Interview with Ben Day

This month 303Cycling is interviewing Ben Day, pro cyclist and current cycling coach with Day by Day Cycle Coaching. Ben's one of those "been there done that" having raced in many big events over the globe, even the World Championships. This interview not only exposes who Ben Day is but also a little about coaching. For those who have never had a coach and are still trying to reach higher goals you should strongly consider finding a Colorado Cycling Coach because they can make a huge difference! Coaching isn't just for racers, its for anyone who wants higher results on the bike because sometimes that doesn't always mean more hours on the saddle... read on.

[303Cycling] You are from Australia, what got you to drop roots in Boulder Colorado?

I was born in Australia and never left the country until 2001. That year I ventured off for Italy and I subsequently spent the next six years in Europe, racing some of the biggest races in the world. I have been fortunate to race in 4 World Championships (10th in 2003) and one Commonwealth Games representing my country, but my two ultimate goals are left unfulfilled – racing the Tour and the Olympics. In 2007, I needed a change from the Euro scene – as a foreigner there, you have to be something pretty special to have good support and I was sick of being jerked around. I came to the US to race for Navigators and it was great to work in a more modern environment. We had a good race calendar and I really enjoyed racing in the US and in Europe. Before moving to the US, I spoke to my Australian cycling friends to ask where they recommended I live. I ended up with a choice between Boulder and San Diego….I like the idea of the mountains and training at altitude and I chose Boulder. Now I realize how lucky I am to be able to live in what is one of my favorite cities in the world. It certainly is an enigma and a place that is unique. Last year I purchased a condo in North Boulder and I am looking forward to spending a lot of time here.

[303Cycling] What are the benefits of training in Boulder?

Everyone immediately thinks of the altitude benefits when considering training in Boulder. It is a well documented fact that the oxygen starved air of high altitudes places additional stresses on your body which is forced to adapt by becoming more efficient in the uptake of oxygen into the muscles. But what I think a lot of people don’t take into consideration is that this lack of O2 has a down-side. That your muscles are quicker to fatigue. Hence, you essentially can’t train with same power for the same amount of time as what you would do at sea-level. Yes, it is a benefit to train at altitude, but if your training is not considered correctly, I think you can actually go backwards up here.

Altitude aside, the environs of Boulder are very inducive to a healthy lifestyle. With more sunny days than California, a city full of people who love the outdoors, a plethora of good, healthy eating and bucket load of cyclists to find inspiration, to me, Boulder is cycling’s mecca!

[303Cycling] What are the fundamental mistakes amateur cyclist make?

The hardest thing to introduce to an amateur cyclist is to find what their balance between overtraining and undertraining. It is a fact that there are more overtrained athletes in this world and what I like to remind amateur cyclists, at least the ones who have full time jobs and families, that cycling is something that they have to love and be passionate about in order to continue. No one wants to do something that becomes a chore to them.

I notice also that a lot of athletes, professionals and amateurs, underestimate the importance of base training in the beginning of the season. It is imperative to consistent performance, progression and health. You may get sick in July because you were training with too much intensity in February. Base training is really the foundation to your whole season and once it’s established, the body becomes capable of handling so much more stress.

[303Cycling] What advice would you give a new cyclist interested in doing something like Triple Bypass

For a cyclist tackling something like the Triple Bypass for the first time, what is most important in the lead up is a steady consistent progression of training. First, recognize your goals and keep this in mind each week as you slowly ride longer and with a little more intensity. A good guide is to increase the mileage by up to 10% each week. Include climbing in your training with a progression to the length of these climbs. With two weeks to go, you should be in a position to replicate portions of the ride. In the final week, rest up a little more than usual as the body’s physiological adaptations to training requires two weeks to take place – there is no point in trying to jam something in to make up for lost time. Eat well the final days before the ride with plenty of carbs and be well prepared, body and bike, on the start line. Go out there, push yourself, achieve your goals and congratulate yourself with a pat on the back and a cold beer!

[303Cycling] Why should someone consider having a coach?

I have worked with and without coaches throughout my cycling career. On occasion, certain methods have worked for me for a period of time, and others have not. What a coach can bring to an athlete is firstly a relationship in which the coach wants to do the best thing for that athlete, by having another perspective of what is going on with their training and life influences – who hasn’t gone out and overtrained before? A good coach will also bring a structured program to the client, with steady progression towards season and career goals, creating motivation and purpose to every day, every week and every month of training.

Cycling is a sport where people want to push the limits of what they are capable of, whether it be win a race, complete the Triple Bypass, or climb up to Brainard Lake, and there is no easy way to get fitter. But there is always a smarter, more efficient way to achieve lofty goals. A coach can be there to share these goals with you, to advise you, to give you motivation and to learn with you the subtleties of your unique body’s response to training.

For more information on Ben's coaching program check out Day by Day Cycle Coaching or find other Colorado Cycling Coaches

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