Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Train in Bad Wearher


My brother and I used to call them "Belgium Days". Those were the rides that built character, improved your mental toughness, and showed just how dedicated you were.  However, we lived in Hawaii so what the hell did we know.  

Living in Virginia Beach is unique.  It's unique in the fact that since we don't get consistent periods of really cold weather, it's tough to train when the temperature does drop.  The reason is we are not typically prepared for it, equipment, body conditioning, and mentality.  Over the last couple of weeks, the temperatures have hovered in the thirties.  We had a day in the forties, with 20+ mile an hour winds.  Whether you are building a base or trying to build your anaerobic capacity, the environmental conditions can have a negative effect on your plan.

I am a believer in cross training.  Cycling is a sport that has movements primarily in one plane and is done in a hip flex position.  Amateur cyclist spend  about 7-15 hours a week in this position.  Couple that with computer/desk work, it's easy to see why so many riders end up injuries related to muscle imbalances.  Cross training gives cyclists a chance to improve their fitness with high end training while decreasing the likelihood of burnout and injury.

Now I'm not advocating cross training as the only method of training, and I even suggest combining it with your cycling.  For example, last week I completed 20 intervals of 1:00 on and 1:00 off on the Versa Climber: 

Next I did a little strength training:

When I got home, I got a little food and within two hours got on my bike.  I've done this outside and inside.  The bottom line after an hour and a half of cross training, the final hour on the bike felt like the final hour of a 3+ hour ride.  I was able to get high end anaerobic training, strength work, volume of training, miles on the bike and even skill work at times:

All this without exposing myself to harsh environmental conditions. Therefore, when planning your winter training, be creative, embrace variety, and don't get caught up in simple mileage goals.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Training Update: Hills, Cold, Long Rides, Cross Training, and Power Test

Since my last post I have done a lot of training.  I have fallen slightly away from the amount of time I have scheduled myself to train in my training plan, but the training I have done has been high quality. The week between Christmas and New Years I was in Jefferson, MD riding the hills.  It was a great chance to test the Madone on the rolling, steep hills plus work on my leg strength. 

Last weekend I did a three hour ride with a couple of teammates. That was huge for me.  It has been at least three years since I was able to ride that far with no back pain. I followed it up an endurance cross training workout on Sunday.  It wen something like this:
8:00 with 2:00 rest interval.  3x on the Concept2 rower, 3x on the Versa Climber, 3x on the Jacob's Ladder, and 3x with a sled push.
It was very tough but a great accomplishment when I was done. 

This week was a recovery week through Thursday. On Friday I did an 8-minute power test.  I use the 8-min version during the base building months simply because I can wrap my mind around it better.  It still ends up being nearly a two hour ride because of where I ride to perform the test.  Basically I do two 8-minute efforts with a 10-minute rest interval. I average the two results and use 90% of the value. My FTP increased by 5 watts since last month and 20 watts from the month before.

Saturday was another cross training day for me in which I did the following:
5:00 on the Versa Climber, 20x push-ups, 10x pull-ups, 20x sit-ups, 10x Squats (35lb KB), 20x lunges (walking 10 each side), 10x KB swings (35lb), 20x Smartbell circles (10 each side).  I repeated this circuit five times with only taking breaks to drink water (there was one time I ended up taking a little break because of a conversation).
This really was a tougher training session than it may sound.  It hit all the critical movement patterns in sports (push, pull, squat, bend, lunge, and rotation).  It was also metabolic training by doing the Versa Climber first, all the strength work was accomplished with a high heart rate.  It was just over an hour of solid training but really was an endurance workout.

Today I went out for just over two hours with my teammate Mike.  We did a northern VA Beach ride which included several stops, starts, turns, wind changes, and conversation.  Sometimes I feel these types of rides hurt more than a steady fast county ride.

Also I finally got a K-edge.  I bought the one that holds the Garmin on top and GoPro under.  Here a two pics from today's ride including a selfie:

Thanks for reading and hopefully you get some good outdoor training prior to the big storms rolling through this week.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekend Miles

I have decided to revive this blog a little.  As a cycling coach I do a lot of research on how to train and how to improve. I was never what I considered a "natural athlete". I have always had to read, research and try different approaches to training.  Everyone is different and none of my clients are on the same plan.  I figured I would start talking about my training again.  This is for a couple of reasons:

1.  People who find themselves in the same time commitments may benefit from copying my plan.

2.  For the first time in 4 years I feel like my back is good enough to really train again and be competitive. 

3.  This is probably the most important, my family is tired of listening to me talk about training. 

At the beginning of December I brought home a new bike from East Coast Bikes. My new Trek Madone 5.2. 

I really like this bike. So far I haven't had any back pain and the only foot numbness I have had is due to cold toes.  Last season my longest ride of the year was 2.5 hours.  Last weekend I did 2.75 hours with no issues.

