Friday, 26 February 2010

Fighting fatigue

It's the end of the week; feeling a bit tired on a Friday morning is normal, and we look forwards to a rest at the weekend. Except the weekend is my chance to get in a couple of long training rides. The last few days have been hard. Late nights, a long train ride, intervals, push ups and crunches, and last night was swimming club.

In swimming, technique is critical, but I'm still fairly poor. Compensating with fitness can only take you so far, particularly when your main sport - cycling - requires muscular legs and a relatively light upper body. My arms and shoulders still lack strength, and the heavy legs make it harder to stay flat in the water.

Last night, it really hit me. As soon as I started the warm up, my arms felt heavy. I'd done my hardest ever interval session on the bike the night before, producing 5-minute power/weight that puts me in the cat 5 racer level (nothing special!) - a personal best. I'd also done the latest instalment of the push-ups and sit ups programmes. I struggled through the entire session, and by the finish when we were doing pull (arms only front crawl) breathing every 7th stroke (!) I was worn out, and in some kind of hypoxia-and-endorphin induced "zone". Then we went to the pub, and then I had to cycle home (quite slowly by now).

This morning of course I was tired. My hr sitting at my desk was 90bpm. Normally I'd expect my resting hr to be no more than 60, and sometimes below 50. Today is a rest day: I cycle to work in a gale, walk to the cafe (where I'm writing this) at lunchtime, and hope that the wind has dropped a bit by hometime. Tomorrow's training will be lower intensity, unless my hr remains elevated, in which case more rest is indicated.

Overtraining syndrome could ruin my season, so I'm monitoring my fatigue levels carefully. It's normal to be fatigued after hard training. When the fatigue continues day after day, it's time to take action.

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Location:Milton Rd,Cambridge,United Kingdom

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Went for a bike ride

Yesterday I decided to get some more miles in as part of my training for the Mille Cymru in July and the Mille Miglia Italia in August.

Although these roads are familiar from years ago, it's not very often I get to cycle around here and it makes a nice change of scenery. When I head out for a ride from Cambridge there are few options. It's rare that I would head out into the Fens. Mile after mile of the same arrow straight near perfectly flat road gets old very quickly. Add a headwind for the full effect.

So generally I head South, East or West so that it's more interesting, buy you have to do 10 miles before the first climb of note (and many would not note this climb, having been to Wales). If you head south or west it takes even longer.

By contrast, heading from the Clyde coast over the old Dalry Moor road (single track) starts at sea level and within 6 miles or so I was crossing a 247m summit, in bright February afternoon sunshine. Pausing to look back on the ascent gave a spectacular view across the Firth of Clyde, which sparkled in between the islands the like a millpond.

Although the Moor road was not gritted, once in Dalry there was grit under the wheels and I could ride with confidence even when the road looked shiny. Contrast this with back home where virtually none of my route to work is gritted - I came off on black ice three weeks ago, bruising my hip and knee.

I headed back towards West Kilbride but soon realised the ride would be well short of my 2h target so I turned left onto the B780 to Ardrossan which I'd never cycled before. This was a nice cycling road, not too much traffic and not too hilly. I was trying to stick in an aerobic training zone so on the Dalry Moor road with it's pair of single chevrons I had to go very slow - and on a steep descent I can't pedal either so my HR drops too low.

Once I'd descended down to sea level in Ardrossan I headed back along the A78 coast road towards West Kilbride. There is a cycle path but I didn't use it - nor did any other of the several other cyclists I saw. Planners take note.

The ride was still too short, so I diverted up through West Kilbride, back down to the main road, then down towards Hunterston. That was a mistake so back to the main road and finish by returning via Third Part farm. The road here is signed as a cycle route. Of course this road was 75% mud, 20% pot hole, 5% manure. Unsurprising to see no other cyclists here.

2h, 26 miles of glorious cycling. I'm told the weather has been like this all week. It was the same today. When I go home I'm going to steal some of this weather. They still won't be gritting though, will they? I hope to get out there again before I head back.

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Location:North Ayrshire