Entries For: May 2009
Overshoot - or why it's good to slack off
Type 2b muscle fibres are the ones sprinters want the most of. They're the fastest of the two fast twitch fibres found in human muscle tissue. The more you have, the faster and more powerfully your muscles work and the faster you can go. Enduros don't want these at all, they're next to useless for endurance work. Enduros spend their time trying to convert type two fibres to type one. Type one, or 'slowtwitch' fibres are the ones that go all day, but 10 times slower in contraction speed than fast twitch fibres.
A very interesting article on 'Overshooting' is here.
The gist of it is :
a pattern of heavy resistance training followed by decreased activity causes first a decrease then an overshoot in the proportion of the fastest fibre type in the trained/detrained muscle group.
a large increase in training volume for approximately three months will decrease the proportion of IIb fibres in the trained muscles; a subsequent reduction (not cessation) in training volume relative to the heavy resistance training phase should not only reverse this decrease but lead to a significant overshoot in the proportion of IIb fibres. In consequence, the potential for the rapid and forceful muscle contractions so crucial to sprint performance should be enhanced.
This conclusion is in line with the current training practices of many sprint athletes: a heavy resistance training phase followed by a taper in training volume and intensity in the lead up to the competitive season(9). And on the evidence of the Copenhagen research, others would be advised to follow their example, with three months of heavy resistance training followed by three months of relative detraining, with relatively reduced training volume in the run up to key targeted events.
Interesting. One study found an increase from 9% to 18% (double!) the proportion of 2b fibres after a heavy block of training and then a layoff. Ratios on their own are easily misinterpreted but that's a very significant increase. It's rumoured that the British track sprint squad used this phenomenon to great effect in their preparation for Beijing.
Does this mean we should slack off before big sprint meetings? It would seem so, at least in terms of heavy strength work.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Misunderstood, myth-based explanations abound ...
Many of us have experienced DOMS at some point or other in our lives. DOMS is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It's a mildly painful muscle soreness that comes 24-48 hours after exercise, usually an exercise you haven't done before or haven't done for a long time, and that involves eccentric contractions. Eccentric means lengthening under load. Imagine holding a weight in your hand and lowering it, so your bicep is extending, not contracting, under load. That's an example of an eccentric contraction.
What causes it? Many will say 'lactic acid', and they'll be wrong. There is no such thing as lactic acid in the human body. Ever. It just doesn't happen. I've ranted on about that before, but just to be blunt, from wikipedia :
Contrary to popular belief, this increased concentration of lactate does not directly cause acidosis, nor is it responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness. This is because lactate itself is not capable of releasing a proton, and secondly, the acidic form of lactate, lactic acid, cannot be formed under normal circumstances in human tissues.[citations needed] Analysis of the glycolytic pathway in humans indicates that there are not enough hydrogen ions present in the glycolytic intermediates to produce lactic or any other acid.
Here's the best explanation of what DOMS is and how it's caused that I've ever read. Well worth the 10 minutes of your life it will take to read. Some key points from it :
- Pain killers (NSAIDs etc) don't help. In fact, using many of them in 'normal doses' decreases protein synthesis. Do not use NSAIDs (ibroprufen, naproxen etc) when doing strength training, they reduce the effects of the training AND don't reduce the effects of DOMS.
- The burning sensation when exercising very hard is not related to DOMS
- Muscles will adjust to soreness with time. If you’re unaccustomed to doing a particular exercise or activity, you can bank on being sore the next day or two. But if you keep up the activity, you’ll soon stop getting sore.
- DOMS and actual muscle growth don’t have much to do with each other, no DOMS does not mean no muscle growth, and DOMS does not mean muscle growth. Correlation is not causation!
- DOMS seems to be inflammation of intra-muscular connective tissues
- DOMS itself is not a by-product of muscle fiber inflammation. Being sore does not mean that your muscles are undergoing growth. They might be undergoing repair, but these are not the same things.
- DOMS itself will be caused by any eccentric exercise that you do for
enough total reps. The less accustomed you are to that type of
exercise, the worse the soreness will be after the fact. This can be squats, or a long walk down a hill etc.
So now we don't have to shout
On the list of things we need to get (including a track power meter and some bumper plates) was a megaphone. We used to use the Blackburn one at Spin sessions, but it's missing or broken or both so we needed to get one. Especially with the Deakin lads with wind trainers, it's very very noisy at spin when the sprint is on. Nath and I were reduced to a scraping whisper at the end of last week's spin session. Not any more!
