Jonathan Lee Adaptive Training

Jonathan Lee
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Juliet: [0:03:19] I’m really excited to introduce Jonathan Lee. He is a cyclist, coach, and the host of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast presented by TrainerRoad.

Kelly: [0:03:27] You know, I was on that podcast. Jonathan is one of the deepest, most thoughtful cycling coach nerds on the planet. We were at Strava world headquarters, and that is honestly where I fell in love with Jonathan Lee.

Juliet: [0:03:39] Well, and they’re also doing this super cool thing at TrainerRoad where they’re using AI to make cyclists faster.

Kelly: [0:03:45] Yeah. This is a wide-ranging conversation. It can be a little bit technical because Jonathan is so adept and comfortable in this. But hang in there because there’s some great pearls about how you can use all of these millions of data points from TrainerRoad to improve your athletic performance. Please enjoy this podcast.

Juliet: [0:04:04] Jonathan, welcome to The Ready State Podcast.

Jonathan Lee: [0:04:06] Happy to be here, y’all.

Juliet: [0:04:08] So I do this a lot because oftentimes our guests have somehow met Kelly and not me, which is a sign that his life is way better than my life. But anyway-

Kelly: [0:04:15] I’m silent right now.

Juliet: [0:04:15] I just want to start by asking both of you how did you first come to find each other. And I know Kelly has been on your podcast and had a fabulous time. So what’s the connection? How did you guys connect?

Jonathan Lee: [0:04:28] Well, I actually, so I knew of Kelly before Kelly knew of me, I think, because I was dealing with… So my whole life growing up I was motocross racer, ski racer, doing that sort of stuff. And then took kind of a long time off of athletics in general. I was doing some rock climbing and stuff in college because it was super cheap, right, and dirt bikes are way too expensive and I stepped away from all that. But then when I got into cycling, just like constant overuse injuries and everything else. So Becoming A Supple Leopard suddenly became my handbook. It was like everything. I just used that thing all the time. And then, yeah, I guess years later things developed, and then we had an opportunity to do a live podcast at Strava HQ. And I was like I’ve always wanted to do one with Kelly; it’d be amazing. He’s from that area too. And I talked to Strava and I was like, “Hey, is it okay if we do a podcast with Kelly?” And they were like, “We would love that.” Because we were doing it there in front of employees, right, Kelly? So it wasn’t just for the internet audience but also for the in-person office. So that’s how we met in person. But man, Kelly, I’ve used your prescriptions and everything else for years, your programming.

Juliet: [0:05:31] I will say he came back from that, he was like, “That was fun.” He really had a great time. That was… He does a lot of podcasts and not going to throw shade on any of them, but he was especially effusive about coming back from that. He had such a ball.

Kelly: [0:05:43] It’s fun. You are such a pro. Didn’t we run into each other at Specialized in the win tunnel?

Jonathan Lee: [0:05:48] You’re right, we did. We did. That’s correct. Which by the way, that feels like a namedrop thing to just say that we serendipitously ran into each other in the win tunnel at Specialized, right? Yeah. Yeah. 

Kelly: [0:05:59] Remember that time when we were in the win tunnel at Specialized?

Jonathan Lee: [0:06:02] That’s right. That’s where we met.

Kelly: [0:06:03] I think that’s the first time we were like, oh. And I have a bunch of friends who are hardcore TrainerRoad believers. So real quick, the audience has garnered that you and I have known each other. You’re a cyclist and a skier and an athlete and something about TrainerRoad and biking. Can you tell us what you’re currently doing and explain to the people at home what TrainerRoad is?

Jonathan Lee: [0:06:24] Yeah. Absolutely. So the best way that I say it these days to make it nice and simple is we use AI to make cyclists faster. So what we do is our system build up training plans that are fully customized for you and your goals. And then you either execute it on the app or you go outside and you do workouts on your Garmin head, on your bike or Wahoo head, whatever it is. And then our system analyzes what you did. It looks at you and all of your training history and everything else, and then it says, okay, based on that, here’s the next workout they should have. So it always gives you the right workout at the right time. So we make cyclists faster through training and the cool part is we use AI to do that. And it’s just super exciting. 

It’s a relatively recent release for us to have the AI part out, first just having an indoor training interface. And then after that, it was having training plans. And then after the training plans, it was building outside training and all this stuff. But in the background the whole time we’ve been working on this bigger fish to fry, which is how do we find the best way to make the cyclists faster. And that’s such an individual question rather than, well, this methodology is best. So that’s what we do. Athletes all around the world, they subscribe to TrainerRoad, and then as a result, they get the training they need to meet their goals.

Juliet: [0:07:38] So this makes me thing, because I know, A, I am a big aggro as an athletic person and I know a lot of cyclists are aggro. And let me give you the backstory. I have worn a WOOP a lot before and literally at no time when I have been in the red did I then not exercise, even though that’s what it was telling me to do. And so I’m wondering if you do this awesome AI thing and it tells some aggro cyclist, hey, today you actually might need to ride slowly or less long, do you find that that’s a challenge for people who are used to just pushing? Because I do think it’s so important. And I know I’m horrible at it. And I think we all just have this mentality of peddle to the metal, more is better, right? And the custom program makes so much sense to me. But are people able to turn off their aggroness and actually say, okay, I know this is the right thing for me to do, I’m actually going to do it.

Kelly: [0:08:33] Hashtag asking for a friend.

Juliet: [0:08:34] Exactly. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:08:35] Yeah. Yeah. For all of us, right? Well, I think the best way to answer that is to say that most successful athletes do respect that. The ones that tend to plateau or they tend to really crash and burn from peaking or periodization, just physical condition perspective, they’re the ones who don’t respect that. And it’s funny because we always really focus on what’s the key workout or what’s this, the interval structure that’s really going to work, when really, the emphasis should be on making sure we just aren’t doing too much. For the majority of athletes listening to this, whether you are a cyclist or whether you are into CrossFit or whether you are into any sort of… You’re probably a Type A athlete and you really want to do more. You’re okay with sacrifice and hard work and suffering in the name of achieving a goal. And it’s really tricky for us to reconcile the fact that, well, it’s not just about effort. Sometimes it’s also about just making sure that we are disciplined and following the right thing. 

So it’s kind of funny, prior to releasing Adaptive Training, which is what we call our AI based training, we released something called TrainNow, which was this feature that allows people to just drop in and they don’t need a training plan, but they can just get a well calibrated workout through that. So it’s almost like with CrossFit you drop into a box and you’ve got the WOD of the day and you can jump right in, you make adjustments, and then it’s set up for you. But with training, that’s kind of tricky because many times our eyes are bigger than our stomach and we end up picking the wrong workout and we work out too hard. We fail to work out, then we feel bad about ourselves and it’s this cycle that just keeps going. 

