Kinetic Ambassador Profile: Duane Gran
Meet Duane Gran - the brain behind the Kinetic Ambassador program. Duane works in IT operations for a financial firm and is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Duane also serves as the group Zwift ride leader for Kinetic Riders.
How did you choose the Kinetic Ambassadors?
We had over 150 applicants and I felt like a dean of admissions at some selective university where you know you are turning away great talent, but we wanted to keep firm to our mission to keep lean and nimble. The key things I looked for, and advised Kinetic on for their final selection, was story, talent and community. I wanted to find people who had an interesting story about how cycling (and indoor riding in particular) affected their lives. I see riding the trainer as empowering for so many people, whether it is making effective use of time or working through a period of injury. I looked for that sense of purpose in ambassadors. The talent side was often along the lines of deep technical experience with training applications. Finally, I sought out people who were thought leaders in their cycling community or had experience sharing their experiences with others.
What is your favorite cross training activity and why?
I'm a little boring in this way, perhaps. I do some hikes and outdoor things with family but from a training perspective, I'm all about the bike. I respect how some people can balance cycling with other sports, but I know personally any investment elsewhere would be at the cost of time and recovery on the bike. So in this regard I choose to specialize.
What is your go-to nutrition advice?
I eat simply and tend to set some boundaries that serve me well. I'm known for turning down desert and soft drinks. On the bike for anything shorter than 4 hours I use water only for bottles and bring along a banana and perhaps some fig bars.
Do you do any meditation/wellness practice for your mental health?
The bike riding itself I think is often my go to mental health activity. Emptying myself into a workout (obviously something I can't do every time) is restorative. There are two classic ways of setting up your mindset for this sort of thing, either through distraction or intense observation. Both are fine but you need to know what works for you. I'm in the latter camp. I study the target power and duration. Mentally I become like a scientist watching someone else do it. Sure, it hurts but when I can do it right it is freaky and I experience breakthrough rides.
How do you handle goal setting and sticking with a plan?
I have a pretty full calendar with family and career, so the plan is by necessity flexible. I target riding about 8-10 hours per week with a handful of challenging rides. I always feel better after riding and objectively know it is good for me, so I try to mentally keep that image of my post-ride self in focus when the alarm clock rings way too earlyin the morning for my ride. Like everyone I bag a workout now and again, often for good reasons, but most times I'm able to visualize my post-ride satisfaction and this carries me through.
Beginner: If a person has a proper base of aerobic fitness one rapid way to get an edge is with High Intensity Intervals or Tabata style efforts. These are something like a set of 5 one minute drills with 20 second full gas and 40 seconds of rest. It gets really hard by the 5th one, but the last interval is where the gains are really made. This type of workout is surprisingly effective to "level up" in the game of cycling when you are fit enough to ride long but feel you aren't sharp for hard efforts.
Advanced: I'm fond of over/under intervals for developing one's ability to recover while the pace is unpleasant. Imagine being in a break away off the front of a race with four other people taking pulls in the wind. You go over threshold a little on the front and then draft while others push wind. I simulate this with a 30 minute set broken into 10 three minute blocks. For each block the first 2:30 is done at about 85% threshold and the last 30 seconds is at 140% threshold. Your heart rate sort of bobs up and down and gradually creeps up overall. As you get better trained at this your heart rate will recover more effectively between efforts. Get really good at it and you will find that when you are in that break away for real, you will know your limits and be capable of contesting the finish.