Posts Tagged 'Training'

Lunchtime ride – with sports drink

I like getting out on my bike during my lunch hour.  Allowing time for getting changed, unlocking my bike and getting out of the car park, I can ride for about 40-45 minutes.  Conveniently, that’s just enough time for me to ride from Teddington, over Kingston Bridge, along Kings Road, around Richmond Park once and then back to work.  The route is about 20.5 km (12.8 miles).  I sometimes ride elsewhere, but usually it’s Richmond Park.  I tend to go three or four times a week (when the weather’s ok and depending on other commitments), so if you’re ever riding about the park between 1 and 2 pm and see someone who looks like me, then say hi!

I headed out today for my first lap since last Thursday.  I didn’t ride at lunchtime yesterday as my legs were still aching from a hard day’s gardening on Saturday.  Conditions were great today.  It was about 22 degrees Celsius with a south-westerly.  I could definitely feel the effects of the wind, but riding against it wasn’t too bad.

I’d started thinking over the last few days that perhaps one of the reasons I haven’t been seeing much improvement in fitness is that I’m not getting my nutrition right.  Because my lunchtime rides are fairly short, I’ve tended not to bother with sports drinks.  Due to the limited time, and the fact that I don’t get out to ride much on other occasions, I tend to push myself on these short lunchtime rides.  Not keeping my blood sugar topped up is probably not helping me to make the most of these sessions though.   I’ve also usually followed up the rides with PhD Pharma-Whey, which is almost pure protein, rather than a regular recovery drink with closer to 30% protein and 70% carbs (I eat lunch afterwards as well).  Although getting the protein into my system is good, the lack of easily-digested carbs straight after my rides probably means that my muscles are not refuelling properly within the little window of post-exercise opportunity.

So today I mixed up a dose of High5 EnergySource and sipped two thirds of it before I set out to get my blood sugar up.  I finished it off during the first half of my lap around the park.  I rode around anti-clockwise today and felt pretty good most of the way around.  In fact, I managed to complete the lap in 19:34, which is the best I’ve done since November and 1:26 better than my fastest lap last week!  I also managed to hold hard efforts for longer without wearing myself out.  A few stats for the lap:

  • Power (W): Avg 333.7, Max 788
  • Speed (km/h): Avg 33.1, Max 61.5
  • Cadence (rpm): Avg 93.7, Max 108

Following the ride I mixed one scoop of the PhD Pharma-Whey with one scoop of Zipvit ZV3 Recovery Drink Rapide, which provides maltodextrin and sucrose (and a bunch of other special ingredients) in addition to whey protein.  I gave my quads and calves a good stretch as well.  It’s only been a couple of hours, but the legs are feeling pretty good.

So I conclude from this that despite my lunchtime sessions being quite brief, it’s still a good idea to feed myself with a sports drink.  The extra sugar available to my muscles will allow me to train a bit harder, which will make me stronger and faster over time.  I still need to fit some longer rides into my schedule, but keeping sugared up for my regular short rides should keep me in a better condition.

Time for a training schedule

All of last week I meant to write a new blog post, but never managed to get around to it.  It’s been a busy week, added to which I’ve not been getting enough sleep.

I finally got my bike back together a week ago.  I’d been having some problems getting the new derailleur to index correctly.  It turns out that the ball at the end of the gear cable had slipped inside the shifter while the cable was slack, and it was not getting any pull at all from the first three shifts.  It seems that its position within the shifter also meant that the cable was getting crushed when trying to shift, which resulted in its eventual snapping.  I bought a new cable managed to get the new mech indexing correctly, with a bit of help from the guys in CycleChat’s “Know how” forum.

The only problem with the bike now is a creaking sound coming from the saddle.  I originally thought it was a clicking sound coming from the chain, as I could only hear it when turning the cranks, but it went away if I got out of the saddle.  I’m going to take the saddle off and grease all of the contact points between the saddle, rails and post.  Hopefully that will make a difference.  I have been thinking about a new saddle for a while and put a bid in on a Fizik Antares on eBay yesterday, but I was outbid in the last few seconds.

It was great to get back on the road bike after three weeks, but I could really feel the effect of having not been training.  I did some laps of Richmond Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes.  Tuesday felt hard (anti-clockwise), Wednesday felt comparatively better (clockwise), but then Thursday  was quite hard again (clockwise).  The legs were feeling the strain much earlier than I’d hoped and I couldn’t hold hard efforts for terribly long.  I think this week I need to get a couple of interval sessions in on the turbo followed by plenty of stretching.

I’ve had a bit of a bad run so far this year.  After being in fairly decent fitness in November, I was too busy to train much in early December.  I was in snowy Finland for three weeks over Christmas and got next to no exercise, and was then faced with icy roads for the next two weeks back in London, which meant almost no training.  Things started improving slowly as the snow and ice subsided and I then got myself set up properly for turbo training, which boosted things.  Then I got sick for a few days and it took another week to start feeling normal again, which was a bit of a set back.  Recovering from that, I started getting out for regular lunchtime rides again and then did a 200 km London-Brighton-London ride, which resulted in the mechanical that left me unable to train for another three weeks.

