Tag Archives: cycling

Off-Season 2014-2015, Get At It!

The NorthShore has passed, my chest cold thing is finally gone, I have skated maybe three times, the race wheels have been put away until next year, and now we have nothing to look forward to but the long, cold, dead Minnesota winter.  There is a reason, besides keeping warm, Russians drink heavy.  If I lived in Siberia and had to look at that much snow, cold, and ice as that climate is known for, I would be driven to excessive consumption of alcohol also.  But, all of this time stuck indoors with not a lot to do means plenty of time to lift heavy stuff, binge watch bad TV while spinning on the bike, and think about whether I have enough clothes to keep warm while trying to ice skate.  That is pretty much what my off-season will look like.  Until the cold really sets in, I plan to try to skate on the weekends.  The sun sets too early to permit skating during the week right now.  As a result, training for next season starts right now, because your off-season is what makes or breaks your race season.  So, here is the plan:

After considering what I did for off-season last year, it wasn’t sufficiently structured, and my goals for working out during the week were based on an otherwise hectic life schedule.  This year promises to permit a lot more focus in my work out schedule.  Through the end of the year, I am going to continue to skate as much as possible, but realistically this will only last a couple more weeks until I convert my on-skates time to ice or indoor rink sessions/practices.  Since this will occur mostly on the weekend, that leaves me with 4-5 week days to fill with some training. Weight lifting provided some big gains for me over the last two years.  This was accelerated after I switched to an Olympic weight lifting set and built squat stands.  My goal is to get 3 days of lifting during the week from now until the middle of January, lifting heavy and adding weight weekly to every lift.  Every 4 weeks, I am going to deload, and give myself a rest to avoid overtraining.  I ended the off-season lifting 235 for my Dead Lifts and Romanian Dead Lifts and lifting 185 on my squats.  This year, I am going back to some older lifts and adding some new ones.  I am also changing up the way I am lifting.  Pat of the goal this year is to build power in addition to base strength.  One way of doing this is adding tempo to your lifts, or basically performing the lifts faster.  I am going to deload a bit at the start, and increase the pace of my lifts with the goal of adding power training to my base strength training, and, just maybe, spend a little less time lifting.  I am hoping to do the following three day schedule each week:

Day 1:

A1 Rear Squats
A2 Poliquin Step Ups
A3 Splits Squats

B1 Dead Lifts
B2 Romanian Dead Lifts
B3 Kettle Bell Swings (Set of 10)

C1 Core

Day 2:

A1 Over Head Press
A2 Curtsy Squats
A3 Power Cleans

B1 Barbell Row
B2 Weighted walking lunges (12 to 14 reps)
B3 Glute Bridges with Stability Ball

C1 Core

Day 3:

A1 Rear Squats
A2 Poliquin Step Ups
A3 Kettle Bell Swings (Set of 10)

B1 Dead Lifts
B2 Romanian Dead Lifts
B3 Dips

C1 Core

As you can see, it is a mix of standard lifts with some Olympic power lifting and, shockingly, some upper body work.  I am learning how important posture is to overall fitness, and seeing that I sit for 8+ hours a day at the office, I thought it would be good to add some upper body exercises to balance out my build.  These lifts are also, largely, compound lifts, meaning they work a lot of different muscles at the same time.  My goal will be to do 2 rounds of each super set, then follow it up with core work, likely P90X Ab Ripper X, because it hits everything in the core.

Aside from weights, I am planning on spending a lot of recovery time on the bike, grinding away on my heart rate Zone 2 target rides.  The gola here is base cardiovascular fitness, something that gets neglected over the winter months.  Beyond that, I am developing an off-skates program that will include plyos, dry-land drills from the Mantia Clinic, and slide board.  Ideally, I will take one to two days off per week.  I hope it will make for a productive off-season.

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Training Updates and Future Posts

I have been rotating between working out in the basement during the week and skating on the weekends, when the weather permits.  It has been a wet and windy spring here once the cold finally broke.  I have been able to skate at least once, sometimes twice, every weekend since mid to late April.  After my VO2 Max test in April, I did a lot of research about cardiovascular capacity, particularly material written by Joe Friel, and decided to significantly change my early season base training.  I mentioned in my last post that I was going to spend a lot more time working on base cardiovascular fitness, and, as a result, many of my recent training sessions that are not focused on weight lifting or skating have been extended duration cycling sessions with my bike in the trainer.  In addition to being a great way to build base cardiovascular fitness, it also helps me get caught up on television I don’t otherwise have time to watch.  I am averaging 2 of these sessions per week.  My weight lifting program has changed, also.  Like last year, heading in to race preparation phases, I tend to focus a lot on cardiovascular training.  When I made the transition last year, I took some of the weight lifting program into a joint plyometric program where I would do a super set of lifts followed by a super set of plyos.  I am doing some thing similar this year, but with a different target for my lifts.  Rather that focusing on split squats or Poliquin squats, I am hoping to build power by mixing power cleans, rear squats, dead lifts, and Romanian dead lifts with tuck jumps, split jumps, single leg jumps, super skaters, and box jumps.  I do this work out one day per week, and spend the rest of my training time on the bike or on skates.

Skating seems like it is going well.  The weekends have worked out so that the weather is manageable, though we have had some very windy days.  Slow skating is good experience, and it builds strength.  I am noticing deficiencies in my technique, and I am climbing a lot of hills.  I hope this will yield good results as I move into a training phase with a lot more skating.  So far, my average speeds have increased over last year, some of them by more than 1 mile per hour, which is a considerable jump from the end of one race season to the start of another.  I think weight lifting has helped considerably in this regard.