Dino took some photos
Two big sprinters on a tandem! Thankyou Dino for the photo (and the loan of your daughter!)
We keep getting more people at our spin sessions. Last Tuesday we had 24 spinners, a new record for our sessions. People are overflowing out the door and more want to come. If everyone shows up we'll need a bigger venue and I'll need a bigger pot to make the dinner in. We're already up to a 2.5kg mince beef and 2kg of mushrooms feed and that's about the limit of my big cauldron.
Yesterday we had the Sprint Squad in the 'Haus and it was heavy strength day. Everyone set new PB's in their lifts and I felt good, so went for 3 x 3 @170kg squats, and I got 'em! Woo hoo! We also did benchpress and deadlifts to finish off, I got 5 deadlifts at 150kg too, which was a new PB for that lift as well. The others all PB'd in everything too. A very solid session.
Afterwards we had a thankyou BBQ for all those that helped out at last summer's Sprint Series. aboc put on the bangers and bread and some chilli chickenwings and a good time was had by all who made it. It was particularly good to see the Dundii again and to get a chance to thank Ann Apolito and Sue Dundas for their work last year and of course Lucie for her photography, my Dad came too (he was a photographer at one round) and had a good time.
Today we had the first round of the Blackburn time trial series for 2009. I was pretty anxious about this, we'd had some 60 pre-entries and were expecting more to roll up and enter on the day. Blackburns' reputation for running time trials is .. unfortunate .. over the years a number of high profile events have gone awry and with a huge field I was pretty concerned that things would go wrong, but Richard Stringer put together a great team and everything went faultlessly, or at least appeared to, and that's all that matters! In the end some 110 riders raced the time trial and the results were done within 10 minutes of the last rider finishing. Fantastic. They need to be put up on the club's website ASAP too (very important these days!). Hopefully that will have been taken care of also.
Em and I rode the big aboc Trek T1000 tandem in the time trial and I'm pretty sure we came dead last, but we did win the tandem division. My alarm didn't go off and I was lucky that I woke up at 6:55, but I didn't have time for breakfast, having to fly out the door. I rode the tandem solo to the city, along the way hooking up with Bev and Karen who both delighted in dropping me on every hill! Hungry like the wolf but no food, I rode the ITT with Em and we did a solid E3 effort, then on the ride home (again solo on the tandem) I bonked ... Groveling up Whitehorse Road at 15km/h wasn't fun. The refueling process was started as soon as I got home, we're training at DISC tonight and I need some matches to burn!
Got the squats
I'm happy to say that, with a bit of help from Lucie (shouting 'lift it you lazy, fat slob!'), I got 5 x 5 @ 165kg squats. The last two of the last set were pretty ugly, but they're in the bag. I'm now frantically trying to refuel in time for tonight's spin session. If we go according to form, we'll have 20 or so people tonight. I have cooked another big bolla and it tastes and smells great.
I'm a bit peeved that no-one from Blackburn got back to me re the Brunswick madison. I offered to print up some cards to take along to try and promote the Australia Day Madison (specifically the womens' madison) and sent a couple of emails to BBN, no reply. I can't go along to it to hand them out, but I could have had promo cards done easily - I was (and am!) prepared to pay for them. Sometimes I wonder. If we get no teams showing up for next summer's ADM womens madison, I guess we know why. These things have to be promoted. It's not hard to do.
Anyway, spag boll tonight, we're only in this for the food ...
After an easy week, it's time to start digging again
Last week was a dreadful one for training - As well as being just generally run down I had to do an all nighter with my real job on Thursday (which I will have to do again this week, Wednesday and Thursday nights), which meant I had no energy to train. Power meter figures for last Tuesday's spin were way down and my attempts to lift heavy were feeble and I had to bail out on them. Generally lethargic as well. Still, this isn't a whinging blog, or at least I try and minimise it. I think I just needed an easy week. I did some lighter squats, sets of 150kg, which these days feel astonishingly easy, and a set of 160kg, but nothing heavier. Felt pretty good at DISC on Sunday night too, so I think I'm coming good.
This week, I'm feeling much better. An easy day yesterday, Lucie and I just went for a nice walk in a park. Today I'm going to have a go at some 165kg squats again and see how they go. If they work, 167.5 on Thursday (if I get enough sleep) and aiming for 170kg next week. I'd also like to crack 1,500 watts again tonight at spin.
