great article on competing as we age
Looking Out At The Road Rushing Under My Wheels
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Ready to Train?
If you are the typical road rider and you ended your season in September or October and you have been riding the last six to eight weeks without any structure (ie, riding just for fun, not that training isn't fun), you can use December to start your training for the 2011 season. If you've been riding 'cross events this fall, you still need to take some time away from the intense rides even if its just three to four weeks. For those ready to make the most of December here's where I'd start and why.
The months of December, January and February are the most important in the training calendar. The road season will start up in March and while peak form is not needed or even necessarily desired at that time we don't want to simply 'race into shape'. I can't think of anything more miserable than struggling through the first four to six weeks of racing as you build fitness. Its better to build your strength and endurance over the next several months and then fine tune during the season and then properly peak for key events.
Some of the athletes I'm coaching will be working on Tempo efforts this December. The Tempo effort is beneficial for a number of reasons. These will allow for better utilization of fuel during races, increase your ability to handle the more intense efforts that will come in January and February and beyond, allow you to develop better power at moderate intensities, increase your ability to store muscle glycogen, improve your ability to use fat as an energy source, increase the mitochondria in your muscles, and improve your aerobic efficiency. That's a lot of benefits for one type of interval!
So what is the Tempo effort? Lets first start with a cadence of around 75-85 which may be a little lower than the pace we use normally. Lets also stay in the saddle even when climbing. If you're using heart rate (HR), you should be in the 75-84% of max HR range (zone 3) or 85-95% of your threshold HR. If you're using power, you should be around 80-85% of threshold power. By 'threshold' I mean the HR or power that you can hold for one hour.
I'd recommend that you start with Tempo's two days per week. They can be separated by one day or for more fun do them on consecutive days. The duration and number of efforts should build over the month. For example you could start with 2x8 minutes and 2x10 minutes in week on followed by 2x12 minutes and 2x14 in week two. The options are endless but you could, and should, eventually be working on 4x15 minute efforts. It wouldn't be usual to do 60 to 90 minutes non-stop in late winter or early spring. At this point the idea is to build for three weeks and then recover for a week. Your level of fitness would determine the frequency, duration and intensity.
Whether you're riding indoors or out and whether your riding crits, road races, time trials, or 'cross, the Tempo effort should be a big part of your training.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
It looks like the first really cold weather is headed our way at the end of the week with temperatures on Friday hitting a high in the mid 30's. If it's not heading into the 40's, I'm training inside. Actually, I even train a lot inside throughout the year just because I like the controlled environment for certain rides and intervals. I've found that a true recovery ride is best ridden on the trainer where there is no temptation to catch other riders or hammer up a hill. But lets get back to winter indoor training.
I'm assuming that you have some type of indoor trainer and that it allows you to ride from a very low power to a very high power output. I've owned trainers by TravelTrac, Cycle-Ops, CompuTrainer, Kinetic, etc. They all work just fine. Currently I have the Cycle-Ops Indoor 400 and it truly the finest indoor bike I've ever had the pleasure to crank out 12-15 hours a week on. Check 'e out at Montgomery Cyclery sometime. There are unlimited combinations of slope (-10% to +10%), wattage zones, gearing (1 to 22), etc. I love this bike.
To make indoor training a little more tolerable I'd recommend the following:
have a tv if possible; I can only listen to music so long before I need something else to occupy my time, and this comes from a pretty avid musician
read while riding: get a music stand and read magazines, books, newspapers, etc; I studied for my personal trainer certification on the trainer over several months
ride twice per day if you really can't stand to do the long (two hour+) ride all at once
take a spin class: I know that some of these aren't real cycling oriented in terms of the intervals but its still time on the bike, and just skip the intervals that don't make sense
use a cheap rear tire: the nice tires will shred in a few weeks; get a $20 Continental, non-folded; it will last all winter and more; I hate having to change a flat inside
get a fan, and not the kind that is going to clap when you ride hard--one to keep you cool
drink a lot of fluids before, during and after!!!
