Performance, Meth & Why You Shouldn’t Consume Anything You Can’t Pronounce

amphetamines

“What can I help you with?”

His spiky blonde hair and orange-tinted skin was irritating to my eyes.  I didn’t recognize him, which was disappointing.  I was hoping to talk to someone I knew.

I reached into my bag and pulled out a small black tub of powder.  “I want to talk to you about this,” I said as I set it on the counter in front of him.

“Keep taking it.”  He didn’t even blink.  “You can’t believe everything you read.”

“That only applies to anything coming from Sarah Palin,” I said flatly.

He pointed to a poster on the wall behind him.  “Roids, roids, performance enhancers, roids–all of these guys take them.  They wouldn’t be able to look like they do without them.”

“But I’m not a bodybuilder.  I swim, bike and run for fun.  I just wanted an extra ‘oomph’ with my strength training workouts.”  I realized that I was fighting an uphill battle.

I wasn’t doubting that product worked.  In fact, I KNEW that it worked.  I had some of the best workouts of the summer while sipping the meth-like substance from my water bottle.  Lucky for me, I caught wind of the investigation only a few weeks after having purchased the tub of neon pink powder.

My year in the world of training has been a tough one.  I was battling low energy, a barrage of health issues and an irregular routine.  Reminiscing about the previous year, I just wanted to start popping out of bed like a daisy.  I wanted to hit that stride again.

I did my research, and tried a couple different workout energizers.  Craze came highly recommended.  I’d mix in a scoop and drink it prior to heading to the gym.  After doing a quick warm-up, I’d immediately transform into a Hulk-ette prototype: running around the gym like a mad woman and crushing any exercise in a mad fury.

 
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Although this burst of energy and focus was fantastic for my hour-plus workouts, it wasn’t so great when I finally arrived at the office.  Sitting at a desk staring at a computer didn’t make well for the Hulk-ette.  I contemplated doing push-ups while on a conference call, and sprinting up and down the hallway seemed more appealing than working on any spreadsheet.

So I stopped taking it.  I considered flushing it, but figured I’d try to recover my $36.00 (which failed miserably, thanks to my insightful tan friend).  Not long after, I discovered that several big retailers made the decision to pull it from their shelves.  Today, results from several independent studies were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis (that’s important!).  The tests detected a highly addictive, illegal stimulant chemical with a similar structure to methamphetamine.

My brush with the designer drug realm became a joke at cocktail parties and happy hours:

Mr. Jones from the USADA is on the other line and would like to discuss your most recent triathlon results. 

Do you consider yourself a recovering meth head?

Laughs aside, it’s no secret that surrendering your health to any gimmicky promise is just plain dumb.  Before buying a product, I’ll listen to that little voice in my head saying If you can’t pronounce it, don’t consume it.  And Lord knows I’m unable to say diethylphenylethylamine.

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Athletes Need Real Food

REPOST: I’m a big big BIG fan of Allen Lim and his Boulder-based Skratch Labs. As a cycling coach and nutrition expert, he developed a company which produces products that are made from real all-natural ingredients, and that are designed to optimize performance and health for both sport and life. If you’re hungry for more, I suggest checking out his recent cookbook “Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes.”

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The dinner table is lavishly set, the guests are arriving, and you start to serve the feast: appetizers of thinly sliced soy lecithin and grilled soy protein isolate, a lovely vegetable glycerin loaf sparked by artificial flavor-enhancer calcium caseinate. To drink? High-fructose corn syrup with brominated vegetable oil.

Ew, that’s gross, right? No one would ever do that, at least not knowingly.

Why then, nutrition expert Allen Lim wonders, when our bodies are at their most stressed and vulnerable — in the middle of a marathon, on mile 60 of a 100-mile, high-altitude bike race, or halfway through a grueling triathlon — do we consume those ingredients in massive quantities by the tube, bar and bottleful?

“There’s this huge, unfathomable sports industry out there, and it’s trying to serve the modern athlete,” says Lim, “It suffers from the same problems that industrialized food does, though, in trying to produce huge quantities and preserve it and ship it all over the place.

“But the thing is, a lot of the stuff athletes put in their bodies while training and in a race is stuff that wouldn’t be serviceable to eat at home,” he says. “It’s not food.”