I have a new trainer to evaluate, one of the new Cyclops JetFluids. On first glance it seems that Saris have gone a bit silly, and some of the 'features' will turn out to be liabilities. It's got a very odd wheel tensioning thing that has springs in it which I suspect will be a long-term liability. Perhaps because of this it's got to be the only trainer I know of with a lifetime warranty for the frame, but less for the components. Still, time will tell. The trainer has a plastic shroud over most of the roller, which aparently is there to channel air from the flywheel's fan blades over the fluid unit to cool it. I think Saris are making a mistake there, maybe Kurt Kinetic have a patent on their mechanism (magnetic coupling to the impellor so the fluid chamber has no need for seals for the drive shaft). The older Saris fluid2's were famous for blowing drive shaft seals and leaking and air cooling is maybe supposed to address this, but by using more air cooling they're only addressing the symptom, not the cause. The shroud also makes maintenace tricky. My old fluid 2 is now quite a mess, the flywheel rattles and it's next to impossible to fix. We'll see if the new one is any better.
More on what happens when we train
Enduro cycling is interesting. It's a real mish-mash of requirements, unlike other endurance sports it has a (sometimes significant) over threshold power component. Many races end in sprint finishes, the nature of the sport is such that riders can't just ride at their threshold power output and expect to win in anything except a time trial. Attacks, short hills, sprint finishes etc mean the endurance road racer must have a mixed bag of adaptations to training. Road racing and MTB racing is primarily aerobic in nature, but not entirely.
What about long, slow distance? Traditional base miles, go out and ride for 1,000km before doing any intensity? What's the stressor that that introduces? Energy use. The stress of the body running low on fuel forces it to adapt to burn more fat. Not as a weight loss thing but as an energy source.
Getting back to Seyle's adaptation syndrome, it boils down to this, thanks to Lon Kilgore for the concise summation :
The crux of the correct application of Selye’s theory is to understand that a disruption of homeostasis must occur in the physiological system of interest in order for adaptation and fitness improvement to occur in that same system.
So, roadies and MTB racers doing long races need to stress the body by running it low on energy reserves. This doesn't boost VO2max, but it does force an adaptation to metabolise more energy from stored fat and an adaptation to store more glygogen. Lon writes it well again :
Long-slow-distance training is energy substrate depleting in nature. It has been shown many times over that glycogen stores can be totally depleted with this type of training, and depletion of an energy substrate should be considered a fairly significant homeostatic disruption of metabolism. It would not be prudent to consider only complete depletion as a disruptive stress, partial depletions should be considered disruptive as well IF AND ONLY IF the depletion is larger than previously experienced by the trainee. This type of training can also exceed the body’s ability to metabolize fat for energy. Driving a metabolic system beyond its normal range of operation or to failure is definitely a disruption of homeostasis. Combined, the stress of glycogen depletion below normally experienced levels while simultaneously exceeding fat metabolic capacity drives an improvement in storing and utilizing these two energetic substrates and results in being able to run longer – thus endurance has improved but VO2max has not improved.
So, LSD has a place. It's probably not as important as increasing aerobic capacity is for roadies and other enduro cyclists, but it is important. How much needs to be done? That's an interesting question. The balance between high intensity intervals (E3 and above) that stress the aerobic system and energy depleting training is a challenge to get right and varies from athlete to athlete. Long, slow miles gets a rider better at riding long, slow miles. We also need to boost aerobic capacity by doing high intensity work. Something that really stresses the aerobic capacity of a rider, for example riding at just above a sustainable power output is good for raising thresholds, as is doing shorter, high intensity riding with limited recovery, such as 1 minute ITT efforts with 1 minute's recovery between efforts. These are spectacularly good at driving increases in aerobic capacity. If all you do is base miles, all you get good at is base miles. Intervals are vital to driving up your performance as an enduro cyclist and it's possible to use your time more effectively than by rolling around for 8 hours on a weekend ride. E3 and to a lesser extent E2 riding is very energy depleting, longer blocks of E3 will force the body to run low on fuel, and adapt to the need for more without spending unsustainable amounts of time on the bike.
What're we really doing when we train?
This is just a brief note about a training method used by some strength and power athletes with some success, not a full examination of the issues etc.
Traditional training models generally work like this :
Base - Low intensity, high volume
Peak - High intensity, low volume
Take the athlete from base to peak, taper for a few days or a week, and they'll be right. That's what all the books on cycle coaching say. They talk about varying training loads such that when volume increases, intensity decreases and visa versa.
That's how it's done, right?
To work it out, it's helpful to go back to the fundamentals every now and then. What happens when we train?
Hans Seyle's adaptation syndrome kicks in. Roughly paraphrased this is "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger". Or at least, that's one way to look at it.
