Performance Coaching

Cycling with Barb Morris!



Comox Valley coaching with Barb

Experienced, long time certified cycling coach Barb – ‘coach Be’ – has relocated to Vancouver Island.

Coach continues with established mainland clients and is now welcoming V. Islanders to her performance coaching roster.

With a history of coaching from youth triathletes to Time Trial road racers, IM and cyclocross, fondo and Learn to Race, coach Be has successfully done it, coached it and brings that all-round knowledge to the athlete with an interest and desire to perform in their sport of cycling.

Be it Fitness, Performance, Personal Best or Podium results, coach Be makes it happen for you!

email; or phone/text 778 837 0288 to make an appointment and begin your journey on the bike, can’t wait to hear from you.

Group ride session (above left)

with Road and TT champion Graham (bottom left)

Day 30 of the challenge

What’s strong with me today is completing 30 days of the challenge to write here, daily about qualities and habits, bike experiences and cycling tips. I’ll be continuing with a coaches corner of sorts, that offers what you didn’t know, you didn’t know. More specifics on the skill of biking that lead to performance in the sport.

What I’ve found over the month, is that I often have to look elsewhere to find out about my self. Looking for strengths is easier said than done; while noticing quotes, concise messages that are relatable was a way to find them and recognize them. Finding a list of ways to be (and not to be), can remind me that yes, I do embrace change, forgive others, talk about ideas and continuously learn. I do accept responsibility for things I’ve failed at and am grateful for the opportunity to then set goals and develop a life plan. (Thanks Terry Small yet again!)

To have 30 days of sharing my strengths has been rewarding. I can’t ignore my weaknesses, but it almost seems silly now to think of ‘working’ on them, ‘fixing’ them, since they are all negative to start with. While strengths result in joy, satisfaction, energy and feeling alive.

In cycling, having a good sprint could become having a stronger sprint. Having good endurance becomes amazing stamina, climbing hills becomes enjoyable when you put your mind to working on that strength. I enjoy sharing my experience and my cycling abilities with others to give them the same confidence and feelings while riding a bike and it’s what’s strong with me; coaching!

Coach Be

Minimizing risk, maximizing enjoyment

Risk is a personal thing, most of us have boundaries of what we would consider risky behaviour. Some people seek risk to give them the maximum thrill, exhilaration comes with the element of danger and bodily harm. I feel I am very much risk averse, yet some may consider things I do as being risky. For them it is, since without the training and repetition, the experience and knowledge, riding their bike in the Gastown Grand Prix for example would be an extremely hazardous event.

When life happens to you, it may change your attitude towards certain situations and what was fun and exciting now becomes fraught with the potential for anxiety. Yet the activity is still something that gives joy.

Today the weather was cloudy and 1 or 2 degrees, feels like 0. My rule of thumb is not to ride when the temperature is below 2 degrees and it’s been a useful system for staying upright when there’s frost and black ice potential. The ‘it depends’ rule comes into play when the sun is shining and roads are dry. Then the shade factor is taken into consideration, can we ride on roads that run east west with south exposure? And what about the cold itself; hands and toes, face and ears! Why expose them to the elements, be uncomfortable and risk feeling the nastiness of warming them up in the shower, it’s painful!

There’s a book written by Wim Hoff, a dutchman also known as the Iceman, who has trained his body and metabolism to withstand cold and ice, running barefoot in shorts on snow covered mountain trails. After reading his book and still having no intention of snow running, I did learn that cold is a state of mind. We like warmth, seek it, make it a necessity for our comfort. Is it though, necessary for outdoor endeavors? We still have to ‘warm up’ and have our circulation increase, our muscle temperature go up to function optimally, but that happens just by moving, increasing speed and power output. Where does it say we need to be or feel warm for that to happen?

The enjoyment of a sport continues in all temperatures; the feeling of being in a group of like minded people riding along at a speed higher than I would get by myself. Chatting and finding out about our diverse group that have this thing, riding our bike, in common. With scenery; forests, streams, rivers, bridges and coffee shops, gravel trails and busy highways – ok, that’s not so much fun!

