This week I backed off cycling training. No matter what I did, I was very low energy and just could not summon enough juice to work out at wattages and intensities in previous weeks.
What a frustrating thing. I am now building to my next race in June and feel that backing off now interrupts my progress. But I am trying to rationalize better and listen to my body.
A intuitive training regimen is prescribed by my coach. There will be lulls in my energy naturally and forcing my way through them without rest is only going to increase frustration and potential injury.
Some training programs have them built in every 4 weeks. Those coaches reduce volume by up to 50% on lower intensity weeks. My coach prefers to program them in based on how the body feels, as they do not occur as regularly as training programs schedule volume breaks.
They can also be sport specific. My swimming and running apparently have not been affected, while my cycling has clearly had a down-energy turn. Time to do a series of easy bikes for this week and then see how I do next week.
Electrostim is great. You crank it up as far as you can stand and it makes your muscles jump around like crazy. It stimulates your muscles into healing, helps blood flow, and is sometimes used to exercise the muscles.
Yesterday I have two electrostim pads hooked up to each hamstring. I crank it up to as much as I can stand but something goes wrong. It causes my hamstrings to really lock up and they hurt!
I ask for the electrostim to be backed off but it’s too late. Microtears occur in my hamstrings and it wrecks today’s workout. Both hamstrings feel overworked and like they’re gonna cramp at any moment.
Another lesson learned. Too much of a good thing sometimes ain’t.
My coach is fond of saying that he doesn’t really care what days you do his workouts in his schedule, as long as you do them. He has also experimented greatly with varying the order of workouts to see if there is any difference in the results, and he has seen that there isn’t much difference.
Most workout schedules have a series of light workouts during the week, and then on Saturday you do a medium to long swim, a long bike, and then a short run; and on Sunday you do a long run. After the long workouts on Saturday and Sunday, you get a day of rest on Monday. I have looked at many training schedules and all of them say the same thing.
I would think that this is an attempt to maximize training benefit in performing a workout under energy depleted condition and balancing that with reduction in the chance of injury.
My first trial change was to run long the day before swimming/long bike. This didn’t seem to wipe my legs so much that I couldn’t get a decent workout on the day after running. My second change was now to run long mid-week, and whenever the sun comes out. I may attempt my long bike the same way.
Sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. So at least until the rains subside in sunny California, I am now trying to build my endurance by getting outside whenever I can.
Today I heard the most funny term – grasterbating.
It’s basically doing what your sports medicine doctor does to you, but in the privacy of your own home. In this case, it is the Graston Technique, which uses these scary looking metal tools to scrape away adhesions that form in your muscles. It feels like someone is taking a knife and trying to take thin slices out of your flesh. So if you have no adhesions, it actually doesn’t hurt all that much. But if you do, it hurts like hell!
After doing this for a while, I find that when I run my fingers over my muscles, I’ll find these small bumps and it disgusts me. All I want to do is get rid of them because if they build up, they can cause injury during training or racing.
But I can’t see my Graston doctor every week, or at least at the frequency at which these adhesions form. I want them gone NOW.
So tomorrow, I go to Williams and Sonoma and Pottery Barn in search of various kitchen utensils which I can use to apply Graston to myself…and grasterbate in the privacy of my home.
So I talked about the ups and downs of cycling, and now a post about the ups and downs of training.
We all wish we could blast through our workouts with 1000% energy and feel great afterwards, every time. But the reality is that our bodies can’t sustain that kind of effort over time. In short bursts we can go all out and do great; but over time our bodies slowly wear down and need extra time to recharge. This is both physically and mentally.
This last week has been a weird series of ups and downs. A combination of stiff muscles, not enough sleep, and hard training days in weeks prior have left me drained for this week. But instead of dwelling on the negative, I take it in stride. This has happened before and I know that if i back off this week, I won’t lose fitness and next week will be better.
My coach has already recommended that every 4 weeks or so, you reduce training by about 20-30% so as to recharge and let the body heal. It’s probably time for that right now.
It also applies to winter recharging and the off season. Your body remembers how much fitness it had when you entered the off season, and getting back only takes a few weeks of easy training to get the muscles primed for harder efforts.
So I glide through this week, knowing that my energy level isn’t as high as it could be, and patiently wait for next week.
A few months ago I bought a pair of Powercranks in an attempt to improve my cycling and even out some annoying power differences between my right and left legs.
I have discovered some amazing results with these Powercranks, in that they have really awakened some new muscles for pedalling in that circular motion. These muscles are especially related to the up motion of the cycling stroke.
In the book, Triathlete’s Guide to Bike Training by Linda Wallenfels, she explains the importance of unloading the other leg while pedalling down with the opposite leg. She states that if both legs are pushing down, even though one leg is really concentrating on the down stroke, the other leg can cause unwanted energy wastage by actually resisting the downstroke of the downward pushing leg.
Thus, the upstroke of the leg gains importance in not only helping with the overall circular motion of the pedal stroke, but also in unloading that leg so that it does not tire the downstroking leg.
These muscles require training, as only a set of Powercranks can do. I am finding that I can generate more overall power now by adding the upstroke to help the downstroke of the leg. It seems that Powercranks are the only tool that can truly isolate the legs to exercise this motion and to activate those upstroke muscles. Single leg pedalling just doesn’t seem to cut it.