Coach Elliott's Top 5 Tips: More... carbs, self awareness, fun, flexibility & learning

Coach and three-time U.S. MTB national champion Elliott Baring has raced all the main cycling disciplines and coaches his athletes in a wide variety of pursuits. Here, he explains his Top 5 Training Tips that apply to athletes of all levels. 

More is not always better, but 'more' is a theme for his top tips.

Listen to the podcast or read his tips below. 

Coach Elliott Baring's Top 5 Training Tips

  1. Take on more carbs in races and hard training sessions. The optimal amount varies by person, but you're likely underfueling, which compromises not only that day's effort but the next day's as well. Pay attention to grams of carbohydrates per hour.
    A) There are benefits for both individual training sessions or races and blocks of training. You'll see improvement in duration or power, or both.
    B) You only have a preset amount of glycogen available in your system (ex. 400-600g). If you’re racing hard for 4-5 hours, you can deplete that quickly. If you supplement that with higher carb fueling, you can increase that intensity (to a point) and increase the duration.
    C) Just like you practice and train your legs, you need to practice and train your gut. You can’t just jump from 40g/hr to 100g/hr.
    D) Adjust how you get your calories for cooler temps with more ‘real’ food. Shift away from just liquids for calories, as this forces reliance on high fluid intake, which is easy when it's hot but might not work when it's cold.
    E) Adjust your sodium intake. For instance, I use Skratch Superfuel with a bit of Clear to balance carbs but also increase sodium per ounce.

  2. Rely on RPE (rate of perceived exertion) and speed instead of power when racing. And practice pacing with RPE in training, too! I had an athlete line up for his masters nationals time trial, and his power meter reading went out. He was able to still compete well because he knew his target RPE as well as his target power.
    A) The fastest average speed wins races, not the highest power. Operate accordingly!
    B) Practice being efficient in whatever discipline, but particularly in how you sit and move in the pack.
    C) Practice in riding on RPE in training so you can control your effort on race day. Group rides are a perfect to practice a lot of this.
    D) Set up a computer screen with average speed and current speed.

  3. Keep things fun. Pay attention to your motivation and drive, take breaks, and switch things up.
    A) You're familiar with taking a break in the off-season, but I advocate taking micro breaks throughout a season, to keep you both mentally and physically fresh.
    B) Remember, rest and recovery are your friends. They're a key part of getting faster. 
    C) Explore different activities in the off season to become a more well rounded athlete and decrease risk of injury.

  4. Be flexible. Going with the flow will decrease mental and physical stress, and make you a more effective athlete and a happier person.
    A) It's highly likely that you’ll be in a situation where you have to make a last-minute change or do something you are not used to. How will you handle this?
    B) Remember, taking an unexpected day off totally changing your plan for the day will not make or break you.

  5. Always be learning.
    A) Cycling's various categories are constantly evolving, as is our understanding of nutrition, training and equipment. Pay attention to what is going on out there. Learn however you can.
    B) Test and trial new things. Just because a pro is doing it, or research says it’s the hot new thing, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Individuality is a thing within endurance sport and you need to figure out what works for you.


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