07 October 2010

07 OCT 2010 workout

Interval spin on indoor trainer.

Warmup: 5' easy spin
Workout: 12 x RPE 10 (max effort) intervals (30" with 2' 30" rest between intervals) (36' total) (Max HR 180 AVG HR 155)
Warmdown: 5' easy spin

Today was the planned hard day after two recovery days post-"race" ... and, it was hard. This is the same RPE 10 interval workout I'd gotten from Bicycling magazine but never could do the whole workout. Now, however, I have ... and yes, it rocked. Each interval was a full-out effort for 30 seconds, with 2 1/2 minutes of RPE 2-3 recovery. That one stays in the inventory as an occasional, quick-hit hard workout.

Sleep: 4/10 (not a lot of sleep on-shift, but did get a short nap in during the late morning)
Fatigue: 3/10 (see "sleep" above)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

No workout tomorrow (shift), or Saturday (going straight to the football game standby after shift).

05 October 2010

Motivation and self-reflection

It's been now ninety days since I started my current weight loss project, and I can report several useful things about my latest experience.

First, the good news. I have lost 22 pounds (down to 230 from 252), and can fit into shorts that I haven't been able to wear in several years. My uniforms are not stretched to their limits anymore; in fact, the pants are pretty well bunched up in the back now because they're a little bit too big in the waist. I feel better. I feel fitter. I have more energy most of the time, and I have been sleeping better at night.

Second, the bad news. As always happens, there's a lull. The most basic issue right now is the fact that I don't have a road bike, so I am stuck either running (with the concomitant knee problems that entails) or getting on the trainer, which is not a really good idea for long stretches of time, and is boring as heck most of the time. Good DVDs can alleviate that, and I do intend to pick up a couple more, but I do not have them right now. I have gotten into a lull also partly because of my working at the football games; where during a "normal" week I only work the two 24-hour shifts per week (which wipe out Wed and Fri completely), when I pick up the football game standbys it makes Saturday and Sunday workouts very tough to get done, sometimes wiping them both out completely as well, which is really just an excuse. So, I need to just get it done!

Between the two, I've only been getting in about two or three workouts per week, though the ones I am getting are high-quality interval workouts. How to fix? One: get over the boredom of the trainer, however that needs to be done. Two: get a bike, and start riding on the roads. Three: Consider reverting to the Wii Fit for days like Sat/Sun during game weeks, to at least get in some aerobic activity and not let both of those days become wiped out totally.

Third, the rest of the story. Food in particular has not yet been a focus, though I have been subtly changing my eating habits without regard to specific intake goals. I don't do fast food hardly at all anymore, I do occasionally allow myself to grab In-N-Out or Sonic, and a Bruegger's bagel here and again. I eat whole-grain food at nearly every meal all week. I take fish oil supplements, which was recommended by my PCP a couple of years ago (I finally found a supplement that I can tolerate). I've increased my daily vegetable intake from near-zero to three-to-four servings a day (still room to improve), my water intake is about 100 oz daily (more during workouts), and I rarely snack. I rarely eat candy, and most of my caffeine intake now is a cup of coffee or two in the morning, though I do occasionally quaff a monster here and there.

After three months, I feel successful with room for improvement. I can certainly do better in terms of weekly workout minutes and type (I do still need to add some kind of resistance training). My food plan can be improved, and I need to start tracking daily calories. Creating a weekly food menu, with daily calories and a week-long overview of micro- and macronutrients, is a good place to start. I am in the process of reading Endurance Sports Nutrition and will have both a review of this book and a workable menu plan afterward.

So. I have more work to do, but am pleased with my performance so far.

03 October 2010

I finished the 2006 US National Criterium Championship

Of course, I did it on my trainer. And had I really been racing, would probably have been lapped and DQ'd at some point ... but, I did manage to actually blast the whole race this time, though I did not do exactly the intervals listed (nor did I match Robbie Ventura pedal stroke for pedal stroke). I did what I was capable of doing, and finished, and I'm happy. And exhausted.

