Training in the times of COVID-19 – A Coach’s Perspective

I know what you are thinking… “Oh great, one more article about this virus!”  Yep, we are all fed up with it and we are all tired of hearing all of the details, drama and the continuous political argument.  With the amount of communication that I have with athletes (don’t freak out, it is via phone, social media and e-mail), it has been interesting to see how training impact has varied dependent upon the four mindsets or approaches individuals are taking.  I hope that maybe this will help you either truly assess your stress level or help you to realize that you are not alone in where you fall on the spectrum.

I want to preface this with the fact that none of these approaches are wrong, in any way shape or form.  We all process stress differently and remember that training is a stressor, so you need to factor in ALL of your life.  Now, ON WITH THE SHOW!

Training during Covid-19

Where does your Stress Level fall?

THE FULL GAS – This person views the virus as an inconvenience but believes that with their spare

time and lack of ability to go out and see things they are going to put the proverbial pedal to the metal and charge harder with training than what they were originally intending.

THE STEADY AS SHE GOES – This approach, I have found, is more common among the people who had events that were further out on the horizon or who are still able/must go to work.  The 

THE ¾ TEMPO – The individuals in this group can have children at home they are now schooling, be immuno-compromised in some capacity or simply feel a bit of the stress of all going on.  They are lightly training or exercising (there is a difference but we don’t have time for that now) but are utilizing their activity less for an event performance down the road and more for their general well being.

THE WHOA NELLY! – This person is truly concerned about what the impacts of this virus can do to their health and the loved ones around them.  They do not want to be part of the spread and are either in the high risk groups or in contact with those in the high risk groups. Stress levels are typically high and training simply is not a great idea, unless it is a recovery ride, leisurely walk or something similar.

There can certainly be some crossover and some variations in these but most important is to be open and honest with yourself as to which group you may fall in and, if you have not already, adjust your training schedule to reflect where you are at and should be at.

In times of stress and illness, your well being is first and performance is secondary.  Please take care of yourself and your health.  Both physically and mentally.

My First Zwift Group Ride

It has been a busy week!  With a stay-at-home order for Leon County & the City of Tallahassee, the kids on what is now WEEK TWO of their extended spring break and continuing to operate a business while my wife powers forward with Hang Tough Foundation providing a very vulnerable population the supplies to help keep many of their children alive and well.  All of it means that to continue training and riding, I must get creative. A little less sleep, and a little more flexibility can only last for so long but riding indoors has seemed to be the easier of the options allowing me to be here when needed and still get the work done that is necessary.


So, on with the Zwift Group Ride.  What a sweatfest! I will admit that I did not grab one of the Lasko Performance series fans that I typically use, so I was a bit under cooled but that was not the reason for the excessive sweating.  The intensity was the main culprit.  


I am quickly learning that selection of the event and the category you enter is key to the success of the ride goal.  My goal for today’s ride was to get 75 minutes of seat time in and a little bit of intensity. It turned into 85 minutes (warm up and cool down included) and nearly 80% of my ride was spent above my 200W average goal.  OOPS!

Zwift Group Ride Power Distribution curve

So, What would I have changed?  I called an audible 5 minutes before the ride and went from the “B” group ride to the “A” group ride.  As I rode perfectly fine in this group ride, it did not meet the purpose of my workout. In hindsight it may have been wise of me to go from the B’s to the C’s and have an easier day that I could push if I wanted.  Unlike the road racing and cyclocross scene I grew up racing in, I am gradually learning, one ride at a time, that the categorization does not really matter as much as the goal of the workout. Swallow your pride Brady!
One little fact that I learned out of necessity (yep, didn’t have my Wahoo in “indoor” mode so I had a 5 second file…ROOKIE MOVE!) is that, if you do not have your Zwift account linked to your TrainingPeaks, Strava or other account, you can download your workout in a .FIT file so that you, your coach or your Strava Social crowd can view, analyze and the Strava family can taunt your effort.

How to Download a Zwift Workout File

I have not linked my Zwift account to Training Peaks.  I did this by choice and it is because I ride with my cycling computer on my bike when Zwifting and really don’t care if the route appears in my workout files but I want the power data, which my Wahoo head unit provides.