So we released this thing called TrainNow. What it was actually doing secretly is it was analyzing everybody’s training even when they’re riding outside not doing structured workouts. And then it was saying, today you should do this workout, today you should do this workout. It wasn’t trying to make them achieve any goal. It was funny because in the beginning, a lot of people were like, “Why is it just telling me that I should be doing an endurance ride? All the time it tells me that I should do an endurance ride.” It’s like, well, you played Strava KOMs for three hours yesterday, so that’s why you should do an endurance ride today. You’re totally right. It’s hard. But I think the key with that is finding a way that we can educate athletes along the way so they can understand this day should be sacred, this day is a rest day. Or this day is not supposed to be a day where we’re moving the needle, it’s just a day where we’re getting in the low intensity work, whatever it is. That’s a challenge that we face on the marketing side.

Juliet: [0:11:02] I have to say, I mean we talked a little bit before this beforehand, but having the electric bike has been such a revelation for me in terms of not always doing all my workouts with my heartrate at 185 because where we live and where you live, right, no matter what we do, we have to bike straight up hill, you know? There’s no flat… I mean I guess we could do some flat road rides, but we mountain bike. There’s no flat or light climbing around here. You’re basically biking straight up hill. And that’s actually, having the electric bike has been such a revelation because there’s some days where I’m like, actually, I don’t feel like redlining for two hours straight, but I know I want to get out and I want to be outside and I want to be on my bike and I want to do some zone two work, if that’s even a thing. And so I get on my electric bike and I’m doing the exact same rides.

Kelly: [0:11:46] Wait, did you just say is zone two really a thing?

Juliet: [0:11:48] I’m just kidding. It just seems so fancy.

Kelly: [0:11:50] I was about to divorce you.

Juliet: [0:11:51] It sounds so fancy. Anyway, so-

Kelly: [0:11:55] I want to tie this in because you hit on something really important. I think a lot of cyclists, it’s easy to collect a lot of data on the bike. You have a lot of data points. And try to interpret that for how you’re feeling for the day besides saying red, green, yellow. I mean we always are encouraging our athletes to come up with a subjective score like how do you feel today and how is your desire to train, et cetera, which turns out to be pretty good. But it’s still difficult to know what to do with that. Have you guys found that the use of the AI helps people interpret their own objective scores and measurements so they can begin to guess along with? Because the AI’s really good and I don’t think people understand how many millions of data points it’s drawing from and the big brain behind it. But are you finding that people are getting better at knowing themselves and saying, hey, I should do some short repeats or I need to go on long blocks or something like that?

Jonathan Lee: [0:12:46] Yeah, there’s kind of like a recalibration process that was happening en masse when this was released. A lot of athletes were concerned at first. They were like, “Hey, I don’t think this is working me hard enough. I typically train way harder than this and I’m worried because I have a race coming up and it’s in three months and I don’t feel like I’m working hard enough.” And we’ve then asked them, and our support staff is awesome. By the way, I think we might have the fastest support staff in the world. Kent Main, one of them, in Tour of Rwanda, he just won a stage. We have athletes racing Cape Epic next week and they’re all our support staff. We have an office there in South Africa too with just a ton of really fast athletes. It’s cool. But they’ll take the time to talk to them and to run through and say, “Well, looking at your training, actually, you’ve been knocking it out of the park.” 

And what we’re hearing now that racing is starting to happen this season, whether it’s southern hemisphere and they’re toward the end of the season or whether it’s northern hemisphere and they’re just getting into it, the amount of praise coming from athletes for this system, and really, they should just be praising themselves for being measured, right, and for trusting something that’s really going about this. It’s amazing. The athlete experience is just through the roof. But it comes under what you said, Kelly. It’s that athletes are recalibrating what training should feel like. It shouldn’t just destroy you every day. Instead, it should be productively accomplishing a goal. And some days that won’t feel hard. Some days that might feel hard. It really just depends.

Kelly: [0:14:14] I feel like we just came out of the Olympics; it’s so interesting, especially Winter Olympic cycle, we see a lot of speed skating volume training, we see a lot of cross-country skiing. And universally, every four years, everyone shows up… I think Alan Cousins was writing this on Twitter, that, wow, some of our best aerobic athletes in the world were doing 1,000 hours of low-level lactate clearance training, which is what we’re coming to understand is what’s happening to someone’s O2. It’s not even that you’re getting better at fuel adaptation. It’s that you’re getting better at clearing lactate and that they’re doing 1,000 hours under three millimoles or one millimole. They’re just cruisy. And that’s 1,000 hours of training that people aren’t doing. And subsequently, we’re finding that either people aren’t going hard when they need to go hard, or they think they’re going hard and they need to go easy and they’re not going easy. Everything is see beige. It’s not hot or cold. Is that your guys’ experience too?

Jonathan Lee: [0:15:08] Yeah, so it’s kind of interesting. I’m thinking of Nils van der Poel. Not Mathieu, but Nils, the speedskater, very famous.

Kelly: [0:15:16] I just tried to do one of his workouts and I was able to get 30 minutes at 400 watts.

Jonathan Lee: [0:15:20] Yeah, exactly. His numbers are big. It’d be nice if you could just equate it to speed then do it on the Leevo, that might be a bit easier. So that’s an interesting approach. And that’s typically been described as the polarized training approach where you have a huge amount of low intensity work where you are basically sitting at your ventilatory thresholds, like your VT1 or below. And then when athletes then, after that, they do a small amount of high intensity. In some cases, people reference like an 80/20 prescription. Well, there’s a big lack of clarity on this. People are like, it’s 80 percent low intensity and 20 percent low intensity when you add up all the time in zone. Then other people say, well, it’s 80 percent intention, like 80 percent of your days are prescribed to intentionally be in low intensity, and then 20 percent are prescribed to be and it’s not about time and zone. And then there’s this whole debate that’s about, well, is there any time in the middle of that that’s good or should you completely polish it.

Kelly: [0:16:16] I’m on fire or I’m cold.

Jonathan Lee: [0:16:17] Exactly. And the interesting thing is what is that trying to get us to do because we’ve looked at a huge amount of data with that. And it’s funny, so if you consider 5.5 watts per kilogram, roughly pro level fitness, I know that we have athletes like Nairo Quintana and everything else that are able to do 6 watts per kilo or a little more for substantial periods of time like 40 minutes in a race, which is just amazing. But a lot of pros are 5.5 watts per kilogram is like, yeah, I am this tall to ride this ride; I can be with the top. And we have a huge amount of athletes that are at that level. And we analyze a lot of their training. And they aren’t 80/20 at all. They do way more low intensity than average people and then slow people. That’s how it works. They do more high intensity than them just because they have more training volume. And as the volume goes up, you kind of have to polarize it a bit. But you have to step back and once again ask the goal, like what are we trying to do here. We’re trying to make sure that we aren’t working too hard too often. But we’re still trying to make sure that you’re an aerobically adapted athlete, right? So that’s really the goal. 

