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Why Sprinting at 30 mph Strikes More Fear than Descending at 50 mph

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yesterday I blogged about my early season sprinting level and season goals. Today I want to say a word about why sprinting at 30+ mph scares me more than descending at 50 mph.

First of all, I have hit and exceeded 50 mph on my bicycle many times, mostly when I lived in California and 3-4 times since I've lived in Minnesota. Most of the hills here just aren't long or steep enough to produce those kinds of speeds, but every once in while I come across one that is and go for it! There are, however, many descents near to my home where I can hit 35-40 mph and I do so on a regular basis.

When I hit these speeds on a descent, I rarely feel any fear at all. Why? (1) Road bikes are built for speed and seem to ride smoother as the speed increases. My bike never shakes or feels unstable, rather, it feels very comfortable and controllable. (2) Once I get into my tuck and settle in for the descent, there's little to no body movement involved and thus, again, the ride is very stable and controlled, even if fast.

Sprinting, however, is an entirely different thing. While the bike itself is indeed designed for such speeds and efforts, there is much body and bike movement involved in sprinting at max effort, whatever the start speed. If I'm traveling at 20-25 mph and feel like getting out of the saddle and pedaling at a mellow and controlled cadence, I feel very relaxed and fear-free. But when I'm traveling at 20-25 mph and decide, for whatever reason, to get out of the saddle and crank the pedals as hard and fast as I can, I must confess that I deal with a certain amount of fear, probably because I'm a rational person and realize the danger inherent in this activity!

So, last year, I got in good enough shape that I was able to hit 30 mph sprinting on flat ground with no wind at my back. I know that I can eclipse that speed this year, but I have to put the possibilities of crashing out of my mind in order to do that. It's a real mental block for me.

Tomorrow I'll write about why I think this is so but for now I want to invite you into my fear! Complete a couple of workouts wherein you sprint 5-10 times at a 75-80% effort level. This will help you work on the form that's necessary to sprint safely and productively at max effort. As you develop the feel for how to sprint, ride for 30 or more minutes so that you're nice and warm. find a stretch of road that's flat and unobstructed. Increase your cruising speed so that you're nearing the top of your ability and then, when the time is right, put your hands in the drops, get out of the saddle, and hammer as hard as you can. At that moment you'll think to yourself, "Now I understand what MNCyclist is talking about!"

If you take me up on this, first of all please be careful, and second of all let me know how it goes. I'd love to interact with some of you about sprinting technique, accomplishments, and strategies for overcoming fear.

Here's a pic of Mark Cavendish in a beautiful sprinter's position, going a little faster than 30 mph--that's less than his starting speed!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BILL60 4/20/2012 7:13AM

    Excellent points.

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LILPAT3 4/19/2012 3:36PM

    We all have our fears and they are all conquerable! I am sure that you will get where you want to be. Cycling is not a matter of if you will wreck but a matter of when you wreck. If you over-think and tighten up, the likelihood you will wreck increases. Hang in there! emoticon

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Hit 26.9 mph Sprinting on Flat Ground

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yesterday, after taking a 3.6 mile recovery walk, I rode my bike for about 12 miles and completed the same workout I did at this time last week: form sprints. The idea of this workout is to develop and improve sprinting form rather than to go full tilt, that comes later. But at the end of the ride, after seven sprinting efforts, I just couldn't help myself.

The ground was almost completely flat, the road was wide open, and I was feeling good--so I put my hands in the drops, shifted to a harder gear, rose out of the saddle, and sprinted as hard as I could sprint for about 15 seconds. I hit 26.9 mph, which I will eclipse within a few weeks, but which for now is a decent speed for me.

The most important thing I have to work on if I'm to hit 32-35 mph in a sprint this year--which is a stated goal of mine--is to deal with my fear. This will come with time and practice, but the bottom line is that it takes guts to rise out of the saddle and give 100% when you're already traveling at a decent speed. Thoughts go through my head like, "What if my chain breaks or slips? What if I put too much torque on the cogs and they give way? What if my 10 year old frame decides it's had enough and cracks? What if? What if? What if?"

It's easy to deal with these thoughts when I'm sitting around thinking about it, but try sprinting as fast as you can when you're already traveling 18-20 mph or faster and you'll see what I mean. It takes guts. And unlike the pros, I don't have a support vehicle and ambulances around to scrape me off the ground if I do go down!

So anyhow, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! I plan to just stick with the plan, keep working on my sprinting form, and slowly add intensity over the coming weeks. As I combine this with weight loss and increasing fitness levels, I'll reach my goal--of this I'm sure! I'm determined! I hit 30 last year, so 32-35 ain't nothing! It's mine!

Hope you all have a great evening, and thanks for reading.

(Here's a pic of me and the old beast from a couple years ago)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PIPPAMOUSE 4/18/2012 10:59PM

    Way to go! Just want to throw my support behind you. BTW, I've learned that thinking through things when they aren't a disaster is a good plan. When your brain gets a chance to process through a situation before it has to make snap decisions it will get better at making decisions. You can do it!

