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Recovery Tips

by Mark Swartzendruber in Cycling, Cyclocross, Road Cycling, Train With Grain

Ahhh, it’s September.  College Football, the NFL is starting for real and a nip of fall is in the air as the temperatures cool at night and the humidity drops.  It’s just about the time for the road weary cyclists to turn his thoughts to…wait for it…wait for it…CYCLOCROSS!

What?!  Wait a minute friend.  You’ve been at this stuff for a full year.  Remember?  You finished your season last year in mid September.  You took a few weeks to just enjoy riding a bike without your power meter and heart rate monitor.  Maybe you did a couple of club century rides, making sure to stop for the strawberry rhubarb pie and apple fritters along the route.  You played a couple of rounds of golf on some gorgeous autumn afternoons because everyone knows the best time to golf is after Labor Day when the masses are off the course and you can zip around in cart or walk a round by yourself and never see another soul on the course but for an occasional worker from the greens keeping crew.

Then, November came and with it, you began to build your fitness for the upcoming season.  You worked out on the trainer, lifted weights, took some hard spin classes and put in some hellish long weekends on the trainer to get up to 15 hours a week on the bike.  When the weather warmed enough to venture outside, you made the most of it, logging 4-6 hours of road time because you didn’t know when the next time would come that the weather would allow you to ride outside.

Then March came and so did the racing season and you’ve done more than 50 races.  It’s been a good year but you’re starting to show signs of fatigue.  The power meter is showing lower numbers each effort.  Your legs never really seem to clear the lactic acid during races and your attacks just aren’t crisp any more. It’s time to take a break.

But, all you can think about is cyclocross.  Hey, give yourself a rest.  Remember your winning formula from last year.  Leisurely bike rides, golf, toss that power meter to the curb and stop pushing…just for a bit.

Most of those hard core ‘cross racers didn’t put in serious road seasons.  Sure there are the rare few who are able to move right from the road to the mud and kick butt every step of the way but remember – they’re the exception, not the rule and besides – most of the time, those guys weren’t really on top form until July.  They plan it that way.  They’re resting too but just doing it later than you are.  If you’re a dedicated road racer going hard from February to October, you can’t jump directly into another racing season and expect to be effective.  You need to recover.  Here’s how.

  • Keep yourself out of Zone 4 and 5 when you ride.  Keep things conversational. It’s important to not allow yourself to completely lose fitness but if you continue pushing, you’ll pay for it with fatigue in April.  Not good.
  • Absolutely take a day off – especially when the weather is beautiful.  Take a walk in the woods with your dog, play some golf, go kayaking, fishing—anything but riding a bike.  It will do wonders for your mental recovery too.
  • If you can stand it – do some running.  Use some different muscle groups
  • Take a yoga class that emphasizes stretching and core strength
  • Go to the gym and work on your depleted upper body.  Save the weight lifting with your legs for later.  Cyclists need to have some shoulder, back and core muscles too.
  • Take up a hobby like cooking or baking.  Challenge yourself to see how many Bob’s Red Mill grains and flours you can use.
  • Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep at night.  The HGH your body produces during deep sleep is invaluable to helping you recover after a long season
  • Go ahead and enjoy some ‘cross racing.  Why not?  Most people see it as a mental break from the road season.  It’s okay to have the occasional push, hard effort and have people ring cow bells in your ears.  Knock yourself out, but if you do a full ‘cross season, remember to take your recovery and rest period into the late winter before you start building for the road season.

Remember, even when you’re well trained and race fit and the efforts you make in races seem – well, effortless – you’re putting a lot of stress on your body and unless you give yourself a chance to recover both physically and mentally after a long season you’ll never really be able to reach peak performance next season.

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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Improve Bike Performance with these Off-Bike Activities

by Joan Hanscom in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

The end of the road season is fast upon us.  My bags for Bend are packed, my bike has been shipped and there is one race left.  But that doesn’t mean training ends.  As anybody who loves riding and racing a bike will tell you – training goes on year round though it changes some.  I start adding in more of the things that I cut back on during the summer racing season, dialing back time on the bike and increasing other activities off the bike.