And the interesting thing is now how do you take all that information that we have and the anecdote that we have from professional athletes of how they train. How do you do that on a crunch time scale with all of us probably listening to this that may not have 20 to 40 hours a week to just go out and train and instead we have other responsibilities. So for us, maybe 10 hours is really pushing the limit. Maybe we have three hours or five hours. So it’s interesting to look at… And that’s really what we’ve been trying to use data to solve because it’s tricky, you can go the clinical study approach, but Kelly and Juliet, you might respond totally differently to the same-

Kelly: [0:17:53] We’ll respond middle-aged 49-year-old guy. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:17:57] To the same exact training intervention, right? Prescribed the same thing and you’ll see different results. And then so the easy answer for that is, okay, increase the sample size, get more people into a study, and then you can figure out across a broader group, maybe you can see common trends. But then the difficulty with prescribing training interventions and then analyzing improvement from that is so many variables affect how we actually absorb training and how we respond to it and how we adapt. So then you’ve got hundreds or thousands of people to try to get rid of the individual variants, but then you’ve got to control all those variables. It’s just impossible. So there’s that approach. Then there’s the experience led coaching theories, which all of us have, but it’s always good to check our biases and to think about things objectively. So it’s been really interesting just to look at over 150 million rides from athletes in 150 countries around the world from one watt per kilogram all the way up to six and seven watts per kilogram and to see what they’re doing and then to figure out commonalities and to figure out how people should train to get faster. It’s kind of an interesting approach. But to go back to it, a big goal with this is to make sure that we are not working athletes too hard; we’re working them just right so then they can ride a steady improvement rate for whatever their goal is.

Kelly: [0:19:15] Amazing.

Juliet: [0:19:16] So question for you, because you sort of sparked this in something you said earlier, but can someone who say is like me and maybe does two rides a week-

Kelly: [0:19:24] We’re calling this asking for a friend.

Juliet: [0:19:25] Asking for a friend again.

Jonathan Lee: [0:19:26] Good segment. Yeah.

Kelly: [0:19:27] You do two on bike rides a week.

Juliet: [0:19:29] On bike. I do a lot of CrossFit workouts and sometimes I do some indoor riding or whatever. But could someone like me come on and say, “Okay, I’m doing two on my bike rides a week, what should I be doing for those rides?” Or is it really, would I need to be doing like much more actually on the bike time to really see what the AI can actually do for someone like me? Because again, there would be so many variables. How would you guys know that I’m doing three CrossFit workouts and never sleeping or whatever, all these other lifestyle variables that of course TrainerRoad cannot control?

Jonathan Lee: [0:20:00] Yeah. Exactly. And in the future, we want to bring in as much data as possible. Like you said, Kelly, it’s easy to bring in too much data and get confused. Now we feel like we kind of actually have a constant, so to speak, to bring in variables and compare and contrast to see what variables like if it’s HRV or if it’s resting heartrate or if it’s just time in your deep cycle of sleep or if it’s steps taken the previous day to figure out all these things. Now we kind of have a yardstick so that we can actually measure those things and figure out how they affect. So in the future, we want to be able to do that and it will only improve it, and that’s what we’re working on. 

But to answer your question directly, no, you don’t have to do a ton of training. The more data you have, the better informed it is, and the better decisions it can make for you, right? But right now, we’re approaching the problem from a few different ways of, okay, a person just wants to be able to get in two workouts a week. That’s what they have time for and that’s what they want to do. Right now, a great way for athletes to do that is with that TrainNow thing, like I said, where you just drop in and you get a workout. But we want to find ways to optimize it even further for that. But right now, it’s possible. And it’s actually really common. I think if we feel like if a person is a “cyclist” that they need to train a ton. But we see athletes that do two to three workouts a week that accomplish incredible things. Like super, super impressive things. Just because they’re diligent about hitting their marks and diligent about so much off the bike as well. So it’s all positive.

Juliet: [0:21:26] So I know you guys have so much more work to do. And it’s endless. It’s endless what you guys could do with what you’re doing. In fact, it sort of makes me feel tired at some point. I’m like, oh my God, they have so much work to do. There’s so much to do. Do you think you will ever try to expand this into running or swimming or other recreational or professional sports? Because I mean I do feel like this has to be, what you’re doing has to be the way that training is going. This has to be the future. You guys are at the sort of tip of the spear.

Kelly: [0:21:55] Big data, individualized programming.

Juliet: [0:21:57] Yeah. This has to be where all sports are going. But I appreciate that you guys are at the tip of the spear and it would be a lot of work to add entirely different sports.

Jonathan Lee: [0:22:05] That is super appealing because the thought is what can we do. Like running, for example, I’m sure we’ll get into this later but I’m dipping my toe metaphorically into multi sports stuff. Running is compared to cycling, pretty antiquated in terms of training prescription. It’s not very detailed.

Kelly: [0:22:25] Hard to measure wattage.

Jonathan Lee: [0:22:26] Yeah, right? It’s hard to measure power and then that holds it back in a lot of ways. But even then, outside of it, it’s kind of like there is a few workout structures and we just kind of stick to that and that’s just what we do. There’s a lot of room to improve training in running, in swimming, even in weightlifting. There’s a huge amount in functional movements when you’re talking about like CrossFit and everything else. There’s a lot that you could do that could help that. It’s a super exciting world. I think that on one side, you want really good data. And I think that that’s part of what makes Adaptive Training so good for us, is because we have power data and that’s an objective measure of work rather than heartrate data, which is just a subjective measurement of effort, or really an objective measurement because it’s measuring your heartbeat, but in terms of how it relates to the work you’re doing, it represents the effort rather than the work, right? So yes, power data would be fantastic. But at the same time, because we’ve been doing so much work on the back end here with using machine learning and AI to be able to train this, we may be able to make some hop, skip, and jump, so to speak, logic where we can say, well, if this person does this, that means that they can then do this, even in a different sport. 

So it’s really exciting. And yeah, eventually running, swimming, all that stuff. This is going to be how people train because the human mind’s finite. We can’t comprehend every possible alternative for every athlete and understand how they’re going to respond. We are incredible accountability partners, advisors, supporters, everything else. And that part, I don’t know how tech will ever replace that. I’ve seen it in the movies and it doesn’t seem very convincing. But in terms of understanding how your body’s performing and what you should do next, yeah, I think that’s not just for cycling; that’s across the board.

Juliet: [0:24:13] Yeah. It’s the future, I think. So you mentioned this a little bit, but sounds like you are transitioning from cycling and doing other things and that maybe that has presented some physical challenges for you. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And then now I’m asking for a friend on your behalf so that Kelly can then respond. Asking for a friend. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:24:31] Yeah, absolutely. So my wife and I, we have a five-year-old son, he’s amazing. So much fun. And we didn’t think that we were going to be able to have another kid. We’ve been hoping and praying and we have another one coming in August.

Juliet: [0:24:43] Whoo. Congratulations.

