Archive for December, 2009:
2010 is upon us. Ready or not, it’s here. As fast as this year went by, I couldn’t be more stoked for it. It is a chance to start fresh and start to implement those goals or “resolutions” you’ve had for the past few months. However, the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions got me thinking. I was talking to a personal trainer at the gym I work at and we discussed that if someone was committed to losing weight, why wait till the New Year to start implementing it?
This applies to training as well. If you have a certain aspect of your riding or fitness you want to work on, waiting until the 1st only gives you less time to prepare for the next season. Granted the New Year is only in 2 days, but if you want something bad enough, you shouldn’t need to wait for a holiday. This is the time of year where you can really gain some ground on your competition. While they are eating themselves into a coma with left over stuffing and chugging champagne, you can keep training and get a step ahead.
Granted, this doesn’t mean to train like the pre-season with intervals and sprints, but this is where you work on your weaknesses and change your program if it wasn’t working too well for you. This goes along with the other posts as last week; if you wait till the New Year to get your Off Season training started, you have already lost half of the time. So don’t wait till the ball drops and bottles are popped, get on that new program ASAP!
The other day I was working out and felt weak. I had a hard time finishing my sets and felt drained throughout my workout. I had gotten plenty of sleep the night before and I really didn’t exert a lot of energy that day, so I should have been rested enough. After my workout, I came home and had a protein shake and made dinner. I instantly felt better after eating; I had more energy and was more focused. So what was the problem?
Low blood sugar. I had work that day and I didn’t eat anything during my shift. I went about 5 or 6 hours without anything in my system. My body resorted to taking glycogen (which gets converted into glucose) from my muscles to sustain energy. When this happens, you feel tired, weak and you are not as focused. Because a good amount of my glucose stores had been used to keep me going at work, my workout suffered since there was no glucose left to supply energy to my muscles.
Consuming small meals throughout the day helps maintain your sugar levels. A good interval between meals is usually around 2 – 3 hours. Now, keep in mind, this doesn’t mean having lunch every 3 hours. You could have a salad and then a sandwich a few hours later. Avoiding sugary foods also helps maintain a constant amount of sugar for your body and you will avoid those “crashes”.
As I stated in my post workout nutrition article, these sugars are essential after a workout as well. Technically, they are considered carbs because of the chemical makeup. This does not mean you can eat junk food and drink a Coke after training. The right sugars are found in sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. Drinking a little bit of these within 15 minutes of training will help replenish the glucose in your body. A good idea I heard recently is to get the Gatorade powder and put a little bit of it in your post workout drink. That way, you get your protein and necessary carbs to keep you from “crashing”.
I’ve kind of had a reoccurring theme this week. If you haven’t guessed, it has been the off season training. Even amateurs can benefit from getting into the habit seasonal training. Even if you aren’t a serious racer (i.e. weekend warrior), this type of training can help you can ride longer and you won’t as sore on Monday for work. I really wanted to cover cardio today because that is something that can be somewhat tough to work.
I work part time at a gym here in Tampa. I see plenty of people come in and hit the treadmills and stationary bikes for at least an hour and a half; and they come in 5 or 6 times a week to do the same thing. They kill themselves and I can tell their legs are on fire. This got me thinking…is this really an effective way to build up your cardio? It just doesn’t seem logical to come in and kill yourself like this. This is where heart rate training comes into play.
If you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate the percentage you need to be in. For fat burning, you usually want to be in around 50 – 60% of your max heart rate (HR). To get the body burning the fat, it takes about 20 – 30 minutes for the body to begin this process. However, if you want to get that cardio up, 70 – 80% of your max HR gets you into that MX training zone.
If you are just starting out training, a good place to start (as far as length of the cardio session), is a little more than the time of your average race. If your race is about 15 minutes, do your cardio for 20 minutes. From what I have read, the best way to be prepared for your event is to train 3 to 4 times longer than your event. So for a 15 minute race, 45 to 60 minutes would be needed to train. Now, remember, this is for a steady pace of 70 – 80% of your max HR. Trying to do that with interval sessions would murder you.
This whole concept of this cardio is for getting your base down and expanding out from there. Doing this about 3 days a week is a pretty solid time for recovery. You don’t need to kill yourself in the gym every time. Training efficiently is more effective and you will see the results on the track much sooner; plus you won’t risk the possibility of over training.
The Holidays are here. That means lots of food and drinks. Yea, alcoholic drinks. This time of year is hard enough to get through with a healthy diet for racing, but alcohol just throws in an extra curve ball. With anything in training, moderation is pretty important. The more you try to avoid it, the more you will “splurge” drink when you finally get it.
Here are a few things to remember when the bottoms go up:
- In one of my previous articles about the importance of sleep, I showed the importance of sleep for athletes. At first, alcohol can put you to sleep, but the deep sleep needed is interrupted by the alcohol. Not only this, but alcohol can reduce your immune system’s power and if you are injured, it can actually take longer for you to heal up with alcohol in your body.
- Cancels out your workouts. Over a long period of time, it can diminish long term protein synthesis and deter muscle growth.
- Waking up hung over means you are dehydrated and this is often associated with headaches, nausea, and weakness. This dehydration can go back to recovery from your workouts. The dehydration impairs the body’s ability to heal itself. Not only is the body depleted of water, but nutrients are pushed out too.
- One New Zealand study actually found that reaction time was reduced even after 60 hours of heavy drinking.
Now, this is pretty negative. However, IF YOU ARE OF AGE AND ABOVE 21, then a few drinks during the Holidays is not going to kill your training. Like I said, moderation is important. As long as you aren’t getting drunk before a race, you should be okay. To offset the dehydration, drink plenty of water throughout the night. Be smart about it and you’ll make it through the Holiday season healthier than you think.
Yesterday I did an article on off season training. If you didn’t read, it is a good idea to skim over at least so you get an idea as to what this is post is going to refer to. In summary, the off season is a chance to look back and figure out the mistakes made on and off the track. I focused a lot on the training part, but riding technique can also be improved at this time. Like off the bike training, you want to break down your program to the fundamentals. For riding, this means vision.
As you get faster and faster, it is crucial you look further and further ahead. Beginners make a bad habit of looking right in front of their fender. Not only does this not give you a chance to set up for the following section, but your reaction time is cut down drastically because you are staring right in front of you. It is like driving a car; if you are constantly staring at the front of your hood, you are at a greater risk for getting into a fender-bender. You want to look ahead at the cars in front of you so you can anticipate what is coming.
Looking at least a few bike lengths ahead has always worked well for me. This works really well for jump faces and fast sections. If you are looking well ahead, you can make adjustments so you don’t slow yourself down or end up on the ground. For corners, as a rider approaches the apex, looking at the end of the corner actually helps you and your bike go where you are looking. For ruts, looking at the end while you are at the beginning of it helps you keep your balance and focus on getting through it cleanly.
One weird thing that I have noticed before is that if you stare at something (like a rock), you somewhat gravitate towards it. That’s why it is important to notice obstacles and find a clean way through them, don’t concentrate on it. Just get around it. This is a very basic technique, but it is something everyone should work one. Even the pros practice the basic stuff because that is the foundation of your riding. Like the off season training, if you have a wide base, your riding “pyramid” can be built up higher.
Hey guys, I am sorry I didn’t update the site at all last week. I had exams all week and on top of that work…so it was a pretty crazy week. However, I plan to make it up to you guys and I have started working on something. It should be done around New Years. So it will be my holiday present for you. Stay tuned for more info!