For a refresher, this is the RealRides Race Day Indoor Training Cycling DVD.

Warmup: 10' easy spin with occasional RPE 6-7 intervals to open the capillaries
Workout: 38' 15" simulated race (AVG HR 159 [98% of LT], Max HR 185 [102% of calculated MHR])
Warmdown: 8' easy spin

Man, I can dig the criterium races. They're way faster than the regular road races (because they're much shorter) and are a freaking awesome workout. The thing that would probably suck about them would be keeping track of where you are in the pack, and where you are in the race.

As a short primer, a criterium race is a relatively short distance race, sometimes only a few miles long, but the course is a loop. You start at the Start/Finish line and ride the entire distance of the course as a single lap. The race itself consists of several laps of the course, and usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes total. First person to complete the prescribed number of laps wins. If you are on the course and the lead rider "laps" you, then you are disqualified (DQ'd) and pulled off the race (this keeps the race moving).

So, anyway, I finished the race. I think I am off to pass out until the end of time, or my next shift, whichever comes first.

Sleep: 9/10 (excellent sleep)
Fatigue: 0/10 (not fatigued)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

28 September 2010

27/28 SEP 2010 workouts

Today's entry is brought to you by the letters R, P, E, and by the number 10.

Dual entry for the early week workouts. Monday's, a brief interval workout. Tuesday's, a 60' EM with a 45' T.

Workout 1 (Monday):
Warmup: 10' easy spin
Workout: 5 x 30" RPE 10 intervals with 2'30" recovery
Cooldown: 5' easy spin
Workout 2 (Tuesday):
Warmup: 5' easy spin
Workout: 45' Tempo spin (HR 143-159)
Cooldown: 10' easy spin

Workout time has been harder and harder to come by mostly due to the overtime I've been picking up at work, which mostly consist of working medical stations at the U of A football games. Regardless of that, I have still been able to crank out good Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday workouts for the most part. This week's Monday was a full-out RPE 10 interval set, but shorter than I really wanted (I intend to repeat this interval Thursday and crank out a full 12 interval sets). Today was an RPE 6-7 Tempo workout for 45' with an easy spin warmup/cooldown. Both of them went very well.

Early wakeup tomorrow for work to do a 30' recovery spin.

Sleep: 9/10 (good sleep. Finally starting to dream again, which I think means my sleep cycle may be getting back to normal.)
Fatigue: 0/10 (not fatigued)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 1/10 (slight quad soreness from yesterday's intervals)

23 September 2010

23 SEP 2010 workout

Today's workout was a 46' simulated race, using RealRide's Race Day Indoor Training Cycling DVD, featuring Robbie Ventura.

Warmup: 10' spin-up, gearing from RPE 2, up to a 10 for 30 seconds, then down to a 4 for 3'.
Workout: 33' simulated race, variable RPE from 4 to 10. AVG HR 149.
Cooldown: 3' RPE 1–2 spin.

Well. For someone else who has raced in crits before, they probably won't find this as cool as I do. This dvd is an actual, recorded race, where Pro road racer Robbie Ventura had cameras on his bike, and other places around the course, and the main part of the training is the US National Criterium Championships, I think from 2006. I didn't finish the whole race (I'm not nearly in that good of shape yet), but I did do about half of it. I'll review the disc in a day or so, but for now know that it's a freaking butt-kicker of a workout. I mean, it's a full-on race, for crying out loud.

No workout tomorrow, on shift.

Sleep: 6/10 (shift yesterday was not bad but we only got two brief bouts of sleep, one 2h 30' and the second about 2'.
Fatigue: 5/10 (due to the lack of sleep)
Stress: 1/10 (very little stress)
Soreness: 3/10 (back is still sore from last weekend, but is improving)

"Race Day" ... the DVD

Recently, I ordered myself a copy of a DVD entitled "realRides presents Race Day with Robbie Ventura" ... it's a race-day DVD of a crit race Mr. Ventura did, presumably in 2006 or 2007 (the video is ©2007), and apparently uses bike-mounted cameras during a real, live, honest-to-goodness national-level criterium race with real pros and everything.

