Thursday, May 27, 2010
Yesterday I shared some of the exercises I do on "speed days" and today I'd like to share some of the ones I do on "strength days."
1. Big Chain Ring: pick a course with rolling hills and stay in the big chain ring throughout the duration of the ride. The goal is to build strength in your legs so push yourself to turn a bigger gear than you think you can, remember that average speed does not matter, and strive to come home with wobbly legs!
2. Moderate Hills: pick a course with rolling hills and stay seated throughout the climbs keeping your cadence at 70 or above.
3. Long Hills: pick a course with longer hills on it and stay mostly seated through the climbs keeping your cadence at 60 or above.
4. Steep Hills: pick a course with steep hills of 8% or greater that take 3-5 minutes to climb. You may want or need to do repeats on the same hill. Ride both in and out of the saddle keeping your cadence at 50 or higher.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Several days ago I blogged about my on-the-bike training plan for my double century. Today I want to share some of the exercises I do on my "speed days" and then tomorrow I'll share some of the exercises I do on "strength days."
1. Maximum Cadence: on a flat or slightly downhill part of the course, increase your cadence as high as you can without bouncing and then hold if for 1-3 minutes. Recover for at least 3 minutes and then repeat 3-5 times.
2. Isolated Leg: on a flat or slightly downhill part of the course, do 90% or more of the work with just one of your legs for 2.5 minutes and then switch legs for 2.5 minutes. Spin with a relatively high cadence and pay close attention to “dead spots” in your spinning technique. Recover for 2-3 minutes and then repeat 3-5 times.
3. Cornering: pick a course with low traffic, or someplace like Elm Creek, and focus on your cornering technique. Experiment with different angles of approach, body leaning, bike leaning, leg leaning, and speed. Include one or two sprint efforts into and out of a corner.
4. Form Sprints: early in a ride, do 6-10 sprints. Each sprint should last only 15 seconds, 10 out of the saddle and 5 in the saddle. The focus of this workout is form and not power so pay more attention position and technique than intensity.
5. Sprint Intervals: within an aerobic ride include several 15 second sprints. It may be best to pre-designate signs or what have you along the route so that “when” you sprint is not left to chance or feeling. Employ all of the technique developed in SP4 workouts but now ramp up the intensity to maximum. Be sure to include at least 5 minutes of recovery between efforts.
6. Power Jumps: on a mostly flat course, do 3-5 sets of 5 jumps. A jump is 10-12 turns of the crank (each leg) at a high cadence. Recover for 1 minute between each effort and 5 minutes between sets.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Over the last few days I've been writing about my double century training plan and so far I've covered (1) the on-the-bike plan, (2) the nutrition plan, and (3) the rest plan. Today I'd like to cover the fourth and final part of my plan, namely, growing in mental toughness. Here are the five things I have articulated this to mean:
1. Set Good Goals: The idea here is to set goals that are at once realistic but challenging. This combination of "I can do this but it's going to be hard" tends to help the mind focus, plan, and execute well.
2. Visualize the Ride: At least once per week I plan to sit or lay down in a quiet place, close my eyes, and visualize the ride as thoroughly and vividly as I can. I will think through the days before the ride, the morning of the ride, the drive to the start, the preparation before the start, the start itself, the first 30 minutes, the rest stops, potential problems such as flat tires or wrecks, how to handle high and low energy moments, how to push through pain and fatigue, and crossing the finish line. I have practiced visualization for about 10 years now, at least for bigger and more challenging events, and I have found that it enhances performance and the mental ability to manage the ride well. As the old saying goes, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." So I strive to prepare mentally as well as I can.
3. Strengthen Mental Skills on Training Rides: I don't only visualize the big ride itself but I also use my weekly endurance rides to practice the art. I set attainable goals, visualize achieving those goals, and then strive to execute the plan on the day of the ride. This practice helps me identify mental strengths and weaknesses and plan to address both.
