EXPLORING BETTER WAYS TO RIDE
EXPLORING BETTER WAYS TO RIDE
There are 1000′s of ways to make marginal gains, we get started by looking at Team Great Britain and taking the best 3 for quick wins
There is a lot of talk and scrutiny about the Great Britain Team which is only natural because of their almost total dominance of the Olympics. From reading a lot about the team it is clear to me that the culture that fostered these changes came from the top down. Specifically from Peter King executive director of British Cycling. He lead a secretive all or nothing program coined the Podium Program. GB only focus on athletes that are capable of winning an Olympic medal. This began the programme of ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’. Where every aspect of athlete preparation and lifestyle was looked at, equipment, clothing, training methods, nutrition and anything else that could produce a marginal gain.
Chris Boardman describes marginal gains in great simple terms. “Marginal gains is about finding 1,000 things and improving them all by a fraction of a percent. When medals can be won and lost by fractions of a second, you begin to see why Team GB have become so obsessed with finding tiny improvements at every level. Even down to the nuts that hold the bike together. Put them all together and they make a difference: that’s the aggregation of marginal gains.”
Ranging from experts in biomechanics to nutrition to physiotherapy, so far 28 major projects have been completed in the last two and a half years. Some, like the work they will do on bikes and kit, last up to four years – a full Olympic cycle, whilst others, like athlete development, stretch out of sight of London, time-wise.
It’s not only the GB national squad that benefits from the marginal gains theory, Team Sky are part of the programme, and they also think of everything. You name it, they’re already doing it. Their mechanics work in conditions that would put some surgeons to shame, laundry technicians make sure the riders get their own pillow and sheets in every hotel, just to name a couple of things.
How do you break down your performance to identify the marginal gains that can make a difference to your success? To do that we need to look deeper into Team GB’s approach. It all starts with goals. In Team GB’s case unrealistic goals for the time such as a 3:55 team pursuit. Then through the discipline of those goals, everything works backwards from there. Exploring in finite detail the ‘demands of the events’ i.e. the performance was next and once they were absolutely clear on the demands for each discipline on the track and road they assess how they are doing in relation to all of those things. They can then work out the gaps, in other words where they currently are compared to where they aspire to be. Next is the marginal gains part where they break the demands/ the performance down to identify absolutely everything they can possibly think of which will impact on those demands and performances of the different events. Also, looking further afield than just the event itself.
“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery” Like cleaning your hands. “If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less.” They had the team wash their hands and then put a dye on them which stuck to the areas not washed properly.
Brailsford breaks it down like this:
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