Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Solo Cruise

Met Maria briefly at the turn point. Wishing the best for Maria as she
continues to train for her first half Ironman this May in PCB.


Route and Ride Data Links:

Strava - Today's Route

Ride Metrics:

Distance (mile): 40.4
Speed (mph): 18.5
Cadence (rpm): 71
Time Moving: 2:09:50
Time Total: 2:11:08
Work (kj): 1,125
Normal Power: 157
Average Power: 143
Max Power: 442
VI: 1.10
TSS: 154
IF: 0.84


Goal:

Build Endurance

Ride Description:

It was super nice to get out in a summer kit today for casual out and back spin. I had some more issues with the aero bars moving and that was frustrating. I had to spend more time sitting up than down in aero and fiddling with them as I was rolling. At the 20 mile turning point I used the mini tool to tighten the top bolts, but could not reach the arm cup underneath. I am finally at the brink of frustration with the 8 nm torque limit and they still move around like they are not tight at all. I went beyond the limit and I think they are now feeling pretty tight. Other than that the bike feels great and moves quickly compared to my old B10. Still lagging behind in fitness.

Weather:

Temperature Start (F): 67
Temperature Finish (F): 70
Wind: Calm to slight breeze.
Sky: Cloudy

Nutrition Intake During and Immediately After:

Bottle #1 24oz. Water, Aminos, Maltodextrin
GU gel at mile 20
Post Ride: 30 gram protein drink

Gear:

 Felt  IA16 


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday Cruise







Route and Ride Data Links:

Strava - Today's Route

Ride Metrics:

Distance (mile): 34.5
Speed (mph): 18.7
Cadence Avg. (rpm): 72
Time Moving: 1:49:53
Time Total: 1:51:02
Work (kj): 943
Normal Power: 155
Average Power: 142
Max Power: 466
VI: 1.09
TSS: 126
IF: 0.82

Goal:

Build Endurance

Ride Description:

Out and Back Spin to test a few tweaks to the IA16. The bike felt great!
I was having some issues with the arm pad and extension bars moving a little, but I think I have all of that resolved and I am a little more content with the BTA bottle computer mount. I still need to add the Cee Gee Cushys and I think I will be set for this season.

Now I just need to do the training and get in shape. 

Weather:

Temperature Start (F): 46
Temperature Finish (F): 54
Wind: Breezy
Sky: Partly cloudy

Nutrition Intake During and Immediately After:

Bottle #1 24oz. Water, Aminos, Maltodextrin
Post Ride: 30 gram protein drink

Gear:

 Felt  IA16 


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes and Studies

It is interesting and to watch various forum discussions about how strength training can have a direct benefit to improved endurance performance (excluding short track events). I have read a number of research papers on how heavy strength training has improved cycling or running economy or improved high intensity output. One particular study that comes to mind has a lot of very credible steps in the strength portion. The methods of strength training were very common and were based off 1RM to determine strength gains. 

As the discussions on forums play out it doesn't take long for the topic to drift all over the place and people describe all sorts of exercises that would not traditionally classify as strength training. Many describe dedicated strength training year round all while training for endurance events with a ten plus hour week. I have read some fairly decent studies that are almost convincing, but there are things in those studies that do not line up with what I have observed and experienced through 35 years of strength training for competition and training  others.

What are the greatest challenges that I have observed and experienced in true strength training combined with endurance training? Where I get hung up is mostly a timing issue in managing training stresses.
  1. Managing the training load.
    1. Recovery
    2. Muscular Soreness

Definitions?

What I suspect in these discussions are by individuals that are focused on endurance training and do not really understand true strength training. Just as cycling training is often governed by an estimated threshold or something similar, strength training is often governed by an estimated one repetition maximum or 1RM. Many lifters train to a variation of the Prilepin Chart. 