Which, of course, is why I bought it. Not that I have any illusions that I can race with these guys, not by a long shot (yet), but that it gives a sense of how they race, how the race plays out, and gives me something to shoot for as well.

I will pop this badboy in the DVD player later today, and run a workout with it, and I'll let you know how it goes.

21 September 2010

21 SEP 2010 workout

Today's workout was an interval workout I found in Bicycle magazine.

Warmup: 10' easy spin
Workout: 30" all-out (RPE 10, Zone 5) spin against resistance with 2' 30" easy spin between intervals (RBI), seven sets (21' total)
Cooldown: 5' easy spin

Interval workouts are going to be the new mainstay of the workouts I'm going to do, and today's was a pretty brutal one. Warmup, then go at absolutely maximum effort for thirty seconds ... and relax for two and a half minutes, then do it again. Seven times. I tell you what, I was absolutely busting those intervals out. I could have done one, maybe two more, but as Coach Friel says, always leave a little bit behind when you're training. They were really good intervals though.

Tomorrow: getting up early to do about a 30' easy recovery spin before I go on shift.

Additionally, today I started getting serious about the food I eat. Yes, I had a jack-in-the-box burger for lunch, but I also went to the store and bought veggies (quite a lot of them, actually), whole-wheat bread (which I eat anyway), lean meat and fat-free cheese for sammys, healthful soups, lean-meat and bean based chili (Eating Right brand), and fresh fruits. Yesterday I had cooked up a batch of oatmeal (Bob's Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal) and saved them for breakfasts (along with some now thawed frozen blueberries) and a batch of short-grain brown rice to use as a carb base for take-to-work lunches/dinners. I've packed tomorrow's lunch already: two small sammys (I found these really cool sandwich rounds, whole wheat, 100 calories, and slapped a slice of ff cheese and turkey breast on them, with Smart Balance spread and mustard), a serving of the Eating Right turkey chili with beans, to which I added brown rice and snap peas (for early afternoon dinner), and a serving of organic lentil soup (for supper). Breakfast is also set aside: oatmeal with blueberries, a bowl of Kashi Honey Toasted Oat cereal with light soy milk, and another cup of soy milk to drink. Add a dose of Fish Oil capsules with each meal, and a banana for a snack, and I think tomorrow may be the most healthful day of eating I've ever had in my life.

Sleep: 8/10 (woke up briefly a couple of times during the night)
Fatigue: 0/10 (no fatigue)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 4/10 (lower back is pretty sore from an overuse situation from Friday, which is why I didn't do my scheduled run this week).

Forgot to test resting HR this morning. Will make sure to get it tomorrow morning.

20 September 2010

It's been a while ...

I apologize for the delay, but it's been a bit busy lately and finding time to hit the blog has been tough. In addition to my normal shifts, I've picked up overtime shifts working on a medical crew for the University of Arizona Football games, and those are long, exhausting (but really awesome!) shifts that end in the wee morning hours of Sunday.

In any event, I have been basically getting in relatively short spins (60'–75' EM spins) just to keep my head in the game, as well as a couple of 2.25 mile jog/walks. Oh, and add in the five hours of work at the game, constantly walking (and, in one case, sprinting up the ramps and stairs from section 6 to section 204 for a reported cardiac arrest [wasn't really]), and carrying a 30# pack for half of that time. Good times :D

As I'm sure anyone following my blog has noticed, I'm constantly learning and adjusting my exercise/weight loss habits & goals based on what I learn. Just the other day (Saturday, in fact), I got a couple of new books that I'm reading (I shall review them in a new blog entry soon), and have yet again made changes to how I'm going to approach my cycling.