And that, Lim maintains, is why so many athletes suffer from cramps, bloating, nausea and other gastrointestinal issues, as well as fatigue and dehydration and other symptoms connected to poor performance.

“Real food is what works best, and the simpler the better,” he says.

Lim was speaking last week from along the route of the Tour of Utah, where he and the company he founded, Boulder-based Skratch Labs, provided nutritional support for cyclists before heading back to Colorado to do the same for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge — Skratch is responsible for the menus and providing the ride food for the athletes — which started Monday and continues through Sunday.

Lim knows a little something about athletes and nutrition. A lover of bicycles from the age of 4 — when he taught himself to ride — he became a cycling coach and sports physiologist, earning his master’s degree in kinesiology and a Ph.D. in integrative physiology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2004.

Along the way, he became fascinated with the issues that athletes have with their guts while they ride — to the point that he was the only American scientist invited to the Tour de France to help fix those issues — and was famous for creating the “secret drink mix” athletes used to replace their sponsored drinks on the route, the rehydration and nutrition formula that is now known as Skratch.

“If you were to look at the GI tract, one of the biggest organ systems in the body, from a neurological perspective, there are so many nerves enervating our guts,” Lim says. “If you didn’t take anything else into account, you’d think our gut was a second brain.”

For that reason alone, Lim preaches that athletes — as well as the weekend warrior — should follow their guts, listening to their own bodies to know what is needed and when, instead of trying to follow sports nutrition fads or “what your neighbor says you should be eating.”

“Hey, everyone says I need to be dating a Victoria’s Secret model,” Lim says, laughing. “But that’s not going to happen, right? The marketing, though, is so pervasive, of how that’s what should be happening for all of us. But there’s a disconnect between what marketing wants for us and what’s really right for us.”

He suggests that when trying to figure out what to consume while working out, training or racing, experiment with a variety of food and drink combinations — but not on race day, of course.

“I really just have three basic tenets,” Lim says. “They are: Pay attention to hydration. Pay attention to nutrition. Pay attention to bacon.”

Bacon? Sure, Lim says. If you’re not a vegetarian and are craving bacon while you ride or run, and if your gut can handle it, go for it.

The same follows for white rice. Lim uses it liberally; in fact, his cookbooks with chef Biju Thomas — “The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes” and the newer “The Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes” — almost exclusively call for sticky rice as a base.

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Lim says this is because people who need quick access to calories need the carbohydrates that are readily available in the body.

“This is something that people struggle with, this idea of when they can eat what,” Lim says. “You have to think about how much energy you are expending and what you need to do that effectively and be smart about it.

“Think of it this way: Everything that is good for you when you’re being chased by a wild animal is bad for you when you’re sitting at home playing video games.”

In other words, if you’re not working out like an elite athlete, don’t eat like one. But if you are in training, eat simple, real-food carbohydrates: white rice, white and sweet potatoes, fruits, honey.

“We’ve lost touch with food, and these things that we think are bad for us, they’re actually good for us,” Lim says. “Food scientists have been able to manipulate us through our desires, but we were kind of designed for running dozens of miles every single day to seek out these foods that we crave.”

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Allen Lim’s fueling tips for top performance

Beware of paralysis by analysis. “The first pitfall with trying to fuel and hydrate is that people start to over-analyze all the details,” Lim says. “Really listen to your body. Find a way to eat if you’re hungry, get yourself something to drink if you’re thirsty, ride within your limits.”

Follow your gut, literally, in terms of food preferences.

Start with what you like to eat, and go from there. If there are foods you don’t like or ingredients that upset your stomach in a race, avoid them. “If there’s something you haven’t had a good experience with, there’s no reason to try it over and over,” he says. “I don’t care how fashionable it is; it’s not ever going to work for you. Let it go.”

Eat real foods. Stick with simple, high-glycemic foods with a high-moisture content that digest easily — white rice, potatoes, waffles, muffins. “Make them yourself so they aren’t packed with chemicals and stuff you can’t pronounce,” Lim says.