Starting this weekend, training changes again.  I am going to continue lifting weights, but I am planning on deloading, basically making my weight lifting maintenance work outs meant to insure that I am not losing anything.  I may slowly creep the weight back up, but I find that the delayed onset muscle soreness after really heavy lift days results in restricted training on skating days.  Skating volume is going to seriously increase.  This year, I am focusing on technique and trying to get every bit of power from my legs to the ground.  The hope is that this increase in efficiency will result in faster marathon times.  I am hoping to skate at least 4 times per week, with one day being a technique focus, one day an interval focus, and the other two longer skates that mix aerobic HR zone training and longer distance tempo skating.  I need to climb a lot of hills, also.  I plan on reviewing the data from the last Chicagoland Inline Marathon race to see where I struggled with the hills and see if I can keep up with the main pack this year.  All I want to do is keep up with the main pack and not get dropped.  If I can stay in the pack and avoid pulling, I should be able to keep pace for the entire race, or, at least, I hope to.  The key to this course, though, are the hills, and making sure you can climb hill after hill without losing the rest of the group.  I see a lot of time climbing the mountain-esque hills on Country Club Road in my future.

With all of this training going on, I am hoping to post more videos than I have been lately.  Also, I am going to have some posts that combine a lot of the research I have been doing on cardiovascular capacity detailing how inline speed skaters can learn from other endurance athletes and how these training theories can be applied to inline skating.  I hope it will make for some interesting reading.  This weekend, I am skating with Team Rainbo, and will shoot video of the Saturday practice to post next week.  For anyone who isn’t yet, Spring has sprung, get out and skate!


VO2 Max Test

One of the benefits of living near a major hospital is the opportunity to be poked and prodded for science.  These studies usually involve remuneration and are rarely the kind of thing  you consider doing absent a specific interest in a project or need some easy money.  A couple of months ago, I signed up for a test because it offered the opportunity to take a VO2 Max test for free.  Usually, these kinds of tests can only be found in sports medicine programs, and can be expensive.  I jumped at the chance to learn more about my physical condition and have another tool to focus my training.  However, I can only expect this to be a one-time test, and will hope to alter my training and use any future tests I might happen into for further analysis of my training over the longer term.

This test was taken on a bicycle, though some are performed while running.  The point of the test is to push you to your physical limit while observing how your body absorbs and expels Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide during the increasingly difficult exercise.  They took my weight and height and some blood for labs.  I was heavier than I expected but right about where I expected for height.  Weight is a determining factor and one of the ways to increase your VO2 Max is to decrease your body weight.  My weight has been a bit of a battle for me lately because I have been bulking from lifting so much weight.  After the initial measurements and blood draws, I was prepped to get on the bike.

The Bike was set up like a spin bike, but with road and aero bars.  The pedals had cages, but the guy running the test said they had a clip-less set-up.  I was slightly frustrated by not having my cycling shoes, but I don’t know if it would have made a very large difference.  The test went for about 10 minutes.  I scored 39.6 on the VO2 Max, and that puts me in a pretty average range for my age.  My maximum heart rate was 171, which  is low for my calculated maximum.  Basically, this result was unremarkable, and barely showed I had been training cardio.

My anaerobic threshold results were telling, and really provides the best indication of where my training needs work.  My AT was at about 135 bpm heart rate.  This happened 6 minutes into the work out and at 200 watts resistance.  That seems low, and means that most of my training lately has been taking place above my AT, which doesn’t directly help cardiovascular strength.

I came across an article recently that discusses this exact point.  Basically, base cardio is built with training in HR Zone II, where you burn both carbohydrates and fat for fuel.  This would also explain why I am not losing much weight, but that is mere speculation as I haven’t been very consistent with my diet.  Regardless, my seemingly normal VO2 Max result indicates pretty clearly I am not training effectively for cardiovascular fitness.   As a result, I am changing up my training to have more longer duration lower HR sessions on the bike and skates.  I am going to use the time on skates to work technique.

Speaking of technique, I am also attending the Joey Mantia Clinic in June that will be at the Roseville Oval.  I am really looking forward to learning a lot more about technique, and will likely update these pages around that time.  For now, though, I guess I am headed back to the bike.


Training for October 7, 2011

I made the mistake of thinking I didn’t have an obligation that would require me to wear a suit to work, and rode my bike to work with my wife.  We rode there and back and the total distance was about 25 miles.  We did it in two trips there and back which made it easier.  However, my legs have been sore from lifting weights.

The trip there registered as 13.22 miles, taking 54:45 minutes.  Top speed can’t be determined because I lost GPS signal and it indicates the top speed was over 40 miles per hour.  That is terribly unlikely.  This realistically renders the time data incorrect, so I can’t tell for certain what the specific metrics are for the work out.

The trip back was measured at 12.31 miles in 53.58 minutes.  There was some aberrations in the GPS data at the beginning of the trip.  It was a long round trip, but it felt good to get out.  The weather was perfect.

I also continued with the squats program.  My legs are sore, but it has been worth it so far.


Training for September 25, 2011

After the long skate on September 24, I opted for a bike ride.  I went south, which is a normal route for me.  Total distance was 12.93 miles in 55:54 minutes.  Average pace was 4:20 minutes per mile with an average speed of 13.87 miles per hour.  Fastest mile was 2:59 minutes.  Top speed was 24 miles per hour.  This was a good trip with a good pace that got my heart rate up.