5 Tips to Conquer Any Climb

5 Tips to Conquer Any Climb – Cole Oberman

For many riders, racers and multi-sport athletes, climbing can often feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle (see what I did there?). However, climbing shouldn’t be a miserable experience. Next time the road turns up, try implementing these 5 tips. Whether you’re climbing an hour long mountain pass in Colorado or slogging your way up yet another 3 minute wall in Philly, these tips will help you to get to the top, quicker, more efficiently and in better spirits.

1) Embrace the Pain.
While this is the most obvious tip to improve you’re climbing experience, it’s also the hardest to implement. I mean really, truly embracing the suffering involved in dragging yourself uphill is an extremely hard act. However, as I’ve touched on before, a positive mental attitude makes all the difference. If you approach each climb with a positive, “I can” outlook, you’ll not only feel better on the way up, you’ll also literally put out more power. The more power you put out, the quicker its over. Simple as that.

Some tricks I’ve found that help me to approach climbs in the right attitude are; “Everyone else is hurting just as bad right now” or if i’m feeling more sinister in a race it might be the desire to dish out the pain to my fellow competitors. On training rides where I start to lose my focus it can be as simple as giving myself a reward, a coffee at the cafe over the hill or the stunning overlook at the top of the climb. Whatever it is, find the tool that keeps you in a positive mindset.

2) Keep Your Head Down
“Damn, how can I be going this slow”. A great way to mentally defeat yourself is to keep your eyes fixed on the top of the hill. Keep your eyes off of the horizon, look just far enough in front that you don’t run into anything. Before you know it you’ll be over the top, down the other side and eyeing up the next challenge.

3) Breath
10-15 seconds before you enter the bottom of the climb take a series of deep breaths. This primes your body with some extra oxygen to use as your power increases along with the grade. This is especially important on shorter, steeper climbs that take a higher power output to crest.

4) Stay Steady
Use your momentum from a preceding downhill or flat section to roll as far into the next hill as possible. However, don’t start your climb with a sprint, keep your exertion level steady. One of the best ways to make a climb feel terrible is to sprint into the bottom of the hill at maximum power and blow-up halfway through. Ideally you should be able to put out a steady effort starting at the bottom and accelerate through the top of the hill.

5) Spin it!
Your bike has gears, use them! When the road begins to turn upward, shift down to consecutively easier gears as your momentum slows. Eventually you should settle into a gear that you can spin at an efficient cadence of 90-100 RPM. Very few riders can climb well at lower cadences and while turning a big gear might feel better at first, it’s a great way to sap your legs of power early in a ride. Learning to spin an easier gear faster can make all the difference in your climbing abilities.

Check back next month for 3 key workouts to make you a stronger climber.


Teamwork – Coach Todd

Last month I may have rambled a bit regarding my experience at the Boston Marathon. I did appreciate the plethora of positive feedback I received even though the length of my article resembled the length of the race itself. So, for taking the time to get through it, I thank you. That being said, the support of the fans at the marathon led me to the topic I wanted to broach this month: Teamwork.

At the marathon the fan support and energy they provided helped carry the runners through the tough miles and get them to the finish line. It was unlike anything I had previously experienced as an athlete which includes my participation in the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996 (the only edition that was larger than this year’s). I began thinking of not only how many people contributed to my success in preparing for and completing the race, but how everyone who raced that day most likely had their own support groups as well. I thought this element, each individual’s ‘team’ not only contributes to the individual, but also to each event as a whole to make the experience better for everyone.

This has become more clear to me this year as our Breakaway Racing Team has made a more concerted effort to not only train together in our RPM classes and on the track, but also racing together. Having that team supporting you, training together, travelling to events together, and racing together, help to motivate and push each other, and simply makes the experiences which can be very challenging and uncomfortable, that much more enjoyable.

Nace Mullen, Chris Rassekh, Coach Todd, Tristan Jones, Lexi Jones, Dan Haughton, & Mike Mays at the NJ Genesis Triathlon/Aqua Bike/Duathlon

Whether it be at a big event like the Long Course Duathlon National Championship, local triathlons such as Hammonton, NJ, or the NJ Genesis Triathlon/Aqua Bike/Duathlon, or even the multisport athletes spreading their wings in the Philadelphia Amateur Time Trials, it is great to be in it together with teammates and taking on the day’s challenges together. Racing with a group, your friends, your TEAM, helps everyone contribute to the greater good of the individual, and to the good of the whole. No matter how fast or what place you finish in, enjoying every swim stroke, every pedal stroke, and every step should be at the heart of what we do. Wishing you all continued success and hoping you are all enjoying the journey.


Fellow triathletes, Sandra Sierakowski and Andrew Haughton after winning the women’s & men’s cat 4 division at the Philadlephia Amateur Time Trials



Want to know what the secret to becoming a better athlete is? You’re going to have to wait for it; literally. That’s true whether it’s in an individual race or improving your fitness over a period of months or years. If you make your move to early, you’ll come up short, nearly every time.

As an elite level athlete I’m acutely aware that success takes time. Waking up one day and deciding, “I want to be a pro cyclist” was one of the easiest things I have ever done. Actually doing it on the other hand, has absolutely been one of the hardest things I could imagine.

I have failed again and again. In fact if there is anything I am without a doubt a professional in, it’s coming up short of my expectations. I’ve been shelled from world class fields on the first lap. I’ve flatted my tire after a top twenty start at the National Championships  in front of my hometown crowd. I’ve missed out on career making finishes by minutes and been second best more times that I can count.

And you know what? It’s made me want to quit. Time and time again, I’ve wanted to throw in the towel because the idea of having to work harder and longer after giving my best didn’t seem fair. After giving up time with friends and family, putting school on hold and throwing everything into racing, I just wanted success to come.

