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Winter Base Training Report – Bike & Run

winter base training

This winter base training report is going to start with the first week of January and run through March 19th. December was a pretty terrible month as far as being sick, where I went 2 and a half weeks without doing anything. I missed the Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race and then started doing some lighter work the week before Christmas. The last week of December, I did some skiing and went on a couple fat bike rides. I hit the first week of January with a few structured workouts and so that is where this will begin.

I will not discuss every workout, but only discuss the ones that I think might be the most intersting. If you are using one of my training plans, you should recognize some of the workouts covered in this report and may get some ideas on how to adjust them if needed. I will include a calendar screenshot of each period so you can still see all of my workouts, even though I won’t discuss each one.

The Details of My Winter Base Training

Graph Color Legend

Heart Rate

Power

Cadence

Pace or Speed

Weeks 1 – 2 (Jan 2 – Jan 15)

The calendar view doesn’t scream structured training, but there was purpose behind the week 1 schedule and workouts. Week 2 was an opportunity to further dial in my typical race week even though the Freezer Burn was a bit last minute and not a target race.

Bike – Tempo Intervals

winter base training

If I was riding outside, I would probably just go out and put in a solid tempo paced ride and not pay much attention to the details. Since I was on the trainer and just getting back on the horse, I mixed it up with 20 minute tempo efforts. Doing this also allowed me to get a longer workout in to work on my endurance.

At the time of this workout, I believe I had my training zones set up based on a FTP of 235 watts. I set power at 200 watts for my tempo efforts. This would be just under the mid point of my tempo zone according to Dr. Andy Coggan’s training zones in the book Training And Racing With A Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan, PhD. I felt 200 watts for this workout was a good starting point for getting back on the horse without having much of a structured base under my legs.

This screenshot has the graph lines smoothed out a bit too much, but my max heart rate for any of the 20 minute periods was 159 bpm and was leveled out the last 5 to 8 minutes of each interval. I should note that my average heart rate for the final interval was actually noticably higher across the board than the first 3 intervals and a good time to pull the plug and not attempt a 5th interval.

Bike – Endurance Hill Intervals

winter base training

This is another workout that I would generally do outside and would be mostly endurance riding, but finding the occasional longer hill that I could grind up at threshold in the big ring or smaller rear cog at low cadence. This workout is actually based on the F1 workout from the book The Mountain Biker’s Training Bible by Joe Friel (link at bottom of page). It builds a combination of general endurance and strength specific endurance.

Race – Freezer Burn Fat Bike Race

winter base training

I won’t go into detail on the race since I wrote up a race report on it already. However, I think it is worth pointing out the amount of time spent in my heart rate threshold zone though. I averaged 166 bpm for the entire race and spent all but 10 minutes of the race within my heart rate threshold zone. I had my training zones set up based on a heart rate threshold of 168 bpm at this time, which falls in line with the data from the race. I didn’t have a problem getting up to that effort level, but I was completely flat trying to push above that for any period of time, even just a few seconds.

Weeks 3 – 4 (Jan 16 – 29)

This is a good spot to comment on the red, yellow and green workouts in my schedule. Red means I did not hit my workout plan. Yellow means I was close to my workout plan, but not quite there. Green means I nailed it. All that being said, I try not to get caught up in it too much. I only put scheduled workouts on the calendar as a guideline and then workout to how I feel, available time or just what I feel like doing on that particular day. Sometimes, I change them before hand if I know I am not doing the workout exactly. Other times, I just let it ride.

When I first started using Training Peaks and following training schedules, I made the mistake of trying to following the exact plan and that is when you can drive yourself to overtrain or not train enough. I have a lot to learn yet and continue to make a lot of mistakes, but I am getting better at calling the audible and adjusting as needed, based on how my body is feeling vs just following an exact plan. By all means, curiosity still gets the best of me as I like to try out new stuff and test myself.

Bike – Threshold Test

winter base training

I never did a threshold test after my training builds last summer, so I don’t know where I had peaked out at last summer in regards to power output. The last test I did, was immediately coming off the couch after healing from my rib injury last July. Anyways, I followed the FTP testing protocol from the book Training And Racing With A Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan, PhD (link at bottom of page). There are a couple points to make about this test…

The Warm-up

First, I might have been slightly light on my 5 min threshold effort during the warm up, because I was basing that effort on thinking my FTP might be somewhere in the 240 watts range. I averaged 251 watts and peaked out at 329 watts during that 5 minutes. Even though the average was a little light, I think it was close enough to where my FTP ended up coming out during the test, so I think the impacts to the 20 minute effort were negligable, but still worth mentioning.

Part of the reason I think it is worth mentioning is that you will find a lot of suggestions out on the web for threshold testing, that don’t give any prescribed warm-up effort. They will typically just say to get in a solid warm-up and I think that means something different to all of us. I really like the fact that Coggan has a specific warm-up plan to keep the entire test very specific and repeatable. I would have to imagine that doing a really light warm up or skipping the 5 minute effort, could impact the test in some way.

Note: The Sufferfest Video – Rubber Glove is another threshold test that has a structure warm-up and test protocol that you can follow. I’d recomend using either one, but use something that is structured and repeatable.

Too Light At Start of 20min Threshold Effort

Secondly, since I was thinking my FTP might come out at around 240 watts; I didn’t go out of the gate hard enough. This definitely had an impact on my average heart rate for the test. Your average heart rate for the 20 minutes should be your FTHr. Mine came out to about 164 bpm, which I know is a little low. This could also just mean that I didn’t actually hit my FTP, but I think it has more to do with not going out hard enough at the beginning of the 20 min effort, which led to a lagging heart rate. I don’t think my FTP is any higher than what it actually came out to and I think some of the workouts that I discuss later in this report back that up.

Results

So at anyrate… My average power for the 20 minute threshold effort was 282 watts. Your estimated FTP is supposed to be 95% of that, which would put my heart rate threshold at 268 watts. Training Peaks sent me a notification that I set a new FTP of 265 watts and I ended up using the 265 watts to calculate my training zones.

winter base training

Running – Tabata Sprints

winter base training

I had been going through a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) course and thought I would test out a Tabata style workout with sprints. It is very short, but very intense. It is basically 20 seconds all out with only 10 seconds of recovery X 8 reps. So in 4 minutes, you end up getting in 8 reps, but never actually fully recover.

I hit a few really fast sprints, but you can see that I faded quickly as the intervals stacked up. I only did this workout once and I think it is good if your goal is to just ramp up your cardio system and be done quick, but I don’t think it was the best structure for building speed. The 20 seconds wasn’t quite long enough and the 10 seconds was not a long enough recovery to put in a good effort on the subsequent interval. I’ll share another sprint interval workout later that I think was much more valuable for my what I am trying to accomplish.

Note: Without a doubt, there is merit to the Tabata structure… just not for what I was trying to accomplish.

Bike – Tempo Intervals

winter base training

This is the same tempo interval workout I did on January 7th, but I increased the power to 220 watts for this session vs the 200 watts from the January 7th session. My heart rate did go slightly higher this time around, but not by much. I got up around 158 bpm this time vs around 153 bpm a few weeks earlier. Even though my heart rate topped off 5 bpm higher, I think that was a good trade off for being able to add 20 watts of power. My heart rate was leveling out as well, so this was a good confirmation of my previous FTP numbers.

The fact that my heart rate did not climb into the 160s, was also a good indication that I still had some wattage to add before getting into my threshold window. I currently have the top of my tempo zone and/or bottom of my threshold zone set at 240 watts. This is always a learning process, but there is no way that you can test threshold hold over and over again, so being able to read into your data graphs quickly after a workout can help you gut check where you have your training zones set, verify your test results and help you make adjustments to workouts throughout your build to continue making progress without having to continuously run threshold tests.

By the way… This is a really tough workout on a trainer vs the road, since the trainer has continuous resistance versus some of the on and off glide that you get on the road. I think you’ll get more out of the workout on the trainer as far as building muscular endurance, than you would doing the same thing on the road.

Runing – Race Pace Intervals

winter base training

winter base training

We had a beautiful day of weather and I decided to get outside for a run. My intention was to run intervals, very similiar to what I would do with threshold intervals on my bike. It’s a way of me attempting to build up some distance, while still working to improve my pace. Chances are, I will not run more than 3 times per week and mostly likely only get in 2 runs per week. 1 of those runs will most likely be a very short run with short sprint efforts and the other will be some distance, while trying to push my pace at the same time.

My thought is that if I can build myself up to an hour and half or so of these intervals at a 6:40ish min pace, then I might be able to knock out a half marathon at a continuous 7:00 min pace and for sure under a 7:30 min pace. We’ll see what happens. Ben Greenfield mentions these interval runs in his book Beyond Fitness, regarding Iron Man training. Like I said, very similiar thought process to threshold intervals on the bike and I thought it was a good place to start with my runs, especially since I am trying to build up my running while still improving my game on the bike.

Bike – Fat Bike Road Tempo

winter base training

This was a road ride on my Fat Bike. It would have been the day that I did tempo intervals, but I just tried to ride at tempo most of the time with some efforts that took me near threshold. My average heart rate was 154 bpm with my max heart rate hitting 171 bpm. The graph would make it appear that I was fairly heavy into threshold, but the time I spent in that window was mostly at the bottom of threshold or otherwise known to many as the sweet spot. I averaged 16.2 mph for 41 miles on my fat bike and was really happy with this ride. Just a few years ago when I was getting started riding again, I would have to be on a road bike to cover 41 mph at 16.2 mph. Anyways, not a ton more to say about this ride, other than I thought it was a descent benchmark of where my bike fitness is at, compared to a few years ago.

Bike Endurance Hills

winter base training

This is where things were falling apart as far as dipping into over doing it and I didn’t pull back until it was too late. I was trying to see how much I could cram into a week and I found my limit. I had some really great fat bike rides throughout the week and was a bit high on the previous days ride. It was sick season around our house and even though I was fairly spent by Sunday, I still went after it. I started with one of those race pace interval runs on my treadmill. Basically a repeat of the one I did outside, the previous weekend and then went into this workout immediately after.

I only did 2 intervals, because I was completely spent. These intervals are really low cadence, with power right around threshold. I had power set at 260 watts for this one. They aren’t as high power as the force interval workouts, but are for a longer interval periods and more about strength endurance vs max strength or building force output. These are really intended to be done outside with a long endurance ride with some long hills thrown in the mix.

I should have skipped the hill simulation part of it and just did a nice and easy low zone 2 or recovery ride to spin the legs out, but not put out any real effort. Or, I should have just stopped and not done it at all. I was sick by the next afternoon. Whether or not over doing it was the direct cause or not, I don’t know. Most of my house was sick and I certainly didn’t help myself by pushing over the top.

Week 5 – 8 (Jan 30 – Feb 26)

There really isn’t much to say here, other than it was a miserable couple of weeks. I thought I was starting to feel better on Sunday and decided to try some power intervals. I kept them real short and didn’t go all out. They hurt and I pulled the plug early as I was not ready. I could have just did an easy endurance ride and that was the intention, but the short power interval efforts gave me a better idication of my status.

I tried spinning a couple days later and the short and easy zone 2 spin hurt. I finally decided to go to the doctor to get checked out and ended up coming home with some antibiotics for a sinus infection with some potential bronchitis.

It only took a couple of days and I could feel the sinus infection getting better with the antibiotics and I did another short spin. It didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t good. The Polar Roll was only a week away. I hit another easy spin the next night and could tell that things were getting better and there was some hope.

A couple days later, I did a short ride on my trainer and threw in a few hard efforts at the end. I could feel my lungs were finally starting to loosen up and decided that I could make the race and the rest of my trip to Michigan.

Race – 906 Polar Roll Fat Bike

winter base training

Again, I already wrote a race report on this, so I won’t dwell on it and only point out a couple of things. My average heart rate was 167 bpm for a period of more than 2 hours. That’s probably a good sign that my real threshold might be slightly higher than 168, where I currently have it set. I had increased my threshold to 170 bpm last year, but I dropped it down to 168 bpm this winter and readjusted my training zones accordingly after having so much down time. I had done this as some minor protection from overdoing some of my base training efforts. I’m betting I can bump it back to 170, but I will still probably wait and see how my next threshold test goes before making the adjustment.

The other thing was my max heart rate hit 186 bpm. I don’t think I ever hit that last year. It looks like it happened in that final effort to the finish line when I got dropped hard. I guess the exciting thing is that I actually had the legs to push my heart rate that high this time around. Back at the Freezer Burn race, my legs were flat dead at anything approaching threshold or above.

Anyways, a couple interesting points from my perspective.

Bike – Force Intervals

winter base training

This workout is all about strength and increasing my force output. These were 2 minute intervals with power at 320 watts (120% FTP) and spinning between 60 and 65 rpms. They could be done with less power, but the goal is to develop max strength that can later be developed into useable explosive power. By the way, if you don’t have a lot of miles under your legs or have spent some time climbing, then I would not dive into one of these workouts with such a low cadence. The high power setting and really low cadence, puts a lot of extra strain on the knee.

I have always had chicken legs and could not squat worth a darn. I actually never really enjoyed any type of leg work when it came to the gym. I’ve also noticed that during my FTP tests, I tend to get my most efficient threshold power and heart rate with my cadence creeping up into the high 90s. It seems to me that my current power, which is not that great, is leaning on my ability to sustain higher cadences vs using a lower cadence with more force output.

My point is, that I believe this workout potentially shows that force output or strength deficiency in my legs. If my leg strength was there and I relied less on an efficient pedal cadence during threshold outputs, then I should get more of these intervals in. I was trashed at the end of the 4th one.

That being said, I had just raced and also spent 25 hours in the car and came into this workout carrying some fatigue and legs that just didn’t feel like doing much. So, I didn’t really think too deep into it at the time. In hindsight, being that I know I was carrying some fatique coming into this work… I probably should have increased my recovery period between work intervals. You can see that my heart rate never got a chance to settle out between work intervals.

I did a really slow paced jog the next day that did not feel very easy and decided to take the rest of the week off and start with fresh legs going into the next week. I think I had some other stuff going on as well and it was just a busy week trying to catch up on other things.

Week 9 -11 (Feb 27 – March 19)

winter base training

I was back on the horse here with a plan for 2 solid weeks of base training, followed by a recovery week. I got in a couple of structured runs each week, along with bike workouts. It was a fairly solid couple weeks of training, but I am still trying to figure out how to do both the bike and the run.

Running- 30s Speed Intervals

winter base training

Even though I am getting more serious about running… my focus is still leaning toward improving my bike performance. When it comes to running, my goal is to get in 2 runs a week and maybe a 3rd. One of those runs will likely be very short and fast paced intervals for speed work and the other is the longer 6 to 9 minute race pace intervals to improve my threshold pace and build up distance at the same time.

At anyrate, this workout consited of 30s efforts at a 5:00 min/mile pace. They were done on my treadmill, which takes about 12 to 15 seconds to ramp up to that speed, but then takes another 12 to 15 seconds to ramp down from that speed. So bascially, it wasn’t a full 30s at the 5:00 min pace, but the total effort from start of speed increase and back down to recovery start was a total of about 40 to 45 seconds. The recovery pace was a walk at 3 mph (20:00 min pace). Why a 5:00 min pace…? That is as fast as my treadmill will go. Some of the newer treadmills will go a little faster and could be useful for this workout. 5:00 min pace was nearing what I could handle right now though, but I would like to squeak out a little more speed with these if I could.

I’ll mention this now instead of in the following Force Intervals, but I wish I would have only done 6 of these. I think the last couple efforts pushed the recovery out a little bit and effected my Force Intervals the next day on the bike.

Bike – Force Intervals

winter base training

I already duscussed this workout earlier where I barely got the forth interval in. Also, as I eluded to in the previous days running sprint interval; I felt like I was carrying a little leg fatique into this workout again, but for different reasons this time. That being said, I was able to get most of the way through the 5th interval before reaching failure.

You can see that I am missing cadence and heart rate data from this workout… My Garmin had a malfunction and I had to use my Wahoo file, that was missing cadence and heart rate. Regardless, cadence was around 60 to 65 rpms during the work intervals and 85 to 90 rpms during the recovery intervals. I can’t recall exactly what my heart rate did, but think it was similiar to the earlier workout.

