Training Babble: Off-Road Insights for Mountain Bike and Gravel Cycling

Dave Schell

Unlock your endurance potential. The Training Babble Podcast takes a deep dive into the strategy and science behind training for off-road cycling and gravel racing. Host Dave Schell brings over 20 years of coaching and racing experience, including as former Director of Education at TrainingPeaks.

Each episode features interviews with experts and insiders to inform your training on topics like physiology, nutrition, mental toughness, equipment selection, and race tactics. Expect an informative yet lighthearted conversation filled with practical tips to up your performance. Special guests from across the cycling world join to share their hard-earned wisdom.

Whether you're an amateur looking to reach new heights or a coach wanting to refine your craft, The Training Babble Podcast offers a master-class in endurance training. Challenging conventional methods, busting myths, and digging into the latest research, this show equips you with the knowledge to train smarter and unlock your full athletic potential.



Subscribe to the Training Babble Podcast and join our community of passionate off-road cyclists. With tips, stories, and advice from leading figures in gravel and mountain biking, we're here to support your journey to peak performance and beyond. Elevate your off-road cycling experience with us.

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Episodes

Sports Nutrition for Women with Kristen Arnold: Fueling Performance through Peri and Post Menopause
May 29 2024
Sports Nutrition for Women with Kristen Arnold: Fueling Performance through Peri and Post Menopause
SummaryIn this episode, host Dave Schell interviews sports dietitian Kristen Arnold about sports nutrition for women, with a focus on menopause. They discuss the differences between men and women in terms of nutritional needs and how the menstrual cycle affects performance. They also explore the impact of nutrition on perimenopause and postmenopause, including recommendations for protein and complex carbohydrates. The conversation emphasizes the importance of energy availability for female athletes and the need for flexibility in training plans. Resources for further education and support are also provided.TakeawaysFemale athletes have specific nutritional needs that differ from those of male athletes.The menstrual cycle can affect performance, and optimizing nutrition throughout the cycle can lead to improved performance and overall quality of life.During perimenopause, focusing on protein intake and complex carbohydrates can help manage symptoms and maintain optimal bone density.Postmenopausal women may experience a boost in performance and have a greater ability to maintain lean mass.Coaches should be aware of the signs of low energy availability in female athletes and prioritize fueling and recovery.Resources for further education and support include Stacey Sims' book 'Roar,' Feisty Performance, Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and Kristen Arnold's e-course on sports nutrition for women.SportsNutritionForWomen.comInstagramUse coupon code kaizen to get $50 off the Sports Nutrition for Women E-Course!ISSN Position Paper
You're doing it wrong!: The Gravel God's Guide to Gravel Racing.
May 14 2024
You're doing it wrong!: The Gravel God's Guide to Gravel Racing.
SummaryIn this episode, Dave Schell and Gravel God, Matti Rowe, discuss the differences between road racing and gravel racing. They highlight the importance of pacing, drafting, and fueling in gravel races. They emphasize the need to assess one's goals and adjust strategies accordingly. They also discuss the challenges of technical sections and the impact of heat on performance. Matti shares his experiences and provides insights on how to optimize performance in gravel races. In this conversation, Matti and Dave discuss the key factors for success in long gravel races like Unbound. They emphasize the importance of pacing, fueling, and equipment selection. Matti shares his experience of going from last place to a top 50 finish by focusing on steady pacing and fueling. They caution against the temptation to keep up with the lead group and taking unnecessary risks early in the race. They also highlight the significance of equipment selection, prioritizing durability and comfort over rolling resistance. In terms of training, they recommend avoiding cramming and overtraining, and instead focusing on building physical bandwidth and freshness. They also discuss the mental side of racing, including visualization, mantras, and preparing for dark moments. They conclude by emphasizing the need for simplicity, sticking to the plan, and staying calm during the race.TakeawaysGravel racing requires a different approach than road racing, with a focus on technical skills and aggressive riding.Assess your goals realistically and adjust your strategy accordingly.Drafting can be beneficial in gravel races, but it depends on the course and the group dynamics.Pacing is crucial in gravel races, with a focus on maintaining a steady effort and working the course efficiently.Heat management and proper fueling are essential for maintaining performance in long gravel races. Pacing and fueling are crucial for success in long gravel races. It's important to detach from the instinct to keep up with the lead group and instead focus on steady pacing and fueling throughout the race.Equipment selection should prioritize durability and comfort over rolling resistance. It's important to choose tires and gear that will keep you upright and minimize the risk of punctures.In training, avoid cramming and overtraining. Focus on building physical bandwidth and freshness, and train at around 85% of your available time.Mental preparation is key for long gravel races. Visualize and prepare for dark moments, and use mantras or reminders to stay focused and motivated.Simplicity is key during the race. Stick to your plan, avoid making last-minute decisions, and remove barriers by organizing your gear and supplies in a clear and accessible way.