 It is important to understand that the majority of us cannot determine 1RM or 1 Rep Maximum exactly. Take for instance a powerlifting competition is a day of attempting 1RM's. The athlete has worked toward a peak condition for competition and yet that day and those attempts to lift a maximum weight may or may not be successful. I have seen lifters fail all attempts on that day. The load is at a whole level of discomfort and mental anguish than lifting down in the 85-95% range. For many training in strength they will start with an estimated 1RM and it will probably be close enough to stimulate training. Well, that is if they already have a strength training background or have someone very experienced in lifting to help them establish the 1RM. 

Not to make it sound like it is rocket science because it is not. There are two aspects that may impact a new lifter from establishing a decent 1RM.

Stumbling blocks to establishing 1RM
  1. Technique
  2. Discomfort / Pain
  3. Mental Blocks

Recognizing 1RM

One can display a lot of drama when the load gets that heavy? I understand it because I encounter it myself, but I have long ago come to terms with the mental intimidation. When the load is that heavy you know there is a risk and it is difficult to overcome doing something you subconsciously believe can harm you and it can and it has. Over the many years I have had blood vessels in my eyes burst as the least effect and at the worst I have had six minor strains (muscle tears) and many other issues between the two from lifting heavy.  However, overcoming the mental barriers can be tougher than learning technique.


Recognizing Drama

For instance the following video is an effort I did last October. By watching the video of a 1x720 take a look and see if this is a 1RM.




Are you able to tell if this is my 1RM on this particular leg press? 

It has the appearance that it is, but I know the truth and the truth is this is not my 1RM. This video was taken while in rehab (clue in the video title top left and noted on this blog post). The set before this set of 720 was an easy 630 lbs x 6 (in video on the blog post link). I was mentally intimidated by the weight and the condition of my injured knee (torn PCL) to do more reps with 720. Can anyone beside me comprehend the intimidation factor in this lift? Experienced lifters know. The drama in the video was me trying to get over the mental intimidation factor. I tend to make a bit of noise to drown out those negative thoughts that try to creep in right before the load is felt. I used to be a whole lot more dramatic when I was lifting heavy to compete. 

This can easily happen to anyone new to strength training or introduced into a study. Can the researcher identify if someone is mentally intimidated by the amount of weight once all the weight is bearing down on the individual? Perhaps the researcher, the coach and the individual can determine a decent estimated 1RM.

Why is this important?
Because the study that I am thinking about and several others are specifically noted as "Heavy Strength" in the title. In order for the study to be true, a correct 1RM has to be established otherwise it is not "Heavy Strength" and it is something far less. If the results of the study were more in the moderate to light resistance training that helps explain why they are able to handle the training load for both types of training.

If a person is training in terms of % of 1RM based on a variation of a Prilepin Chart in what we would classify as "Heavy Strength" it will have a greater impact to the CNS (Central Nervous System) than training in much lighter. If 1RM was not established because of fear, mental block, residual fatigue or poor technique they are potentially training in a range that has less micro trauma and less muscle fatigue. Training heavy stimulates greater muscle activation and also a greater amount of micro trauma or muscular damage. You know the old "You break it down so it will build back stronger" thought. 

The timing of repair or recovery is variable, but as a general rule it is recommended to have at least 48 hours between training sessions of a larger muscular group (legs and chest) before heavy loading again. Many lifters will extend that period even longer between heavy loading and in my prime I trained the same group every 5th day. That is how long I felt my legs needed between maximum lifts in that 80%+ range. I have met and worked with lifters that are much more durable in mentally coping with that type of load and seemed to recover faster. However, for those claiming to be strength training 3 times a week I suspect they are not lifting heavy enough to really load the CNS as they may think. 

There is also a motivation factor to CNS called Neural Fatigue that can impact motivation. The greater the load the more it seems to impact the desire to load again if the CNS has not yet recovered. It is said that the central nervous system can take longer to recover than the muscle group that was traumatized. That was also the case for me and another factor of why I spread my days between loading apart to every 5th day. If you truly lift heavy on Monday it takes a greater amount of motivation to put that heavy load on you on Wednesday and then again on Friday. What ends up happening is people will tend to naturally lift lighter (still may seem heavy) and end up not really stimulating strength because they are not training at the needed stimulus. 

