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From-0-to-1000km: three training-hacks to fast track your cycling results

From-0-to-1000km: three training-hacks to fast track your cycling results

nutrition hacks and tips for cyclingSo, we have four weeks (eeeek!!) till the Leukaemia Foundation ride from St Kilda, Melbourne to Adelaide. That’s 1070kms in effectively 6 days (as we have a recovery day in the middle). Needless to say, some of us are getting a bit nervous about this undertaking! As such, I know that questions are being asked like “What was I thinking?!”, “will I make it?” and “how can I improve my training between now and then?!”

 

While this blog post could give many readers ideas to improve their cycling results (or running) at any stage of their training, I am particularly writing this for my ‘Ride as One’ team members.

 

There are three training-hacks that I would suggest will significantly improve your cycling results and give you significant improvements above the benefits you are getting from your current training. Now, different riders will need different strategies to fast track their improvements and be ready for this great undertaking, so pick the one or two that you think will address your needs more specifically. I’ll expand on each below.

 

Three Training hacks to fast-track your cycling results:

  1. Increasing kilometres and riding frequency by commuting
  2. Increasing fatigue resistance through improved strength
  3. Increasing efficiency by dropping some weight!!

 

Increasing kilometres and riding frequency by commuting

One of the things that will be the hardest during the ride from Melbourne is the accumulated fatigue of long days on the saddle, and then having to get back on the bike early the next morning! Now that we are all committed to our training rides, and have put some decent Ks in the legs, it can be a good idea to put some more consecutive rides together, to get used, and adapt, to that feeling of heavy legs from the day before.  Adding a few commutes to your week over the next 4 weeks would not only increase your total weekly mileage, but also get you used to being on the saddle day after day. I wrote a blog a few months back which discusses this in more detail, which I would encourage you to check out!

 

Increasing fatigue resistance through improved strength

Introducing some strength training into your weekly routine can have two significant effects. Firstly, and perhaps obviously, if you are stronger, each pedal stroke is a smaller percentage of your maximal strength, so you accumulate less fatigue over a ride; and you also get to apply more power to each pedal stroke if desired, so you get to ride faster both on flats and up hills!

Secondly, and along the theme of the effect mentioned above for commuting, the timing of your strength workouts can also affect your resilience to ‘heavy and tired’ legs. Doing your strength work the day before a ride will have a ‘pre-fatiguing’ effect for your ride. While this is likely to make your ride a little bit less enjoyable, it will result in overcompensations happening, which will lead to accelerated results.

Ideal exercises to perform would be squats, split squats, step ups, etc. If you are unfamiliar with these, I would suggest focusing on the other ‘hacks’, or consulting an exercise professional for guidance.

 

Increasing efficiency by dropping some weight!!

In my opinion, this is the greatest return on investment strategy at this stage of the training journey. If needed and desired, you could easily lose 2-3kgs in the next four weeks without losing strength or affecting your performance negatively.

 

Now, buckle up (!) because I’m about to potentially bust some long-held cycling myth! One of the best strategies to achieve the outcomes mentioned above (or even better) would be to adopt what is known as a Low-Carb-High-Fat (LCHF) eating style. In essence, this would be made up of about 60% fats (yum!)-25/30% protein-10/15% carbs

 

 

Ok… are you feeling alright??… Let’s continue.

 

There are some things that I would like you to keep in mind before we flesh this out further:

While there are large volumes of research that clearly show that to maximise high intensity exercise we require adequate amounts of carbohydrates (glucose) in our system (as much as 100grams per hour), this does not necessarily translate to exercise requirements at lower intensities. Let’s remember that we are not racing from Melbourne to Adelaide! so improvements in ‘elite’ performance at maximal intensities is not what we are concerned about!! If you were a TDF rider, we’d be modifying this for competition.

 

High Fat, and fat adaptation for cycling

So how does this work? Well, in simple terms, by following such a nutrient breakdown, we increase our reliance on fat as an energy source, as highlighted in this paper.