Salt loss matters. “If you’re really craving salt when you exercise, you need to work at replenishing it,” he says. The average person loses 600-700 mg of salt per liter of sweat while exercising, and if you end a run or bike ride with a face covered in a dry white crust, you’re probably at the upper end of the spectrum — and maybe even more. The general rule is to consume 200-400 mg of sodium per hour, and if you’re on the higher side of loss, you should be on the higher side of consumption, as well.

By Kyle Wagner, The Denver Post

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Workout – Strength Training, Legs

It all started innocently enough–I recently had an afternoon free and decided to do a “challenging” leg workout. I’m intentionally posting this workout before my lower half gives way and I end up looking like this:

I promise that it's worth it.

I promise that it’s worth it.

Strengthening your legs will help alleviate a range of symptoms associated with all three sports:

Swimming

Symptom: You have to rest your legs periodically and rely more on your arms.

Cause: Relatively weak lower body.

Symptom: One leg becomes more tired than the other.

Cause: Muscular imbalance in legs.

Cycling

Symptom: You push harder with one leg or the other:

Cause: Muscular imbalance in legs.

Symptom: Your thighs start to become tired before your hips and glutes do.

Cause: Weak quadriceps.

Symptom: Your heels start to drop below your toes as you push on the pedals.

Cause: Weak calf muscles.

Running

Symptom: You drag your toes.

Cause: Weak shin muscles.

Symptom: Your hamstrings become tired before your quads do.

Cause: Muscle imbalance in thighs.

Symptoms: Your quads become tired before your hamstrings do,

Cause: Muscle imbalance in thighs.

Symptom: Your strides become shorter as you run longer.

Cause: Hip and glute fatigue.

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Complete each exercise 3 times with 15 reps each.  Try super setting two exercises (i.e. do two exercises, one after the other, with little to no rest in between).

Barbell weighted walking lunges

Donkey kicks (or butt blaster machine)

Smith Machine squats (go DEEP!)

Walking lunges, holding weight plate above your head

Bench step-ups, holding weight

Barbell overhead squats

Jump squats

Plié squats, with a wide stance & toes pointed out

Leg extension, on machine

Hamstring curls, on machine

Leg press, on machine

Deadlifts

Abductor, on machine

Adductor, on machine

For more information on strength training designed specifically for your multisport goals, check out Patrick Hagerman’s “Strength Training for Triathletes.”

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When Racing Goes Wrong

REPOST: This repost was published in the weekly news for DC Tri Club shared on July 25th, 2013. It serves as a tribute to those lives who were lost recently at Mussleman Triathlon in Geneva, NY.

Two weeks ago, at the Musselman Triathlon in Geneva, NY, two triathletes died tragically in accidents during the Sprint and the Half Iron-Distance races. On Saturday July 13th, the triathlon community lost Michael Coyle of Rochester, NY during the bike portion of the mini-Mussel Sprint distance race. On Sunday July 14th, we lost Lanlin Zhang of Columbia, OH on the bike leg of the MusselMan Half Iron-distance race. We hear about incidents and accidents all the time during races, and this is not the first tragedy to have struck our sport, and sadly it will not be the last. To have two back-to-back deaths during a single race weekend is beyond tragic for everyone involved.

Michael Coyle

Michael Coyle

Lanlin Zhang

Lanlin Zhang

DC Tri Club wants to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of both Michael Coyle and Lanlin Zhang. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them in their time of sadness. Many club members have raced at this event and appreciated the camaraderie and sportsmanship that this race elicits in the triathlon community. In addition, this is the hometown race of our club President who was racing on Saturday and came upon the accident of Michael Coyle shortly after it happened.

These incidents are not reflection of the race organization (Mussleman race director Jeff Henderson does an incredible job managing the events over race weekend), but they are a reminder that we need to place safety first and foremost in our own pursuits in the triathlon world. Therefore, we wanted to take the time to talk about safety.

Safety Awareness

Safety starts with self-awareness: both knowing where you are and what is going on around you as well as knowing what your abilities are and training and racing within those abilities. Whether you are swimming, cycling, or running during training or racing, your own safety should be at the forefront of your thoughts.

In Training

We could fill volumes with tips about safety and etiquette (and etiquette is just as much about proper ways to do things as it is about keeping you and those around you safe), but we wanted to highlight a few key important tips that could apply to all three sports.