The enjoyment outweighs the risks by a huge margin and we stay safe by knowing our limits, becoming skilled and fit and focusing on that. It’s the best!

What’s strong with me day 29

Coach Be

In the face of…

A great requote from my favourite Brain Guy Terry Small “When working with people, assume good intentions. When listening to people, interpret their words in a generous way. You will occasionally get burned and mistreated by always assuming the best in others, but it is a far better way to live than the opposite”, J Clear.

What came up for me is how to deal with being burned or mistreated and if that is reality or a creation. To be flame proof you would have to have a thick exterior covering which would make you resistant to feeling and the point is one that I’ve mentioned before, it’s my take or viewpoint on what’s being said that creates the feelings.

In sport, we deal with ourselves more than others! When I’ve been told I’m looking good and I’m 30 seconds behind the main pack, it’s not a statement that I agree with and would have argued with given the chance. Understanding that it’s encouragement and that yes, I do look good, thank you!, would be more beneficial to my performance. I always liked it when someone else in the peloton had the same name as me, then I’d get cheers from all kinds of spectators!

When it’s not encouragement though, criticism can hurt when it strikes a chord with us or pushes a button that trots out an old memory, goes down the habit path. To pull back and recognize that someone is saying something that has created a response in you, and it may not have been intended in the way you think, is a sign of your awareness.

Sitting and looking at what they may have said, it’s not easy to think that they may be right?! (But you didn’t want to hear it just the same), or the disappointment is something they’re feeling (it’s not about you, it’s them), or you’re just not very good at your sport (ha! that’s an easy one, yes I am!).

What can we use as a shield to protect us in the face of an attack that comes from the outside or is self inflicted? Reflecting and deflecting. The reflection is to consider and to understand, the deflection is to prevent it from penetrating your being. Having a witty response can work well. I have to laugh whenever I’m with one of my friends who can deliver a quick retort to a rude person. Then there’s the folk who can call it like it is, Fauci into the hot mike, saying “What a moron”.

In sport and in life, there’s no point in taking it too seriously; you can be serious about your training, pay attention to what matters in your sport, strive and create habits that support your intention and even have it be your life for a short or long time providing that you can laugh, enjoy it, have fun with it and the people around you.

What’s strong with me day 28

Coach Be

Asking for help

Going along with yesterday’s theme of ‘LetsTalk’, I was reminded today about how valuable the people in my life are and who they are for me. To get an idea of what it means to ask for help, I had to turn it around and think of how I feel when someone asks me for help. I am only too happy to help them with anything within my power, purse or ability. The problem is me then, feeling that I can’t ask.

The purse situation was why this came up since being hit by a car that failed to stop at a signed intersection, 4 years ago. As a one person operation without sick benefits, long term disability or extended health the cost of my repair was on me. With that not changing over a couple of years, heck my new bike wasn’t even reimbursed and what is a bike coach without a bike? Eventually a dribble of dollars came in but in the meantime, credit cards were becoming maxed out and my mental and physical health were taking a beating with coach Be now knowing what concussion was like.

At the 4 year mark, I now need people help and reached out to a few folk to ask. I also realize that it’s up to them to say yes or no to the request. That’s the beauty about asking, not expecting, there’s no expectation in a request because that’s all that it is, a request. They may say yes or no and they don’t have to explain their answer, provide an excuse or reason. All kinds of feelings may come up to be discovered and dealt with if it’s a no, and even a yes may have some feelings about conditions being attached, owing them. (By the way this wasn’t a financial ask.)

I’m just very grateful at this point, to have good friends, good company, a good lawyer!

In sport we can ask for help from our coach and again, when we do that good things happen, things fall into place and our destination is closer, our goal can be seen and easier to hit. Instead of being confused or alone, we know and we also know we’re part of a bigger picture. Trying to be strong without support is a bad habit, one that can be changed with a different think, continual practice and help from your cheering squad. You are amazing!

What’s strong with me day 27.

Coach Be

Let’s talk

Today is BellLets talk day; “an awareness campaign created by the Canadian telecommunications company, Bell Canada, in an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental illness in Canada. It is notably the single largest corporate commitment to mental health in Canada.”