I once had a fellow professional, whom I have looked up to since I was literally a 12 year old kid say something to me along the lines of, “The ones who make it are the ones who stick around. You have to want it more”. And the funny thing is, at least to a certain degree, it is as simple as that; ‘sticking around”.

Of course there is a lot more to “sticking around” than realizing that becoming a competitive elite athlete takes years of hard work and development. An analytical mind is also part of that process. Why I failed and what I need to do to improve has been just as important as developing the patience to see the hard work through to it’s conclusion.

And now that I am at the point where bicycle racing could realistically become my livelihood, I’m learning that winning takes a different kind of patience. I was fortunate enough (either through lucking out in the genetic lottery or because I’m stubborn enough to suffer profusely) to usually just be the strongest athlete in my amateur division. When I attacked I could often just ride away from the field. Now that Im racing at a level where everyone is at least as strong as me, I’m learning that I have to wait for the perfect opportunity and then make my move.

This might mean one 15 second window in a three hour race. Recognizing when the leaders split the field and making the move to go with them. Waiting until the end of the race to attack instead of going out hard or attacking halfway through. If you want to win, you have to attack when everyone else is tired as well.

Learning to be patient in the race is something that’s been extremely hard for me. So far this year I’ve wasted more than one day in which I had the legs to win in a world class field by spending the first half of the race attacking incessantly. By the time the eventual winners begin to attack I’m too tired to respond. 10th instead of 1st. A lesson in progress.

I’ve learned a lot about patience as a bike racer. That being successful as an athlete takes years and that being successful in a race means pacing yourself and waiting for the right opportunity. More broadly I think these are lessons that apply to life in general. The higher you aim, the longer it’s going to take and that you have to recognize the good opportunities along the way.

Success is a process. Respect for that process will not only help you to achieve your goals but bring balance to your life. It’s much easier to deal with failure if you honestly recognize it as a growth opportunity. Patience is a simple idea and nothing about it is groundbreaking, however, truly developing it can make all the difference in finding success.

Breakaway Athlete Results – Late May 2014

Breakaway Coached and Sponsored Athletes have been tearing it up in the Mid-Atlantic Region and beyond. Check our what they’ve been up to:

May Athlete Results

Brittany Ballard, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 2nd Overall Female @the Independence Sprint Triathlon

Kristen Faughnan, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 2nd in AG @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon

Keith Fitzgerald, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 6th in AG @Raleigh 70.3

Tom Frantzen, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 2nd in AG @NJ Devilman 1/2 Lite Triathlon

Maggie Freeman, Breakaway Coached Athlete, 2nd Female Overall @NJ Devilman 1/2 Lite Duathlon

Eric Fried, Breakaway Racing Team, 5th Male Overall @NJ Devilman 1/2 Lite Duathlon

Hayley Germack, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 1st Female Overall @Life is Good Duathlon, 2nd Female Overall @HarryMan Olympic Triathlon, 2nd Female Overall @Quassy 1/2 Rev Triathlon in 5:02:55.

Andrew Haughton, Breakaway Racing Team, Cat 4 Men’s Champion @Philadelphia Amateur Time Trial

Dan Haughton, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 2nd in AG @Long Course Duathlon Nationals, 3rd in AG @NJ Genesis Triathlon

Alexis Jones, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 3rd Female Overall @NJ Genesis Triathlon

Tristan Jones, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 2nd in AG @St. Croix 70.3 (Qualified for 2014 70.3 World Championships), 2nd Overall @NJ Genesis Triathlon

Glenn Krotick, Breakaway Owner/Breakaway Racing Team, 3rd in AG @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon, 2nd in AG @NJ Genesis Triathlon

Jen Matro, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 5th in AG (in her FIRST EVER Triathlon) @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon

Mike Mays, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 4th in AG @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon, Mike Mays 3rd in AG @NJ Genesis Triathlon

Alec McGinley, Breakaway Racing Team, 3rd in AG @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon

Rick McMenamin, Breakaway Coached Athlete, Breakaway Racing Team 2nd in AG (in his FIRST EVER Triathlon) @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon

Matt Miller, Breakaway Coached Athlete/Breakaway Racing Team, 1st Overall @Peace Valley Duathlon (Short Course)

Nace Mullen, Breakaway Racing Team, 1st in AG @Peace Valley Duathlon, 3rd in AG @Long Course Duathlon Nationals, 1st in AG @Hammonton Sprint Triathlon, 2nd in AG @NJ Genesis Triathlon

Chris Rassekh, Breakaway Racing Team, 3rd in AG @NJ Genesis Aqua Bike

Emily Sherrard, Breakaway Racing Team, 1st Female Overall @Red Bank Olympic Triathlon

Sandra Sierakowski, 1st Overall (beating al the men) @NJ Devilman 1/2 Lite Duathlon, 2nd in AG @Long Course Duathlon Nationals, Cat 4 Women’s Champion @Philadelphia Amateur Time Trial

Coach Todd, Director of Breakaway Racing Team, 1st Overall @Peace Valley Duathlon, 1st Overall @NJ Genesis Duathlon

