Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Riding, Giving, and Getting it all Back

What more can you ask for in a title...

Check out a local event happening on Saturday May 2nd for those in the Bay Area called "Ales and Trails"; benefiting IMBA so really for us mtber's out there its just giving back to yourself.

Guided rides, beer, BBQ, demoing, plenty of great sponsors, Dave Wiens the Leadville 100 legend will be there to provide tips and tricks on how to compete.

Plenty of swag with the registration fee; along with cool gear from Ergon, WTB, Smith Optics (my endorsed eyewear on the trail), Marin bikes, the crew from Paradigm Cycles in San Anselmo will be on hand (chance to talk tune-ups with some of the best in biz), and again all going to good cause "us the mountain bikers".

For those who haven't been to past events; it is well worth the price of admission; not just for the goodies; but the guided rides; advice given; and I can't say this again the proceeds go to the trails.

Thanks go out to the folks at HILRIDE for putting it together.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Putting myself to the test

A little void recently in the blogsphere for me; but it was for a good cause; been training and put to test some thoughts on warming up before a ride.

I know that this question has been posed before "How do you warm up before a ride"; there is plenty of information on the web; there is a structured warm-up that applies to TT and short criteriums; but I've had the question asked of me gave my opinion on what I thought the person should do'. Still I wanted to see how I felt and if my endurance was really different.

I planned for an hour ride on three separate days; the ride would be a high cadence and wattage output on flats/rolling hills; I wanted to hit and maintain my Lactate Threshold (LT) through out the ride.

So here was the plan; first ride I would do both an active/isolated stretch followed by a spin on the trainer for 20 minutes, second ride just stretch, third ride I would do cold with a slow start up. I wanted to gauge my performance and see what worked and what doesn't.

The first warm up I did a set of active stretches for about 10 minutes followed by a 20 minutes on the trainer which is considered to be a endurance/steadystate (SS) warm-up

10 minutes Tempo, 75-85rpm

· 1 minutes Recovery

· 4 minutes ramping SteadyState 90-95rpm at or just below lactate threshold

· 30 seconds Recovery

· 2 minutes PowerIntervals, 105rpm

· 30 seconds Recovery

· 2 minutes PowerIntervals, 105rpm

I started the ride at around 80rpm; and quickly got up to 95rpm and maintained around 95-105rpm a around 300W of output. Legs felt good; there was a burn after the warm-up to be expected; but I didn't feel fatigue nor any soreness in my legs during the ride. Went hard for about an hour; again rolling hills and flat; after I finished the ride; stretched; legs felt good. Next morning; no residual. More importantly I didn't feel fatigue in the legs starting up; nor did I feel that they gave out during the ride; and I did close to 25 miles.

I gave it a day in between; did my stretches; all active isolated; got on the bike and started down the road; same route. Legs felt cold; which was to be expected; I didn't get as much as I wanted out of the ride as the first time; did closer to 21 - 22 miles. Legs felt fatigued the next day though; which became a recovery day.

Third ride; no stretch; cold ride; started slow; low cadence; slow peddle; did some single leg warm ups to get loose. Definitely a completely different ride then the other two; more time taken to warm up the legs; didn't get as much out of them; as the hour was winding down; my legs were finally feeling good. Not as much fatigue the next day though; but I did closer to 20 miles; and didn't get as much wattage out of the legs much closer to 250 - 260; big drop.

This type of interval I found is great for short rides; preparing for crits or TTs; on longer rides (2h>); probably not an issue as you don't want to fatigue the legs early on.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dog Days of Winter

Are we at that point in winter where much of the country is either in a deep freeze, snowed in, or being poured on. Is it the equivalent to those 100+, humid days of summer when you don't dare more just to stay cool?

Most of us hunker down this time of year; holidays are over, up to are knees at our work, and looking forward to the sunshine of spring. Its also the time when many lose that inspiration to work out, either to cold or wet to make it to the gym, go out for that ride or run, and possibly neglecting our calorie intake.