Why is this important? 
Because experienced lifters may actually lift heavy according because that is what the study recommends and may put themselves at greater risk for injury unnecessarily or more likely not manage the training load. Whereas the individuals in the study may not have actually been training as heavy as they thought. On forums you will read people saying they strength train using body weight exercises or yoga or other things. Those things may be tough in their own way, but do they cause the same type of muscular damage and neural fatigue like heavy loading for strength training? The only thing I can say is come to the gym with me to train legs and let's see how well you do with a 60 minute session on a bike trainer at or near threshold the next couple of days while DOMS is setting in. Sometimes a low intensity like L2 or endurance feels as discomforting as training at threshold while my legs are recovering from leg day. I do it, but not too well and thankfully I am not training to compete in endurance cycling events.

There are many factors that can slow down recovery, such as, age, life stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and other things that can impede recovery time. It takes diligence to find what a person can endure in a weekly training load and some can handle a whole lot and others are overwhelmed by much less. We each have to figure that out and some would call that the art of coaching because it difficult to pin it down with science. There are things we can try to help speed up recovery by eating the right ratio of macro nutrients, sleep and try to lower life stress.

Perhaps the study is valid that there were some sort of benefits of lifting for the endurance athlete, but I believe there is potential that the weights used in the study are fraction of that person's true 1RM and perhaps the title may really be Moderate to Light Resistance Training instead of Heavy Strength. Just an experienced guess based on .

To lift or not to lift

Are there other benefits of lifting? I do enjoy lifting for a number of reasons and with 35 years of invested effort I do not plan to give it up. At 54 I see a benefit to fight the natural decline of strength. However, I will be honest that I have never experienced any of my strength being applied in endurance cycling and especially those who primarily focus on events like a time trial or triathlon where the power output is sustained for a longer period of time and are not known for needing a massive sprint. I am very grateful at this point in life to have a balance between strength and endurance, but I also know that I am not training optimally in both.

For those who desire to step up in the ranks of endurance cycling and triathlons here are a few questions to consider.
  • Does lifting provide a direct stimulant to improved aerobic condition? 
  • Is it a very good use of time for the time crunched endurance athlete? 
  • What is the risk / reward ratio? 
  • Does the reward outweigh the risk of injury from improper technique or robbing freshness needed for the specific training that does have greater stimulus and is more efficient?

Final thought

What troubles me the most about the forum discussions is not so much the study, but to reference the study as proof of "heavy strength" training is somehow effective and crucial for endurance training and then reveal that they are doing something completely different. It is kind of like a post I read years ago when a guy was saying he was doing Tabatas and then he laid out what he was actually doing. A noted female sports scientist responded, "You sir are not doing Tabatas. You are doing something completely different than the study. Perhaps you may be getting good results from what you have described, but do not call it Tabatas because it is not."

Are you really strength training or are you doing something else?

If someone tells me that they trained legs at the gym and it does not impact the endurance training in terms of fatigue, I cannot help but be skeptical that what they were doing was just going through the motions. And when someone claims that they are "strength training" three days a week and also doing endurance training I just shake my head in total disbelief. I train my legs once a week and struggle managing the training load and hitting the target intensities or load in both strength and endurance. 



References

Central and Peripheral Fatigue During Resistance Exercise – A Critical Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4723165/

Neural Contributions to Muscle Fatigue: From the Brain to the Muscle and Back Again https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5033663/







Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sosebee Small Group

L to R: Neal, Gary and Mike


Route and Ride Data Links:

Strava - Today's Route

Ride Metrics:

Distance (mile): 50
Speed Avg. (mph): 15
Cadence (rpm): 65
Time Moving: 3:15:36
Time Total: 3:17:50
Work (kj): 1371
Normal Power: 156
Average Power: 116
Max Power: 567
VI: 1.35
TSS: 229
IF: 0.83

Goal:

Build Endurance and winter ride with friends

Ride Description:

Hilly with wind and me with poor fitness. However, it was great to ride with Gary, Mike and Neal today. I have a long way to go just to build a decent endurance base. After my crash it was amazing how quick my strength return with the torn PCL, but the aerobic fitness has been very reluctant to return. 

