Since I’ve been taking training more seriously for this 125mile bike ride, I’ve been learning quite a lot that’s allowing me to train smarter & harder. The first thing I’ve started doing is more closely paying attention to my diet and nutrition. While I generally track what I eat to get a sense of how healthy (or not) I’m being, I only recently starting looking at my calorie count, comparing it to what my recommended caloric intake should be.
For my sex, weight, age and activity level I’m supposed to be around 2800-2900 calories a day. I’ve been significantly under that for a while, which combined with my training, is why I’ve lost about 20 lbs since january. I’m going to be careful to make sure I’m getting enough calories- especially on the days I’m really exerting myself. Thats another thing I’m looking- how much calories/carbs/protein etc I should be having on tough days. It turns out I wasn’t hydrating or eating near enough on my hard days, which probably contributed to the cramping and fatigue I suffered during the hilly 63mile Gran Fondo.
I’ve started looking into PowerMax energy bars, cliff bars, energy gels, etc, and I’m finding that they really do make a difference- and why shouldn’t they? On a tough ride its not unlikely that I burn over 2,000 calories. I’ve also started trying different forms of protein enriched drinks post-workout. I do weigh training at least 4 times a week and I noticed I was still loosing muscle mass. Given the fact I wasn’t giving my muscles the amino acids and proteins they needed to heal, on top of during lots of aerobic work, that was to be expected.
I’m also spending more time on my actual bike, than on the bike in the gym. Its hard to replicate the temperature, varying gradients and other real world conditions on an exercise bike in an air conditioned gym. Just in the past 4 days I’ve logged over 130 road miles! I went to a cycling shop to see if they could help me improve my bike- maybe make it lighter, or get clip-in pedals. I quickly learned that unless I do something major fiscally irresponsible I’m not going to be upgrading or replacing my bike anytime soon, so for now, I’ll just take solace in the fact that even if my bike is heavier and slower than those $2,000 bikes that go cruising by me, I’m getting a better workout because of how inefficient my bike is! If I stick with this seriously till next year, maybe I’ll get myself a sweet bike for my birthday next year.
In the gym I’ve been able to mix things up as well. I go to the Philly Training Station (a great gym) just about every morning and finally took advantage of two things: 1) Getting a customized full body work out regime made for me & 2) Getting a gait analysis & shoe fitting. Having a new regime to go by that works my core and full body is a nice change up to the monotony of the free weight bench press, pull/chin ups, and traditional ab exercises. Mixing up my exercises should help prevent me from plateauing, which is where I think I’ve been recently. The custom shoe fitting was pretty neet. Phil Clark, the guy who runs the gym and is training for the 2012 Olympics, offers a service to gym members where he will have you run on a treadmill and socks while he records your gait on a high speed camera. Looking at the slowed footage on the computer, he is able to figure out what kind of running shoe is best for each person.
All in all, I’m feeling good about the technical and physical progress I’m making, in addition to general understanding of the role different nutrients play in health and recreation. I still need to get a couple of things checked out though: for instance, my neck kills me after a long ride, which I’ve learned can be from either increasing my mileage too soon in training, or from an improper bike fitting. I have a feeling its both, and I’m going to have a cycle shop adjust my riding position to try to minimize this.
Today I logged a cool 66 miles in 4 hours and 25 minutes, which I feel good about. Not necessarily for my time, but because of the lack of pain I was in. The last 63 mile ride I did just about killed me, but it was for 2 reasons: hills, and hydration/nutrition. Correcting for both of those conditions today (I took a pretty flat route out to Collegeville and back along the Schuykill River & I made sure to properly hydrate and eat), made for a pretty good ride.
On a final note: Fundraising is going well- I’m almost there! So far I’ve raised $375 from 18 generous family members & friends. If you can help me reach my $500 fundraising minimum for my upcoming 125 Harbor to the Bay Ride for AIDS, please click here. Thanks!