I had power set at 320 watts for the work intervals, which is about 120% FTP for me. I was going to do 6 intervals, but since I didn’t make it through the 5th, I didn’t see the point in attempting the 6th. Because I know I was carrying a little fatigue into this workout, I am still not sure if it is a strength issue or the fatigue issue. I should have increased my rest interval to see if that made a difference, especially since I mentioned in my first workout that my heart rate wasn’t settling out into recovery between intervals the first time.

Bike – Woolly Fat Bike

 

winter base training

This would be my first trip over to the Woolly Bike Club Trails this entire winter and there wasn’t really even any snow. They had opened the trails up for a couple of days, while the temperatures dropped below freezing. This really should have been an easy riding day also, but stars aligned and I was able to get over to the trails. For road or trail rides, I have normally shared the bar graph that shows time spent at the specific training zones, but I wanted to comment on this one differently as I think there are a few important points that show up well in the line graph.

I went for 2 laps and my first lap was all about hill work (you can recognize the laps in the elevation profile). It wasn’t low cadence hill work, but just general climbing efforts. I rode mostly at a high endurance or tempo effort, but hammered every hill or increasing grade. I could definitely feel the workout still from the day before, so I can’t say this was the smartest thing to do. I was once again stacking fatigue on top of fatigue, but I just wanted to see where I was at relative to previous rides. I didn’t set any PRs on these hills, but came dang close on a couple. I was still a bit off on the longer climb toward the end of the lap, but I was also on my fat bike and that climb is nearly 4 minutes.

My second lap was to see how I was doing in regards to a full lap TT. You can see from my heart rate profile in red, that my heart rate spikes on hills during the first lap and then was elevated the entire second lap. It’s not as long of a lap as I would generally like for an actual offroad TT effort, but it was good to see where I stood relative to previous efforts.

I did set a PR that was a couple minutes faster than my previous fastest effort. The great part was that the previous effort was on my 29er vs the fat bike that I was riding on this day. The downside is that previous effort was from 2 years ago, so I can’t really say which of the previous efforts or if any of them were solid comparisons or not. I also don’t know if any of those previous efforts around this specific loop were me actually giving a full TT effort or not. I know I’ve given full blow efforts around the full Woolly loop, including the West Ridge, but not sure about the Fat Bike specific loop.

Bike – Tempo Road Ride

winter base training

This was a great early season baseline ride. The weather was great, except for the wind, but I was able to get out and check my endurance. I rode mostly at a tempo pace, aside from warming up, cooling down and then nailing some Strava segments. There were 4 segments that I hit for my hard efforts and set PRs on all 4 of them. The first 2 were back to back 1 mile segments that I had never specifically targeted before, so I knew I would set PRs and ended up averaging over 29 mph. 1 of them was a KOM and the other was a tie for the KOM. I did have one heck of a tailwind though.

The next one was the climb that I usually check myself on and I also set a PR on that one, but I’m still 15 seconds off the KOM there. The last one that I hit hard was a 2 mile false flat where I set another PR and took the KOM. Again, I don’t know that I had ever specifically targeted this segment either, but it’s in a good location to include in these on road intervals and will probably use it again.

There are a ton of Strava segments throughout the area that I road ride on and I will usually use a few of them for intervals within a ride like this to keep the ride more entertaining and test myself over time. It also keeps some fun and competative comaraderie with a few other local riders.

Bike – Force Intervals

winter base training

This is a shorter interval period of that same force interval workout that I’ve discussed a couple times earlier in this report. I set the power to 320 watts again and cadence around 60 to 65 rpms for the work interval, but decreased the work time of the interval to 1 min, instead of 2 min. I had no problem getting through the 1 min work and could have continued doing more intervals. You can see that my heart rate never fully reached threshold.

It was a good gut check against my 2 min work version of this workout. If I chose to do this same workout again instead of the 2 min version, I would probably up the power another 10 to 20 watts in order to start closing in on failure at the 8th interval. The other option would also be to keep the same power, but increase interval work period by 20 to 30 seconds and work my way up to the 2 min mark that way.

The interesting thing to take out of this is that if I’m in a race, I shouldn’t be afraid to crank up the power on climbs that are less than a minute, as this workout proves that I can recover from them repeatedly. However, the previous 2 min work version tells me that I’m only good for a handful of climbs near the 2 minute mark at high power before I run out of matches.

All that being said… I don’t have a power meter on my bike, but it’s still helpful in knowing how to pace myself in a race with multiple climbs, especially if I know how long those climbs might be going into them. Having the power meter on the trainer has given me a good feel for resistance throughout my training zones without having to try and chase my heart rate.

Bike – Tempo / Low Cadence Tempo / 2 X Threshold

winter base training

This was an interesting workout that I was experimenting with. It’s a combination of a few workouts from the book Training And Racing With A Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan, PhD. I went through a typical warm up and then put in a steady 40 min tempo effort at 220 watts (84% FTP) with cadence around 90 rpms. You can see that my cadence drifted down over time. Then, I went immediately into a 20 minute effort at the same 220 watts with cadence around 70 to 75 rpms. I recovered for 10 minutes and then put in a 10 min threshold effort at 270 watts, followed by another 10 min recovery and another 10 min threshold effort at 270 watts.

I really liked this workout. It lasted just over 2 hours and I was able to get a solid 1 hour of tempo riding in to work on endurance that included some minor strength endurance work, by dropping the cadence the last 20 minutes. Plus, I was able to finish off with some threshold efforts to work on increasing my threshold power. It’s also gives some representation of knowing if I can still put out some solid threshold efforts after already riding an hour at a solid tempo pace.

Not to mention, the 2 hours went by fairly fast as opposed to just repeating the exact same intervals over and over the entire time.

Run – 5K Test

winter base training

I took a recovery week and decided to do a 5k baseline test for a couple reasons. First, my KICKR was out of commission and getting sent in for warranty work. That’s an entirely different conversation and I might write something up about it, once I get it back and find out if they have solved the problem or not. It has to do with a wobbly belt wheel and the entire axle assembly with the freehub loosening up. I originally thought the axle nut was backing off, but that wasn’t the case. Anyways, I sent it in to Wahoo for warranty and assume I will hear something back soon.

So, I could have done a threshold test on my CycleOps fluid trainer or the road, but I thought it was a good opportunity to go ahead and see where I stood with my 5k running effort. My pace was fairly steady, except for the start and finish. You can see that my heart rate creeped up the first 7 minutes and then leveled out for the most part. It leveled out fairly high though and above my heart rate threshold, which I could feel about 15 minutes in. I ran it just under 21 minutes with a 6:44 pace, which is nothing spectatular for a 5k, but I was happy with it and think it is a good starting point. I think the short speed intervals are helping with my speed and the 6 to 9 minute race pace efforts are helping push my threshold pace up. I haven’t run a 5k at that pace since running cross country in high school.

Strength Training Summary

I mentioned this in a previous monthly e-mail recap that goes out to subscribers, but I have not been doing my strength work all in one workout session. I’ve been doing it intermitantly throughout the day. That might be as a full circuit set or it might be just a few exercises and then I will hit a few different ones an hour or 2 later. It basically keeps me moving throughout the day and somewhat saves time from doing 1 specific session. This might change a little as I am spending some time at the gym with clients and have time to fit a workout in between appointments.

At anyrate, here are the exercises that I have been doing.

  • push-ups with my feet on a stability ball
  • pull-ups
  • romanian deadlifts
  • bent over rows
  • curls
  • supermans

I throw a few others in on occasion, but these are kind of the core group that I default to.

Winter Base Training Summary

winter base training

This chart summarizes how my time was split between training zones during my winter base training. I spent almost 4 hours racing, so a good chunk of the zone 4 (threshold) time is from those races. The rest of that zone 4 time was from specific training efforts. You can see that I barely dipped in to zone 5. Basically a lot of my time was spent in zone 2 (endurance) and zone 3 (tempo), which makes sense for base training.

I tried to put this together in a format that you can pick and choose what you want to read. Hopefully, I provided enough lesson or details so that you can use some of this to put together, adjusting own workouts or just get some ideas for mixing up your training. I’m not completely done with base type training, but I wanted to get this out before it got too long. I do plan to do another FTP test as well when I am finished up with base training. Hopefully my KICKR is back from warranty at that point, so I have some power measurement to compare against my January FTP test. Regardless, I wanted to get this out before I ended up with a report that was way too long and unmanageble.

As I stand now… I think I am sitting in an ok place to make some gains this year. It sucks that I lost so much time this winter with illnes, but that’s just life. I am planning very few 100 milers this year and looking to do some shorter XC races and a few mid distance races, so I can spend more time racing and training vs recovering. If all goes well and I can make the gains that I want, then you’ll see me getting back after more 100 milers the following year.

I also want to get a half marathon in this year and then eventually a full marathon in the following years to build myself up to an Iron Man. It’s just something that is always nagging me in the back of my head and I’m trying to figure out how to train and ramp up for multiple types of events within the realms of the rest of life. Anyways, as always, let me kow if you have any questions…

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Fall Training Transition – Biking & Running

fall training transition

It has been an interesting fall training transition during my offseason, if an offseason from biking actually exists anymore…  I should have been indulging in a bit more solid recovery after the Marji Gesick 100, but I really wanted to start sorting out how I was going to train in the future for both running and biking at the same time. I also wanted to see if I could get some relatively decent running distance out of my legs before the snow and deep cold set in.

At anyrate, I am now 9 weeks past the Marji Gesick 100 and my fall training transition period is coming to a close. I plan to start some structured base training on the bike in a week or 2 that will take me through all of the winter months and into May. I will also still mix in the running, although some of it will move to a treadmill and/or I will crosstrain with my other new interest of cross country skate skiing once the trails are groomed.

Below, you will find the last 9 weeks broken down with a few notes on each week. I pasted in a screen shot of each week’s calendar with the notes, so you can quickly skim through the article and just stop if you see something that catches your eye. I will not talk about every workout, but will just highlight a few things that were going on that week with any good or bad lessons from the week, if any. As usual, you will find a short summary of my thoughts at the bottom of the article.

Weekly Breakdown of My Fall Training Transition

Week 1: Sept 26 – 2

fall training transition

I really wanted to start doing some running, but I also knew that I needed some recovery time. I am really terrible at this part of the process. I don’t tend to sleep well, because I am a restless person to begin with and always have a hard time shutting my brain off at night. I didn’t sleep well the first few nights after the Marji Gesick as my mind was spinning from the experience of the Marji Gesick and my body was all around achy.

My 7 mile ride on Friday was nice and I felt good. I made the stupid mistake of going out for a longer ride on Saturday that really brought back some deep fatigue. I was good for the first 20 miles, but the last 10 really started to hurt. I was on my fat bike on the gravel back roads and I just went for too long of a ride. I didn’t hurt, but I could just tell the fatigue was deep within the muscles still.

My Sunday rides were just fun group rides with the kids at a family day that was held at the Woolly Bike Club trails. I didn’t do any hard riding, but I still felt fatigue on the trails. It was nice though to do some easy trail riding.

Week 2: Oct 3 – 9

fall training transition

I was still feeling really fatigued at the beginning of the week and went for a couple bike path rides with my seven year old to keep my legs loose while I was trying to recover. On Thursday, I found out that my Grandmother had died and I ended up taking off on some gravel with my fat bike to have some thinking time. I rode a little further than I probably should have and got caught in some rain and the dark. I guess a bit fitting on the day…

Anyways, I hammered home the last half hour, trying to beat the dark and pushed a little too hard. The good part was that I was able to drop the hammer for some long pulls trying to get home, but I was running over threshold for fairly long periods of time and that was not helpful at all for the recovery that I needed. I didn’t ride again the rest of that week as I had a 700 mile drive followed by a full day at the funeral home on Sunday.

Week 3: Oct 10 – 16

fall training transition

The funeral was on Monday and I went for a short run right afterwards. This, ironically was my first run of my new effort to get into running. I was really tired from the driving and hadn’t slept well the last few days, so the run really took it out of me even though it was less than 2 miles. I took the next day off of any activity. The next 2 days, I couldn’t help but go for a couple short trail runs and then mountain bike rides while I was in Michigan. I was still dabbling, but I was intrigued by the trail running and knew at this point I was definitely interested in the trail running.

Yes, I had actually thrown my bike in the car before heading to Michigan for the funeral. Packing a bike now for any trip has become about as common as packing my socks and underwear. Anyways, I was pretty much toasted after those 2 days of running and biking. They were not long runs or rides and were fairly mild paces, but I was just fatigued from not sleeping well and had a lot on my mind. I took the next few days off of any physical activity. Plus I was standing in a wedding over the weekend and then had to make the 700 mile drive back home. I didn’t really have an abundance of time available.

Week 4 – Oct 17 – 23

fall training transition

I took Monday off again. You’ll find that Monday’s tend to be an off day for me when it comes to cardio type activities. This could change though in the future as I fit the running in. At any rate, I got in a 3+ mile XC run on tuesday that felt really good. I call it an XC run, because it was more relatable to High School Cross Country terrain than true trail running.

I only did a short trainer ride with my bike that week and that was it for the bike. Out of curiosity, I went into my previous low cadence hill climb interval routine, just to see how my legs felt. After the first one, I knew I was still feeling some deep fatigue and then I bailed 30 seconds early on the second interval as I knew I was not ready. I did not have intentions of doing a full interval workout, but I thought doing a couple intervals at my previous power settings was a good test of my recovery & current fatigue status. I should have just bailed after the first one, but attempting the second one, told me the fatigue was still pretty deep and maybe I had started running too soon.

We went for a long camping weekend where I got in another nice XC run and a couple of hikes. The run felt decent as I held back on the pace and the hikes were great.

Week 5: Oct 24 – 30

fall training transition

At this point, I was feeling like I really needed to hold back on my intensity levels as I knew I had now delayed my true recovery from the Marji Gesick 100. I make this mistake often and it is an easy one to make. The issue is this… I spent 10 years being fairly sedentary, not excercising much and becoming overweight. I did exercise a few times and/or got a bike out, but it was always a half hearted attempt at getting in shape again and never stuck. I was never obese, but I was a little over weight for sure. Now days, I will range anywhere from 40 to 50 pounds lighter than I once was at my peak.

The point is, I never want to go back to that and I get very restless if I don’t do some type of exercise. I’ll even drop into some depression and some good hard and solid excercise seems to keep me balanced. This is what causes me to overtrain often and why after many steps forward in training, I have gotten myself sick, rundown and ended up going backwards or plateauing out for long periods. I don’t want to dive too deep into this now, but I might come back to this again in a future dedicated article.

Back to the training… I forgot to mention also, that my shoulders were severely bothering me and I still hadn’t gotten back to my upperbody and core activity work. Partly because of the shoulder pain. I was hoping they would heal up from the race and then I could get back to things sooner. At anyrate, I decided to keep my riding to the trainer this week and keep my intensity low. I even kept my running to the treadmill with walking only, but at an incline.

Week 6: Oct 31 – Nov 6

fall training transition

I was feeling a bit rested again and headed back out for another XC run. I went nearly 4.5 miles this time, but probably should have cut it off at 3.5. I wore some different shoes, just to mix things up and they just didn’t work out well at all.

The next day, I met up with some folks from the Woolly Bike Club for a local night group ride on the trails where I took it really easy. I was not feeling like pushing things at all and was feeling the run from the day before.

I went for a night trail run after the ride even though I was feeling fatigued. I knew it was not the best idea, but I also knew I had limited time this fall to try and work out how I would train for both biking and running at the same time. At this point, I was willing to delay my recovery a bit to get this sorted out before the temps dropped and the snow was flying. I knew these type of actions could cost me a descent race performance at the upcoming Solstice Chase fat bike race in December if I didn’t get some solid recovery in before then, but there would be more fat bike races later in the season. I really wanted to sort out how I could structure the running and biking, so I could hit the ground running hard come spring.

I took Thursday and Friday off and then hit Woolly Bike Club Trails on Saturday where I took things fairly easy and then Elm Creek on Sunday where I took things fairly easy again. The weather was amazing and it would most likely be my last single track ride of the season on the 29er. I also rode with my flat pedals, just for something different. It was super weird at first, but by the time I got through with my first lap at Elm, I was really enjoying the flats. I might continue spending time on the flats and write something up about the experience.

