Thursday, November 20, 2008

To Brady, et all

Brady's post about fixies stirred up some evil Munson dialogue on my part.  I apologize for coming off rather harsh, but I've read many things in recent years about how old training methods are just that...Old.  Most don't want to come right out and say it, but Friel is somewhat part of that old ideaology.  His basic premise is: tons of base mileage at low intensity for the first few months of the off season with weight lifting peppered in, then ramp up the intensity starting a few months before the racing season.  I really don't know how well this system has worked for people, but I followed it and found that I was never fully recovered for really important events.  Some of that may have been my own fault for over doing time during race season, but I figured if I did easy miles, I'd be increasing my aerobic ability (which I thought was always a good idea) but no hurting my high end. I didn't figure out till later, that for me, at least, a good 10 days of no long rides and no interval sessions was what I needed to be properly rested for an event.  So it got me wondering how far I could have pushed myself if I had recovered even more between interval sessions during the build or power blocks of training (whatever they were called).  I was generally doing at least 1 if not 2 days of intervals, then sometimes riding with really fast guys for long rides on the weekend (aka the Spence pain train).  

I know Friel recommends listening to your body and adjusting your workouts accordingly.  But it's tough to have a schedule laid out and not follow it.

So anyway, I came upon yet another debunking of old training/racing myths from my weekly newsletter:


College of Cycling Knowledge, Pt. 3


Begin your season with small-chainring base miles . . . pedal in smooth circles . . . lactic acid is what makes you sore the day after a hard ride . . .


Cycling is full of truisms that ain't necessarily true, according toStephen McGregor, Ph.D., of Eastern Michigan University's Applied Physiology Laboratory.


At the USA Cycling Coaching Summit I attended last month and have been writing about, McGregor, who's also a licensed cycling coach, busted 3 of the most common -- and persistent -- misconceptions.


Myth 1: The Acid Truth

The day after winning the 2008 Tour of California prologue, Fabian Cancellara told a reporter his legs were still full of lactic acid from the 2-mile time trial. Nope, says McGregor. Research shows that blood lactate is largely gone within 40 minutes after a hard effort. Something might be making you sore the next day, but it's not lactic acid.


Myth 2: Mash It Up

Every cyclist's goal should be a silky spin, right? Wrong. A study of elite racers revealed they actually pushed down hard, then let up on the upstroke. "They pedaled squares," McGregor says. Lower-level racers, by contrast, didn't push down as hard and didn't let up as much. They pedaled "relative circles," he explains. So should we all try to pedal squares? Short answer: No, pedaling efficiency depends primarily on muscle-fiber composition. In other words, we're kind of stuck with what we've got.


Myth 3: Intense, Man

You should start your season with a low-intensity base period or you'll ruin your aerobic fitness, correct? Sorry. Actually, some high-intensity workouts -- even anaerobic efforts -- will improve aerobic fitness, according to McGregor. In fact, he says if you don't push yourself you're actually de-training.


Bonus myth buster:  It's unlikely that intense exercise causes capillaries to "blow up."

So there's some interesting findings.  I have read a few times where coaches say letting up on intensity during any part of the year is basically equivalent to sitting on the couch for that period of "base" or whatever.  I kinda doubt I could do intensity year round.  Hell, I'm pretty much not doing any intensity since I'm too poor to race next year.  But I think I'll have to rethink my training strategy once I hop back into it.


brady said...

You failed in mentioning Myth #4: Wearing plastic garbage bags keeps you warm.
It's true! Donning a plastic bag actually trap water vapor and prevents evaporation. In longer rides, you'll get more chilled due to the accumulation of sweat.

There's probbly some truths in debunking those myths. However, throwing Friel under the bus is uncool. That dude approaches training with science, yet he also cautions about getting obsessed about data vs using it as a measuring stick. I find he's balanced and offers affordable training for the average athlete looking to gain a few training tips.

In the end, it's all an experiment of one & what works best for you with the limited time and resources available at your disposal.

munsoned said...

Too true, Herr Brady. Everyone works differently and a good coach explains that his plan may not work for all, which Friel does well.

Another training book I got recommends block training. This is where you do you lifting, endurance, and intervals on consecutive days. So his plan has you lifting 3 days in a row(progressively harder as you go along), then taking 4 days off. Same thing goes with intervals. He had some studies (some were his own) where he showed some major progress in athletes that used this program. I thought about giving it a try when I was training seriously, but it takes "significant motivation," as the author said, to really push yourself on those last couple of days. Oh, and you basically had to use a power meter since your HR does weird stuff on consecutive hard efforts/days.

Again, I'm not saying Friel is wrong, but anyone can use science and studies to show that their methods work. And yes, in the end, it's all an experiment.

bryan said...

Michael Munson: crotchety old bastard.


munsoned said...

Yeah, after reviewing my mood for the past few months, I've realized I really have had a bad attitude for a while. I don't know if it's the weather or the lack of sun or what. I have only been able to do real rides on the weekends, so I've been lacking in that respect. Plus the whole debt thing is always on my mind. I think I need a new hobby to occupy my time. Got any suggestions?

bryan said...

well, because of the debt thing that hobby has to be basically free, right?


assess the gear you have: bike, GPS, other bike, gaming consoles, other bike, cats. I left out the other stuff, of course.

So ... take the cats out. They're worthless as a hobby. I'd stick with the bikes and the GPS.

And that means you'll be geocaching. Get on the bike and go find some stuff. You get to be entertained and you get to ride. Do it.

brady said...

Can micro-chipped cats be low-jacked? If so, you could track them down with your GPS & bicycle...and earn another pair of socks.

Once you've found them, you could catch and release and start all over.


fredcube said...

I think that most of the training plans out there are designed for dopers. I always did much better at races when I had 3 days off the bike completely beforehand. Just think how great I'll be nest year with a full 10 months off teh bike!!!