I want to become a fast and stronger cyclist this year.
Like most years, I train inside on a spinning bike during the colder, water months. Six days a week you will find me on the same Keiser spinning bike for 45-50 minutes doing a variety of different intensity workouts – recovery, endurance, lactate threshold, and VO2 Max sessions. Twice a week, I do HIIT sessions like the one outlined above.
My goal is to become a leaner, faster, and stronger cyclist this year.
I need to lose a few pounds. At this time of year, I always need to lose a few pounds. I don’t usually think about losing weight until shortly before the first event of the season which is usually April. Well, not this year. I want to be at my optimal cycling weight most of the year. I have already mentioned how I intend doing that, but what is my optimum weight?
Charts, like the one pictured above, are helpful but not always accurate. There is a lot to consider. Age. Muscle mass. Body type. Frame size. Gender. All I know is that I feel best on the bike when I am 150-155 pounds. This chart would suggest my ideal weight is 156-160 pounds. I’m currently 158 pounds but carry excess weight.
So, my target is 150-155.
I am sick this weak. I picked up a cold from my granddaughter. So, I’m taking a week off from training.
An involuntary break.
I know better. Or, I thought I did. It’s important every 4-6 weeks to rest, or at least “deload” by lessening the intensity and duration of workouts. Like many athletes, I know this but seldom do it for fear of losing conditioning. In my mind, I think progress is made in a linear, steady way. If I increase the work load each and every week, I will continually get stronger, more flexible, and faster.
The body needs time to adapt to the changes being made, and to recover.
This week, I am forced to take a week off. I had no choice. And guess what. I feel better. More rested. My RHR is lower than it has been in several months. I am sleeping more soundly, and longer. And, I have fewer aches and pains, particularly in the legs.
So, this is the plan. I’m going to rest or “deload” every 4-6 weeks regardless of how I may feel. I may still workout but not at the same intensity or duration. Or, I may stay off the bike and away from the gym entirely for 3-5 days. Voluntarily I’m going to rest, and give my body a chance to fully recover.
Here’s the thing.
We all know sitting is bad for you. It’s a known fact. The human body is meant to stand, and move. Sitting, particularly in a non-neutral position, is bad for the spine, and can result is chronic back and shoulder pain. I know. I worked at a desk for 3 decades, often with an inadequate chair facing a computer screen.
At one point along the way, I smartened up (?). I purchased a $500 ergonomic desk chair, researched recommended seating and computer screen placement positions, and began feeling better. Little did I know, all I needed was to sit on an exercise ball. More recently, I switched to a standing desk that keeps me on my feet, and moving.
The idea is to keep the spine in a neutral position as much as possible when we sit, stand, and sleep. Even when we cycle. Especially when we cycle. When you cycle, you are sitting. And, at the same time, exerting a lot of pressure on the pedals.
Minor changes to your reach, saddle height, and position can make a huge difference. This time of year, I am on the spinning bike every day. It gives me the opportunity to easily make minor adjustments and try them out. That’s what I have been doing. Recently, I found by moving the saddle 1/4 inch forward, I remained well positioned, not moving, and delivering more power with each and every pedal stroke.
I wear a Garmin activity tracker, and have for over a year. Now that I understand how to use it, I pay much more attention to it. Every day I track how long I slept the night before, how much of the sleep was considered “deep” sleep, my lowest resting heart rate during the night, the number of “Intensity Minutes” accumulated every day, the # of calories expended during the day, and yes, the number of steps I take throughout the day.
I own and operate 2 cars but never use them. That’s a whole other story, and something that needs to change. Instead, I bike and walk everywhere. I walk to the gym every morning for a spinning workout, and walk several hours in the afternoon running errands and visiting. This time of year, when it is cold and wet, I walk more than I ride. And for good reason. Walking is good for me both physically and mentally.
Since the beginning of the year, I average about 13,000 steps a days, sometimes less, sometimes more. Some days I challenge myself with a long climb up and around the local park. Other days, I stay on the neighbourhood streets en route to the local shops.
I am seriously considering having an all-road, custom steel bike made. Something not unlike the GCN bike above.
Steel frame. Ritchie carbon fork. Sram hydraulic disc brakes. 1X drive train. Thru axles. White Industries crank, hubs, and headset. H Plus Son Hydra rims. Ritchie seat post, stem, and handlebars.
I don’t need another bike. You never really do. But it suits the type of cycling I do and opens up a whole network of gravel roads at the cottage that I have not been able to explore on a bike.
The better, and faster, we recover, the sooner we can continue to train. And, we recover when we sleep, particularly when we experience “deep” sleep. That’s when the muscles are repaired.
The above video highlighted several sleep positions that have interfered with my sleep. For the past week, I made a simple adjustment to ensure I sleep either on my back or side. I put a pillow at my side under the covers. The pillow stopped any turning onto my stomach, and provided support for my leg when on my site.
The result is remarkable. I awake without neck or back soreness. And, I sleep longer, and more soundly averaging 9:20 hours of sleep per night, with 4:22 hours of “deep” sleep.
Are you getting the sleep you need?