Big kudos to Gary who sat up front longer than anyone and it was challenging head winds at times. 

Weather:

Temperature Start (F): 50
Temperature Finish (F): 57
Wind: ESE 7 mph average
Sky: Very cloudy

Nutrition Intake During and Immediately After:

Bottle #1 15oz. Water, Aminos, Maltodextrin
GU gel at mile 30
Post Ride: 30 gram protein drink

Gear:

 LOOK  585 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Solo Cruise

Route and Ride Data Links:

Strava - Today's Route

Ride Metrics:

Distance (mile): 41.2
Speed Avg. (mph): 18
Cadence (rpm): 70
Time Moving: 2:15:15
Time Total: 2:16:20
Work (kj): 1,050
Normal Power: 141
Average Power: 128
Max Power: 581
VI: 1.10
TSS: 129
IF: 0.75

Goal:

Build Endurance

Ride Description:

Out and back spin and a beautiful day in a summer kit. Also getting used to a more aggressive aero fit compared to my last bike. Everything is feeling pretty good and without a professional fit. Kind of wondering if I even need one. The Felt IA16 combined with the fit feels faster than the previous bike. I just hope my neck can endure the longer miles.

Weather:

Temperature Start (F): 66
Temperature Finish (F): 70
Wind: Slight breeze
Sky: Sunny

Nutrition Intake During and Immediately After:

Bottle #1 10oz. Water, Aminos, BCAA, Maltodextrin
GU gel at mile 20

Post Ride: 30 gram protein drink

Gear:

 Felt  IA16 


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sosebee Winter Group Ride

Gary, Mike and Ron nearing the finish

Joe, Diane, Gary, Mike and Laurie

Diane

Me, Joe, Mike and Gary


Route and Ride Data Links:

Strava - Today's Route

Ride Metrics:

Distance (mile): 46.3
Speed (mph): 16.2
Cadence (rpm): 64
Time Moving: 2:51:11
Time Total: 2:58:37
Work (kj): 1,141
Normal Power: 155
Average Power: 106
Max Power: 740
VI: 1.46
TSS: 204
IF: 
0.82

Goal:

Build Endurance and winter group ride

Ride Description:

Despite the news of patches of ice, I was glad to join a small group for a few miles today. Participants were Gary, Mike, Ron, Diane, Laurie, Neal, Joe and another guy (did not get his name). It was great pleasure to join with my gang of cycling friends for my first group ride of 2018. The route was great with a winter conversation pace type of ride and a time to catch up friends. 

Great way to start off the 2018 season.

Weather:

Temperature Start (F): 37
Temperature Finish (F): 55
Wind: Calm
Sky: Partly Cloudy

Nutrition Intake During and Immediately After:

Bottle #1 10oz. Water, Aminos, Maltodextrin, BCAA, Crush water flavor
Post Ride: 30 gram protein drink

Gear:

 LOOK  585 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Cruise

Route and Ride Data Links:

Strava - Today's Route

Ride Metrics:

Distance (mile): 21.8
Speed (mph): 16.9
Cadence (rpm): 71
Time Moving: 1:15:51
Time Total: 1:17:07
Work (kj): 625
Normal Power: 147
Average Power: 135
Max Power: 526
VI: 1.09
TSS: 79
IF: 
0.78

Goal:

Build Endurance and get outside on the bike for the first time in 2018

Ride Description:

Out and Back Spin. Cool and not many out today. Just a few joggers, walkers and handful of people on mountain bikes. I would say this past week was my kickoff to decent training and I eased into the week with good ole 2X20 minute efforts at sweet spot. This coming week I will do the same thing because last week was sort of a struggle. I made it through each session, but I certainly could tell my fitness is low. Today was the first time out on the bike on pavement and the difference between that and a trainer effort showed up with my hamstrings knotting up the first five miles. After that things begin to feel a little better and maybe I should have extended the miles. I was content to end it short and know that Monday I get into my second week of official training. Am I training for anything? Nothing official other than I just want to improve my solo time on the 100 mile course. 