Jonathan Lee: [0:24:44] Yeah. Super excited. Little girl. So we can’t wait. Now that I have been through that once, Men in Black penned my mind on a lot of this, and I’m not even thinking about going through the newborn phase and everything else.

Kelly: [0:24:57] You can’t.

Jonathan Lee: [0:24:58] You can’t do it. 

Juliet: [0:25:00] Yeah, you just block that out until you have to.

Jonathan Lee: [0:25:02] Yeah, exactly. One of the things I do remember is the fact that cycling, because for me to move the needle for my fitness and everything else, I need to put in a pretty decent amount of training volume that absolutely makes me prioritize training above other things. So when I’m having busy job and many other responsibilities with my church and with my family and everything else, that’s got me… I have to do 15 hours a week, I’m just up against the stops. And if life intervenes in any way with something unexpected, everything tends to spiral out of control. So with a newborn coming, that’s quite a large thing that I can’t control for. And as a result, last time I remember going through that and training and family just feel to the odds, and that felt terrible to me. And I don’t want that to be that way. I get a huge amount of just mental, psychological, and obviously physical benefit from just being active and doing what I love. And I don’t want that to feel like it’s at odds with spending time with the family. 

So I wiped all events off my calendar for this year. And I was like, you know what? I’m just going to… Because over the pandemic I learned that I didn’t need races to enjoy this whole thing. I love training. I mean I love that process. So I’m just going to train. I might do a handful of events or something. But I’m not going to place it as some high priority. So that made me stop and think, I was like, well, why just focus on cycling. You’ve been cycling for so long that you’re this weird maladaptive tool that only works really well at one specific thing. Anytime you have to do some sort of overhead reach, you’re worried that your shoulders are going to fall out of socket, right? So looking at that, I’m like, man, I should just do some multisport training. We have tons of triathletes that use TrainerRoad. And I have been to Kona plenty of times and different Iron Mans and XTERRAs and everything else. And I always just look at those athletes and pure admiration. It’s so impressive to see what they can do. So I’ve been dipping my toe into it. And oh my gosh, I have been cracking open all of your different resources. Your Instagram is hugely helpful, by the way, Kelly, as well. So but because I’ve been fighting so many limitations, it’s tough, man. You really just build yourself into a corner when you filling all your-

Juliet: [0:27:09] So specialized.

Kelly [0:27:12] Let’s come back around to this. There’s something that was almost a throwaway. Grew up racing mountain bikes, ski racing. We see universally that there is real athleticism in our top athletes. They came out of all of their sports… I think of Kate Courtney, I think of Levi, Peter Sagon is a phenomenal athlete, probably be a world champion in multiple sports. This year he’s having a struggle year. But it’s hard to be the best for 100-

Jonathan Lee: [0:27:41] Seriously, right?

Kelly: [0:27:43] And have the Tour de France changes its rules against you, whatever. Peter Sagan, here or there. But one of the things that I think is a side effect of having people be able to go such deep nerd, deep dive, so obsession, and so sport, is that it’s easy to lose capacity. And you may have been building some of your talent came out of that athleticism and you actually became a really good bike rider and not very athletic very quickly. Lisa just looked at me like, fight me later. It’s true. Where you lose your springiness, you lose your hip extension, you lose your movement choice. And don’t get me wrong, we’re seeing I think the greatest crop of mountain bikers we’ve ever seen. I think the talent right now of men’s road biking, cross country racing, et cetera, et cetera, is through the roof. Do you think that that is a feature of all of this data and people going so down the well, or is there a reaction to it like you, where you’re like, oh, hey, I can do these things and become actually better on the bike and still have a more durable body?

Jonathan Lee: [0:28:48] So this is a controversial opinion, but I think the reason that we’re getting such great mountain bikers in particular is because strength training is now expected as a part of a mountain biker’s training regime.

Kelly: [0:29:01] And cyclocross.

Jonathan Lee: [0:29:02] Yep. It’s not yet to road. And I think that when it happens at road, we’re going to see… We’ll obviously see changes in their bodies. We won’t see these athletes that look like they haven’t carried their own suitcase for 10 years. And then I think we’ll also see is the fact that when they tip over in the middle of a Peloton it’s not going to be like broken pelvis, broken collarbone, broken humorous, and all of these injuries that just come from simple tip overs as well. We’ll see athletes being more durable but we’ll also see them being faster. It’s something that we always talk about always-

Kelly: [0:29:35] van der Poel’s a huge athlete.

Jonathan Lee: [0:29:36] Yeah. And it’s just like-

Juliet: [0:29:39] You mean Mathieu?

Jonathan Lee: [0:29:40] He’s tall, he’s broad, he’s strong. Look at Wout van Aert, same thing. Big, tall, strong athlete.

Kelly: [0:29:47] You’re speaking my wife’s love language.

Juliet: [0:29:49] Okay, I’m in love with two riders. van der Poel and Wout van Aert or however you pronounce his last name, I’m obsessed with them. I follow them on Instagram.

Jonathan Lee: [0:29:57] They’re amazing.

Juliet: [0:29:57] And I’m like I just want to watch them cyclocross running through mud because I’m like, that’s so sick, they just get off their bike and they run.

Jonathan Lee: [0:30:05] They’re incredible.

Juliet: [0:30:06] They’re so athletic it’s insane. And then they win the Tour de France. Anyway, I’m obsessed with them so thank you for sharing my obsession.

Jonathan Lee: [0:30:11] Yeah. Look at mountain biking. So look at an athlete like obviously Nino Schurter, Jolanda Neff, Kate Courtney. Think of all these top performing mountain bikers that we see and add Mathieu van der Poel to that and everything else, they are not these frail athletes. So I know that strength training is huge because what it does, it does a few different things. Obviously, yes, there’s direct crossover into helping them with anaerobic efforts. But really, when you look at what makes a difference on race day, it’s so rarely an anaerobic effort. And when athletes are even sprinting at the end of a stage, they’ve probably exhausted all their anaerobic stores anyway and they’re just largely creating that effort aerobically anyway. I think that what strength training really does for these athletes is it allows them to train more and it allows them to do so with health.

Juliet: [0:30:58] Right. And be durable.

Kelly: [0:31:00] And just to throw it in here, I think it also restores capacity that is hidden. If your hip is lacking its ability to extend for your knee to go behind your butt, then you actually are losing power on the front side, even those are sort of antithetical movements, because you have half of the range of motion the hop that’s muted or attenuated. And so just by maintaining that, you improve efficiency of the system, mechanical sort of, efficiency’s the right word.

Jonathan Lee: [0:31:26] Totally. 

Juliet: [0:31:17] Do you think that the amazing things that are happening in mountain biking and cyclocross, do you think the road bikers are seeing that and wondering like, huh, maybe we need to start a tradition of strength? Is it starting to seep in a little bit? Or is it still 10 years away?