Week 7: Nov 7 – 13

fall training transition

I decided to hit some pavement with my running shoes and put in a nice 6 mile run at an easy effort. I was holding back on my pace, but my legs felt heavy at the same time. I was proud of myself though for the fact that I was able to hold back and keep my distance to 6 miles.

The reason I say keep my distance to 6 miles, was because I had to turn around on the rail trail a mile before the end of it in order to keep my mileage to 6. This is a mental hurdle for me. Everything in side of me in situations like this wants me to go to the end, go all the way, go as far as I can before turning around. I know that if I am going to have long term personal success with my own training and that of being a personal trainer or coach for someone else, that I have to be able to rain myself in on these situations and I was able to do it this time.

I hit the trainer the day after for an easy recovery ride and then Friday went out for a 3+ mile run around what I thought my threshold pace might be. I actually felt really good after this run and was starting to believe that I might have a little more in my running legs than I thought. I am still running much slower than what I have in mind, but I am gaining some confidence in what I might be able to do if I structure things right and am smart about my build up throughout next year.

Week 8: Nov 14 – 20

fall training transition

This is the week that I started getting up a little bit earlier, so I could squeeze in a morning workout. I’d rather do all my training at one time, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t always have that kind of time in the evening and if I could knock out some Strength & Mobility work or very light cardio workout in the morning, then I could do my mild or higher intensity work in the evening. I actually exercised every single day that week and even rode my bike 6 of the 7 days without any major disruption to daily life.

I upped my running distance to 8 miles at around an 8:30 pace and then ran the last mile at a 7:10 pace. I was curious what I had left in me after 7 miles and was suprised. I also was thinking there might be something to that style of a workout as I build my distance. However, the hard effort for the last mile really set the fatigue deep and cost me extra time in recovering from the 8 mile distance. In hind sight, I should have just kept my tempo pace and moved on. My goal with the run right now, should be building up my distance/time so my feet, ankles, knees and hips can adapt to the distance running and I should work on the speed in the spring.

Week 9: Nov 21 – 27

fall training transition

I continued my 5 am workouts every day. It’s not quite a habit yet, but it is getting darn close. I have been really tired since that 8 mile run, but I forced myself up for a quick workout before starting work for the day regardless. My downfall at this point, is now I need to force myself to bed earlier.

Anyways, I have kept the running lighter this week with only 1 run. I was actually feeling decent while running and could have stretched out the distance a bit more. I was holding back some on the pace though and just trying to enjoy it. It was actually snowing while I was running and kind of peaceful.

I did change up my trainer workout this week and did a 120 rpm cadence interval workout one morning. I am getting very close to going into some structured base training for the bike, which I will talk about below and thought it was important to kick my rpms up a bit, since I had been doing such mild riding the past couple of weeks. I had the power set at 100 watts, so my heart rate did not spike much and I was able to get the legs moving without over working them.

Closing Out My Fall Training Transition

I have a couple weeks before I start my so called structured base training schedule. It will be something that I put together myself. By all means, you are welcome to follow along on Strava to see what type of work I am doing. I use Training Peaks to keep track and analyze everything, but I still load it all to Strava. I do have a rough idea of how I plan to incorporate the running into the plan and will use the early parts of my base training to bring it together.

My intention is to work it out in a fashion that is also usable by the masses of other age group folks with time crunched schedules. My goal will be the biggest gains with the least amount of work on a schedule that is easily repeated by the general population. That’s partly why I’ve started the habit of a slightly earlier wake up time and squeezing in a morning workout. I believe this will be key to keeping my strength and mobility work moving forward, along with incorporating the running and biking together.

I live for new challenges and working toward the next goal. I have a lot of work left to do across the board, but I have also made some really great gains. I was thinking today about my race performance in the Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival about 2 and half years ago in the spring of 2014… I got it handed to me in that race and finished like 5 or 6 from last place out of a 60+ person field. Aside from a couple bad races with nutrition or knee problems this past year and a half, I have been able to hang in the top 10 to 20% of the field for a variety of race distances.

Anyways, I am looking forward to next year and adding running to the mix of training is more about new challenges and testing myself than anything else. I will not only test myself with some running races, but test myself in my ability to jump into running while still working to get stronger on the bike. Next year will definitely be another year of growth in many ways for sure!

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My Introduction To Running Again

beginning to run

Simplicity and a change of pace are the first couple things that come to mind when I sit down to write about my introduction to running. I have some previous running experience, but there was something  new and different about putting on a pair of shoes and working my way thru the woods by foot that was a bit freeing. No shifting gears, no hitting the brakes, no chain lube, no helmet and no gloves. I love riding my bike, but I can’t help but appreciate the simplicity of the run.

There will for sure be more running reports and article in the future from this guy, but I wanted to start off with giving you a little bit of background on my running experience. I am not completely new to running. I just haven’t done a whole lot of it lately and it has been a long time since I did it regulary. Anyways, I’ll walk through some of my background in regards to running, dive into how it fits into my current goals, the running I have been doing the past several weeks and then close out with some potential events for next year.

My Previous Introduction To Running

My Early Years of Running

I am not new to running at all… We had a small Cross Country Club my freshman or sophmore year of High School. An actual team was formed my senior year, that I joined a little late, but still had plenty of time to run at least a handful of races. I wasn’t real fast, but I wasn’t slow either. I remember my fastest time being around 19:30, but I think it was rare for me to break the 20 minute mark. That’s faster than I can run now, but I remember the fast guys on the team being at a whole different level.

I was also a wrestler for 10 years. I started wrestling in 2nd grade and wrestled all through High School. Needless to say, there was a lot of running involved for conditioning and the weight cutting during the High School Years. After High School, I didn’t do any running. I mountain biked a fair amount while going to college and even entered a few sport class races in those years. The year after college I started doing some running again for a couple months, because I had signed up for an adventure triathlon and the Flint Crim. This was back in 2002, just to give you a bit of timeline reference.

The adventure tri had a 7 mile orienteering run in it and the Flint Crim was 10 miles, if I am remembering correctly. Anyways, I did some road running a couple times a week to prepare for the both and I think my road runs were up to around 8 miles. I had some bad knee pains during those times and was even wearing a brace on my knee when I was running. I think the issue was that I never ramped up. I jumped into the 5 to 8 mile distance right away and it had been 5 years since doing any regular running.

At anyrate, the knee issue worked itself out and I did the adventure tri without any major issues and then I pretty much stopped running after that. The Crim was still ahead, but my wife and I were getting married and I was also transitioning to a new job function at work. Life was starting to get busy while interests and priorities were changing.

The Flint Crim came up about a month and a half later and I don’t remember it going very well. I think I was somewhere around the hour and a half mark to finish. That really wasn’t a bad time in my opinion. However, I remember it hurting and I really struggled the last couple miles. But that’s what happens if you don’t prepare yourself well. Anyways, I don’t think I ran again after that, nor did I ride my bike. Aside from an occasional ride or half hearted attempt at getting in shape again, I pretty much hung up about any type of exercise activity for the next 10 years

Another Introduction To Running

Fast forward to 2012 when I made big gains in getting back in shape toward the end of the summer… I was getting back on the bike occasionally, but I realized I could run again. I had started running a few times a week in October and then ran a small 5k trail race at a local farm. I think I took 4th or 5th place and ran a time around 24 minutes. Winter was setting in here in Minnesota and the running kind of stopped after that. I think it was the next winter that I did some running on the treadmill, but once summer came it was pretty much biking.

There has been the occasional run around the neighborhood and a few lunch runs at work in the past, but nothing with any intent on getting into running. If you look at what I have been doing here lateley, it probably still appears as dabbling yet. That is a bit purposeful as I have learned some things the past couple years and I am going to take this running thing with baby steps and work my way into it, at least for this fall.

The baby steps thing might seem laughable when you get near the end of this article and I talk about a couple running events that I am interested in for next year. Regardless, I am going to ease the miles up as I feel comfortable. If I don’t work myself up to the events that I am interested in, that is quite ok as I will still be better off than not doing any running at all. I guess if you miss an outlandish goal, you still end up in a pretty damn good place.

How Does Running Fit Into My Goals?

My goal has nothing to do with becoming the fastest mountain biker out there or trying to become a professional mountain biker. My long term goal is to have all around extreme amounts of fitness to enjoy and be competitive for my age group in a vast amount of activities. I would also like to learn how to swim and ski. I know that I may be casting a fairly large net and that could hinder performance in one specific area in the long term. I am ok with that. At the end of the day, I just like testing and challenging myself and what greater way to do it than to cast a large net and see where I stand across the board.

Why Trail Running Over Road Running?

I guess I like the dirt. I think it goes deeper than that though. Just like I don’t care for riding the shoulders of roads as cars go zipping by, I don’t really like running like that either. The paved rail trail even becomes boring. I prefer trail riding because it forces me to not think about anything else as I have to stay focused on the trail. I think this carries over into running as well.

Running on the trail has kept me focused on where my foot is going to land, what might be under those leaves and keeping my footing on loose rocks. Meditation seems to be a big topic of discussion on the interwebs today, which I have tried and failed. I realized mediation can happen in a variety of ways and my meditation or freeing of the mind happens when I am on my bike in the trails. I am not sure if that is actually meditation, but I like how it feels and I think this can carry over to the running.

All that being said… I probably won’t be able to get away from some road running. Just like mountain biking, I won’t always have the time to head to a trail and will have to just throw the shoes on and head out my front door. Plus, a road marathon has always been on my bucket list and I’ll have to do some heavy road running at some point if I want to check a marathon off the list.

How Will I Fit The Running In With Biking?

I am still figuring this one out. That being said I have some visions of how I think it might work. I want to do long distance in both. Right now I am not concerned with duathlons or triathlons, so I am not worried about the ability of going right from one activity to the next. That being said, it usually makes sense from a time perspective to combine the 2 activities. As my distance increases on foot, I will probably have to be more methodical about planning the long riding and running days apart.

What Running Have I Been Doing?

introduction to running

I did include my mileage and time in my October Recap that went out to Endurance Path e-mail subscribers, but here is what I have done sine the Marji Gesick 100 mountain bike race. Keep in mind, I have been dancing between recovering from the Marji Gesick and trying to take a little bit of a break before the fat bike season kicks in.

Mileage: 43.7 miles

Hours: 8 hrs and 38 min

This really includes a mix of any type of running, a couple of hikes and a few incline treadmill walks. I’ve only done one paved surface run and that was this past week. I figured I wanted to spend as much time as I could on uneven surfaces before the snow came in and I was forced to my neighborhood streets or the treadmill. As far as the types of trails go, their were a couple runs with some short elevation changes and switchbacks that were very slow paced and then a fair amount of wider grassy or gravel ski path type of trails. I even got out for a short night run after one of my bike rides. However, the cummulative mileage and time is not real significant yet in my opinion. However, I have worked up to a 4+ mile cross country run and a 6 mile run this past week on asphalt.

Potential Races

Running a marathon has been on the bucket list and seems like a logical event for a runner’s bucket list. That being said, I am way more intrigued by running trails versus pavement. I also feel like there might be more adventure in a rugged trail run, which fits my interests more. At any rate, here is what I currently have in mind in my attempt to dive right in next year.

Superior Spring Trail Race

The timing of mid May seems to be good for this race. I would the 25k distance vs the 50k distance. As of right now, I am not planning to do any big endurance mountain bike races this coming spring and doing a big trail run in May still gives me enough time to recover for any endurance mountain bike races that I might attempt in the June/July time frame.

For those that follow my mountain bike reports… No worries, I plan to do some fat bike racing and may hit a couple early season XC distance races in the spring. I am not a big fan of lap races, but I would still like to get a little more experience in some closer wheel to wheel racing.

Sasquatch Dash Series

This is a series put on by the folks at Cyclova XC in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. I doubt I would run all of them, but I’d like to hit one or 2 of them if I can fit them in the schedule. I think they start off in low mileage at the beginning of the year and build up toward the end. I followed the events on Facebook this past year and seems like a lot of fun was had.

Marathon

If all is going well, then maybe I could find a marathon to do in the fall. I am planning to do the Marji Gesick 100 mountain bike race again near the end of September, so a Marathon near the end of October or beginning of November might fit ok. I will play all of this by ear though. I might be more interested in another trail run instead, but I am curious about a Marathon distance on the road. It just seems like something that has to be done at some point. However, if my body is needing a break come fall, then this is not going to happen.

Where I Take Running From Here

Like I said, I will ease into it and run to how I feel while keeping some goals in mind for a trail run of some significant distance in the spring. Even if I have to hike some of it, I think it will be a good experience. I am not going to dive in to pushing the run faster than my knees and other joints can adapt. I have to keep this in mind, especially with the knee pain I experienced while running 15 years ago and then with a couple of the knee issues I had on the bike this past year.

Patience is key in almost everything and as I get a little older, the lessons of life sink in a little deeper and I feel I have a bit more control or at least some methodical and objective thinking to my thought process. Anyways, I know this isn’t a typical training report. It was more of an update or follow up to my interest in running. I’ll circle back later with training reports on my running progress. For now, I am just trying to get a variety of base running miles in. For now, I feel good about it and I am looking forward to adding running to my quiver of athletic disciplines.

Reference Links:

Superior Spring Trail Race

Sasquatch Dash Series

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How Cadence Impacts Power Output And Knee Joint Stress

cadence impacts power

I am going to specifically talk about how cadence impacts power output and stress loads on your knee joints. Pay attention, because this could save you from a knee injury and help you become more energy efficient at the same time. I’ll nerd out with some equations and calculations, but stay with me and I’ll sum it all up with some take aways at the end, so it is easy to understand.

Power Is A Calculation Of Torque And Cadence

First of all; power is actually a number derived from torque and angular speed. I am sharing the equations with you below to clearly show you how cadence impacts power. Believe it or not, I actually remember this stuff from engineering school over 15 years ago, but I did double check myself with a google search, because google is the new text book, right…?

Watts = Torque x Angular Speed

Torque: N-m

Angular Speed: radians/sec

Horse Power = (Torque X Cadence)/5252

Torque: lb-ft

Cadence: rpms (revolutions per min)

In other words… power will increase as cadence increases, assuming the same amount of torque applied. Or, the same power output can be achieved with less torque and a higher cadence. I know there is a caveat to this as there is a limit to how fast anything can spin, but bear with me and I will circle back after discussing torque.

Torque = Force X Length

Force: load applied to your pedals

Length: length of the lever arm, i.e. your cranks arms

So as I said earlier, power increases as cadence increases, assuming the same amount of torque input. Or, the same power output can be achieved with a higher cadence and less torque. The caveat is that torque will drop off at some point, since it is reliant on the amount of load that can be applied to the pedals and it is increasingly difficult to apply the same load as cadence increases. We all have our limits here, but there are things that you can do to impact it. This is where cadence spin up drills and explosive power workouts come into play. I’ll come back to this in the real life examples below.

Real Life Examples Of How Cadence Impacts Power

Cadence Impacts On Knee Joints And Tendons

Let’s say that you are going to do a hill interval workout at 260 watts and 60 rpms… I am pulling these numbers directly out of some hill repeat workouts I was doing in one of my build phases this past year. You can find a link to that training report at the bottom of this write-up.

Anyways… If you put down 260 watts at 60 rpms, that means you are putting 41 N-m of torque into your drivetrain. That translates into 31 lb-ft of torque, for those holding out on the english system. Assuming a 175mm crank length, this means you are putting 52 lbs of force into the pedals. Again, I’m doing the math for you to bounce back and forth between the metric and english system, but I want you to understand the point.

So here is the point… If you put out the same 260 watts, but at 90 rpms… You are now only putting 35 lbs of force into the pedals vs the 52 lbs of force at 60 rpms. This means your knee joints are seeing 33% less compression force and your muscle tendons are seeing 33% less tensile stress (tension) at the higher 90 rpms and 40% less at 100 rpms. This is a really big deal. I put out about the same moving speed, with the same power output and same heart rate, but using a third less muscle force to do so at 90 rpms vs 60 rpms. I think this clearly shows how cadence impacts power and stress in and around your knee. Here is a chart where I did another short session for a quick look at the numbers again.

cadence impacts power

I also did a workout 2 days later, using the same power numbers at around 95 rpms. My heart rate was about the same for both workouts. Pay attention here… There was no difference in my heart rate, between spinning at 60 rpms and 95 rpms for the same 260 watt power output. My cardio vascular system did not work any harder spinning at 95 rpms, than it did at 60 rpms, but my muscles put out 35% less peak force and my joints saw 35% less stress while spinning at 95 rpms vs spinning at the 60 rpms. Yes, my muscles had to move faster, but the peak loads were less.