April Athlete Results

- Bill Ash, 1st, Cat 2 Tour of the Battenkill
- Kristie Nichols: 1st, Tour of Page County, 1st, Farmersville Road Race, 2nd Daniel Harwi Memorial Lower Providence Crit, 1st Salisbury Road Race, 1st South Jersey Spring Series, 3rd Women’s Woodstock Grand Prix
- Melissa Hiller: 2nd Women’s Woodstock Grand Prix
- Colton Valentine: 2nd Philly Phyler Road Race, 2nd Grants Tomb Criterium, 2nd Black Hills Circuit Race
- Meurig James: 1st place Tour of Page County
- Mark Featherman: 3rd Place Turkey Hill Country Classic
- Nick Rogers: 2nd Place Great Valley Criterium,
- Delaware City Duathlon Team Champions led by the 1st and 2nd place Overall Female performances of Hayley Germack and Alexis Jones and the 1st and 2nd place Overall Male performances of Coach Todd and Dan Haughton
- Nace Mullen, Breakaway Racing Team 5th in AG at New Orleans 70.3 in 5:24:14, qualifying for the 2014 70.3 World Championships
- Sandra Sierakowski, Breakaway Coached Athlete, Breakaway Racing Team, 3rd in AG at Florida 70.3 in 4:58:50, qualifying for 2014 70.3 World Championships
- Rita O’Brien, Breakaway Racing Team, 2:56:50, 97th woman overall and a massive PB at the 118th Boston Marathon
- Coach Todd, 2:45:46, at the 118th Boston Marathon
- Coach Cole Oberman, 10th Fat Tire Crit, 19th Whiskey 50 Proof at the Pro Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, AZ
- Coach Cole Oberman, 1st overall, Michaux Off-Road Weekend – 4 hour Endurance XC

Enjoying the Journey at the 118th Boston Marathon – Coach Todd

Fifteen years ago I ran the 103rd Boston Marathon and ran perhaps the best race I have ever run. Returning to the world’s marquee marathon had been a goal of mine since qualifying at the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon, far before this year’s event had become a rallying point for our nation. There are many marathon races for people to choose to participate in, but the Boston Marathon requires that you qualify. It is not a race that anyone can enter, it requires a level of acumen that not everyone possesses, and competing in it is truly special.

141 days prior to the race I weighed 27 lbs more than I weighed on race morning. 2013 had been a year of unparalleled professional success with the athlete results too numerous to count. Simultaneously my fitness had become inversely proportional to these successes. What had begun as a piriformis and then hamstring strain that had me on the shelf for months, gradually led to a lack of athletic drive and I focused my attention on my athletes. I also became very good at beer drinking, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my lack of exercise and increased alcohol intake may have contributed to the unwanted pounds. December 1, 2013 was my tipping point, because when I stepped on my scale and saw what the number was, I told myself, “this needs to change.” I committed to running everyday until the Boston Marathon, all 141 of them. Was I confident I would even reach the starting line? Nope. This was the course of action I needed to follow though, to get me back on the path to a healthier me.

One month after I began this quest I raced the slowest 5k of my life (‘topping’ the time I ran a 5k at the age of 11). I tried hard and managed to average :17/a mile slower than I had averaged for the Philadelphia Marathon, and it felt awful. As it turns out, running when you are significantly overweight is decidedly unpleasant. This was discouraging to be sure, but it was reality. I knew I had a LOT of work to do and I was committed to doing it everyday. 110 days to go…

This was a tough winter to decide to begin an elongated running streak, unless you enjoy running on a treadmill (does anyone?). That being said, I ran more frequently and logged more miles on the treadmill this winter than in my 30 years of running combined. Many early mornings at Breakaway, several long runs, and most memorably a 15 miler that was mentally excruciating, until I had completed it and then it was satisfying. I needed days like that to demonstrate to me that I was ‘winning’ my personal battle and keep me believing that my goal was less ludicrous than when I had begun.

On March 1st, 14 members of the Breakaway Racing Team (myself included) ran a 4 mile test at the Temple University track. My daily training paces seemed to be coming along, the excess weight was coming off (it’s funny how increasing exercise and decreasing alcohol consumption helps with this), and I was feeling better. Coach Amelia McCracken had our team organized and it was very motivating to be out there pushing myself hard with my teammates under the watchful eye of a professional triathlete. The team ran great, I exceeded my expectations and I was starting to believe that I might just be ready in time. 51 days to go…

On March 15th, I ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Washington, DC. This was going to be the race that determined for me, if I would lace them up at Boston or not. I did not feel great, the course was challenging, and it had been 16 months since I had run the Philadelphia Marathon and 26 months since I had last raced a half marathon. I stayed focus on the task despite how I felt and had a solid race, running 1:22:10. This was :18/mi faster than what I averaged for 5k on 1/1/14; clearly I was trending in the right direction. 37 days to go…

Sandra Sierakowski and I after the DC Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon

Not that I am vain (I am) or that I was paying a lot of attention to my weight (I was) but I will admit it was pretty cool when my Breakaway colleagues were noticing that I was visibly leaner. Noone was more excited about this than mechanic Vinny Sulak. Several times a week he would tell me how ‘fit’ I looked and/or how ‘good’ I looked and it was honestly motivating. He would ask me what I was down to (weight wise) and I would give him the latest score. Eventually it occurred to me that since Breakaway hired him in 2013, he had never seen me in shape, he only knew ‘fat Todd.’ I told him that and he laughed in agreement. At this point it was clear that ‘fat Todd’ had left the building and a Todd bound for Boston had almost arrived.

The Inaugural Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon was on March 30th. I ran it as a workout to pace Breakaway Racing Team’s Hayley Germack for 10mi in order to help her run her best ever half marathon, and to get a quality training day in by running the  final 5k as fast as I possibly could. Aside from the miserable, rainy weather, this day couldn’t have gone better. Hayley won the women’s race overall in 1:25:11, demolishing her PB (Personal Best) and after pacing her for 10mi, ran my final 5k in 17:27, nearly 3:00 faster than I had run all out for 5k, 3 months prior. Things were looking up. 22 days to go…

Pacing Hayley at The Love Run

The final 3 weeks were honestly fun. I did my final long run 2 weeks out with Breakaway Racing’s Keith Fitzgerald, primarily on Forbidden Drive, but we threw in 1200ft of climbing for good measure. The run went great and we were in a beautiful place clicking off the miles together. I was running my track sessions solo at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field, which to a running dork like me, is tantamount to the Cathedral of Track and Field. I was nailing those sessions, my confidence was growing, and I was allowing myself to become excited about the race.