Core strength and flexibility are two things that really help you as a cyclist.  Upper body strength too – despite how spindly the Tour de France riders may look on tv – makes a big difference.  You don’t need to be like Arnold in his Terminator days but you don’t want to be wet spaghetti either.  You got spaghetti arms and a weak belly you got a SLOW sprint!

During the season, I maintain a flexibility program.  For me it’s not that I need to be able to do splits like back in my ballet days, but it creates and maintains balance in your body.  If you are spending 15-20 hours a week in one position bent over your handlebars it does a body good to bend in the other direction every now and then!  I am a big believer in the Active-Isolated stretch technique.  It’s not static stretching like you likely remember from high school gym class.  It’s, well, ACTIVE.  The premise is relatively simple – you work across specific joints (hence isolated), pumping blood-flow through joints and muscles by working through ranges of motion, never holding a stretch for more than a couple of seconds.  As the muscles get warmer and loosen up you can stretch deeper and deeper.  A key component of this technique is utilizing the opposing muscle groups to deepen the stretch – so if you are working on hamstring flexibility you would use your quadriceps to enhance the stretch by contracting them (the theory being the contracted quad, enables the hamstring to relax and lengthen). For more information I would refer you to http://www.whartonperformance.com/page2/page2.html or to The Wharton’s Stretch Book written by Jim and Phil Wharton.  Very simple and straightforward and highlights specific flexibility practices for specific sports.  Great stuff!

The other thing that I try to focus on year round is core strength.   Sometimes when my on-the-bike time is really high it’s as simple as doing 100 crunches in the mornings sprawled across my swiss ball.  But when my bike time is cut back, during the off-season or even on a light week, I love to add in yoga practice.  Different styles of yoga for different folks – I like Vinyasa the best, but find what you like and go for it.  Core strength is so important on the bike – for climbing and sprinting.  Breathing obviously a great skill to have on the bike and off.  Upper body strength too.  All of these things you can hone and develop through your yoga practice. Say hello to Chaturanga Dandasana!

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Joan Hanscom Google: Joan Hanscom
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Recovery Tips

by Meredith Miller in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

Everyone knows that in order to perform well, you must train hard and train right. What many people forget is that part of the train hard, train right formula is RECOVERY. The best laid plan isn’t complete without the proper rest and recovery. It should be part of your routine monthly, weekly and daily. Without attention to recovery, you’ll hit the wall sooner than later and all that hard work you’ve put into your training will come to naught.

REST DAYS

If your plan is to race a full season, then the best approach is to sit down with a coach to talk about the season as a whole so you can plan your peaks as well as your recovery weeks. Over the years, one thing I have heard over and over again is how little consideration people give recovery days because they think they’ll lose fitness. Rest days ARE training days. They are as important or more than the lung busting, leg burning intervals that everyone thinks are the key to going fast. Even within day-to-day training rest days are important. Do not underestimate the power of complete days off the bike and easy spinning, even if it feels like you’re going slower than your grandma. Remember that quality is more important that quantity, and this includes rest days as well.

HYDRATION

You’ve heard it before. Drink water to stay hydrated. It’s no secret. But the question during training or racing is water or drink mix? It depends. Under normal conditions water is adequate. However, when you’ve got a long day on the bike planned or the mercury has risen, ingesting calories through a drink is a good idea. I’m not an expert on prescribing hydration formulas, so I will refer you to the respected scientists who have formulated the “Secret Drink Mix” to get the information you need. I recommend reading the article on Bike Radar to get the low down on the science behind this drink mix. Bottom line…replace the fluid that was lost during exercise.

