Tuesday, 20 January 2015

THE BIG FREEZE, Indoor suffering and protein!

So the freezing temperatures are here, training and getting up in the mornings, getting out in the evenings and pushing yourself is hard enough as it is but in the freezing tmpertures it becomes even more of a challenge

Choosing the indoors has actually been paying off so much, it is providing me with a new outlook on wattage, allowing me to suffer in the warm to new limits and providing me with more and more information and focused work (lets hope it is all going to pay off). But this weekend, it payed off a huge amount. A reliability ride I was due to attend and really wanted to was cut short due to the peleton coming to ground twice, due to black ice, a close shave I think. Although this did come at a price, because the whole evening before I was umming and arring whether or not to do the ride, to suffer outside in the cold, blow my socks off in the pack and enjoy the social side cycling that we all love. The decision was swayed when my amazing girlfriend (who I love to pieces for always trying to help and support me with advice, although I dont always listen) convinced me that due to my slight cold and chest problems (and previous history , pneumonia this time last year) it would be ridiculous to go out for 4 hours in the freezing cold. I love to train early and to wait around for a ride to just be cancelled due to the temperature was also on my mind. I made the eventual decision (although I had chewed my girlfriends ear off, and pissed her off with all my umming and arring all evening) to train indoors with a training partner who was a little time constricted. The session was a killer and my HR actually hit some new indoor highs, I was to structure the session and make it very TT specific, focusing on the important time trialling muscle groups, HR and power zones. The session blow my socks off, I was warm and my chest did not suffer. Having company helped and allowed me to push myself through the session.

This was not the first time that I have chosen to cycle indoors due to poor weather. In the past it has been too old to actually cycle with any quality, too wet or dangerous and I have had to abandon session in the past in the winter and then the time is completely lost. I would never ever choose indoor training over outdoor training, but I am trying to be clever and think about the big picture. My safety, wellness and the quality. Why freeze for the same effect of an indoor session.......makes no sense right. I get a feeling that maybe I am being weak training indoors, being a wimp as overs are out and in the cold. But actually I struggle in the cold, I really find it tough, I do my best, keep warm, keep tempo up, wear the right stuff and try not to feel the cold. But I do and I have to struggle though from time to time! I don't enjoy this type of training and this is where the indoor training has been a huge benefit!

Now after training hard recovery is so important, and during the winter I have a habit of not concentrating on my nutritional protein recovery intake. I feel like I get enough food in me but the truth is for the amount I train I think I have now realized that I am not getting enough, especially protein and general calories (not that calories as such matter, its the macro nutrients of the food that matters). I have now re-assessed my intake after morning session especially and increased the protein intake, I now hope that this will make sure I can recover correctly and increase my strength and speed. I am focusing on recovery and calorie intake within reason, not becoming too focused on the amounts exactly more taking a good ball part figure of what I am eating and what I need. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful sponsor in Pulsin, who provide me with gluten free protein bars (taste amazing http://www.pulsin.co.uk/pulsin-snack-bars/vanilla-choc-chip. They also provide me with protein powder (they now do an amazing value protein tub) http://www.pulsin.co.uk/pulsin-protein-powders@pulsinandbeond.

Pulsin' Snack BarsPulsin Protein Powers

I try to also include good carbs/fats when I am on the move and in a rush for work etc and post training chia charge flapjacks are very important in my diet, they are fantastic for post training recovery and I never have a time when I don't have a box in the cupboard!

20 Box Chia Charge Flapjacks + 3 FREE Flapjacks



This is a great article http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/how-much-carbohydrate-protein-and-fat-you-need/ . It explains alot about what to eat and how much to eat and just how important it is to get the right amount of protein into your diet to improve and build muscle.

But the balance of protein to body weight is important to consider and the below advice is very important.

This brings me to my next point. What are the actual risks of eating excess protein, or having your nitrogen balance too great?
First, consider that ammonia is a toxic compound to the body. Once you get close to about 1000 calories a day of protein (that’s about 250 grams), you can no longer convert ammonia to urea, and you begin to build up this toxin within your body. This is extremely stressful on your internal organs, especially your kidneys.
Next, excess protein can cause dehydration if you do not drink enough water. This is because your kidneys need more water to convert ammonia into urea.
Finally, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a gene in your body that is directly correlated to accelerated aging. Decreased activity in this gene can be caused by moderate caloric restrictions and slightly lower amino acid intake (14). So excessive protein intake and a constantly positive nitrogen balance could actually shorten your life!
So the take-away message is this: eat as much protein as your body needs for repair and recovery (about 0.55g/lb) eat a little more if you want to put on muscle (up to 0.7g/lb), and then take in the rest of your calories from healthy fats and vegetables, with limited amounts of fruits and safe starches for fueling intense bouts of physical activity.

