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Iowa Gravel Classic: By Matt Denis

Posted on July 14, 2021 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (1301)

Iowa Gravel Classic 7/3/21


A highlight of last year’s pandemic-ravaged season was the Iowa Gravel Classic: because it actually happened, sure, but also because it’s a beautiful course in Whiterock Conservancy, full of rollers, B roads, and strong racers. In that 100km edition last year, I also managed to overzealously attack my way out of a podium spot, and so I arrived this year with some vengeance on the brain. A year wiser and more mature, and knowing the race was 100 MILES this year, I vowed to keep a lid on the attacks and let the race come to me, trusting that I could win late from a small group sprint.


We rolled out at 7:00 AM and got a preview for the entire course in the first five miles. A section of B road, followed by endless punchy rollers. The first hour of the race was relatively tame, outside of the occasional surge up a steep part of a climb, or an elastic-stretching attack out of the tight turns onto the rough B roads. Above and Beyond Cancer (ABC) had two riders in the race: Adam Ventling (last year’s winner), and Hayden Warner, who I knew from the Colfax Gravel Race earlier this year was full of watts himself. I kept an eye on those two, figuring they would be the ones to dictate the shape of the race.


Around mile 35, we approached a section of B road that had been highlighted by the organizers as being particularly rough. As the group was still 15 people strong at this point, I used the hill preceding the section to stretch the pack out so that I could be first onto the treachery. Cyclocross wizard Brian West followed me, a gap was opened, and we dropped into some gnarly territory at about 30mph downhill. Following Brian is an exercise in Go Fast Don’t Die, but we both stayed upright, jumping from rut to rut to avoid large rocks. On the first steep uphill pitch of the sector, I looked back to see that we had about a 30 second gap at just about exactly the same time that Brian flatted. With a mile of rough stuff to go, I stayed on the power, thinking that while I wouldn’t commit to the break (there were still 62 miles to ride, after all), I would ride my pace out of the B road and give them a tougher time catching up. Maybe ABC would have to use up one of their riders chasing. For the next 10 miles, I rode tempo, and the gap hovered at around 45 seconds. Another 10 miles of tempo later, it was over a minute. Turning off of a tailwind section on a wide paved road, I found the steepest, rockiest set of climbs on the day, gave it the beans, and could see on the other side that the chase group had completely fractured. With 40 miles still left to ride, I finally started to believe that the move could stick.


In a solo break that long, you go through a month’s worth of emotions in a few hours. I was elated at how good my fitness seemed to be; paranoid that someone was chasing hard and closing the gap, always in the valley of the roller before where I couldn’t see them; panicked that the grabs in my legs would turn to full blown cramps; baffled at how slowly the final 20 miles were ticking by. By the final 10 miles, I was fully convinced that the miniscule amount of energy I had left would still be sufficient to take the win. I rolled home 4:00 ahead of second place, wrecked but happy to have had the legs to take my first win in a very long time.


The moral of the story, obviously, is that maturity is completely overrated.




Distance 96 miles

Climbing 7600’

Time 4:59

Avg Speed 19.4 mph

Avg Power/NP 248/285

Avg HR 161

Lessons Learned from Last Year 0



Ken Woods Road Race

Posted on June 1, 2021 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (289)

Ken Woods Road Race May 21, 2021 By: Matt Denis

An often-overlooked aspect of the glamorous profamateur bike racing scene are the hotels you end up

in weekend after summer weekend. The final preparation for big days in the saddle usually consists of

piling four bikes, four bags, and four bodies into the cheapest room still available when we finally got

around to booking 36 hours previous. All of which I only mention to say that no one was surprised to

see, as we rolled up to our motel in Red Wing, MN, that it was in the shadow of a penitentiary. Lucky for

us, it also abided by the other rule of the road: never be further than three miles from a Perkins.

Potential jailbreaks notwithstanding, we were able to get our pre-race pancakes, which is all that really


With pro races all pushed back further on the calendar than in years past, the local racing scene has

been filled with some extremely talented fields, and the Ken Woods Road Race in Cannon Falls was no

different. The field wasn’t overly large, but included an assortment of pros, former pros, and very

talented juniors. With a climb near the finish of each 20-mile lap, we assumed that the day would go to

a break filled with Project Echelon riders, and our plan was to try to get me into that break. The first

hour of racing was full of attacks, counterattacks, 100% humidity, long stretches in the gutter in the

crosswinds, and a good tempo up the climb. Nothing was able to get away, due in large part to the great

work being done up front by Reece. He patrolled the moves, never let the pace slow too much, and

generally looked after me. Behind, Trevor was helping to keep me in position and relaying information

about the composition of the group.