EAT

Don’t be afraid to eat carbohydrates! Carbs are the main source of fuel during exercise. You must replace what you use. It’s pretty easy. Although carbohydrates are most important, it is a combination of carbs and protein (approx a 4:1 ratio of carbs to proten) that will ensure you get what you need for proper recovery. Sure, there are formulas out there that suggest a certain amount of carbs and protein per body weight, but if you can consume any sort of healthy food (I like foods like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chocolate milk, trail mix, and fruit) within the first 30-60 min after exercise, you are on the right track.

WARM UP/COOL DOWN

For shorter and harder races, you need more warm up. If it’s the type of race that will start off hard and fast, then you need to do a few hard efforts in warm up. After a race, especially one that made you dig deep, you’ll feel better the next day if you allow yourself 15-20 minutes to cool down by spinning at a slow speed, high cadence.

STRETCH/MASSAGE

Stretching is not an activity that is in many cyclists’ training programs, but it helps your body stay supple and flexible. When I am home I try to get regular massages (~1/week minimum) to help work out the kinks and soreness. A good massage therapist can help you iron out small problems, help you stretch and help you relax after a hard day of training or racing. Regular massage is not cheap, but it can help you stay on top of any problems you might have or even treat issues before they become a problem.

SLEEP

Naps are my all time favorite thing to do. After a hard day on the bike, I look forward to a little sleepy time on the couch. They help me relax, recover and put my mind at ease for a little while. Most importantly, though, is to get adequate sleep nightly to best prepare mentally and physically for the stresses that lie ahead.

 

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Meredith Miller Google: Meredith Miller
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Injuries: What to Expect and How to Respond

by Mark Swartzendruber in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

Unfortunately injuries are a part of life for most competitive athletes.  Injuries can be caused by things that range from simple overuse to traumatic impact.  How the athlete treats and responds to the injury depends largely on the nature of the cause and the severity of the injury.  I’m very fortunate to have been relatively injury free over the course of my athletic career, but, in the couple of instances that I have endured an injury, the treatments and recovery have been good lessons learned.

First, let’s break down into categories various types of injuries and potential problem issues.

SORENESS:  This can be caused by over use, or it can be caused by properly trained and worked muscles.  If you’re a cyclist in the weight room for the first off-season strength building sessions, you’re going to experience muscle soreness even if you’re doing things correctly.  Soreness can be treated by not over using the sore muscles alternating ice and heat and incorporate stretching and massage.  Some times the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory meds such as Ibuprofen or Sodium Naproxen is called for.  At any rate, soreness eventually goes away, but if you continue to push soreness, it may become…

PAIN:  Pain is more indicative of a chronic problem.  I’m not speaking of the momentary or short lived pain we all put ourselves through in hard workouts.  I’m speaking here of pain that you experience when you aren’t working out.  Back, joint, or muscle pain that is consistent, persistent and long lasting can be an indicator that you’re either employing improper technique, bike position, have structural problems or an over-use injury.  Seek out the opinion and diagnosis of a doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist or athletic trainer and do what they tell you.  Pain is most often a leading indicator of a potentially chronic injury that you’ll have if you try to “push through the pain.”

INJURY:  This is the definite, diagnosed “I know exactly how it happened” thing we all hope to avoid.  Maybe you crashed and broke a collar bone, some ribs or had a concussion.  Maybe you pushed through the pain of a ligament or tendon sprain and now you need surgery for a tear.  Whatever caused your injury, you’ll be requiring medical attention.  In 2002 I had some knee pain and swelling.  I continued to race through and eventually the problem didn’t respond to ice, compression and elevation.  Turned out I had a meniscus tear that was exacerbated by the repetitive motion of pedaling.  It was a season ender that required surgery.

