Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Cycling Fitness

I came across a really good article setting forth the pros and cons of the various techniques for developing/maintaining cycling fitness during the winter.  Here's the link:

Winter Cycling

There are 3 basic options:
  1. Spin Classes
  2. Indoor Trainer
  3. Ride Outside
The author was from Texas so her recommendation to "suck it up buttercup" and ride outside is a little more practical there than here on the frozen tundra.  While I do see people riding even when it's below zero and the latest Alberta Clipper  has laid down 2 inches of greasy snow, that's not me.  I suspect that's not you either.

My bike, our bedroom, can you say supportive spouse?
That really leaves 2 options - spin classes and indoor trainers.  The indoor trainer is clearly the best option with one caveat.  It's boring and you're more likely to cut a workout short or skip it all together.

Assuming you actually get on the trainer and complete the workout it is the best option.  You are on your bike which means you are working the muscles in the precise position they will be in on race day.  You're also practicing staying in the aero position.  If you're racing Half Iron or longer I recommend wearing your helmet for long rides on the trainer.  Yes, you look like a dork but you've got to get your neck muscles used to the added weight or you will really suffer on your first outdoor long rides.

I typically recommend a mix of trainer rides and spin classes.  While most spin classes are less than ideal, the social interaction and thumping music break up the monotony of riding the trainer on your own.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Winter Hill Workouts (Indoors)

If your reaction to the last article was - no way, I'm not putting on all the layers and drilling screws into my shoes, this article may be more your style.

Just because you've taken your training indoors doesn't mean you are stuck pounding out hour after hour on the treadmill at a slow pace.  Those workouts will help you maintain aerobic endurance and help your body burn fat as fuel, but they will grind down your enthusiasm.

One of the ways we change things up at TFI is to include some indoor hill work.  They're challenging but a heck of a lot safer than slipping and sliding down the ice covered sidewalk on your favorite hill.

Warm up with some speed walking and jogging.  Crank up the incline and pick up the pace to your 10k pace and go for 1 minute.  Walk for 2 minutes and repeat 4-10 times.

This will help you build strength and prepare you for the speedwork to come in the spring.

One tip (and the inspiration for this post) - Do not, I repeat, DO NOT grab onto to the top of the treadmill display or grab bars and hold yourself up.  Unless you're working your back muscles to prepare for waterski season, I can't for the life of me understand what this accomplishes.  When was the last time you saw a tow rope on the run course?

Lean into the hill, shorten your stride and use those arms to power your way through the interval (or to the top if you're outside).