Sunday, 26 October 2008
Friday, 24 October 2008
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Maximal short distance Time Trial speed is not performed in a triathlon, however the greater this speed is the easier it will be to sustain triathlon speed, and the greater the possible triathlon speed will be. If you can ride at 30mph over a 50 mile TT (I wish) then I think it would be a safe bet to say that 23, 24 or 25mph (even over a longer distance) would feel quite comfortable. I think Michael Hutchinson, Kevin Dawson et al would ride a pretty quick IM bike leg!
How to improve bike speed
Increase power. Power increase will result if force or/ and cadence is increased. Unless you are riding at an unusually low cadence, then only small tweeks to your riding cadence/ style will be possible. It is probably unrealistic that we will be comfortable changing from 90rpm to 115rpm. It is also unrealistic that many of us can ride 5 + hours at 115rpm, therefore increased power will only occur if you can increase the force exerted on the pedals, ie push a bigger gear. Lance Armstrong had a high revolution pedalling style, but his gears were not that small. Lance however didn't pedal at this rate for 5+ hours. Pedalling bigger gears requires more leg strength. It is here where the water becomes murky. Chris Hoy has incredible leg strength, but I don’t think I’d pick him to ride in my relay team over IM distance. Chris’s strength is generated through his highly developed fast twitch muscle fibres, powered by his CP and Anaerobic Lactic Acid energy system’s, maximal capacity around 2 minutes. We still need more leg strength but we must be able to supply enough oxygen to the working muscles, and fuel the muscles with a mixture of glucose and fat. Wouldn’t it be great to be comfortable pushing the 53 x 14 all day long (without a tail wind) some people are? How can they? Well they have the muscular strength to push that gear, and they have the carburettor to deliver sufficient oxygen, and a highly tuned fuel supply that can utilise more fat than glucose. Now this is where the various training philosophies come into play. Gordo Byrn and Mark Allen stress the importance of “doing your time” in the low intensity training zones to develop the cardio-respiratory system. Without this in place addressing leg strength will be a little like putting a 4L V12 engine in a car and surrounding it with a Fiat Panda carburettor. Or for a sports specific example, putting Mariusz Pudzianowski on a Cervelo, plenty of leg strength here. So yes things are complicated, but here is why I think improving leg strength is the way forward this winter.
For Myself, and many of my friends aerobic conditioning is already high. We have been completing in triathlon for many years, before that we might have been swimmers, runners or cyclists. Our heart is well developed (how much lower will your Resting Heart Rate go, a good sign of left ventricle adaptation) Capilliarisation of the leg muscles is high, (yes it can be improved, but this also occurs through higher intensity training). In addition our aerobic condition is being further developed through every cycle, swim and run work out. My thoughts are that we can comfortably complete long easy rides, so a winter made up entirely of this type of riding will only consolidate this type of riding. It will make us great at riding at 16, 17 and 18 mph average, (remember its flat on these here Selby roads) but it will not address the 21, 22 and 23mph average that we desire on race day. When we then want to start riding faster in April/May/June we are sort of starting again on a different type of cycling. To use another simple analogy, a 100m sprinter will not spend the whole winter training at 75% his maximum speed and then come March start his 100% speed sessions.
How are we going to increase Leg Strength?
Start on a leg weights programme where the aim is to increase overall leg strength. I would include Squats (numerous variations), Leg Extension, Hamstring Curl (double and single leg), Lunges, Leg Press, Straight leg lifts and Calf raise. Choose 5 exercises, 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, progressing the weight, 1 session per week. Remember we are not trying to complete with Mariusz!! Ride once a week over geared. This is often likened to weight training on a bike, very specific. Ride a gear where cadence drops to 50 to 60rpm. Take it easy, and look after your knees, as you feel more comfortable increase the riding time. On false flats and gradual climbs resist the urge to change up a gear, instead accept a slightly slower cadence and “push the gears over the climb, really feeling the pedal stroke” Once a fortnight, complete an interval session 30 seconds to 5 minutes (vary duration) aiming to go hard/anaerobic, make sure the rest is at least equal (up to double) to the work interval. This is gonna be hard work, do it on the turbo, a short sharp session, now that sounds good. Once every 3 weeks insert a longer interval 10 to 45 minutes, could be during a long ride or you could finish the ride by going hard. The intensity is not ballistic, but should be hard, somewhere around your 50 mile TT pace.
When I re-read this last paragraph the time on the bike sounds pretty intense. However I think the key is to recognise that the higher intensity riding is not during every session, but that it is mixed into the steady state aerobic riding. Riding over geared, whilst tougher on the legs may actually lower your heart rate.
Historically, Winter riding has been about building a base, long, slow steady pedalling. Hang on a minute, isn’t it cold, wet and windy, with not much day light, and we want to ride long and slow? Are we completely mad? My good buddy and very good Triathlon Coach Ben Bigglestone writes a good article on an alternative training emphasis. When spring arrives, we can change the emphasis, making the training “duration specific” to the race distance.