Vertical Jump Height Paralleled With Cadence

To draw another parallel to this is, just because you can squat or leg press a lot of weight, doesn’t mean that you can jump higher. Chances are you will be able to jump a little higher as you increase leg muscle in general. But, to really make big gains in your vertical jump, you must be able to exert that leg force at a high rate of speed.

Think of vertical speed like you would cadence. Your quads contract, exerting tension in your tendons that force a rotation around your knee joint to produce a force on the ground through your lower leg, making you jump. You will jump higher as you develop the ability to produce force in your quads at higher rates of speed, causing faster rotation at the knee joint that results in your legs straightening out faster and you jumping higher. That is what power production is all about.  The ability to produce a lot of power comes down to the ability to exert force at higher rates of speed.

Cadence Impacts Power Output Of Your Car Engine

Just like a car engine, where power starts to drop off at some point before the rpm redline, our legs will do the same. I know my ability to put out more power will start dropping off somewhere over 110 rpms. I couldn’t tell you the exact rpm point as I haven’t experimented specifically with power at those levels. But, even if I can produce more power at 110 rpms vs 90, I am approaching my redline and am going to burn out if I try to spin out over 100 rpms for too long. That longevity obviously shortens as rpm increases.

The same thing will happen to your car engine if you try to run it at its peak power point for extended periods of time. It will start running too hot, overheat and then a multitude of bad things can happen from there. I’ve destroyed more than 1 car engine in my life, but that’s another topic… I’ve destroyed my legs many more times these past few years.

To The High Cadence Naysayers

That being said… There is always that person that says, well not everybody can spin at 90 or 100 rpms and that creates too much stress on my cardio system. If you are overworking your cardio at 90 rpms to put out the same power that you could at a lower cadence, then you need to stop doing hill repeats. Go work on your cadence skills and improve your cardio before your ruin your knees.

So why would I do hill repeats at 60 rpms then…? First, I only do them at 60 rpms, because I’ve worked my way down to sixty rpms over the past couple of years. I’ve adapted my muscles and joints to those efforts over time. That being said, my force and power output is far from stellar and I need to improve it. Now that I have spent enough time on the bike to adapt, I am using that slow cadence near my max force ability to add muscle mass, build strength and later turn it into more power with short max power intervals.

Key Takeaways On The Importance Of Cadence

Hopefully all of that made sense. I love this stuff and have had fun putting it together. At one time during engineering school, I had a small interest in switching out of Mechanical Engineering and into Biomechanical Engineering, but I think I was afraid of the biology part at the time. However, as I was diving deeper into understanding fitness and became a certified personal trainer, I couldn’t help but draw the lines between human body movements and principles I learned in engineering dynamics. I really think it helps all of this make more sense and really breakdown the impacts of various inputs on the body such as how cadence impacts power and forces on your knee joints.

At any rate, be sure to read through the takeaways below. Hit me up if you’d like clarification on anything or have any comments or questions in general.

Improve Your Cadence Skills With Spin Up And Pedaling Technique Drills

Work on your cadence skills so that you have the ability to efficiently spin at higher rpms. If you are already strong, then you will be able to put out more power naturally as your muscular skeletal system adapts to spinning at a faster cadence. This is why I include some level of cadence work in the training plans that I put together.

High Power At Low Cadence Puts Increased Loads On Your Knee

Don’t immediately drop your cadence and go out for hill repeats. You have to ease into it and make sure you adapt your muscles and joints over time to the repetitive high loads that your knees will see at lower cadences. I have done some low cadence work at 60 rpms, but I’ve worked my way down to that and really monitor my knee for any subtle pain during and after the workouts.

I was doing these workouts to increase my strength or force output abilities. To get the real gains out of the workouts, I followed up with shorter and higher rpm all out sprinting power intervals in the following weeks and I was definitely seeing gains in my power and climbing. I have a long ways to go as I have always had chicken legs, but it is a weakness that has held me back and I am working on it. It has been really cool for me to see gains in my leg muscle mass and strength.

Understand Your Sweet Spot Between Cadence And Force Output

I personally feel my sweet spot balance between power and cardio efficiency at this point is somewhere around 92 to 94 rpms. I can make more power at higher rpms, but I can’t hold it for as long and those moments should be reserved for attacks to bridge a gap, beating a group to the entry of singletrack, not getting dropped on fast race starts or finish line sprints. Outside of that, 92 to 94 rpms seems to be my balance between a lower continuous force output and the ability of my cardio and my muscular skeletal system not spinning too fast and spiking my heart rate.

You’ll Go Just As Fast

As I mentioned above, my moving speed was about the same while putting out the same power at 2 different cadences with the same heart rate. The difference is, I was putting out less muscle force and less stress on my knees by spinning at 90 rpms.

Understand And Improve Your Threshold Heart Rate

Work on your threshold heart rate. If you are newer at the sport, then you will likely be able to increase your threshold heart rate a little bit each year. I’ve been able to increase mine a little bit each year. I suspect that I won’t be able to raise it much more at this point, but I am confident that I can maintain it for quite a few more years as long as I maintain my intensity levels. As you get older, then you will have to work to maintain that threshold. I know this is an entirely different conversation, but it is worth mentioning.

Also, the whole 220 minus age thing that I hear people use all the time for max heart rate is just a ballpark. Do not try to back out your threshold heart rate, just by using a percent of your ballpark heart rate max. Actually understand where your threshold heart rate is at with testing, it will take less than an hour to get some actual numbers. As a side note, I bet I can ballpark somebody’s threshold heart rate after looking at some .fit files from a couple of their shorter races or Strava segment chasing rides better than trying to back it out of the old 220 minus age and percentages.

Reference Links

My Training Plans

Training Report That Includes Mentioned Workouts

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Lessons From My Marji Gesick Race Taper

marji gesick race taper

I’ll keep this short, but I thought it was relevant to take a step back and discuss the good and bad of my taper weeks leading into the Marji Gesick 100. I finished my last training build week with 3 weeks left before the Marji. I took a Recovery week, 1 peak week and then went into my race week. Right off the bat, I can tell you that I wish I would have allowed myself 2 weeks of peak training prior to the race week instead of just 1. At any rate, here are the details of exactly what I did during my Marji Gesick race taper weeks and what I would change for next time…

Here is legend for some of the graphs in the report:

Heart Rate

Speed

Cadence

Final Marji Gesick Training Build Recovery Week

The purpose of my recovery week is pretty self explanatory, but it is basically to recover from my training build and is not the same as peaking and tapering for the primary target race. I spoke about this in a video a couple months ago, because I’ve learned to not align recovery weeks with primary target race weeks. I’ve learned to plan my last training build to finish a few weeks in front of my race, so that I can recover and then go into a peak period of honing in my race skills for the specific race. I’ll include a link to that video at the bottom of the post.

I was extremely spent after the final ride of my last build week and never actually went out for my longer endurance paced ride to finish off my last build week. This partially happened because of scheduling conflicts and my last mid intensity long ride was pushed back a day. So, even if I hadn’t over done it, I probably still would not have been able to fit in the other ride anyways. Here is what my recovery week looked like.

Spin Ups – Tuesday

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I did 8 spin up intervals, going to max cadence on tuesday of my recovery week. I would do this same workout again, but I would have maxed cadence out around 120 rpms and then sustained for 30 seconds during this specific week and kowning how fatigued I was still at the time. I actually pushed up into the 170 rpm range on a few of these intervals and even though the pedal force was low, it still took a large amount of energy to spin at such a high rate.

You can see that my heart rate spiked pretty quick with the interval. My aerobic engine wasn’t quite ready for that 2 days after my sub 5 hour 100 mile ride and I ended up hindering my recovery. The next day I was feeling pretty spent and ended up skipping my short recovery spin. When you are really over fatigued in your muscles and aerobically, you just don’t feel like doing anything and that is where I was at the next day.

Race Simulation – Saturday

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The intention was to get my race bike out on my local trail for a high intensity hot lap to test where I was at in my fitness. I found my newer rear derailer to be bad already and ended up on my fat bike. This was ok, but I was really wanting to do a shakedown on my race rig. Anyways, I put in a hard effort and actually lapped faster around my local course than I had in the past, even though I was on my fat bike.

This was a good sign that I was making some really good gains in my last 2 training builds. The bad part is that I was not fully recovered from my last build, even though I was at the end of my recovery week. I knew this going into it, but I wanted to ride fast anyways. Sometimes the fun and live in the moment, isn’t always the best for training. I hadn’t been on dirt since the Ore To Shore race though and I just wanted to rip on singletrack and that is what I did.

If I would not have over pushed it in my last training build and had dialed back on my spin ups earlier in the week, this hot lap would have been a perfect way to end my recovery week with a test. However, I was not fully recovered and ended up going into my following taper week still trying to recovery while moving into race taper and preperation rides.

Recovery Ride – Sunday

tp-sept-11-2016

This was an easy, mostly gravel ride out to a local county park and back. As a side note, I have an engineering background and have started some product development on a few of my own product ideas. I had my first prototype fresh off my 3D printer and needed to get a few initial miles in for first impressions of fit and clearance during ride conditions. I included that as an obvious teaser of things to come down the road…

Back to the ride – I just needed to spin my legs out a bit and wished I had my race bike, but that wasn’t the case. I probably should have kept my effort all in Zone 1, but sometimes that is hard to do on the fat bike with the extra drag and rolling resistance without slowing to a crawl. I would like to have put in a little more distance, but I was short on time and could also feel my fatigue levels a little bit higher than I would have liked. I am thankful to have a few nice gravel roads close by. Here is a picture of my scenery from that ride.

marji gesick race taper

Recovery Week Biggest Lesson

Part of my recovery problem is not strictly tied to recovery weeks. My biggest issue is all around rest. My brain doesn’t stop and I have a hard time shutting down in the evening to get a solid night of rest. I’ll lay in bed with my head spinning about things I am working, when I should be sleeping. Ocassionally I’ll find myself wide awake at 2 or 3 in the morning and end up working on whatever is stuck in my head. At any rate, good quality rest is really my biggest issue when it comes to recovery.

Marji Gesick Peak Week

Now that I should have been recovered, it was time to drop the interval and workout sessions and just get ready to ride and race. I would put in some time at lower intensity, but also test myself at high intensity in real life riding. I would realize the strengths from the various interval work that I had done and put it to practice on the trails. My biggest mistake at this point was that I should have planned 2 weeks of peak training in my Marji Gesick race taper with the Marji being as tough and as long as it was. It wasn’t helping either that I wasn’t quite fully recovered at the end of my recovery week.

Endurance – Tuesday

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This ride was a little shy of 2 hours and I would probably had prefered something closer to 3 hours this early in my Marji Gesick race taper, but I don’t have unlimited time to ride.

Race Simulation – Wednesday

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Finally, I had my race bike set up and ready to ride. My new derailer and shifters arrived on this day and I headed to the trails for a hot lap as soon as I installed them. I had a great ride and again confirmed that I was stronger. I did 2 laps around the trail and both laps were again faster than I had ridden in the past. However, my biggest mistake was getting caught up in having a blast on the singletrack with my 29er and I spent too much time at high intensity.

My intention was 1 hot lap to keep the cardio system stretched and then ride a second lap at low tempo and focus on pedaling efficiencies and flowing through the trail using the least amount of energy. Like I said, I was pumped to be back on singletrack with my 29er and had fun ripping out a couple laps.

1 side note of this ride is that I easily cleaned the Woolly rock garden, which has traditionally caused me some problems. Some of it is confidence and I believe the other due to my power gains that allowed me to push a smaller ring on the cassette and maintain more speed through the rocks.

Recovery – Thursday

tp-sept-15-2016

I had spent more time than planned at high intensity the previous day and could have skipped out on this ride, but I found a few minutes to spare and went for a quick, easy spin around the neighborhood to keep my legs loose.

Race Simulation – Sunday

tp-sept-18-2016

This was my last race type ride before the race. If stars were to align, I could have scheduled an actual race for this weekend. The Chequamegon 40 might have been a good one, but I never signed up for it. As much as I love bike racing and getting out with the family, I still have to balance things out and it turned out good that we stayed home for the weekend as we were on the road a whole lot over the summer. Secondly, I would not have been able to hold myself back and would have hung at way too high of intensities for too long of periods. So I think the Chequamegon 40 would have been a little too hard of a push for me, 1 week before the Marji with my current fitness status and recovery times.

I’d like to think, with additional fitness and power gains, that the Chequamegon 40 might work out good for some higher intensity riding the weekend before Marji next year. But, I think that time ought to be spent honing in my comfort level on some technical singletrack the weekend before Marji.

Peak Week Biggest Lesson

I feel it is really important to maintain intensity levels as you peak and taper down for your final event, but I spent too much time at high intensity. To do it again, I would replace about half the time I spent in my threshold window with time in my tempo training zone and focused on efficient singletrack riding skills. It would have been easy to do, but like I said above, I was excited to be back on singletrack with my 29er. I had posted another video a couple months back about maintaining intensity levels during your race taper and by all means, that still stands. I just need more self control on the amount of time I spedt at those high intensity levels. I personally love pushing myself and testing my limits, which gets me carried away sometimes. I’ll also post a link to this video at the bottom of the report.

Marji Gesick Race Week

It was now race week and I would really start to dial back and make sure I was ready for racing. It was still important for me to keep the cardio system exercised and stretched, but I would not plan any hot laps. I would keep any high intensity efforts to low quantities and keep them short.

Shakedown – Wednesday

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My intention was to get on some singletrack with my 7 year old and go for an easy ride with just a few short hard efforts, but I wasn’t going to make it all the way over there before the rain came in. We ended up stopping by our local county park and going for an easy ride around the gravel trails while I put in a few short, but hard efforts to exercise the cardio system. The rain started coming in and we had to cut the ride short. Here is a picture of Reid trying to do a wheelie.

marji gesick race taper

Not Quite Done For the Day – Wednesday

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I didn’t feel like I got enough riding in an jumped on my trainer after the kids went to bed. I spun pretty easy and then finished off the ride with some very low cadence spin ups between 105 and 110 rpms. It probably wasn’t neccessary to do so many and in hind site, I would have just done a couple and spent the rest of the time at a really easy effort recovery spin.

Marji Gesick Pre-Ride – Friday

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This is where I may have screwed up the most prior to the race, but I really wanted to know what to expect in the first few miles. To do it again, I would have taken a right on Forestville Road and headed back to the trailhead instead of going all the way down the hill to the first set of bike trails. However, I did feel more comfortable rolling out the first few miles of the race the next day and knew what to expect on the climb the next morning. This was key so early in the race, but I think I spent more energy the day before the race than optimal.

More Marji Gesick Pre-Riding – Friday

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Even after riding a bit more than I really wanted to already, my curiosity got the best of me still as I wanted to know what to expect after leaving the drop bag area at mile 70. I rode around those trails for about 30 minutes, but you can see I got the heart rate elevated more than a few times and even went into threshold. Not a terrible thing to elevate the heart rate the day before the race, but a few short efforts is plenty at this point. Again, it was good in a way as it gave me a little bit of an idea for what was to come later in the race. That being said, it wasn’t nearly enough to give me the full picture of how difficult the trails would be near the end, so it may have all been a bit of a wasted effort.

Race Week Biggest Lesson

As I eluded to above, I should not have spent so much time on the bike the day before the race. Especially now that I know what the trail looks like, I will keep my riding to just a short 30 minute warm up ride the day before the race and concerve the energy for race day.

Marji Gesick Race Taper Summary

To wrap things up… I had, what I believe to be a pretty good plan. I got carried away on a few rides, but I don’t get to single track as much as I want and when I do, I like to go fast. Additionally, I just don’t always get the appropriate sleep and rest when it comes to recovery.

