Monday, February 28, 2011

Workout of the Week (WOW)

There comes a time in a man's life when he feels the need to reach out and spread his seed knowledge to those who are willing to accept it, and you seem willing. With the impending IMLP looming over me like Olympus teemed over the ancient Greeks, staring down at me, laughing like I'm a pawn in this grand scheme of pain, pointing it's ugly finger, bullying me into submission, willing me to give up the fight before it has even started, holding the back of my head into the swirly of triathlon (for those of you who did IMLP in 2008, this reference makes a lot of sense, even if I am getting off topic), I need to get the leg strength ready and available for the hills. And, given that Jack Frost refuses to move out of my town, even briefly, I am stuck with the trainer.

The difference between 'working-out' and 'training' is having a plan
In theory, hills are simple. Hold your form. Set upper and lower cadence thresholds while coupling them with heart rate. For example, if you were competing in a shorter race (sprint or oly), don't drop below cadence of 70 or go into HR Zone 5. Don't go over cadence of 98 or into Z3. This is a short race, you don't need to conserve much. In the Ironman, I change the HR to Z4 as the upper, spending as little time there as possible and don't have a lower HR (conservation is good). Use your gears to maintain the thresholds, downshifting when the cadence becomes low/ HR high and upshifting when the cadence becomes high/ HR low. Seems like a good plan.

“No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy”- German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke
The hill is the enemy and if you don't prepare for it, the hill will spank your saddle-sore, lycra covered bottom and make you cry like the proverbial newborn. I'm pretty sure Helmuth was a triathlete or at least a coach. He recognized that, at some point, you run out of gears. Now what, smart-guy/gal? This is where strength training comes into play. Understand that I have tried the weight room, and if ever there comes a time when, right in the middle of a race, you are forced to single-leg squat a dumbell 10 times, this seems like a good plan. Should they ever replace the bike with a quad extension machine, I may start hitting the weights more ferverishly. Unfortunately, weight training hasn't really translated into improved bike ________ (anything) for me in the past. Nothing substitutes for good ol' fashioned grinding up a slope. The kind that teaches... (ah, never mind, I was hoping to insert a lewd comment about nads being shoved into your chest due to the hill gradient and aero position but it wasn't working for me).

Bike Hills on the Trainer
I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but my basement seems completely devoid of hills. I checked again the other day and,sure enough, it's mostly flat. There is a very slight, almost Florida-type slope leading towards the dry-well, but when I tried to bike it, well, let's just say that I have a wall to fix. Enter this workout. This is a workout designed and geared (pun intended) to make the legs work and teach the body to recover in Zone 2. Here's how it works:
  1. Warm up 0:15 (I tend to do a longer WU pre-strength)
  2. Spin for 3 minutes in good form, low Zone 2
  3. Shift into highest gear that will give both a cadence in the 60s and HR in Z3
  4. Continue low cad/ Z3 work for 2 minutes
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the duration of the workout
  6. Cool down 0:10
I did a total 60 min of work, meaning 7 reps at this pace.

Check out the profiles (click to enlarge).

My Zone 2 is 140-154.
My Zone 3 is 154-161.

You can see the warm-up gradually bringing me up into Z2. With the drop in cadence, there is a rise in HR and vice versa. As the HR approached Z4, I controlled my HR with cadence by slowing my spin if the rate climbed too much.

Quick quiz: 
Can you pinpoint the moment when I stopped the clock, had to get off the bike and go pee, and then tried to hide it by spinning up before restarting the time?
Hint 1: It's not after the 50 minute mark. Those were for crotch readjustment. Ignore that data.
Hint 2: It, ahem, may have happened more than once. See, I have the bladder of a 4 year old. I am seriously waiting for Depends to make a bike friendly product.

Post-ride I went for an easy 5 mile run. I try not to go too hard on the run if I just did strength work on the bike. I haven't mastered the get-out-of-bed-early-to-workout concept and am readily happy doing bricks. I'll save the hard run stuff for another day/ post.