Well, I ran into a bit of a SNAFU.  I didn’t change my ride type to “indoor” and therefore I lost a large chunk of my data.  In this error I learned something new. You can export your workout files from Zwift in a .FIT file wich is compatible with the vast majority of the training platforms that are out there.  Here is how:

Step 1:

Log in to your Zwift Account.  I did this on my computer which, from what I can tell, is currently the only way to download the file.


Step 2:

In the Activity Feed, CLICK “Just Me” to help narrow down your search

Zwift File Download Just me

Step 3:

CLICK on the ride you wish to download


Step 4: 

CLICK the Gear Icon above the ride name

Untitled design (1)

Step 5:

CLICK “Download Fit File”

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Now in your downloads, you will find your .FIT file with the date of the ride upload it to your desired platform and you are set to go!

My First Zwift Race Experience

Today I hopped into my first official Zwift race. A good friend of mine is working with USA Cycling to get a racing program set up via Zwift and I decided to hop into it and test the legs.  I will be honest, I have spent some time in the saddle, but nothing that I would20200325_140759 deem as devout training. Last week for example, was completely off the bike and the majority of what I have done has been little more than tempo but I thought, “Let’s have some fun!” 

Having previously calculated my threshold as roughly 3.8 Watts/kilogram and I decided to hop into the “B” race which was marked as 3.0 – 4.0 W/kg.  I got a bit of a warm up in and was ready to go.

The clock counted down.  3, 2, 1, and we were OFF!  There was not a single second of lollygagging, the pace started incredibly fast, with power above 500 watts.  Thank god I checked in early enough to have a front row position for the start. Needless to say, that was the closest I would be to the front the entire time I was “racing”!  This race reminded me of my first Cat 5 crit race, without the crashes that is. I was red lined from the gun and after 5 minutes, I found myself alone, riding laps dazed and confused at my apparent lack of high end.

Zwift Race Power fileA bit stunned, like I got slapped across the face I settled in at tempo, which is where I have spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks and it feels like home.  I waited until I saw the green hoard of riders on my map which represented the lead group and hopped back in. This time through, I managed to hang on, until I had to call it for a phone call.

Am I disappointed?  Not in the least. I went in with ZERO high intensity work and very few weeks of legitimate training under my belt to expect anything more.

Will I be back?  Absolutely! It was a challenge and a learning experience. 

What will I change?  Quite honestly, for right now, nothing.  I am doing these to add a little entertainment and some unstructured intensity to my training routine and I may even go in with a bit more fatigue on my legs because at the end of the day, this is for fun!

Veo Strip – Sweat Diversion Review

At the end of last year, I received some samples of Veo test strips.  I had seen them on Facebook ads many times and thought that these may solve my inability to see with sweat covered sunglasses. The company was kind enough to let me give them a go.

This is Veo.  Think of the veo strip like a gutter that is on your house but for your forehead.  It diverts the sweat around your eyes and down the side of your head.

To be honest, my first thought was, “These things are kinda goofy looking.”

20180705_115229If you have seen some of my recent ride pictures on Instagram or Facebook, you may have noticed that there is something additional on my forehead.  One of my athletes thought I had a Twizzler on my forehead (IDEA! Twizzler… the next sport bean!)

Since moving to Florida in 2011, I have been unable to wear sunglasses in the summer due to the heat and insanely high humidity.  It is the choice of potentially not being able to see because something gets in my eye or definitely not being able to see because my sunglasses are so sweat-covered that I am unable to see.   

The Veo strips have made it so that I can wear sunglasses on my rides again.  I can do a 2 hour ride and only get one drop of sweat on my glasses — which has not been possible before now.

Here are some of the key features I love:

Adhesion – Even over several three and four hour rides, I have been thoroughly impressed with the adhesion of the Veo test strips.  It doesn’t appear that excessive sweat or extreme heat (108 deg heat index) has much of an impact on the adhesion of these sweat diversion strips.  The other impressive thing is that, even on a short one hour ride, it doesn’t feel like I am peeling the flesh from my face to remove them. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a mild discomfort.

Purpose – In this instance, Veo Strips form follows function. Like I said earlier,these things might look goofy, but, man, do they do the job that they are intended to do!