Good or bad as it might be for myself in the short term, it is all good in the long term. I get to hone in training and have some lessons to share with you. Plus, as I am diving into personal training and coaching, I have specific examples to share with folks that I might be working with that can be applied to multiple sports and even general fitness training. Plus, this is great for real life testing of race taper practice as I am diving deeper into workout and training plan design.

This was a specific race taper example for a specific race. No race is exactly the same and everything takes a bit of tweaking. Over time, I will get things dialed in and continue to share my experiences. As always, hit me up with your opinions or questions.

Reference Links:

Video – Recovery Week

Video – Maintaining High Intensity During Race Taper

Race Report – 2016 Marji Gesick

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Marji Gesick Training Report – Part 2

marji gesick training

This is part 2 of my Marji Gesick training report. If you remember, I had put out a part 1 training overview after finishing my first training block, about a month ago. You can find a link at the bottom of this report to that first article in case you missed it. No worries, you do not need to read part 1 before reading this one. They are independent reports and cover different training blocks.

After the Ore To Shore race, I went straight into a final training block to wrap up my Marji Gesick training and this report covers that last training block. You will find all kinds of details in this report about the various workouts I did and why. I believe I probably take the analysis a bit deeper in this report than the last, so buckle up. You may want to bookmark this, so you can come back again later.

I still have a lot of work to get to the performance levels that I want to achieve on a mountain bike, but I am definitely making gains and feel I am sitting stronger than I was last year. That being said, I definitely have a big miss on the training volume and the last half of the Marji Gesick is gonna hurt. I feel real confident in the first 4 to 6 hours and should be able to hang in there thru the 8 hour mark. Beyond 8 hours, I don’t know what will happen and then after 10 hours… I’ll be hurting and it will be all guts and survival.

To clarify on my confidence… That doesn’t mean I think I will be hanging with the guys up front. They are at a whole other level. What I mean is; I should perform well to my standards and past race history.

I do have a lot of graphs in this training report and here is the legend for each color of line in the graphs:

Heart Rate

Power

Speed

Cadence

Ore To Shore

I’ll start out this last training block review with the Ore To Shore race as that was the last milestone and split between training blocks.

The Race

marji gesick training

Ore To Shore was a great test to see where my fitness was at between training blocks and good to see where my actual racing heart rate threshold was at. I showed that I can race at a slightly higher heart rate threshold than I have in the past. I’d like to attribute that to the fact that I kept my intensity levels high during the week and a half before the race with a couple sub 1 hour high intensity race simulation workouts. I believe this helped avoid the shock to my cardio system at the race start and my body was able to settle into a high intensity pace without blowing up. Those high intensity race simulations also helped me feel comfortable at that pace and know what it was going to feel like. I also believe that all the high tempo and sub threshold riding that I had done in the weeks leading up to the race was huge in further developing my cardio system and pushing that threshold window up.

Active Recovery – Day after Ore to Shore

marji gesick training

I usually shut right down the day after a race and don’t ride at all other than maybe a couple mile spin with the kids, but I felt pretty good the day after the Ore to Shore and wanted to see what it felt like to go for some easy miles. I took the kids for a 3.5 mile ride and then I headed out on my own and ended up going for another 27 miles. It felt great to get out and I think it was really good for my legs. The easy recovery pace helped keep my legs loose and prevent them from tightening up as I was heading immediately into the second training block. The key was keeping my effort extremely low.

Max / Explosive Power Intervals (Attacks)

On Indoor Trainer

marji gesick training

I call these longer power intervals Attacks because I see them more as attacks up a climb, bridging a gap or maybe trying to hit single track first. The explosive power build happens in the first 8 to 12 seconds and then the remaining 22 to 18 seconds of the interval is really maintaining the speed that you gained in the first 8 to 12 seconds. It’s one thing to put down a lot of force in one pedal stroke, but the ability to put down force at a high rate of speed is what creates power. The person that can do that and then continue putting down that force at a high rate of speed for a longer duration is the one that wins. I’m working on another article right now that is going to cover cadence and power output. Look out for it in the future.

I think it is a good exercise to build that power and then have to maintain that speed for another short period. You’ll need a near 5 minute recovery between intervals, if you are really laying everything down that you’ve got. You should not be holding anything back on these. Not that I will be going out on a bunch of attacks during the Marji Gesick, but these type of work will be valuable to my ability to get up those climbs and that is why I included this type of work in my Marji Gesick training.

I did these 1 of the weeks on my trainer and then the following 2 weeks, I adjusted my training schedule by 1 day and used a local group ride at Cyclova XC in St. Croix Falls, WI for my Power Intervals or Attacks as I currently call them in my training plans.

Cyclova XC Group Sprint Ride

marji gesick training

I don’t do a lot of group riding, but this group ride put on by Cyclova XC is about the best you will find if you are looking to work on explosive power and/or VO2 Max. I replaced my Attack intervals for the week with this group ride during week 2 and 3 of my build. It was a good gut check for my fitness as well, since there are specific sprint segments set up for this group ride. The green in the graph above is speed, red is heart rate and the grey area is elevation. You can see the obvious increases in speed and heart rate where the sprint segments were at. We also had a little fun at the end of the ride with one last random effort in our cruise back to the Cyclova XC shop.

I definitely feel stronger than last year and can put out more explosive power… The downside is that I was not recovering as fast as I would like, so I do have a lot more work to do on my ability to recover between high efforts. That is gonna take some more above threshold interval work. That being said, my current goal was to put on some leg muscle and increase power and I have made some progress that area. I am probably going to go back to some more force interval work (low cadence hill repeats) to increase strength during the off season and then I will hit some more power interval work just before some of the bigger fat bike races. I’ll add in some VO2 max intervals somewhere also to work on my recovery cycle.

I’m sharing all this because if you remember, I was doing force work with low cadence efforts during my previous build that I discussed in part 1 of my Marji Gesick training report. This is important, because I needed to build more strength in my legs, in other words… add muscle and build the ability to put out more force in order to realize gains out of the power workouts that I did in this second build. It is also a very similar cycle to body building. Add muscle, work on max strength and then turn it into explosive power that is actually usable in some sporting fashion (as in cycling for my case). This would be a similar process for runners, trying to improve their sprint or ability to drop a competitive runner up a hill in a trail climb without blowing up. We all just use different tools, but the process and goals are similar in the end game.

Threshold Interval Work

Sub Threshold On KICKR

marji gesick training

This is another example of why I think my power levels are higher than what actually came out of my first threshold test on the KICKR. I had mentioned this in my first Marji Gesick training report also. However, some of the variance does come from power gains made from training also. These intervals were 6 minutes long and should have been long enough for my heart rate to settle out and I think it was pretty close. My heart rate maxed out at 161 bpm while I had power set at 240 watts. We’ll revisit this with the Super Threshold Interval workout below where I set the power at 270 watts and see what my heart rate did. Regardless, I didn’t feel taxed out like maybe I should have and you can see that my heart rate actually dropped all the way back to 100 to 110 bpm during the 2 minute recovery times.

My goal was muscular endurance, so this was still a great workout. But, I should have increased the intervals to 8 to 10 minutes at 240 watts or added more intervals to get the muscular endurance adaptation benefit I was looking for. You can obviously see that my heart rate settled out slightly less each time, but it went all the way back to my recovery zone by the end of every recovery zone and did dropped fairly quick. I could have gotten away with pushing myself a bit more for the goals I was after in this workout.

Regarding the first KICKR threshold test… If you remember, I had been idle for a few weeks because of the rib issue and I went straight into a threshold test. I understand the heart rate coming out slightly lower than race effort, but I don’t think my legs were up for a true threshold test at the time after being idle for so long. That being said, I am getting comfortable enough now with the various workouts and training that I am putting together to make some of those training zone adjustments on my own without having to do another threshold test. I probably won’t do another actual threshold test until this sometime this fall.

Super Threshold Intervals On KICKR

marji gesick training

The goal here was to get some extended interval work sessions for muscular endurance, but I also wanted to get above threshold to work on my recovery cycle. My heart rate peaked at 165, but you can see that it was still trending up all the way thru the end of the work cycle. You can also see that I was having power signal drops, but I had power set at 270 watts. Power never actually dropped out. It was the signal transmission only to my Garmin. I don’t really know what was going on with it, but since cadence was also dropping out… I have to blame this on the Garmin. Just to be clear, I am a big fan of Garmin and the customer service I have received from them.

At any rate, if I was working under threshold, then I believe 7 and a half minutes would have been a long enough time for my heart rate to level out. The fact that it was still trending up and it would settle back to around 120 bpm in the 2 and a half minutes shows me that I was most likely working in a power zone above my threshold power, even if it was just slightly. This also goes to further prove that training by heart rate only can be very difficult and helps explain my tendencies to overtrain in the past, before I had the trainer with a power meter. If you are using heart rate only, it can be very easy to find yourself training in higher zone than you intend. If you don’t have the time to analyze the data like this nor have the interest… this is where a coach comes in. This is their job to recognize these situations for you and help you dial in your workouts before you overtrain and end up sick.

Super Threshold Intervals On Jet Fluid Pro

For comparison, I did the exact same workout the following week on my Jet Fluid Pro trainer, instead of the KICKR. Not on purpose, but I had to send the KICKR back for a warranty issue. No worries, they are taking care of me and actually sent me a brand new one. At any rate… I damn near nailed the workout and you could almost lay the 2 charts over the top of each other aside from power missing from this one. My heart rate peaked at the exact same 165 bpm and you can see the same heart rate trend that is still rising at the end of each interval. I attribute this to having a better understanding of my perceived effort levels, after having been able to compare those perceived efforts levels to actual power numbers over the last month or so of using the KICKR. Here is the graph for the exact same workout, but without a power meter. (Ignore the yellow cadence line as the signal was dropping out on me, but I was spinning just over 90 rpm for most of the time). I since replaced the battery in the cadence/speed sensor and realigned it and it is working good again.

marji gesick training

Race Pace Simulation Rides

I actually prescribe race simulation rides in my training plans. I do this for a couple reasons, but you have to get out and ride at race pace during your training. If you only have 3 or 4 days per week to ride… You don’t want to spend all that time on the trainer and some of the days, you just want to ride. There is a variety of structured intervals that you could do, but I like prescribing just a race pace simulation ride so that you get out on the trails or road, either by yourself or with a spirited group to hone in your skills on the bike. Plus, this also allows you to do some actual races during your training. Again, if you weren’t racing or doing high intensity riding; it would still be some high intensity interval workout on the trainer and a couple days per week on the trainer is enough for those of us that have only a few days a week.

This thought process is also backed up by the fact that I made massive gains when I first started riding a few years ago, by just getting out a couple times of week and going on a hammerfest. This was when I was just getting back into riding and that first year, I only rode 700 miles and then only 1,700 the following year. I didn’t have a lot of time and did very little structured work, but when I did have time to ride… I just went out and busted my butt and I got faster every time. Now I have found a way to fit those same type of rides in, with the addition of a couple structured training sessions per week to take things to the next level. I have a lot of work to do still and am far from where I want to be with riding, but I do continue to get faster and I am sharing the things that I have been doing and am doing.

Back to these race simulation rides… I can’t remember what was going on the first week, but it might have been raining or I ran out of time in the day. Anyways, I ended up doing this workout on the trainer in the evening for week 1. I would normally suggest trail riding on your race rig if you were training for a 2 to 4 hour target race, but my target race is in the 12 hour range and I am way low on training volume and I still am, even at the end of this training block. I’ll come back to this at the end when I wrap up this training report with my overall training and fitness status going into the Marji Gesick.

Over / Under Threshold Intervals On The Trainer

At any rate, my intention was high tempo / sub threshold distance on the road. Since I didn’t get out on the road this first week; I opted to play with some over / under threshold intervals on my trainer, thinking this could simulate a race situation. I like the idea of interval training above threshold, because that will happen in the race, even though it is an endurance race. However, I need the body to adapt to clearing lactic acid out of the system without going all the way to a recovery pace. During a race situation, you have to have the ability to recover without letting off the pedals completely. This is what I was trying to simulate.

marji gesick training

I did 2 and a half minute intervals, swapping between 260 watts and 220 watts. I did 3 intervals of this before going into a 5 minute recovery spin. After the recovery spin, I did 3 more intervals swapping between 280 watts and 220 watts and then added a 4th interval at 300 watts. The red line is my heart rate and you can see that my heart rate peaked in the high 150s for the 260 watt intervals, high 160s for the 280 watt intervals and then went over my heart rate threshold into 170s for the 300 watt interval.

This actually helps further dial in my power threshold also, without having to do an actual threshold test. You can see that when I went down to 220 watts from the 260 watts, my heart rate dropped into the 140s. 260 watts should have been above threshold and at the top of my threshold zone. My heart rate should have wanted to continue rising if that was the case and should have taken longer to settle down. However, it quickly dropped into the 140s, which is the bottom of my tempo zone, while 220 watts should have been at the top of my tempo zone. This helps justify my reasoning for bumping my power zone for training purposes to make sure I am actually training in the zones that I want to train in. This is also why I took a 5 minute recovery cycle and then repeated the intervals at 280 watts.

These numbers line up better and 280 watts got my heart rate to the high 160s and then I would settle into the high 150s at 220 watts. I know this is a lot of numbers and maybe a bit much to follow. I enjoy this and it’s been really cool to analyze this stuff. At any rate, I do not have this workout prescribed in any of my training plans right now and want to spend some more time with it.

High Tempo Road Rides

As I mentioned earlier, I would prefer trail race simulations for these workouts. However, I knew I was way low on training volume and opted to take this training to the road for a couple reasons. First, I was hoping to short cut my lack of overall training volume with a steady high tempo/sub-threshold pace. I knew if I put in the same time on a trail training ride, I would be in an uncontrolled off and on effort situation and I really wanted to put in a consistent effort without going above threshold. I thought this was a good way to stack up training stress and muscular endurance adaptation. Plus, it would be a good test to see where I stood on a fitness level, that was measurable over a longer ride that eliminated some of the variables of trail conditions. The other reason was that I was getting high intensity above threshold work in already with the Attack and Super Threshold intervals I was doing during the week.

Sub 4 Hour 80 Miler

marji gesick training

The first ride was 82 miles near the end of week 2 and I managed to do it under 4 hours. I was very pumped about this and it was definitely a good sign that I had upped my fitness and endurance levels. It was a steady, consistent pace. I know the Marji Gesick is going to have a lot of up and downs that will take me in and out of threshold, but I am feeling good about the fact that my legs were able to still put down enough power to keep my heart rate at the top of my tempo zone and into the bottom end of threshold for the entire 4 hours. In the past, my power would start dropping off earlier than this. You don’t need a power meter to realize this. I can see it in my heart rate profiles of previous races. You can tell when your power output starts dropping, because you’ll have a hard time bringing up the heart rate. Bottom line, my legs were able to keep up with my cardio system for at least 4 hours. The problem is, the Marji Gesick is in the 12 hour range…

I won’t go into my ride the following day, but I went out and put in another 4 hour ride, but at an endurance zone pace for another 62 miles. The easier pace ride on day 2 was horrible. My legs had enough power, but it was just miserable riding the road shoulders as such a slower pace. The higher pace the day before was much more entertaining.

Sub 5 Hour 100 Miler

marji gesick training

Again, I decided to go with the same game plan on week 3 and try to stack up more steady state volume. I figured I would get my trail race simulation in at the end of my recovery week and during my taper weeks before the race. I am sure at this point it was the right thing to do, but I don’t know if adding an additional hour in week 3 was the right thing to do and I’ll come back to that…

You’ll have to ignore some of the Active Recovery and Endurance Zone time in the chart for this ride as I had 2 flat tires and I do not auto pause my Garmin, so Training Peaks pulls the data for the entire workout duration. So that being said; I spent nearly 5 hours between Tempo and Threshold. Keep in mind that all but like 10 seconds of the Threshold time was actually at the bottom of my Threshold Zone. Again, I am really pumped about this ride. It was a slightly slower pace than the 80 mile ride, but I still managed over a 20 mph moving average and a sub 5 hour moving time for 100 miles. To top it off, I still had the legs to hammer it home the last few miles and push my heart rate near threshold. This was a really good sign, I was now up to 5 hours of steady state high tempo / subthreshold riding and my legs were with me the entire time. The problem is, that is still only half the Marji Gesick race time and that’s if I were to have the race of my life and finish in 10 hours.