So what? What happens when we train? What are we trying to achieve?
We're trying to ride our bikes faster. Trite, I know .. and simplistic. For how long? Sprinters, around 10-30 seconds, enduros, 2 minutes to 10 hours or more, but we're all trying to go faster.
When we train, we disturb our bodies. We stress them. They respond to stress by adapting to it, and supercompensating if we get it right, so we improve at what we did to stress the body. How?
Hormonal fluctuations and tissues opening to the hormones present.
Essentially when we train, we stress the body, it releases hormones into the bloodstream which then get taken up by the stressed tissues and they change accordingly. The greater the stress, the greater the hormonal response. Strength athletes have been using exogenous tricks to do this for many many years. Common exogenous tricks include drugs like nandrolone and the like (the anabolic steriods), EPO (blood boosters) and so on. They're illegal, so we can't use them, but we can learn from them.
There's been some very interesting work done recently in the US concerning training methods that focus more on hormonal levels and less on conventional wisdom when it comes to designing training programs. Increasing both volume and intensity at the same time and then a big back-off period is one of the methods being discussed. I'll write more on it next week. For now, have a read if you can find it :
Pendlay, G. and L. Kilgore (2001). Hormonal fluctuation: A new method for the programming of training. Weightlifting USA 19(2): 15.
It's time I hit the 'Haus and then went to Blackburn to bust some legs on ergos!
Carnegie-Caulfield kicking goals
I'd like to offer my congrats to Carnegie Caulfield - yet again they've run what must be seen as one of, if not the best, road races in Victoria. They had a field in total of 450 (four hundred and fifty, that is not a typo) riders at the Island yesterday. Anyone who's raced at the Island knows it is a brilliant course, it's challenging for all riders, has beautiful scenery and the standard of competition there is second to none. To Mal and your team, well done.
Lucie and I spent the morning looking for an embroidery place that was open for a new logo
I've done a new logo, sort of, for our sprinters. Here it is
We're going to get it on the sprinters kit. Lucie and I spent the morning trying to find a local embroidery place that was open and had a clue. No luck! Next week ...
This arvo some of the Sprint Squad were over in the 'Haus for training and Nath rolled over to video his bike fit to finish off his Level 1 coaching ticket. Then Alex and I went out on the MTB's for a bit of an explore of some singletrack he'd found around Mullum Mullum. We had a bit of fun in the dirt, so not a bad day at all, despite the morning's frustration with all the embroidery places either being closed or useless.
It gets mighty cold in at DISC on Sunday nights and my old jacket has died
Many years ago I bought myself a cheapy cycling jacket from Uno clothes in Elwood. It was a windproof membrane jacket with a fleece laminate. It was great! Warm, windproof, shower resistant. The only drawback was that it was black. Not the ideal colour for a winter jacket. About 4 months ago I made the mistake of washing it in hot water. It fell apart! They don't make (import, of course, no-one actually makes anything here these days, except rowbust ...) it anymore.
So I need a new cold weather training jacket. I'm getting one of these. Similar idea, fleece laminated against a membrane by the looks of it. The colour pattern is a bit busy but it should do the trick for Sunday DISC sessions and general warmup. It'd be better in blue and yellow, of course.
I tried for too much!
I'm still in the process of adapting my weight training and ergo and DISC sessions to suit my available time. Fine-tuning etc. Last night was a moderatly difficult ergo session at aboc Spin, I probably should have lifted light tonight instead of going for 5 x 5's at my max. I got 3 sets out ok, the 4th I got 4 and the fifth set I bailed on the first squat! Still a PB, last week I lifted 5 x 3 at 167.5kg, and tonight I got 3 x 5 and then 4 at the same weight, but not the planned 5 sets of 5. I'm not displeased, but my legs are still trembling!
Em, Dino, Merv and I did some kettlebell work and some rope pullups and some pushups to round out the session. I think tomorrow will be a nice, quiet day!
So, looking at the program for lifting. I'm roughly an intermediate lifter now (been lifting seriously for a bit over a year and am up to a reasonably decent load). One heavy low volume day, one back-off day and one heavy high volume day a week will work out I think. I should have made today the back off day and just done sets of 155kg or something else as an unload. I'll try for the 5 x 5 again on Saturday. So the plan :
Tuesday : High Intensity Low Volume - HILV (and then spin session). 3 sets of 3 lifts - this is the new max lift day - If Sunday the previous week was successful, add 2.5kg to the lifts.
Thursday : Repeat Tues spin session.