The first orthopedic surgeon I saw told me I had the knee of an 80 year old man said I must quit cycling and take up swimming, but that I’d never be able to race again.  I was devastated and sought a second opinion.  The second orthopedic surgeon had been the team ortho for the US Air Force Academy and worked with the US Olympic Ski team in Colorado Springs.  He’d seen knees similar and much worse than mine.  He assured me that I’d be fine, but the recovery was slow and had to be done right in order to avoid re-injury.  The full rehab took nearly 3 months before I was cleared to ride my bike again.  Even though I was going crazy with the inactivity I did what the therapist and doctor told me to do and 2003 turned out to be one of the best seasons of my life with a big win on the NRC race circuit and a silver medal at Masters Nationals in the time trial.

As athletes, we’ll all deal with soreness and pain from time to time.  Pay attention to what is causing the soreness or pain and treat it accordingly.  If you’re injured, give yourself time to fully recover before forcing your way back into full fledged competition.  Otherwise you’re risking pushing yourself into the category of being “chronically injured” which isn’t a season ending problem, it’s a career ending problem.

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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Bike racing is hard. Photo credit @ Josh Dreyfus

Lessons Learned: Road Cycling

by Mark Swartzendruber in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

I’ve been at this bike racing stuff for a long time I’ve learned a thing or two as I’ve gotten older and slower.  I’ll pass along a few of the more valuable lessons I’ve learned – some the hard way.

Take time to rest and recover.  As athletes it’s in our DNA to want to push, push, push and push harder.  Especially if you’re like me, you just simply love to ride your bike whether you ever do a race or not and every time you ride you end up going fast.  Give yourself a break.  The longer and harder you ride, the slower you’re going to become.  Train smart and give yourself a day off now and then.  Fresh legs are fast legs.

Ride and train alone more than you do group rides.  Group rides are great fun and social but all too often, they end up become “races” and you never really give yourself the opportunity to become a stronger rider.  Think about it – in a group ride, you spend a lot of time drafting. When you’re drafting, you’re not fully working.  If you’re not fully working you’ll never get used to how extremely difficult it is to go all out on a solo attack or to bridge by yourself across a gap to a break.  You’ll benefit more if you do a majority of your training on your own.

Do time trials, even if you’re a sprinter.  I don’t know a single racer at the elite level who isn’t also at least a decent time trailer.  The best sprinter I know is a guy who does well in time trials and even won the most recent race that he and I did together with a solo attack in the last 5 miles.  He could have waited until the final 300 meters to win – it was a forgone conclusion – but he attacked the winning break of 9 riders and rode solo to the line.  That’s classy.

So many racers are anal retentive about their preparations.  All conditions don’t need to be “perfect” in order for you do race well.  Sometime you won’t have time for your “ramp up” on the trainer before a race.  Don’t fret if you didn’t eat exactly what your coach told you at least 3 hours prior to your race. Sometimes life will get in the way of your ideal training week. Don’t worry if your legs aren’t giving you good feed back the day before a race.  If you take yourself out mentally before the race starts due to some perceived short fall in your routine, you just as well not even toe the line.  Seriously…I’ve had some of my best races on days that my legs felt like lead balloons during warm ups or suffering with a screaming hangover.  Several years ago, a team mate and I decided to go for “a sandwich and a beer” the night before the state championship criterium.  That night ended at about 3:00 a.m.  We were both toxic.  The next afternoon, I initiated and drove a break that lapped the field after only 20 minutes and ended up winning the state championship.  My team mate won the field sprint.  This training method is not recommended but every day is a new day and every race plays out.  Some times your preparation the day before or day of a race isn’t perfect, but learn to trust the months of training you put in rather than the few hours leading up to a race.

The older you get, the less you can afford a long “off season”.  I used to be able to hang my bike up for a couple of months at the end of the season and start training again in the spring and hardly miss a beat.  Now, I find that if I take a month off the bike in December, it takes me until June before I’m right.  An hour or so of specific work on the trainer in the winter 4-5 times a week will do wonders for keeping you ready to ramp up once the weather turns if you’re in a cold weather climate.