track your heart rate or power to make your intervals interesting; the controlled environment inside is great for comparing efforts over time---use it to your advantage; if you can hammer inside this winter, you'll feel that much better when you finally get out in the spring, mentally and physically
consider using some of the training dvd's and share them with friends who have different dvd's
have group rides inside, if you have room for multiple bikes
If there is an interest I can get the spin room at the Cincinnati Sports Club. We have 35 bikes. The cost would be about $10 per person to come in and have access to the club all day.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
About two years ago I had a coach call me with some questions regarding the USA Cycling coaches program. At the end of the conversation he left me an interesting comment. He must have been talking to some athletes that I was coaching or had coached and he told me that having them do intervals in December is wrong unless these athletes have races in January. I thanked him for the advice and chose not to get into a lengthy discussion with him regarding how wrong he was.
I have to think that that belief comes from a lack of understanding of what constitutes an interval. An interval can be off the charts difficult or also quite easy. This time of the year I do, and I recommend, some high cadence work of 1,2,3 minutes at 120+ rpm (pretty easy) and some slow cadence, big gear seated climbs of 4-6 minutes (pretty hard). I don't have any pressing events on the calendar but I also don't believe in losing fitness, especially as a master age athlete. The recent 20k indoor tt is about as hard as I will go and I will take plenty of rest after that event. Am I doing 60 and 90 minute steady state and tempos? No Am I doing 3,4, and 5 minute ower intervals? Not yet. My goal, and the goal I have for my athletes, is start their really intense interval training in January. I want them to start these not from a low level of fitness but from a really great base that allows them to attack the efforts and ideally go further with their power than the previous January. Keeping them fresh through November and December with some intervals is fine.
I also recommend plenty of really easy days on the trainer pushing low watts. These are great recovery rides. Some riders have a hard time doing this. They think every ride should have some difficulty to it. I do find these rides easier to do inside where there is no temptation to take the hills hard or catch other riders. And for those who think there should be no intervals this time of year I'd have to say that most of the weekend group rides end up being interval workouts so be cautious on those. The training goal of the group may not be your training goal for that week.
If you pace yourself properly through the fall and early winter you can maintain your fitness through the harsh winter and be ready or some serious improvement with your racing in the spring.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Weight Training for Cyclists
While it used to seem that mosts cyclists didn't want to spend time in the gym because they incorrectly thought it would add un-needed weight to their body or they thought the time would be better spent on the bike I can tell you that the trend is towards using the gym to improve cycling and acheive total fitness especially for the master age athlete. I recommend that cyclists incorporate weight training not just in the off-season but year-round. There is little point in starting a weight training program in December just to abondon it in March. With this system you spend weeks every winter acclimating your body to the training just to quickly lose it as soon as your stop in the spring. Instead, you should devote more time in the winter, maybe two or three days per week, and then taper down to one or two days during the season. The types of exercises, sets and reps would also be adjusted depending on the time of year. I certainly go heavier on my legs in the winter but keep core and upper body in my routine all year.
You should choose weights that allow you to complete 2 or 3 sets of 8-12 reps. Usually this would be about 75% of your one rep maximum. I'm not recommending your try to find your one rep max by picking up two 80lb dumbells and trying some curls! A little trial and error will let you find the correct weights. Notice also that I'm talking about free weights and not machines. There are some great machines but they do work isloated muscles. There are some machines like the leg extension, Smith machine, and leg press that I avoid. They present a variety of issues with your back and abnormal motion of your legs but thats a discussion for another day. I prefer to work as many muscles as possible and free weights accomplish this. Here are some exercises that should be a part of your workout routine:
lunges (in place, side to side, backward, etc; don't just work in one plane of motion)
squats (many options from feet together, single leg, legs in lunge position. etc)
pushups (many types from standard to elevated feet to rotation, etc)
sit-ups (many variations)
planks (standard and side)
squat combo: combining the squat with an arm curl to a press
I have a list of over 100 exercies that I use in my classes and with personal training clients. You would be welcome to attend one of my classes at the Cincinnati Sports Club or we could have a team training day there if anyone is interested. Working towards total fitness will help your cycling!