The week of the race I allowed myself to think about about how significant of an event this had become to our country. I saw a piece about the Boston Marathon that was a segment from Sports Center and got choked up.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpNKPfn7cO4

I started to truly grasp the importance that this event held for our country and I was proud that I would be a part of it. I was also very aware of the significant roles my friends played in helping me find my way back to myself; a healthier, happier, fitter self. Without them I would not have made the sweeping life changes I did and because of them, my life was vastly enriched. No matter how the race itself went, I had a lot to be thankful for.

The world’s best sherpa, Breakaway Racing Team’s Katherine Ross, volunteered to drive me to and from the Boston Marathon. She made sure the car was filled with snacks, bit her tongue in order to endure some of my musical choices, dealt with me being perhaps a smidge manic, and was extraordinarily supportive of me and excited for me. Katherine’s calming effect was invaluable and absolutely contributed to my positive state of mind. I can’t possibly thank her enough.

Katherine Ross and I

The race itself is always special. If you want to compare it to a triathlon, this is like Kona. It is an event rich with tradition, that attracts some of the best runners from across the globe (70 countries were represented this year), the course is challenging, and the fan support is unparalleled. Each town you run through, beginning in Hopkinton and making your way to Boston turns out en masse to support their race. They are filled with pride and their pride manifests in the quantity and quality of the fans. They are everywhere and they are loud.

Race morning I was pretty calm. I remembered the words earlier in the week from my good friend Joe McVeigh (1st American at the 1996 NYC Marathon and 1st American at the 1998 Boston Marathon) said to me,”You don’t have to summon any heroics on race day because if you’re prepared, it is already hard wired.” There was nothing more that could be done other than to be calm and confident. I rode the bus out to Hopkinton with one of my best friends and 2:29:06 marathoner, Dickson Mercer and his friends. Through his connections, we hung out in a private home in Hopkinton adjacent to the starting line. I was able to stretch out on the couch with my feet up; it was pretty fantastic. We arrived at the start 30 minutes before the gun, stretched, relaxed and then entered our corral 15 minutes before the start. The race was finally upon us.


Todd and Dickson race morning

Once the cannon sounded, we were off and running. I noticed Joan Benoit Samuelson in the early going and said to her, “it is inspiring to have you out here with us Joanie,” to which she replied, “thank you.” I managed to get into a rhythm pretty early and was following my race plan pretty spot on from the beginning. I noticed a woman (Katie # 1365) running a nearly identical pace to mine at 10k and asked her what she was trying to run. She told me “2:45,” & I told her that I was running slightly faster than that and doing it very evenly if she wanted to run with me. About 2 miles later I had the same conversation with a guy (Kevin #1059) and we had the exact same race plan. This became my group for a while and we started knocking off the miles together. The crowds kept getting louder and at one point I saw someone holding a giant EASY button. Obviously I veered over to it and pressed it, then returned to my gang and informed them that now we were all set, “now it shouldn’t be hard at all.” We were rolling right along as we approached the half marathon and the screaming ladies of Wellesley. It’s hard to accurately put into words the decibels reached by these ladies. I have never seen so many ‘Kiss me’ signs. ‘Kiss me to finish,’ ‘kiss me for a personal best,’ ‘kiss me i’m single,’ and finally I caved. I mean, sometimes in the middle of the Boston Marathon you need to kiss a girl; so, I kissed a girl and I liked it. Kevin was caught off guard and slowed slightly so it was easier for me to catch back on with him. I reached him and said, ‘sorry about that,’ and he laughed and said, ‘no problem.’

Soon thereafter, Katie began to ease off the pace and drop behind us. We were now a gang of 2. We had gone through the half marathon in 1:20:53 and that was faster than she wanted to run. She was being smart. Kevin and I kept the pressure on, still running pretty evenly knowing that at 16mi, the race would change as the hills would begin. I had planned on slowing down :15/mile during the 16mi-21mi stretch of the course. In my mind if I did that, I would still be ‘on pace.’ Kevin thought the exact same thing. He would open up mini gaps on me on the uphills and we would reconnect on the downhills. At 21 mi we were still in good shape, running 2:43:xx pace and the toughest terrain on the course was behind us. The next 2 miles were 12:49 (6:25 pace), so we were slowing, but it was not drastic, still keeping it together, but I knew I was hanging on and just hoping I could get to the finish at this pace.

Fighting the good fight late in the race

Just past 23 mi, Kevin pulled away a final time; it was the last time I would see him. At 24 mi I was completely gassed. I felt like the Boston course and I were locked in a battle that was dead even and that in a boxing metaphor, were throwing big punches at each other, I landed one at mile 21, the course landed one at mile 22, I landed another at mile 23, but at mile 24, I was hit with a monster blow that basically staggered me. It was going to be survival mode the rest of the way. I was 2mi from the finish, STILL on 2:43:xx pace, but now I was leaking fuel and all I could think was “keep moving forward, keep pushing, get to the line.” With a half mile to go, Katie caught me, as did many others as I was in the process of running a 7:30 mile. I pushed as hard as I could on Boylston Street, and there was just nothing left to give. At the finish I was completely spent and knew I couldn’t possibly have run any harder. That is always something I strive for, and it is what this event particularly on this day, deserves to be given. That is all we can ever do, the best we can. The result was: 2:45:46, 637th human, 62nd in Age Group, top 2% of all finishers in a race that saw 98.4% of all starters, finish. This was a proud and honorable group I lined up with for sure.