Jonathan Lee: [0:31:42] I think it is and it’s kind of funny. So when, let’s talk about Wout and Mathieu, those two athletes that we talked about, van der Poel and van Aert. And I apologize to everybody. We are probably butchering their names but-

Juliet: [0:31:52] I know. I feel so bad every time I say them out loud. But I try.

Jonathan Lee: [0:31:54] Yeah. But we’re trying our best.

Juliet: [0:31:55] And I’m a huge fan, if that helps.

Jonathan Lee: [0:31:56] Yeah. Those two athletes, when they first started coming into road racing, there were even articles about this and this is the general narrative. People are like, well, actually maybe the way to become the fastest road cyclist is to do all this cyclocross training. They’re doing repeats, they’re doing float sets with VO2s, where you end up going high into your VO2 range. And then after that, you settle in either at threshold or below and you’ll repeat that for five minutes, and you’ll do like 15 seconds on, and your 15 seconds off is still relatively on, and they’ll repeat that. And that’s their set. So maybe that’s the way to become a fast road cyclist. And that was the narrative. 

And it’s funny, now that they’ve been on the road so much and they’re the dominant riders on the road really, so since they’re dominating over there, and then when they came back to cyclocross this year, they were like, well, maybe the reason they’re beating all these cyclocross athletes is because they trained like road racers. 

And it’s really funny to see everybody… And they’re also once again, they’re falling into the trap of trying to search for that specific interval structure or that specific type of training, when really, these two athletes, first of all, let’s be clear, they are generational athletes. They have the perfect cocktail of just genetics that come through, a childhood that was driven toward being the high performers that they are, and then all the way through their life. And they have the perfect storm. But what really makes I think these two athletes so good is part of it I think has to be strength training. Yeah, the data absolutely matters and it is making cycling way faster because you can be better with training, better with pacing, better with execution. But strength training is something that I feel like we get accused of beating the drum way too much on the podcast that we do. But there simply is not… it’s impossible to do. It’s a huge thing that athletes need to spend more and more time doing, especially all of us that are time crunched and we say, I have 10 available hours to train in the week, maybe we should actually bump that down to seven or six or five, and then fill up those other hours with strength, mobility, and other work that actually makes us a more balanced and effective athlete.

Kelly: [0:34:00] This is not a paid endorsement of our TRS from TrainerRoad, but could you just say that louder for people in the back? It is interesting, we are asked all the time to come in and consult and help people make sense of what their body is doing given workload, history, all of that. And we have come to the same situations. Sometimes Juliet and I, we’re like how strong is Loana Lecomte? I think it is tricky to deconstruct, but deconstruct a certain person’s experience to say, what can I take from that. One of the things that’s so powerful about what you all do, and if everyone has not already listened to the TrainerRoad podcast, it is fantastic. It is my favorite cycling podcast.

Jonathan Lee: [0:34:38] Thank you.

Kelly: [0:34:38] For sure.

Jonathan Lee: [0:34:38] Thank you.

Kelly: [0:34:39] Not just because it’s you, a local, which obviously matters on podcasts because people are listening. One of the things that Juliet and I feel strongly about, and our team here at TRS feels strongly about is we’re trying to say we need to take the best practices, good practices, out of sports performance, and try to actually transmute, make lead out of wine sort of thing, where we’re going backwards and being able to apply those principles to the average person so we can transform society. So if you have millions of datapoints on some really good, fast athletes and the algorithm is working, could you boil some of those things down to those of us who don’t track, who don’t like to track? What’s the average athlete getting wrong? We’re seeing more and more people get into biking from CrossFit, for example, or strength athletes who traditionally love the gym are like, whoa, I can be a cyclist and this is a wonderful sport. Where are we generally missing real opportunity to improve our performance, based on what you guys are understanding?

Jonathan Lee: [0:35:43] Yeah. I think I want to address the first natural assumption is that you’re just not doing enough and I want to debunk that because that’s actually just doing more is typically not the best way to get ahead. The biggest thing above all that we find with athletes is that they just aren’t doing enough structure. They aren’t being intentional with their time. So let’s be real; all of us enjoy all of the different sports we do, but I’m partial, I think that riding a bike is also just a really fun thing to do. So you can’t just take all the time that you would spend riding your bike and put it into structure and then remove the fun. You can’t do that. You have to still find what motivates you and what keeps you riding that bike and why you ride it in the first place. 

But it’s really easy when you have athletes that are like, yeah, I mean… In fact, we’ve even had some situations where an athlete will sign up for TrainerRoad and they’ll be like, “Yeah, I followed the plan and I didn’t really meet my goal.” And in some cases, we don’t have coaches that sit and consult and everything else. But in some cases, we’ll take a deeper look into it. And if you look at the athletes, they had a plan on the calendar but they only followed 10 to 15 percent of the structured workouts that were on there. And then they fill in the other time with other stuff. And I know this sounds silly, but it’s kind of like filling your batteries to 10 or 15 percent in your car and then you drive and you try to get there, and you’re really upset at your car because it didn’t get you 100 percent of the way there, but you only filled it up to 10 to 15, right? And it’s the same kind of concept. 

Structure is the way to get if you have specific things you want to accomplish, you should go about it specifically. It’s really straightforward. And that’s where structured training gets really, really effective, is you can say, okay, for me and my goals, it’s really important for me to have sustainable power since I’m going to do a timed trial or an Iron Man or something else. And as a result, I need to be working on raising my threshold, but extending my time at that threshold. That’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take the sort of thing where if you have two workouts a week or if you have six workouts a week that you’re going to do, it’s going to mean that you’re going to be spending a lot of time at very specific intensities to bring about the changes you want. So I think that the biggest thing is structure. But there’s stuff outside of what we do at TrainerRoad and I think that nutrition is just a huge one. Nobody eats enough on the bike at all.

Kelly: [0:38:04] Say that again to people so they can hear you.

Jonathan Lee: [0:38:06] None of us are eating enough. Particularly if you’re a bigger athlete and you have a high threshold as a result, you’re just bigger, you have more mass to carry, you have more muscles to be able to create force, and as a result, you have a higher threshold. If you do that, you’re burning more calories.

Kelly: [0:38:22] Juliet’s giving me… She’s like, look at you.

Juliet: [0:38:24] You’re like if you’re bigger and on a bike. I’m like-

Kelly: [0:38:27] What if you’re the biggest cyclist in the history of cycling? What if your watt to ratio power is terrible and has nothing to do with the fact that I can generate 7,000 watts?

Jonathan Lee: [0:38:39] Yeah, exactly. Well, actually, a good example of this is Filippo Ganna. He’s World Time Trial Champion. And he’s playing with funny numbers. When you look at his numbers versus everybody else, it doesn’t work; it doesn’t compute. He’s sitting around at like 550 watts at a time trial. When you think about that, for an athlete like me, right now, I have around a 315-watt threshold, that’s above VO2, that’s like anaerobic for me, like sprinting. And that’s what this guy holds for a time trial that’s around 30 minutes long. He’s able to do that, which is just insane. But the thing that we don’t realize is that especially those that are not as well-versed in human physiology and how the body works is that we assume that calories burned has a lot to do with effort, but it has everything to do with work. It actually doesn’t have a whole lot to do with effort. Like swimming is a great example of that. I tried to swim in the morning and I just basically tried to not drown for an hour.

