awareness a little better?

Dave S (17:06.038)
Yeah. So a lot of times I, I'm a big fan of specificity. And so it's like, if somebody's training for something like break epic, which is a six day, um, mountain bike race, and every day is like four plus hours, it, like, it's crazy, then we'll do blocks where it's like, especially on a holiday weekend or something, it's like, okay, we'll do Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and the whole goal is just.

those later days, it's just, I call them death marches. It's like the goal is just to go out and do a big ride and it's probably gonna suck and you're gonna be tired and you're gonna be making mistakes, but it's gonna better prepare you for where you're gonna be at mentally on day six of Breck Epic, you know?

Mike (17:46.811)
Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I've done 50 mile mountain bike rides that take six hours. I mean, it's insane what that takes out of you. And I think that's harder than a century. I really do. Like just riding your, I mean, riding your bike in a straight line is relatively easy, like you alluded to in the beginning, versus worrying about rocks and ups and roots and ups and downs and all that stuff. Okay, that's awesome. That's awesome. Okay, so I guess my next question would be,

Dave S (18:00.3)

Mike (18:15.627)
you're talking about mountain biking versus, we're talking about crit racing as well, Ironman. How would you lay out the pacing for someone who's doing an Xterra versus someone, I mean, the answer's pretty easy for 70.3, it's like hold the watts you can hold the entire time and not be over that whatever 85% or maybe it's 80% for some people. But mountain biking or Xterra is completely different in terms of, I've got a huge hill to go up coach, how am I gonna stay?

at my threshold if I've got to get up this thing that's 8% with loose dirt, right?

Dave S (18:47.582)
Yeah. And I, I'm glad you brought this up because I was going to mention this when we were talking about Florida versus Placid. And I think this is where people can kind of get into trouble. And I think there, at least when I was coaching triathlon, um, there was this idea that it should always just be like totally steady. And so that like, if you had target Watts and you're doing like Placid, like, Oh, on the Hills, I'm still trying to do this. And it's for me, I look at the profile of the race and like,

I use a tool called Best Bike Split that will give us guides and stuff, but I even simplify that a lot. And so it's like we look at the profile and then let's say that if we want...

for a three hour race. So using a 70.3 as an example, and I'll use St. George as our race, right? And so it's like, okay, so a three hour bike leg, we want our RPE to be around a five or six, which would be tempo or that like 80 to 85% FTP. Well, how do we want to budget that over the course based on the profile? And so you have that long climb and it's like, okay, that first climb is probably gonna be like a five or a six.

But then when you have a descent, that's going to be more like a two. And then when you have this flat, that's going to be more like a three or four. And I would say it's also based on duration. And so if we're talking about a gravel race that might take you 14 hours, like unbound, then I might tell people like three or four on the flats, five or six on the climbs. Unless it's really steep, then you get to seven. Now, for a shorter race, like a sprint distance,

that's essentially all out and it's just like as hard as you can go. But like really taking into account, like what is the max amount of energy I can spend on the bike and still be able to run well off of it, you know.

Mike (20:41.095)
Right. I mean, that is the key. I mean, you know, running off the bike is one thing. Running well off the bike is a completely different thing. So is there, and I'm familiar with Best Bike Split. I've used it for a number of years. I really like what I get out of it. I mean, it's relatively inexpensive for what I think. It saves us a lot of mistakes and a lot of problems, you know, and sometimes it just gives athletes confidence that they can hit a certain time. And for those of you out there who don't know what Best Bike Split is, it's basically a platform that you can plug in a race, your numbers, your bike.

Dave S (21:03.199)

Mike (21:10.975)
wheels all that kind of stuff and it will give you an estimated time but I mean I've seen that thing be within 30 seconds on an Ironman race and a minute on other races so it's pretty accurate I think.

Dave S (21:22.366)
Yeah. And I think, I think beyond that, beyond just giving you the estimated time, which like that's always really cool, but it's going to show you how best to pace it. And so if you know, like, like you said, if you're trying to get a spot for Kona and you know, okay, in order to do that, I'm going to have to have this bike split. You can put it in there and see like, is it realistic? And it's like, am I going to be able to hit that and still be able to run off the bike? And I think again, when I was coaching

and racing triathlon. I think one of the biggest things I heard and saw is when you're out on the run there's all these people walking talking about what a great bike leg they had. And it's just like triathlon is like it's not three sports it's one sport you know and it's like so everything should set up the next leg and if you're going too hard in one area it's going to cost you in another then it's probably not the optimal pace for you.