 

There are some key benefits to this, which are described in more detail here which include a lesser reliance on ongoing external sources of carbohydrate supplementation during a ride. We effectively use much more of our own fat stores for energy than we would when ingesting larger amounts of glucose.

 

This increased reliance on fat for our energy also leads to decreased lactate production at given workloads… meaning less fatigue! This happens because lactate is a by-product of glucose metabolism. Relying on fat for energy delays the need to access glucose in large quantities, hence elevating the threshold at which you start to produce lactate.

 

In fact, studies  such as this one show very favourable improvements in performance at moderate intensities, that may not be seen at high intensity.

 

There are many benefits to a LCHF eating style, including consistent weight-loss and reduced hunger, as well as many health benefits for those with any range of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. All these are well explained here in a good narrative style, so if you would like to delve deeper, I would encourage you to read the paper.

 

Application of a low-carb-high-fat diet for cycling

Many of the studies I have shared have seen results from LCHF in 2-3 weeks, so the four weeks we have left give you plenty of time to see some good results. Ideally you would commit to it and follow the eating style everyday, but it isn’t essential, so you don’t have to do it everyday or during your riding days – but I would recommend it! And you certainly don’t have to do it during the ride from Melbourne. I would suggest that now you treat it as a training exercise to get greater adaptations!

 

So what does this look like on a day-to-day basis?

 

While a simple Google search can give you lots of great ideas, the broader structure looks like this:

Breakfast: eggs with some sort of added meat (bacon/ham/salmon) plus some veges (mushroom, baby spinach), cooked in olive or coconut oil (I tend to add extra butter!)

Lunch: some sort of a protein (fish, seafood, chicken, red meat) plus salad. LOTS of olive oil added.

Dinner: some sort of a protein (fish, seafood, chicken, red meat) plus veges. LOTS of olive oil added.

Snacks could be a small handful of nuts.

 

On rides I just take nuts… and I’ve even been known to take some roasted sweet potato (yum!!).

 

First few days are hard… stick to it!! You are probably on a sugar roller-coaster, and getting off it takes a bit of effort, but it is worth it on MANY fronts!

 

Alright, good luck!! As always , if you have any questions, leave a comment below or contact us!

From 0-to-1000km: Mobility for cyclists to keep you riding longer!

From 0-to-1000km: Mobility for cyclists to keep you riding longer!

Road cyclist fatigued!

Road cyclist fatigued!

Wow, I can’t believe its only 4 weeks until we leave for Melbourne to start our 1000km bike ride back to Adelaide for the Leukaemia Foundation’s RideasOne! It’s been a little while since my last post on the series – sorry! But I promise I’ve been on the bike!

 

In fact, since we last chatted,  I have fallen in love with road riding. For a trail addict (running and mountain biking), I never thought I would put that in writing! But the growing sense of strength climbing up hills, the speed of a light and responsive bike flying down hills, and the camaraderie and great chats of group rides has been something that gets me out of bed in the early mornings with a smile on my face!!

 

Dealing with Fatigue

By now the kilometres on the bike are starting to really build, due both to a few months of riding, and the ‘pressure’ of time getting shorter and shorter ahead of us! So one thing I’m aware of personally, and I think also for my riding companions is that this is the time when little niggles may start to appear; in the form of tight muscles or joints, and perhaps little aches and pains as our bodies compensate for the increasing demands by tightening up.

 

So this is the time that looking after our muscles and joints becomes paramount to make sure that we get to the starting line healthy!! This ideally involves a warm up before we ride as well as a cool down, and even some other sessions of mobility and flexibility work during the week. The one negative thing about road cycling is the amount of time that is spent in a pretty fixed and flexed position. It is not unusual  to spend 3-5hrs o the bike, especially during the weekend rides, and most of this is spent in repeated hip flexion with a flexed trunk and arms fixed to the handlebars… so there isn’t a lot of extension or rotation going on!! So ideally these warm up and cool down sessions focus on stretching and ‘mobilising’ a lot of these joints that are ‘stuck’ in very short ranges of motion for kilometres on end.