Around the 35 mile mark, the move finally went. The pace slowed in the crosswinds, and in the ensuing

bunch-up, John Heinlein of Project Echelon, Chase Wark of Guillotine, and Patrick Welch of Vol Gas

came up the outside from the back of the group with a full head of steam. Given their strength, and the

fact that they represented the major teams in the race, I think most in the group knew right away that

the podium had just rolled out of reach. I made a couple of attempts to get across with Luke Feuerhelm

of Lux, but to no avail.

Once the move was gone, the race behind settled into more of a rhythm. I rolled through with Luke and

some of the members of Project Echelon, who wanted to make sure the break wasn’t completely out of

reach if something were to happen to John. Given the heat and the intensity of the racing, it was hard to

organize a true chase, as it seemed like someone was always trying to miss a turn. I figured someone

would try to use the hill on lap 3 to figure out who couldn’t vs. who wouldn’t, and give the group a much

needed reshuffling. Matt Zimmer of Project Echelon attacked and distanced Inno Zavyalov, who was

trying to follow, and I figured the time had come. I bridged across with only Matt’s teammate Peter on

my wheel and the three of crested the hill together, with Inno using his TT prowess to get across before

we could open the gap too much.

The final lap was tactical and slow. Inno didn’t want to work because Chase was up the road, and I was

trying to figure out how Project Echelon wanted to play their numerical advantage in the chase group. In

the end, we stayed together and took steady pulls to make sure no one from behind could get back on

terms. The tactical nature only heightened on our final time up the climb, everyone looking at one

another as we posted by far our slowest time up the steeper part of the rise. With Inno and I unwilling

to roll the dice with an attack, a sprint for 4 th was in the cards. I positioned myself in third wheel, feeling

good about having Peter, who I know is a fantastic sprinter, stuck on the front. With a couple hundred

meters to go, I laid off Inno’s wheel and wound up my sprint. Peter is a smart racer. He’d put the race in


the gutter, forcing anyone who wanted to sprint to do so on the windy side of the road. Coupled with

Matt calling my move ahead as I wound it up, I never was able to get the initial gap on Peter, and the

two of us drag raced up the final slight rise in the road, with Peter nudging ahead in the final 50 meters.

In the end, while I would have loved to have made the winning move, and felt like I had the legs to do

so, the fifth place was my best result in a P/1/2 race since upgrading, and doing it in such a talented field

was even more icing on the cake. It tells me that the work that Eric and I have been doing is paying off

ahead of some of my bigger targets this year. The first of those targets is now rapidly approaching. I’m

writing this from my parents’ house in Pittsburgh, and will be traveling to upstate New York for the

Whiteface Hillclimb, (8 miles at 8.5%) on Friday, June 4. Stay tuned to hear how I manage carrying the

torch for all the Iowa flatlanders who insist that a 20 mph headwind is just as hard as a 6% climb.

Ken Woods Statistics

Place: 5 th /21

Distance: 83.4 miles

Elevation: 3400’

Avg Speed: 25.0 mph

Avg Power/NP: 256/312

Silver City Century

Posted on May 15, 2021 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (367)

Silver City Century

May 8, 2021

If you’ve ever lived in or driven through the Midwest, you’ve seen a town like Silver City, IA. Blink-and-

you-miss-it, stripped of everything but the essentials: post office, bike shop, bar. At 7 AM on a typical

Saturday, it would be empty and quiet. On May 8 th , it was full up with over a hundred cyclists set to

contest the first round of the Iowa Gravel Series.

I’d made the trip the previous afternoon with two teammates: Jeff, a tried-and-true diesel who loves the

smashfest racing of gravel; and Jason, owner of Ames Cycling center, experienced racer, Ames Velo