It’s been really up and down so far.  Knocks the confidence a bit.  I want to do some racing this year, and will probably begin with a Tuesday night race at Hillingdon.  But I don’t really want to start until I’m feeling sufficiently capable.  That means getting back to at or below 58:00 timings over three laps of Richmond Park.  It feels a bit out of my reach at the moment, the best single lap I’ve done recently was 21 minutes (and I can’t even blame the road surface much any more).

I think one of the things I’m lacking is getting out for longish group rides.  It’s not viable for me to do the Willesden CC club runs as they start way off in Denham and would end up taking up all of Sunday morning and half of the afternoon.  I am generally occupied in my role as a daddy during the weekend anyway, so don’t get a chance to get out that much (if I had the time, I’d probably head out and join the Kingston Wheelers club run).  Most of my rides are also quite short, about 40 minutes including warm up, which doesn’t build much endurance.  I get out for an early weekday ride from time to time, but that’s always by myself.  The Friday Night Rides to the Coast are fun events, but I don’t think they do much for training as they are at a more social pace.

WCC now have their summer training sessions on at Hillingdon on Thursday nights.  I need to try getting out to some of those.  If I could do the following, I’d be pretty happy:

  • Thursday night training at Hillingdon twice a month
  • Tuesday night race at Hillingdon once or twice a month (once fitness is up to scratch)
  • Early morning weekday ride into Surrey once a week (~60 km before work, anyone want to join me?)
  • Friday Night Ride to the Coast and Saturday Morning Ride back to London once a month (~200 km)
  • Lunchtime rides in Richmond Park two or three times a week
  • Turbo training once or twice a week

Maybe that’s over optimistic, but either way it’s time for me to put together a training schedule and stop making excuses.

Turbo-ready

It’s all starting to come together.  Last week I got my new wheels, so I now have a dedicated turbo wheel ready to swap on and off the bike as needed.  Then on Friday I built a new shed, so I now have somewhere to store all of the bike-related stuff that has been taking up space in the lounge, such as the Brompton, turbo trainer, track pump, maintenance stand and spare tyres and wheels.  I just need to fit some little shelves and pegs in there to store things on/hang things off.

I didn’t get to ride during the day yesterday, which is a bit of a shame as the weather was so good.  So I decided to do some turbo training in the evening.  Getting ready for turbo now only takes me a couple of minutes: swap rear wheel, engage & go!  It’s nice not to have to mess around with swapping tyres, so much quicker and much less grubby.

Tacx Sirius Soft Gel Turbo Trainer

Tacx Sirius Soft Gel Folding Magnetic Turbo Trainer

I settled into a Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) session, the same one that I attempted last week.  Last week didn’t go so well.  I had to stop after 30 minutes feeling completely drained, faint and with an urge to vomit.  It was the first time I had been on the turbo for a while so I thought that I was just in poor fitness and that I’d overdone it.  But I think there were other contributing factors.  Firstly, the room temperature had been a bit too high, so this time I made sure it wasn’t so hot.  I did have a fan on during last week’s session, but it doesn’t angle up or down very much and the position I’d put it in was mostly blowing air over my head rather than into my face.  Last night I got it positioned directly in front of me so it was blasting straight at me for the whole session.  Last week I’d also neglected to keep my blood sugar up.  I’d had plently of water, but no carbs to keep me going.  So I drank one bottle of electrolyte energy drink during last night’s session (along with another bottle of water), finishing it with about 15 minutes to go.

Last night went much better.  It was hard work, but I finished the session feeling strong and on a bit of a high.  It finished with three descending max effort intervals from three minutes down to one minute in duration.  I rode in the highest gear in which I could hold a cadence of about 105 for the last three intervals.  It was quite tough, but it felt good to keep the effort consistent to the end of each one.  I’m going to try to get on the turbo at least once a week, but two or three times if possible, at least until the summer kicks in and I can start riding in the park until late evening without the risk of being taken out by phantom deer and suicidal rabbits (I once even had a bat fly into my helmet whilst riding laps of Richmond Park after dark).

The problem with turbo, at least doing it by yourself, is that it isn’t very fun.  Most of the turbo workout videos are pretty bland as well.  The CTS workout, although providing a good range of sprints and steady efforts needed for effective training, is not very interesting to watch.  It just has a bunch of riders wearing CTS kit and sitting on nice clean, trainer-docked bikes, arranged such that they would make for a rather novel department store window display.   The bulk of the video shows them sweating through the session whilst receiving instructions and comments from the coach.  There are about 30 seconds of actual cycling footage in the video I did last night (during a recovery), showing a couple of attacks and a sprint for the line.  I’m sure those snippits are suppossed to be motivational, but they are quite short-lived and that’s about as exciting as it gets.  Of course, these videos are meant to be for training, not entertainment, and they do serve that purpose.

However, I recently stumbled across some new turbo workouts from The Sufferfest while reading Damien Breen’s blog, In The Saddle.  Rather than being organised around a dull set of routine intervals showing other people on turbos, these workouts have a first-person rider’s view of real footage from the classics and the 2009 World Championships.  The efforts don’t come in neatly-timed predictable intervals, but in the form of attacks from other riders which need to be chased down.  I haven’t tried one yet, but from the demo videos online, the workouts look like far more fun than a traditional turbo session and I think I’ll be downloading one of them soon!


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