Cost – This was initially my main concern. Now, I see that Veo has released a new 30 pack which brings the cost to $1 a strip.

If you struggle like I do with the inability to see due to sweaty sunglasses or are tired of your eyes burning from sweat, then Veo Strips are one of the best options I have ever worn!


20180815_143407-01.jpegWant to test some out at no charge?  Sign up today for a chance to win a free 6 pack or 2 pack of your own Veo Strips.
Don’t want to wait? You can save 10% with promo code SOS4VEO at checkout on

Review: Maurten 160 Sports Drink

Several weeks ago, I posted an image on social media of me using a new sports drink mix.  I was trying Maurten for the first time. Within 12 hours of posting, I had six people asking what my thoughts were and, within a week, the number of inquiries had risen to nearly two dozen. If you were one of these individuals and did not receive a response, I am sorry. However, I do not like to give a review after one trial.

I am now nearly through my first box, which is 18 servings, and I feel I have a strong enough handle on it to provide an initial review.  

Let me preface with the fact that I have been using water, sodium pills and solid food for the past three years due to the fact that many of the sports drinks I have consumed began to cause GI issues after several bottles.  When I heard about Maurten, it peaked my interest.


Initial thoughts

When compared to other sports drinks, Maurten is a bit more pricey at approximately $2.30 a bottle (shipping excluded). The packaging is clean and comes in single serving pouches.

Instructions are very specific as to the quantity of water (500ml).  Maurten mixes very easily with a few seconds of shaking.


The consistency of Maurten is different. It is not simply a marketing ploy. The powder turns into a gel like substance and you can tell after your first swig from the bottle.  

The consistency is not like a gel packet but does feel thicker than water. Flavoring is very light with this drink. Personally, I could not pinpoint a flavor, but it has a subtle sweetness. The flavor that the drink does have tastes good to me during exercise and post-exercise.  I have, however, found that I like the taste best when chilled.


Final thoughts

I do like Maurten 160 a lot.  Up to this point, my longest ride with it has been 3 hours, in which I consumed two bottles of Maurten and one of water along with some solid food and sodium pills. During that time, I did not have any GI distress and my gut felt normal, even post ride.

Personally, I dislike going on a ride with a partially empty bottle and the strict 17oz recommendation causes that. I wish that a cannister or larger packets were available for purchase, but, for the time being, I will survive.

If you are curious what my next step is, I have already purchased more of the 160 and my first of the 320 to test it as well.  In short, I like this and will continue to use it as well as provide greater depth of review once longer rides are completed.


*This product was purchased at retail and no product was provided for this review.  

What is Get Legs About?

Get Legs is my mantra on the bike right now.  After I finished the Snickers half marathon and got back on the bike again, my excitement to ride, train and work hard has been renewed.  I absolutely love logging miles on the bike and am really enjoying intervals.. Any of my workouts that are an interval workout are deemed as Get Legs on Strava. This is a constant reminder to me that the ultimate goal is to get my fitness back.

Brady Irwin Cycling

I am several weeks into this and today I had “The Ride.”  What’s that, you ask? It is the one ride where you feel like a cyclist again!  It is the ride where certain power numbers feel easy. It is the ride where you feel in tune with the bike. It’s the ride where your breathing is once again in sync with the workload that you are doing.  It is an amazing feeling and great to be back on the bike!

Keep up with my “Get Legs” journey on Strava if you want to see what I have been up to.  I guarantee you that I will have great weeks, good weeks and not so good weeks, but the joy is in the journey!

Race Recap – Snicker’s Albany Half Marathon

At the end of 2017, I began training for the Snicker’s Albany Half Marathon.  For those of you who have followed my journey over the past two years, I made it part of my winter activity to mix it up and run a bit.  Last year, I took on the Tallahassee Half Marathon in Northern Florida.  This year was no different, but my goal was to go with a course that was flatter than the course in Florida’s Capital City. The Albany course is notoriously flat, with many participants in the full marathon event qualifying for Boston.

The Plan


The past two years, I have taken running fairly half heartedly into the lead up to the half marathon.  It was a good quick 30-45 minute workout that I could get in and my longest run (singular, not plural) was 9 miles leading to the half.  