The first of these books is Ride Your Way Lean, by Selene Yeager. It's heavy on the intervals as a weight-loss tool, something I was already familiar with from previous bouts (usually on treadmills, though). I'm still reading through this book, and will get you a review as soon as I can.

The second is Endurance Sports Nutrition, by Suzanne Girard Eberle. It's not as much a weight-loss book as an all-the-time fueling guide for endurance athletes, which is my ultimate goal (to be able to compete in my age group in road and mountain bike events, eventually making my way to at least Cat 3, pref. Cat 2, in road cycling and Cat 1 in Mountain biking).

In any event, the intervals seem to make more sense for what I want to accomplish right now, and so my workout will be changing again. Later today I have a low-volume high-action spin scheduled, and will let you know how that goes, in addition to a walk/jog tomorrow morning and another spin in the afternoon.

13 September 2010

Catch-up workout entry

Several workouts to cover.

First, from 11 SEP 2010: 60' EM on stationary trainer.

Warmup: 5' spin
Workout: 50' 00" EM spin
Cooldown: 5' 00" spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 800
Came home from shift and did a 60' EM spin on the stationary trainer. Basically just a keeping-the-flow-going workout, since I had another overtime shift later that day at the football game, and didn't want to wear myself out before that shift.

Second, from 13 SEP 2010 (rest day on 12 SEP): 45' EM on stationary trainer in the morning, with a 50' EM on stationary trainer in the afternoon.

Warmup: 5' spin
Workout: 35' 00" EM spin
Cooldown: 5' 00" spin.
Warmup2: 5' spin
Workout2: 40' 00" EM spin
Cooldown2: 5' 00" spin
Estimated Total Calories: 1265
Woke up in the morning, fueled/hydrated, and then did a 45' EM spin with avg HR ~130. Recovery during the day, then an additional 50' EM spin with avg HR ~132 in the afternoon.

Tomorrow will be a two-workout day as well; with a 2–2.25 mile run in the morning and a 75' EM with 45' Tempo spin in the afternoon.

Sleep: 9/10 (slept quite well)
Fatigue: 0/10 (no fatigue)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: 68

09 September 2010

09 SEP 2010 spin

90' EM spin on indoor trainer.

Warmup: 10' easy spin
Workout: 70' EM spin (estimated 950 Cal.)
Cooldown: 10' spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 1200
Did a 90' EM spin instead of the "scheduled" 180' EM spin mostly because I did some calculating, and my increase in exercise hours from two weeks ago, through last week to this was quite high, more than 100% from the week ending 28 AUG to the next week, and another 75% on top of that for this week. Now, I know that fitness experts recommend no more than a 10% improvement from week to week, in any given area, and that people who are in the first few weeks can usually afford a slightly bigger increase from week to week but that's along the lines of 30%, not 75-100%. SO .... I'm cutting back a touch. I'm going to keep the two long EM workouts at 2h but make other ones 90' for now, then next week creep that up a little bit more.

No workout tomorrow, on shift.

Sleep: 6/10 (pretty good sleep for being on shift)
Fatigue: 2/10 (slight fatigue; didn't sleep all night !)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: At work, unable to check.

07 September 2010

07 SEP 2010 spin

A 150' EM spin on indoor trainer, split into two workouts due to miserable night of sleep.

Warmup: 10' easy spin
Workout: 1h 35' 00" endurance spin (estimated 1396 Cal.)
Cooldown: 5' 00" easy spin.
Warmup: 3' easy spin
Workout: 45' 00" endurance spin (estimated 598 Cal.)
Cooldown: 5' 00" easy spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 1994
Had a 150' EM spin on trainer planned, but spent the whole night tossing, turning, and generally unable to fall asleep. Split the spin up into two parts as above. Actually was a pretty nice spin overall.

No workout tomorrow (shift). Thursday's workout scheduled as a 3h EM spin, though I may cut that back to 90'–2h if this sleeping stuff persists (could be overtraining syndrome?).

