Whether I’m in the middle of the off-season or starting a training block for my big “A” race, keeping a journal of my training details has helped me identify important factors which contribute to my personal best. Training plans keep me on track towards my race goals and my fitness/activity trackers automatically keep track of completed workout data. Recording additional information such as sleep, nutrition, mood and weather, can help to piece together fitness trends and when I come back to it, help me see the big picture. I’m a “plan-crastinator” — I love to plan ahead, but I always struggle with executing my plans in a timely fashion. When I make the time to journal, I’m more likely to Continue reading
Fitness trends come and go. What you did yesterday or a year ago may be proven ineffective tomorrow. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a hot trend right now and you’ll find gyms and fitness centers/studios hopping on the bandwagon trying to benefit, financially, from this trend. However, those of you who have been involved in cycling, swimming, or running recognize that this “trend” has been around for many years and has a variety of names and variety of methods.
I distinctly remember the summer of 1982 with my swim coach, Bud Higgins, sitting on the deck of the pool, smoking a cigarette, wearing one brown sock and one black sock, asking us to do “Fartleks.” When you’re in 7th grade, a crusty old man asking for “fartleks” is just too funny! He had a group of teenagers laughing hysterically and was soon frustrated by our lack of maturity. However, we weren’t laughing for long Continue reading
Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, should be an essential component to every athlete’s training routine. Most of us are not fortunate to be able to afford or have the time to get daily massages, that is why a foam roller is so important! Foam rolling is a self-massage technique that can help to prevent injury, increase circulation, aid with flexibility, and help to restore optimal muscle function.
I must forewarn you…you will probably develop a love/hate relationship with foam rolling as it HURTS!! Although this pain should not be “real pain” rather it should Continue reading
As we all start to get busy, it is important to remember the awesome benefits to working out. When we remember why it is important to workout, we are more likely to do our best to fit it in our schedule. Here a just a few of the many benefits of working out…
Health Benefits – Exercise Can:
- Increase your overall health awareness
- Reduces the risk of Continue reading
As multiple studies have shown, bike commuting has many benefits: People who bike to work are richer, fitter, more successful, and, arguably, happier.
As a year-round bike commuter myself, author David Byrne’s comparison of riding in the city to “navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind” resonates well with me (Bicycle Diaries). Cycling connects you to your self, your environment, and your city in quite a special way. And, while there is still a large gender gap between men and women biking to work, bike commuting is gaining popularity overall: From coast to coast, the number of people who traveled to work by bike increased roughly 60 percent over the last decade, with the median commuting time of roughly 20 minutes (US Census Bureau).
How Cities Encourage Cycling
How do cities react to this rising number of people commuting to work on their hybrid bikes, fixies, or road racing machines? There are several approaches to Continue reading
Cycling is an activity that many pick up as a child. “It’s just like riding a bike,” is a phrase used to indicate that once you know how to do it, you don’t forget. For most people, cycling is child’s play, the bike that took you around the neighborhood is left in the garage, and the JOY of the wind on your face is left in childhood. But, “since it’s just like riding a bike,” (um, duh, it is riding a bike) it can be picked up again at just about any age. For me, I came back to the bike after knee injuries prevented me from running. At first, it felt like I’d been cheated and that it was “second choice.” As time has passed, I now find myself more in love with the bike than I ever was with the run….and I fear losing my ability to ride!
“Ride today so that you can ride tomorrow,” has become my mantra. I live in Minnesota, where riding year round isn’t really possible, so, to stay conditioned through the l-o-n-g, dark winter I ride at our local athletic club. But, riding might not be enough. Continue reading
If read my previous post about winter gravel riding, you probably thought — great, good for this crazy lady. She gets out and rides her bike in questionable weather on sketchy surfaces, but I would NEVER. Well, maybe I can convince you otherwise. Here’s a quick list of things to consider should you want to venture out on gravel, snow covered or otherwise —
Find a bike.
You’d be surprised at what types of bikes you can ride on gravel. Commuters with wider tires, your mountain bike, a cyclocross bike, maybe even Continue reading
What kind of cyclist are you? Do you find it more important to outsprint the girl riding next to you or would you rather be able to ride for hours and hours without wearing down? Believe it or not, some of this is genetically determined. Our athletic strengths whether we are a sprinter or an endurance rider often depend on our muscle fiber composition.
Slow Twitch (Type I)
The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel (known as ATP) for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue. Hence,slow twitch fibers are very Continue reading
Finding a training plan for an event, cycling, running, triathlon or otherwise can be overwhelming. On one extreme, you’ve got the ones with formulas, zones, baseline tests and complicated calculations to measure progress. I personally go catatonic when I see all that data. On the other extreme, training plans can err on the side of too much flexibility and guesswork, allowing riders to fall short of their goals due to lack of accountability or precise objectives. Too much free love is a bad thing. While some people have great luck sitting at either end of this spectrum, most riders want to land comfortably in the middle. They want a program with defined parameters to stay on task, but allowances for life’s disruptions and personal interpretation. As a coach my goal is to present a plan that can be tweaked to fit the individual… radicalized, softened or executed exactly. Before I delve into the specifics of our Moxie Training Plan, let’s make a few assumptions:
- You have between six and twelve weeks to train for an event.
- You know this basic training tenant: The body is a stress and recovery system. Each week your intensity should increase at least a little bit (for more social riders) and at most a lot (for more competitive riders).
