03 June 2012

Continued training

Since abandoning the Tucson Bicycle Classic during the Road Race stage, I've been focusing my training efforts with two primary outcomes in mind: lose weight, and get faster.

The losing weight stuff is coming more slowly than I'd prefer, but it is coming along. Only a few pounds down (last measured at 223#) from where I was at the very beginning of this process, but my body shape has changed a fair amount. My tummy is a lot flatter than it used to be, my calves and forearms are much skinnier, and my sides are thinner, as is my face. I've learned some things from a former road racer who is also a paramedic with the organization I work for, and he's given me some tips (especially on eating while training) that have started to pay off in my training, and my weight. More on that in a bit.

Second, the getting faster part. I've been quite good about getting in 5 days of training during every tour & four-day, and have been getting faster while riding in a better HR zone for several weeks now. I've made deliberate efforts to observe things like which gear & chainring I take hills in, and watching in which gear & chainring I ride stretches of my training routes, and I've been able to keep a high cadence while up-gearing and still able to maintain my HR in a good zone for the training day I'm on for that particular workout. My Strava rides are filled with new Personal Records time after time (example: Frontage RD to Ina segment, along the Santa Cruz River Park, has been a new personal record like four straight rides). I feel better, I feel stronger, I am clearly faster (yes, by tenths of a kph, sometimes. To paraphrase Depeche Mode: Everything Counts in Small Amounts), and I feel like this bodes well for next racing season.

I do still intend to race a couple more times this season; I have PTO from work for the 12th of August, which is the 3 Bears ITT (2nd edition) up in Marana, AZ, and of course I'm also doing El Tour de Tucson (42 miler edition, for now), and I want to ride a road race sometime this year before it's all said and done (not necessarily in Tucson; in fact, there should be several rides later in the year in northern NM and CA that might be possible with good planning). After El Tour, I'll take stock of where I'm at for the 2013 racing season. I already know that I intend to do A Race Against Time, the Tucson Bicycle Classic, and Heck And Back (Dugway, UT, Road Race) next season, with possibilities for the Old Pueblo Grand Prix, Bike The Bricks (McKinney, TX), one of the 3 Bears ITT (they run two editions every year), and the UA Criterium.

My paramedic friend from work, who used to be a road racer, gave me some good advice about fueling while training (advice which I asked for :), and the main take-home lesson for me was: stop eating during the ride (for the most part). I had been following this hydration/fueling strategy nearly to the second: eat 300-ish kcal for breakfast about 2 hours before riding, drinking water through the morning. Take a 100 kcal gel 15 minutes before starting, along with an endurolyte cap (hammer nutrition; it's basically sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium with a few other electrolytes), drink 1/4 bottle of plain water (or water with calorie-free Nuun in it) every 15' with another 100 kcal gel at 45', drink 1/4 bottle of sports drink every 15' after the first hour with another 100kcal gel at 1h 30', continued to the end of the 3d hour (1/4 bottle sports drink every 15') with another gel at 2h 15' and again at 3h. His advice was to not eat the gels at all, not the first one and none during most rides. Carry a couple, just in case, but leave them alone unless you either 1) bonk badly, or 2) get REALLY hungry. Drink the sports drink enough to keep hydrated, and eat maybe a banana at about 3h. By doing that, and keeping the HR low and cadence high, I can force my body to learn how to burn fat preferentially, which is of course my whole stinking point. (In fact, it was my own observation that I was working pretty hard for not much loss of weight, and thinking that examining my on-bike nutrition might be a good place to start that started the whole conversation.) I've been using his advice ever since, and I am easily able to go 2+ hours on just sports drinks and the electrolyte tablets, as long as I get a little bit of real food for breakfast before I start.

Speaking of sports drinks, after a bit I'm going to post a review of the one I use now, and will probably only ever use for all of my riding from now until forever.

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