  • Be visible: Cars, other cyclists, other runners, etc. are not looking for you. Wear something that will make them see you. Reflective clothing. Lights on the bike. Bright colored swim cap in open water.
  • Be predictable: Signal your intentions (to cars, other bikers, other runners): use your hands to signal a turn. Call out “slowing” or “stopping” if you are approaching an intersection with cyclists behind you. Warn before passing: “on your left!” Avoid weaving or swerving on the bike. Bike with traffic. Run against traffic.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings: Do you know what is ahead of you? Behind you? Let other cyclists in your group know as well: “car back!,” “car up!,” “runner up!,” etc. Could you stop suddenly or change direction if you needed to? How is weather going to affect your training?

While you should always carry an ID card on you while training, one item that we highly recommend is the RoadID. Be it a wristband, ankleband, or any other option, should you be involved in an accident, the RoadID offers responders quick access to emergency contact and medical information about you. RoadIDs are not expensive and are the investment that you hope you never have to use, but could save your life and we encourage everyone to have one and to wear it during training.

In Racing

Oftentimes the adrenaline and excitement from a competition can cause us to forget that there is still a need to be vigilant about our own and others safety during a race. Just because courses are closed or limited to traffic (boat, car, etc.) and there are safety officers guarding the turns and monitoring the course, it does not mean we can stop paying attention to our surroundings and what is happening.

  • Swim: Even though the swim leg of a triathlon can sometimes be a contact sport, be considerate of your fellow swimmers. And just because someone elbows you or hits you, that does not mean you should take revenge. Be the better person. Kayaks, paddleboards and rescue boats are there for you! It is perfectly legal, in a race, to hold onto one of them should you need to take a break and gather yourself. The only rule is that you are not allowed to make forward progress while holding onto one. That’s it. Nothing about holding on and taking a rest.
  • Bike: Just like with training, be aware of your surroundings. Watch for cars. Even on courses closed to traffic, an errant car can still sneak past officers and accidentally wander onto the course. It has happened. And on policed turns, make sure you know what the cars are doing. Just because police are stopping traffic for you, there still could be some angry driver who is going to ignore them and drive right through. Be aware. Know what is in front of you. What is behind you. Make sure when you make a move to pass that someone is not right behind you attempting to pass you.
  • Run: The final leg of a race: starting off on those wobbly legs, and usually at the hottest time of the day. Watch out for the other runners. Watch out for spectators on the course. They are there to cheer for you but we all know that sometimes they can get in the way of racers just as easily as other runners can.

REACT

Should you ever feel like you are about to faint or have acute pains in your chest (be it in training or a race), please STOP! Let a friend you are training with or race volunteers or officials know what is happening. No one can help you if they do not know what is going on.

Should you be the first person upon an accident, we encourage you to stop (be it during training or a race) and see if you are able to help. Send the next person who passes by on to find help or assistance. If you have a phone on you, dial 911 if the situation deems it necessary. We know that sometimes this means sacrificing your race and sacrificing a potential PR, but we are sure that the person whose life you helped save would very appreciative of your efforts.

Should there already be people rendering aid at an accident, we suggest either 1) stop and ask if help is needed, especially if you have medical training, or 2) continue on and reaffirm with the next race officials that they are aware of the incident.

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Snack Attack – Chocolate Salty Balls

“If you ever need a quick pick-me-up…” (I kid, I kid). These lil gems are a sweet paleo treat that serve as a great snack on the go & are easy to pop in your mouth when you’re on the bike (that’s-what-she-said jokes can start–NOW).

On to a more serious adult topic..

I took a “superfoods” cooking class over the weekend, and we talked a little more about the difference between regular table salt and sea salt in the use of cooking and nutrition. For starters, table salt is highly refined. It goes through a process that removes the magnesium and other trace minerals while adding various additives like aluminum compounds. Yuck. The natural iodine is also stripped during the refining process, so it’s usually added back in the form of potassium iodine. Oftentimes, detrose is added as a stabilizer–which affects the color–and so a bleaching agent is used to finish it off. Double yuck. More reasons to fall more in love with my Himalayan pink salt! Only the best for my chocolate salty balls.