Kelly: [0:39:40] Yeah, you get a great workout, which is amazing.

Jonathan Lee: [0:39:42] Yeah. I’m exhausted from it. And then I look at the calories from it, and I’m like, sweet, I burned like 100 calories because all I did was just flail around and not do a whole lot. So it really has to do with work. So getting back to this, you don’t eat enough. The reason you don’t eat enough is because you’re burning too much when you’re on that bike for how much you eat. All of us face this. But what we think is we think we just get tired or we think we aren’t hydrated enough, and hydration’s super important too. But we aren’t eating enough. I used to probably eat somewhere around 30 to 40 grams of carbs an hour and now I push 120 grams of carbs and I’m on the bike. If you start to break that down in terms of calories, you’re looking at almost 500 calories an hour of what I’m taking in. Any more than that, and my gut tends to fall apart. And I had to work my way up to that. 

But the difference in your ability to produce work on the bike or in any activity and then the difference in your ability to recover from that day after day when you’re properly fueling during the workout is huge. We really need to do away with this whole the training puts me into a hole and then I’ll dig out of it afterward with nutrition, because that just puts so much pressure on us. And then when we have to make healthy choices with nutrition, it’s really hard to do. If instead we just fueled ourselves during our workouts, we’d do more work, we’d recover faster, we’d come back quicker, make adaptations quicker.

Kelly: [0:41:07] Wait, are you saying-

Juliet: [0:41:07] Wait. Yeah, I was going to say are you saying-

Kelly: [0:41:09] We need more and better snacks.

Juliet: [0:41:10] When I go for a two-and-a-half-hour mountain bike ride straight up hill that I should eat something?

Jonathan Lee: [0:41:16] Exactly. And it seems silly.

Juliet: [0:41:17] Because I literally never do.

Jonathan Lee: [0:41:20] We never do it, right? It’s what we do. And if you ride with pro athletes, like I bet Kate Courtney is this way, if you’ve ridden with her, but any other… Ride with pro athletes and you’ll be shocked at how good they are at eating. They are always eating.

Kelly: [0:41:33] And I think something you bring up, we’re always saying be consistent before you’re heroic. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:41:38] That’s good.

Kelly: [0:41:38] And one of the things that you’re talking about all the time is people don’t appreciate that if you ride yourself into the hole calorically, your recovery’s less, you actually do less work during the week. Your wattage is going to suffer later in the week even though there’s ancillary training you’re going to do. One of our physio friends describes this as session cost. He’s like how do we reduce the session cost. And so one of the ways that I’ve really organized my head around all of the potential tools, strategies, behaviors, tactics, is I’m trying to reduce the total session cost. I think it was Floyd Landis who was like whoever does the most work wins. And if you overtrain, well, you didn’t do enough work to be able to work that hard in the first place, right? And so it really comes down to, and what I hear you saying is one of the big mistakes that people are doing, is they’re getting in these intense pieces because they feel like, hey, I’ve got to make sure that I’m keeping my intensity and we’re not fueling during the intense effort sufficiently. Subsequently, we see a degradation of output later in the week. Is that what I’m hearing?

Jonathan Lee: [0:42:36] Yeah, absolutely. And it’s even with the lower intensity stuff. It can be kind of sneaky. You don’t need to fuel a coffee shop ride with 120 grams an hour or anything else. Totally can if you want to. But the really-

Kelly: [0:42:48] Welcome to

Juliet: [0:42:48] Yeah. I would just like to clarify that we are doing coffee shop rides, even if they’re straight up hill.

Kelly: [0:42:52] I don’t think so.

Juliet: [0:42:54] They’re still coffee shop rides.

Jonathan Lee: [0:42:55] Or at least a taco ride, right? But when you do this, this low intensity work, let’s say that you’re riding around VT1 to VT2, your ventilatory thresholds, you’re somewhere in there. So you’re aerobic but you’re definitely not anaerobic. It’s not like you’re just light pressure on the pedals, but you’re just constantly on the gas but not too hard. That’s really productive work. And it’s really tempting for athletes to say on those days, that’s when I’m going to not eat, and then what I’ll do is I’ll shift my body composition because of that, and then when I shift my body composition, power to weight ratio goes up, I get faster. And it’s super tempting and addicting to do that. But you’re burning a huge amount of calories when you’re doing even that aerobic work. You’re burning a lot; probably more than you’re taking in. So it’s tricky to be able to make improvements time after time after time, from session to session, like you said, looking at it from the session cost perspective, you have to reduce that in order to get additional value after every session or else you hit that point of diminishing returns, your fitness plateaus, training is really hard, you can’t hit your numbers, you’re demotivated. That’s all the stuff that comes when we don’t eat enough.

Kelly: [0:44:05] Let me ask you this. So a technical question here. I don’t know if this is going to exceed the scope of this or if we’re going to lose people in the weeds here. But gummy bears during rides, good or bad? Asking for a friend.

Jonathan Lee: [0:44:16] Fantastic. Yeah. I’m glad that we’re going deep on this sort of stuff.

Kelly: [0:44:19] As long as they fit your macros. That’s the story. As long as they fit your macros.

Jonathan Lee: [0:44:22] Yeah, but honestly, when you think about it, what are you burning when you’re on the bike? You’re burning carbohydrate. You’ve got glycogen loaded up in your muscles. It’s going to be coming from your liver when you’re going to be taking stuff in. But you are burning carbohydrate primarily. And when you go harder, it doesn’t turn off fat. Also, you still burn fat. You just burn more sugar.

Kelly: [0:44:43] Just so everyone’s listening, Jonathan is not just saying go get a gummy bears sponsorship. Whole food nutrition-

Juliet: [0:44:48] You’re trying to get a Haribo sponsorship right now.

Kelly: [0:44:52] One of my life goals is-

Juliet: [0:44:52] He actually is trying to. I just want to-

Kelly: [0:44:54] To be sponsored by a company that can sell a $1 bag of gummy bears.

Juliet: [0:44:57] I just want to explain to you that every time we go on, whether we’re skiing or biking or whatever, Kelly just has gummy bears in his pocket. And not in a baggie or anything. They’re just like in his pocket.

Jonathan Lee: [0:45:10] Do they get sticky?

Juliet: [0:45:11] Just loose in there.

Kelly: [0:45:12] No.

Juliet: [0:45:13] So sometimes he’ll hand you one, like a Haribo one, one of those ones that’s shaped like cherries and has like a little fuzz on it from the inside of his jacket. It’s fine; it’s fine.

Kelly: [0:45:21] You don’t know this, but at 239 pounds, but I’m a climbing athlete. I’m a climber, even though I’m the biggest climber in the world.

