The truth is, we don’t have time to speak to everyone everyday. But let’s turn that negative into a positive. You (our clients) are the same and just like you we face the same challenges in training.
We see it from your side all the time when we train ourselves, but we thought it would be useful to outline who we are and share the view from the coach’s chair. It’s not a throne, it’s not a pedestal – it’s at a desk in the back room or a place on the sofa after the kids have gone to bed, looking at the laptop. But it’s what we love.
Where does Elevation come from?
Geographically – East Antrim, County Antrim and just outside Coleraine on the North Antrim Coast
How did we arrive at coaching?
Kenny Wilson (KW): To be honest, I’ve been a sports pervert since I was a teenager. I remember using telegraph posts as period intervals for cross country training, and it went from there. I was coached by my dad like we all were, one way or another. The best coaches were originally our parents, right? But there was something more. A love of training and the quest for more performance. I ran cross country, did time trials on the bike, took a break and eventually returned to road racing where coaching came back into my life and became a passion.
Craig McAuley (CM): I’m a racer. I was in elite youth teams, we needed guidance. At a young age, everyone ahead of you has an opinion and their way of doing things. From being trained yourself you learn a certain amount and if you have an interest and a passion for it, there is a lot of knowledge to acquire. I enjoy training so much I wanted to learn about it and share it with other riders.
What’s the Elevation Coaching philosophy?
KW: I believe in taking every bit of feedback from training and racing and finding out where the sparks come from.
You have to find what motivates you. Ride how you like without structure if you need to. If that fulfils your needs then maybe you don’t need a coach. But if it isn’t benefitting you physically – or maybe more importantly, mentally – you would not train as hard as you could.
You have to feel the training – this is working my top end, this is feeding my threshold, this is building my base, this is going to make race day easier etc….
Coming out the other side of the professional training, I’ve realized the most important thing is empathy. The base is sports science but it’s in the translation between physiology and psychology where real results lie.
Everyone can and should consider training. At one end of the scale there are massive gains to be made by maximizing your time. At the other end, accuracy in training and recovery together with consistent dialogue about each session feeds the marginal gains required to make the difference.
All that said, for me, it’s still about the buzz…
CM: As an elite junior racer I had an endless supply of friends, family, club officials, team mates and more offering me advice. It helped me progress and was invaluable, but eventually I came to realise the importance of an independent and authorative voice, amongst that noise.
You only have the time you have. I cannot come into your life and create more time for you to train. My job is to eek out the maximum potential from a rider, using the time they have available to train.
Also seeing the rider’s point of view is key. I need to know what I’m asking of riders. I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I would not do myself. Sometimes I do find something, which in theory, makes sense but the practical implications of a certain session or whatever, mean it is not feasible. If I did not train, I would not know until someone else fails.
How do we translate that philosophy into cycling science?
KW: Training Peaks is our second home. Team Sky and their marginal gains were the big news about seven years ago. Training Peaks is the grassroots version of that movement. Used correctly with all the new technology available it brings attention to detail and specificity. We read it like your secret diary to get to know your body’s performance attributes.
Under the wide banner of training, the important point is to break a programme up into different zones and work every zone according to your objective. With that approach we can also make a wide variety of training sessions to keep things fresh and interesting so you can enjoy the bike and get work done at the same time. We are forever testing new sessions on ourselves to progress on this point.
And on top of that standard testing we like to look at the whole body function. Sitting crooked for 25 hours a week on your bike? What about some stretching and yoga. Maybe this is a given in the theory that you can find on the internet BUT practice, practice, practice. And often we find you’ll only do it when you know other eyes are watching.
Our job is translate the BIG DATA available from Training Peaks, combine it with feedback from the horse’s mouth and convert that into form, forecasts and final results.
And on top of results from the specificity we make training time efficient - the bottom line isn't for us to take over your life, it's to free up more of it and make the time you dedicate efficient.
CG: Where do I start! Power meters, HRMs, GPS computers and smart home trainers mean there is no end of data available. But it has to be used effectively.
And that is our job. It’s a cliché but it’s true that too many people focus on big base miles, follow it up with an overdose on ‘sweetspot’ and then throw in a bit of high intensity a couple of weeks before race day. Although that can be effective to a point, variation is important.
Intervals carried out at intensities closer to and beyond FTP are often more relevant to upcoming goals and targets. But every session has to be managed in the bigger context of form, fatigue and periodization.
I love nothing more than interpreting the training data, speaking with the rider and unlocking the doors that are preventing more progress. It starts with science and ends with the coach-athlete relationship built on two-way communication.
The Elevation Mission Statement?
KW: Elevate yourself
There are key elements to that statement. First, improvement. Whether that’s simply in methods and time efficiency in training or pure performance enhancements.
Secondly, and even more importantly, focus on your own world. Yes, competition brings results but first you have to find your own physical performance range and work within that. Control the controllables as they say and then push the limits.
CG: Exactly what Kenny said!
Artistic credit to the man who made coaching become art: @shea_cg