Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How hard should you push on the bike?

Q: How hard should I push on the bike to have a good run?

A: This depends on several things & I wish I could give a straight answer but it's a little messier than that.

Ask these questions: 
If you want the best outcomes, 

it's a great idea to have a clear strategy.
1) Is this my A race & how long is it? 
2) How did I train on the bike for this? 
3) Is this ride going well, are there ideal conditions? 
4) Check how hard your cardio system is working (HR/RPE) & how much muscle you're recruiting (are they burning/feeling fatigued). 

You can see why I'm always saying stay focused - there's a lot to check in on!

If this is your A race, you have ideal conditions & are feeling as you hope to, you can go as hard as you trained for on the bike. This means you should be training at a specific level during the intensity & (some) brick sessions. 

In training for your A race your goal is faster speed, which means you're going to probably be working in a slightly higher gear than steady state. This will increase HR & muscle recruitment (ultimately the higher gear will be your steady state once you've adapted which will help for longer rides & races). In training you'll find out how that affects your run, and if you can sustain this & complete the run with little effect or if you have to gear up/down to ensure the run isn't highly affected (on a training brick or practice triathlon). OR you may find that you can only increase your gears & push on bike only sessions to slowly adapt over time. Most likely you'll need to do intervals of harder/steady state gear as you progress.

So you need to do some training focusing on this. Some training (your "key intensity" sessions) will be done in this more powerful gear - how hard can you go out? Pay attention as you ride & push yourself. 

On bike only sessions you can work very hard without worrying about the run. I recommend checking these things: Is this harder gear making my speed faster enough to accept the harder intensity I'm feeling? Sometimes I've found the answer to be no, if for example my speed ups by .5mph but my HR goes above sustainable. Sometimes yes it definitely does make sense to be in the harder gear, even though I know I can't sustain the duration. My speed is much faster & makes sense to push for it. 
It also depends on the race distance

Always check in. If you're not sure, try something and see what happens - in training.

Some brick intensity sessions are good as trials - push your bike & ask yourself "am I recruiting too much leg muscle (burning & tired legs) for the allotted run distance after this?" If you're not sure - try pushing & see what happens. You can learn a lot from a tough run. Then ask "how can I do this better?"

It also depends on the race distance the intensity you'll ride and run. A sprint distance race you can ride in Z4 but remember that on race day you'll want it to be more cardio/less muscular so that harder gear you've been pushing in may or may not be the right one. That will depend on your adaption to it, and how much muscle is actually being recruited. One way to know (other than feeling it) is cadence. Riding around a 90rpm is your best bet for proper muscle recruitment. Mashing the pedals uses too much muscle and will ruin your run.

An Olympic distance race you'll want to have a lower HR. Z3, good option.
IRONMAN 70.3 & IRONMAN distances you'll need to stay in Z2 as much as possible.

If this is not your A race, things will be different. You may not want to push as hard as you can simply because it's not logical. It could affect your A race because it takes longer to recover, thus affecting crucial training sessions. This is something you can discuss individually with your coach. 

Remember: If you want the best outcomes it's a great idea to have a clear strategy.

Keep in mind the bike highly affects the run BUT pacing the run plays a big factor. If you start out too fast it's hard to gain control. So on those brick sessions practice this like crazy.

Ready to start working with a coach? We've got you covered. Living in Hawaii or anywhere in the world, we can help!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

What fitness means to you

Have you ever thought about what fitness means to you? 

This has been on my mind a lot since I've started recovering from long term illness. What does fitness really mean to me? Where does it fall in my life? These are questions that are important to me, and if you're someone who exercises regularly, I encourage you to think about this too.

As I start feeling healthier, I'm finding that my perspective on lots of different things are changing. Things that I thought never would change are indeed looking different to me. It's an odd side effect! 
So many wonderful people I've met through
OnTrack Fitness!

I'll start from the beginning, bear with me it'll all come together in the end. I started becoming interested in fitness at the age of nine. I don't know why, I was just intrigued by this new idea I heard of somewhere that by doing pushups I could do MORE pushups. What - wow, that was such a cool idea to a little girl! 

So I got my uncle to teach me how to do pushups, I got my mom to buy me one pound dumb bells (ha! Ok, I was nine) & I would carry them as I ran laps around our house. I got my dad to build a pullup bar in the garage, from my play batton, by the way. So funny! This was my intro into fitness & I loved it!

Then I went through a phase I thought exercise was stupid. Like all kids as they grow, likes & dislikes change. I was more about climbing trees & swimming which is funny considering that too is physical.

