Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4 Months to Go

The count-down is on in earnest now. We are 4 months away from Leadville. After training since November, we are seeing improvements in our fitness. But will it be enough? And what will the next 4 months bring?

Currently we are working out 5 days a week. In addition to our cycling workouts, 2 days each week (usually Monday and Friday) we also do 45 minutes of core (abdominal and back strengthening exercises) and flexibility/balance work.

Monday workouts are usually 60 minute active recovery
rides – the focus is on keeping our heart rates low while spinning at a comfortable watt output. Studies indicate that low-intensity active recovery appears to significantly reduce accumulated blood lactate and speed muscle recovery. It is a great way to get our legs refreshed after the long weekend rides.

Tuesday workouts tend to be anywhere from 60 to 90 minute interval
efforts. Generally, those involve brief bouts at near maximum exertion (Lactate Threshold ) interspersed with periods of lower-intensity activity. These can be “kind of” hard, “hard,” or “I really want to throw up” hard. Nat, our coach, has been keeping these workouts in the “kind of” hard range up to this point. We anticipate that beginning in May, we’ll start seeing the leg & lung-buster versions. Interval training is crucial for mountain bike events. Your efforts are not sustained and steady as they are on road bikes. Instead, you yo-yo between easy spinning and all out anaerobic effort – over and over during the course of an event. Intervals prepare your body for that stress.

Wednesday and Thursday are typically rest days – no workouts at all. Yee Ha! The goal is to really give our bodies adequate time to recover from the interval workouts. At first we were a little nervous about taking two days of back-to-back rest. Now we think Nat is a genius! At our age, we just don’t recover overnight. So, we wear our compression tights,
drink lots of water, and try to eat lighter than we do on days with workouts (I try to get lots of vegetables on the rest days – high quality carb calories with lots of fiber and water to keep me full, but low calorie-density so I don’t puff up).

Friday workouts can include intervals, or higher intensity tempo/endurance work. The workouts vary between 60 and 90 minutes.

Weekend workouts are longer and are expected to be done outside (our weekday workouts are typically done indoors on our CompuTrainers – it is much easier to do controlled intervals on the trainers, and we can workout before we go to the office), so they are weather dependent. Typically, one day is a 2 hour workout and the other day is between 3 to 4 hours. As the season progresses, we anticipate those workouts will get much longer – up to 6 or 8 hours per day. We also expect to start doing tons of climbing; up to now, we’ve been building our endurance base on mostly flat roads.

We fall into bed Sunday night and get up and do it all over again . . . 4 months and counting . . .

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