Back to my statement about not knowing if adding the additional hour was a good idea at this point… I was definitely fatigued after this ride and I skipped out on the endurance pace ride the next day. I was starting my recovery week anyways, but I felt like my training stress was too high after that last ride and I was dancing with not being able to recover fully during my recovery week at this point. If I would have kept it at 80 miles of steady state, I probably would have been able to get another 4 hours of Endurance zone riding in the next day. I would have ended up with more training volume and overall training stress at the end of the week, without risking being able to recover properly during my recovery week.

Recovery Week

As it turns out, I was right. I had tipped myself slightly over the edge by the end of the third week of training and I could feel it when I went out on my end of recovery week test. The only thing I did during recovery week was a spin up workout on my trainer mid week and then Saturday I headed to my local trail for 1 single hot lap. The first issue I had, was that I realized my rear derailer was trashed again, which is a story for another time.

Anyways, I had to take my Fat Bike. Not a big deal, but I wanted to use this time on my race set up. At the end of the day, I managed to beat my previous time on my local trail, even though I was on my Fat Bike, but I was still feeling real fatigued and was extremely happy it wasn’t race day. Think about that Recovery Week video that I put out on Facebook a week or 2 ago. It falls right in line with this and the reason I put it out was, because I saw this coming during my recovery week and was thankful that I had not planned my recovery week directly lining up to race week. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way in the past. You don’t always know if you are going to be recovered fully at the end of your recovery week, which is another reason not to take your recovery week as your race taper week.

Peak / Taper / Race Weeks

I gave myself 2 weeks between my recovery week and the Marji Gesick race and it is almost only a week out from the race as I finish up this training report. I got in a high intensity race pace shakedown on my local trail on Wednesday of this week and felt great. I was not feeling 100% and would not expect to be their yet either, but I did 2 laps around my local trail and was faster on both laps than I ever have been. I was real strong on the climbs, but I was definitely lacking in my bike handling as I hadn’t ridden that bike since the Ore To Shore. It was actually only my second trail ride since Ore To Shore.

I was spent at the end of it, but by the time I got home, I felt like I could go do it again. Regarding the bike handling… I still easily cleared the rock garden on both laps that use to cause me a lot of problems. I am learning that speed is your friend in the rocks. At any rate, I was pumped about cleaning the rock garden.

I will get another high intensity trail ride in this weekend, but probably dial back the overall pace to a high Tempo effort with some high intensity spikes thrown in on the climbs. I will also add an additional lap from my ride a couple days ago. The week of the race, I will probably run over to the trail again for just 1 quick hot lap and I’ll do that early in the week. I’ll play things by ear on how I am feeling before making the call on how much of a hot lap it will be. If my legs are still feeling a little heavy at that point, then I may dial back the amount of time I spend at higher intensities.

I like this taper approach much better, because I can gut check how I am feeling these last 2 weeks and dial up or down these shorter race efforts, based on how I am feeling and have a better chance of going into the race in good form. Right now, I can safely tell you that I did not fully recover during my recovery week and that is why I will dial back my ride this Saturday. I will still get my heart rate up, but just not as much volume of it as I might have originally done if I was fully recovered the previous week.

At this point in the game, there is nothing I can do about the lack of training volume. Not that I am lacking training volume relative to most situations, but I would have liked to peak out my high tempo rides in the 6 to 8 hour range, but you can only ramp up so fast. Plus, I just don’t have the additional time right now with the various projects I have going on at the moment.

Marji Gesick Training Summary & Status

So after all that training and analysis… Where do I stand? Well, it actually wasn’t that many training hours. For a race like the Marji Gesick, I am really low on training volume in my opinion. Here is what my training volume actually was, starting with week 1 of the build (the week following Ore To Shore):

Week 1: 7 hr, 13 min

Week 2: 10 hr, 31 min

Week 3: 10 hr, 03 min

Recovery Week: 2 hr, 25 min

Peak Week: estimated to be 5 hr, 30 min

Race Week: estimated to be 2 hr, 15 min (not counting Marji Gesick race)

I would be sitting in much better shape for the Marji Gesick if I could have gotten up around the 12 hr mark during week 1 – week 3. If I were headed to the Chequamegon this weekend, I am quite confident that I would easily set a personal record for myself. However, that wasn’t the plan for this year and am real excited about the adventure that the Marji Gesick 100 will put me through.

At the end of the day, I am definitely stronger and faster than I have ever been. My past couple training builds have done wonders for me. I am still far from where I want to get, but I do feel like I made some great gains. I can’t say that I am completely ready for the Marji Gesick, but at this point it doesn’t matter. Even though I like to say that I am in it for the adventure, I still want to compete and race well. But, what matters most to me, is that I am still continuously learning and improving my game. That is what my Endurance Path is all about…

Training For The Marji Gesick Part 1

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Training For The Marji Gesick 100 – Part 1

marji gesick training

This write up is a breakdown of my training for the Marji Gesick 100 over the past month or so. I have included some good data related to training zones, high level analysis of some of my workouts and where I think I am sitting at now. I basically broke the report down by types of training rides that include structured workouts and then higher mileage rides at the end of the build. I think if you read through all of this, you will pick up a few good nuggets of info out of it that you might be able to apply to your own training.

I spent a lot of time being sedentary this spring and into the summer between recovering from a couple 100 mile races and a couple injuries. I was pretty much on the couch for a couple weeks prior to this block of training while recovering from a rib injury and felt like I lost a fair amount of fitness. I also gained a little weight, but I am not going to dive into that right now as I am more concerned about my fitness performance levels vs a little extra fat.

Structured Indoor Training On The Wahoo Kickr

First things first… I really like the Kickr. I have been using a Jet Fluid Pro for the last couple of years, which I also really like and will probably still keep in the Endurance Path pain cave, but the Kickr has added an entirely new set of dynamics and capabilities to structured indoor training workouts. I started off with a threshold test on it, which I mentioned earlier that I had to bail out of early. I just couldn’t get my rib cage to expand enough to take in the deep breaths. That being said, I was able to get a full threshold test in a few days later to dial in my training zones a little more. It turns out that I was right in the ballpark already on my heart rate and close on my power estimate. I had estimated power a little higher before, based off of some power curves that I had seen for the Jet Fluid Pro and threshold tests that I had done with it.

At any rate, the Kickr has come in real handy for structured workouts since I can set the power exactly where I want it during the intervals. I even brought the Kickr with me on our road trip, so I could hit a couple more structured workouts on the road while it was raining. I actually did these workouts in our travel trailer at a campsite during thunderstorms.

Threshold Test

It was really interesting to do the threshold test with a power meter and real helpful to get actual numbers vs speculating the numbers. At the end of the day… my power is on the low side for the level of performance that I would like to see out of myself. That being said, I now have something to measure with and start to dial things in. One of the things I struggled with in the past with intervals or really any type of trainer workout is being between gears. Meaning, going to a bigger cog would be too light of an effort, but the next smallest cog was too hard of an effort for the work zone I was trying to stay in. The great thing about being able to control the power level is I can sit in whatever gear I want and adjust the power to the exact level that I want.

The chart below is training zones based on the threshold power numbers and heart rate that I came out of the test with. I’ll bring this up later when I get to the big gear and low cadence interval discussion, but I think my power numbers came out a little low as I had been so sedentary for 2 weeks prior to the test. It is good to be recovered before the threshold test, but being completely sedentary for the 2 weeks prior wasn’t good either. There might be a little wishful thinking in there too, wishing my power numbers were higher…

training marji gesick

Big Gear and Low Cadence

Bottom line… I need to build muscle and add some strength to elevate my power levels and this is where I feel some low cadence big gear hill repeats come into play. Keep in mind that this is the first time that I am able to do workouts like this using an actual power meter. In the past, I have gone to an actual hill for hill repeat training or just used really big gears on my Jet Fluid Pro at a lower cadence to mimic hills. Now I can just set the power and pick a cadence. I would not do this low of a cadence if I was a beginner, but I am experimenting with doing hill repeats at 60 rpms and I did my first big gear and low cadence power meter workout right around threshold power of 240 watts. I did 12 intervals with 2 minute work zones and 4 minute recovery zones and my heart rate peaked out at 167 bpm during the work zones.

1 week later I did the same workout, but set power at 260 watts and my heart rate peaked out at the same 167 bpm. There are 2 interesting things that come to mind when I look at the numbers… First, I am not going to jump to conclusions and say that my power went up by 20 watts for this workout in just a week. I had done the previous workout only 2 days after doing a threshold test. I may have still been slightly fatigued from the threshold test and the endurance pace ride the day between the threshold test and the first big gear low cadence workout. Secondly, I had been idle for 2 weeks and my cardio system may have needed a few workouts to loosen up. It would be interesting to do another threshold test now and see if the power is higher. I probably won’t do another one though for at least a few weeks and in the mean time, I am going to cheat my power slightly higher on my upcoming workouts with the assumption that it is actually slightly higher than what came out in the test.

This is a graph of the actual workout with cadence (RPM), heart rate (BPM) and power (W).

training marji gesick

Threshold Intervals

I actually bailed out of another interval workout on the Kickr. I believe there were 2 reasons that I had to bail early. Neither really had to do with my rib injury. First and mainly, I wanted to continue experimenting with this workout as I have this workout prescribed in my training plans. I do this often; try out different variables around a workout so that I learn more about the limits of the workout and how it effects you. It is definitely detrimental to some of my training in the short term, but I have always been a self learner and me doing this will help you and I both in the long term. I always want to find out how much you can push yourself in a training zone without blowing the workout. I set the power to 300 watts and was going to spin just over 100 rpms. I was pretty much burnt after the first interval and had to take way too long of a rest. It was also a good gut check on knowing how far I can push above threshold and for how long. Turns out that 300 watts is way out of my league for anything other than a short attack at this point.

The second, but much lesser of the issue, was that I was just really fatigued going into the workout already and have learned to pull back before I make myself sick. You have to be careful about jumping back into the workouts real heavy after taking so much time off and the threshold intervals were about to push me over the edge, so I bailed. I would equate this to always wondering how fast you can push that one corner on your local trail and then you finally push hard enough to end up face down in the dirt. You ruined that ride, but now you have a bookend past your limit to start dialing it in.

I repeated the threshold intervals a week later using 6 intervals with 3 minutes of work and 3 minutes of recovery. I set power to 260 watts for the work period of the interval and spun around 100 rpms. My heart rate peaked out at 169 bpm. This was a pretty successful workout and the next time I would do 1 of 2 things differently. I would either bump the power to 270 watts or I would add 2 more intervals and keep the power at 260 watts. 260 watts is above my threshold training zone, but I quite honestly think that my power numbers came out falsely low during my threshold test because of being so idle during the proceeding weeks as I already mentioned.

This is a graph of the actual workout with cadence (RPM), heart rate (BPM) and power (W).

training marji gesick

Door County Endurance and Tempo Riding

You may have already read my ride report from Door County, so you know I got a big mileage ride in. 94 miles was not necessarily the exact right thing to do at the time for training purposes, but I got a little carried away. My original plan was to put in about 60 miles of riding at an endurance pace. The weather was really hot and humid and I buried myself a little bit on the nutrition side so I could test my energy products a bit. It is always good to know if the stuff you are going to carry with you in a race will actually bring you out of a hole if you happen to bonk.

I have been trying out the Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans. The Extreme ones are the ones with caffeine in them. They seem to do the job, but I am mixed yet on the digestive side of things. They don’t cause any upset stomach or anything like that, but I do feel like they create a little gas that I burp up. I also am not sure if they just take too much energy to digest vs a more liquid gel or softer energy chew. More to come later on them I guess. I do know that they helped me out of a hole along with some Carbo Rocket at True Grit.

Here is a breakdown of my time spent in heart rate zones 1 thru 5 on my Door County ride.

training marji gesick

Offroad Mileage In Michigan’s Keweenaw

I haven’t written up a ride report for the Keweenaw yet, but I will probably write something up about all the riding options in the future. That being said, I got some great general trail riding and endurance training in while there. I did take my body right to the limit though with training stress. The good thing is, I am getting much better at recognizing this and I do find the performance management chart in Training Peaks helpful here also.

At any rate, I took 2 days off the bike after my Door County ride and then put some mileage in on my mountain bike once arriving in the Keweenaw. I ended up putting in 145 miles in during a 7 day period. I did 2 back to back days for a total of 73 miles, took a day off and then did a 55 mile ride with some local folks. I took 2 more days off and then did a real easy 17 mile ride. The riding included just about everything you could think of… Old school rugged singletrack, very little flowy single track, tore up atv trails, snowmobile trails, ski trails and a little bit of road. I had the opportunity for some good steep grade climbing and did all this on my mountain bike.

By the time I finished the group ride, I was pretty much pegged on the training stress and was ready for a recovery week. The recovery week was actually due to start the next day and was part of my plan anyways as I had been hitting it pretty hard for 3 weeks. The group ride was mostly spent in my endurance and tempo zones, so it was a good way to finish off the training block before moving into recovery.

Here is a breakdown of my time spent in heart rate training zones 1 thru 5 during that 7 day period.

training marji gesick

Singletrack Threshold Time Trialing At Island Lake

I was in lower Michigan at the end of my recovery week and not far from Island Lake State Park. For those that are not familiar; Island Lake mountain bike trail is very fast, flat and not very technical. I guess there are a couple hills, but very very short and hard to even pick out from an elevation profile. The only thing that really slows you down on this trail is a few switchbacks and some loose gravel and sand.

At anyrate, it was the perfect place to do a little offroad time trial test. You never hear anybody really talk about threshold testing off road and I wouldn’t really consider it a threshold test, but I think there is a lot of value in finding some single track that is around an hour or less to test yourself. I think it needs to be relatively consistent with little elevation. Basically some trail that you can put in a fairly consistent effort. First, you have a place to go back to and compare times throughout the season to see if you are getting faster and it gives you some real world experience in understanding where you can push your heart rate while still handling your bike. It is one thing to push the heart rate and effort on a trainer or on the road, but it is a whole different story pushing your heart rate and effort while handling the bike on dirt, around trees and some switchbacks.

This is where Strava can come in handy sometimes. I used to pay more attention to Strava segments when I was getting started, but now I tend to ignore them and just load rides to Strava for the social aspect of it. That being said, I am totally cool with anybody following my Strava feed to see what type of training and riding I am doing.

Back to Island Lake… there of course is a Strava segment for the entire Island Lake loop, so I know that the fastest folks are just over 45 minutes. I figured I could be 55 minutes or better. I don’t know the trail that well, but I am fairly familiar with it. I ended up doing a sub 52 minute lap with an average heart rate of 168 bpm. I was pretty happy with that and thought it was a good way to gauge my fitness. I wasn’t fully recovered yet like I should have been, but it gave me a bit of confidence. I’d like to think I could get to sub 50 minute laps there, but that is really irrelevant at the moment. The important thing is that I was able to go out and push my heart rate to threshold in a real world situation for almost an hour and lay down a respectable course time while keeping my bike under control and not wrapping myself around a tree.

The timing was good for this also as I needed to do a couple high intensity shorter rides like this prior to Ore to Shore. Ore to Shore will definitely be high intensity, but for around 3 hours and I had mostly been doing endurance and tempo riding. I went back to Island Lake again 2 days later to repeat the test and do another hour long threshold ride off road before leaving town and laid down about the same time and heart rate. I was a little faster, but not by much.

If you can find a trail like this in your area, then I highly recommend using it as a combination offroad road fitness and bike handling test. I do include some rides like this in my training plans also. Anyways, my trail like this back home is Elm Creek in Champlin, Minnesota. It has quite a few switchbacks but you are able to ride most of it at pretty high intensity and you will get a good bike handling workout in through the tight switchbacks.

If there is no Strava segment set up or you do not use Strava, just hit your lap button on your gps device or a stopwatch to check your time and keep track of it for yourself. Whenever I do a test like this, I actually just hit the lap button to record my own lap and then I don’t have to sort through all the Strava segments to find the right one. Some of these trails have a ridiculous amount of segments set up and I could care less what my time was through 200 meter sections of trail. At the end of the day, I just want to see if I am progressing on the same trail over time. That being said, Strava does make it handy as it keeps track of your efforts.

