This is a tough subject for me so I want to know what people think.
What, if anything, should one do when their team mates are making basic but serious training and nutritional mistakes? What about friends?
I’ve been offered advice before, but not that often in retrospect. I’ve definitely been “doing it wrong” in the past and people that I now know knew better didn’t say anything. Well, sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t.
Similarly it seems like less knowledgeable people give out advice more freely. Not sure what the relation is there.
I’ve sort of gathered that it might be best to keep quiet and lead by example, but that’s not effective. I’ve noticed that the better cyclists I know tend to do that, with a few exceptions (an ex pro I know sometimes volunteers “this is what I’ve done that’s worked for me” types of advice but definitely stops short of what I’d call criticism.) This makes me doubt whether constructive criticism is even a possibility?
If I can let it go, should I let it go?
Sorry for the weird thread but I feel like I don’t know what I should do. Does it depend on the specific issue, or overall egregiousness of the issue?
A very commendable question. You’re going about it the right way so far by being cautious.
If the persons behaviour or bike handling is putting anyone else at risk, then perhaps a group (team, club, other ride) leader may be the best person to talk with them.
It doesn’t sound like this behaviour is the case, though.
Like many topics, I think the more you know and experience, the more you realize that we can’t be dogmatic because we keep learning new things. Sure, fundamentals don’t change quickly but it’s good to stay open to different approaches.
The people who are new to something may give out advice freely because they have an elementary understanding and don’t know what they don’t know. So, it’s all simple; they’re painting with primary colours and don’t yet know you can mix them to make new colours.
Personally, I try to keep my mouth shut if it’s not a natural conversation.
However, if you really want to open this conversation up with them, depending on your level of rapport:
“I was just listening to this podcast and they cited these studies that showed X. I thought it was interesting, what do you think?”
“I’m really into these DIY drink mixes now, I can get 100g/hr without spending a fortune. I used to only get 40g/hr but now I’m not bonking and I can train again the next day. Is that [fig bar] enough for you?”
“How was your training this week? Yeah, you’re strong, I couldn’t do that. I need [X recovery] / [Y food] to make progress. When I started doing that, I actually started keeping up with Alex on the front.”
Obviously, they could all come across as passive-aggressive or gentle, but the “I language” probably helps.
This is where you need to speak to them in a neutral situation. Maybe you have beers at some point? But don’t approach them as a problem to be solved. See if you can bring a discussion about training in general and see what their thoughts are. Again you could then present your ideas as “I’ve had great success with…”. If they show disinterest or hold strong opinions back right off. You’ve got to feel the vibe.
I’d say that depends on your relation to that person.
E. g. we have a junior in our team and he is quite green in many ways, but quite fast. So e. g. on a 4–5-hour ride he’d often show up with a single bottle and a single gel. When I am ride leader and I know he is around, I’ll make a point of packing extra gels and try to help him pace. On a training race for him, I’d play carrot and tried to help him navigate short punchy climbs.
With others, it is very different. Some people have rather outdated ideas, and I don’t try to convince them that 23 mm tires at 110 psi aren’t optimal for our roads here. I’d say something if they keep on repeating some basic mistake that impacts others. E. g. if someone who knows better continually brings too little food to feed themselves.
My experience is that nutrition is a touchy subject, so a good course of action is to stay away from it
I had random people giving me advice without context and without really taking the time to understand if I had considered these things or not. On the other hand, I gave the advice in the past and got myself into conversations that ended up being not enjoyable, so my suggestion is to err on the side of caution and just offer “If you want to discuss nutrition and/or training I’m here” and see the reaction before giving any type of suggestions or opinions.
By the way, these are two most random things that happened to me while running:
A guy, also running, stopped me to tell me that my shoes “were not ok”. I was running in minimalist shoes that day.
A lady on the bike approached me while catching my breath between sprints to tell me that I should never be out of breath like that and that in no situation I should ever breathe through my mouth. And she wanted my answer while I still couldn’t talk at all.
What are these serious nutritional and training mistakes?