The Player Mindset and the Need for More Female Coaches with Olympic MTBer Lea Davison
May 1 2024
The Player Mindset and the Need for More Female Coaches with Olympic MTBer Lea Davison
SummaryJoin Coach Dave Schell on the Training Babble podcast as he welcomes Olympic mountain biker Lea Davison. In this engaging episode, Lea shares her transition from downhill skiing to becoming a top mountain biker, discussing the evolution of training techniques from heart rate monitoring to power meters. She highlights the crucial role of mental resilience, the impact of social media on athletes, and the pressures of maintaining a public image. Lea also addresses the challenges female athletes face, including coaching disparities and performance fluctuations due to the menstrual cycle. Reflecting on her retirement, she shares valuable lessons on resilience, the achievements of the US women's mountain biking team, and offers guidance for aspiring female racers.TakeawaysFocus on giving your best effort and taking ownership of your decisions.Embrace a growth mindset and constantly seek to learn and improve.Be aware of the impact of social media and the pressure to create a certain image.Prioritize mental resilience and develop a player mindset.Don't be afraid to adapt and learn from different coaching approaches. Focusing solely on numbers in training can be detrimental and fuel a toxic narrative around weight and performance in cycling.The lack of female coaches and the male-dominated structure of sports can negatively impact female athletes, particularly in terms of understanding and addressing issues like the menstrual cycle and red ass.Resilience and the ability to keep going are key qualities for success in sports, and finding joy and happiness in the process is crucial.The success of the US women's mountain biking team is inspiring and can have a positive ripple effect on the sport as a whole.Up-and-coming female racers should prioritize enjoyment, work hard, and believe in their potential for success.
Fast Physiology with Dr. Phil: Mastering VO2 Max for Peak Athletic Performance
Apr 9 2024
Fast Physiology with Dr. Phil: Mastering VO2 Max for Peak Athletic Performance
SummaryIn this episode of Fast Physiology, Dave and Dr. Phil Batterson discuss VO2Max and its importance in endurance performance. They define VO2Max as the maximal rate of oxygen consumption during high-intensity exercise and explain its components, including cardiac output and arterial venous oxygen difference. They explore the limitations of VO2Max and its role in predicting endurance performance. The conversation also covers field tests for approximating VO2Max and different training protocols to improve it. The main takeaways include the need to consider individual goals and specificity when training VO2Max and the importance of a well-rounded training program that targets various aspects of physiology.TakeawaysVO2Max is the maximal rate of oxygen consumption during high-intensity exercise and is an important factor in endurance performance.The components of VO2Max include cardiac output and arterial venous oxygen difference.The limitations of VO2Max can be related to the pulmonary system, cardiovascular system, or mitochondrial oxygen consumption capacity.VO2Max is a prerequisite for high-level endurance performance, but having a high VO2Max does not guarantee success.Field tests, such as step tests or max power tests, can approximate VO2Max in the absence of laboratory testing.Different training protocols, such as 40-20s or sustained intervals, can be effective in improving VO2Max, but the choice depends on individual goals and training history.A well-rounded training program that targets various aspects of physiology is important for overall performance improvement.
Maximizing Endurance Training: Volume vs. Intensity, Tech Insights, and AI's Future in Coaching with Jason Koop
Feb 17 2024
Maximizing Endurance Training: Volume vs. Intensity, Tech Insights, and AI's Future in Coaching with Jason Koop
Unlock the full potential of your endurance training with Jason Koop, the renowned head coach of CTS Ultra Running, as we examine the pivotal role of training volume and debunk common misconceptions in athletic preparation. Grappling with a packed schedule? Koop serves up expert strategies for squeezing every drop of progress from your limited training hours and setting realistic goals. Our robust discussion doesn't shy away from tackling the big questions - can intensity really replace volume, and how does one navigate the cyclical waves of training philosophies? Whether you're an Olympic hopeful or a weekend warrior, discover the unchanging principles that could make or break your performance.Ever felt overwhelmed by the flood of fitness trackers and supplements on the market? This episode cuts through the confusion, offering coaches a critical evaluation framework to discern the truly useful from the trendy gimmicks. From deciphering sleep tracking to the complexities of heart rate variability, our conversation arms you with the knowledge to steer your athletes toward informed choices, maximizing the benefits of tech advancements. Plus, get a glimpse into a future where AI might just revolutionize the way we approach coaching and training.Dive deep into the nuances of training volume, as I share my tried-and-tested methods for optimizing an athlete's routine for long-term success. We discuss not just how to adjust volume for peak performance, but also the insights gleaned from patterns of past training. Meanwhile, my book "Training Essentials for Ultra Running" gets a spotlight, showcasing its versatility across various formats—the audio edition even includes exclusive podcast-style interviews! And don't miss the teaser on an exciting AI coaching project, poised to reshape our understanding and application of training methodologies. Tune in for these invaluable insights and more, all in this episode of the Training Babble Podcast.