Home Town Hero sponsor, and shadow bike mayor of Ames. We prepared in the only way we know

how: staying up late shooting the shit, laying out a rigid schedule that would have us on the rollers

warming up by 6:15, and then failing to execute any part of it. After a quick warmup on the road (we

were on the bikes by 6:45), we set off at the head of the group. We’d reconned the first six miles of the

course the night before, so we knew the start was crammed full of steep rollers. We stayed at the front

expecting the pace to be high. For the most part, we were wrong, with all the contenders more or less

waiting for someone else to lift the pace. After some feeler attacks, a two-man move rolled clear around

mile 13, containing Hanwei Wang of GP Velotek and Jason Simpson of Sakari. Several in the group

seemed worried that we’d let Hanwei sneak away to a quick gap of 30-45 seconds, though none were

worried enough to hit the front themselves to chase him back. Jason had a full three teammates in our

group as well, doing all they could to disrupt any attempt at organization. The result was that Hanwei

and Jason were quickly out of sight, and the rest of us resorted to the two-speed strategy of haymaker

bridge attempts and soft pedaling that, while great fun, isn’t great bang for the buck, gap management

wise. Still, I knew the race was long, the course was dynamic, and there would be chances later in the

race to make a difference. The pace settled a little as we made our way through rain-damp B roads,

more rolling hills, and the occasional two-block downtown, battered the whole way by steady 20mph


At the 30-mile mark, with the pace slowing a bit and the gap to the break stuck at around two minutes, I

made my move. Laying off the group on a descent, I carried my speed as the group bunched up in the

crosswind, and put in a big attack that finally snapped the elastic. I settled in, keeping my eyes peeled

for the pair up the road. Once I could see them, I used landmarks to track my gap to them, and after 10

miles, the bridge was complete. Simpson was long past the point of playing poker (“have fun, boys!”)

and left Hanwei and I to duke out the final 20 miles. I quickly saw that I had a decision to make: with an

hour of racing to go, I typically would have worked with Hanwei to consolidate our gap to the rest of the

field. However, I’d made the catch at the beginning of a 7-mile section of B road, littered with tight turns

and punchy climbs. Thinking it might be my best chance to get clear, I hit Hanwei with a series of attacks

that looked initially like they would come to nothing: the dude did not lack for strength and toughness.

When I finally got clear, I knew that if I could avoid catastrophe, I could cruise in for my first win of the


And then I ate a three-course buffet of catastrophe.

With 13 miles to go, I knew I’d be making a U-turn off the gravel, and onto a section of grass that was a

mile and a half long. Having ridden extensively on the prairie paths of the Ames Velo Crushed Rock

Classic course, I thought I was prepared for this. I was not. The section was the topographical equivalent


of riding a mechanical bull. A quarter mile in, my fears had evolved from my ability to maintain my gap,

to the potential deflation of one or both tires, and finally to the deflation of one or both testicles.

Luckily, I found a smoother, faster line in a rut on the side of the path, and while I still had to contend

with craters, the sporadic abrupt disappearance of the rut, and the 50km riders who were riding the

same section in the opposite direction, I managed to limp out of the section with gap, tires, and

manhood intact.

That’s when the cramps arrived.

We all know the despondent feeling when a twinge, becomes a grab, becomes a full-on triple hamstring

knot. I had enough mobility to unclip and shake/punch the leg into functionality again, but I knew I’d

have to be very careful in the final 30 minutes to avoid further setbacks. All the while, I could see

Hanwei grinding away behind me. Luckily for me, the huge tailwind and constant rolling hills played to

my advantage. I could dig up the climbs and use the descents to freewheel, massage my legs, and take

on fuel. The gap came down, but I was able to hold it at 30-40 seconds without putting my muscles back

into the danger zone. I was home free. Glory, fame, and a post-race pork tenderloin sandwich at the

aforementioned bar my just desserts.

And then it got majorly embarrassing.

The final three miles of the race were on the historic Wabash Trace bike path. Because it’s a narrow,

multi-use path that couldn’t be closed, we’d been told that those miles would be neutral. The order in

which we got onto the path would determine our placing. As I approached what would be the final

intersection, my Garmin told me there were 3.4 miles to go, or 0.4 miles left to be raced. It also told me

to turn right, while the only sign on course pointed to the left. I slowed and considered this dilemma. I

knew that the Trace was 0.4 miles away. To my right, I could see for about a mile and couldn’t see a turn

onto the Trace. To my left was a short, steep hill. The Trace, I imagined, would make itself visible at the

top of the hill. I turned left and crested the hill to find no sign of the Trace. Turning around, I saw Hanwei

smoothly make the right turn I’d forsaken. At that point, there wasn’t enough road left; all I could do

was cruise in for the defeat I’d snatched from the jaws of victory.

My own idiocy aside, the Silver City Century was a welcome return to racing for me. The legs were good,

the course was dynamic, and I still had that pork tenderloin afterward.