It came to my attention when the first spokesperson for the campaign, Clara Hughes, Olympic medallist in cycling and speed skating talked about her mental health, the depression she was dealing with over 10 years ago. Clara’s Big Ride crossed the country and brought awareness to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since that ground was broken, there have been others in the cycling and sport world who have been able to tell their stories and bring the realization to the population that mental health affects us all.

Sport, physical activity is on the list as one of the things to do to treat depression – so how is it that athletes can still suffer from anxiety and depression? Athletes are people; their circumstances, their expectations, the pressure to perform from themselves as well as others around them, an incident that causes anxiety that triggers and upsets the complex balance of the body and mind. The sadness that is the main symptom of depression can be ignored in an athlete who expects to be able to ‘get over it’ or is unable to talk about it.

The depression that I have was triggered by a couple of things and I wasn’t shy about asking for an experts help – it’s ironic that the institution that created it also offered help and support from a medical professional. What I was reticent about and still am, is talking about what it feels like, what happened and what I’m doing about it. Although it’s not something I’m ashamed about, there’s still part of me that thinks that I’ll be judged or looked at differently if I talk about it. I think about it as something I have, not something I am, like having a scar on my leg or wearing contacts. I don’t talk to people about that so why would I bring up depression?

It has given me insight into others that may be affected and don’t realize it and I have learned that there are some ways that are better than others to bring the topic up. Knowing some of the questions that lead to the possibility of depression being the cause can help the conversation and help the process of suggesting professional help; sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, lack of interest or enjoyment of activities, emotional swings and for some, suicidal thoughts. I think it’s important to understand that those feelings aren’t normal, they don’t need to feel that way and shouldn’t. It’s not healthy and it can be a nasty rabbit hole that is hard to get out of once you’re in there.

Me? Yes I’m on medication that keeps me on balance; it’s not something that I really want to have as a staple in my life, heck I don’t even like taking ibuprofen, but at this point I think of it as a supplement that maintains my mental health and balance.

Keep the conversation going, because no one should suffer in silence.

That’s what’s strong with me, day 26

Coach Be

How hard is hard?

In the same way that a structured indoor training session can have an Intensity Factor based on the time, and the power that’s been prescribed, the category of workout stress can be defined by the TSS or Training Stress Score. That can also be used to monitor how hard, or not the workout will be or becomes.

You could use PE, Perceived Effort, to determine how hard it feels as well. On a scale of 3-10; 3-5 would be easy, 5-7 moderate and 7-10 would be hard, harder and hardest! That’s fine in the moment, but; how do you calculate in the time/volume aspect?

Lets go back to TSS. Training Peaks calculates the TSS using the Intensity Factor along with duration and assuming that your FTP is more or less accurate.

Just based on numbers; a TSS less than 150 is low and recovery would be overnight. 150-300 is medium and you would expect some residual fatigue the following day that’s gone by 2 days after. Upward of 300-450, well that’s high and even a couple of days may not give your body enough time to fully recover, while over 450, it’s very likely that fatigue is taking place that will last several days.

Where does the perception of ‘hard’ come in? Take a look at your Fitness, the number calculated using your Acute minus Training Stress Balance, gives you Fitness or Chronic Training Load CTL. To create the workout then;

Add 50-100% of Fitness for a Hard workout. eg; current CTL is 100, then a TSS of 150-200 would be Hard. Add 25% for a Moderate and subtract 25% for Easy. A TSS of 125 would be Moderate and it would be an Easy workout at 75TSS.

For someone with less Fitness, say a CTL of 50; Hard would be 75-100 TSS, Moderate 63 TSS and an easy recovery ride would be 38 TSS.

Yearly Training Plans can be built using TSS and there are some folk that have that function turned on when using their computers on the road, as one of the fields available to keep track.

Either way, you will know during or after, take a look at the red dots on your Performance Management graph. It’s a great visual to see at a glance, how many of your rides are Hard, Medium or Easy while you’re building your Fitness!

What’s strong with me day 25

Coach Be


When looking for a coach, is there any specific attributes that would mesh well with what you have as a goal? The first step for you would be what that is; Fitness -> Performance -> Personal Best -> Results -> Podium, then is there an event that you are planning to do? Once you have that in mind, take the next step and look for a coach to guide you there.