Ore to Shore

So that brings me to a couple days before the Ore to Shore… The Ore to Shore is not a target race for me as my training goals are focused on being ready to have a respectable ride at the Marji Gesick without blowing myself up, so that I can jump into some other cross training activities immediately after the Marji. However, I do plan on pushing myself at the Ore to Shore and am hoping to finish under 3 hours. The Island Lake rides were kind of a prep for that. We’ll see what happens. I haven’t done any races like this since fat bike season and I am not sure any of those really fit the bill anyways.

3 hours is in that middle ground of high intensity and endurance racing. You can’t go out and push for 3 hours like you would in a 1 to 2 hour XC event, but an endurance or tempo effort certainly is not going to get the job done either. The good thing is that I finally get to do the Ore to Shore and should be able to have a decent race without disrupting another training block before the Marji Gesick. Plus, it is another excuse to spend additional time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Wrapping Up First Training Block For Marji Gesick

training marji gesick

Above is my performance management chart from Training Peaks since the Mohican 100. You can see all the down time in there that didn’t help my fitness levels, but were probably a good break for my body also. It just wasn’t really the right time of the year with the racing plans that I had. You can also see the ramp up  of my chronic training load at the end of July and then a bit of leveling off during the beginning of August while my form came back up. The rides at Island Lake were actually pretty good for maintaining fitness while still allowing me to come back into peak form. If I timed it out correctly, I should actually be sitting in decent form for the Ore to Shore. Not exactly right for an A race, but decent form for a B race.

I’ll repeat a similar training block like this immediately after the Ore to Shore and time it to peak out in decent form with better fitness for the Marji Gesick. The Ore to Shore just happen to fit in nicely between training blocks, so I am looking forward to getting out there in a couple days to test myself. I believe with another training block similiar to this past one, I should be able to have a good ride at the Marji and not have to spend 6 weeks recovering from it. A big key will be including those longer endurance and tempo rides. It’s been awhile since I did a lot of that riding and I think the week of it between Door County and Michigan’s Keweenaw will pay off. Stay tuned for part 2 of my Marji Gesick Training the week before the actual Marji Gesick race. I plan to put together another training report after my next training block.

So I am curious if you felt this information was helpful. Drop me a line and let me know if you would like to see more of this type of stuff in the future. I have had a few folks express some interest in hearing more about training than just race reports and I enjoyed writing this up. I enjoy nerding out on some of the data post ride anyways, so it wasn’t a big deal to put my thoughts down on the keyboard. It might help give you a little idea of what to expect in some of my training plans and workouts also as I start making them available for purchase.

Look out for my Ore to Shore race report next and then I will get something out there at some point about riding in the Keweenaw. If you see me at Ore to Shore feel free to ride by and slap me in the back of the head or something. It has been fun running into readers of Endurance Path and listeners of The Last Aid Station when I am out at races. Always feel free to reach out to me in general also.

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Preparing For The Mohican 100 Mountain Bike Race – Training And Nutrition

mohican 100

Here I am, a few days out from the Mohican 100 Mountain Bike Race. It has been 2 and a half months since the True Grit Epic Mountain Bike Race and I am not 100% sure at where I stand. I backed off of riding quite a bit this spring. I had been riding and racing quite a bit all winter and was feeling like it was time to give the body a little rest before I hit a string of 100 mile races over the summer. Plus, I have a variety of projects that I am working on and time has been a bit of a constraint. At any rate, the Mohican 100 is really the start of my summer races and string of 100 milers. I’ll be doing a 100 miler every 2 to 4 weeks. You’ll have plenty of race reports coming your way this summer.

A Few Deep Thoughts

As I mentioned, I have been quite busy working on various things this spring. You’ll see some of those things coming out on this website, such as workout plans and eventually training schedules. I realized something last fall and early this past winter as I made an attempt to train at a very high and aggressive level… There is a pretty tough balance there and even if I could fit in the training hours, I didn’t have the time to really rest and recover between the training hours. I eventually would end up sick and spend a week or 2 recovering and in the end, I actually think I went backwards a little. I basically started breaking down during that period and wasn’t rebuilding properly. I had to take a step back and really analyze the time I had, where my biggest weaknesses were and I how I could make the most of that time.

That brings me full circle and leads me to a few different thoughts… When I started this whole thing, it was about the adventure, challenging myself and testing the limits of what I could handle. I guess, what gets me geeked up the most is the stories of the everyday guy like myself, with a family or not, but you know who I am talking about. The guy or gal that is trying to squeeze in a few rides a week between work and other commitments. They may have a typical day job or someone like me that is doing a balancing act of a variety of things, freelancing, my own projects and starting my own business. Either way, even if you could train like a pro, you couldn’t recover like a pro and are probably trying to fit meals in on the go.

I have did a lot of thinking and trying some different things and am pretty passionate about making the most out of the training time that I do have. I can’t get to a trail all the time as it is a 35 minute drive to the nearest trail and 50+ minutes to the next nearest trail. When it comes to the road, I am getting more and more nervous about getting out on the road and have even put my road bike back up on the trainer, despite summer being in full swing.

Strength Training

mohican 100

When it comes to strength training… I badly neglected this last year and opted for time on the bike. This was good for my hill climbing abilities and legs, because I did visibly put muscle on my legs last year. However, I completely trashed my upper body and shoulders. I was starting to have a lot of pain in my shoulders and couldn’t even get full mobility out of them. My lower back and neck were also taking a beating. Everything was breaking down. I had to take a step back and do something different.

Over the winter I put a lot of focus on my upper body and core. Not just building muscle, but building some strength and endurance in those muscles. It was huge for me. My pain is pretty much gone, except for the lower back peaking out on occasion, but my shoulders are completely fix. I have all my mobility back and have gotten much stronger. I think this will be huge on the bike. I have actually packed this workout up for sale. You’ll start seeing more stuff like this coming out from me in the future. Here is a link to this specific workout: Upper Body & Core Circuit

Past Training

I have also been thinking back to a lot of the training and riding that I did 1 to 2 years ago that really made a big impact on my fitness and abilities on my bike. You’ll also start seeing a lot of this stuff come out from me in the coming months. I guess what I am saying is that my biggest gains did not come from the short stint of a couple months of going all in. That was interesting to see what worked, what didn’t and how my body responded to certain workouts and training loads, but when I look back… I made some pretty massive gains a year or 2 ago with just a few rides a week. I also had some good gains out of what I’ll call mini cram training camps; 2 to 3 back to back days of hard riding and hill climbing followed up by a few days of recovery.  That being said, I get that I was really early in my cycling condition, so just about anything was going to make massive gains.

However, I think there is something there when it comes to getting the max amount of benefits out of the minimal amount of work or cramming riding into whatever available time you have. I hear a lot about the minimal effective dose out on the web today. There are 2 sides to this conversation though. You can make it work and I have proved that. It won’t get you to the top, but it will get you to some pretty decent results. The problem is the recovery from those big races or events. You can get away with the minimum and do fairly well, but you’ll most likely fight some heavy cramping and some long recovery after races. Your muscles never get the chance to adapt to the extended fatigue and long repetitive loads. You can get through the race and perform, but it will hurt and you will pay for it. You will have to dig deep and it will be tough to stack a bunch of races together as well.

I am still working this all out and looking back at my historical training, so I will have to circle back on it in a future post. I thought it was worth bringing up though. I guess where I stand on it right now is this… If you can get some type of period in for a month or 2 of just getting some miles in and getting the legs used to the motion, fatigue and time on the bike… then you can later change the training to less training and higher intensity. Like I said, I need to spend some more time on it, reviewing my previous ride data to come to full conclusion on it. Where I am going though, is that there is hope for us folks that don’t have time to train like a pro, as long as we are a bit methodical about it. We might not get to the podium, but we’ll eventually be able to hold our own and it will probably take additional time, as in a couple years to get our bodies fully adapted.

Current Training

Anyways, back to where I am at today for the Mohican 100… I feel much better about it now than I did a few weeks ago. Even though I haven’t gotten the miles in that I would like to, I have been fairly purposeful about most of the miles I have put in. I’ve made sure to stress the heart once per week to keep the heart muscles loose. In contrast, I also think it is important to get out and spin at a really easy pace once per week and I’ll do this with the kids, on my trainer or down the gravel road. The other thing that I think is great for muscular endurance of not only your legs, but also your core and upper body is to go out and ride a good sub-threshold distance ride on trails once per week. Keep the core and upper body adapt to handling the bike. That is what I would do if I could only ride 3 days per week, which is close to what I have been doing.

I did fit in an overnight training trip to Cuyuna as well. I guess I would call that a mini cram training camp, much like cramming for an exam in college. I think you can get a lot out of it, if done right. I rode for an afternoon, recovered for a couple hours, rode in the evening, slept and rode again in the morning. It was a lot of miles in a short period, but I had some recovery between them to keep the legs just fresh enough to hammer again a few hours later. Then I ate right and recovered for a couple days. I did some riding like this last year with a Cuyuna trip, a trip in the Keweenaw and another to Marquette that did wonders for me. I think if done right, you can get a lot out of it, which is why I did the overnight Cuyuna trip a few weeks ago.

I did make an effort to spend some time on single track for the few rides I could get in this spring as I desperatly needed to improve my singletrack skills. I still have a lot of work to do in this area, but I did make some gains. This was part of my reason for my mini trip to Cuyuna. I could get 30 miles of singletrack in with very little repeated sections of trail. My theory was that I could go ride laps at my local trail, but I needed to work on flowing through singletrack that was new to me for the most part, since most of my racing is on unfamiliar trail. Plus Cuyuna has a little bit of elevation to it for a well rounded workout.

Mohican 100

Back to the Mohican 100… The biggest thing I have going against me here is the rollout over some steep climbs right off the bat. I have a hard time holding myself back and probably have a really good opportunity to blow myself up here if I am not careful. I like to test myself to see how well and how long I can hang toward the front. Although I am stronger on climbs now than I was this time last year, I could still get myself in trouble here.

That being said, there are many things that I do have going for me at the Mohican 100. I am stronger on climbs this year, I am better on rock gardens and flowing through singletrack and if I can survive the rollout without blowing up; I might be able to stay on pace in the singletrack while getting some recovery in before hitting the gravel roads on the back end of the course. I hear there are some really steep climbs in the gravel and I do have a knack for grinding out climbs and miles while still in deep depths of pain. Not saying this is going to make me competitive at the front of field or anything, but I am expecting to place higher up the field than I did at True Grit.

Nutrition

When it comes to race nutrition; I am trying out some new stuff for the Mohican 100. I blew myself up at True Grit and gels weren’t working for me. I also struggled with gels getting me thru fat bike races this winter.  What got me out of the hole at True Grit was a couple handfuls of Jelly Belly Sport Beans and then a couple hand up bottles of Carbo Rocket from the aid stations helped keep out of the hole.

My main nutrition plan for the Mohican 100 will be a mix of Carbo Rocket and Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans. I’ll also throw in a couple Honey Stinger Energy Bars in my jersey in case I need something else. I plan to mix the Carbo Rocket at a 2/3 serving mixture to leave some room each hour for 100 calories of solid food. That solid food will mostly be a packet of the Sport Beans. I have a 100oz hydration pack and plan to use that for the Carbo Rocket. I will keep a large water bottle on the bike of plain water to wash down the Sport Beans.

I am hoping that I can get through the race with only 1 refill of my hydration pack and water bottle around the halfway point. I plan to carry a ziplock bag of my round 2 Carbo Rocket in my hydration pack storage.  I don’t actually plan to use any drop bags at this point. I thought about premixing additional hydration packs for drop bags and then just swapping, but I’d like to see if this works out and that way I am not locked into specific aid stations. If this works, I will only have to stop once. I am usually better if I keep moving anyways.

As far as general daily nutrition goes… I have been experimenting lately with eating very little carbs or at least very few carbs from grains and pretty much zero carbs from processed foods. My diet the last few weeks has mainly consisted of meat, vegetables and dairy. I am not sure where eggs fall in there, but I eat eggs for breakfast every day. Dinners have been chicken, brat or hamburger with vegetables. I don’t use a bun or bread with any of it. Lunch was usually the same as dinner, but have been trying to switch that to raw vegetables in the version of a salad. My gut in general seems to feel healthier, aside from having a hard time with raw vegetables. I can’t forget the few beers scattered in there over memorial weekend either.

My carbs have mostly been coming from complex carbohydrates in the vegetables. I have been reading up a lot about fat burning diets, but in general; I am more interested in cutting all the crappy processed foods out of my diet. I am convinced that a lot of the processed foods are not really actually food. It is a mix of preservatives, fillers and chemicals to make something that taste good and looks like food, but really has no nutritional value at all. More to come on this one for sure throughout the year.

I have not had more than a ride or 2 to that was long enough to see how it effects me on the bike, while hydrating with the Carbo Rocket and Sport Beans. So we will see how this diet change of mine works out for me come race day. All I can say is that it can’t be worse than what was going on previously. I started looking back at my diet a year or 2 ago when I felt better and it turns out that it was pretty similar. I was still in my progression of improving my health and fitness and when I look back, my diet was pretty low on the process foods on a daily basis. Like I said earlier, I have been giving a good review to things that have worked well and have not worked well for me in the past and trying to perfect them.

2016 Training Breakdown

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Probably about time I wrap this up as I need to get my stuff packed up for the race. Here is a break down of my training since January… I pulled it straight from Strava.

January

38 Hours

478 Miles

21 Activities

February

24 Hours

256 Miles

15 Activities

March

25 Hours

229 Miles

18 Activities

April

16 Hours

228 Miles

10 Activities

May

23 Hours

248 Miles

19 Activities

There are a few runs scattered in there as well, but nothing major. They included a few sprint interval workouts, some light jogging and a 5k run to baseline where I was at. I do plan to fit a foot race or 2 in somewhere this year if I can find the time. Depending on how I feel after the Mohican 100, I might even try a 5k over in St. Croix Falls. That is if I can fit it in the family schedule, let alone be recovered enough to race it.

At any rate, this blog has been a great way for me to document my races, training, nutrition and whatever other thoughts come into my head. Hopefully somebody else out there finds it all useful as well. Always feel free to reach out to me with questions about anything I am trying out or working on. I really enjoy getting e-mails from readers about any of this and it has been fun making connections and running into some of you at races. Thanks for reading. Maybe I’ll see you at Mohican this weekend. If not, enjoy whatever you have going on and look for my Mohican 100 race report next week.

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Why And How To Find Heart Rate Threshold For Cycling

I believe finding heart threshold is important for a few reasons when it comes to your cycling training and racing.  The first and foremost reason is so I understand where my safe zone is without blowing up.  Secondly, and just as important as the first, is to set more precise heart rate training zones to follow in my training sessions.  Lastly, I use the heart rate threshold test to gauge myself over time as to the speed I can maintain at threshold.  I am not going to get into the science behind what happens when you push over threshold as I am still learning and there are way better resources out there than I for that information.  I’ll reference most of this as to how it impacts me and then share the process and tools that I use.

I should, mention that I do not currently own a power meter and that is why I use heart rate to set up training zones.  I would like to get a power meter, but I know it will snowball into a power meter for at least 2 bikes and that is a lot of dough.  I would really like a gravel bike and replace a few things on my race bike, which could all be done fro the price of the power meters.  That being said, a power meter would make zone training a lot easier, since your heart rate can be pretty variable.  Also, I just recently started paying more attention to specific heart rate training zones, as I am learning more about this and getting more serious about my training for next year.  Up until a couple months ago, I was mostly using the threshold for reasons #1 and #3.

Avoiding Blow Up

When I first started riding again in 2013, I just went out and rode.  I didn’t have a heart rate monitor and I didn’t ride very long distances.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I just enjoyed going faster and rode as hard as I could each time I went out.  I was usually riding fairly short rides and the Chequamegon 40 was a really big deal and a really long distance race for where I was at with my fitness at the time.  In 2014, I picked up my Garmin Edge 510 with a heart rate monitor and started watching my heart rate.  I found it fascinating, as I am a bit of a nerd and enjoy going back through the data.  That being said, I am not a big fan of collecting data, just to collect it.  My rule of thumb has always been that there is no point in collecting data, if you don’t plan on using it to make a decision or change a behavior later.  I have an engineering background and always used that rule of thumb in the engineering world as well.  Some people like collecting data just to collect.  I like to collect it to do something with it.  To be fair, sometimes you need to collect a bunch of data before you realize you can do something with it.