I think there are additional benefits from gaining leg strength. Running up hill requires additional leg strength. Improving the conditioning of the major leg muscles helps to protect your knee and hip joints. Swimming 4000m in a 25m pool will require 120 pushes off the wall (good training in itself). If you plan to run or bike latter that same day a little extra leg strength may just lessen the impact of the swim turns. Finally, having a bit more leg strength may even win you a few more village sign post sprints!!
A few other points that may make you think about your current cycle training style. Riding in the hills is great, but what do you do when you descend. Most cyclists I know go too hard up the hill, heart rate 160bpm + (assuming max is approx 190bpm), then think “glad that’s over” and free wheel down the other side, Heart rate plummets to 120bpm. You may have sat in the saddle for 3 hours, but how many hours did you pedal for? Will you free wheel for as long in your race? On the flat this Yo Yo style riding is not evident; if you are out for 3 hours you’ve probably pedalled for 3 hours. This winter don’t be lazy on the descents, ride over the top of the hill and ride down the other side. Do you ride in a big group? If “Mr Type A” personality sits on the front for the whole ride he will get a great training effect, will you get the same effect 6 wheels back? There’s no group when you are riding your race (theoretically, if there is they are cheating!). Get on the front, or split into smaller groups where you can all do some work.
I am convinced that for many good age group athletes doing the same sort of riding every winter will just reinforce what you can already do. Don’t get me wrong I will not be nuking myself all through the winter, but I am going to make the most of the time on my bike. I don’t want to surface in March having just maintained my current cycling level, I want to feel stronger and thus I hope faster. There’s not much point in being able to run a sub 3 hour marathon, if after the IM bike you’re legs are wasted and you can hardly hold onto 9 minute mile pace.
Monday, 20 October 2008
“to know and not to use is not yet to know”
This week I have been looking at my training and racing aims, and this quote is a timely reminder that there are many things I know that will help improve my training and performance, but yet I fail to apply them. I will be making a conscious effort to put more of what I know into practise.
My training week has been a good one. Here it is in summary,
Tuesday: Interval Run, 6 x 1 Lap Rugby Pitch on 90sec recovery
Wednesday: Bike work 1hr, (Referee U16 Rugby match 1hr)
Thursday: Bike work 1/2hr, Bike 3hrs (51 miles)
Friday: Bike work 1hr, Weights Upper Body 3/4hr
Saturday: Weights Upper Body and Legs 3/4 hr
Sunday: Run 1/2 hr, Core Stability 1/2 hr
Total: 11 ½
The week ended with a nice walk in the Woods and a picnic. We went to Skipwith Common, an area of Woodland and Heathland between Selby and York just off the A19. It is great to get out into the Countryside. There are no distractions from home, which means we are all more focussed on each other. Our picnic site was a Bird Watching Platform 5m up in a tree, which Ellie decided was our Wooden Castle. Picnic food for us is nearly always the same, Heinz Tomato Soup (is there a better tasting soup when you are outside?) and bacon sandwiches. Needless to say the combination of fresh air, exercise, a soft comfortable sofa and central heating knocked Evie and Sarah into the wonderful world of zzzzzzzz’s While 2 of the princesses slept, Ellie and I did some sticking. We make a Fairy Picture using the Fairy Cups (Acorn Cases) that we had collected, and then Ellie helped me make some meat balls for dinner.
It’s nice to be looking forward to a week of holiday, however if I am honest it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was returning from a long summer break. I have a few jobs around the house and garden to do, I want to fit in some training, and I want to spend some quality time with my girls.
mania I actively encourage, she gets a Kylie calendar every year (nice) and we have been to see her in concert 3 times (nice) so I put a Kylie DVD on for Ellie and Sarah (ok, and me) Ellie treated us to some cool dance moves, Sarah platted Ellie’s hair like Kylie’s and then Ellie said,
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Earlier on in the week my Garmin Forerunner 405 arrived. I have done a couple of short runs to test out. Its looks like a fabulous piece of kit and I know it will make me really focus on my run training this winter. I have had a steady training week, just ticking over. On the bike to school and a couple of short runs. I repeated my Tuesday lunch interval run session.........by myself, no show from any of the boys who ran last week!!!
I am looking forward to the week ahead. It should be a good one, Sarah's Birthday, some solid training, and session 1 (of many) with Paul in his garage, hitting a circuit/weights/core stability session hard, Oh yeah, I also break up for 1/2 term on Friday, a week's holiday yipee. Only seems like yesterday I went back to work after the summer holiday.
I will leave you with one of my favourite quote's from Dean Karnazes, book, 'Ultramarathon Man'.
"If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not constantly demanding more from yourself expanding and learning as you go you're choosing a numb existence. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip"
This week I will have this in my mind......