Welcome to the first Mark Walker Coaching newsletter. This is a new venture so I hope you find the content both enjoyable and informative. My plan for these newsletters is to provide you with the latest updates from my work as a coach and to write about some of the things that have recently caught my eye in the world of two-wheeled sport. I will also be providing some useful coaching and nutrition tips as well insights into the latest development in sports science. And for a much deeper dive into selected topics you can of course check out my regular blog posts.
Is the new Dura Ace power meter no better than a random number generator?
Over the years I have had experience of exceptionally good power meters (e.g. SRM Science) and power meters that are hopeless (you’ll have to ask me in person!). A correctly calibrated, accurate and precise power meter is a great training tool to have. But when they fail to provide high quality data or keep breaking down then it can be hugely frustrating for the athlete and for their coach too. This is why I was surprised to hear that the new Dura Ace 4iiii may have some serious issues. One normally expects Shimano to produce very high-quality products so it is hugely disappointing if what I have read is true. You can read the full story at DC Rainmaker’s excellent training tech website.
If you don’t own a power meter or any other sports tech then do not despair. You can read my article about determining training intensity just from your breathing at my blog.
Wearable ultrasound sensor
When I first studied sports science almost all significant physiological testing had to be carried out in the lab and wearable heart rate monitors were a relatively new technology. Move on a couple of decades and there has been an explosion in wearable physiological sensors and the software available to analyse the vast quantities of data they harvest. Medical diagnoses that previously required cumbersome equipment confined to a hospital room can now be made from information collected during day-to-day living. So, it is no surprise that sports scientists are looking to apply the same technologies to sports performance analysis.
Jayco-AIUIa rider Kristen Faulkener, however, recently fell foul of UCI regulations when she wore a continuous blood glucose monitor during the Strade Bianche cycling race. It is likely that Faulkener wore the device as part of her race feeding strategy, although it is unclear how effective this approach would be. Unfortunately for her the UCI forbid the use of these devices and she was disqualified from her third-place spot. Rules aside, it is clear that certain wearables have important applications for monitoring athlete health.
With growing concern over the cardiac health of athletes and the high profile cases of cyclist Sonny Cobrelli and footballer Christian Eriksen who both suffered cardiac events during competition, detailed ambulatory monitoring of the heart has the potential to identify cardiac abnormalities and save lives.
A wearable cardiac ultrasound imaging system has recently been developed by a team at the University of California. The wearable patch measures just 19 by 22 mm and the built-in AI algorithms can determine cardiac output (the volume of blood the heart pumps). Incredibly (if the size of the thing isn’t already amazing enough) the developers predict that in full production a single unit will only cost around $80. You can read more about this cutting edge device at Physics World.
Lastly, if you are a young person in the UK and you are concerned about your cardiac health you can obtain a free test from CRY. I have had a couple of cyclists use the service and the level of care really is fantastic.
Harrison Dessoy nails testing!
Check-out motorcyclist Harrison Dessoy at his new website. I’m so proud to be working with Harrison for a second season as he once again targets the British Talent Cup. Harrison is a hugely talented motorcyclist and has a promising future. Over the past 18 months I’ve been setting Harrison’s fitness training, developing his mental skills and keeping an eye on his nutrition.
During recent testing at the Cartagena circuit with his Microlise Cresswell Racing Team Harrison was putting in scorching lap times. This promises to be a fantastic season for Harrison in his last year riding BTC. Who knows what the future will hold, Moto GP?
William Shakespeare on Creatine
Finally, what does The Bard have to say about the popular sports supplement, creatine? Well, nothing really because his work predates the birth of sports science but hopefully you already knew that! However, for a bit of fun I asked ChatGPT to write about the benefits of creatine for cyclists in the style of Shakespeare, I think you’ll enjoy what it came up with:
Oh fair sport of cycling, how doth thou fare? With thy pedals and wheels, and thy wind in thy hair. And what of creatine, that potion so rare? Doth it improve performance? Shall we dare?
Forsooth, creatine is a compound of might, Found in muscle cells, ’tis a source of light, For energy production in times of flight, When we cycle with all our strength and sight.
Studies have shown creatine can indeed, Enhance cycling performance with great speed, Improving power output, work done, and time to lead, Especially in high-intensity tasks, we need.
For those who cycle for hours on end, Creatine may also their endurance extend, Delaying fatigue, becoming a dear friend, With increased muscle glycogen to defend.
Yet, one must be cautious, for not all, May benefit from creatine’s call, Some side effects may cause a fall, Such as cramps, dehydration, or a stall.
Therefore, seek counsel from those who know, Before taking creatine, and let it show, Thy cycling performance may bloom and grow, But only if used with wisdom, don’t you know?