Distance: 62.8 miles

Elevation: 3700’

Time: 3:17:00

Speed: 19.1 mph

Power/NP: 254/302

Decision-making: Poor

Want to get faster without having to smash Intervals? DO SKILLS!

Posted on March 16, 2021 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (122)

Incorporating Skills Practice into your Training Plan


It is hilarious to me that people neglect skills practice on the bike when it can truly make or break your race. I think the main problem is athletes don’t know how to approach it (and also don’t want to) and/or their coaches don’t know how to implement skills into a training plan.


I was already planning on this topic for the blog and trend for this weeks social media here at TST before the recent triathlon in Florida. The race being Challenge Miami. Fortunately, the race and content produced immediately following will help drive home the importance of practicing bike skills and honing your technical ability. If you’re a fan of the sport and follow along with the triathlon “influencers” like Eric Lagerstrom + Paula Findlay, Lionel Sanders and a host of others you’ll notice a common theme among ALL of them with their post-race thoughts and the importance of having the confidence and ability to ride the bike course well, and the impact it had/has on race performance.


For most of us in the States we have not had the opportunity to ride outdoors much (#winter) and we especially haven’t had the opportunity to ride in groups of really any size for the most part (Fortunately that looks to be changing for the better). With races now popping up on the calendar, how can athletes expect to go racing and perform to their potential when they don’t have the confidence/ability to ride their bike to their full potential?


Confidence and competence on the bike comes with practice. An athlete will gladly perform intervals of any duration at a set intensity knowing that the repetition and consistency will pay dividends when they go to perform that power in a race specific scenario. So why don’t athletes approach skills in the same way? Repetition of skills starting with basics and building to applicable uses for race type scenarios!


Who needs to practice bike skills? Every person riding a bike, whether you’re a beginner triathlete to a professional MTB racer, everyone can benefit from practicing bike skills.


When should you put skills in your training plan? It depends on the time of year and what you’re racing. A lot of folks, as mentioned above, can’t really practice skills during the winter because they are mainly stuck on the trainer (There are ways around this). As far as skills implementation during the week once the weather permits, you can begin by having 1 or 2 specific skills days a week at any point in the year. The skills day will simply take the place of a recovery ride. Along with these 1-2 specific skills days, if you desire more you can focus on one task/skill for 5-10 min at the end of every ride if you want. As said above, repetition/consistency of practice is key!


Why practice skills? Simple…

Confidence on the bike= Better performance on the bike

Where should I practice bike skills?

Beginning on soft surface (Grass preferably) where consequences are minimal if you happen to fall over. All skills should follow a progression (similar to normal training) that eventually build to real race application. If you’re racing on the road, eventually progressing to skills specific to your discipline on the road. If you’re racing MTB, eventually taking your skills progression to the dirt.


What should a skills session look like? There are so many ways to approach this, as I mentioned above, anyone and everyone should be practicing skills, and many athletes already do on a regular basis.


However, a skills session for an elite BMX racer or XC MTB racer will look completely different than a skills session for a beginner triathlete. Start where you are and progress with skills that are applicable to give you more confidence in your discipline.


Here is an example of a skill that a lot of my athletes will be familiar with. I use this for anyone riding/racing on the road.


The LEAN: 5min of leaning the bike but maintaining a straight line....basically get your weight as far over the right side of the bike (crouching down helps) and lean your bike to the left, but roll in a straight line... then vice versa.


Move around on the bike and experiment with how far you can lean your bike to one side while maintaining a straight line. Be mindful of where you are on the bike and begin the play around.


I’ll let you guess what this drill can progress into and where it is applicable as you progress through!


There will be two separate FREE plans coming out this coming weekend, one for triathletes building to their first race and looking to gain a bit of extra confidence and speed going in, and one for cyclist with the same premise.


These FREE PLANS will have full skills sessions outlines in them! Want to get faster without having to smash Intervals? DO SKILLS!


10K & Half Marathon: The Swiss Army Knives of Run Training

Posted on March 9, 2021 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (115)

One of Coach Miles’ core beliefs when it comes to run training is that 10K or half marathon training are very similar and can provide you with a solid foundation for going up or down in race distance.


Why is that a relevant thought for right now?


Well, it’s relevant because races are slowly beginning to pop up on the calendar, but they are still overshadowed by a cloud of uncertainty. That being said, consistently training as though you were preparing for an upcoming 10K or half marathon can have you ready to adapt your training to any distance that might pop up on the calendar. That is, unless it’s a half or 10K. Then you simply carry on.


Why is 10K or Half Marathon Training so adaptable?