The Many Short Coming and Pitfalls of AI
Jan 26 2024
The Many Short Coming and Pitfalls of AI
Peeling back the curtain on AI's allure, we're taking you on a trek through its limitations. Joined by Cooper Bott, we recount tales from our forays into AI-generated podcasting - a venture that sometimes had us chuckling at the language model's poetic flubs and unwavering (if misplaced) confidence. We'll arm you with a healthy dose of skepticism, as we delve into the ironies and inaccuracies of AI, and emphasize the irreplaceable value of human expertise. Especially for those of you who love data and precision, this episode is a must-listen – don't be fooled by an AI's assertive facade!Imagine a world where your every move on the web is subtly shaped by AI. With Ryan's wisdom lighting the way, we probe the potential for a monochrome internet, designed by reinforcement learning's penchant for sameness. From the muddy waters of misinformation to the sanctity of scientific equations, our voyage underscores the necessity for human oversight in the age of automated language models. If you're bent on staying ahead in the digital space, this conversation will equip you with the critical eye needed to discern the gold from the glitter in AI's outputs.As we cycle through the episode, we're not just cautioning you; we're also celebrating AI's transformative power. The 'Run with Hal' app gets a spotlight as a game-changer in adaptive training, offering a glimpse into AI's ability to personalize and revolutionize the way we prepare for endurance feats. Whether you're a data geek, a curious blogger, or a podcaster in search of scripting shortcuts, our insights on fine-tuning AI to suit individual needs will inspire your own journey. Strap in for a ride that explores the fine line between AI's limitations and its promise, leaving you primed to navigate the evolving landscape of endurance sports and technology.
Conquering High Altitude: Mastering the Leadville 100 with Science, Strategy, and Mental Grit with the Dave and Ryan Bots
Jan 9 2024
Conquering High Altitude: Mastering the Leadville 100 with Science, Strategy, and Mental Grit with the Dave and Ryan Bots
As we gear up for an exhilarating journey into the thin air of the Leadville 100, Ryan Cooper from Best Bike Split and USA Cycling joins me, Dave Schell, to unveil the tactics that help athletes tackle this colossal mountain bike challenge. Ever wonder how high altitude affects your muscle power and endurance? This episode dives into the science of racing above the tree line, where oxygen is scarce, and every pedal stroke counts. We dissect the transformation of functional threshold power at elevation and reveal how a 60-year-old rider named Brandon redefined what's possible through meticulous training and strategy. You'll learn about pacing with the Intensity Factor, taming the Variability Index, and why descending skills are your secret weapon – plus, we crack the code on how to use Best Bike Split for crafting a dynamic game plan, even when drafting plays a negligible role.But it's not just about the climb; our conversation also navigates the psychological peaks and valleys of endurance racing. As we recount tales of perseverance and adaptability, you'll be equipped with sage advice on setting realistic FTP targets, elevating your nutrition game, and fostering an ironclad mental fortitude. Drawing from Brandon's story and our own racing experiences, we stress the profound impact of proper preparation – not just in its physical form, but as a defining measure of character. Whether you're a seasoned vet or a newcomer to the sport, this episode is your roadmap to turning endurance race dreams into reality, leaving you inspired and ready to tackle your own Leadville-sized ambitions.
Revolutionizing Endurance Sports: The Rise of AI Coaching and Performance Optimization with Ryan Cooper
Jan 5 2024
Revolutionizing Endurance Sports: The Rise of AI Coaching and Performance Optimization with Ryan Cooper
Discover the revolutionary ways artificial intelligence is transforming the world of endurance sports with our special guest, Ryan Cooper, founder of Best Bike Split. Imagine having your own AI coach, crafting hyper-personalized training programs, nutrition plans, and race strategies just for you—whether you're a cyclist, triathlete, or runner. This episode peels back the layers of data and technology to show how AI is not only optimizing performance but also making elite-level coaching accessible to athletes everywhere. Ryan shares an inspiring tale of a triathlete who shattered personal records by embracing an AI-driven nutrition plan, exemplifying the powerful blend of technology and human determination.Feel the pulse of the future as we explore the burgeoning role of AI in endurance sports, from its ability to bring in newcomers to creating entirely new competitive landscapes. With AI's potential to further our understanding of human capability and redefine training and competition, we stand on the precipice of a new era. Yet, amidst the tech talk, we keep the human spirit alive, celebrating the essential partnership between man and machine. As you listen, you'll come to realize that this episode itself is a testament to the sophisticated reach of AI in media, capturing the innovative spirit that drives athletes and coaches in the relentless pursuit of excellence. Join us for a conversation that promises to challenge your views and inspire your training journey.