This year, I wanted to approach things differently.  My goal was to not only to beat my PR from Tallahassee, but to obliterate it.  I publicized a sub 1:25, but, in the back of my head, I was shooting for a 1:20. Does this sound familiar? I know many athletes who have these dueling goals — one for sharing, one that is unspoken.

With that in mind, my plan was to increase my running intensity and time from Thanksgiving on.  It was laid out beautifully to do more longer runs in the month of January and February with plenty of shorter, threshold based workouts throughout the week.

The Journey

As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  Nothing could have held more true. Up through Christmas, training went well. Then, we made a family trip to Kansas.  I have clearly become soft living in Florida, but temperatures were colder than average — in the single digits — and not above freezing for the highs.  These temperatures were the first of many excuses to come.

Once we returned, everyone in our house passed around some sort of respiratory illness. Having a history of this type of stuff turning to sinus infections and worse, I laid low.  And laid low. And laid low. That dang thing hung out with a nasty cough for weeks!

Once the cold-season plague had lifted, I got back on track and running again. Then, age caught up with me.  A raking related injury, (yes, yard work) laid me up for another ten days with low back pain that made it hard to sit, stand, bend over and lay down, let alone walk.

At it once more, I was set on damage control mode.  With 6 weeks wasted out of the first 10 weeks of the year, the best I could do was work on building mileage to a decent amount and hoping for a 1:30 finishing time.

The Result

1:28.22, 22nd overall and 3rd in my age group.  This was a mere 6 seconds better than my previous PR at Tallahassee half marathon in 2017.  It was a long ways from my original, intended goal, but was surprising given where I felt my fitness was going into the race.  


Snickers Albany half marathon race recap

There are several things that I have to note looking back at the data, however.  Let me preface with the fact that for the past two years I have not run with a watch.  The first year, I forgot it at the house and, the second year, I decided not to wear it because I didn’t the year prior.  This year was different. I had pace and heart rate but tried not to use it during the race. I wore it for the information it would collect.  This is what I learned from the data.

  1. Miles 1-4 were a bit faster than they should have been – no real surprise here.  I felt good, and how could you not at the start of the run.
  2. Mile 8 I began talking myself out of the ability to run as fast as I was.  Mile 9 was my slowest mile at a 6:50
  3. I negative split the last 5.1 miles
  4. Mile 13 was my fastest at 6:22 pace
  5. The mind is as powerful or as strong as you make it be.  I talked myself out of a lot through miles 8 & 9. One key thing was the gentleman that caught me right at mile 8 that I should have/could have stayed with and gone off his pace.

Ultimately, a bit of adrenaline paired with a lot of grit and determination paid off!  If you look at my pictures during the race, it is apparent that I was not in a comfortable place.  Let’s be honest, I looked like a moving corpse.

Kudos to the City of Albany for a well run event.  Other than a few intersections at the end that didn’t have police support, it was a very well done event.

What does 2018 bring?

A New Year means so many things for so many people. For some it is excitement of what all is to2018 Goals come. Others might be fearful of the uncertainty of what a new season of life may mean.  2018 to me is a year that I desire to accomplish more than ever before. What better way to maintain your drive towards your goals than to air them for all to see.

  1. Refocus my fitness – Needless to say, I have become complacent in past years and while still being able to have decent performances I know it is not what I am truly capable of.
    1. Half Marathon – This year I will be running the Albany Half Marathon (yep, registered last night) and my goal is to run it in 1hr and 25min or less.  This is 3 minutes 28 seconds faster than my 1/2 PR and will require me to increase my mileage, speed work and drop some excess lbs that I have gained over the winter months.
    2. Lean up – Have you ever had weight stay about the same but you feel flabby?  There is more jiggle when you go up and down the stairs, you notice it in your stomach and you just don’t feel quite the same.
    3. Become a more well rounded athlete –  Nope, I am not going to take up bowling, or lacrosse or something of that sort.  I am going to get into the gym more (maybe not the actual gym).  What I mean is I am going to begin doing workouts that are not just in the Sagittal plane.  By doing this it will help me with quality of life, not be a hunch backed cyclist and help to reduce risk of injury.
    4. Ultra Cycling event – I have several in mind but it depends on a lottery.
  2. Family – This is a big part of 2018.  I often look back and regret many of the ways I handled situations and many decisions I made while Grayson was going through his treatment. I realize that if he would not have survived I would have a great deal of regret for the way I handled myself.
  3. Business – Let’s be honest, I love coaching! Helping an athlete achieve their goals, have a healthier life and find joy in what they do is something that I feel has a positive impact on so many things other than that one individual.  In 2018 I have several different areas where I will focus my energy to broaden the impact of both Science of Speed and I have.