Sleep: 2/10 (couldn't get to sleep, and when I did I woke up frequently)
Fatigue: 5/10 (mostly due to sleep issues, I think)
Stress: 1/10 (just the sleeping thing)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: 63

05 September 2010

05 SEP 2010 workout

120' Endurance ride (note: ride totals include warm-up and cool-down; this is exactly what the book The Time Crunched Cyclist says to do so I do it that way).

Warmup: 10' spin
Workout: 1h 40' 00" spin (estimated 1700 Cal.) @ EM HR (125-140)
Cooldown: 10' 00" spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 2200
Did a 120' spin of EM this morning. This was the first true endurance spin (or ride) I've done in many years, so I was a little apprehensive about it, but I owned it. This is also the first ride with my new Bellwether Axiom biking shorts. They absolutely rule, I will be reviewing them in a blog later today. Also tried my new Bontrager biking gloves, I will review them separately. Overall, had no problems keeping my HR in the right zone, and the spin itself was otherwise unremarkable.

Tomorrow is a rest day. Tuesday, a 150' spin in EM.

Sleep: 9/10 (slept very well. Woke up once, went right back to sleep)
Fatigue: 0/10 (no fatigue)
Stress: 3/10 (slightly stressed about the length of today's ride!)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: 67

02 September 2010

02 SEP 10 workout

Endurance gear-up for TCTP outlined in earlier blog. 90' EnduranceMiles (EM) spin with 40' of Tempo.

Warmup: 10' 00" of easy spin
Workout: 40' 00" of Tempo (T) spinning (HR 143-147)
followed by 30' 00" of upper-end EM (HR 125-140) (estimated 1331 Cal.)
Cooldown: 10' 00" spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 1700
Day two of this EM workout. Had no problems getting into a good HR, staying there is a little bit tricky but as I get more adapted I think it will be easier to keep within the ranges. Going tomorrow to buy a new pair of cycling shorts, hopefully they will help with some of the groin pressure that has been coming up during the spins.

Shift tomorrow, no workout.

Sleep: 7/10 (had a couple of late calls, but still managed to get some good sleep)
Fatigue: 2/10 (very little fatigue, mostly from the sleep issue)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: at work, unable to check

31 August 2010

31 AUG 2010 workout

Endurance gear-up for TCTP outlined in earlier blog. 90' EnduranceMiles (EM) spin with 40' of Tempo.

Warmup: 10' 00" of easy spin
Workout: 40' 00" of Tempo (T) spinning (HR 143-147)
followed by 30' 00" of upper-end EM (HR 125-140) (estimated 1331 Cal.)
Cooldown: 10' 00" spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 1700
Day one of this EM workout, purpose being to crank up the "miles" and get the engine primed for the TCTP workout starting next week, and possibly to kick-start additional fat loss. Had no problems getting into a good HR, staying there is a little bit tricky but as I get more adapted I think it will be easier to keep within the ranges.

Shift tomorrow, no workout.

Sleep: 4/10 (couldn't fall asleep, tossed & turned, and then slept fitfully for about 4.5 hours)
Fatigue: 2/10 (very little fatigue, mostly from the sleep issue)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: (68)

30 August 2010

Drink reviews

As noted earlier, I've also used a small number (two!) of the bazillions of different hydration/fuel drinks for cyclists (and triathletes, and runners, and ... and ... and ...), both during and before activity. As with the gels from earlier, I have some more different drink mixes coming from various online stores, and shall have a more comprehensive review of these products in a month or two. For now, the ones I've used recently.

First up is the PowerBar Endurance Fruit Punch, which I have used sporadically since ... I think 2000? I used to buy this back when I first got into cycling for health, and have found it to be SUPER easy to drink. It's tasty, sweet without being too sweet, and in fact makes hydrating so awesome that I've had to stop myself from using it for all my hydration, even when just sitting around the house surfing the internet or reading. Yes, it's so easy to drink, I found myself contemplating just putting a scoop in a glass with water for no reason other than because it was around. That's probably as high a praise as I can give any hydration product: I'd drink it just because.

