From our Founder: Robbie Ventura

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I hope this last month has been about having fun on group rides, knocking off some gran fondos or group century rides and, for many of us Midwesterners, starting the transition to the off-road. This unstructured, but high volume riding is a good way to celebrate all that is cycling. As these rides get harder to complete (weather, daylight, fatigue) we need to start building a plan to balance life, rate-limiting factors, fun and opportunity. If we do this correctly we can set ourselves up for a great 2020 year of events and fitness without relying on "getting in shape in the springtime" to do so.

I have been thinking about next year a lot lately and this is what I’ve realized: so many of us think that spring is the secret to a great summer of events when, really, it is the winter that holds the key. And, guess what, folks: done properly, it takes less time than you think!

A great winter of training ushers in a lovely spring and summer. The intention behind winter training offers fewer miles, but with more purpose, better eating and diversified workouts. Let’s think...

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We just wrapped our local spring “climbing” camp in the beautiful town of Galena, Illinois. We had great roads, low traffic, good weather and challenging terrain, but the toll on the athletes was substantial and caused many of them to question the choice after day one. Here’s why…

Many athletes are used to riding at 17-20mph and covering 100 miles in 5-6 hours. However, when encountering steep hills, heavy roads and temperatures vastly different from the typical ride, a mindset shift becomes important. Our athletes had to rewire their thinking a bit when the 90-degree heat hit on day one. Plus, we had added climb after climb at double-digit grades. Their power started eroding, crushing their confidence. Sooner or later this happens to every athlete. When the expectation and reality are incongruent, the first thought is usually panic! Day one of our camp was the perfect storm to create that panic for many of the VQers:

● The ride time was early afternoon instead of our typical early morning and that threw their bodies into small tailspins...

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The training landscape of endurance sports continues to evolve at an impressive rate. Measurement, technology and improvements in methodology are all contributors. These go hand-in-hand now more than ever and are the foundation of the VQ philosophy. The things we can measure now help us make far fewer mistakes in training. Two key elements of that analysis are what we should be doing and how much we should be doing it. VQ’s latest testing protocols allow us to zero in on an athlete's exact rate-limiting factors. It’s especially gratifying to see these rate-limiters change as we address those weaknesses in training.

Testing the metabolic system on a consistent basis is where the really good stuff starts to happen. It’s crucial that we understand where change comes from. Analyzing those points for growth or loss is the key to the impact of training. The very first test creates the road map and defines rate-limiting factors. Follow-up tests measure growth and pinpoint where growth came from. Those subsequent tests are just as important though to make sure we are on target and...

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I love the holidays for many reasons, but the biggest and best reason is the realization of how many special relationships and connections we have. At this time of year, these relationships and connections take priority over focusing on fitness or working on building the business.

For me, the holidays allow time to refocus on the importance of family and friends while providing the right atmosphere for reflection. Right or wrong, this is how I am and I am sure many of you feel the same about this time of year. Sure, it’s busy and we want to get things done so we can enjoy our free time a bit more. At the same time, the stress of business and productivity is reduced for at least a little while. Please make sure that you embrace this time and allow yourself to ease up on the "training regimes." Give yourself permission to lose a little fitness if it means you gain quality time with people you love.

The best way to prepare for this is to get a little ahead when the opportunity presents itself and bag some bigger days while the gettin’ is good. Often times there is a calm...

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As the warmer weather sets in, many of us increase our overall training volume by adding more time to our weekend exercise. This is a good thing for the most part, but we must consider the fatiguing effects of this extra volume and increase the emphasis on recovery. Our weekly routine of cycling intensity and strength work remains the same, but we're adding significantly more hours on the weekend, increasing our volume. This has a big impact on our bodies and energy systems.

One mistake many athletes make is not considering the recovery needs of this extra volume. Even though we have great weather approaching and ideal training conditions, be careful with how quickly you ramp up your weekend activity. Put together a plan that increases slowly over the next three to four weeks. Your body can handle small increases in overall volume, but if you're bound and determined to ride significantly longer after the frustration of bad weather and uncertainty of how long it will stay nice, you may want to cut back some of your weekday training intensity to accommodate for your bigger...