 

Warm ups are important

I know that for most riders a warm up entails nothing more than pulling on the lycra, pumping up the tires and perhaps taking it easy for the first few Ks of riding; and cool downs revolve around checking out our stats on strava! I also know that anything else for a warm up is a hard ask, as most rides need to start very early in the morning, so consider spending even 5minutes preparing the body for the fun work ahead, and focus more on the post ride mobility sessions – your body will love you for it!!

 

This will be particularly important for those of us doing a multi-day event such as the 7-day Ride-as-One from Melbourne to Adelaide, to ensure we give ourselves every chance to keep our bodies in good form as fatigue sets in!

 

An optimal mobility session should improve performance and reduce our risk of injury, while only taking 10-15 minutes to complete.

Ideal Mobility for Cyclists Routine

There’s a well established process for achieving best results during one of these sessions:

  1. Ideally one should start with  some self ‘releasing’ (think about the type of ‘soft tissue’/massage type of treatment that a therapist  would do to you). This is referred to as Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). Any time you use a foam roller or some sort of ball on tight muscle tissue, you are performing some form of Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR is suggested to improve mobility at joint segments and the flexibility of specific muscle tissue.
  2. Once we have reduced the stiffness of specific muscle tissues through effective SMR, it is time to move onto stretching. These stretches are going to be short and to the point! with the intent to increase the length of short and stiff muscle tissue. By increasing the length of these specific tissues, we can increase the flexibility of that tissue AND increase the range of movement we have at the joints in which that tissue acts on.

 

The reason we want to keep these stretches short (~10-20 seconds) is twofold. Firstly, we want to reduce our total mobility time to something efficient and sustainable. Additionally, in our experience, short and strong stretches where we try and focus on ‘teasing out’ the muscle tissue are extremely effective.

 

The key areas we are going to focus on are:

  1. Hips – including hip flexors at the front and glutes posteriorly
  2. Quads and hamstrings
  3. Thoracic/rib cage region

 

Spend 10-15mins after your rides going through the program described in the PDF below and let me know if it helps! 

iNform Cycling Mobility and Self Massage Program

 

If you would like more specific advice for your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Exercise and cancer: Move it or lose it!

Exercise and cancer: Move it or lose it!

Trying to put cancer into words is beyond difficult. It is more than just a series of statistics; it is a ruthless disease is something that has devastated us all in one-way or another, whether we have personally been affected or we have seen loved ones go through the battle.
In stark contrast, the aim of exercise is to build up the human body and make it more resilient to what life throws at it. It can increase our aerobic capacity, strength, endurance, immunity, mental health, metabolism, and the list goes on.
So, why is there is a still a longstanding misconception that once diagnosed with cancer that individuals should generally rest and recover?
Research and clinical practice have both proven unequivocally that appropriately prescribed exercise is safe during and after treatment. Much more than that, appropriately prescribed exercise can be used to make treatment more effective, decrease adverse acute side effects, and minimize the long-standing consequences of the brutal regimes it is put through.
In fact, 62% of people with cancer are sedentary. 75-90% of those with cancer don’t perform any strength based exercise. It is important to caveat this blog with the understanding that side effects of treatment can leave the body unable to do what it used to. But! And here is the big BUT! As Robert Newton (a leading exercise oncology professor) states “some activity is better than none, more is better than less.” Patients may not be able to go for that 6 km long hike or run like they used to, but what ever stimulates change and growth within the body will be effective.  More importantly, it gives people the chance to do something positive with their bodies rather than just constantly be broken down!
This blog begins a series of cancer specific articles taking an in depth look at the how’s and the why’s exercise oncology, so keep a look out! If you ever have any questions or queries, please feel free to have a chat with me.
My final thought is this… Exercise has now been proven to be a drug, which should be prescribed appropriately and individually in those undergoing cancer treatments… so why are we not using it!