Motivation comes in many forms; I've mentioned in the past; circling those race dates, keeping a journal of the progress made in training, or taking a new fitness class that jogs that muscle memory and maybe gets things kick started.

As for the nutrition factor; if there is plans to compete this season; you should be in a build phase. Drinking at least 8 - 12 glasses of water a day; the winter can just as dry if not more then the summer; this also curbs the appetite. Maintain a food journal; right now whole foods should comprise the majority of your diet; greens, whole grains, plenty of citrus available in the winter, and water don't forget water. As for gels, bars, and energy drinks, take this time to see what works and taste right for you; time to experiment; better to find out now that something isn't doing it versus at mile 50 of a race.

As for me; work consumes much of my time; I work on devoting at least 30 minutes a day for working on a muscle group; core, upper, legs. I try and keep a realistic schedule, keeping to my goals, spend as much time on the bike either on the road or trainer. My bike time is also broken up into intervals; either hills, sprints, and playing in the mud on my mountain bike.

I'm also testing new components, gear, and shoes; again taking advantage of this time.

Took in stage one of the Tour of California in Santa Rosa; got poured on; didn't envy the riders; rang the cow bell, and talked with a bunch of cycling folks on the races for the year which excited me more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Put Some Tape on It

In early December I developed tendinitis in my left Achilles tendon; leaving me on the shelf from running for almost two weeks. The first few runs and rides after I felt that it had healed were light; along with some extensive stretching and post icing ritual that followed.

I started to think what I could do to protect the tendon, maintain range of motion, along with continue with my training. I then recalled seeing a couple runners at the Beijing Olympics wearing tape on their knees and running along the back of the calf muscle; the light bulb went off and I realized this is what I was looking for.

Was it duct tape, normal athletic tape....a few searches later I figured out it was a special adhesive called Kinesio Tex Tape. This tape pulls up the skin slightly, increases circulation to the injured area, and best of all no limit to your range of motion.

You can find a roll of the tape in a number of colors; is water proof; and can last up to five days. I've started to use it on both the Achilles and under the patella with favorable results; I do recommend following the guidelines on the Kinesio website on how to apply the tape.

Runnerworld in the February issue had a small writeup about the tape and how to apply it to help with various injuries. The video below is a step through of how you apply it to assist with the Achilles tendon.

Source: Runnersworld

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kicking into gear

The last week has been focused on getting time on the bike, interval training, running for cross training, along with core workout three times a week...oh and work let's not forget that.

My time on the bike has been divided between both road and mountain; mostly road right now as I work on hills and build up aerobic strength and build up endurance. This past weekend I did a run which included hills and plenty of them. I feel good; a little sore on Sunday; but overall I felt like I could continue after I finished a run.

During one of the rides I had an interesting conversation about how much stretching I do, when I do it, and has it helped. I can say this; if it weren't for stretching and pilates I wouldn't have half the riding ability I do today.

I hear it so often; no time to stretch after working out, to sore(??), will do it when I get home..So why stretch; well one it improves flexibility, thus improving muscle balance, which minimizes chance of injury and reduces soreness to muscles after training.

My own experience as an athlete was set aside 20 minutes per day usually morning to stretch along with post workout stretch. Now usually this stretching had me holding a stretch between 30 seconds to a minute; with the thought that the stretch (static) was doing what it was meant to do; lengthen the muscle. There would be days I the soreness in my muscles would increase after the stretch; but I always thought that's what is meant to happen.

I started looking around and seeing what other trainers, coaches, and athletes were doing in terms of stretches; and in some cases seeing quicker gains on others then I was witnessing on myself. I saw them working with stretching ropes and doing slow motion sprints with leg kick holding for very short periods of time, releasing, then repeating 10 to 12 times. This observation would be my introduction to a form of stretching called active isolated stretching (AIS); and I spoke to other athletes; their endorsement and the improvements notices; I knew this was the change I was looking for in my routine.