Mike (22:15.343)
Yeah, so I got two things to comment about that. So one, you probably know this, if you walk one mile in the marathon, you walk a 20 minute mile, you might as well just have biked a mile per hour slower because that's what that equates to. Secondly, there's no such thing as a great swim and a great bike and a bad run. That's just a bad race, bad pacing, bad coaching, whatever you want to call it. It's terrible, right? It's terrible.

Dave S (22:29.047)
I love that.

Dave S (22:39.735)

Mike (22:41.015)
And if someone doesn't have the discipline to sit there in it. And in some people, I mean, I have athletes that have to ride at 65 or 68% of threshold. I have other athletes that can ride 77, 78, because they're, you know, they're at the elite level and they can ride a 450 sitting in, you know, in a flat, you know, race like Florida, maybe. Where they sit in and it's 77, 78%, but it's relatively, they don't become unhinged. They've trained for it. They're, you know, and they can still get off and run 740s, eight minutes, whatever they do at that, at that age group or that level.

I mean, that's definitely the pointy end of the race with an elite age group or, you know, that's a sub nine, 30 person, 920. You know, that's not for everybody. For the majority of people that are biking six hours, I mean, they needed to adhere to that 300 accumulated TSS. They need to adhere to like 70 to 72% of threshold. They got to know the right cadence, you know, all of that. I mean, there's a lot of moving parts to it for sure. Nevermind nutrition and all that. I mean, you know, people...

Oh yeah, I biked 5'10", but I didn't eat too much because I didn't feel like I needed, well, it's because you were going too hard and you probably couldn't digest anything. I mean, there's a answer to all the dumb things that people do. They just don't always wanna see what they are. So I wanna get back to something. So how, so if I look at, let's say we're doing an extraterritorial race and it's windy, but let's say it has two climbs that are, let's say they're,

Dave S (23:47.725)

Dave S (23:55.882)

Mike (24:09.927)
you know, 6% and they're over, you know, half a mile or something like that. So do you say, okay, you know, we're going to ride, you know, below threshold for the majority of this, but when we get to this hill, we're going to punch it? Like, is that how you would pace it or how would you actually set that up?

Dave S (24:15.032)

Dave S (24:27.41)
Yeah, so again, it's like as an athlete and I haven't coached, I don't think I've coached any exterra athletes, but anytime I'm like looking at a race with an athlete prior, we're looking at the profile and sometimes like physics just wins out. Like there's only so easy you can go up a hill and so it just becomes like a lot of times my advice is just go as easy as you can, but

as easy as you can sometimes it's going to be like sweet spot or threshold or VO2. You know, if we're talking about a, like there's a climb in, um, firecracker 50 called, uh, little French and it's like 14% and it takes about eight minutes. And it's horrible. You are going as easy as I can is essentially my max effort for 14 minutes, you know, and it's like, that's just what you have to do to get up it. And so that's what we're trying to look at is like areas along the race where

I always think of it as an intensity budget is what I call it, but we could call it a TSS budget as well. And it's like, so as we're looking at the profile, first we allot energy budgets to those steep hills, then the moderate hills, and then whatever is left is what you're doing on the flats, you know, and recovering on the descents as much as you can.

Mike (25:47.291)
That's great. That makes a lot of sense. Okay. That's all. I'm going to have to try that. That's great. Good information. Good information. Okay. So you mentioned something about sacrificing the critical few for the trivial many. Why don't you explain that to me?

Dave S (26:03.95)
This is my current soapbox and it's been for a while. And I'll have to pick on triathletes for this one as well. I just see a lot of athletes always looking for the next best thing, whether it's whatever the... If they got an email from a certain company and it's promoting some new device or some new gadget or something like that, I see a lot of people that are always looking for

quick answers or throwing money at a problem when really it's just spending more time on your bike or being more consistent or focusing on getting more rest and recovery and things like that. And that's where I see that a lot of people, you know, let's focus on getting the basics right and make sure you're doing the foundational things really well. And once we've exhausted all avenues, then we can start looking at marginal gains and thinking about like, okay, how can we shave?

another 30 seconds off of this. How can we like gain a minute here? Um, but I feel like a lot of people kind of do it opposite where whatever the magic workout that just came out in outside or Velo news or something that becomes the new workout they need to do. And it's like, no, really just like ride your bike more than three times a week. You know,

Mike (27:22.403)
I'm laughing hard because I have experienced this as a coach. I have athletes who are like, hey, do I need this tool? Do I need this tool? And I look at their training and it's five to six hours a week. And I'm like, look, if we can get to the base level, and I mean three swims, three bikes, three runs a week, plus two lifts, right? That's what, 11 workouts. And maybe it's 10 hours for the week, maybe it's nine, whatever. Whatever they have, whatever they can budget is fine. I work around that all the time. That's not the issue to me.