Also, is this a racing context or something else? People who want to be competitive are usually open to advice (or should be) unless you are completely tactless (there are plenty of articles on the internet on how to offer advice well, generally). People who are just out to have fun might find it annoying.
In my opinion, health and safety trumps all else. If your friend or teammate is exercising habits that are likely to lead him or her down a path to unhealthy or unsafe outcomes - speak out. This may offend them, it may be uncomfortable for you, and they may reject the advice. However, if you truly care about this person, that won’t matter. Don’t let a potentially socially uncomfortable situation get in the way of preventing long term health or safety issues.
If someone is obviously putting themselves at danger by riding unsafely - tell them. Even if they tell you to piss off, you’ll be much better off potentially offending someone than wishing you would have spoken up as they roll away in an ambulance. Likewise, if someone is obviously and purposefully undernourishing themselves to the point where it jeopardises their health, you will regret telling them and getting told off much less than you will regret seeing them experience the negative physical and mental health consequences of disordered eating.
This comes from someone with a diagnosed eating disorder. Not a single person spoke up when I fell into bad habits because they were afraid to offend me. In retrospect, every single one of these people wishes that they had acted differently. Short term social discomfort is far less painful than watching a friend get hurt or hurt themselves. If whoever you want to give advice to is at greater risk by not receiving the advice - speak up.
I love taking my new found knowledge on a subject and using it to make suggestions for others.
It feels like it’s the best way to learn.
Especially when they turn around with a list of reasons why what you thought you’d understood is in fact still wrong
In other words, just have a conversation with them and you may both learn something
I was doing low cadence high tempo work up a local 3% hill. A rider I caught up, told me I wanted to be using a lower gear . When I explained it wasn’t my natural cadence a the hill of that grade, and it was part of my training, he still wouldn’t have it. Because he knew best, even given the context I gave him.
The slightly longer answer for me is: If they aren’t putting anyone in immediate physical danger (including themselves) your friendship is likely better served by letting them learn at their own pace. Put yourself out there as a resource they have available when they are ready, but try to stay away from giving unsolicited advice
Didn’t read the entire thread - but here are a couple of approaches:
Ask them if they want advice
Let them know you are available should they want advice
Offer advice at a timely situation (e.g., if they bonk let them know how you avoid bonking)
Discuss how you overcame something.
My brother recently tried cycling. I asked him if he wants advice or if wants to go about it himself for a while. He didn’t want advice as he thought he knew what we was doing. Told him if he changes his mind to let me know. He was wrong and he didn’t ask.
Same brother complained he couldn’t lose weight. I told him I had been losing weight recently by cutting out processed foods when feasible. Told him he should try it for a while. He was clearly not interested so I dropped it.
Here is the hard part - people who complain about something but won’t take advice. Brother won’t buy bike shorts but complains how uncomfortable his clothes are on the bike. Eats highly caloric food (pizza, donuts, fast food), claims he is in a deficit, and complains about not losing weight.
At the end of the day, everyone is on their own journey. Some people love the discovery aspect. Some people have personality traits such that when you offer them advice they will do the opposite no matter what. Some people are dying to get results as fast as possible and will take in any and all advice.
If someone is doing something dangerous, either for themselves or others, I’d definitely say something.
If someone is doing something which is frankly a nuisance for others, I’d say something after a couple of instances.
Case in point for the latter: we have a new guy in the ‘fast casual’ group. He’s in fairly decent shape, but this group is a slight stretch, and really he needs to sit in a fair bit. He also needs to fuel properly. Instead, he attacks on every climb in the first 50km, refuses to bring food/gels, and then dies in the last hour.
We usually ride c.100km, and it’s ‘no drop until the last 10km’, so we rather had to soft pedal much of the last hour.
After 2 instances, I politely suggested he bring some carbs. He said he ‘didn’t need them’. I’m afraid that I got a bit grumpy on the 3rd occasion, and told him if he kept burning all his matches in the first 90 minutes, and refusing to fuel like everyone else, then in future he could well find himself riding home solo. It was a bit snappy of me, and not my finest moment, and I wondered if I should apologise.
However, he turned up the week after with a bag of jelly babies, a banana, and didn’t try and drill the first 30km.