Unlike the traditional static stretching routines where one eases into a position and holds it for a period time the reflex causes the muscles tremble as it fights the stretch which invites injury to the muscle. While this type of stretching is better then no stretching it has its limitations; since the muscle has a stretch "reflex" that is activated after a rapid movement or a short period after the stretch

AIS has a different take or thought process on how to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of trauma on the muscle by putting the body
into best anatomical position both to maximize an isolated stretch and reduce the chance of injury. You hold each position for only two to three seconds; then you return to the start position and relax.

The stretch is repeated eight to 12 times for optimal results. The benefit of repetitions is to increase blood flow oxygen, and nutrition to the muscle tissues. In effect, AIS is a warm-up in itself.

While stretching is not the quick answer to injury problems; it is recommended athletes stretch prior to training to prepare the muscles (AIS); and post training gentle stretching to regain any flexibility lost during hard exercises and muscle fatigue.

As runners, cyclist, and other endurance athletes get older; they lose range of motion. Stretching is the best method to maintain flexibility.

I recommend doing the exercises below; repeating the movements up to 12 times.

Single Leg Pelvis Tilt
Muscles stretched: low back and gluteus maximus

Lie on back with legs straight. Flex the exercising knee and pull it toward chest by contraction of hip flexor and abdominal muscles. Place hands behind thigh to prevent pressure on knee and provide assistance.

Straight leg hamstring
Muscles stretched: hamstrings

Lie on back with legs straight. Slowly lift one leg using quadriceps (front of thigh). Assist with rope at end of movement. Note: if you have a history of back injury, bend the non-exercising leg to stabilise the spine.

Muscles stretched: gluteus mediusminimus, lateral hip, piriformis

Lie on back with legs straight. Flex left knee at 90 degree and left and place rope around mid-foot, clasping rope with opposite hand. Use left hand to stabilize thigh by clasping at knee. Contract abdomen and hip adductors to lift knee towards opposite shoulder. Assist with rope and outer hand.

Muscles stretched: external rotators of hip including piriformis, tensor fascia latae, and iliotibial band

Lie on back with left leg moved inward across center line, foot pointed inward. Wrap rope around arch of right foot. With knee straight, contract quadriceps, upper hip, and abdomens to (1) lift leg toward chest (see pic) and (2) bring leg across hips.

Muscles stretched: rectus femoris

Lie on left side and bring both knees to chest. With the left hand grasp foot from outside. With right hand, grasp right ankle and extend right thigh back by contracting buttocks and hamstrings and, assisting with hand, heel should press into buttocks.

Hip Flexor
Muscles stretched: rectus femoris

Kneel down on left knee (place pillow or cushion under same knee). Moving forward onto flexed front leg (right) keep pelvis and back stable by contracting the abdomen. As you move forward, contract buttocks and hamstrings to flex left heel to left buttock. Assist stretch with one or both hands, bringing heel to buttock as flexibility allows.

Adductors (long)
Muscles stretched:long adductors, longus, magnus, gracilis

Lie on back with legs extended and wrap rope around arch of left foot. Point left foot inward and lift leg to side by contracting outer thigh and hip muscles. Assist with rope, pulling outward.
Adductors (short)
Muscles stretched: short adductors, pectinius, adductor brevis, proximal and long adductors

Sit with soles of feet placed together. Contract outside of hips, spreading thighs as far as possible. Use arms between knees to assist stretch at end of movement.

Achilles tendon/soleus
Muscles stretched: lower and deep calf including Achilles tendon

Sit with right leg fully straight and left knee bent at 90 degrees. Wrap hands around balls of foot. Lift toes toward body, contracting shin muscles and assisting with pull from hands.

Upper Calf
Muscles stretched: gastrocnemius

Sit with legs fully extended and about six inches apart. Loop rope around the ball of left foot. Straighten left knee and pull toes towards you by contracting shin muscles. Assist with rope. For deeper stretch, lean forward at trunk and allow foot to leave floor when pulled.

Source: Trinity College Dublin Athletic Club