At the end of the day it wasn’t my fastest marathon, I didn’t win or place in my age group and it was not the best race I’ve ever run. However I emerged from the journey incredibly grateful for all the supportive people I have in my life that made this experience not just more rewarding, but frankly, possible. I left Boston with my head held high, proud of the effort I gave, and the best version of myself I could be.

Post race celebration with the Haughtons

Recovery 101 – Five Easy Steps

So you’ve just finished a hard race or workout, you’re covered in road grime, dehydrated, hungry as all get out and probably just want to take a nap. So what do you do next? Most cyclists know that they should stretch a bit or maybe hit a recovery drink (sorry, beer doesn’t actually count). Few, however, have a solid recovery regimen that they follow after every ride.

This is a shame because if you aren’t taking the time to recover properly, you’re not benefiting fully from all the hard work you just put in. Taking the time to go through a proper recovery regime will insure you get stronger and have more energy. You put the work in, make sure you’re reaping all the rewards!

The two most common excuses for skipping a recovery routine are; “Who has the time” and “I just want to relax when I’m done with a ride”. However a thorough recovery routine can be done in as little as 15-20 minutes and will leave you feeling reenergized and rejuvinated.

By following these five steps you’ll recover quicker, be less likely to get injured and feel stronger on the bike.

Easy spin is easy.

Spin-Down – Immediately after finishing a ride, take 5-15minutes to spin easily. This is best done by spinning an increasing easier gear at 80-100RPM. Just keep your legs moving. This allows your heart-rate to come down to a resting rate more gradually and facilitates your muscles in their removal of lactic acid/ammonia. You’ll be much less likely to experience cramps and severe muscle stiffness after taking a few minutes to cool down.

Unwind - Ahhhh the dreaded stretching routine. To make it even worse, I recommend combining your post ride stretching with a short core work-out. Oh. The. Agony. Even as the most time consuming step of your new recovery regime, a stretch/core routine can be done in less than 15 minutes. And you know what else, you’ll feel better on and off the bike if you do it after even half of your rides.

A good stretching routine will be dynamic and target your entire body while focusing on the legs. Yoga inspired stretches will get you the most bang for your buck, targeting multiple muscle groups at once. Make sure at the very least that you stretch your quads, calves, hamstrings and back (you know, all the muscles that you put through the ringer mile after mile).

Piggieback your stretching routine with a quick core workout. One of my favorite 5 minute core routines can be found here. Including a short core routine helps your body to buffer lactic acid after your workout. Not to mention the core strength you gain by dedicating to a regular core workout will increase your power on the bike.

Experiment with which stretches work for you and remember; Don’t push it! If you’re straining yourself, you’re most likely doing more damage than good. Stretching is a process and if you feel inflexible, be patient, you’ll feel better the more often you do it.


Rehydrate - Throughout your entire recovery routine make sure to keep taking in fluids. You’ve been poring out more fluids than your body can take in for the whole of your workout so you have some catching up to do. However, this doesn’t mean you should chug water until it’s coming out of your ears.

I typically drink one bottle of sports drink as i’m going through my cool-down and stretching routine. Following this I make sure to keep sipping on fluids for the rest of the day. After a particularly hot or hard ride I take a few electrolyte support supplements(such as Hammer Endurolytes or SportLegs) to help replenish my electrolyte levels. Remember when you sweat your not just losing fluids, your also losing electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium which are critical in the hydration process.

If you’re feeling particularly cracked make sure to take in some sugar/carbs immediately after getting off the bike. Fresh fruit is my favorite, however a spare gel, Clif Bar, or even chocolate and Coca-Cola will work in a pinch.

Keep it healthy.

Replenish – One of the best parts about being an endurance athlete is being able to eat guilt free following a workout. While sometimes that double bacon cheese burger is fine, try to keep your post ride meals healthy and varied. Remember, you get out what you put in!

Keep in mind the two following steps to help make sure your body gets what it needs to repair itself.
- Within 30 minutes of finishing your workout: Take in 15-25 grams of a high quality protein(I recommend a whey protein isolate) and a moderate amount sugar and carbs(fresh fruit, bread/cheese, etc). Try sipping on a recovery drink throughout your stretching/core routine and then have a carb rich snack immediately afterwards.
- Within 60 minutes:  Eat a nutrient rich meal full of healthy carbs, protein and fat. Green beans, currie rice and salmon, veggie/tofu stir fry, Baked chicken, sweat potatoes and whole grain bread, etc.

Rejuvenate – If you have the time, try napping after a long ride or hard workout. It’ll give your body a double dose of naturally occurring Human Growth Hormone(HGH) which is essential to muscle recovery and growth. This combined with an ample and regular sleep schedule will insure your riding strong day after day.

Next time you finish a ride or race, keep these recovery tips in mind.
- Spin Down
- Stretch/Core
- Rehydrate
- Eat
- Sleep
You’ll have more energy, recover more fully and get stronger faster.

Looking for some more personalized or in-depth tips on becoming a better cyclist? Give us a call or stop by. Helping athletes succeed is literally our job.

2013 End of Year Musings – The Todd

2013 Year End Musings- The Todd

Hayley and Coach Todd kicking off 2014 with a 5k race.

