Thursday, February 25, 2010

Early Season Races

Next weekend will be my first race of the season, Echo Red to Red XC over in Echo, OR. It will mark the 2nd year for this event and first time for me. It's a 1-loop course over 28 miles with lots of singletrack. It should be good to gauge my fitness against the local racing scene. Not much emphasis will be placed on this race. The goal will be to use this race as a hard training day. There is no better way to simulate racing than racing itself.

Early season races are the best time to work on several areas such as; travel logistics, pre-race warm up, proper nutrition, and race strategies. You don't want to be wasting energy on these areas during your "A" priority races. It's a lot like figuring out what fuel works best for your body. You want to know which foods (bars, gels, rice cakes, etc) your body performs best with and can digest easily. What might work for your endurance rides might not work for an above-threshold-level-effort for 2-3 hours.

There can be a lot gained from doing several "training races", so put a few on your calendar and don't be too concerned with the result. Make notes of what worked and what didn't so that you don't make the same mistake/s again.

Good luck on YOUR season.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunny Skies

For most of the winter in Bend this year we' have seen lots of unseasonably cloudy days. Look up Bend, OR on any search engine and you will find that it averages over 300 days of sun. Well there is a lot of catching up to do this year already...then again it's only the end of February.
This weekend was a pleasant reminder of the beauty that Central Oregon offers. No matter which direction you looked you could see the many snow-capped mountain peaks (Bachelor, The Sisters, Broken Top, Mt Hood and even Mt Jefferson). I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and crank out 7.5 hours of ride time between the two days; 4 hours on the mountain bike Sat and 3.5 hours on the road bike Sun.
Although the trails around Phil's still have a descent amount of snow on them, I stayed on the lower elevation where there was only a few muddy sections. Over at Horse Butte, the trails were in great condition with no snow at all, and lots of fast flowing singletrack. This was the longest ride of the season so far on the mountain bike; I've been splitting time between skate skiing and riding to get in the volume the last few months.
On Sunday I was joined by Bruce Rogers for a "conversational pace" ride out through Alfalfa and Powell Butte. The goal today was to keep the HR below 140 bpm. With mostly flat roads and maybe a 10mph wind it was easy to keep the HR controlled.
Mother Nature is calling for several days of rain and cloudy skies all next week again, who knows maybe Bend won't hit the 300 number this year. My fingers are crossed that it does.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Strength Training

You either like it or you don't. I am one of those that enjoy strength training. I usually begin hitting the weights around November and continue through March/April performing 2 days a week, and then reduce to 1 day a week once the season gets officially under way.

This off-season I will be working more on one of my weaknesses than I have in the past. I normally don't put too much effort into the "power" exercises (considering power is not that critical in ultra-endurance events). However, with the increase in age comes a decrease in power. I am just finishing up my final week of max strength workouts which focus on very heavy weights (80-90% of 1RM and few reps (4-8). Combining this with more skate skiing this winter, I have noticed a significant increase in strength. It will be interesting to see how this transfers to on-bike strength gains. Max strength workouts are great because not only are you making strength gains, but also burning fat at an extremely high rate. Timing of certain nutrients is more critical than most would think. As a rule of thumb, it's ideal to consume protein 60 min prior and within 60 min after workouts; the amount varies depending on body size. This time of year is when burning fat is most important, not during the season. Maintaining proper nutrition is also important, because what you put in your body now will affect how you feel in 4-6 months.

I have also been using a piece of strength equipment called TRX, which utilizes two straps attached to a wall (or door), for developing overall balance and core strength. TRX can give you a very functional workout because you are using your own body weight as resistance while incorporating full-body movements. TRX was designed by a former Navy Seal. For more info: TRX Suspension Training

My training volume on the bike this winter has been much less than in previous years because I have noticed that I get a little burned out towards the end of the season. Unfortunately, the months of July, August and September are when most of my priority races occur so I wanted to take a different approach this season and do more cross training. So far I can say I have enjoyed getting up to the mountains more often than usual. Besides, the days of riding the trainer have become much more of a chore than enjoyment. I figure if I can't ride outdoors due to weather conditions, I will use that time more efficiently.

Thanks for reading.