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For the last three months, Vision Quest members have been participating in the first annual VQ Off-Season Challenge (OSC). I am happy to report that it was a huge success on many levels.

For many endurance athletes, the off-season can be a confusing time. Some athletes need a big rest--physically, mentally or sometimes both. Others don't need much rest at all. This might stem from different physical needs like healing or needing to build strength. All of us need to focus on body composition and the off-season is a great time for this. Needs vary from athlete to athlete with some needing to build muscle, some needing to lose fat and others needing a combination of both. Then there are the athletes who have low bone density and need more weight-bearing activities. I think it is safe to say that everyone can improve something as it relates to body composition. Since this is the one thing we can all work on, we decided to do a challenge around it and thus, the Off-Season Challenge was born.

All the participants started the journey with a Dexa Scan in October. A Dexa Scan...

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I often hear our athletes, visitors and special guests comment on the unique nature of Vision Quest. Many times it is stated in an almost inquisitive way, as if they know it, but can't pinpoint exactly what it is that make VQ special. Is it the training philosophy? The classes? Or maybe the people and the wonderful camaraderie? So, I ask myself: "what makes VQ special?" I am reminded that the VQ experience has been evolving for over 15 years and, while we have offered a variety of different class structures, content, camps, clinics and services, there are a few things that have been part of who we are since the beginning. I find those elements critical to the VQ experience and what makes VQ VQ.

Over the last several months, our team has worked hard to define, articulate and actually write down what "it" is that makes VQ VQ. "It" is something most of our athletes know and feel. "It" is what allows VQ to help our athletes perform at a level higher than they thought possible. The pursuit of defining "it" led us to a reshaping of the VQ Value Statements.

Zeroing in on our...

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It is important to find excitement and happiness when you’re traveling. No matter where you are going or what you are doing, try to think of traveling as an adventure wherein meeting interesting people, seeing different cultures and experiencing something other than you do regularly at home will both educate and excite you. It’s also an opportunity to read a good book, learn something new or sharpen your skills while en route (whatever this might mean for you, your job or your hobbies). This mindset is easier when traveling for vacation since the fundamental point of the trip lies within this type of thinking. It is not always the case though when traveling for work. Note: I realize I am in a rare position since most of the travel I do for work already involves this mindset. Most folks I know travel often and usually it is work-related, so I’ve given a lot of thought to helpful tips for staying positive and on track physically and emotionally.

Over the years I have experimented with several ways to stay fit while on the road and I want to share some of my findings. The five...

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I don't think there really should be such a thing for amateur athletes. To me, the off-season is about keeping your fitness, not losing it. After I finished my career as a pro cyclist, I still trained pretty hard in the spring and summer and thought I needed to take time off in the winter like I did when I raced professionally. I started to realize that the more time I took off, the harder and longer I had to work in the winter/spring to get myself back to where I was at the end of the season before. As I got older and trained less, I learned that I did not need a break from working out, but I did need something. That something ended up being quite simple. What I needed was a change!

Most of us do not do enough overall training volume to warrant taking time off. Now I know some of you are thinking, "I work out over ten hours a week all summer and I need a break". Yes and no. You may need a break from running, cycling or swimming, but you do not need a break from working out. While it's true that at 10 or even 15 hours a week you are working out a bunch, that is nothing...

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The season is half over and many of us have had some success and failure as related to our season goals. Fortunately we have the ability to grow from every experience no matter how good or bad. The key to growth, both as an athlete and a person, is to continue refining performance by repeating the things that work and adjusting or changing the things that keep us from performing at our best.

I had an interesting first goal of the year at the Olympic-distance Pleasant Prairie Triathlon June 24th. I was really struggling with the swim portion of the triathlon before the event and decided to swim the course the week before. I had my fears confirmed when I flailed and panicked for the entire workout. I found out a bit too late that I needed more swim work and it showed on race day with a very slow swim time. But I did not let my poor swim affect my bike or run leg and had two great events following the swim. After the race I reflected with my peers, as well as on my own, on what I did well in the event and what things I need to do better on my next performance. I also revisited...

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