Every year at this time I think, how the heck did another year come and go? It seems impossible to believe how quickly time passes as I get older (I mean not as old as Glenn, but older nonetheless). The other thing I do this time of year is recall the many things that transpired and how much I enjoyed (or didn’t) the events that impacted my life. This was a year that saw not only significant change and growth here at Breakaway Bikes, but also the unparalleled athletic achievements of Breakaway athletes. There were so many great stories that emerged from our store this year and because of these stories I head into 2014 excited about what will follow.

Nearly all of our customers ride bicycles, and a fair amount of them even race their bicycles. This year in addition to the cycling team that we sponsor, Quaker City Wheelmen won the Best All Around Team (Large Division) in the state of Pennsylvania and two of our coached athletes, Kristie Nichols (category 4) and Nick Rogers (Elite), won Best All Around Rider honors. Both Kristie and Nick certainly have big engines, but more significantly, they have a fire in their bellies that makes them willing to suffer in training and racing. Possessing these qualities is critical to success in bike racing and I was thrilled for the successes they both experienced this year.

Breakaway’s very own Cole (Trickle) Oberman had an amazing ride at the Cyclocross Single Speed World Championships (CXSSWC) held in Philadelphia’s very own Belmont Plateau. Beyond the drinking, loud music, costumes, heckling, and drinking, there was a very serious race at the front as renown MTB Pro Adam Craig and Cole (also a MTB Pro as it turns out) went mano a mano all the way to the wire….and then added an extra lap to make their battle even more epic. In the end, it was the wily veteran getting the better of our young upstart, but Trickle made him earn it. Cole’s 2nd place…in the WORLD was certainly nothing to sneeze at.

This year also saw two members of the Breakaway Racing Team qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. Kiley Austin-Young qualified by virtue of winning his age group at St. Croix 70.3 and Ritanne O’Brien qualified by placing 2nd in her age group at Ironman Lake Placid. I was fortunate enough to make that trip this year and the event is certainly all it is cracked up to be. People were super nice, excited to be there, the pros were very accessible, the weather was gorgeous, the food was wonderful, and the coffee rocked! Kiley had an excellent swim/bike, Ritanne had an amazing run, and both left their debut on the sport’s grandest stage with their heads held high, and for good reason.

Breakaway Racing Team’s Emily Sherrard shocked everyone (including herself) when she executed the race she was capable of and won the 25-29 Age Group at the 70.3 World Championships in Henderson, Nevada. When we had our final pre race strategy meeting the day before the race, I told her that she was in the best triathlon shape of her life and that flawless execution would make her hard to beat. When the run began she was in 3rd in her age group and then in short order, 2nd. I turned to Kiley’s parents and said, “she’s going to win it.” She was charging and the look in her eyes was one that I had never seen from her before. This was her day and she was going to take it. When she finished she wasn’t certain she had won, but I made sure she knew. A memorable experience to say the least as Emily joined store owner Joe Wentzell as Breakaway’s second World Champion.

Under the radar and with far less hoopla, Breakaway Racing Team’s Amelia McCracken earned her Elite Triathlon license which will enable her to compete as a Professional in 2014 and Patrick McKeon had a fantastic season with not only his 8th in the 25-29 AG at 70.3 World Championships, but his AG win at Timberman 70.3 which earned him All American honors (an honor also achieved by Kiley and Emily as well). This year our teams just crushed it, week after week and I couldn’t have been more proud.

I realized this year that in spite of the difficulties that we all face from time to time, I am very grateful and humbled by the support of our many clients and staff and truly embraced the significance of having friendship and perseverance in my life. It is my belief that having these two things will allow a person to overcome anything. This year, I watched our racing team truly become a team. They came together and were more involved in not only racing successfully, but in team social gatherings, training together, and supporting each other.

Simultaneously, I watched our Breakaway staff become even closer and work in a more cooperative manner than I have seen in my nearly 5 years on staff. This gradual progression was one that resembled family, the family we have made. What I learned this year is simply that friendship, perseverance and the support of ‘family’ not only will allow us all to overcome any obstacle we face, but also makes the journey that much more fulfilling. Thanks to all of you for contributing to such a special and wonderful year. I am looking forward to an even greater 2014!



Looking Back: Review and Reset

Lets take a look back on the past year shall we?


It’s hard to believe that it is already 2014, we’re through the Holidays and now is a great time to get back to a regular schedule of riding and training. Now is also the time of year in which I try to sit down with the athletes I coach to help them review there past season as well as sharpen their goals for the coming year. Being able to learn from what worked (or didn’t) last year is crucial to being able to achieve your goals this season.

Learning from the mistakes and failures of this past season is an important aspect of planning for the next year. Making the same mistake twice is the worst mistake of all. So if you had trouble with pacing the bike leg of your triathlon last year make sure to focus on that this year. Likewise if you had trouble climbing this past summer, spend some more time in the hills this spring. You can’t get better if you don’t work on your weaknesses and you can’t work on your weaknesses if you don’t identify them to begin with. Take some time to think about, “What held me back last year?”.

This guy knows a thing or two about pushing past failure.

It’s fine to use your short comings to keep you motivated to hit the road or get on the trainer but try not to dwell on them. Remember that no one has ever waltzed onto the podium on their first try and success doesn’t happen overnight. Instead accept your failures, learn from them and move forward accordingly.

As important as it is to work on your weaknesses, it is even more important to celebrate your successes. This can be anything from the obvious such as winning a target race or finishing your first triathlon to the more technical such as pedaling technique or increasing your Vo2 power. It’s important to identify all of your successes and improvements as well as what made them possible.

Success isn’t always so obvious.