*Disclaimer, the following may trigger people who struggle with eating disorders.*

At thirteen I developed an eating disorder, and along with that I exercised. A lot. I became obsessed with both food and exercise. It was unhealthy, obviously, and it really took front and center of my life. Fitness wasn't fitness. It was my life, my obsession.  

Unless you've known me since my teens you probably don't know I had an eating disorder. I was lucky because my family was on top of it & I got help quickly and was able to recover for the most part within a year and started eating again. However, I went from this to being obsessed with being healthy. "Perfect" eating (which doesn't exist but nonetheless) and over exercising was my life. 

I wouldn't go out to eat because I didn't know what they were putting into my food. I put exercise as the most important thing in my day. I skipped events, skipped family gatherings, skipped school to exercise. Fitness, again (or still), had become the only thing in my life. 

Guys, let me be clear: this isn't fitness. By any standards. If you find yourself in this place, I urge you to get help. You can overcome this. Keep reading...

I look back on all of that now & it doesn't seem like it was me. It feels like I'm remembering a movie of someone else's story.

In my early 20's I hit a point where things changed. It started with a bible study that was focused on having a healthy relationship with food. It hit home & I can honestly say through this study plus lots & lots of prayers and lots & lots of work I was truly and wholly healed from my unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. It just all made sense, and the obsession no longer was of interest to me.

I still ate healthy, but I relaxed. I enjoyed food. I went out to eat, I allowed others to cook for me. And wonder of wonders I actually ate junk food every now and then! I didn't think about food all the time. I still exercised but now instead of over exercising, I started doing running races which helped me learn how to exercise for a goal, take time off & feel good about doing it correctly instead of constantly. I learned & practiced doing it, having fun, then letting it go. And this did take practice but I was ready to be free.

Then I learned about triathlon and it took me to a different level. I really learned to train and rest. I did my workouts then went on with life. This is hard to explain but by doing these races I wasn't focused on continuous exercise, instead on doing a specific workout. I got it done and moved on with life. It freed me to relax! I loved the shift from fitness being life to it being part of my life.

And then it hit. Chronic illness. Everything changed. There were times I thought I'd brought this on myself by the years of obsession. But my docs assured me that it was not my doing and in fact, since I was an exerciser it helped me stay healthier than if I'd not. Thank God I'd gotten a better handle on things years before this. They told me to keep exercising. And so I did, but boy it was different. It was hard, so hard. I still loved it but on the other hand it was joyless in a way. I knew it helped me regulate my energy, it gave me energy but it was me literally willing myself to move. 

These were dark years. But there was good too. Even though it took a lot of mental will, triathlon was a symbol of freedom for me. It was a way to draw a line in the sand and tell this stupid illness "you won't take everything from me!" 

Fitness started looking like a way to connect. Connect to myself, to gain energy, to listen to my body, to learn how to eek out every little bit out of what little energy I had. It became less about getting better & more about...I guess just being. Being me, being free. Being someone who still did, still could even if it wasn't what I wanted it to look like. I guess it became more about acceptance.

Little by little it became less about me & more about a way to praise and worship God. I would spend my runs praying & being thankful that I could run. Yes it was kinda like a shuffle. It was slow, it was hard. But it was. It was a gift, and that's beautiful. 

This took practice too, and I often failed miserably to see fitness as a gift. Because that is what it was.
My first marathon, during illness but prior
to mono. An accomplishment I never
thought would happen.

Now that I'm starting to heal (my docs finally found the cause & I'm being treated) I'm unexpectedly finding my definition of fitness changing again. I didn't expect any of these feelings that I can't even describe, yet here they are! 

Fitness. Wow, it's been quite a ride and I'm still on it. Fitness now seems to me still a beautiful gift. But this gift we're given, what if it's about being fit enough to do what we are called to do in this life? What if it's someone who physically can't exercise yet they can be fit enough to make it through their day? What if a person can't do a triathlon, and reap those benefits? But they can eat well, and sleep well, and pray well enough to get up and go to work and be sunshine to someone who needs it? What if this is fitness?

What if we use it to not focus on ourselves, but on others? What if my whole entire life was leading me to become the coach I am now, the person I am now? That I attract the athletes we have at OnTrack Fitness because of who I became due to all of my life experiences - and that we are there to love and support and encourage and pray and treat others with respect? 

What if fitness is just the means by which we're doing that?

What if we don't use fitness as our identity? After all, there will come a day when our workout days come to an end. Then what? I want more. I want to be what I was called to be, don't you? This podcast made me think. So did this post.

What if that's what my fitness looks like?

I think so. I'm still learning but maybe this is my fitness now. Yes I still train & exercise & set goals & love exercise. But maybe...there's more to this. I'm excited for this new phase in my life! 

So let me ask you, what is your fitness?