Winter Wake-Up Week 2

Before I get into week 2 of these training plans, I want to say a few words about recovery, one of the key components of getting fitter as a cyclist. I've discussed this before on Bicycling Blogger, but as I'm trying to lay out a basic training program here, I should also touch on some of the basics for recovery.

Here are the three keys to effective recovery:

Fluids

Cycling will dehydrate you, either through sweating or simple moisture loss through exhalation. Dehydration is a stress on your body. Training is enough of a stress for you to deal with, so don't add to it by letting yourself get dehydrated. To be recovered is to be re-hydrated - and this begins on your bike.

Never ride without a full water bottle - and never simply take your water bottle(s) for a ride, meaning remember to drink. My standard practice is to take a swig every 10mins, which puts me through about 1 standard water bottle per hour. Keep sipping throughout the rest of your day off the bike and let your kidneys perform the fantastic job they're capable of and flush out the excess.

Ride times of 1.5hrs or less need only water. You'll get more out of longer rides by adding some calories to your body, which I'll discuss next.

Calories

Keeping up with an appropriate intensity level while riding is needed for improvement. For rides longer than 1.5hrs, add some carbohydrate to your bottles, either by drinking an appropriately mixed sports beverage or by supplementing with an energy gel. Keep it mixed/dosed as per the manufacturer's guidelines. If you concentrate too much in your stomach, you'll have gastric troubles, and nothing will sit right. But this guideline is for getting the most intensity out of your workout - not strictly speaking about recovery - what I'm trying to discuss more specifically in this post.

Calories for recovery means getting glycogen, the fuel for more intense workouts, maximally back into your muscles before going out on your next training ride. Studies have shown you can accomplish this optimally within a 30min post-workout glycogen recovery window. Post-exercise you have an optimum insulin response that will maximally allow you to convert ingested carbohydrates into stored muscle glycogen. But there is a limit to how quickly you can ingest carbohydrates to be converted to muscle glycogen - and I don't mean how quickly you can stuff your face!

Immediately when finished your workout ingest 2 calories per pound of body weight (or 0.5g of carbohydrate per pound of body weight) in ideally a liquid form. Read food labels carefully and you should be able to come up with something appropriate without needing to buy some expensive commercial drink. For a 150-160lb cyclist, 2 cups of chocolate milk fits the bill perfectly.

Rest

The last key to recovery is fairly obvious: rest. You'll notice in these mini-training plans there are plenty of rest days. Ultimately, once you're back into regular training you shouldn't need this many rest days. But since these plans are for riders getting back to regular cycling after a winter of hibernation, days-off will ease you (mentally and physically) back into training and should minimize the chances of overuse injuries developing in your under-used muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Paramount to rest is adequate sleep - 7 to 9 hours as many nights per week as you can. Human growth hormone (HGH) is maximally released when you sleep (even when you nap) and is your body's naturally occuring anabolic hormone for repairing and building muscle tissue. Maximize your sleep and you'll maximize your HGH; illegal doping is absolutely unnecessary if you understand this simple fact.

Other than sleep, anything else that will stimulate blood circulation throughout your body will also enhance your recovery by flooding your muscles with nutrients needed for rebuilding. Massage therapy (either self-massage, or better yet a session with a registered sports massage therapist), hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms and contrast showers are all helpful. Compression socks, tights and shirts can also help to move blood through your muscles. Very light spinning for 20mins on your bike in such a ridiculously easy gear that puts absolutely no tension in your legs can also be useful.

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Getting Back Into It - Week 2 of the Plans

Put some thought into regular recovery strategies as you get into week 2 of these training plans. Remember: Fluids, Calories, Rest. Your body needs to be ready to work again for the next workout to be most effective. If you're not ready, you'll be wasting your time.

To recap, the Wake-Up Plan is for cyclists who haven't done much this winter, and the Get-Back Plan is for those who've at least been doing something on or off the bike this winter. Please let me know if you've got any comments or concerns.

Winter Wake-Up Plan Week 2

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 1hr Endurance riding - Zone 2.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 1hr30mins Endurance riding - Zone 2.
Sunday: 1hr15mins Endurance + SpinBlock ride - Zone 2. After 30mins of riding spend the next 15min block riding @ 115-130rpm. Pick an easy gear that lets you spin without your legs feeling heavy. Try to keep your pedal stroke fluid without bouncing all over your saddle. For some feedback, fill your outermost jersey pockets with loose coins and try to keep them quiet while you spin. Finish your ride by returning to a steady Zone 2 Endurance pace.

Winter Get-Back Plan Week 2

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 1hr15mins Endurance riding - Zone 2.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 1hr45mins Endurance+Tempo riding - Zone 2. After 30 mins of riding, spend the next 20mins riding at a solid Zone 3 Tempo effort with your cadence between 80 and 90 rpm. Finish the ride back in Zone 2.
Sunday: 1hr30mins Endurance + SpinBlock ride - Zone 2. After 30mins of riding spend the next 15min block riding @ 115-130rpm. Pick an easy gear that lets you spin without your legs feeling heavy. Try to keep your pedal stroke fluid without bouncing all over your saddle. For some feedback, fill your outermost jersey pockets with loose coins and try to keep them quiet while you spin. Finish your ride by returning to a steady Zone 2 Endurance pace.

Related Posts:

ABA Spring Camp Returns to Penticton in 2011
Winter Wake-Up Week 1
Winter Wake-Up Week 3
Winter Wake-Up Week 4