Monday, November 30, 2009

Think "specificity" when a weather advisory cancels your workout.

So, I was planning on doing the River Ride on Saturday, and was really looking forward to being aggressive and mixing it up, but the weather did not cooperate. 20-30 mph wind with gusts over 40. Now, I like riding in the wind as much as the next bruiser, but I do not go out training when there is a weather advisory in effect.


End of discussion.

Whaaaah! Booooohoohoo!!!

Now what?

Well, after another near perfect week of training, adding sets and weight in the gym, getting out on the road for some solid threshold work and completing a power profile and MAP test, I decided some race specific work on the rollers would be the ticket. I am considered an endurance racer at the track so I want to work on some race specific endurance. And what do we do in a mass start track endurance race? We go 28-32 mph for 10-30 minutes and sprint at 40 mph. There are many variations on this theme but that is the base we need to have.

So I get on the rollers and crank it up to 30 mph with my watts just below threshold and hold it for ten minutes accelerating to 40 mph at the end. With the low resistance of the rollers it feels like motorpacing or drafting in the pack and even though the sprint wattage numbers are not nearly as big as a live sprint, the effort to bear down and squeeze out that 140 rpm at the end is the same. And to do it repeatedly in my garage with that kind of focus is priceless!

I also cranked out 5 sets of alternative dumbbell exercises to mix it up, including one set of dead lifts. And oooooh, my hammies are barking! Alright, enough trade secrets for one night. Ride fast and swerve!

Monday, November 16, 2009

recovery week

So I am gonna let you in on a little secret. It is in all of the literature but is the most overlooked (or flat out ignored) aspect of training to race at a high level. It is the recovery week. I can't figure why it's so hard to back off and let the body heal itself to come back stronger after a period of hard training. I can't tell you how many times I've heard some jackass proclaim on a group ride that they are just sitting on because they are in a recovery week or on a recovery ride. WRONG! Recovery rides are noodling along for 45-90 minutes on the small ring at 12 MPH. Hello? Did you catch my drift? Cruising along at 18 MPH is NOT a 12 MPH recovery pace.

Anyway, some programs do three weeks hard and one week easy, or two weeks hard and one week easy, or my favorite (especially in the off season), six weeks build with one week easy. What is the use of doing everything right on schedule for six weeks including all of the lifestyle sacrifices we make only to skip the one thing that will make you the fastest...RECOVERY??? Maybe we need to drop the term recovery and use supercompnsation in it's place. "I can't make the group hammerfest tonight because I am supercompensating." It sounds like you are really doing something special. And you are. You do a hard block of training and then you rest. While you are resting your body is coming back stronger than when you started the last block. It's the most basic law of progressive overload. Why interfere? You think your DNA is the exception to the rule? I think not.

So following are my guidelines for my own supercompensation periods...

1. Start by taking a day completely off. No work, no training, period.
2. Continue strength training (you are cross training right?), but only do two days on the current weight and repetition schedule, and only one set of each exercise. This is to keep those hard earned neural pathways turned on.
3. Pay strict adherence to a well balanced diet with a small but consistent calorie deficit. This is a weight maintenance week!
4. 7-10 hours of sleep every night. This is true in all training periods, year round, but is easy to ignore. So I'm reminding you again.
5. Do at least three days of easy spinning for 45-90 minutes at 12 MPH with some granny gear cadence drills of 6x1 minute at 120-140 RPM thrown in to keep those hard earned neural pathways turned on.
6. End the week with a power profile test and record your body measurements.
7. Learn a new skill or do some homework that will help you accomplish your goals for next year. I am learning how to use a computrainer to do MAP testing and torture my friends and clients.

Okay, off to bed I go. Toodle pip and cheerio. Ride fast and swerve!

Thursday, November 12, 2009, what do YOU want to do?

This season was an experiment to see what would happen if I tried to be two completely different types of racer in one year. The first half was an ultra-endurance road racing season which culminated in a 272 miles effort at the Davis 24 Hour Challenge on May 2-3. I did some HUGE solo rides and some randonnées in the six months preparing for that. The biggest question, with an eye to the Furnace Creek 508, was could I ride through the night without going mental. The answer is yes, so there is some unfinished business there, with the possibility of the 508 in 2014. The second half of the season was dedicated to racing on the track with the focus being on becoming an all around omnium racer. I had some respectable rides in both disciplines, but not one ride was totally satisfying. I never really found my legs on the ultra rides and then I never got out from under the fatigue of the long stuff when it came time to go fast at the track. But it was a calculated risk and I never embarrassed myself, so I must rate the season a success. Especially considering the great support I received and the friendships that developed over the course of a looooong year. Training began on October 20, ended on September 18, and included 21 race days.

Somewhere over the course of the summer I decided that I would really like to give track racing a try. It was probably in the Hellyer tent at Alpenrose that I knew for sure that the next few seasons would have a single focus. After nine years of dabbling in many different kinds of racing I am dedicating all available resources to pedalling fast and turning left.

So what, specifically, does that mean as it relates to training? Well, for starters, we need to define the characteristics of the races we want to do. I like the idea of becoming a well rounded track racer that can do well in the omnium format. The typical races at an omnium are the time trials, the mass starts, and the sprint events.