- You consistently follow through on the “recovery” part of that equation with some rest.
- Intensity during workouts can increase in a number of ways: speed, distance, terrain, wind, weather. You can measure your intensity by how hard you are working on a scale of 1-10 OR by using a heart rate monitor or power meter if you’re into numbers.
- Use an actual, paper calendar and pencil to design your program. You can plug it into your phone later, but this creative process and being able to see the big picture on paper is super important.
- Page through the calendar and the months leading up to your event. Look for things like travel, work and family commitments that will disrupt your training. Make tactical accommodations NOW so training is a priority around, over, under, in between and in spite of those events.
Before I even consider prescribing a training plan I climb high on my soap box for the How to Prepare for an Endurance Cycling Event That has Nothing to do with Riding a Bike lecture.
And so it begins… *(Don’t fret, next edition I will give you the never-fail, top-secret, chick-rider-only training program)
5: Spend an Extra “Ben Franklin” for a Professional Bike Fit.
Let me be abundantly clear on this one, gals: The 43 second slap shot job performed by the 18-year-old who sold you your bike does NOT qualify as professional. Nor does having Neighbor-Who-Rides-All-The-Time bestow his well-intentioned and erroneous opinion regarding your bike and body. Why am I so adamant about this? Because riding an ill-fitting bike is inefficient, uncomfortable, and dangerous. Not only do you risk irreparable damage to joints and soft tissue, but you’ll likely stop training due to pain or disdain. By training for an endurance event, you are agreeing to spend more time with this machine than your husband. A professional fit is not optional.
4: Plan the Ride, Ride the Plan.
I promise you I’m not stating the obvious here. This isn’t a pep talk about riding adequate miles. Plan the Ride, Ride the Plan is being honest about your intentions during the ride. If you intend to get up early and ride before dawn, do that during training. If you plan on eating gels and bars and sports drinks, do that during training. If you plan on sleeping in, riding on coffee and candy bars until the first bar graces the horizon, do a variation on that during training. This might seem like a strange bit of advice coming from a wellness professional. However, I’ve seen too many people train like a saint and ride like a she-devil and wonder why they feel like road kill. If you join a ride to perform, train for performance. If you join to party, I hereby give you permission to train for that, too. Either way, you’ll likely be more prepared and safer than if you plan for one and do the other.
3: Use Protection.
Imagine this: Day five of RAGBRAI; A haggard blonde combing the aisles of the drugstore filling her basket with balms, salves, blister guards, creams, and bandages. She is desperate to create a barrier between the gaping sores on herself and the bike seat, (which might as well be made of sand paper). After testing various combinations, she manages to eek through the final 150 miles of rub-rub-rubbing on her weary privates. The moral to my true and tragic story? Protect yourself.
If your event is multiple days of riding, practice riding multiple days in the chamois you intend to wear and on the bike seat you intend to rock. Do not ride a new chamois or a new seat. That, my friends, is torture. Furthermore, do not, under any circumstances ride a chamois two days in a row without washing it. Just imagine all the bacteria growing down there… all day.
It’s a vulnerable area—Protect it.
2: On the Bike is Secondary.
What could be more important than what you do on the bike in an endurance cycling event? What you do off the bike! In fact, ask any experienced rider to share an off the bike saga and prepare to settle in for a long tale.
What you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat, where you sleep, when you sleep, how you sleep in a high school gym with 200 other farting, snoring, restless riders while it’s raining to beat hell, where you pee, where you poop, where you poop right frickin’ now because that burrito just hit you like a freight train, what to do when you start your period, how much stuff to carry, what to wear, what not to wear… As you can see, off the bike is exceedingly more unpredictable than on the bike. Hence, the goal going into any event: Be consciously aware that off that bike events are bound to happen, they will affect your best-laid, on-the-bike training plans, probably require more effort to rectify, and when taken in stride are a glorious, maddening, harrowing, and exhilarating part of the on the bike experience.
When off the bike throws you a curveball, tap a veteran cyclist for support, be creative, and practice letting go. When off the bike is finally resolved, get back to the rhythmic predictability of on the bike.
1: Take Care of Your Body.
This is your trainer speaking. On the surface, my profession is dedicated to helping clients train for various events. Our real job is stewarding bodies. We are that little voice that reminds you to take care, for without her any event would be impossible. You may hate her. You may look at her in the mirror and lash out. Starve her, stuff her, work her, neglect her, cover her up, cut her, mock her, pinch, prod, and curse her. All that, and at the end of the ride, she–this villain–will loyally pedal you through life.
You might not like her, but if you train her and take care of her, she will adapt and grow stronger. Feed her good food; Nutritious stuff that will help her rebuild after a tough training ride. Take her for a massage or a visit to the chiro or the spa; Let some healing hands have their way with her, especially the sore parts. Smear her up with sunblock, wear a helmet, stay off of busy roads, and make sure she doesn’t get smashed or ripped open or burned or hurt. And, when you’ve had a particularly good day in the saddle, maybe riding further than ever, or effortlessly passing some punk, or climbing a hill you never thought you could, or just feeling frickin’ awesome, give her a little pat on the arm and a “Good job, honey, we did it.”
It’s a simple deal: You take care and she (that little voice in your head) will shepherd you through the ride. And, maybe somewhere along the way, you might come to an agreement.