I not expect as im sure you all do for the weather to get worse, colder and a little more dangerous and indoor training will hopefully allow me to get the quality right and achieve a really good training build into the new season. It is a long season and from time to time till be a very hard one. But I just remember how much I love my sport and how important it is to me and I think......I cant wait for the next session indoor or out!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Festive period, training hard and recovery! 2015 - HORST (European Championships)

Ho ho ho and a Happy New Year!

Firstly I want to say I love Christmas a lot, always have and always will. I love seeing friends and talking to people and getting all excited about what is to come. I love the magic, buying presents and getting all festive. But thankfully we are through the festive period, I found the festivities this year great....until I actually realised just how bored they make me feel. I get restless and find sitting and doing nothing so boring and tiring, the lack of stimulation and the realisation that I dont really enjoy just sitting and filling my race for hours was a strange feeling. I couldnt quite understand why I wasn't enjoying the festive period and it as literally down to a lack of stimulation on quite a few occasions, it felt like days and days of just visiting and sitting.....zzzzzzzz.

I was able to train a lot over the festive period and I had a big focus on the bike, I was able to cycle alot and managed to dodge the weather a and keep mostly trouble free. But no one can stay trouble free during winter and I was caught out on Sunday the 4th! It was freezing and even my gloves froze it was literally the coldest I have ever been in my entire life!

Giving the extra time off over xmas I was able to bank around 700 miles worth of cycling, and 150 miles of running. All of this was structured and gain strength and endurance. I have also really started to train using wattage and started to follow a fantastic book written by Joe Friel called Power Meter (worth a read even if you don't train to wattage). I have been working hard to structure my cycling because at the moment I am really struggling to sustain and real flat line speed. I always have this probelm during the winter, and I feel that it is due to the lack TT races, switch in training to more endurance and strength in the hills. I am climbing very well, but as soon as I hit the flats I cant sustain or build speed.....with the plan I have in place I hope it will come.

One of my huge problems and always will be due to the fact I love to train, live to train and cant get enough of that amazing feeling of training and working hard. Everything is simple when you are working hard, just you and pain, the battle between you and the mentality to suffer and this is something I love and crave every day, and I hate it when I am fatigued or things get in the way of this! Suffering and improving is something I crave all the time! BUT my problem is represented by the graphs below.

I am someone who is most certainly taking on the lower graph sometimes, more than I would like, I do too much and some weeks end up feeling weaker without any sign of improvement. But when I get the balance right I improve a huge amount and find that I fly, but to get this balance right is such a fine are. 

Although this is equates to the way I train....

Now here’s where things get really interesting.   Below are the results of the run-to-exhaustion performance tests that each group performed at the end of 4 weeks which is that I do, 3 weeks hard and one week recovery......
As you can see, there are two sets of results one from a training group that didnt work into a fatigued state and another group worked hard and after three weeks were fatigued or over reaching as part of a training block. Both groups then took it back for a week. The results of the normal training group did not change too significantly, with only a slight boost after the taper. As expected, the performance of the overreaching group got steadily worse as the three weeks progressed – but then, after the taper, their fitness super compensated and they had by far the best results of the study. This section of the article is great.....really promotes the way we look to train, hard hard hard.....rest and improve! 
Finding the balance is hard and we all want to keep improving, the above graph suits the way I like to train, I am currently on a easy week post some very hard training! I am excited about the year and cant wait for challenges ahead.

Powerman Horst

I have now officially qualified for the long distance European Championship which is a true honor. I cannot wait for the chance to go a little longer with races, I love the romantic element involved in stepping up in distance and racing time, more effort and exhaustion, training load and time. everything about taking on more distance fills me with excitement and I cannot wait to  start the training build for the event. 10k first run - 60k bike and a final 10k run! http://www.powerman.nl/en/en

Soon enough things will start to get hard again, races have started again, cross country, crit races and local cycling reliability rides have all started for the new season. Duathlons soon begin, castle combe http://www.dbmax.co.uk/event-list/duathlon/item/the-9bar-chilly-duathlon-2.html  being one iconic race to start the new season off. I just hope that I can stay injury and illness free to build to the best of my ability to do my best at HORST!