Great question. Training for these 2 distances complement each other well because they each, usually, involve increased aerobic volume, threshold work, and tempo work. The increase in volume you receive from your long runs as well as longer supporting aerobic runs, can easily be transferred into a marathon training plan. Along with the increase in volume, the threshold and tempo work done in 10K and half marathon plans can serve as a great base for more speedwork and focus for 5K’s or shorter distances.

So, coming out of a 10K of half marathon focus, you can increase your long runs and add in some specific pace work if you’re shifting to a marathon plan. Or you can trade one of your tempo workouts for more speed specific work if you’re shifting to 5K or shorter. The 10K or Half marathon plan is the Swiss Army Knife of running plans.


That being said, we’ll be dropping a FREE 10K training plan on the TST Perform website this weekend! The plan will also include notes on how to convert the 10K plan into a Half marathon version. Thank you for reading and happy training!


Your friends at TST Perform,


Eric and Miles.


Threshold Training!

Posted on February 23, 2021 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (136)

The focus of the blog for this week will be on FTP/Threshold testing, training, and development. This will be a brief overview on those areas and is by no means an in depth detailed description of how to execute each aspect. This blog will be followed up with a few “FREE PLANS” for cyclists and triathletes to help navigate the murky waters of developing threshold power. These plans will be posted on Saturday February 27th.


So what is FTP/Threshold power? It is the power you can theoretically produce on the bike for an hour if you were to go all out.


How do I find this number? Well this process is hotly debated and many coaches have different tests to help them identify an athletes threshold power number.


First you need a power meter on your bike, or bike trainer that has an internal power meter.


Then you need a testing protocol.


Some of these tests include… but are not limited to:

• 20min test all out (multiply your 20min power number by .95 or .90)

• Ramp Test (There are even different protocols of this (ramping intensity in 20w increments every minute until failure… whatever your last 1min power was multiply that by .75)

• 30min test all out similar to a 20min test but you can typically multiply this number by .95 to have an accurate threshold number

• 8 min test or 2x8min test separated by 10min recovery.

• Inscyd Training software protocol (30sec, 3min, 6min, 12min all out…this is a specific test designed for Inscyd software)

• 4DP Test where you will test max sprint, 5min power (vo2), 20min power, and 1’ power


I think you get it…there are a lot of different tests and they can be intimidating. When it comes right down to it, your identity as a person and cyclists should not be tied to this number! I can’t stress that enough. This is simply a tool to help you and your coach help develop you into a stronger cyclists.


I find most riders overestimate their threshold number and if they have anxiety about testing to acquire this number sometimes they will underestimate what they are actually capable of. It is important to be realistic and objective when approaching the situation, whether you are self- coached or have a coach.



If you are about to embark on improving your threshold power, you will certainly want to test using one of the methods above (be sure to keep this testing protocol so you have consistent data through this period). You will want to test at the end of a rest/recovery week where your volume is substantially reduced from your normal training.


Once your number is established, you will need to decide how much time you have to train and how you want to structure your training block. By structuring your training block I mean whether you will do 2 weeks on progressing intensity and volume followed by 1 week rest/recover or if you will do 3 weeks on and 1 week rest/recover. There are a variety of factors that go into this decision that I won’t dive into here.


You want to be able to dedication anywhere from 8-16 weeks to focus on this task.


A typical week of training will look something like this:


Mon: Recovery ride or day off

Tuesday: Threshold workout

Wednesday: endurance ride or tempo

Thursday: Recovery ride or day off

Friday: Threshold or Vo2 OR HIIT session depending on what you’re training for

Saturday: Endurance ride…Longer

Sunday: Ez endurance or recovery


The specific sessions can and should change as you progress which is why I did not put any specific intervals or ride durations into the above basic week structure. These sessions will change drastically depending on your experience and level of athlete, also depending on if you happen to be a cyclist or triathlete.




You should focus your energy on those hard days. In order to do this, you need to support your ability to hit theses sessions with easy endurance riding and recovery rides or days off….this is CRUCIAL. Don’t try to be a hero and ride hard all the time, this will only hurt your performance. Make the hard days count! Go in as rested and recovered as possible with how you’re training is structured.


Another KEY POINT:


Remember your FTP number was realistically set when you were rested and fresh…unfortunately in a normal training week you will not be nearly as rested or fresh, This is why threshold interval length is important 8-20min with half the length of the interval as recovery is a reasonable range (Depending on ability of course) Beginning with 30min worth of work when you’re starting out, building to an hour or slightly more work as you progress and get more experience

As you get closer to race season your workouts will be more specific to your race demands and I recommend keeping this in mind when you’re planning your training days/weeks/months.