Like I tell my athletes, it’s not so much your victories and successes but how you got there. What was the winning training formula? Was it the short high intensity intervals that got you onto your first cyclocross podium? How about those brick workouts you nailed leading up to your half iron PR? Identify the process that brought you success last year and aim to repeat it next year. Repeatability is the key for any enduring athlete. You want to be able to reach the finish line and podium year after year.


Once you’ve identified what worked and what needs improvement its time to set your goals. Having realistic and well defined goals is important for athletes of any ability level. Having an end point to work towards keeps you motivated to train alittle harder or go alittle farther.

Short term goals.

One of the most helpful pieces of advice for setting and achieving goals is to break down your season into several short term goals which help you work towards the larger picture. Training Peak’s Adam Hodges summed up goal setting pretty succinctly in a recent newsletter. “Think of the goal-setting process like climbing a mountain. Your ultimate goal may be the summit (long-term goal); but to reach the summit, you need to break the climb into segments (intermediate goals) and divide those segments into individual steps (short-term goals)”.

Make your goals realistic. Whether its to win a race, finish a charity ride or have a personal best your long term goal should be challenging to achieve while still being realistic. If it’s your first season of road racing, winning a local office park crit might be a better goal than winning Battenkill. Setting goals that are too lofty can leave you feeling crushed if you don’t achieve them after all of the hard work you put in.


On the opposite end, if you set goals that are too easy to attain your more likely slack off knowing that you’ll be able to achieve your goal anyway. If you crushed the cat 2 in the MASS MTB series last year, its time to move up to cat 1. If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never meet your potential. Plus nobody likes a dirty sandbagger.

Make your goals well defined. I often hear from athletes that they want to generally get faster/stronger. While I genuinely sympathize with this sentiment, its simply a hard goal to measure success with because of its vagueness. A better way to state this would be, ” I finished Iron Cross in 4.5 hours last year, I want to finish in under 4 hours this year”. This is the same sentiment as “I want to get stronger” but with a measurable outcome and a concrete end goal to train for.


Above all keep your goals positive. Make sure your goal is about achievement not making sure you don’t do something. The difference between these is ” I want to finish a Half Ironman under six hours” (positive) vs. I don’t want to finish over six hours in a Half Ironman again this year”(negative).

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to think about your past season and ask yourself these 5 questions. What was my biggest success? What were some smaller things I improved on? What could I work on? How could I improve on my weaknesses? What are my goals this season?

 If you feel like you could use some help figuring out your goals and how to achieve them, drop by or give us a call. Helping athletes succeed is literally our job.

#SSCXWC13PHILLY: How to enjoy the weirdest bike race in town.

Philly is hosting a real, live world championship cycling event this coming weekend. For those of you who havn’t heard, the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships will be held on the Belmont Plateau in western Fairmount park on Sunday, December 8th. With qualifying and auxiliary events on Friday and Saturday, there will be an entire weekend of un-official world championships, free beer, junk-yard racing and so much more. Non-sanctioned status aside, rest assured there will be fierce competition for the win. Not only does the winner get a genuine golden speedo/bikini, the champ gets stuck with the mandatory championship tattoo at the after-party.

The Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships trace their roots to the first Single Speed Mountain Bike World Championships in the mid-1990s. These races emphasized fun and costumes over pure competition with the only rule being that you must ride a bicycle with only one gear. We hope to keep that spirit of light hearted fun alive and well this year in Philly. While many riders show up with aspirations of squeezing there way into that skimpy golden speedo, there is an even greater focus on who has the most elaborate costume, the silliest bike or the most ridiculous hand-up/heckle.

Speaking of hand-ups and heckles. The greatest thing about the SSCXWC is that it’s just as fun for spectators as it is for participants. Whether you’re at the classic Bilenky Junkyard Cross(which yes, is a race in a junkyard) on Saturday or at the main event on Sunday, there will be ample time to heckle, cheer and let the good times roll. Did I mention that there will be free beer, for the whole weekend, from not one but three great breweries. Thanks to Sly Fox, Pabst and Stoudts!

Not sure how to construct a proper hand-up? Want to make sure your heckle is adequately funny without being unnecessarily mean? Just follow our step-by-step guide to H&H.

H(eckles) & H(and-ups) according to Breakaway:

Heckles: The airing of grievances. 

Step 1: Choose Material - Remember the goal is to be funny, not hurt anyones feelings. A good heckle will be equal parts insult and encouragement. E.X. (You ride like you drink decaf. Pick it up!)
Step 2: Read the Situation – Being situationally aware is key to a good heckle. E.X. (mother with child crossed the course, then…”You just got passed by a stroller”!)
Step 3: Select Target – Friends, leaders and those in outlandish costumes are usually best. Step 4: Fire Away - It’s just like your mother told you, if you don’t have anything nice to say, yell it at your friends.

Hand-Ups: Passing non-sports related items to racers.

Step 1: Select Item – Beer(watered down or otherwise), hot-dogs, dollar bills. Just remember with food, if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t hand it to someone else.
Step 2: Location, Location, Location – Pick the best spot possible, usually in a particularly challenging part of the course with a large crowd of spectators. Run-ups, barriers, steep hills and tight corners are all good choices
Step 3: Be Vocal – Let the rider know you have something for them. A well timed heckle can aid in the process.
Step 4 – Let It Go – Lean in, stretch the course tape and get your arm out there. Most items are best held by the top giving the receiver ample space to grab.

Now print that out, put it in your pocket and we’ll see you this weekend!

Check out the full schedule of events. / Follow us on Facebook to see where we’ll be this weekend.

2013 Philadelphia Marathon, Triathletes can run -The Todd

Watching the Philadelphia Marathon this year was a stark contrast to my experience last year when I competed in it. A year ago in addition to be excited for our teammates and our athletes, I was excited to race as well. This year my focus was solely on our athletes. I wanted to be out there watching, supporting, and encouraging them to have the races they’d earned through many miles of training.