4. Stick to the Plan: Having set good goals, visualized well, and strengthened both my plan and mental toughness on training rides, I now apply all of these things to their fullest and execute on the big day. I strive to enjoy the highs, deal with the lows, push through the pain and achieve my goals. I set my mind toward success and I don’t let circumstances determine whether or not I do, except when they're extraordinary and beyond my control (e.g., a major mechanical breakdown or a serious injury). When problems arise during the ride I try not to be discouraged but rather set my mind to finding solutions. The visualization exercises help with this quite a bit because I have already thought through most of the problems that could arise and how to deal with them. This helps me to remain calm and focused in the moment and to maintain the attitude that I will not quit unless I absolutely must.
5. Push through the Pain and Fatigue: I have been riding for over ten years now and I've discovered that all the planning in the world doesn't prepare a person to deal with the unusual pain and fatigue of pushing beyond one's previous limits. But what separates the men from the boys, if you will, is the ability to stretch toward a goal despite the difficulties involved. So again, I try very hard to make up my mind that I will succeed, that I will eventually get a second or third or fourth wind, and that I must not quite no matter what! I often think to myself, "Slow down if you must, rest if you must, but do not quit! I may not get there as fast as others but I will get there if I don't give up."
Well, there's my plan for developing and maintaining mental toughness. Over the next few days I will go back now and add details to some of what I've written and then I'll close this series of blogs by posting my plan summary.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I've been doing quite a bit of reading about doing a double century and I've come to see that there are four major areas which must be given attention: on-the-bike training, nutrition, rest, and mental toughness. I've already blogged about the first two aspects over the last two days so today I'll share what I'm thinking about rest.
I have worked rest into my training plan in three specific ways:
1. Days Off: I have planned to take three days off the bike each week and I will work hard not to exercise or do anything strenuous on these days simply because the body needs time to rebuild itself in order to grow.
2. Recovery Rides: I have planned for two of these rides each week on which I will take it easy, that is, I will not climb or go into the big chain ring or sprint at all. I envision these days as active recovery days which the body needs to grow stronger.
3. Sleep: I don't understand the science of it but everything I've read has emphasized how important sleep is to training. The body does some pretty amazing stuff while we're catching Zs so I've planned to get 8 hours sleep per night and also to nap or at least rest with my eyes closed for 30-90 minutes after each long or strenuous ride. It turns out that rest, especially post-ride rest, releases critical chemicals into our bodies that help us heal and grow stronger.
So, at the end of the day I have come to envision sleep as a vital part of my training plan.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Yesterday I blogged about my on-the-bike training plan for my up-coming double century (200 miles in one day) and today I'd like to say just a few words about my nutrition plan.
First, I want to acknowledge the obvious: good nutrition over time is just as important as developing speed, strength, and endurance on the bike. In fact, the latter things are totally dependent on the former. The body simply must have the stored fuel necessary for engaging in aerobic activity for a number of hours, in this case 13-14 hours! Wow, I can't believe I'm going to be on my bike for that long!
Second, good nutrition during the ride is also crucially important. When a rider fails to fuel well throughout the ride he or she experiences what we call "bonking," that is, completely running out of energy and the ability to move the bike forward. I've been there before and believe me it's not fun. The body is like a car in some ways: if you don't give it fuel it runs out of gas.
So with these things in mind my nutrition plan is as follows:
1. Maintain a normal healthy diet packed with fruits and veggies, focusing especially on storing up complex carbs, protein, and the good sugars fruit provides.
2. I take a couple of supplements each day: whey protein (chocolate is my favorite!), a series of GNC vitamins for active men, and a creatine smoothie for post-ride recovery.
3. On the bike, I drink every 15 minutes and consume one full bottle of liquid every hour. My drink of choice is Gatorade. Further, I eat 1/2 of an energy bar or its equivalent every half hour and more if I'm feeling hungry, however, that rarely happens.
I have found that when I am very disciplined about all three of these aspects of nutrition, I do not "bonk" on the bike. I might get tired from time to time but I'm always able to push through. But when I compromise I "bonk" and as I said that's not fun. I've actually had to have my wife come pick me up before because I literally ran out of gas! Not a good feeling.
So I happily give as much attention to my eating habits as to my on-the-bike strengths and skills, and hopefully this will produce a good day and a happy camper on June 19!
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