This afternoon I came across a forum thread on trainerroad.com that caught my eye.
Does anyone know who is behind the wattkg.com emails?
With myself being that person I read the following posts with great interest. Below are a few of the questions and statements given in the forum thread:
“Is this a starving medical student trying to fund his medical school costs from his research?”
“Is this a front or avatar for a corporate entity?”
“He is a medical doctor.”
“He is a practicing chiropractor.”
“Is this a simple way of squeezing money out of the latest hot topics in training science?”
Needless to say I realized I have some work to do on addressing the purpose and person behind this website and its newsletter.
So here is the complete story of the unlikely and twisted road that ultimately resulted in the website you are currently reading.
Biathlete gone chiropractor
To address the initial question: “Is he a real person?”
Yes, I very much am.
Long story short, I grew up in Norway and spent my entire youth pursuing a career in biathlon (the winter olympic kind, with skis and rifle shooting).
At the time I was decently talented and took home an under 16 national championship gold medal and made a few European cup appearances. This was before motivation, or rather lack thereof got the better of my athletic career at the age of 19.
In hindsight, and following 11 years of university training I’ve realized I never fully grasped what it takes to become a world class athlete. To this day I wish I knew then what I now know.
But I’m digressing.
Following my exit from biathlon I ended up spending the next five years in Sydney completing a bachelor + masters degree in chiropractic at Macquarie University.
To answer the question – yes, I am a chiropractor (by education). And I did practice as a chiropractor for five years.
I don’t anymore.
Chiropractic is one of those professions you are likely to either love or hate. It is difficult to remain neutral.
For my own part I will summarize my experience as follows:
As a profession, chiropractic is made up of an extremely heterogenous group of clinicians. Equally divided is the adherence to evidence based practice within the profession (huge differences between regions and individual clinicians).
Chiropractor gone medical doctor
For me personally, my initial university training provided me with a keen interest in research method and evidence based clinical practice.
That same university training which resulted in my chiropractic degree is also what drove me to take on another six years of medical school at the University of Oslo.
So, yes – I am a medical doctor, currently practicing in Oslo, Norway.
This is where cycling and websites comes in.
During medical school I picked up road cycling as a way of getting back into shape (hadn’t touched my skis in nearly 10 years).
Like any other formerly successful childhood athlete I thought I knew everything there was to know about training. That was until i started getting into the scientific literature on cycling training.
I quickly realized there was so much I didn’t know. And, thanks to my university training, I was able to grasp what I previously had not.
Excited, I started sharing what I read on a Norwegian blog called “wattkoden” (loosely translated to “the code of watt/power”).
I have since realized the name is misleading.
The blog never intended to evolve around training with power meters. On the contrary, I have always attempted to simplifying training where possible, as opposed to complicating it. The goal was to help average recreational cyclists who are unfamiliar with physiology understand how to become a stronger cyclist (which of course, can be expressed and measured in watts, hence the name).
Regardless of names, my writing seemed to catch on. This was at a time (2015) where I was looking to quit my job as a chiropractor and support myself by other means.
Soon enough people started requesting more content, and ultimately training plans. I now spent so much time on the website that I could only defend doing so by developing paid products. I quit my job as a chiropractor and started writing full time (well, medical school and university tutoring was my full time ++ engagement).
At the time, wattkoden was indeed a medical student trying to cover his expenses by expressing his passion for communication, exercise science and cycling.
While the above is true, I sincerely believe that the website would have never succeeded if I had not strived for creating quality content first and foremost with non-paying readers in mind.
The vision was always, and still is to deliver 80% of the most important and useful content without having to charge for it.
Generic training plans are seldom the best option
Interestingly, I immediately realized there was a big discrepancy between what people requested, and what I wanted to deliver.
Personally, I have zero interest in developing generic training plans.
I cannot think of anything more boring (to develop), and frankly, less useful for athletes in the long run.
I would much more like to teach people the principles needed for them to understand how to take charge of their own training and development.
By no means does this eliminate the need for coaches or training plans. But, for those riders with the “appropriate” pre-requisites (level of knowledge, interest and performance) I believe it might facilitate smarter decisions in their day-to-day training.
Somewhat frustratingly, my experience is that most people want a fixed plan telling them exactly what to do on a day to day basis.
So, the resulting content on my website became a compromise. Which, on the 5th year and running seems to be working quite well:
- theory content to explain fundamental training principles and recent cycling science
- training plans demonstrating how to put principles and science into action
- instructions and 1-to-1 help in adapting the above to fit your situation
Granted, this solution isn’t for everyone.
It’s obviously redundant for those already well-versed in training physiology. Likewise, it probably isn’t for those who have already achieved a significantly high level of athletic performance.
Nor is it for those who just want to get better, but have zero interest in how things are working.
However, in the middle, there appears to be a group of mid-level amateur riders who are keen on developing both their knowledge and physical performance.
My vision is that this website will cater for those riders – regardless of whether they become paying members or not.
Is it just about the latest fads in training?
I sincerely hope not. And aim for it not to be.
There certainly is more to cycling performance than 30/15 intervals and polarized training(!)
Currently, wattkg.com boasts a content volume of about 5% of the Norwegian sibling site. And the original Norwegian site is currently undergoing major revisions.
So I dare say it will only get better.
Hopefully, this post has lifted some of that fog of uncertainty pertaining to the values and intent underpinning the website.