Friday, May 19, 2017

Irish Dancing is a Sport

My group of Irish Dancers always kick butt during their weekly strength and conditioning training. Check out this short clip of some plyometric work.

Irish Dance Strong

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Base Building for Endurance Athletes: Is It For Everyone?

A quick google search or a discussion with several endurance coaches will probably leave an athlete confused on whether or not to periodize an aerobic building phase into their training plan.  The choices are simple:  long endurance training or high intensity interval training.

Endurance training benefits:
Athletes who train in Zone 2 for 6-12 weeks will train their bodies to use oxygen more efficiently, burn fat as fuel, improve capillary density, increase mitochondria size and numbers, and give themselves a break from the high intensity workouts the season demands.  Many people have asked if this training model is worth the time citing several studies showing high intensity interval training throughout the year to be a better model.

High Intensity Interval Training benefits:
Athletes who chose to train at the high intensity throughout the year will not have to spend the long hours training.  The time commitment for base building is deterring factor for many amateur athletes.  Studies have shown a marked improvement during the season when this model was used as compared to a base building control group.  Many people will cite "specificity is king", meaning you compete at a high intensity, you should train at high intensity. 

Choosing the right model:
I am a big proponent of base building, but not every year for everybody.  First of all it is important for new athletes to build an aerobic base.  Lifetime athletes have built that base up over many years and can afford to skip a season of endurance rides.  The studies showing benefits of high intensity intervals used lifelong, elite athletes.

Second group are those who may be returning following an injury.  A back injury decreased my cycling training for a five year period.  This last season was the first I felt I could actually train.  The problem was I had lost a good deal of my base since I couldn't be on the bike for more than an hour and a half.  My season, therefore was inconsistent.  I am putting together an early base building period for myself in order to re-establish my aerobic fitness.

Third group are those with a shift in goals.  A base building period will likely be needed to go from a crit racer to a road or stage racer.

Lastly those who perform the high intensity work need to look at the quality of the intervals.  As a strength and conditioning coach, I have found there needs to be a specific order of fitness.  I can't teach speed drills to someone who becomes exhausted after the first two drills.  Strength and conditioning need to be established before improving speed.  Strength and conditioning can't be improved if the athlete doesn't have the endurance to complete the workouts.  The same concept holds true for endurance athletes, if you can't complete the prescribed intervals, what in your fitness is lacking?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Little Bit Nervous

Alright, I'll admit, I'm a tad nervous about this weekend's races.  I've made the decision to race primarily 123 races this year in preparation for the World Police Fire Games at the end of June.  It seems to me, though, that in the past few years, everyone has gotten so fast.

Today is the Shamrock Crit in VA Beach followed by the rescheduled Snowball Crit in Chesapeake.

Here's hoping I don't end up on "You Got Dropped".

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Richmond International Raceway Cat 3 Crit 2015 Race Report and Pictures

The 2015 racing season is definitely underway. I have always loved racing this raceway crit. In the past, when it was a Cat 3/4 race, there were 100 entries. We don't get to ride those numbers very often. This year, like last, it was a stand alone Cat 3. Tim Shockley and myself made the drive up.  On the way we talked about our plans and goals for the race.  We decided to see what we could do to really mix it up.  We planned on spending the first 10 laps or so getting comfortable and moving around the field. After that we would look for a break, ideally 5-6 riders. We were not going to spend much energy simply chasing down attacks since it was only the two of us in a field of over 40.  

The race began:  

It really wasn't bad.  The wind was tough and at times pretty tricky in turn 2 and the back straight away.  Within the first 6-minutes, a break formed with 5 riders.  It looked good, and I thought to myself it was the break Tim and I talked about.  However, it was early...very early.  No one told them because that break survived with four riders who ended up lapping the field (which later actually caused a problem).

Tim and I worked at the front, doing our share but also looking for a second break.  This race is funny, the finish is tricky because it's so wide across.  You can be 5 feet from first place and be 20th. We were sticking to the goal of getting a break going.  A few attempts happened:

None of them stuck.  The final three laps I decided to get on Tim's wheel.  No real thought of a lead out, but he was riding well at the front and I thought it would be a good place to be.

It was a good place. Despite a few racers blatantly going below the yellow line to advance their position (hint: red jersey from Cutaway) Tim did a great job holding position and legally advancing us up.  Then, for some reason, two of the four break away riders tangled up behind me.  One went down and crashed into my rear wheel. I dint go down, but this is what I saw:

Tire was flat and I couldn't ride it anymore. I got off the bike and walked to the finish line to avoid a DNF. 

Unfortunately it was more than a flat tire:

The rider who went down ended up ripping the valve stem off and pulling a spoke from the rim.  I guess it could have been worse. No frame damage, no body damage, the rim is replaceable. Tim and were planning to double up and do the 123 race as well, but I didn't have a spare wheel so we hit the road.

Thank you to the promoters, this was again another great event.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

William and Mary Road Race- Cat 3 Race Report

I'm a little late on reporting this race but here it goes.  Mike Tamayo and myself made the short trip to Williamsburg to race the Cat 3 William and Mary Road Race Winter Classic.  We both discussed our goals and race plan on the drive up and they were pretty simple.
  1. Stay up right.  Regain confidence riding in a pack (no pack riding for me during the winter).
  2. Be able to keep an eye on the race.  Know who is up the road and what teams are represented.
  3. Mix it up in the pack sprint.
Basically I was using this race as a skills training.  I am pretty confident with my fitness level but I did do a lot of base building since I needed to reestablish my endurance after the last several years of dealing with my back issue.  Therefore I haven't really had the chance to work on high level efforts and I was not confident with being able to survive in a break.

Things were going exactly how I had thought they would.  First time up the KOA hill a rider from Careytown went up the road.  We didn't go hard up the hill and he just rode off the front.  Josh Moore and a VT rider followed.  No problem, if they wanted to exhaust themselves for the next 35 miles, go ahead.  However, the VT rider was dropped and the other two stayed out.  Within a lap they had 2:00 on the field.  As much as I wanted to chase, and Mike even asked if I was planning on it, I wanted to stick with my initial plan.  Not all races have to be about the results.  Sometimes you need to just ride some of them in order to race others.

At times the race did open up, gaps were created and we got strung out.  I was able to sit in, ride at the front when I needed to and keep an eye on the activity, close gaps as they formed and rode what I thought was smart riding.  Mike was able to do the same, I did feel the need to be on the front a little more than me in the final lap.  Especially when a small group got off the front after the final turn before entering the park.  The rest of the race seemed content to let it go, so was I.

In the final stretch I figured I would work to stay near the front and sprint, even if it was for 7th place.  I was on the outside as the picture above shows.  I'm not really sure what I was thinking but as I attempted to go around, the rider in front also was moving up.  I ran out of road and the grass was really wet and soft.  I went from near the front to the back instantly and just rode in, no sprint.

Overall it was a good race, good way to start the season.  Now I'm ready for Richmond Raceway.

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.