Friday : Back Off lifts - drop 10%, do 5 x 5's - so at the moment, that's 5 x 5 at 150kg. That's easy, but prevents detraining.
Sunday : High intensity High Volume - HIHV (and DISC) - repeat Tuesday's HILV weight, but go for 5 x 5.
Monday - lie in bucket of own vomit and blow bubbles!
I'll see if that works for the next week or so. Remembering the target is 170kg 5 x 5's by June. I'm almost at 167.5kg 5 x 5's now. It should be possible without too much drama. I may need to shuffle around a little, use Wednesdays as the back off day (when I coach the sprint squad in the 'haus), do the HILV lifts on Monday and the HIHV on Saturday. It'll be a bit flexible, but that's fine. The ultimate aim is faster flying 200's and faster standing 250m laps, so the on the bike work is critical. The weight training is to build muscle, the on the bike strength and power work is to teach these cranky old legs how to use that muscle.
The first of the winter time trials is coming soon .. I have a (not very) secret weapon
Sunday the 24th of May sees the first of the Blackburn time trials at the Yarra Boule for this winter season. Now, I'm a sprinter, and yes, I've done one or two of these 20km efforts (on an undulating course, no less) in my time, and been slow (sorry Rob,it was our first time though and it was lots of fun). This time, I'm bringing the secret weapon. The big blue aboc tandem is coming, and I have a stoker with some serious power. I think we'll still come dead last, but we'll sprint for the finish line better than anyone else there! Watch this space for the mystery stoker.
It's good to see that the Phillip Island race is chocka with entries, Mal and the crew at CCCC have a real winner with that race. I remember racing the first one they did way back and it was simply a beautiful race track to ride around. I don't think they've ever had any of the weather that the Island is famous for either. CCCC also organised a fantastic race once at the Lang Lang Holden proving grounds, which is a huge (8km!) banked bitumen velodrome and some interconnecting roads. It's a shame they couldn't get that course again, it was also innovative and a very challenging and exciting course.
While I'm at it telling everyone who's still reading about the great racetracks CCCC have used, I'll mention one more. The race out at the Anglesea proving grounds ran a couple of times too, but I think it was a bit too far away for Eastern Combine people. It was a big undulating loop and a shorter, but hilly and with a dirt section, loop. I raced that day in B grade with one of my lads I was coaching at the time. I knew I'd be off the back the first time we hit the hilly section so I worked for my team mate for the first half of the race (on the undulating loops) - the aim being to have him at the front and fresh at the start of the hills. It was a pretty tough hour, I had to keep pulling back breaks from the boys from Burnley Finance who kept dancing away up the road every 10 minutes or so. After an hour of smashing myself silly I dropped Wayne off at the start of the hilly section in third wheel and I peeled off and let the bunch go. Mission accomplished and I was spent. Wayne went on to get second and I felt like it was my placing too. A very satisfying day out indeed.
Not a PB, but close, and that's good
1500 watts wasn't a fluke last week. Tonight, 1485 watts. That'll do. Smashed legs after that effort. We had another big turnout at Spin, 20 riders I think? The Deakin lads came along, and a pile of Blackburn people. It's all good!
Tomorrow I lift heavy - time to consolidate the 167.5kg squats. Thursday is recovery day. I can't wait!
Brunswick is taking a page out of Hawthorn's book and running a more endurance-focussed track program over winter at DISC
Reading around the traps today I see that the Brunswick Cycling Club is changing their Tuesday night DISC racing program to a more endurance focus over winter. This format (longer track races) was started off last winter by the Hawthorn Cycling Club with their 'Sunday Roast' which it was quite successful after a slow start and some interesting decisions re how the racing would be formatted. I think this is a good thing for a number of reasons. Firstly I think it's valuable to have a varied race program to provide variety (although the success of Glenvale seems to suggest that variety isn't so valuable!) and thus maintain interest, but with a schedule so riders can plan for and know what to expect at each race meeting.
Also it's a compliment to HCC's vision (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!), and it may bring more roadies into track racing. Track's seeing a bit of a boom at the moment, Blackburn's last two track seasons were very successful with big fields and quality racing, and well-promoted, exciting and varied (Northcote, you get that?!) racing is great for everyone.
I've been asked to coach Deakin Uni's cycling club
I'm now the Deakin Uni Cycling Club 'coach'. We're going to be running modified race skills sessions for them this winter at Blackburn on Tuesday mornings and they'll (some of, anyway) be coming to our Tuesday spin sessions. They're a very keen bunch and I look forward to being part of their development!