Juliet: [0:45:28] I’m a climber.

Kelly: [0:45:28] And that bag, I have to carry that bag. If I can shave-

Juliet: [0:45:32] It’s slowing you down.

Kelly: [0:45:33] Shave a Ziploc bag of weight in my pocket, I’m faster.

Juliet: [0:45:37] I will say this: I don’t know that this really impacts my getting an F in eating during riding my bike. But I seriously will never forget, I don’t remember anything else about the book, but this one line in Tyler Hamilton’s book about how they’re like, oh, no, no, no, all the performance enhancing drugs you can do and all the crazy shit you can do-

Kelly: [0:45:57] Up two points or two pounds lighter-

Juliet: [0:45:58] Doesn’t matter. He’s like two pounds lighter will always help you be faster times 9,000. And I have a feeling I’m not the only person that’s like, okay, well, skinnier is better. And I by the way am also, 100 percent… I have a CrossFit body, not a biker body. But I have a feeling that that sort of mentality has super permeated cycling, right? It has to be deep.

Jonathan Lee: [0:46:20] Yeah. And disordered eating, it’s rampant in all aspects of life. But absolutely. Jockeys… Rewind a handful of years, maybe even just a few years, and disordered eating in athletics, people are like, yeah, those jockeys, I’ve heard that they have disordered eating. And it was like jockey, and oh yeah, and dancers too. And it was like just kept to that. And it’s like hold on, how is it okay to reinforce these terrible habits and patterns of nourishment for everybody except for a few groups and cycling because you’re the absolute, the governing metric, even if you are cheating with drugs, the governing metric, you cannot beat power to weight. That’s it. That’s what defines how you go up a hill.

Kelly: [0:47:03] Shoutout to two women we have talked a lot on this podcast people about relative energy deficiency syndrome and some of these things. Kate Courtney just had a great post a couple of days ago. The reason I ride a bike is not to be skinny. It’s to have a badass body and to be powerful. She was talking about that, I want to say. And then Evie Richards, current World Champion, she has been very transparent in her early eating disorders and talking about how now her relationship with food and coaches, she doesn’t weigh herself, she’s as powerful as she’s ever been, she’s as healthy as she’s ever been. So cycling is certainly no darling to this poor standalone princess. This is a common part of this whole thing. And I really do appreciate you saying, hey, you could probably stand to eat more, not for your health, but for your performance.

Juliet: [0:47:47] Yeah, from a performance standpoint.

Kelly: [0:47:47] Which is a simple thing to really point at, that if you do the right things, if you sleep more, if you warm up and cool down, you open your hip, you actually can generate more watts.

Jonathan Lee: [0:47:56] Yeah. I can think of so many athletes that I’ve spoken to that once they start eating more on the bike and then once they start eating more off the bike in most cases too, but it’s eating the stuff that makes you feel good, it’s eating the stuff that gives you the energy that you need. It’s a ton of colors of the rainbow that you’re eating. It’s a wide micronutrient profile. And it’s just good, healthy stuff. And when I say healthy, I mean the stuff that makes you feel good. When athletes start doing that, they may not drop weight, but you know what happens? They all get faster. It’s like across the board. When athletes feel better, they get faster. You just mentioned great examples of it. Evie Richards, her and Loana Lecomte are built completely different. 

Juliet: [0:48:40] Completely.

Jonathan Lee: [0:48:41] And you look at that, and they’re both incredible athletes. And they’re both at the top of their game.

Kelly: [0:48:47] Anyone who’s looking at Loana Lecomte look at her mom. She’s built exactly like her mom, who’s built exactly the same way. So this not… I don’t know anything about either, but you’re right, this is a woman who’s found what’s working for her, and has exact same genotype, phenotype, as her mother. I almost said genotype.

Jonathan Lee: [0:49:04] I bet even though they may appear different, I bet they have something in common in the sense that they nourish themselves. And that’s like a really basic human need. But we completely cast that aside when we think, well, I need to go fast up a hill on a bicycle. Or insert whatever else the goal is. And it’s controversial and it’s hard to talk about too because we have really deeply personal relationships with food and they’re complex and it’s really difficult. And I struggled with disordered eating throughout my path with cycling too and absolutely bought into the whole eating is cheating thing in the beginning of cycling, when I started in.

Kelly: [0:49:42] Sleep for dinner.

Jonathan Lee: [0:49:43] Exactly. Right? And it’s funny, because if you look at a lot of the old school logic, which is still very prevalent inside the upper tiers of cycling, that’s still reinforced by a lot of people. But it’s not reinforced by absolute, basic science. Very basic science.

Kelly: [0:49:59] And if you’re listening to this and you’re not in this performance world or Jonathan’s world, a great resource is Alan Lim’s book around, his Feed Zone Portables. If you’re looking to eat whole foods again, Stacy Sims has done a ton of work around, look, we can actually fuel. You don’t have to eat, as you’re describing, processed crap on the bike. You can eat a great sandwich and eat a whole food while you’re having an adventure and feel better and feel yourself. So just keep in mind those are great resources. Look at Alan Lim, L-i-m, and he is the originator of Skratch Labs. And you don’t even have to go into processed foods. He has cookbooks out there. My last time paddling across the Molokai I had his potato bread peanut butter and honey sandwiches which were crustless. You just make a little crustable. And that works really well when you’re redlining. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:50:51] Yeah, and it’s funny because I am now to the point where I’m super distilled with nutrition when I’m on the bike and I’m just like, I just want sugar and salt and that’s it, right? So I’m just like I have my drink mix and I have my gels, and it was not always that way. And those foods were complicated for me emotionally because taking that in, I felt like this is not healthy for me and I shouldn’t take this food in. This should only be on the bike. I had these weird stigmas that I had built up around the whole thing. And maybe instead of if you are at a point where you’re struggling with trying to figure out how to eat while you’re on the bike, yes, your stomach will probably process something more simple with greater ease. However, just eat what makes you feel good and just nourish yourself. Make the goal to nourish yourself. Worry about what it is and everything else later on.

Kelly: [0:51:37] I love that.

Jonathan Lee: [0:51:38] And then-

Kelly: [0:51:38] Quit being so simple and reasonable. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:51:40] It’s just the basics, right? But I mean wrapping it all back to what we were talking about: People don’t do enough structure and they kind of fool themselves into thinking they’re doing structure when they aren’t. And that’s really dangerous. And then they don’t eat enough. Those two things are just so, so important for athletes.

Kelly: [0:51:57] Go ahead, J.

Juliet: [0:51:58] Oh, I was going to say, what are you looking forward to? I mean I know you’re having a baby in August, so that’s probably at the top of your list, but what else? What are you excited about?

Kelly: [0:52:05] I want you to follow up with us and let us know what your wattage drops to the week after your newborn because I know your partner will still have insane wattage because that’s the way it goes. I want to see the data around newborn and athletic performance.