It is important to note that consistency is key when it comes to any kind of training program. The same is obviously true here. You will need to be consistent throughout this process to see the best benefit. This reinforces the point of not overdoing on ez days and not over doing it on endurance days. Help yourself by giving ample time to recover between hard sessions and be SMART!


I hope this was a helpful introduction for more content to come this week regarding threshold training.


Keep your eyes out for some “FREE PLANS” posted on the website this Saturday February 27th!


Coming out of Hibernation for Triathletes

Posted on February 15, 2021 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (163)

So, you’ve been cooped up all winter. Maybe you’ve been putting in some base work or following a strength plan. Maybe you’ve been focusing on a single discipline. Or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve taken some extended time off and are finally ready to get back into the swing of things.


At TST Perform we’re here to tell you that any of the above options are perfectly fine. As we approach the end of February, spring is right around the corner and maybe, just maybe, some races are beginning to pop up on the calendar. Not only that, but soon we’ll have more daylight in the evening which means it’s time to emerge from our winter hibernation.


When emerging from your winter hibernation it’s best to take things slow and steady. You should slowly begin to build back up some volume in all three disciplines. Take 4-8 weeks to slowly build yourself back up and maybe sprinkle in a little bit of intensity. Any intensity is best sprinkled in on the bike and in the swim.


As triathletes, we can build our aerobic engines through the three separate disciplines of swimming, cycling, and running as opposed to a single discipline. This means we can afford to take a more conservative approach to running since this is the discipline where injury is most likely to occur if we push too much too soon. That is, unless you’ve been focusing on your run this offseason. If we build your body back up properly at this point in the year, we are sure you’ll have a more successful and injury free 2021.


If you’re just emerging from your hibernation maybe your next 4-8 weeks of training, look something like this:


Swim: first 4 weeks are drill heavy as you get your feel back for the water. Sprinkle in some endurance focused 100-300 reps between drills and you’ll be set. From weeks 5-8 keep the drills in your week but now you can add in a pure quality focused swim a week and maybe one swim where you accumulate more aerobic volume.


Bike: first 4 weeks steadily increase weekly aerobic volume with one HIIT session per week. Try to get outside on the weekends and build up your long ride again. For weeks 5-8 you can begin to integrate some more intensity into your volume.


Run: For the first 4 weeks, slower/shorter runs should be your bread and butter. This will help your muscles and tendons adapt to the pounding of running again. Include a longer run on the weekend when/if you have more time but don’t push the pace. For weeks 5-8, slowly increase the duration of the long run and sprinkle in 1 run a week that includes a bit of tempo/ progression ranging from 6-8/10 RPE.


Follow these general guidelines for 4-8 weeks and you should emerge from hibernation ready to enter more race/goal specific work and set yourself up for a fruitful 2021.


And if you’ve read this far, then lucky for you we will be dropping a FREE 8-week Emerging from Hibernation Plan this Friday (2/19) on the TST website!


Stay tuned and Happy Training from your friends at TST Perform, Eric and Miles!


Sample Strength Workout

Posted on February 8, 2021 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (16)

So you have decided to get in the gym and lift some weights… but where should you start?!


Strength training in general can be an intimidating prospect for endurance athletes. It takes you out of your comfort zone, and throws you into the world of barbells, protein powder, and muscle tanks. Don’t let the initial hesitation stop you from following through on something that will have a massive impact on your athletic performance, along with general well-being.


Having a coach or personal trainer is certainly a great option to get started in the gym with strength training. However, I know it is not feasible for many people.


My goal with this blog post is to give you an example workout that you can do as an introduction to strength work. Please be mindful throughout each exercise if you choose to give it a try.


Feel free to put this session in to your training plan twice a week (can be 3 depending on time of year and type of athlete). It is best to put this workout on a quality day as the last session of the day.


Sample Workout:


For your first few sessions focus on getting the correct movement of each exercise with low weight and higher reps. (You’re an endurance athlete. Not a powerlifter) Once you’re familiar with the routine and confident/comfortable with the exercises, begin progressing the weight each session and reduce the reps.


Allow 30-60 seconds rest between sets.. allow for more rest between exercises


Don’t be afraid to look on youtube for videos on proper form/technique…or feel free to consult in a coach


Warm up:


Ez 5min jog/5min spin/ or jump rope


1: Squats 3-4x12-15 reps with bar only or very light weight.