 

International Women’s Day 2017

International Women’s Day 2017

Wednesday the 8th of March marks International Women’s Day. A day to recognize all the wonders of the female phenotype that spreads one’s estrogen and oxytocin around the universe!
Although I am a lover of the classics of Greek philosophy. Aristotle was all to wrong to postulate that women had no place in the metaphysical realm of thought… Inspirational women such as Rosalind Franklin, through her genius bold work on  X-ray crystallography helped solve the mystery of the double helix; and all of those 20,000 and so A, T, C G’S we know as DNA. Now, to not suggest one to be naive.
One may not know that, although Watson & Crick have taken all the glory for the discovery of the double helix (which also won them both a Noble Prize in 1962). It was Franklin in fact, who; through her work in X-ray crystallography took the first photo to postulate that DNA was in the shape of a double helix.
AND! with two unsuccessful attempts by Watson & Crick to  develop a successful model (which was berated by Franklin) left them both desperate to finish first. Leaked information of Franklin’s discovery fell nicely into the hands of the two scientist… and the rest is history. Sadly Franklin died at the tender age of 38 (potentially to over exposure of radiation), and thus could not defend herself for her discovery. One will never know what more discoveries Franklin could have made in her precious time…
I used Rosalind Franklin as an example to help celebrate International Women’s Day. With the struggle it has been for female scientist and the like (not helped by egotistic males) to really flourish in one’s craft. And how wonderful it is to see; that women are being recognized all around the world; and not just for their cooking abilities (I just went there..).
Perhaps, Donald Trump can write this blog next year….
My Training Diary

My Training Diary

Entry 1
I’ve been training for the 2018 Paris-Dakar rally for a few months now. I’ve got a fair amount of time to prepare but it’s a bloody gruelling and unforgiving event so I got to prepare properly.
My preparation strategy? I’m just smashing out the kms! The event consists of 1000s of kms of rugged terrain spread over a couple of weeks, so I reckon the more kms I can fit into my training, the better.  Did  I mention I’m going to try to do it in my everyday car? It’s a duel-cab ute which the manufacturer claims is Australia’s toughest tradie, so it should be up to it!
A month or so ago I started to notice a bit of a wobble on the right hand rear wheel. My wife told me I should get a mechanic to look at it, but who has the time for that? Every second I get to allocate to this goal I am spending smashing dirt roads because that is the most important thing.
Entry 2
Bad news! I was out doing a big drive on some tough tracks on the weekend, and had a bit of an incident. You remember that wobbly wheel? You guessed it, it bloody well fell off! It caused me to have a bit of an accident so the old ute is out of action for a bit. I guess I am off to the mechanic now!
Entry 3
So I saw the mechanic today. Not good. The back axle is bent beyond repair and the chassis is also twisted slightly- it could be a write off. My wife was not happy, and operation Paris-Dakar 2018 is now off. And you know the worst bit? The mechanic thinks that all that caused this was loose wheel nuts- and that if I would have checked them from time to time this could have all been avoided. Thanks a lot, smart-arse!!
This is all fiction.
I don’t aim to enter car rallies. I run trail ultra-marathons. And I train other runners aiming to complete ultra-marathons.
The above story is an analogy that fits so many ultra runners I have met. I usually meet them somewhere between wobbly-wheel and complete write-off. Prior to seeing me they usually have just run, and run and run. And then run some more. They usually come to see me once that niggly knee starts to stop them in their tracks.
It needn’t come to this.
Completing an ultra-marathon, or a regular marathon, or even a half-marathon, is a significant undertaking. Even if your preparation is faultless, there is still risk that injury will rob you of success. So to take on such a goal and just smash kms and never hoist the car up and have an expert have a good look over it is just asking for failure.
Your body is your vehicle. Get is strong, keep it moving freely, let is rest, put good fuel in it. Be smart about what you are doing. It will pay you back many times over.
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