Tapering … ūü§Ē

Ok. I get it.

Tapering means “to reduce gradually”.¬†I looked it up.

You see, this is not what I have been doing. A week before an event, I would stop training, rest, and eat more carbs. That’s what a taper meant to me.

Where in the world did I get this understanding ūü§Ē

I have the Pacific Populaire, the first local century ride of the season, fast approaching in 3 weeks. I want, no need, to taper. I have been training hard for 4 months, and actually feel I have over trained. I have all of the classic symptoms. Sore muscles. Tiredness. And, lack lustre motivation.

I need to taper.

So, for the past week, I have researched¬†on-line resources to determine how, and when to taper. And, we all know how dependable¬†on-line resources are, don’t we Donald. Here are several of the key things I learned that make sense, at least to me.

  1. There is no one way to taper. If fact, tapering is part science, and equal part art. You see, every circumstance, and every individual is different. You need to experiment to see what works best for you.
  2. The longer you have been training, the longer the taper needs to be. And, the older you are, the longer the taper needs to be. That’s me. I’m old, and I have been training hard for over 4 months.
  3. Some pundits advise tapering 1 week for every hour the event will take to complete. I have a 3-4 hour event coming up but 4 weeks seems excessive.
  4. During a taper, reduce the volume, not the intensity, of your workouts. Continue high-intensity workouts, even the week before the event
  5. Gradually reduce the volume of your workouts throughout the taper. The purpose for this is to maintain your current fitness level, and at the same time, rest more. Begin with a 25-30% reduction and gradually increase this to 40-50% the week immediately before the event.
  6. Continue to eat a well balanced, natural diet. There is no need to “carbo load” if you are accustomed to high-intensity training on a clean diet.
  7. Hydrate well several days prior to the event, particularly if the weather is hot and humid.

I got it. I have been doing this all wrong. My tapers, if they existed at all, have been too short, and not gradual. No gradual ūüėā

I have 3 weeks until the Pacific Populaire. So, my taper starts now.

“How will I know this method is more or less effective than what I have done in the past?”, you ask.

Well, I am going to keep a detailed tapering journal to review, reflect, and re-assess  following the event.

That sounds like fun, eh.

Notes to my former self … ūü§Ē

IMG_6454

Adele Archer introduced me to the¬†idea of¬†writing a note to my¬†former self. She said it would be “a very cathartic exercise!”

If only I knew back then what I know today.

The above picture is of me, taken about the time I first became serious about cycling. I was an adjunct professor at the time, and had been cycling more seriously for several years.  I was concerned about my health, stopped eating meat and dairy, disposed of my car, and began using my bicycle as my sole means of transport.

So, what would I say to¬†my former self ūü§Ē

Yeah, what would you say?

Well, I’d begin with¬†a discussion about cycling. There is a lot we could discuss but cycling will be a common thread throughout the remainder of your life.

We can start there. I love cycling but am pretty well informed already.

Really?

You are young, and you think you already have all of the answers. Well, you don’t. You have inconceivable¬†hardships ahead, and a move you never imagined. So, pay attention, if you can.

First of all,¬†be more patient. Don’t make dramatic lifestyle changes too quickly.¬†It may seem easy for you, but very difficult for your friends and family. Remember, food is not only providing nourishment to sustain your health, it is also the focus of social events. You share food¬†when you¬†visit, and entertain. Don’t make it unnecessarily difficult for those around you. Take the time to explain why you are making changes, and involve them more in the process.

You are right about this. I have already seen the consequences.

Recognize that cycling is your sport. It is an integral part of your life now, and always will be. You’ll have a lot of opposition but persevere. For you, the benefits greatly out number any possible detriments.

What kind of opposition?

Friends that aren’t interested. Employers that don’t¬†support bike commuting with secure bike lock-ups, and adequate change facilities. Municipal governments that have never heard of dedicated bike lanes, traffic calmed streets, or bikeways. I told you it wasn’t going to be easy.

Purchase the best bike you can afford, and always upgrade it with better components when necessary.

Find hills to climb. Think of them as your friend. They may be difficult at first but will make you a stronger, better cyclist.