The majority of this year I traveled to triathlons with many of my athletes, so it was an interesting change to be at a stand alone running event. Triathletes get so ingrained in the process of competing in three sports, which is obviously important, that they frequently don’t just ‘let it rip’ and see just how fast they can go in each of the disciplines. Doing a proper training build, taper, and peak in a stand alone running event leads to an athlete becoming a better runner, and therefore triathlete. As the race began, that was my hope for each of our athletes.

Nice weather greeted the runners and I headed out coffee in hand, to see as many Breakaway Racing Team members as I could the opening mile. All of my athletes had a race plan that focused on patience and execution. A marathon or a half marathon for that matter, is a long way to race, and swift early miles almost always lead to slothful later miles.  I always like to stand in front of Breakaway Bikes, just past the 10k mark of the race and cheer. It is a great spot to see the leaders as well as our team members and gives great path access to see everyone again by the halfway point of the marathon, and just prior to the finish of the half marathon.

One thing I like about the Philadephia Marathon is something I said in an interview last year, “it is a big time race with a small town feel.” I particularly like that Breakaway’s Racing team always has a lot of people supporting the event as competitors and also as volunteers (there was a group of our team members volunteering near the Falls Bridge this year). I also enjoy watching our team race as a team. As per the race strategy, Keith Fitzgerald ran alongside Tony (the human metronome) Salvi, for the majority of the race, and Hayley Germack ran alongside Sandra Sierakowski in order to share the pace and work together. This helped all of them keep their excitement in check and be ready to face the late miles with more in the tank. Even notoriously fast starter Anh Dang, was controlled and on pace the first half of the race. It appeared our gang was racing with poise and confidence.

It’s always fun watching the best runners in the field leading the way and noticing how easy they make it look. I harken it to how easy professional golfers make hitting a ball 200 yds to within 5 feet of the pin. You see it and it is easy to think, ‘it doesn’t look that hard.’ The truly elite runners regularly make it look easy, but I can assure you, similar to the pro golfer, it isn’t. Success in endurance sports, or ‘going long’ as I like to say, comes from perseverance and consistency in training, and a willingness to suffer in training and on race day. It is not an obvious ‘talent,’ but I assure you it is a talent that anyone who succeeds in these events possesses.

A year ago at the age of 44, Tony Salvi cracked the 3:00:00 barrier for the first time in his career. He did it with patience and confidence and ran a near flawless race. This year when his teammate Keith Fitzgerald and I discussed his race plan, as he wanted to run 2:59:59 or better for the first time, I told him simply, ‘line up with Tony and run with him for 20 miles. If you do this, you will break 3:00:00.”

Hayley and Sandra teamed up as Hayley was running the marathon and Sandra the half marathon. I knew this combination would push Sandra to a new personal best and would prevent Hayley in her exuberance from squandering her chance to run a great race. At the 10k mark Tony and Keith ran by together looking great, and a few minutes later Breakaway ladies followed suit. The plan was working.

Breakaway Racing Team’s Anh Dang was marching to his own beat, but it was a controlled beat and he was relaxed and under control. I thought, “after all our track sessions throughout this year, had he ACTUALLY learned? Was he going to run a smart race?” I was hopeful that he would.

It is not an easy task to negative split a marathon. That being said, I knew what each of these athletes had done in training and I was confident, they were capable of doing that very thing. Patience and poise early, following the eating and drinking schedule, and digging in and roaring home the final 10k. That was the race plan and that was the training plan. This was the race plan I had followed a year ago, and I was eager to see each of them succeed as I had.

That being said, no matter how smart you pace it, no matter how spot on your nutrition intake is, there is no escaping the final few miles of a marathon. Simply put, they are hard. They are to be endured. Frequently (but not always), they reveal character. When push comes to shove, when the hurt truly arrives and there is no escaping it until you reach the finish, what do you do? Decision time. Keep pushing? It’s going to hurt no matter what you do, so you may as well, ‘see how long you can keep your hand on the hot stove.’ Pushing through the pain and discomfort that inevitably arrives running a marathon, will directly impact your result, your success.

I waited for our team members at just past the 25mi mark. I was hoping to be able to provide one more moment of encouragement for them before they reached the very end, the very LOUD end. What I saw, made me very proud of our gang. First I saw Keith on his way to a 2:56:37 PB, then I saw Anh finishing off a 3:01:32 PB, then I saw Tony, who after 19mi simply didn’t have it, but he fought gamely to hold on for 3:07:16 (not bad for an ‘off’ day) and played a MAJOR role in Keith’s success, and then I saw Hayley. The girl who had never broken 4:00:00 in a stand alone marathon prior to 2013, but who had shocked us all with her 3:25:07 marathon split at Ironman Lake Placid in her debut. On this day, smiling as always, the number was 3:08:09 an ENORMOUS PB. Sandra after running the first 7mi with Hayley en route to her half marathon, also had a solid day with her 1:35:57 PB, nearly 9:00 faster than she ran this race 1 year prior.

In running there is no easy way out, there’s no coasting, no aero tricks to help you get ‘free speed,’ zero drop shoes or running on your toes, won’t do it either. What will help is running more and running faster, doing those things will make you better at the running. I was proud not only of these Breakaway athletes whose races I described, but of all of the athletes that train with us, understand this philosophy and mentality, and embrace it. This is the mentality of successful distance runners, not as commonly found in triathletes. These triathletes however, ‘get it.’ They understand that your run will define your triathlon. Triathletes can run and can run well, provided they are willing to pay the price to do so.