Food for thought (and other cliches)

Not feeling great – and have been feeling lousy for a couple of days. It doesn’t seem to be the viral crud going around, to any great degree. I’m wondering whether it’s related to an increase in exercise whilst still restricting calories. Read more

… back outdoors 

Still on the turbo during the week (only practical way to do intervals around here) but cycling outdoors is back under way. 

78 miles last weekend, not flat (not really hilly either) and it felt fine – the turbo clears pays off. I was tired in the evening, but no DOMS/exhaustion the next day, which bodes well. 

Still having hip/back issues off the bike – off for another MRI soon – but it doesn’t affect the cycling much, and the doc (surgeon) has continued with an all-clear to ride. During the 78 miler there were a couple of times that my thigh in particular twinged, with some glute pulling, but it was manageable and passed with a few miles each time. 

Thunderbirds are go

… or something like that. 56 miles yesterday, not particularly flat (not massively hilly either). Tiring, unsurprisingly – it was always going to be something of a stretch to go from a few turbo sessions to 90 km or so. Plodded up the hills mostly – ran out of energy when I ran out of momentum on one particular hill, but so be it.

Part of that is, I think, that I need to practice eating while I ride: I ran out of easy-access energy. Plan for the next few rides is to chop up nakd bars into bites & set a timer to eat and drink every 20 minutes. Also plan to be a bit less ambitious on distance, but ride twice each weekend.

In the plus side, some of the worst of the hip issue seems to have been subdued. Possibly just from being worked … who knows. No particular issues riding, although quads & hamstrings had unsurprising moments of unhappiness.

Strength training 

In addition to starting commutes, I’ve started strength training properly as well (insofar as a single session can be called starting properly). 

I skipped the pub ride from sheer fatigue – seems counterproductive to force myself out when I was too tired to see straight. That appears to have worked – I was much better yesterday and this morning. 

So yesterday morning, to the gym. The training routine is from Friel’s Cyclist’s Training Bible (useful book generally); it develops through the training period. Current routine is:

  • Squats
  • Seated cable row
  • Lat pull down
  • Step ups
  • Push-ups
  • Knee extension (‘personal weakness’ bit – I’ve had some kneecap tracking issues in the past, which are fine at the moment but I’d like to keep it that way)
  • Standing cable row

Two sets, twenty reps each (this is a muscle endurance building phase; in later phases, the reps reduce and the weight goes up)

I’ve also got the logbook to go with the Bible – this blog is useful for general thoughts & rumination and reflection, but a short & to the point analysis of how I’m feeling plus metrics such as resting HR etc all in one place feels also useful. We shall see. 

Ride 1, ride 2

IMG_0587Two rides this week (well, so far) – taking advantage of a few days break, snatched as something fell out of my diary.

Yesterday – 24 mile loop mostly on trails with the hybrid. This was fun (note to self: wear the padded knickers next time … the saddle on the hybrid is not that wonderful). The route should be good through the year with the MTB once the rain starts up in earnest (will be muddy as a muddy thing once that happens).

Today – worked a bit more, for a 32 mile loop up to the north; reasonable number of ups & downs, and Emily’s in Whitwell is rather good (I still prefer the Westmill Tearooms, but Emily’s is closer!). In terms of feel, it felt stronger than the riding has done – the ups were less of a struggle, mostly, and I did more standing than usual. The combination of weightless and work is beginning to show through, I hope.

Why/where the photo? Today’s route went past Luton airport, and the runway is just beyond the field …

Experiments in cross-training

I’m working on building general fitness as well as bike-specific fitness – mostly for general health purposes, but improving core strength and upper/body strength will have cycling benefits anyway. 

I’ve been experimenting with weights routines but … I find weights work really really boring. The result is an epic tendency to procrastinate and simply not do the exercises. 

The experiment now is to trying swimming, particularly arm drills. I actually like swimming, unlike weights work. It’s not a chore (or a bore) to swim for half an hour. Arm drills (not using legs, and using paddles for additional resistance) will work upper body quite effectively – maybe not as much as weights, but definitely more than procrastinating on weights. 

I’m not giving up on weights work entirely – squats (normal and lateral) and lunges etc will still have bike use and so will just have to be done. Planks etc for core also have to be done. But I can tolerate 10 minutes of squats/lunges/plank after swimming. I just can’t tolerate half an hour or so of weights.

So, swimming 2-3 times a week with leg/core work after seems like a sustainable plan. I’ve also signed back up with the personal trainer I was using – accountability again. A proper weights session in place of swimming etc every couple of weeks seems like a reasonable plan (twice a week is more than my budget would stand, regardless of accountability). 

Planks yesterday were straight-arm. Too many bruises from the tumble on Sunday on my elbow for bent-arm!

London to Southend off-road

37 miles, on bike paths and bridle ways, mostly – no power readings, but average heart rate was 150bpm. 

This was a nice route, winding across country: not particularly technical until we got near the end, where a forest track was a bit steep (down) and bumpy. I ended up walking down, as I wasn’t confident I’d manage the descent without a fall. 

I’d already had one fall earlier, having failed to unclip in time on a tight right hand turn. I’m noticeably more uncertain on tight right turns, so should practice as I suspect the same is true on the road bike. It’s just that road bike routes tend not to involve tight turns. The fall was more embarrassing than anything else, although I discovered quite a bit of bruising when I got home (I seem to have landed thigh-side first, which would also explain why my quad wasn’t too happy in the second half). 

Need to watch the food intake more closely; the ice-cream halfway was nice (was a warm, if cloudy, day) but I really should have eaten slower release stuff. Ran out of glycogen on a hill about three miles from the finish, and had to munch through a fig roll. 

Bike was good – gear issue sorted out by a mechanic at the halfway point. I was right, it was the hanger. Probably got bent when the bike fell a couple of weeks ago when I was closing a farm gate. I need to be more careful! And buy a spare hanger. But this does explain why I couldn’t dial in the indexing on Saturday. 

I’ve planned out a couple more off-road rides, and am looking at MTB skills courses. Off-road is a fun alternative for steady rides, and should work well to build some power as it takes quite a bit more work to push the bike, even on the road. 

Under a red moon

Reds ride on Thursday night – noticeable that I’d worked the night before on the pub ride, I was off by 10-20W on the hills in particular. That endurance will come back, though. 

Today’s planned ride has been cancelled due to high winds; I though about going out anyway, but the plan at the moment is to build base rather than flog myself into the ground – tomorrow’s 40 miles off-road is likely to be demanding enough that adding more today wouldn’t help. I’ve done 60 miles this week, so will be 100 or so total when done. That’s enough for now. 

Up the South Downs

Time on the bike counts, regardless of bike – so I shoved myself and my hard tail mountain bike up the South Downs Way. The result was quite a bit of walking: not because of the gradient (a 34-42 bottom gear will go up almost anything) but because a millennia or two of water cascading downwards was carved deep ruts into the path and it’s basically impossible to ride up (for me, at any rate). 

So I pushed the bike up, and then cycled down and looped around back. Just under 17 miles at no particular speed but with a lot of exertion. It all counts.