The first day has already started off trying to hold me down with the loss of my voice as well as constant chills.  Nonetheless I am pressing on, working towards what I want to achieve while staying hydrated and maybe I will work on the well rested side of things shortly.

Happy New Year to you all and good luck with your goal setting and achievement!

Red Eye Velo Stage Race 2017

This weekend’s Redeye Velo Stage race was a great weekend to be on the bike.  The courses were fun, the volunteers were amazing and the finishes were the best I have seen in a long time in regards to traffic control and police support.  



This eight corner criterium course is in the downtown area of Quincy, Fl.  It is a fast and flowy course with turn 7 being a bit hectic with manhole covers in the entrance and exit of the corner forcing you to change your normal apex.  

After a bit of warm up I headed to the line and was 3rd row. The whistle blew and I got lucky and 

Cycling Tallahassee

found a hole that took me to 3rd wheel within the first 100 meters with no extra work.  The first two laps I followed wheels and stayed at the top four.  Once people settled in, found their lines and got comfortable I slid back and let others do the majority of the work. Following some attacks that did not result in anything, it became apparent with two laps to go that no one was going off the front. I positioned myself as best as I could the final laps and felt confident in my legs and how fresh I felt.  The field made it through turn seven and I was happy to be sitting 6th wheel.  We went to round the final corner into the final uphill finish when a rider jammed into the corner causing a crash.  A bit of evasive maneuvering lead to a significant slow down and then a massive acceleration to the line.  Crossing the line unfortunately in 7th.  With that being said I am glad to have all my skin.


Time Trial

The time trial for me was pretty lackluster.  The course was great slightly rolly downhill the whole 

Irwin Tallahassee Cyclingway out and a nice steady headwind the whole way back.  The people that did not pay attention to  this really paid for it on the return trip.  The 60 second time bonus for those running Merckxx style (no TT bikes or aero wheels taller than 50mm) made it more advantageous for everyone to be on a road bike.  This was proven in nearly category where the fastests adjusted times were put out by people on road bikes.


Knowing that I would be out of the GC contention by the end of it I settled in at Tempo and just kept the power to the pedals.  My legs felt good and it was a great opener for the afternoons road race.


Road Race

HOT HOT HOT!  Garmin files are showing 100+ degrees.  The shade was non existent the entire 2:15 in the saddle and it was apparent that no one wanted to work too hard.  Several attacks launched and as long as there was no concern about the 1-2 riders going off the front and taking someone’s GC spot the field let them go only to swallow them back up after the heat and loneliness got to them.

The final lap of the race there were several surges made and the field was split in half.  I felt comfortable responding to any of the attacks and then with 5 miles to go on one of the last 3 climbs the intensity picked up and I got out of the saddle to respond and my left calf lightly cramped.  Sitting back down I began to push again and my quads got that uneasy cramping feeling. Apparently the 5 bottles of fluid and copious amounts of sodium pills did not help the lack of acclimatization or time in the saddle. I made it through that climb and over the final two climbs with the group.


Assessing my situation and knowing that as soon as I stood to sprint I would begin cramping I decided I would go between two and 3 kilometers out.  We were quickly reeling in the two guys in the breakaway and as we caught them the field hesitated.  Now was my chance.  I attacked up the left side of the group on the uphill and got my initial separation.  Keeping the intensity as high as I without cramping I kept driving.  With 150-200 meters to go I was swallowed up by 6 other riders and that was my day, rolling in for 7th.


All in all a fun weekend that was very motivating to keep the training up.  Hopefully more days to come this summer!  Thank you to all who volunteered there time this weekend to help make this event happen.