2: Deadlift 3-4x10-12 reps with bar only or very light weight. Get the movements correct, be careful of putting tension on your back


3: Lunges with kettle bell or dumbbell 3x10 reps each leg with light kettle bell or dumbbell (KB)


4: Deadbugs (Core): work up to 2-3x50 reps


5: Lunge with dumbbell overhead press-work up to 2-3x8 reps each leg: light dumbbells or start with having your arms stay overhead


6: Box Jumps-- 4x6 nothing extremely high and have a controlled landing on and off the box--POWERFUL


7: Russian Twists (Core)--3x15 with plate or med ball


This is by no means a one size fits all approach. Some athletes will certainly need more, some will need less.


This is a great session to get you started and experiment with, you will touch on a bit of everything and get a good sample of what a strength session looks like and consists of.


If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out.


Also have a look in the “Free Training Plans” tab for a 10 week strength build for cyclists!


The 5 W's of Strength Training

Posted on February 3, 2021 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (118)

I thought beginning February with a blog post about strength training would be fitting because the lack of emphasis many athletes put on this important training discipline. This is a brief introduction to anyone who is thinking about getting in the gym and starting a strength program. I have left out many intricacies and I can certainly go into more detail in the future.


Please enjoy!



Who should strength train?

Everyone…. All endurance athletes….all ages can and should implement some aspect of strength training and CAN see a positive impact on performance and general well-being.


*It should be noted that strength training for aging athletes (40+) is arguably more important than other age demographics. (More details in the “Why” section below)



What is strength training?

Performing movements or movement patterns to improve muscular strength, function, and efficiency (typically under load)


When to implement strength training in your training plan?

This can and will change depending on the athlete of course, but here is a brief outline:


Begin a strength focused period of training following your off season, before you begin increasing volume significantly, this will allow for maximum adaptations as you will not be accumulating significant fatigue and stress from whichever endurance sport you’re participating in. (you will be sore from strength training…that’s good!)


How long? If you can get in 8-12 weeks of focused strength work that is ideal and certainly doable for many athletes. Keeping strength in your program throughout the year is great and should be considered.


How many days a week? Between 2-4 days a week depending on the athlete and time of year (be sure to have proper recovery between sessions…especially as you increase training volume)


How long will I spend in the gym per session? You can plan on spending 30min-90min per strength session depending on your prescription. (have a plan, warm up and get the work done)




Where should I do my strength sessions?

At Home: It is quite easy to have a great “at home” gym set up to have a productive strength training program. It certainly is more efficient than a gym membership if you have the right equipment at home It will eliminate any travel to and from the gym (and nowadays, unnecessary exposure to other people #COVID)


Things to Have to get started at home: The following items are great to have, but all are NOT necessary to be productive in the gym. You can get everything on this list for relatively cheap.


Squat rack: with bar and weights

Adjustable Bench

Kettlebell…or several

Exercise Ball



At the Gym: If you do not have the space for an at home gym, or don’t have the money, or simply prefer to go to a gym, you can still get the necessary strength work done.


It is important to know your gym layout. When you get to the gym it will be important for you to know the exercises you are doing, where the equipment is, and how you will flow through your session without taking up too much space or equipment.


Take your first few sessions to learn a system that works for you, that way you can be efficient and get the work done.



Why should I do strength training?

There are many reasons in favor of strength training and almost no downside when implemented into your plan correctly.


I have listed some of the more prominent reasons to strength train below, there are MANY more reasons not listed.


The famous reason for strength training quoted by many endurances athletes is “Injury Prevention” While this is one benefit of strength training, I would say it is highly overstated compared to other additional benefits.


Increase fatigue resistance: this is a HUGE benefit of strength training and can be quoted in many studies. One being, with a proper strength program you can convert Type IIX muscle fibers to more fatigue resistant Type IIA fibers


Improved exercise economy:

“Cycling economy is commonly referred to as the steady-rate oxygen cost of a standard power output measured as L·min” https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2010/08000/Maximal_Strength_Training_Improves_Cycling_Economy.26.aspx


The study listed above is one of many, that look at the benefits of strength training (in this case, heavy weight) and its positive impact on cycling economy. There are many studies concluding similar results with runners.


The result that stands out to me from this 8 week intervention is the time to exhaustion improvement in the group that had strength training. The results are as follows : “time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power (17.2%) in the intervention group were shown”



For the aging athlete: there are many more specific reasons for older athletes to strength train, this is simply a starting point to give a sense of the importance.