I don’t mind hills. It’s just there aren’t many in these parts.

There are always hills. You just need to search them out.

Learn to clean, and lubricate your drive train. Do it regularly. It will reduce the wear and tare on your drive train. And while you are at it, learn basic bike maintenance. You need to be able to install a new chain and cassette, replace your brake and shifter cables, fix a flat tire, install new tires, true your wheels, replace a broken spoke, and re-pack your hubs and bottom bracket. Don’t worry. It’s not difficult, and there are a lot of resources available to help.

But bikes require specialized tools. And they are expensive.

That’s true but cheaper than a tank of gas every week, or annual car insurance.

You are not fast. You are built for endurance. Open water swimming, distance running, and road cycling are your sports. Accept you may never win a race, but will always finish strong.

That’s true. Runners and cyclists are always passing me on the road no matter how hard I try.

If you learn to train properly, instead of just going out for a ride when you please, you will get stronger, faster, and more confident.

How do I do that?

I told you. Find hills, and climb them repeatedly.

Purchase more than one bike. You need one for the roads. Maybe two. One to train on. The other for organized cycling events. And, you need one for getting around the city to commute, and run errands. You may even want a mountain bike to enjoy the trails as well.

How can I afford it?

Make bikes a priority. Instead of spending money on a car or public transit, invest in your bikes.

Live where the weather is suitable for cycling all year round. And where the municipal government, and local businesses are supportive so you have a safe commute on dedicated bike lanes, and traffic calmed streets, and at the end of the trip, a secure place to store your bike for the day.

Yeah! I hate the snow and ice in these parts.

Learn to dress for all weather conditions. The heat. The cold. The wet. Weather is no reason to stop cycling. You need a waterproof kit Рbooties, pants, jacket, gloves, and  helmet cover. And, learn the benefits of wool. It keeps you warm, even when its wet.

You are right. I need proper cycle clothing, especially those padded shorts. And spandex ūüėā

Build a bike shop. Find space in the basement or garage for your bikes. A place where you can store them out of the weather, out of site, and where you can work on them easily. This will encourage you to keep your bikes in good running order at all times.

What more can I say ūü§Ē

What about women? My education? And, a suitable career? ūü§Ē

Well, I have one last suggestion for you. Don’t procrastinate. Get to it!¬†I waited too long, and don’t want you to make the same mistakes.

¬†ūüėā

 

 

 

 

Monday Musing – What I’m doing about Fake News and Alternative Facts …ūü§Ē

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore! – Network¬†1976

I’m tired of listening to “fake news”, and “alternative facts”.

Fake news is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it via the traditional news media or via social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. Here is a helpful List of Fake News Sites.

And, I’m tired of listening to Donald Trump. Tired of having him dominate the news cycle with his¬†diatribe. He is an egotistical, insecure, immature, blowhard who is making a mockery of the US Presidency.

You see, I’m a news junkie.

There. I said it. And, I’m proud of it. I like listening to, and watching the news. All forms of news. Local. National. International. Every morning when I awake, I prepare a bowl of cereal, make a cup of coffee, and then turn the TV news on. For 60-90 minutes, I flip¬†amongst stations while I enjoy my morning coffee. And, it doesn’t stop there. Most days, I stop into one of the local cafes for an afternoon coffee, and scone to¬†read one of the local newspapers. And, whenever I’m near the local library, and have the time, I drop in to read an¬†international paper, or cycling magazine.

OK, I’m addicted.

I like to be informed, and have a particular interest in economic, and political news. But something has changed. I can’t stand listening to, or watching anything¬†Trump. It’s disturbing, annoying, depressing, frightening, perplexing, threatening, unsettling, and vexing. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah. Most of what he says, or tweets, is incorrect or a lie.

It’s fake!

In his defence, there may be an explanation for his unusual, erratic behaviour.

… psychiatrists are speaking out about¬†Donald Trump’s mental health¬†saying he¬†shows signs of ‚Äúmalignant narcissism,‚ÄĚ which is defined as a mix of narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, aggression and sadism …

This is controversial. Like everything Trump. Not all of the medical profession agrees. Personally, I don’t care. If there is¬†even a smidgen of truth to this,¬†the man is unfit to be President.