Jonathan Lee: [0:52:21] Yeah, yeah. That’d be fascinating. I mean I know last time, I had these absolutely, just I was so naïve. I was like, well, I might work out something like two hours that day. I can just split it up into three chunks and then I can just do it in little pieces and I’ll be able to get it done. And that’s how I’m going to train and still stay fit while having a child. That didn’t-

Kelly: [0:52:41] Spin and hold the baby. It’ll totally work.

Jonathan Lee: [0:52:43] Yeah. It’ll totally work. Yeah. Ride the rollers with the baby, it’ll be fine. 

Kelly: [0:52:47] What could go wrong?

Jonathan Lee: [0:52:49] But man, I am so looking forward to being a parent. I am also looking forward, I have always loved running, but I never entertained it because it was like dry land training for skiing or it was the PE test that we did every year and that was it. And then with cycling, when I picked up cycling, it was like, oh, no, no, you do not run if you are a cyclist. And there’s this weird stigma that exists that if you’re a cyclist you have to hate running. I know that I’m going to cause worldwide division right now, but cyclists should love running. I love running. It’s just awesome. And I’m really enjoying that. I’m not enjoying going through the process of finding all the new aches and pains that come from it. But thanks to all you at The Ready State, I’m working my way through it. But I’m looking forward above all to getting, to being able to go to the pool and swim and not be mostly miserable because that’s-

Juliet: [0:53:42] Not have to sidestroke.

Jonathan Lee: [0:53:44] Yes, exactly. Not have to sidestroke, not be choking, not be thinking about the fact that I don’t have to drink any water for the rest of the day because I just drank the pool. That’s honestly for me athletically speaking, that’s what I’m most looking forward to, is swimming. We have one of our awesome product managers here, an ex pro road cyclists, she’s a super domestique for years over in Europe, Amber Pierce. And she is a swimmer; she swam for Stanford. Incredible athlete. She’s a really good swimmer and she’s been giving me some tips and help me out. But boy, I think I’m pretty good at proprioception and technical awareness-

Kelly: [0:54:20] Nope.

Jonathan Lee: [0:54:20] With skiing and motocross. Nope. I am terrible at swimming.

Kelly: [0:54:24] Well, as one of our friends said, go out for the beginner gains. Beginner gains, people are like, oh, beginner gains. I’m like you go from 0 to 60. Going from 92 to 93 will take you a decade, but 0 to 60, man, you did that in like three weeks. And enjoy the beginner gains. It’s so fun to pick up a new sport.

Jonathan Lee: [0:54:40] It is.

Kelly: [0:54:41] We really encourage that.

Juliet: [0:54:41] I have a lot of respect too, I mean both our daughters play water polo, and I mean it’s like watching our kids do a sport that Kelly and I physically couldn’t even do the base skill of, which is eggbeater and treading water.

Kelly: [0:54:52] Oh, I could drown.

Juliet: [0:54:52] Our kid just sits there and treads water, her heartrate’s like 85 for two hours.

Jonathan Lee: [0:54:57] Insane. 

Kelly: [0:54:58] Our daughter’s a goalie and during timeouts, she doesn’t come to the side, she just kind of floats there.

Jonathan Lee: [0:55:03] That is so impressive.

Kelly: [0:55:05] She has to swim less if she doesn’t come all the way over to the wall.

Jonathan Lee: [0:55:08] It’s like a different human creature to me, like she’s evolved beyond what I am, you know what I mean? Because I just don’t exist well in water. But I’m going to get there eventually. What you said is interesting about the beginner gains thing though, because it’s such a technique sport. And at first, I was like swimming, if I was doing 4 by 100, man, it’d be like two minutes and 50 seconds maybe, if I was lucky, and that would be my time. Now I’m under two minutes. But the funny thing is, is I feel absolutely terrible still going through the whole process. If I’m going through time on 400.

Kelly: [0:55:39] You’ve gone 200 percent faster and you’re just like, “I’m still terrible.” It’s good. I think what I really appreciate about all the things I’ve heard when you’re talking is that you look at your development as an athletic moving person as a skill, not a mystery, but a skill-based process. And once you sort of have that algorithm, you can just keep reapplying it to other things, like how do I manage two kids skill. 

Juliet: [0:56:05] Skill.

Kelly: [0:56:06] How do I not sleep skill.

Juliet: [0:56:06] If it makes you feel better, I’ve done a few little swimming sessions with our kids, who of course are amazing swimmers. And for me, swimming a 25 is so taxing. I swam once across the pool, I’m like I am so taxed. This is so taxing. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And they just look at me and they’re like, “What? What?” For them, it’s effortless.

Kelly: [0:56:25] We figure-

Juliet: [0:56:25] But I’m excited to hear about your journey because sometimes I think I want to actually at least be competent enough to just do a swimming workout. I don’t ever need to be amazing and I’m not going to race or whatever, but right now I can’t really even do a swimming workout.

Kelly: [0:56:36] Juliet’s selling herself out. Come on, JStar, don’t sandbag us. What I’ll tell you though is our pool at our home is 11 feet deep and I finally figured out my swim stroke where I carry a weight on the bottom of the pool, which just is a metaphor for how I swim anyway.

Jonathan Lee: [0:56:53] Sounds super familiar, strangely.

Kelly: [0:56:54] Come up, gasp, go the bottom, sink, come up, gasp, I’m like swimming. Jonathan, you are prolific. Tell everyone where we can find you and where we can find you interviewing some of the best athletes in the world about all the things we’re talking about.

Juliet: [0:57:07] Yeah, and how do people sign up for TrainerRoad?

Kelly: [0:57:10] And further projects out there. So tell us about all of that. 

Jonathan Lee: [0:57:13] Yeah, leejonathan_.You’ll be able to see my name and how it’s spelled here. But leejonathan_ is where to find me on social channels. And then you can go to and sign up. You can give it a shot. We have a 30 day back money guarantee too. So just give it a shot and do it, especially if you have spring races coming up, summer races, whenever you’re listening to this, fall, winter, whenever it might be. Go and sign up, give it a shot. And if it doesn’t work and make you faster then we’re happy to give you your money back. But it’ll make you faster. So that’s where we do that. And if you want to listen to the TrainerRoad podcast, it’s called the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast. We also have one called The Science of Getting Faster Podcast that is going to be having more episodes where we interview researchers about papers that they have published. But if you want to listen to that, Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast on any platform you have and Science of Getting Faster Podcast.

Kelly: [0:57:58] Well, thank you so much.

Juliet: [0:57:58] Thank you so much, Jonathan.

Kelly: [0:58:00] And hopefully we’ll meet at SCHEELS there in Reno and I can’t wait to hold your baby. I can’t wait to meet that new baby. I know we’re a way’s out so hopefully we can see you before then. But yeah, it’s great to see you again.

Jonathan Lee: [0:58:11] Likewise. Thanks, y’all. Appreciate it.

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