Training After Illness, Early Season Racing, Training Camps and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 347

Amber Pierce, Alex Wild, Ivy Audrain, and Coach Jonathan go deep on how to come back to training after illness, when you should start adding races to your calendar, how to use early season training camps to boost your fitness and much more. Join us for Episode 347 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast!

Tune in Thursday at 8:00am Pacific!

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Training After Illness, Early Season Racing, Training Camps and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 347

Topics Covered in This Episode

  • Is FTP testing accurate?
  • How to pick early season races, when to do them, and how to get the most from them
  • Alex’s peaking strategy for the year
  • How to use training camps to boost your fitness
  • How to return from training after illness
  • Aerobic training for anaerobic athletes
  • Saddle selection and why it matters
  • How to manage carb intake on self-supported rides


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Per Jon’s comment on the survey, here is a quick link and the specific button to launch the survey:



Per the nervous podcast question, I have so much respect for anyone willing to step into that spot even once, let alone on a regular basis. That openness is plain scary and I think too many people don’t understand how much it takes to do that.

Sucks when people are as negative and downright brutal as we see sometimes. Just a sad sign of the times and shows that people are not taking the human element or even the slightest bit of empathy into account.

So add this as the most positive and reinforcing comment as possible. I respect and value all you offer and the shear guts it takes to do what you do. Thanks so much.


Six minutes in and we already have a gem from Amber: “I think it’s harder to focus on the form stuff when you are really distracted by not being able to get enough air.” :rofl:

That’s me swimming by the way! :grin:


For the Gatorade and Bob’s Red Mill Protein recovery mix. Do you do 2 scopes of Gatorade to one of the whey? Just curious on the ratios

I am horrible at swimming. I got into cycling because I trained for a sprint distance triathlon and after the race I swore I would never do it again. The swim just terrified me. The bike on the other hand was just so much fun.

Over the years I have tried to get back into swimming with the last effort being a year ago where I spent almost 3-months with a coach. I got better, but not race better and I just didn’t enjoy it. I guess my Ironman bucket list entry is not going to get checked off.

I am curious to see how Jonathan does with his training. His first day sounded a lot like my first day in the pool.


Not sure how far away you are from these suggestions for something that’s an hour long:

Mount Hamilton in the South Bay

Mount Diablo in the East Bay

Mount Tamalpais in the North Bay

Not sure about Mount Umunhum in the South Bay if it’s in the one hour category.

I used to do these climbs fairly often, but got a little tired of driving to the area. I’m not strong enough to ride there, climb that much and then ride back.

I don’t thing Mt Tam would be close to an hour long for someone with Alex’s fitness. IMO, the best climb up Tam is either from Stinson Beach (road) or Railroad Grade (gravel/mtb) since they’re fairly consistent gradients, but the KOM on both are around 33 minutes.

I love Railroad Grade for the MTB/gravel. Great consistent gradient, but not perfectly smooth, interesting road and a fun downhill. Definitely an underrated climb.

@Jonathan , get a center mount snorkel and swim with that a bit. That way you can breathe while focusing on your stroke without the timing issues obvious in your stroke. Also, when doing your drills, or even while swimming, use the small fins so you at least get some propulsion. You mentioned you can’t get enough speed to create the pocket to breathe…use fins or Finis Agility paddles to acquire some speed while you develop that stroke. And as I swam through college on scholarship and have 40+ years in Tri, bilateral breathing is not at all necessary. Yes, it will help balance a stroke but you’ll not see the pro leaders doing that as air is the limiter. With speed in open water, the breathing pocket will always be there despite wave direction. Having done Kona in 12 foot swells, I always breathe on the same side and have been fine, and very few swimmers are symmetrical. Relax in the water and increase your frequency of swimming but less distance as Amber was right to not reinforce bad stroke habits. Plenty of rest so you can do perfect practice.


It can be important to be competent breathing both sides though, not necessarily for even breathing or balance, but I’m case it’s windy and the chop (or wake from other swimmers) is splashing in your face on one side. It’s nice to know if you need to start breathing out the other side you won’t immediately start doing small circles.

Hundreds of races all over the world and I’ve never found the need for breathing on the other side. Just my experience, but LOTS of it in 40 years of racing. I think at this point, he needs to simplify.

I was thinking of the road from Fairfax, but there are probably too many flat areas. Maybe climbing up on Hwy 1 from the southern part of Mill Valley, but dealing with traffic there is a pain.

You’re right, though. Hard to find somewhere that would challenge pros like Alex for an hour.

Fair enough, as a collegiate level swimmer I’m picking you spend less time in the middle of the pack. And possibly higher up in the water.

I haven’t swum for a long time but in my Tri “career” I had several occasions that literally necessitated changing the side I was breathing on.

I was just providing some additional thoughts/context, we’re both only sharing opinions.

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Absolutely good to get various inputs. Thanks for your info. I was simply trying to make his journey less complicated. Here’s a really good example of exceptional open water technique: OWS breathing techniques by Weertman and Wellbrock, a comparison - YouTube

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Totally agree, it’s one of my favorite long climbs in the Bay Area. Eldridge grade is another great MTB/gravel climb but it’s a bit rockier than RRG and less convenient to get to (at least for me).

Agreed, the traffic can be bad, especially on weekends. I do love the climb up Tam from Fairfax and Bolinas Bay, but IMO, they both feel more like two climbs since the section on Ridgecrest Blvd (i.e. the seven sisters) is more rolling terrain - similar to the road climb up from Mill Valley.

I can’t think of any climbs in the North Bay that would take pros close to an hour.

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Hamilton isn’t an hour continuous. You’d have to factor in the two descents.

Umunhum is most definitely shorter than an hour with Alex’s fitness. I made it up in about 40 minutes last time at only 3.2 w/kg. If you throw in Hicks it’d add another 10-12 minutes on.

Best bets in the Bay Area are maybe Mt. Diablo and Mt. Tam. But I’d assume Alex would make it up both sub 1hr.