We were warned.

So, what can a news junkie like me do? I want to trust what I hear, and read.

Well, I¬†can’t change the news. And, I can’t change Trump.

I can protest.

I can stop listening to him. I don’t have to turn TV on in the morning. I have already closed my Twitter account. And, I can read the sports pages at the cafe, and cycling magazines at the library.

Those of you who follow this blog, know that I have a cottage in Ontario, and I spend several months there every year where there is no TV, or internet service. The services are available, but I choose not to subscribe. Instead, I cycle the quiet rural roads, work around the place, cook, read a lot of mystery novels, listen to favourite CD’s, and listen¬†to local AM radio. During these periods, I have never missed TV, or ready¬†access to the news.

This year, there will be no Trump.

CBC / Radio Canada stations must ensure that at least 50% of their Popular Music selections broadcast each week are Canadian content.

So, this morning, instead of turning on the TV, I listened to CBC radio, Canada’s national, public broadcaster. The broadcasts are free of advertisements, provide a balanced, impartial review of the news, and are committed to Canadian content. And, there are no visual distractions.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain Canadians is even more relevant now, in a world of limitless global content, than it was when we were founded in the 1930s ‚Äď at a time when Canada worried about a wave of American culture overwhelming our own unique identity.

I have turned CBC radio on, and Donald Trump off.

Goodbye fake news ūüėā

 

How to roll your IT Bands and Quads … ūü§Ē

I had a leg massage today.

This is the first massage I have had in years. I want to see if massage can aid with recovery. Many professional cyclist swear by them. I have been training hard for the past 3 months, and despite an increased focus on rest days, quality sleep and restorative nutrition, I have noticed increased muscle soreness, particularly in the legs.

Will massage help?

Massage is as integral to a professional cyclist’s daily routine as riding the bike is. What does massage do for a cyclist?  First and foremost massage promotes recovery by flushing the toxins up to the heart so that new oxygenated blood can circulate. If you notice, the massage therapist will always rub the muscles upwards towards the heart. The massage is actually pushing out the muscle’s carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and heart which is then filtered to come out as oxygen rich blood that goes back into the muscles.  The body will do this naturally but massage drastically speeds up the process.

It’s too early to tell. I just had the massage today. I’ll have to wait several days to know. But I can say that the¬†massage made me¬†more aware of which¬†muscles need attention. I learned that my IT bands and quads are tight, and sore, probably the result of overuse. Could this be the reason my right knee and hip hurt at times? ¬†It’s possible ūü§Ē

The masseuse suggested I begin using a roller regularly to self-massage these muscles  following every workout, and long ride.

IT Band –¬†The illiotibial band (ITB) is a thick strap of soft tissue that extends down the outside of your leg. It‚Äôs notoriously hard to work on using traditional stretching movements but, if allowed to become overly tight, can be at the root of a number of common and painful knee problems.¬†The best method for keeping your ITB functioning optimally is to use a foam roller.

Quads –¬†This muscle group at the front of your thighs consists of four muscles, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and sartorius. The rectus femoris especially is responsible for driving your pedals around but, if allowed to become too tight, can have an adverse effect on both posture and biomechanics, resulting in lower back pain and potentially hip and knee problems.

I see people in the gym using rollers, and noticed we have several. Some harder than others. The masseuse suggested using one after every workout when the muscles are warm, gradually building up the number of rolling repetitions over several weeks..

This is not the first time rollers have been recommended to me. My son, who is a personal trainer, even made me one with a re-cycled cardboard tube and¬†inner tube. It’s around¬†somewhere, but I found it too hard, and short to use effectively. The masseuse suggested beginning with a softer version that is 2-3 feet in length.

Knowing these muscles are tight, and that they may be causing discomfort, or possibly injury, I’ll try using a roller¬†for the next month, and then book¬†another massage. I’m not ready to begin to taper for the Pacific Populaire but will treat this rolling regimen as part of the tampering process. I want to be rested, and injury free for the event.

If you have had experience with a roller, I’d like to hear about it.