As for how well it does during extended activity ... I haven't really done any activity so long that I'd be able to tell, at least not in long enough that I feel I have any baseline for comparison, but I can tell you that I will indeed include this in my future plans for actual on-road riding and racing. Probably as part of a two-bottle back-and-forth system. I have used it as pre-ride fuel, and never had any problems with bonking or getting dizzy, or cramping. From that perspective, it works very well.

Second, I have been using the Hammer HEED product as well (specifically, the Mandarin Orange flavor). I have one complaint about the HEED: it doesn't seem to completely dissolve, even when I mix it at the lower end (1 scoop in 16 oz of water), and so I'm not sure if it's really all getting into my stomach, or how much/what is left in the sediment. Maybe this is normal for most dry mix fuel drinks, but I'm concerned about it.

Again, not really much in the way of extended activity to report yet, though I have a planned 1.5 hour ride tomorrow and intend to have a bottle of this for during-fuel, so I can give a better assessment then. I have used it pre-ride, and have never had a bonk or cramp problem after, so it works as expected in that regard. The flavor is very light, which means it is also easy to drink.

Tomorrow, I will be starting day 1 of a week-long ramp-up to the Time-Crunched Training System I talked a little bit about yesterday, beginning with a 90 minute EM ride with a 40 minute Tempo stretch.

Short version of the next three weeks:
Tuesday—90' EM with 40' T
Wednesday—Rest (shift)
Thursday—90' EM with 40' T
Friday—Rest (shift)
Sunday—90' EM with 40' T
Monday—50' EM
which segues nicely into the TCTP (New Century, if you're curious):
Tu—90' EM with 4x6' SS (5' RBI)
We—Rest (shift)
Th—90' EM with 4x6' SS (5' RBI)
Fr—Rest (shift)
Sa—90'–120' EM
Su—90'–120' EM
Tu—90' EM with 3x8' SS (4' RBI)
We—Rest (shift)
Th—90' EM with 3x8' SS (4' RBI)
Fr—Rest (shift)
Sa—90'–120' EM or group ride
Su—90'–120' EM

Nutrition review

Today's blog is a review of several different nutrition products that I've been training with/using during this process so far.
As for the theory ... there are three basic parts to the theory of nutrition while doing endurance exercise or activity: before, during, and after activity. In short, before the activity, an athlete should be full up on muscle and liver glycogen (if possible, but absolutely full up on muscle glycogen), and have some carbohydrates in their bloodstream; after the activity, it is important to take advantage of a glycogen replenishment window (more important if the athlete has depleted glycogen stores and will be doing another workout within about 24-28 hours).

During-activity nutrition is dependent on how long the activity will take. For any activity, hydration is critically important. Outside of that, plain water is fine rehydration as long as the activity is less than about an hour, though adding electrolytes (without carbohydrates) is not a bad idea if the activity is 30-60 minutes long, especially if you know you are a "white-streak" sweat-er, or if the environment tends toward very hot  or very humid (both of which tend to result in higher losses of fluid or electrolytes). For any activity lasting one to three hours, carb replenishment is a necessity; anything longer than that really requires "real food" ... watch the Tour de France riders, or go volunteer at the el Tour de Tucson or similar races in the feed zone, and you'll see what I mean (cantaloupe, banana, pb&j sammys, etc.).

Since most of my spins have been < 1 hour, I haven't done a whole lot of in-ride nutrition, so I'll leave that for another time. What I have been doing is a pretty high percentage of spins (and runs) early in the morning, before breakfast. Since having been asleep (and, not eating) for seven to eight hours, my muscle glycogen stores should be totally full, while my liver glycogen is pretty well depleted (from glycolysis all night). So, I've tried a few different ways to pre-fuel: PowerBar Gel (two different flavors) and PowerBar Endurance (a drink mix) from PowerBar, Clif Shots by Clif Bar, and Hammer Gel and HEED by Hammer Nutrition. I'll review each flavor/item separately; the gels in this entry, then the drinks in the next.

