Lockdown Q&A! Chris McNamara (Nuun – Sigma Sports London RT)

Lockdown Q & A with trainSharp’s road and time trial coach Chris McNamara who races for Nuun – Sigma Sports London RT and  is based in East Sussex

Lockdown Q&A! Chris McNamara (Nuun – Sigma Sports London RT)

Brought to you by trainSharp

Lockdown Q & A with trainSharp’s road and time trial coach Chris McNamara who races for Nuun – Sigma Sports London RT and  is based in East Sussex

Q: Your last race was and how did it go for you?
Chris: My last race was The Jock Wadley Memorial and it went well. We rode well as a team covering all the moves and animating the race and I ended up 4th on the day

Q:With racing cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Chris: I Had been struggling with a niggling knee injury, so I’ve had a couple of weeks off completely to rest it and get it right. This is one of those situations where the break can be a bit of a blessing in disguise as its forced me to scrub off some condition and rebuild so avoiding that stale plateau that is easy to fall into. I have just started to train again this week with indoor sessions on the trainer – nothing too hard, just nice steady endurance with Zone 3 blocks to start with.

Q: As a coach, how are you approaching your training with no fixed date for racing
Chris: This is quite a challenge for both myself and my riders but it’s important to keep a nice positive mindset and I think having that routine and sense of normality is very important for mental health and our sense of well being.  I set a short break for most riders to have a bit of a mental re set and accept the situation. For some riders who didn’t have the best of winters, it’s a chance to catch up and build really good condition. For others who are enjoying racing online in both bunch races and TTs, keeping that nice competitive edge.

Q: Where would you do the majority of your training, turbo or road?
Chris: Before lockdown, I do all of my structured training early doors at work in the lab. Now from home, I’m back on my old trusty turbo and rollers. As long as you can handle it mentally, I’m a big fan of quality work done on the trainer – you can really dial into the effort and intensity in a controlled environment without worrying about things like cars pulling out or potholes in the road and for myself personally, I put out much better numbers on the trainer than I do on the road.

Q: With a possible but very short and intense season ahead, what is the key ingredient for riders to have in their training now?
Chris: In this initial phase, it’s more about holding back a little “sitting back” into the sessions as we want to be making fitness gains but don’t want to bring on form when there aren’t races yet on the horizon, aiming to keep the vast majority of the work sub threshold and build nice and gradually. Cyclists in general are a very motivated competitive bunch and one thing I tend to say a lot is that it’s consistency of training that’s key and not to treat every session like a power test trying to beat the numbers from the week before. In this current situation, that’s even more important.

Q: Does this break give you the opportunity to test and learn more about your riders at trainSharp?
Chris: Yes absolutely. It’s been important to stress that the racing will resume at some point and we want to make sure they are in great shape to jump straight back in when they do. Testing is important so that you have a line in the sand and know just where you are.

Q: You enjoy a good time trial so does your exercise include the odd training TT to keep the focus?
Chris: Yes, once I’m back to training properly, I’ll be aiming to do one or two sessions a week on the TT bike as putting out power in the position takes adaptation time. One of my goals for the year was the CTT team time trial champs so I’ve got my fingers crossed that will go ahead at some point.

Q: How close is a Zwift race in terms of physical effort to a race on the road like the Wadley for example?
Chris: They are way more intense!! If you look at a race file, the first 2-3 minutes are pretty much full gas so you definitely have to warm up well and be mentally prepared to go very deep – they tend to then settle but when I say settle, it’s settling into a threshold type effort before ramping again in the final five minutes finishing like they started.

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Q: What has trainSharp on Zwift for their riders?
Chris: We use Todays Plan to deliver and access training and you can sync this with Zwift so that any session can be done on the platform with the session’s targets up on screen counting down intervals etc. If you run the trainer in Erg mode, you literally just have to get on the bike and pedal!

Q: Has Lockdown created more work for you from your riders because it has created so many unknowns in training terms?
Chris: Yes, it’s created a lot of work but re jigging plans and setting new goals and targets for riders but that’s all good – its much better to be busy!  I’ve actually had some new riders start up as with the lockdown they have extra time on there hands and want a goal and something positive to focus on.

Q: What’s your biggest distraction from cycling as lock down continues?
Chris: I’ve been loving a bit of Netflix in the evenings with a nice Belgium beer (cutting that out now I’m back training again – honestly ;-)

Q: What’s the bike that gets the most use by you at the moment and why what is the best thing about it?
Chris: My race bike – it’s a Cannondale System six aero bike and I’m a total convert to aero road bikes. I always used to look for a light road bike as I felt the lumpy more selective races suited me but these are so fast, it’s just fun to ride especially after riding my winter hack for months. Like chalk and cheese and the disc brakes are so good!

Q: Where you do you enjoy riding the most in this country or abroad?
Chris: I think the best place I have ever ridden is when I went out to Lucca in Italy last year to visit my old trainSharp work mate Elliot Lipski. The scenery was stunning with picture postcard views everywhere you rode and a really good mix of terrain. Racing wise I love the Kermesses in Belgium. The country seems to eat/sleep and breath cycling with such a passion and even the smallest races feel like a big event.

The racing is super aggressive from the gun and there is no hiding so you have to be on the front foot and ride from the front. I think racing in Belgium is like the school of hard knocks – you learn so much from riding in the wind and where to place yourself to riding cobbles. A weekend of Kermesses with my standard pre race Spag Bol and a nice Steak and Frites in the evening is where its at :)

Q: Finally, do you have riders based abroad having to suffer through proper lockdowns and if so, what are the challenges are they facing.
Chris: I have a couple of riders on full lockdown and it’s a real challenge. The biggest factor is keeping their motivation and belief that their hard work will eventually be rewarded. It’s a new challenge for everyone but I’m a firm believer that if you put in the work and live the life, the results will come!

If you want to be coached by Chris or any other coach at trainSharp then please email paul@trainsharp.co.uk

Brought to you by trainSharp


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