Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Week's Not Quite Over

But I'm having a really good training week. All of my workouts so far have been really productive. I had been thinking about something Lucho said/says about taking risks with your training and have tried to do some things differently -- especially with my cycling and strength work these last couple of weeks. I've added 3 strength workouts to the mix (each with a different emphasis) and do them only during the days I work following a 30 to 45 min warmup run or bike.

One of the challenges in training for me is to get all of the workouts I'd like to do in while still seeing a positive benefit from each session. But what can be most challenging for me is my work schedule and getting adequate recovery. Because I work overnight 3 days out of the week, my sleep patterns are irregular. The days I work I don't get as much sleep as the days I'm off. And the 4 days I'm off are also when I try to get in the bulk of my quality training. So I'm trying to train and recover during the same block of time.

In the past I made the mistake of attempting to stick a more "traditional" training schedule where my long rides and runs where done on the weekends. But getting off at 7AM after working for 12 hours and trying to run or ride was just too hard physically and mentally. I've since decided that just wasn't a good idea for a lot of reasons. The main one being I was having serious trouble with my weight while I was doing it. It was also ruining my training and recovery during my days off.

Because of the things I discovered going through my training logs last week I decided to do as much work on the weekdays as possible in a daily pattern consisting of swimming, yoga, riding, then running followed by more yoga targeting tight and/or tired muscles from the day's workouts. Since the last Time Trial I've shifted my week day workouts around to this new pattern and it seems to be working. I think I've come up with a workout schedule I can live with. By doing some things a little differently adding the strength work and a few relatively short but intense running and cycling sessions to the mix, I'm actually doing a few more hours of training a week and not feeling as wiped out overall. That is a good thing.

I'm not sure but I think simply because of the schedule change, I'm starting to see some more rapid gains in fitness than I'd been experiencing before. One thing I've noticed besides feeling more rested and stronger is that my resting heart rate has dropped from about 55 bpm to 42 bpm. My appetite has been really consistent lately and I think I'm seeing the benefit of eating pretty much the same stuff daily as long as it is healthy. I'm not sure what the percentages are but I know I've been getting lots of carbs, mainly from fruits and veggies. The biggest addition to my diet lately has to be my "rediscovery" that I LOVE grapefruit. Next to watermelon which is practically like eating a serving water and trace minerals, I think grapefruit is awesome. It so takes care of the hunger and the thirst at the same time. And I'm all about efficient fueling. I've also been drinking more organic fruit juices, especially cranberry juice. When I started drinking cranberry juice regularly a couple of months ago I noticed an immediate upswing in my day to day energy. Subsequent conversations with my Naturopath about this development seem to point to both the cleansing, alkaline promoting nature of the cranberry juice in the body as well as the possibility of my walking around with a low grade bladder infection.

On top of all that I went out and did another Time Trial this past Tuesday. This time I started thinking about all the cycling I'd been doing for the last few years with Du'Shun. The thing about my riding with him is that it is all about efficiency. If there is one thing I can say that I've learned from him is riding quickly with a super high cadence and saving big swings in power output for when they are really needed. This is big change from how I used to ride before when I raced. So when I went out to the Time Trial this week I decided to do the whole thing in my small chainring. What happened was that I rode entirely in my small ring and matched the speed of my previous best time. Oh and that was in conditions that were hotter and windier, and with a heart rate 10 beats lower than the prior best effort. So what I learned from that is I had been pushing too large a gear and need to maintain the efficiency as I build my strength.

Now I'm off to the gym. Cheers.


Triteacher said...

Congrats on the insights, Ace. I too can eat the same foods again and again (though I may wish to cut the M&M percentage).

So how did you make the switch to higher rpms? I am such a masher. I can't seem to shake it. I guess I just need to force myself into that lower chain ring and stay there. (??)

ace said...

You know, M&M's are the one food that I'd probably eat more of if they were available. ;) I just don't seem to see them around as much. At least not as much as when I was a kid and my grandmother always kept a large bag of them under her bed.

The thing about obtaining pedal cadence is interesting. There are a few ways to go about obtaining it. About the easiest for me was to ride with someone who actually did it and try to match them. This is what happened when I started riding with Du'Shun. I just couldn't keep up with him on climbs or longer rides until I changed how I cycled. Sort of like something my yoga teacher, Sanieh, said today in class, "Orbit the sun and eventually you become the sun...."

Another way is to do high rpm intervals on a trainer. I like to do them in between sets of single leg drills. That way you are retraining how your legs work throughout the entire pedal cycle then applying the technique immediately.

The last thing that helped me was doing some work on a spin bike -- if you have access to one. The ones they have in the gym with the weighted wheel. You can really get some good high rpm work done on those machines. The faster you pedal the easier it is to ride on them so, spending time on them really helps with cadence and pedal stroke IMO.