Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Training advice

I'm not going to talk about the weight. This cycle of being good during the week and then just losing control over the weekend has GOT to stop (can I place some blame on the fact that it was a long weekend...which hurt???).

I'm getting ready to swing into full gear training for my 25 mile bike ride which is in mid April. I called my brother last night and talked to him. He back in the mid to late eighties got into bike riding and has been an avid rider since then. He's done some racing and lots of long distance events. I'll share a little story from back in the 80's...a MaryFran bicycles story! My brother was riding long distances in preparation for a long distance ride that he was planning on doing. I was at that point packing on the pounds without a care in the world. BUT, one day he convinced me to head out on a bike ride with him. I had a somewhat new bike, that I had barely used...so this was a wonderful opportunity. Off we went. We were living in Florida at the time, and we left our little subdivision (Rolling Acres) and headed across the highway to Hill-n-dale another subdivision. We rolled up and down those roads, enjoying the breeze and the wonderful feeling of biking. Well, he enjoyed those things. I was getting tired! We kept going. On and one. Up and down those stupid roads. He was just whizzing along while I lagged behind. He rolled his way up a street with an incline (I'll admit it was not a very big incline) and I just had had enough. I was still trying to pedal and propel that stupid bike up that road, but it's just really hard to stay upright when you are going so slow. I wiped out! (My brother was at the top of the hill waiting for me and he looked back and said that I even fell in slow motion.) Mangled my elbow and knees up something fierce. The injury gave me some kind of adrenaline rush to get myself home (I actually booked it...I was ahead of him). And that was the last time I rode a bike until 2001!

So when I talked to my brother and got advice, he was very helpful but he couldn't resist making a comment when i told him that for my first ride out that my average speed was only 8 miles an hour......he of course said, "how did you stay upright?"

Anyway.....his words of advice:
When I told him that I was riding a 25 mile event and asked for his advice his first two things he said were 'get out there each week and ride, adding more each week to your rides' and 'About two weeks before the ride you want to be used to at least 18 miles'

As we talked longer we had a large discussion about the actual muscle that propels your bike. He said that you can propel your bike by one of two muscles. The heart, or your actual leg muscles. He said to propel your bike with your heart is to spin at a higher RPM...get used to pushing the pedal around more times per minute. You are still propelling your bike, but you are exerting yourself through cardio and not straight up muscles in your legs. This propels your bike via cardio. The other muscle is your actual leg muscles. This is the muscle that propels you up a hill....and or that you use when you push a higher gear, your legs are not going around as many times, but you are having to exert more force via your muscles.

He said it's most efficient to use the higher RPM or your cardio/heart to propel your bike most of the time...because then when you hit a hill you can then use your muscles which are not already worn out for that burst to get you up the hill. The other effect use that come into play is that when you are biking with via the cardio/high RPM route when you feel that you need a breather, you can pop into a higher gear and use those leg muscles to propel you. When you pop into a higher gear, your leg muscles have to push more...but they don't have to complete as many rpm's per minute, thus your heart is getting a bit of a break while your legs do the work. But then when your heart has it's break switch back to a lower gear in order to save those leg muscles and use your heart (which is a much stronger muscle) He said it's a game between the two muscles....choosing the best one to propel you at all times. Does that make sense?????? He did say that learning the difference and actually being able to use it takes time to learn (he's been doing this for years.....he was talking about one of his 200 mile rides that he does each year.....he started in '91 and has done it every year since....along with other rides). He also said that for our 25 mile ride, that this won't come into as much play...it's only if we continue to train for longer rides (which I plan to do).

OK...other nuggets of information that he passed along.

1. Bicycling distance is all mental. He said that to bike distance you have to get in the frame of mind that 'yes, it's going to hurt sometimes' but that you are just going to push through it to come out on the other side and know that the elation on the other side is pretty amazing! You push through the pain. (My mantra during exercise when I think about how I'm feeling is that "pain is only temporary"
2. Don't worry about speed so much for this 25 mile ride. He states that for my first year of serious riding that I will probably average about 10-12 miles per hour and that would be good for me.
3. So therefore, for longer distances the speed is more of a long term comfort thing.
4. He advised me that we should not worry about staying with the 'group leader' for this ride. We can start out with them, but take our cue sheets and be prepared to take this ride at our own pace and not worry about the others. :-)
5. Miles, miles, miles. The more miles we have on our legs, the better prepared we will be. I plan on doing longer rides, that is when I need to focus on getting my speed to a higher level. Not because it can't be done, but if you are doing a straight 100 mile ride (not metric...because that is only 60-some miles) if you are only going 10-12 miles an hour average, you will be on that bike for 9-10 hours.
6. No matter what I feel.....KEEP GOING! Stopping will only make it worse when I get back on the bike. Keep my feet on the pedal!


Teresa said...

That was very interesting reading. I learned several tips for my bike rides. Not that I'll ever ride that far, but it's a nice change of pace sometimes.

Deborah said...

What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing it with us. Wish I had a place to ride a bike, I'm sure I'd like it much better that the other exercise I get.

Glad you have committed to the 25 mile biking event. You go girl!!

JC said...

I haven't riden a bike since childhood but this was a very interesting post. Thanks for sharing. My eating has been all over the place this week but I'll get it together. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your training for your biking event.

Rebecca said...

You are luck to have such a supportive brother with a similar interest!