This last week ended my first 5-week segment of base building.  As I mentioned before with limited riding time for the past 4 years, I really needed to build a good base.  Week 5 was a recovery.  I took three days off during the week and did not do any cross training or strength training.  On Saturday I did a power test.  This time of year I use an 8-minute test for FTP.  It was very motivating to see my numbers increase 14 watts.  They are not where they were 4 years ago, but I'm on the right path.  Sunday I went out on a 2-hour ride in my endurance zone.  In the last 30 minutes I started to bonk because I was dumb and didn't eat anything.  Sometimes you forget how much sugar you burn just staying warm.  I came home and ate nearly everything in the house.

I ended up with two 2-hour rides this weekend.  Again this is a step in the right direction for me and I'm very excited to continue this training and even more excited to come out strong next year. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 York Can Am Police Fire Games



I have looking forward to the 2014 York Can Am Police Fire Games all year long.  This was the first year in the past 4 seasons in which I felt I could train and gain enough fitness to be competitive.  My back still gives me problems and I have been limited to slightly shorter training rides, but I have been on the bike, running and cross training enough to feel I could be factor in these games.

What are the Can Am Police Fire Games?

The Can Am Police Fire Games are an Olympic style competition for law enforcement and firefighters.  Here is are the rules of who is eligible to compete:

  • All sworn Federal, State/Provincial, County, Municipal and Military law enforcement officers, weight control officers, corrections officers and dispatchers employed by a law enforcement agency (male or female, active or retired) are eligible. Police reservists and cadets who have 180-days of continuous law enforcement service, have received formal training in law enforcement and have powers of arrest are eligible.
  • Eligible fire service personnel includes both paid and volunteer, dispatchers, military fire personnel, (male or female, active or retired) who have received formal training as a firefighter and have 180-days of continuous fire service.
  • Eligible EMS personnel includes E.M.S. personnel employed by a private entity or Governmental Agency (male or female, active or retired) who have received formal training as an EMS provider and have 180 days of continuous service.
  • Eligible law enforcement, fire service and E.M.S. personnel described above from any city, county, state/province, and Country are eligible to compete.
  • A spouse must complete a Registration Form listing the agency information representing the eligible spouse.
NOTE: Eligibility rules will be strictly adhered to.
Agencies specifically included:
  • Municipal Police
  • Municipal Fire
  • County Sheriff
  • County Fire
  • Harbor Police
  • Harbor Fire
  • CII Investigators
  • District Attorney's Investigators
  • Alcohol Beverage Control Officers
  • U.S. Marshal's Office
  • Secret Service
  • Highway Patrol
  • Parole Agents and Officers
  • State Police
  • Gov’t. Employed Corrections Officers
  • Provincial Police
  • Seasonal Smoke jumpers and Firefighters (with at least two years employment)
  • US Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
  • Border Patrol
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • University/Campus Police and Fire Depts.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Customs and Immigration Service
  • Government Employed Dispatchers
  • National/State/Prov. Wardens/ Rangers
  • Attorney General Investigators
  • Tribal Police
  • U.S. Park Service Police
  • Military Police
  • Military Firefighters
  • Bureau of Narcotic's Investigators
Agencies specifically excluded:
  • Private Business Firefighters
  • Pre-employment Police or Fire Science students
  • Private Security Services
  • Civilian Jailers and Corrections Personnel
  • Non governmental Dispatchers
Here is a list of events for the 2014 Games:



VBW Representation for Cycling Events:
John Gray (Suffolk Fire Department) and myself (Virginia Beach Fire Department) represented Hampton Roads and the Virginia Beach Wheelmen in this year's event.  We competed in three races: the TT, the Crit, and the Road Race.  We entered the Senior B category which was an age graded 35-39.  We really did not know what to expect as far as competition.  What we found was small packs that varied in experience.  There were Cat 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and even some unlicensed riders.  The courses were also challenging.  Both the TT and the Road Race were on very hilly terrain.  The road race featured a circuit with four laps and each lap had rolling hills and a steady steep 1.5 mile climb.  The Crit was on wide roads through a neighborhood.  The TT was on the same course as the road race but went the other direction.

For the TT, John was doing great but ended up loosing his chain and it got stuck in his bottom bracket.  He lost too much time.  I was able to hold on for third to bring home a bronze medal.

For the Crit, John and I were both in the front separation with two other strong riders.  They ended forming a deal with each other to combat the team work put forth by VBW.  The stronger rider was starting to counter all of our attacks while allowing the other one to just sit in.  Seeing this, I got to the front for the final three laps and set the pace.  The pace was high enough to stop all further attacks and it allowed John to sit in for the sprint.  On the final John was out sprinted but got the Silver medal and I held on for another bronze.

In the Road Race, I was concerned about the hills.  The mixed several categories for a little bit larger pack.  We had about 10 riders in our category we needed to fend off.  Not really knowing their ability, I got to the front immediately.  The race started with pretty steady climbing for the first 3 miles.  I set a tempo early on that got rid of half the pack.  Then the strong rider from the crit got to the front (he was actually in an age category lower than us) and John got on his wheel.  I allowed a gap to form while everyone else sat on my wheel.  A few riders noticed this and sprinted up to close the gap.  This acceleration depleted more of the original pack.  I sat on for a little bit but then settled into my own climbing pace.  John and the other rider was able to create separation from everyone else and I slowly started to pick off other dropped riders.  In the Senior B race, John ended up Gold and I got another Bronze.