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KA_JUN 4/18/2012 7:12PM

    Good luck! You're right, there is an amount of trust you put into your machine and your training when sprinting, getting to that goal speed is something that you sound determined to accomplish, you've got it! emoticon

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    Wow! My Endomondo app tracks my average speed, but I'm not sure what my top speed is. I'm a newbie rider, so I totally feel you on fear of speed. It was only recently that I stopped braking when going down hills! Anyway, my average speed is pretty slow - about 13 MPH. Working on it, though! Planning to hop on the bike for an hour or so when I get home tonight!

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Shedding those Winter Pounds--Down another 3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Over the winter I got a bit undisciplined and put on about 13 lbs--ouch! But that's behind me, I turned the boat around some weeks ago and as of today I've dropped 8 of them. It was sure nice to see the scale back in the neighborhood I lived in last year, and given some changes I've made to my diet and exercise regimen I feel hopeful that I can lose even more this year. I'm at 210 now, I lived at 205 most of last year, and I hope to get down to around 200 and stay there.

We'll see how things progress, but again it sure feels good to be shedding those winter pounds!

Have a great day!

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PIPPAMOUSE 4/17/2012 12:50PM


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Am I Stupid? Well, I don't Feel DOMS!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Okay, okay, that's the best I could come up with--further proof that I should not be a comedian!

Point is, I jogged with walking intervals for 10 miles on Saturday and expected to be sore, and I do feel it a little bit but not much. I feel very good about this, and am now setting my sights on this week's training plan. Here it is:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: 3.6 mile jog/walk--plan to work on technique--10+ mile bike ride
Wednesday: cycling--recovery ride
Thursday: 3.1 mile jog/walk--plan to work on speed--10+ mile bike ride
Friday: cycling--recovery ride
Saturday: Off
Sunday: 11.2 mile jog/walk--still thinking about how to structure my intervals this week

Hope you all have a great week!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PRINCESSRUNNER7 4/16/2012 10:26AM

    When I was training for my half marathon, I also incorporated walk breaks. I too was suprised that I wasn't sore after my long runs. I couldn't believe how great I felt. That's the beauty of walk breaks - it leads to faster recovery! Keep up the great work!

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10 Mile Jog/Walk Today, and a Little Cycling

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In preparation for my half marathon on May 12, I completed a 10 mile jog/walk today. After warming up with several intervals of 3.5 min jogging and 1.5 min walking, I went to 4 minutes jogging and 1 min walking up to about mile ten. It was about 15-20 degrees warmer today than it's been in a while and the heat started getting to me so I slowed down near to the end and did several intervals of 3 min jogging and 2 min walking. That was just what the doctor ordered and I was able to finish the last 0.1 or so at a fairly quick speed--quick for me, at least, I was probably running at about 8 mph.

My goal was to keep a 12 min/mile pace and come in at 02:00:00 or better, as the course was exactly 10 miles. I ended up coming in at 01:58:11 with which I was quite pleased! If all goes well from here, I should be able to complete the HM in 02:40:00 or less. Given that this is the first time in my life--I'm 45--I've jogged beyond a 5K, I feel pretty good about this.

After the workout was over, I did a couple of things around the house and then hopped on the bike and spun very easily for about 3 miles. This really helped my legs to loosen up and so far it's reduced the mild soreness I've had in weeks past after my long jog. A little later I was troubled by two of my splits and wondered if my mile measurements were off, so I took the bike out again and remeasured the last four miles of the course, and I'm sure glad I did. I had inadvertently marked mile 7 at 7.05 and mile 8 at 7.95, which explains why mile 7 was a little slow and mile 8 was a little fast! So I came home and made the necessary adjustments to my splits and felt better about my mile by mile consistency.

All in all, 10 miles of jogging/walking and 6.2 miles on the bike today--not bad for an old fart! Now, it's off to bed to pray and ready myself for church tomorrow. I love exercise but I love Jesus Christ 10 million times more simply because He's loved me with an infinite love!

God bless you all!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BELLE0308 4/15/2012 2:04PM

    Congratulations!! Sounds like you are doing so well!! WAY TO GO!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WILDNTEXAS 4/15/2012 12:41AM

    emoticon That's emoticon Good luck with your half marathon! emoticon

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VISUALLYRICS 4/15/2012 12:09AM

    Indeed, I LOVE the Lord above all else! emoticon
My goal today was a 12 min. mile....and I made it just under 12 minutes!
emoticon on your running time! I do the same....walk/jog/run at different Garmin Forerunner 405 is coming in next week - cannot wait to play with that a little!

Happy emoticon ~ Laura

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BECKYANNE1 4/14/2012 9:14PM

    Congrats to you! That's really awesome!

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PRECEDENT2 4/14/2012 9:10PM

    Way to go with the exercise.

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