Dave S (27:25.698)
Ha ha

Mike (27:50.647)
If you can do that consistently week after week, and we don't see huge gains, then I'm a terrible coach. Because if you are consistent and I'm giving you a progressive overload week after week and a back off week and all that, eventually you're gonna get faster. For most people, honestly, like when either they've come to me from someone else or no coach at all, the gains are pretty quick, right? I'm sure you've seen that. And it's not that I'm the greatest coach in the world, it's the consistency they weren't doing, but now someone's holding them accountable.

So once they do that and they kind of get to the point where they stagnate, I'm like, oh, let's go try that thing, let's see. I had an athlete email me a few weeks ago about some super suit they were gonna wear that was like gonna reduce their body. I was like, what is this? I said, try it, if you wanna try it, go ahead. I mean, I don't know what to tell you, but if you're not putting the 10 to 12 hours in that you should be, that's where I would start, just like you said, and then we can talk about.

Dave S (28:27.446)

Dave S (28:33.751)
I'm out.

Mike (28:48.743)
you know, the little things of, you know, covering up something on your bike from tri-rig to make it a little faster and all that stuff. But, you know, losing the five pounds of fat is probably gonna go a lot further. So it's amazing. But I think we're in that, we're in a time with society is, you know, very much, it's all about now and instant gratification. So if I can buy something and get 30 seconds off my Olympic distance bike time, I'm gonna do it. And that's, so just working for it, right?

Dave S (28:59.586)

Dave S (29:15.937)

But I mean, you've been at this longer than me. And what I think is interesting now, so I've been doing it for like 20-ish years. And it's like everything's a cycle. Like everything, so like I have to laugh where.

when I started, it was like Joe Frill and like you had this very traditional periodization and it was like zone two and like doing all this stuff. And then it became the high intensity, right? And it was like, Oh, you can do more with high intensity. And now it's like Siler and the 80 20 and all the zone two. And so it's like the pendulum just like swings back and forth. And also in that time we've seen devices come and go, and I just have to let like they, they come in different packages. They c they have different names and stuff, but it's like, yeah, things that was really big news, like

15, 20 years ago is now really big news again, and people are talking about it. And so it's just funny.

Mike (30:06.427)
Yeah, no, that's a good point. I talked to somebody a couple of weeks ago that came to me from an 80-20 plan. And I said, you understand where all that came from, right? And they're like, well, no. I said, well, in the 60s, the Russians would have 80% of the plan be aerobic and 20% would be anaerobic and high threshold type stuff. And that's basically what the US adopted in mid 70s or so. And that's how swimming changed and running changed to high volume and swimming changed to high volume. And that's how we...

Dave S (30:30.816)

Mike (30:33.615)
became better at the Olympics, who were keeping up with their training methods and maybe in other ways too, but finally understanding like how they were training and all this stuff. But it's always been 80-20. The fact that somebody was smart enough to market that as a way to train is kind of funny, but it's smart, right? Like it's smart, they nailed it. The zone two will always be there. And I remember when I first started training, one of my mentors said to me, look, there's only three components to an endurance athlete. It's strength, speed and endurance. Endurance is the easiest thing to get.

Dave S (30:49.202)
Yeah. Yeah, don't play it.

Dave S (31:00.62)

Mike (31:03.207)
you know, strength and speed are the hardest to get. So, and if you think about it, if you do the strength and speed, so let's say you go to the track and, you know, you run, you know, warmup and then you do eight 400s, then you run in between and you run home and it's an hour workout. Well, you just got an hour of endurance, but you also got some speed. So the endurance is always there, right? We're always working on that. And people just tend to think that, you know, it's all, it doesn't matter, but I'm a proponent of high intensity. I like high intensity for people that don't have a lot of time to train.