I’ve guided many athletes to their best fondo performance, podium places and event finishes on multi day bike tours and time goals on iconic climbs. My knowledge base in fitness, physiology, kinesiology, cardiology, my patience and ability to see what athletes themselves are unaware of, enables athletes to progress towards their goal with a strong body and mindset along with it.

I’ve listed a few attributes already, still I think the most important attributes that a coach can have is to listen, to be open to new thoughts and ways of doing things, to be flexible and adaptable and to believe in what an athlete is striving for. When I’m talking to an athlete for the first time and hear what they are planning, so often I will see them already doing that. The picture comes to mind of them doing their best climb ever, their finish line result, their inspiration and motivation is something that I can feel.

It doesn’t always work out; the picture that I see doesn’t happen when the athlete is distracted and loses focus of the goal. It was a dream, not a goal! A dream is imagining and hoping; a goal is something that you can take aim towards, take actions and make steps in the direction of.

Fitness is a goal that is simply getting out the door and doing your sport in a way that supports health. Performance is training that makes your body more effective and efficient while becoming knowledgable about your sport. Personal Best is the next level of mastery, using that efficiency to produce your best outcomes of speed and power. Results will arrive with the strive, for becoming a master in the sport. Then work and marginal gains combine to produce a podium result, a top 3 is sure to follow!

The cycling coaches that I see and talk to all have that inner passion to convey their knowledge and experience to you the athlete. Most of the time, you can’t go wrong when you follow the plan! So a background that may be similar to yours one way or another, where you can relate, will help you to make the right choice. Pair that up with their experience and yours to create a winning combination!

What’s strong with me day 24

Coach Be

Being positive

This was brought to my attention by someone who felt that positive was used often, in a very negative way. The example being covid of course, but also things like cholesterol at your annual checkup ‘hey, I was positive for good cholesterol’ which would give the listener an ambiguous meaning at best.

This thought brought to mind how people appear and how they are, how they want you to think of them compared to what’s actually going on with them. There’s the enthusiastic but scornful ‘way to go’ (minus the negative slur, moron at the end of it)! Or maybe a less than sincere but polite, ‘I love it!’

Leading to expression and thought, since we can never know truly and very rarely want to, know what someone else is thinking.

Take a 4-way Stop sign. I get there after a car has already stopped, I stop and I wait. It looks like they may be waving me through although it’s hard to tell with tinted glass and my sunglasses. As it’s not my turn, I have no possible way of knowing what they are thinking, the processes going on in their head, how distracted they may be, if they normally talk with their hands. I just don’t know, and I don’t trust their behaviour. Other people tell me they’re just being courteous, but are they? is that what they’re thinking? And if so why? The 4-way stop has built in courtesy, first one there goes first.

Then there’s people who think that they have to pass a test, or they fail, they’re a failure, they label themselves based on their perception of a result. Which can be just a number, that’s it. In the cardiac exercise stress lab, ‘did I pass?’ Performing a ramp up test on a bike, ‘I failed dismally in the last step, I’m a failure’. In both cases the tests are designed to go to what is considered, failure. It’s the absolute amount of work you’re able to do before you can’t do it anymore, and you stop. Nothing more than that, it’s a number, not a label. For many people they don’t even see what they have achieved, only what they have not. This is a split in what is real and what is imagined.

In psychology (according to Google, I’m not a psychologist, although coaches have to learn a lot about behaviour); Splitting (also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defence mechanism.

It’s useful, to have the knowledge of what is going on in your self to provide understanding about what it is you’re being defensive about. The basis of “I’m not good enough”, would send you down the rabbit hole where there’s no light to shine on you and would then give support to your feeling, because we like nothing more than gathering evidence for our own failings. And feelings.

Then finally, what this examines is why we/I have any reserve in being recognized for the truly great human beings that I/we are, what I’ve done and am proud of. Not as a comparison to others but as an expression of my self and acknowledging them as well. Forget about being positive, display your greatness!

What’s strong with me, day 23.

Coach Be

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