Quick note: all the gels are designed to be eaten but followed by 8 oz. of water, which (of course) I always did. In theory, you could eat the gel by itself but it's pretty concentrated and would take a lot longer to empty from the stomach that way.

My initial choice for pre-fuel for early morning workouts was Green Apple PowerBar Gel. This flavor is caffeinated (has "1x" caffeine ... which is 25 g according to their website), which is great for people like me who are caffeine addicts and can't really function that early in the morning without some.

The taste is really good, it's super-easy to down, and I never had any problems with it sitting in my stomach during the subsequent workout.

I can't forsee using this flavor during activity (since I already drink a lot of caffeine daily), but it makes a really good pre-activitiy fuel early in the morning.

The PowerBar Gel gets their fuel from a proprietary blend called C2 Max, which is basically a 2:1 glucose:fructose mix.

Later, I went and picked up a case of Tangerine PowerBar Gel, which is also caffeinated ("2x", or 50 g according to PowerBar's website). The flavor is again very agreeable, and it seemed to clear the stomach quite readily. I did, however, feel like the extra caffeine in this product brought my heart rate up more than I'd have preferred. I intend to perform a more controlled test of that theory in the next couple of weeks, and will post the results of that.

Tangerine, like all PowerBar Gels, uses the C2 Max blend for fuel.

I also picked up a case of Clif Shot Razz Energy Gel from Clif Bar. This flavor is not caffeinated, and because of that I've used it primarly as a pre-fuel for workouts later in the day, after I've had my daily coffee or Monster.

The Razz is raspberry flavored, and is quite tasty. The base fuel for the Clif Shot products is Brown Rice Syrup, which is thicker than the C2 Max from PowerBar. However, I actually prefer the slightly more viscous Clif Shot; it's easier to hold in my mouth while grabbing the water bottle.

Additionally, the packaging is superior to the PowerGel (or Gu, or just about any other I've come across). It comes with a LitterLeash® (Registered by Clif Bar). This is really an ingenious solution to the problem of "what the heck do I do with the top of the package?" after opening a serving of the gel. The package is cut so that when you rip open the top of the package, the top is still attached to the base. It's hard to describe, but I'd suggest going to your local outdoor, biking, or sports store and looking at the tops of the Clif Shot as opposed to just about any other gel out there. It means less litter on the trail/road/whatever.

In addition, I found myself in a local bike store recently (BikeMasters, up in Oro Valley), and picked up a bottle of Hammer Nutrition's Hammer Gel (Montana Huckleberry flavor). These multi-serving bottles are intended to be used along with a flask, most of which are graduated with markings to show how many servings are in the flask (the one I picked up is a Hammer-specific flask, and holds up to six servings when completely full).

The flavor of this product is awesome, kind of like a tart blueberry (to which the Huckleberry is related). The thing I don't like about this product is how thin it is; it is really hard to keep in the mouth while getting the water bottle out to swig from. If you like to eat your gel immediately, and then swig from the water bottle separately, then this gel is probably perfect for you. Another thing I dislike about this style (the multi-serving bottle with a flask) is, actually, the convenience! It's weird (I'm weird, so this should not surprise anyone), but having multiple servings available in the flask is a down-side to me. It would take a lot of trial and error to determine exactly how long to squeeze the flask for exactly one serving to come out, either that or I'd have to sit there and take a squeeze, pull back, see how much of the serving was left in the bottle, re-sqeeze, re-check, etc. all while trying to either not crash into the peleton or the curb (or, in my case, trying not to fall off the stationary trainer). However; I can see the utility of the flask-style for longer events. Since each serving is about 21 g of carbs, and at my current weight it is recommended to get 40-60 g per hour of activity, putting 6 servings in the flask, and eating about half of a flask every hour after the first, would be easier than having to decant two gel packets back to back. Some judicious planning, and a well-instructed team in the feed zone, could easily make the flask a preferred in-race solution.