Dave S (31:20.033)

Dave S (31:23.37)

Mike (31:33.823)
I've done a lot of good stuff with it, but you have to cycle back at some point. It's not high intensity for 50 weeks, it's high intensity for six to eight weeks. Go back to a couple of easy aerobic weeks, build that back up again. Don't give them too much intensity, strides and a lactate workouts. But for the most part, people can do intensity pretty often, but they got to keep refreshing that base is the way I would look at it every few weeks or even in the off season. I'm not a fan of like...

ending the season and then starting to just go do a bunch of zone two stuff. I think that's the dumbest thing ever because I think you've, you've created, let's say, let's say you get down to seven minute pace at threshold and you worked all season to get there, you hit it in your lap. And so what, now we're going to go back to around 10 minute pace again. Like we're still going to produce seven minute efforts, even if it's for 30 seconds, cause teach your body to understand that that's the new limit that is the new thing. We got to break through that. So that's one thing I disagree with, you know, with Joe on.

And I think if, but if I were a pro, right, if I were a pro and I train 30 hours a week, completely different. I would say, yeah, you need a big break from training 20 to 30 hours a week for 40 weeks and take some time off and just go ride your bike easy because you've got 30 hours a week in the first three weeks, you're probably going to get most of that back. Right? But someone who's training 10 hours a week, it's a completely different thing. I don't think someone needs to be training eight hours out of 10 aerobically. I think there needs to be more intensity.

And the pool's an easy way to get it, the bike's an easy way to get it without getting hurt. The running is where you've got problems, especially as you get older, things break down. And that's why you need to do more of it in the gym, I think, and more of it on the bike.

Dave S (33:04.076)

Dave S (33:12.17)
Well, and we're getting off, we're going down a rabbit hole here, but I think like, you just made such a good point. And that's something I've seen too, is like a lot of this data that came out on the 8020 comes from running and stuff like that. And it's like, well, of course it's running because you can only do so much intensity without getting hurt. And so it makes, and you can only run so easy. So like when you're doing 80% easy, it's still a pretty big load because it's weight bearing and it's hard on your tendons and everything else. And so yeah.

Mike (33:15.227)
Yeah, that's fine.

Dave S (33:42.074)
cycling you can get away with a lot more and not blow yourself up. And so I think that's something people need to take a look at as well.

Mike (33:49.088)
Yeah, I mean, good point. I mean, think about somebody who runs 100 miles a week and that's a professional runner at the bottom rung, right? So they're doing 20 hard miles a week. 20 is that 10 times a mile on the track and another 10 mile tempo run on their Sunday run with a lung, whatever it is, that's a lot of hard running. I mean, that's like running, you know, whatever, two thirds of a marathon hard every week. That's, you wonder why these guys are always hurt and girls are always hurt, right? I mean, it's a lot of work. And that's why...

Dave S (34:11.275)

Mike (34:14.535)
you know, the cross training thing, as much as running coaches don't want to hear it, getting on the bike to spin easy or getting in the pool to water, you know, aqua jog or even swim a little bit. It helps, you know, it's beneficial. And it's amazing when I have an athlete, triathlete at the end of the year, and they're like, I just want to train for this marathon. And I'm like, okay, I don't have time to do anything else. And I'm like, okay. And then let's say it's a 12 week build and six weeks into it, they're like, oh, my calf kind of hurts. I'm like, okay, well, let's just get on the bike and spin a little bit. And then all that stuff goes away.

It's amazing how doing easy recovery workouts actually is really helpful to be able to go fast, right? But it's just, it's a mindset and people think, you know, so and so is running 60 miles a week, I need to run 60 miles a week. Well, you may do well on 30 or 40, you know? That's right, that's right, that's right. That's awesome. All right, Dave, thanks a lot. I mean, this was awesome. Anything else you wanna add? How can people find you?

Dave S (34:58.026)
Strava. Damn Strava.

Dave S (35:10.186)
No, yeah, I guess I'll just put a plug out there. So you can find me, my website is kaiz And you can find me on Instagram at kaizenendurance also. But if you happen to be a local boulder or long lawn or Denver triathlete and do want to like try getting off road this season, then like I love to do skill stuff. And so yeah, hit me up.

Mike (35:35.495)
Awesome, and I'll put that in the show notes too, so we'll have that. We'll put those links for you, but I really appreciate the time today. Thanks so much and have a great one.

Dave S (35:42.206)
Yeah, thank you. I had a blast. You too. Take care.

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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