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What you need:

1 16oz package or 25 medjool dates

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup raw almonds

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp sea salt

What you do:

1.  Remove the pits from the dates using a knife.

2.  Add all of your ingredients to a food processor or blender.

3.  Pulse your ingredients to chop up the dates & almonds.  Combine ingredients thoroughly until the mixture starts to come together and is no longer dry.

4.  Roll the mixture into 1-inch sized balls.

5.  Place balls onto a baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.  You can store them in a container in the refrigerator for later use, too.  Enjoy!

Makes approximately 16-20 balls.

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Workout – Strength Training, Back

You ever have it when you finish a workout and just want to puke your guts out? Ya. That’s what this one did for me.  And it was GLORIOUS! Swimmers get a ton of power from strong lats in the pull phase of their stroke while cyclists need lower back endurance while on the bike.

(As an aside, I’ve been trying out some new pre-workout mixes when I strength train, and I’m a big fan of Vega Sport’s Lemon-Lime flavor. It tastes like iced tea with lemon!)

Warm Up:

1 mile run, 5% incline

Repeat 3 times:

20 push ups

Max pull ups (or 15 assisted pull ups if you’re unable to do bodyweight pull ups… yet!)

10 incline sit ups

10 bicycle abs

10 full sit ups

nofatigue

4 sets of 6 – 8 reps with 60 seconds of rest in between sets

***GO HEAVY on the weight! You want to push your limit here***

Lat pull down

Seated row

Dumbbell bent-over fly

One arm row

Lower back extension

Barbell upright row

Reverse fly (look for the pec dec machine)

Pull ups (assisted or bodyweight)

Abdominal work:

45-second planks (repeat 3 times)

55 crunches

55 bicycle abs

50 incline sit ups

2 mile HIIT session on treadmill

PUKE, BREATHE, REJOICE!!!

A lot of folks may be unfamiliar with the various strength training exercises & their proper form.  A fantastic resource is Bodybuilding.com’s exercise database (complete with videos. BOOM. No excuses!)  Check it out if there’s even a hint of doubt!

Shoutout to Ashley Horner for providing the killer workout.

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Food Is Fuel – Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I needed to figure out what to do with a big bag of sweet potatoes recently, and I figured that I’d throw in a can of black beans and make some southwestern veggie burgers! The perfect combination of sweet & spicy. What’s even better is that they are vegan and gluten free. I would recommend preparing the burger mixture ahead of time and letting it chill in the refrigerator prior to cooking. I enjoyed mine naked (sans bun) and piled on the toppings!

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What you need:

1 lb sweet potatoes (smaller potatoes cook faster)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats)

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 small red onion, diced

1/2 jalapeno pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

Your favorite burger fixings (I use avocado, sauteed mushrooms, tomato, salsa & spinach)

What you do:

1.  Roast the sweet potatoes in an oven: slice the potatoes down the center & place the sweet potatoes cut side down on a baking sweet. Roast until they are soft to squeeze, about 40 minutes. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin by peeling it off and roughly chop the insides.

2.  Grind the oats: use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up into a rough flour.

3.  Mix the burgers: in a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, black beans, onion, pepper, cilantro, seasoning & salt. Use a potato mashers (or large fork) to mix the ingredients well. Don’t be shy to smash up the black beans!

4.  Mix in the oats: gradually sprinkle in the oats as you continue mixing well until the mixture holds together if you were to shape patties. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 1 to 12 hours.

5.  Shape the burgers: use a measuring cup to measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture and gently shape into a patty.

6.  Cook the burgers: spray a large pan with cooking spray and heat pan over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, place two to three burgers in the pan and cook until browned and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Continue to spray the pan for each batch of burgers you cook.

7.  You can choose to toast a burger bun or eat plain! Add your toppings & ENJOY!

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You Got Some Mad Skillz

REPOST: This repost was prompted after I viewed a YouTube video of Martyn Ashton’s “Road Bike Party.” It reminded me of how wobbly I felt when I first hopped on my Specialized Allez to the time I finally felt like grabbing my water bottles was second nature. My only regret is that I blew out a tire before I could get to the ‘bunny hop’ during a bike handling clinic last year, hence this wonderful drill article from Active.com!

