Wednesday, June 06, 2012
I donít know why it took so long for me to figure this out, but alas I did. A couple of weeks ago I completed several leg-strength development workouts on the bike which were very enjoyable and produced good results, but which also, over time, will cause knee and other joint problems if one is not careful. I know this to be true because I went down this path two years ago, encountered these problems, and opted instead for a high-cadence style that helps one avoid such problems. And yet, I could see that developing greater, cycling-specific leg-strength was the key to making the next leap forward as far as average speed on the bike goes.
As I was thinking about this last week, it finally hit me--after 12 years of road riding, it finally hit me! I can mix up workouts on the same ride so as to develop leg-strength, work on other vital aspects of cycling, and avoid the knee and other joint problems. This, I realized, would be similar to going to the gym: normally one doesn't complete a number of sets of one exercise, rather, he or she completes 1-3 sets of several exercises. The same can be done on the bike, I surmised.
Being rather excited about the possibilities here, I sat down and put together 25 workouts that combined the elements of cadence, strength, speed-endurance, and sprinting. I could have designed many more than this but I figured 25 was a good start! Several of these workouts include all four elements, several just three, and several just two.
Yesterday I tried one of them out for the first time and I loved it! Here's how it went:
5 min warm-up @ a comfortable cadence
10 min @ 100+ cadence (low-torque/high-cadence)
5 min recovery
10 min strength interval @ 75-85 cadence (high-torque/low-cadence)
5 min recovery
10 min speed-endurance interval @ 95 cadence (mid-torque/mid-cadence)
5 min recovery
10 minutes of "form sprints" (2 per 5 min for a total of 4)
The "form sprints" portion of the workout goes like this: at the top and middle of every five minutes, I stand and do a medium intensity sprint, focusing more on form than intensity or speed. The idea is to gain the proper feel and form so that these things become instinctual and the body/mind can focus on intensity and speed when the time comes.
With the exception of the first five minutes, I took full advantage of the recovery and really backed off and then gave all I had to give in each 10 min interval. I definitely had it in me to push harder in the recovery periods but I decided not to do so, and without even focusing on, or caring about, average speed, I came in at 18.4 mph on a route where my previous best was 17.9 mph.
So Iím feeling pretty good about this way of developing skill and strength on the bike right now. My plan is to complete all 25 exercises over the next 6 weeks and then assess how it went, make any necessary adjustments to this or that workout, and rethink my annual training plan so as to include these types of workouts when they're most beneficial.
At the moment, it seems to me like it would be best early in the season to focus my rides on one specific skill, two at the most, so as to develop a base of fitness and form. Then as the season progresses, it seems best to gravitate toward these "Combo Workouts" because the reality is that in road races and bike tours one has to do several things well within the same ride. And as an added bonus, I do think this way of approaching my workouts will allow me to work on developing leg-strength without incurring the problems I did two years ago.
We'll see how it goes, but this is how it seems to me at the moment. Wow, this blog got long, if any of you made this far, thanks for reading and make it a great day!
Friday, June 01, 2012
Took a 22 mile strength training ride today. After a 10 minute warm up at a cadence of 95-100 rpm, I gear the bike so that I can only produce a cadence of 80-85 rpm. Probably more important than the cadence itself, though, is that I ensure there's a fairly intense amount of torque on my legs. I held this for 5 minutes and then recovered for 5 minutes at a higher cadence/lower torque and then repeated 5 times for a total of 30 minutes of strength intervals.
This is a good workout, though as I've said before I use it cautiously as it carries with it the danger of stressing and/or injuring tendons and joints and such. But used wisely, it's the best way I know to produce the kind of strength that results in more speed on the bike over time.
I came in at an average speed of 19.0 mph, which is good for me, and beat my last time on this particular ride by 16 seconds. That wasn't a goal today, but it was a nice surprise.
Then, I had to use the bike to commute as well today because my wife and daughter needed both of our cars. So by the end of the day I ended up getting in another 11 miles at a very mellow pace which has left my legs feeling good and recovered for the day.
Not sure if I'll be able to ride tomorrow. If I do, it'll be mellow as I'm scheduled to ride 30 miles per day for five days in a row next week as part of my training for The Ride Across Minnesota. I really enjoyed jogging earlier this year, but I must say that it feels so good to be back on the bike in a big way. I just LOVE my bicycle and I love God even more for the gift of this healthy toy!
Hope you all had a good day, God bless!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Took a short ride this morning, about 15.6 miles, and held back out of concern for re-injuring my Achilles. However, I learned last year that if done right, a brisk ride can actually promote the healing process so I pushed the pace but mainly with a high cadence and low torque. Came in at an average speed of 17.2 mph, so not too fast but fast enough to promote healing--I hope. Worked last year when the injury was much worse, so hopefully it will work again this year.
Make it a great day! God bless.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I took two days off the bike, actually three. The first was planned, the second ended up being a very full day and I simply ran out of sunlight, and the third was also planned as it's my weekly day off. I'll take what life give me with a smile and gratefulness to the Lord, but I don't like being off the bike three days.
Anyhow, back on the bike today just for some mellow around town kind of riding because I didn't have time for a more rigorous workout. Fine with me as the wind was up over 20 mph today! So I got in about 12 miles or so, loosened up the muscles a bit, and look forward to a more rigorous ride in the morning before a very long day of work. I'll probably do a 15-20 mile cadence workout of some sort, not sure, but can't wait!
Happy riding, and make it a great evening!
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Well I had a good week of TRAM training, better than I expected given the fact that I focused on jogging rather than cycling for most of the year. Today I plan to rest, although if I'm in the mood later, I may take a short and mellow ride around the neighborhood, and then tomorrow I plan to take a brief recovery level ride, around 14-15 mph kind of thing.
The original plan was to take the next two weeks to work on general fitness and cycling skills, followed by another week of TRAM training in which I take five 30-mile rides, five days in a row, at or around race pace. However, two things have led me to modify the plan.
First, I can't give that much time to cycling three weeks from now but I can in two weeks, so I plan to take this next week to recover and train and then take these five rides the following week, so June 4-8.
Second, I aggravated my Achilles again, though not nearly so bad as last year, and thus need to be careful and ensure that I don't seriously injure it. I don't want to go through that for a third time. So we'll see how I feel on June 4 but as of now I'm planning to use that week just to enjoy cycling and to develop endurance rather than pushing as hard as I can day after day. I may push the pace one or two, or maybe even three days, but I think it'll be best to work in some mellower days so as to protect my foot.
But for now, it's all about rest and recovery! I feel great today, and actually want to ride again, but it's best to rest so I will. Hope you all have a great day!
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