Weather:

Temperature Start (F): 36
Temperature Finish (F): 36
Wind: Calm
Sky: Sunny

Nutrition Intake During and Immediately After:

Bottle #1 24oz. Water, Aminos , Maltodextrin
Post Ride: 30 gram protein drink

Gear:

 Felt  IA16 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sounds To Drown The Misery


JBL Reflect Mini BT - Amazon
Sonos Play 1 - Amazon
Sony  MDRXB950BT/B Extra Bass BT Headphones - Amazon

JBL Reflect Mini BT
Sonos Play 1
Sony BT Headphones



Extensive Aerobic Training has started and much of my weekday training is inside using the Kickr with PerfPro on a laptop. For the background, besides the noise of the trainer and three fans, I have a HD large screen and usually streaming something off of an Amazon Fire TV box. For sound when the training is above L3 I usually stream music from the iphone Amazon Music app with a fairly intense beat to drive the pace. If the intensity is more toward active recovery I will use the over the ear headphones because the sound quality is a little better. If my wife is not home I can use speaker with the volume up.


JBL Reflect Mini BT

I purchased these locally at a nearby Best Buy and originally I went in to get the Jaybird X3, but one of the customer service representatives pointed to the JBL as an alternative because they had them on sale and were about $20 less. Not knowing much about them and listening to rep point out some of the attributes they seemed to be similar to the Jaybird so I took the chance. Overall the sound is good when the earbuds are in the ear tightly. I am not used to pushing earbuds in that deep, but after a few seconds it is okay. In deep the bass comes through and not in deep you will not get much low end. In terms of sitting on a trainer they stay in the ear and I can imagine would stay in with more vigorous movement. They paired up quickly with the iphone, but when I tried to pair with the Amazon Fire TV box I had to remove all other electronics using bluetooth from the room. At that point the Fire TV box quickly picked up and paired with the earbuds. I have destroyed other bluetooth earbuds with heavy sweat. These are rated as IPX 4 and noted to be sweat proof. Hopefully that will be the case.

Sonos Play 1

On a Slowtwitch thread the Sonos Play 1 was mentioned a couple of times and from this I read a few reviews and the speakers were getting great reviews. The bad thing though was not noticing a very important aspect of the Sonos speakers and that is they are not bluetooth. They are a proprietary system that uses wifi. My mistake was seeing that you can pair it with the iphone and I just jumped to the conclusion that they are bluetooth. Am I disappointed? Yes, to some degree I am, but not enough to return the speaker because it does sound amazing. After I got this setup on my iphone using the Sonos app that in turn links to various music apps on the phone I was able to use my playlist from the Amazon Music app. What I cannot do is pair it with the Amazon Fire TV box without having to buy some additional Sonos equipment or speakers. When my wife is not home I prefer to use an open speaker and turn it up and it this stand alone speaker easily overcomes the fan and trainer noise and with clarity and good range of sound. 


Sony MDRXB950BT Headphones 

Even though I have little to say about these over the ear headphones they are the best of the three in this list of new items in terms of sound and general pairing to devices. The Fire TV box picked them up instantly in the initial pairing and as soon as I turn them on it picks up the headphones. By the way, there is no lag in sound between the headphones and earbuds from the Fire TV box. The only drawback, as one could guess, is that these are not sweat proof and they get hot quick even at low intensity spinning. I can tolerate wearing them, but I have to remove them briefly now and then just to cool off my ears. They are nice though if I wanted to focus in more of a movie or TV show dialog to keep track of a plot. 

This was just a brief overview of some new purchases. There are plenty of good review articles to scan over if you are looking around for indoor training enhancement and to drown out any potential revolt or cries from the legs.