Published: 20 September 2013
Report: Andy Kirkland
British Cycling was delighted to welcome Dirk Friel and Melissa Schwartz from our partners, TrainingPeaks, to Manchester last weekend for a conference.
Coaches from across Great Britain and Europe were treated to a great weekend of learning, and a bit of riding too, at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on 13 and 14 September.
The TrainingPeaks conference began with an opportunity to ride the Manchester boards, led by British Cycling Go-Ride coach, Joe Malik, and National Cycling Centre coach, John Leitch. Even though some of the delegates had never ridden on the track before, Joe soon had them all riding like pros, high on the banking. And everyone was ready for the highly-competitive team sprint competition at the end of the session.
The learning began with a session from Retul, the world leaders in dynamic bike-fitting and partners of British Cycling. Retül’s Ivan O’Gorman and John Dennis work closely with the Great Britain Cycling Team physiotherapist, Phil Burt, to maximise efficiency, performance and comfort of team riders. Their system also allows them to record bike set-up with millimetre-specific accuracy – an important part of marginal gains at the highest level of the sport.
From a coaching perspective, John highlighted the importance of making decisions on what is best for an individual rider based on the experience of the fitter, rather than being reliant on mathematical formula. Their system allows fitters and coaches to make the most qualified decision, by analysing the rider’s dynamic pedalling action using 3D technology.
On the second day of the conference, attendees were treated to a learning programme, which was developed to help coaches produce personalised training programmes and support their riders as efficiently as possible. Dirk Friel, a successful professional cyclist and the son of coaching legend Joe Friel, used his expansive knowledge to good effect by showing delegates the best way to collect and analyse information from riders to optimise their performance.
Dirk recognises that the standard of British Cycling coaching and coach education is exceptionally high in the UK. He said: “It’s amazing to come over to the UK, as there are great opportunities to develop coaching further here.”
Communicating training prescription and gaining feedback from riders is fundamental to good one-to-one coaching practice. Every coach and rider has their own preferences of how they like to do this, what training zones system they like to use and how they record training – such as using heart-rate, power or rating of perceived exertion. Additionally, coaches may wish to prescribe generic training plans to groups of riders participating in a particular event. Dirk and Melissa, both active coaches themselves, helped delegates to understand how to use TrainingPeaks most effectively to support these diverse coaching requirements.
It was clear from the presentations that Dirk and Melissa have a similar rider-centred philosophy as British Cycling. The TrainingPeaks software has been designed by people who understand coaches and riders at every level. British Cycling and Team Sky coaches use TrainingPeaks, because it is excellent training software for planning, prescribing and evaluating training data.
British Cycling has a range of courses available for coaches. Please find more information here: www.britishcycling.org.uk/coaching
For more information on TrainingPeaks, please visit www.trainingpeaks.com
For more information on Retul, please visit www.retul.com