Back to avoiding blow up.  As I started to watch my heart rate, I was able to start seeing where the danger zone was for me.  Especially after riding some longer rides.  In 2014, I started the season off with a 4 hour XC race and a 32 mile XC race to prepare for the Lutsen 99er.  I blew up bad in both the 4 hour and 32 mile race and was able to go back and look at the heart rate data to see where things went wrong.  I was able to narrow down a window of where my threshold probably was, based on blowing up during those races.  Some of this blow up was lack of muscle endurance, but most of it was going out way to hard and pegging the heart rate too early and for too long and not being able to recover from it during the race.  The advantage of doing heart rate threshold tests, is that you can better narrow that window down as it only takes a few bpm over that threshold for too long to send you into a dark zone of not being able to recover.

Training Zones

Many training programs out there will reference training zones to train in and there are a few different ways to set up heart rate training zones.  You don’t actually need your heart rate threshold either, but you will set up more accurate training zones by using your measured threshold heart rate.  The most simple training zone calculation is based off of your max heart rate which is obtained by subtracting your age from 220 to obtain your estimated max heart rate.  Again, this is a rule of thumb as this just creates a ballpark of your max heart rate and nobody is the same.  Another way, is to use heart rate reserve, which takes into account your max heart rate and your resting heart rate.  Again, there are still assumptions in using this method, as it is still using the same 220 minus your age formula to calculate an estimated max heart rate.

Training zones at the end of day are a product of the calculation of data that you put into the formula.  We’ve all heard the saying, “garbage in, garbage out”.  If you can get a threshold number, you will make the calculation of your training zones more accurate, therefore giving you more accurate windows to train within.  As with anything, there is some variability still in getting your threshold heart rate from your own test, but it is a step in the the right direction to providing you with more accurate data.

Fitness Gauge

This is where using the same equipment and process each times comes into play, so you have a level playing field to compare test to test.  I like to compare my average speed from each threshold test to measure my improvements.  I am looking for an increase in speed at my threshold heart rate.  If I can put out more speed at the same heart rate threshold, then I know I am getting faster and stronger.  That being said, you also have to keep in mind what kind of form you were in prior to the test.  If you completed the test, but were severely fatigued going into it, then you certainly are not going to show improvements in speed over a previous test that you did when you were well rested and in good form.  It’s always important to compare apples to apples when you are looking at trends.

When To Do A Threshold Heart Rate Test

I have been following a lot of the methodology from Joe Friel in his book called The Cyclists Training Bible and making adjustments to fit it around me personally.  Everyone trains a little different and has different schedules, but I think it is fair to say that most people probably use the weekends for their long training rides and use the beginning of the week for recovery and build back up again to the weekend.  Maybe they throw a longer mid week ride in somewhere.  I have been playing around with different types of rides and training sessions in my recent off season rides, along with going back in time and reviewing impacts to my fitness & fatigue graph from various rides over time.

Making some assumptions and saying that you put in some long rides over the weekend and take a rest day on Monday, it seems like Tuesday could be the likely day to do a threshold test.  Tuesday may be your interval day or short ride with high intensity anyways and could be the perfect day to toss in a threshold test every couple of months, just to see where you are at.

Gear For Finding Heart Rate Threshold

I’ll list the gear I use along with the minimalist version of gear needed.

Road Bike – Same bike I use for all my road training rides and it will be permanently mounted to my trainer for the winter.

Minimalist – Use whatever bike you have available.

Heart Rate Monitor – I use the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor that came with my Garmin Edge 510 bundle.

Minimalist – You can manually measure your heart rate every 2 minutes and take the average of those measurements to obtain your threshold heart rate.

Bicycle Computer – I use a Garmin Edge 510, for all of my rides anyways and have it connected to my Strava and Training Peaks accounts.  It makes it real easy to go back and look at the data afterwards to see if my speed is increasing over time during the same threshold tests.  It also monitors my cadence during the test or any riding that I do.  Garmin did recently came out with an updated Garmin Edge 520 to replace the 510.

Minimalist – If you don’t care about comparing speed from test to test, then you can get away without this.  If you want to compare speed, then you would need a computer with a wheel speed sensor.  You’ll still need something to track time regardless.

Trainer – You can use any trainer you want, but I use the CycleOps JetFluid Pro.  If you want to compare speed from test to test, then it is important to use the same trainer for each test.

Minimalist – You can do this out on the open road, but you will need enough road for constant peddling with no stops.  Best to be fairly flat with minimal wind as well.  You can still use this method to compare speed from test to test, but there are always more variables when you are live riding.

Threshold Test Program – I use to use the Sufferfest Rubber Glove program because it has a specific warm-up built into it and includes the 20 minute test.  Using the exact same process each time makes comparison from test to test much more reliable. I have been putting together and now using my own test process as I always look for better ways of doing thing on my own.

Minimalist – Just something to watch the time.  You’ll need to do a warm-up before going into the test.  If you do some searching you will find suggestions for 20 minute and 30 minute tests.  Where you warm up before the 20 to 30 minute threshold test.

Training Zone Calculator – I use to use the Joe Friel Training Zone calculator within my Training Peaks account.  Now I am using the Andy Coggan training zone calculator, which is also in Training Peaks. I believe this is also available in the free version of Training Peaks.

Minimalist – Lots of options on Google.

finding heart rate threshold

Links and References

Book – The Cyclist’s Training Bible (affiliate link)

Sufferfest – www.thesufferfest.com

Training Peaks – www.trainingpeaks.com (referral link)

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My Monthly Endurance Path Update – April 2015

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Welcome to the my April 2015 Endurance Path Update!

I started doing monthly updates last year, but did not follow through.  I am going to start them back up and see if I can refine them enough for it to make sense to keep them going.  As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.  If there is something specific you would like to see or do not want to see in these monthly updates, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page.

My intention is to share quick highlights of any endurance racing, training, nutrition, health and any other fun endurance sport related activities that I experienced this month.

Racing

I have never done any road racing before and I decided it was time to give it a try.  Over the past year, I thought I was getting pretty decent on my road bike and I can safely say that I have been humbled.  That being said, I have really enjoyed the road racing and by all means will keep at it.  I intend to try out a time trial during the month of May as well.  I have a lot to learn when it comes to racing with a pack, drafting, conserving energy and climbing hills.

Total Races:  5

Criteriums:  3

Road Races:  2

Spring Fling #5 Criterium – Lawrence, Kansas

Results:  7th out of 20

This was my first race ever on a road bike and was totally unplanned.  I was mountain biking that morning on the Clinton Lake Trail System when I heard some commotion and an announcer.  I want ahead and checked it out to find a criterium race getting under way.  I went back to the camper to fetch my road bike and entered the Cat 5 race that was later in the afternoon.  This was nuts, but I loved it.  A lead pack took off on a break away going into lap 3.  A couple laps later, I was by myself trying to chase them down.  I reeled in a coupe of guys that got dropped from that pack, but was not able to cover the gap.  After this race, I knew I had to keep at it.

Tuesday Night Worlds #1 Criterium – Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Results – 20 out of 56, but no points

Bottom line, I had no idea what I was doing.  This was a Cat 4 / 5 criterium with every 3rd lap being a sprint lap for points.  The final lap counted for the same amount of points as the other sprint laps.  Overall time was tracked as well.  I was basically redlined the entire race and too nervous to get too close in line and basically blew up.

THK (Thoren Heuval Kernesse) Road Race – Avon, Minnesota

Results – 30th out of 46

My first road race.  Again, no idea what I was doing.  I found myself in the front of the pack on a couple sections coming into the halfway point.  This was a bad idea as I got totally dropped when we hit the climb.  I didn’t really see it coming.  I figured I would drift to the back of the pack going up the climb because I was spent and the next thing I knew, I missed the back and couldn’t get back on.  We had dropped part of the pack already, so I didn’t end up last.  I did have a strong finish up the final climb though, to leave with a little bit of confidence and feel good.

Ken Woods Memorial Road Race – Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Results – 24th out of 47

I’m starting to figure it out a bit.  Hung with the lead pack the whole race.  There was a couple minor break aways, but we reeled them back in.  I hammered up the big climb the first lap around and hung with the leaders.  Coming back around to the big climb again at the finish, I couldn’t hang though and ended up dropping to 24th place and over a minute behind the leader all on the final climb.  I am feeling better about things though and just need to work on my power.

Tuesday Night Worlds #3 Criterium – Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Results – 18th out of 46, but no points

This race went much better for me, other than I jumped for a sprint on the wrong lap and completely put myself in a bad position and blew up.  That being said, I was actually able to recover and wasn’t too far off from grabbing some points on the final lap.  I think I could have gotten up there if I would have positioned myself better on the second to last lap.  I got myself stuck in the middle of the pack and could not get out around people.

Training

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All races are included in the mileage and session counts.

Total Miles:  236

Mountain Bike:  42.7 miles

Road Bike:  185 miles

Running:  4.3 miles

Hiking:  4 miles

Total Sessions:  20

Mountain Bike:  4

Road Bike:  12

Running:  1

Hiking:  3

I officially removed the training tire off of my road bike before our spring break camping trip the last week of March.  My training now has turned to actual road rides, some trail riding during spring break and road races.  I still haven’t created the best morning habits yet, but try to get a body weight and short work out in before work in the morning that involves squats, push ups, lunges and abs.

That being said, I have ridden twice as many miles this year as I had by this point last year.  Last year, I only had 230 cycling miles in by the end of April and I have over 600 miles in this year.  There are 3 things that have contributed to this:  The first, being the fact that I picked up a Cyclops Jet Fluid Pro Trainer last fall and hammered through Sufferfest videos throughout the winter months.  Secondly, I also purchased a Fat Bike for the winter and was able to get a few trail rides in.  Lastly, I took a 3 day weekend to go mountain biking on the Santos Trail System in Florida with my Dad back in February.

Nutrition

I am still working on fine tuning the nutrition, but I have created what I think are some fairly good habits.  I have a pretty good breakfast routine of 2 to 3 eggs.  I usually get my eggs from a local farmer, but occasionally they run out and I have to get them from the store.  I highly recommend purchasing your eggs from a local farmer vs the grocery store if you can.  You’ll understand as soon as you see the color difference after cracking them in the pan.  They are so much richer in color and taste.  At any rate, I have been adding spinach or broccoli and cauliflower to my eggs on most mornings.  I used to do just eggs, but always felt like I was missing something and decided to add some veggies for some natural carbohydrates.

For lunch in the past, I had been mixing tuna with feta cheese and have now started doing raw vegetables and still adding the tuna on occasion.  I do snack during the day and with my activity up from last year, I seem to be hungry more often.  On most days, I have been adding a muffin in the mid morning and some fruit in the afternoon.

Dinner has usually been a mix of a meat such as chicken, fish or a burger along with organic frozen vegetables from Costco.

Health and Fitness

Weight:  158 lbs

Body Fat:  15.2%

Even though, I haven’t necessarily been feeling my greatest…  The month of April was pretty darn good in comparison to March.  I spent most of the month of March with a cold or sinus infection, which severely limited the amount of training I was able to do.  Not to mention, I had some international travel for work that didn’t help.

I have struggled quite a bit with recovery in the past and this still seems to be the case.  I used to think it was because I was getting older, but I honestly think it is because I tend to push myself past my my level of fitness too often.  I think the road racing is going to be good for me and really help me figure out how manage racing and training.

Recreation

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My kids are 5 and 7 years old and are able to hit some single track with me, so we can do some family rides on light training days.  Sometimes, my wife will ride with them and I’ll break away for my own hot lap and then catch back up with them.  It’s great to have the whole family involved and my kids can’t wait to race.

Website Updates

I have started a resource page to share what I use for all kinds of things related to racing, training, data logging, nutrition, health, trail finding, etc…  You can visit the page with this link: Endurance Path Resources.  Please let me know if you would like to see anything else.  I will continue to make updates as I expand the site.

Summary

I had pretty good month when it comes to taking on new challenges.  I would say, I need to pick up the training a bit more if I am going to be competitive.  I tend to struggle with recovery and I am working on figuring that out, whether it be sleep, food or overtraining when I do train.  I hope you found this update useful, whether it be insightful or inspiring.  As I mentioned above, please leave a comment below or or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page if you have any questions or comments.

If you found this useful and think someone else would benefit from reading and following my blog, please share with you friends through Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

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4 Tips For Mountain Bikers With Spring Fever

Who doesn’t love spring time after a long winter?  There is something about spring time with the bright sun, longer days, warmer weather and snow melting that gives me all kinds of energy!  I just can’t wait to get the bikes out.  I have a road bike now, but before I had a road bike, I couldn’t wait to hit the trails.  Sometimes you can’t get on the trails right away, so I learned a few tricks to make the road riding with my mountain bike more comfortable.

1)  Replace those knobbies with some road tires.

First, get yourself a set of road slicks for your mountain bike so you can roll faster.  You’d be surprised at how fast you can roll with a set of road tires on your mountain bike.    Plus, this will save you from wearing out your knobbies on the pavement.

2)  Add some bar-end grips to those handle bars.

Road bikes have drop bars, giving you multiple riding positions, where mountain bikes just have one position.  Get yourself a set of bar end grips.  These were quite popular about 10 years ago and I remember a majority of riders used them.  I quit using them myself at some point as I started riding more technical trails and hooked a couple of trees through some tight trail sections, sending me over the handle bars.  These are a must have, if you do a lot of road riding with your mountain bike.  There are still plenty of options on the market today for these bar end grips.

3)  Tighten up or lock-out your suspension, if equipped.

This one is a no brainer.  Lock down your suspension.  Many forks and rear shocks today are equipped with lock-out features or have adjustability.  Either way, tighten it up or lock it down.  You won’t need the suspension on the road and it will just suck away energy.

4)  Stay off the trails until they dry out.

Lastly, it was a long winter here in Minnesota and if you are like me and have not entered the world of Fat Biking, you must be getting anxious to get back on the trails.  As anxious as we are to hit the trails, we need to stay off the trails until they dry out.  This is when we can really do some damage to the trails.  Use this opportunity to stretch your legs and put some road miles in, whether you have a road bike or not.

SAFETY:

Just a quick note on road riding safety.  Find roads with wide shoulders and stay alert.  Drivers have not seen cyclists on the roadside all winter and will not be looking out for you.  Make sure you wear bright colors and find roads with wide shoulders.

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Finding Your Winter Endurance Exercise

Do you live in snow country?  Have you found your winter endurance training activities?  I found mine just a few weeks ago; cross country skiing. My summer activities are mainly mounting biking or road biking.  I will occasionally run or hike, but I love the bicycle. I’ve always struggled in the winter months as I don’t have a Fat Bike and I really don’t like running on a treadmill.  I’ve looked at Fat Bikes, but entry level is near $2,000.  I was always interested in cross country skiing, but never really lived in an area that had many trails.  After moving to Minnesota, I am certainly surrounded by ski trails.

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I decided a few weeks ago that I wasn’t going to spend the money on a Fat Bike and instead, I would go ahead and get myself set up with an entry level set of classic style cross country skis.  It was the best decision I made.  I’ve had the skis now for just a couple of weeks and I have been out on them 5 times now.  I’ve actually used them on trails in 3 different states; Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.  I’m really looking forward to next winter on the skis.

I have to admit, I really struggled this winter with my exercise and keeping up my fitness.  I put on a few pounds and just could not get in the right groove.  I don’t like to do the same thing twice, so the cross country skiing seemed to fit.  There are plenty of trails in the area that are groomed, so I will always have a new place to go.  My family and I love to travel, so I can bring my skis on our winter trips to try new trails.  I will get the kids some skis for next year, now that I have had the chance to check out the sport.

The point of this short article is that if you are in a rut, you need to take a chance and try something new.  As much as I wanted a Fat Bike, and I would still love to have one, it was really nice to mix things up and get some exercise in a different sport.  I will write another article in the future about mixing up your training to keep it exciting.  I can say that in the last 3 days; I have cross country skied, did strength and core training and ran.  It’s exciting to me to mix things up.

What do you do in the winter months for exercise?

Cross country skiing GoPro video playlist