So, what do I recommend? So far, what I'd suggest is that if you are a person who likes and can handle the caffeine, try the Tangerine PowerBar Gel as a pre-ride fuel, especially for competition (though, check with your coach, trainer, or local organization about the current limits for caffeine if you're competing in USA Cycling events. I seem to recall that it's not a banned substance, but does have limits). During the ride, check out either the Clif Shot (if you prefer the individual packets) or the Hammer Gel (for the flask oriented). On a cursory look at the Clif Bar website, they do not offer a multi-serving bottle of their gels, so if you like the flask method you will have to get something else.

Later today, I will post a review of the drinks I've used so far. Also, I have Gu and Accel gel products coming soon, which I will try out and review at a later date.

29 August 2010

29 AUG 2010 workout

Less a workout and more a test. Specifically, the Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) Field Test.
Estimated Total Calories: 1150
Today, I wanted to get a good sense for my current level of fitness and where I was in terms of my Lactate Threshold, as well as get a good baseline for directing further training. The short version of the CTS field test is this:
10' warmup, very light spinning
1' FastPedal (FP) (pedal in small gears as fast as possible without bouncing in the saddle)
1' recovery (easy spin)
2' FP
1' easy recovery
1' PowerInterval (PI) (Max intensity at 90-95 cadence)
2' easy recovery
1' PI
4' recovery
8': Slow to almost stopped, with dominant-side crank at the 2 o'clock position, in a smallish gear (but not too small). Crank up to 90-100 cadence, switching up gears over the next 45 seconds or so until putting out an effort that will be basically exhausting at the end of 8 minutes while continuing @ 90-100 cadence. Go until 1 minute left on the 8 minute clock; at 1 minute left, crank at absolutely full power and do not give up or slow down until the end of the minute. This is Round 1.
10' easy recovery
8': Round 2, exactly like round 1.
15' easy cooldown.
In each round, use HR monitor (and power monitor, if you have one) to record average and maximal HR for the round as well as average power. Also, record average cadence, RPE, and weather/course conditions. Use the highest average HR (and the highest average power, even if they are from different rounds) to determine the training ranges for the Time-Crunched Training System (TCTS).
My results: Indoor trainer, temp 80° F, RH 44%. Round 1: Max HR 177, AVG HR 161. Round 2: Max HR 179, AVG HR 163

Tomorrow: rest day. Starting week 1 of the TCTS Tuesday.
Today's weigh-in and measurements: Weight 232.5 pounds (BMI 36.36), waist 49", neck 19".
Sleep: 8/10 (Somewhat fitful, woke up a couple of times during the night)
Fatigue: 0/10 (no fatigue to speak of)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

24 August 2010

24 Aug 2010 workout

Actually a pair of spins in zone 5a/5b.

Warmup #1: 5' 00" of spin-up
Workout #1: 20' 00" activity (estimated 407 Cal.)
Cooldown #1: 5' 00" spin.
Warmup #2: 5' 00" of spin-up
Workout #2: 10' 00" activity (estimated 204 Cal.)
Cooldown #2: 5' 00" spin.
Estimated Total Calories: 714
Initially started out intending to do a 30' spin in zone 5a/5b, with an additional 30' in zone 2. Got on, got to almost the 20' mark and realized I was actually kind of fatigued, so I elected to get to 20' and cool down, then refuel, hydrate, and go back later. So I warmed up, repeated my zone 5a/5b workout for an additional 10' and did another cool down after.

No workout tomorrow, on shift.

Sleep: 7/10 (woke up a couple of times, did finally get pretty good sleep after the last time)
Fatigue: 4/10 (didn't feel fatigued at first, but did after started spinning)
Stress: 0/10 (no stress)
Soreness: 0/10 (not sore)

Resting HR: forgot to check!