The Best Part of the Games:

By far one of the best things about these games is meeting people from around the country. Public safety jobs are unique and offer challenges to being an athlete. Our jobs require a certain level of fitness but with sleepless nights, shift work and odd eating schedule, often it could be difficult to maintain this fitness. These games gives us the chance to promote our sport, competition, fitness and learn from each other.  It becomes easy to make new friends, even if some of them are cops.

2018 They Will Be in Hampton Roads:

Hampton Roads has won the bid to host these games in 2018.  Check out their latest banner:
  
The Next Focus:

In 2015, the World Police Fire Games will be in Fairfax, VA.  The cycling events bring many European competitors and are always very tough.  VBW will be looking to bring a full team and try to bring back some medals to Hampton Roads. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interval Training Versus Repetition Training

All cyclists understand the importance and suffering that comes with interval training.  Over the past many years there has been an even greater understanding of how to pinpoint this training by using power as opposed to heart rate as the gauge of performance.  For most of us we perform a power test on a regular basis.  The primary focus of this test is to determine or estimate your functional threshold power (FTP).  From your FTP you can determine your other zones and where you should be training.  In addition, you may even test the other zones by doing max efforts at 5:00, 1:00, and 15 second sprints.  I use the seven zone method found in Hunter Allen's book Training and Racing with a Power Meter to divide my power/heart rate zones.  These include:
Zone 1:  Recovery- less than 55% of FTP
Zone 2:  Endurance- 56-75% of FTP
Zone 3:  Tempo- 76-90% of FTP
Zone 4:  Lactate Threshold- 91-105% of FTP
Zone 5:  VO2max- 106-120% of FTP
Zone 6:  Anaerobic Capacity- 121-150% of FTP
Zone 7:  Neuromuscular Power- Over 151% of FTP
Since you don't train for "Recovery", there are six zones to train in order to be a well rounded racer.  Endurance and Tempo zones are typically trained on your long days or group rides.  For the threshold and anaerobic zones, interval or repetition training is the best way to improve.  The real question is do you know the difference and when to use interval or repetition?

Interval training is primarily designed to increase your VO2max levels.  Lets say you wanted to do a VO2max interval that would last 8 minutes.  How long will it take your heart rate to get into the zone and how long will it take for the goal power numbers to be challenging?  If your goal power for the interval is 280 watts, it might take two minutes for that to feel challenging and for your heart rate to start rising.  This means your 8-minute effort is only 6 minutes at your goal.  The following is 8 minute intervals as shown with power and heart rate:

  Obviously it is important to practice these long intervals to improve muscular endurance at the higher power ranges.  Next take a look at an interval set designed to improve VO2max also.  These are actually listed as anaerobic capacity intervals because they are done at a higher power level.  These intervals have an equal rest as they do work, but the rest could be less for these types of intervals.  They train you using a higher power level, but your heart rate responds like a VO2max level.  As these intervals increase in numbers, you can see the power is decreasing, it is alright.  The heart rate is also not coming down as quickly between intervals and climbing quicker.  The real training occurs as this workout progresses.
 

Finally I wanted to show you repetition training.  These are efforts that have much longer rest intervals than they do work intervals.  The goal is to be near full recovery before starting the next effort.  These are specifically designed to improve power output at a specific zone or time period.  The design here was a specific power to hold until he hit fatigue.  Then he rested for at least 2x the work interval and repeated.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 William and Mary Tidewater Winter Classic

The Virginia Beach Wheelmen took four riders to compete in the Cat 3 race.  All of them had goals to accomplish and something to prove to themselves.  For John Gray and Tim Shockley it was a chance to test some early season fitness and see if they could get into a break a do some work at the front of the pack.  Mike Tamayo has spent the winter attached to a trainer trying to get rides snuck in between work, a two year old and a brand new baby who arrived earlier this month.  Joshua Goyet has been building fitness back for the last several months after returning to the bike following a back injury.  The distance was going to be the challenge for both Mike and Joshua.

All four Wheelmen finished the race and felt good about their accomplishments.  They mixed it up in the breaks, assisted with the chase and even had parts in the final lead out.  When it was all over, although not on the podium, the Wheelmen were thrilled with the start of the 2014 racing season.

John Gray 11th
Tim Shockley. 15th
Mike Tamayo. 32nd
Joshua Goyet 35th



On a personal note for me, this race was big.  On the third of 5 laps I decided I was going to pull out the next lap.  My back was a little sore and I had not trained the distance. Really I was using a built in excuse.  I rode up to Tim and let him know my intentions.  When we came through again and I heard the bell, I changed my mind.  I am making a comeback to the sport after taking off last year and really fighting this back injury for the past 3 years.  It is not a comeback if I had dropped out of the first race of the season.  I ended up finishing strong on the front for the lead out in an attempt to keep it safe for my teammates.  That was my victory.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

BCCX 2013 Results

Here are the results for the 2013 Bennett's Creek CX race.  I will also post some pictures later.

2013 BCCX results