Learn to read races.  Most of the time, the fastest or strongest guy doesn’t win the race.  Most of the time, it’s one of the fast, strong guys who is also the smartest and most opportunistic.  I have a team mate with an uncanny knack for knowing exactly the right time to make an attack.  He’s well trained but he’s not the best time trailer, not the fastest sprinter but he wins more races than anyone I know because he knows WHEN to go by sensing the energy level of the other riders. Winning races is about using your energy in the right way at the right time.

Bike racing is hard. Photo credit @ Josh Dreyfus

Learn and repeat what you did leading up to successful races.  For me, I know that if I have a couple of weeks of high volume mileage, then an easier week before a big race, I’m likely to do well.  Some guys race themselves into shape; some guys train themselves into shape. Some athletes do best with short intense training rides.  Some athletes do best when they’ve had high mileage weeks at moderate pace. Learn what puts you into the best position to do well and stay with that formula.

If you work on your weaknesses, you’ll end of with strong weaknesses.  I’m not a sprinter.  I can go fast, but I’m not ever going to win a race in a bunch sprint.  I can do sprint repeats until I vomit, but it will never give me fast twitch muscle fiber that I need to have the explosive jump of a sprinter. The only way I can win races is to batter the field with repeated attacks until people are sick and tired of chasing me.  So, I do training rides that emphasize endurance and recovery from hard efforts rather than sprints.  Find your style and train your strengths.

When you’re not having fun racing – step back and just enjoy riding your bike.  One summer I was plain tired of the racing scene.  I wasn’t having fun, so I just took a couple of weeks, went to Door County in Wisconsin to visit my daughter who gone up there to stay with friends and work for the summer.  I rode slow and enjoyed the beautiful wooded scenery and re discovered my joy, got my mojo back and a couple of weeks later started racing again

Bike racing is HARD.  Getting into a break is HARD.  Winning a race is HARD. It hurts physically.  It’s never easy.  If you’re not willing to suffer you’ll never win a race.

Finally, it’s best to understand that in bike racing you’re going to have more downs than ups.  You’re not going to do well every time you pin on a number.  You’re going to have days where your legs are dead and you’re breathing like an asthmatic. You may crash.  Don’t let those days discourage you.  Those days will make the good days that much better.

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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BG Fit: Meredith Miller

by Meredith Miller in Cycling, Road Cycling, Train With Grain

This is a wonderful piece done by Specialized Bikes of Meredith Miller being fit for her bike. Most of us won’t ever get a custom fit like this, but it’s amazing to see all the different components that are measured and the adjustments that are made. If you want to watch more of these, check ‘em out here. (Also, more on BG fit here.)

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Race Day Do’s and Don’ts

by Meredith Miller in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

A list of race day do’s and don’ts could go on forever and each person you ask will have a different story or opinion. Rather than write a stale list of what to do and what not to do, I thought walking you through how I spent the 24-hours before, during and after the biggest one day race in America might have more of an impact. While I realize that most racers don’t have the luxury of traveling with support staff the way I do, the routine I follow can easily be adapted for the amateur racer.

My teammates and I arrived in Philadelphia several days before the race because of sponsor commitments. By Friday morning, we were settled into our race hotel and ready to pre-ride the course. When possible, we like to ride the course at the same time we will race the next day. This gives us a chance to get used to the conditions – wind direction, temperature, etc. – that we could encounter during the race.

Most of us had raced the Liberty Classic in the past, but a refresher of the course is always appreciated a year later. As we pre-rode the course, we reviewed the nuances of the course, recalled results of past editions and discussed potential tactics.

DO pre-ride the course when possible or review course profile online.

DON’T wait until you line up for the start to know your competition. Look at past results/reports to know how the race unfolded and which riders you should keep your eye on.

Following our pre-ride, it was back to the race hotel for showers and food. Having the luxury of traveling with staff, we dropped our race bikes off with the mechanic for final adjustments. I had a quick chat with my mechanic about my gearing and race wheel preference before I left my stead in his capable hands.

DO be prepared with the right equipment you need for the course.