The benefits above are even more pronounced for those older athletes. “The strength training induced a significant improvement in MVC torque in all the subjects, more pronounced in masters (+17.8% in masters vs. +5.9% in young” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-011-2013-1


Muscle mass begins to decrease after the age of 30 and will begin to rapidly decrease after the age of 60 as reported in several studies.


Get in the Gym!


Some simple health benefits for older athletes lifting are listed below.


“counteract the age-related changes in contractile function, atrophy, and morphology of aging human skeletal muscle.”

“enhance the muscular strength, power, and neuromuscular functioning”


These quotes are from a statement from the National Strength and Conditioning Association




Tips and Myth Busting:


• Anyone and Everyone should strength train

• Don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights

• You’re an endurance athlete, not a power lifter, BE CAREFUL

• Going to the gym is not going to make you “bulk up and gain weight” that’s just not how it works, especially when you have a proper program in place.

• Riding big gear on the bike or hills on the run is NOT a substitute for strength training

• Start light, ensure you’re moving correctly before adding weight to your lifts

• Have someone film you so you can review your form or have your coach review technique

• You will be sore…don’t let this steer you away

• Consistency is key, give yourself an 8 week planned block of strength training to see adaptations

• Get a coach familiar with strength training

• Get in the gym and improve



Why do you strength train?


Why have you not started?


What is your favorite exercise in the gym?


Would you like to see a sample workout for your specific sport?


ROAD2DAYTONA by Justin (Knasty) Knasel

Posted on December 18, 2020 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (30)

ROAD2DAYTONA (lets gooooo)

2020 has been the first time in around 10 years that I have only raced once. This year, even though marked with uncertainty, was one of the most successful years I have had. Thanks to Eric, I have had the most consistent and productive training seasons ever. This I believe, came down to three things I learned this season.

To appreciate, enjoy training, and trust the process

This year while the pools were closed, I truly did miss them, even though after three months of the pools being closed, and taking a month to return to decent swim shape, I made sure that every time I went to the pool it was a quality session. Throughout the season, I learned to enjoy each session that I could, I would explore new routes, go trail run, gravel ride and mountain bike, small changes to the routine made a big difference in sometimes getting out the door. I learned to set benchmarks during my assigned sessions while staying inside my zones, and this let me gauge my improvements throughout the season while not having to race.

Go easy

Before, I would always try to push my recovery workouts harder than I should, and this led to not being able to properly push myself on big training days. This year, I finally learned that going easy is good, and that going easy is required.

Get the fuel in

I never would consume the right amount of fuel while training, and this led to nutrition deficits when I would race because I would never train with the right amount of nutrition. When the time finally came, I believed in my fueling process


When it was finally time to race in December after patiently waiting all season and biding my time, I felt very confident in my training, as well as excited and appreciative of the opportunity to be racing at Challenge Daytona.

Another way that I improved my training this season was training with a sports psychologist, this made sure that I was confident in my training, and that when it was time to race, my mental game was locked in. As soon as I got to the Daytona start line, I was mentally dialed in and ready to race. I knew that when it was time to race, it was going to be a great freaking day. During the race, I made sure to focus only on what I was doing, this was my own race, and not anyone else’s race. Having this mindset allowed me to not worry about if someone passed me on the bike or in transition, or if I saw people drafting too much. I had been training well this year, so holding wattage on the bike was not an issue, it felt like a comfortable racepace, and knew that if I just stayed consistent and nothing else happened I was going to have a great run. However, I have raced three half distance triathlons before, I was never able to finish the race strong. But, in Daytona, mentally I was locked into the race and feeling confident, so I just got my shoes on, grabbed some gels and started running.

One thing I was not anticipating was how fast and smooth I felt, and the pace was faster than I had even written down for my “A” split. But, I was picking off people that passed me on the bike, I was feeling good, but I also remember if that the pace ever started to feel too strong, dial it back and finish the race, I had the best race up to this point, and I wanted to make sure to finish the race well. As I reached mile 10 during the run, I could start to feel the presence of the cramp, so I brought my pace back a bit, just to make sure I finished the race well enough.

My post race emotions were all over the place, truthfully it was a huge accomplishment, and it was a mix of ecstasy, relief, the thrill of a great race all piled into one. Eric had coached me the whole season and without a doubt in his mind knew I could achieve a race like this, and I just need to execute.