And Now For The Rest

I don’t have too much to worry about for the month of May as work and family commitments have limited my ability to follow my inclination… on some damned fool crusade… to destroy myself on the seat of a bicycle… all in the name of a good time. But the month of June I hope to tear it up something awful.

When I get these crazy notions in my head to push myself to my physical limits or train to achieve some seemingly arbitrary goal, I risk the dangers of overreaching and overtraining; two common conditions that occur in ambitious athletes.

After a major physical effort I am more prone to sickness, injury and I have even felt a type of general malaise. It happens to us all. The stronger we get the more it takes to push us to that edge. Still, rest is a very important part of training and it can make a huge difference in performance increases. So, today I will rest and then hit tomorrow hard and fast, do some climbing practice on Thursday, before resting up for a hill century on Sunday to make sure my glycogen stores are filled and I am ready for a long day in the saddle.

There is a great article on training here with an excerpt below:

“Overreaching lasts from a few days to 2 weeks and is associated with fatigue, reduction of maximum performance capacity, and a brief interval of decreased personal performance. Recovery is achieved with a reduction in training or a few extra days of rest.

Overtraining (overtraining syndrome, staleness, systemic overtraining) is the result of many weeks of exceeding the athlete’s physiologic limits and can result in weeks or months of diminished performance – symptoms normally resolve in 6-12 weeks but may continue much longer or recur if athletes return to hard training too soon. It involves mood disturbances, muscle soreness/stiffness, and changes in blood chemistry values, hormone levels, and nocturnal urinary catecholamine excretion.

Stress factors such as the monotony of a training program and an acute increase in training program intensity lasting more than a few days increase the risk of development of overtraining. On the other hand, heavy training loads appear to be tolerated for extensive periods of time if athletes take a rest day every week, and alternate hard and easy days of training.

Pathologic fatigue is deined as fatigue and tiredness that cannot be explained by the volume of training. These are generally medical conditions such as infection, neoplasia, disorders of the blood, cardiovascular, or endocrine systems, and psychologic/psychiatric disorders. Included in this grouping are the side effects of medications and “chronic fatigue syndrome” – an ill defined medical condition. A recent article has muddied the water even further by describing muscle changes from years of high volume exercise training that may be related to this entity. Another controversial possibility is iron deficiency without anemia – although this is much more common in endurance runners than cyclists.”


Chocolate Milk in your Recovery Program

The Grand Tour season has started for the pros and as summer approaches I hope to put some distance behind me on the bike as well. So far I have ridden over 2000 miles since January 1, including 5 centuries during the first two weeks of January and 500 miles all most all of those miles from just four rides in April.

I am always amazed at how these professional riders can knock out 200km day after day. One key to training for these rides is recovery. Coaches and athletes often tout the trifecta of Training, Diet and Recovery to make the greatest strides as an athlete and avoid injury.

Although it is not necessarily the latest news, I thought I would add a post on using simple old Chocolate Milk as a recovery drink over fancy and expensive alternatives with marketing names that scream “tech-science,” and here is why:

“What’s exciting about this comparison is that both of these products have been highly heralded and hyped in their respective arenas. Surge in its exact formulation doesn’t have any peer-reviewed research behind it. However, Berardi et al reported that a solution of similar construction to Surge (33% whey hydrolysate, 33% glucose and 33% maltodextrin) was slightly superior for glycogen resynthesis at 6 hrs postexercise compared to a 100% maltodextrin solution[1]. Effects on muscle protein flux were not measured.

Chocolate milk has thus far had an impressive run in the research examining its applications to various sporting goals [2,3]. It has performed equally well for rehydration and glycogen resynthesis compared to carb-based sports drinks, and it has outperformed them (and soy-based drinks) for protecting and synthesizing muscle protein. A standout study in this area was a comparison of chocolate milk, Gatorade, and Endurox R4 (a sports drink with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio) [4]. Chocolate milk was equally effective as Gatorade for total work output and prolonging time to exhaustion. Interestingly, both of the latter products outperformed Endurox R4 in both tests. The researchers speculated that the use of maltodextrin rather than sucrose (yes, you read that correctly) as the dominant carbohydrate source was the Achilles heel of Endurox R4. More on the virtues of sucrose instead of straight glucose for exercise applications will be covered.”

Read the full article here: Chocolate Milk

A Lost Weekend: Biking Vicariously Through Others

Moments before eating deadly walnuts. They were hidden in the chocolate inside the pouch. They assured me there were no nuts in the desserts.

I spent my first weekend off the bike in a long while and… well… I didn’t like it. I had anticipated rain all weekend and therefore I didn’t feel a bit bad about planning a rest weekend. After all, rest is 1/3 of the recipe for progress. I have been having a bit of an issue with my left leg anyway, so I didn’t feel too bad about sitting the weekend out… until about 8:00am of Saturday morning.

Joe Freil points out in a recent post how important rest is to improve performance. The Zatopek Effect:

“In a similar manner, I’ve known of athletes in a variety of sports to develop a slight injury or become sick a few days or weeks before a competition and yet have a personal-best performance. They were forced to rest. I call this the “Zatopek effect.” Sometimes the body must say “enough” in order to regain form.

Rest is a miraculous cure for doing too much in training. Left to their own devices, athletes will almost always opt to put in more volume, go faster, and train longer. They are the ultimate believers in the Puritan work ethic. Seldom do they consider the need to allow the body to “catch up” with all of the stresses.”

Saturday I had lunch plans and ended up going into anaphylactic shock at the restaurant after eating walnuts that were hidden in chocolate sauce. I bolted from the restaurant for my EpiPen and all was good, but I had a sore throat from the swelling. The restaurant staff never finished serving the meal and implied we were just trying to get a free meal, so they generously gave the rest of the party a 10% discount on my meal… about NT45 for nearly killing a customer with unlabeled tree nuts. They said they wouldn’t do any more unless I went to the emergency room to prove I had an allergy attack. So the remainder of my Saturday was wasted on the couch feeling like crap from huge doses of antihistamine.

Sunday was another gorgeous day, but I had work to do and could only daydream about riding.

So seeing as I could not bike this weekend I did what anyone else in my position would do–bike vicariously through others.

Let’s see who was riding this weekend:

Michael T. contrasts two different rides and two different bikes in Ilan and Dajia.

Michael and Peichi C. did a lovely ride around Taipei.

Nathan does a Taipei ride too.

Team Mosaic went out to Dong Shih on the Highway 3 and around Da Du Shan.

Anyone else go out on another fantastic Taiwanese weekend?