DON’T wait until the day before to make changes to your bike (unless you have a mechanic at your disposal) to avoid last minute surprise mechanicals.

A shower was followed by a team dinner. I made sure I ate a well-balanced meal that included nutrient dense foods to provide me with the type of fuel I need come race day. My teammates and I generally eat together, and our Sports Director will conduct a team meeting before, during or after the meal.

DO fuel properly. Now is not the time to cut calories.

DON’T introduce foods you’ve never eaten before or during races. Experiment with new foods during training, not race day.

The team meeting included a repeat of the discussion points my teammates and I covered during our pre-ride before turning to the specific tactics we would employ the next day. We reviewed the course profile, designated team leader(s) and determined each rider’s roles.

DO know your race plan before you toe the line.

DON’T feel the need to make your plan alone. Seek input from you coach, your training partners, your friends who have raced the course before, etc.

Before bed, I packed my bag and pinned my numbers. Some people have a printed checklist that covers what needs to make it into their race bag for each race. Having raced for an eternity, I no longer need anything but a mental checklist to be sure my helmet, shoes, kit, gloves, socks, sunglasses, etc. make it into my bag. I rely on staff to ensure that anything I might require for nutritional and mechanical needs are packed in the team vehicles.

DO as much race prep the night before as possible so you aren’t scrambling the morning of the race and inevitably forget an important item.

DON’T feel the need to do everything yourself. Share the workload with teammates or enlist personal support.

Back in my hotel room, I chilled and stayed off my feet for the remainder of the evening before heading to bed at a reasonable hour.

DO get quality sleep.

DON’T spend more time than necessary on your feet.

Early morning wake-up for our 9AM start. Some of my teammates find that they need to eat their main pre-race meal three or four hours prior to race start. I’m lucky in that I can eat pretty much up to an hour before. As with my dinner, I make sure that I choose race day foods that provide me with all the nutrients I’ll need for my race.

My teammates and I biked to the course from our hotel and then rode the final few kilometers of the circuit. During our pre-ride the day before the course was not closed. Riding before the start we were able to see the final twists and turns just as they would be in the race. This served as both our warm-up and our final chance to talk through the tactics we had discussed the previous day.

DO warm up well. More intense warm up time is needed before shorter races, such as time trials and criteriums, than long road races.

DON’T allow the finish to be a surprise – ride the last couple kilometers with your teammates when possible to finalize tactics.

By the time we had finished our warm-up, our Sports Director had set up our team tent and pulled out our box of food and cooler of bottles. I stuffed my pocket with bars and gels and grabbed two bottles for my bike before throwing my extra clothes in the team van and heading to the start.

With four circuit laps under the blazing sun, the Liberty Classic generally gets off to a mellow start. As I surfed around in the pack, I reviewed my race nutritional plan. Ideally, I eat every thirty minutes and drop back to my team car for a bottle or grab one in a feed zone as soon as I’m empty.

DO know your eating and hydration schedule.

DON’T underestimate nutritional needs. Take more food than you think you’ll need, and if you won’t have the ability to grab a bottle during the race, consider sticking a third bottle in your jersey pocket.

My teammates and I stuck together on the course. It’s essential that we ride as a unit in order to communicate effectively. Team tactics carefully planned may need to be discarded if a race doesn’t unfold as expected, and riding as a group ensures that we’re able to discuss any required changes as they become necessary.

As the race heads into the final kilometers, everything becomes a bit more intense. The need to communicate clearly and effectively is even more heightened. My teammates and I chatted to make sure we remained on the same page regarding the plan we intended to execute.

DO communicate with your teammates as often as possible. Let them ‘in’ to a spot near you to facilitate communication.

DON’T be afraid to adjust your race plan on the fly.

Although we executed our plan to the best of our abilities at Philly, we had hoped for a better outcome than the fourth place we secured. Immediately following the race, we had a post-race meeting to discuss what we could have done better and what we need to improve upon for our next race. Together, we rode back to the hotel as a cool down before we indulged in another healthy recovery meal.