The time trials consist of the flying 200m, the flying lap, the 500m 750m or kilo from a standing start, and the 2K 3K or 4K Pursuit also from a standing start. All of these require us to make a big acceleration and then hold on for dear life. Some winning riders will get up to speed then hold a consistent pace for the remainder of the race while others will consistently accelerate all the way to the finish.

The mass starts are the miss and out, the scratch race, and the points race. In the miss and out we sprint every one or two laps until we are one of the last three standing and then we sprint again for the podium spots. The scratch race is like a criterium, they specify the number of laps and the first one across the line on the final lap is the winner. The points race is the same as a scratch race except every few laps we sprint for points (4,3,2,1) and the rider that collects the most points throughout the race wins. The mass starts can last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.

The sprint events are the match sprint and the keirin. The match sprint is a tournament where 2-4 riders race at a time in heats until the last two standing race for the win. The keirin is also raced in heats but in groups of six with the final race competing for the top six places. The match sprints are two or three laps from a standing start and the keirin is motor paced for 5-10 laps until the final 500m when the motor pulls off, signaling the mad dash to the end.

So basically what we need is a well developed aerobic system, steady power at VO2max, a highly repeatable anaerobic capacity, and a vicious sprint...all with one gear and no brakes. So for me that means I will spin a 96 inch gear (50x14) at 28 to 32 mph for many minutes with a cadence in the 100-110 range. For power at VO2 max I want to do the same but with my nose in the wind for 2-8 minutes. The anaerobic capacity efforts are 20 seconds to two minutes at 32-36 mph and the rider who can do 10-20 in an evening gets to dish the pain. And finally the vicious sprint should top out around 40 mph at a cadence of about 140 rpm. And if that's not enough to think about we will want to do all of this madness for 3-5 days in a row on consecutive weekends. It's gonna be a fun year! Until next time, ride fast and swerve!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Winter Training...a week in the life

I've been asked several times recently what it is we are trying to do with our training this time of year. The more I think about it the more I realize that training to race at the national level is as much about lifestyle management as it is about repeating race winning moves. It's about all of the little decisions we make on an hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year basis. What I am trying to do (and why I charge 300 bucks a month for coaching) is integrate several different systems, each with it's own set of rules, unspoken truths, and limitations. A book could be written, and maybe I should do a separate post, about each. These systems include but are not limited to:

1. social network - family, friends, and colleagues
2. bio energetics
3. bio mechanics
4. health, nutrition, and hygiene
5. bicycle equipment and maintenance
6. training tactics and logistics
7. race day tactics and logistics

So with all of that in mind, following is a typical week for this time of year...

Monday - endurance ride and strength training, this is my work at home day so I have been cooking beans and rice and chicken for the week, in addition to maintaining our equipment

Tuesday - recovery ride to the shop, recovery ride home

Wednesday - recovery ride to the shop, recovery ride home, strength training with cadence drills on the rollers

Thursday - morning bike training of jumps and 2x20:00 sweet spot intervals on the way to the shop, recovery ride home

Friday - recovery ride to the shop, recovery ride home, and strength training with cadence drills on the rollers

Saturday - River Ride, hill ride, or mixed intervals and no matter what the format several sprints, then free play time from about 2PM on...

Sunday - The Day of Rest - Farmers Market and quality time with the family - lately Dillon and I have been working on bunnyhopping our BMX bikes, it's an active lifestyle day but no training or commuting

Our focus is on the three cycling basics - endurance, force, and speed skill. We will continue this early winter phase through the holidays, then change it up the first of the year adding some threshold and VO2 max work. Everything we do is specifically geared toward a successful 2010 track racing season.

This time of year recovery is key. We are always recovering to 100%. We are always avoiding illness. We are always sleeping 7-10 hours per night. We are always fine tuning our diet and eating mostly nutritious food. We count calories and percentages of macro nutrients six days a week. And there is absolutely no stacking workouts or block training.

Alrighty then, that's it for now. Until next time, ride fast and swerve!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Winter Training Day 1

Oh my God what a beautiful day to officially start winter training for 2010! On the plate today was 3-4 hours at a good solid endurance pace. So I cued up Verdi's Otello (yes for you Shakespeare scholars it is missing an "h"...maybe you can tell me why?) and headed out to do a quick warm-up then 3 hours, with each hour being 10 watts harder than the previous. At the start of the first hour I dialed up 190 watts with a nice steady 95ish cadence and waited for the heart rate to settle. After about 20 minutes, when everything seemed to be running well, I began to razor it up to the two hour mark and then I dumped it into the 50x14 and proceeded to hold on for dear life. You can see the watts and speed hold steady and then begin to decline while the heart rate steadily drifted up up up until I was almost at threshold heart rate for the final 10 minutes. This time of year that cardiac drift is the marker I like to watch. Once I can ramp the watts all the way to the end AND have my heart rate stay parallel to the effort, then I know I am ready for hard tempo intervals and some sweet spot training.

In the evening was weight training. I am up to two sets of 12 squats with 185 lbs. I was a little worried that today's workout would make the gym work difficult but I was pleasantly surprised to find this not to be the case. Right now I'm doing squats, incline pull-ups, push-ups, back extensions and crunches...2 sets of 12-20 reps of each and really concentrating on form. In and out in about an hour then off to the hot tub! Tomorrow is a working rest day with 90 minutes of commuting at 12 mph. Hopefully I'll be back to full strength for another hard workout on Thursday, in addition to weights on Wednesday and Friday. Until then, ride fast and swerve!