DO debrief post race to discuss what went right and what did not.

DON’T forget that post race nutrition is important, too, especially when racing again the next day.

Without question, this is not an exhaustive list of race day do’s and don’ts, but there is an abundant source of information here to help you get the most out of your racing experience. Remember that taking extra time to prepare yourself and your bike before the race will leave you best prepared for what happens during the race.

Photos courtesy of Larry Rosa

 

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Meredith Miller Google: Meredith Miller
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Late Season Adjustments

by Joan Hanscom in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

So here we are, August.  It’s hot.  Super hot.  Record hot.  My race schedule in July was almost exclusively criteriums – and I raced a bunch of them including an awesomely awesome bunch of fun in Chicago for Superweek and had a total blast with a really great bunch of people and made loads of new friends.  Bike racing is great for that.  Total strangers offering you a place to sleep. So fun.  But, as I mentioned in a previous post, my last remaining goal of the season is Masters Road Nations.   Time to adjust.

With that last, end of season road race looming large and my entry fee paid I’ve got to switch gears and after a month of short, fast and flat, I suddenly find myself faced with the need to be able to race longer distances and uphill.

Up to now, I’ve been working on accelerations, sprints, ability to go hard and fast quickly.  Lots of sprint workouts.  Now it’s all hills, all the time. Eeek!  The course in Bend is not super steep but it’s a course that is going to require power to the pedals the whole time while going uphill and downhill.  This is a wholly different skill set from crit racing. My short two hour weekend rides on non-racing days have crept back up to 3 and 4 hours.  My weekday workouts have changed too.  This week:  one day of repeated long climbs in the saddle at a low cadence to build up climbing leg strength; the next day – short hard efforts 60 seconds seated, 30 seconds standing and accelerating to build some explosiveness on the hills (or in my case, hopefully improve my ability to to go with attacks when they come); then another day of long climbs above threshold with a higher cadence just to improve my overall climbing.    Did I mention lots of climbing?

A funny aside:  I’ve been riding with my friend Tracy Tolson (she of multiple national championship titles) we cheer ourselves up the hills on those bazillion degree, low cadence, leg strengthening days by telling ourselves that it’s making us stronger as we’ve sweltered uphill.  Tracy said, “it’s so you can drop the hammer when you need to…”  I said, “I don’t think I have a hammer, it’s more like a carpet mallet…”  So watch out, I’m gonna drop the mallet on you one of these days….

My eating has changed too.  All summer long I’ve been content to roll with 2-3 extra pounds because, in all honestly, at my ability level it’s not going to make as much as a difference to my racing as smart training. And a cold beer on a hot day is awesome!  But now I want to tighten things up just a little – if for no other reason than in my head I will climb better!  I’ve added more protein to my diet – those longer, strengthening days tear down the muscles more and I need to rebuild.  TVP is great source of non-meaty goodness for that and Bob’s Red Mill TVP burgers are great and tasty especially in the heat when heavy foods really are not so fun.  I’ve upped the fresh fruit and vegetable content even more and well, those delicious oatmeal cookies I love so much will have to wait until September.  With the longer rides back on the schedule I am eating more but I want to make sure it’s all quality, nutrient rich calories that make me feel fit and speedy not heavy and needing a nap. My friends gardens are bursting and I am the lucky beneficiary – fresh squashes, tomatoes, peppers especially – and I’ve been making some awesome whole wheat pastas with sauteed fresh vegetables too.  I love this time of year!

Onward and upward (and upward and downward and upward…..)

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Joan Hanscom Google: Joan Hanscom
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Man’s Guide to Leg Shaving

by Mark Swartzendruber in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

Mark provides a guide for best practices when shaving your legs and explains why that is desirable for male racers.

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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Meredith Miller: July Recap

by Meredith Miller in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

Meredith gives us a short recap of her busy July and some good insight into what the life of a pro-racer is like.

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