When it comes to working on cycling skills, I always tell people the same thing. If you think you might need to improve your skills you probably should. If you don’t think you need work on your skills, you definitely should! Let’s look at some great drills for helping you to keep the rubber side down.

There are a number of reasons to take one precious training hour per month and devote it to improving your cycling dexterity. One reason is, of course, to improve your ability to maneuver through the pack?whether on a group ride or in a race. Another reason is to improve your safety and the safety of the riders around you. There seems to be a common misconception that some crashes are just inevitable. In my experience this just isn’t true. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that with a combination of experience, skills and mental preparation, ALL crashes are avoidable.

However, the reason that I usually find to be most convincing is that by practicing skills and improving agility on the bike, you will actually become a stronger, faster cyclist. The reasoning behind this is that by being more relaxed and confident on the bike, you will waste less energy through tension and anxiety and you will be able to apply all your energy to turning over the pedals. The most important thing to take away from the drills outlined in this article is not any particular skill or ability, but an overall improvement in your sense of confidence and relaxation on the bike.

You don’t have to be a coach to run a skills clinic. Here is a basic outline of the clinic I run. Find an empty parking lot or a grass field, gather some friends and give it a try.

THE WARM-UP

Just as your body needs a good warm-up before a hard interval session, your mind needs some early-morning calisthenics to get those neurons firing.

Follow the Leader – This is a fun, easy way to get things going. One rider can take the reins here and lead the group around the parking lot. The idea here is not speed but dexterity. Impose a maximum speed limit or give points for being the slowest to complete an obstacle course without touching down. Practice sharp turns, cutting in between obstacles and, for a more advanced group, hop a curb or try a track stand. Try to stay as close together as possible. This can be done as an elimination exercise. Keep going until the last rider has to place down a foot or plain falls off. Note: If you have a spare training bike, skill drills are not the time or place to showcase the new bike you got for Christmas!

CENTER OF GRAVITY

Just like a gymnast, figure skater, or a diver, there are some things that the body has to learn instinctively. The following series of drills will improve your innate sense of balance.

Ankle Grabbing – This drill involves holding onto your leg while pedaling. What you will find is that flexibility and the length of your limbs has very little to do with success in this exercise. The real key is the ability to push the bike away from the side you are leaning to while continuing to ride in a straight line. By pushing the bike to the side and keeping your center of gravity in the middle, you effectively bring your body lower to the ground. Start by pedaling the length of the parking lot holding your right calf with your right hand and your left hand in the drops. This should be fairly easy. Try it on the other side. Then see if you can move your hand down to your ankle and hold on to it while you pedal. Once you achieve that, you can try to pedal while holding the heel of your foot. The farther you lean your bike to the side, the lower down you will be able to reach.

Object Retrieval – This is a natural progression from ankle grabbing. Using the same concept as the above drill, practice picking up water bottles from the ground. Ride slowly up to the bottle and, pushing your bike away from the side you are leaning to, bring yourself low enough to the ground so that you can retrieve the bottle. You can start by trying to knock the bottles over using your left hand and then your right. Move on to picking up the bottles and then putting them down without letting them fall over. From there, you can practice picking up smaller objects such as soda cans or bottle caps.

CONTACT DRILLS

If you spend a lot of time riding in packs, you will inevitably make physical contact with other riders. Even if you usually ride on your own, practicing these drills will improve your overall ability to handle your bike. The most important thing to take away from these drills is that a little bit of contact is not a big deal. As with the previous drills, there is a natural progression of exercises.

Look Back – A basic skill that many cyclists lack is the ability to look over their shoulder without coming off their line. For this drill, pick a partner who is roughly your size. Start by riding the length of the parking lot with your right hand on your partner’s shoulder, looking over your right shoulder. Don’t be afraid to lean on your partner. He will keep you going in a straight line. Once you’ve mastered that, practice looking over the outside shoulder. Try to really turn around and look behind you while maintain a straight line.

Elbow Bumping – In this drill, you’ll make some light contact with your partner. With your hands in the drops to prevent your handlebars from hooking (always protect your handlebars when riding in a tight pack), stick your elbows out and ride the length of the parking lot knocking elbows. You can use your elbows as bumpers, letting them absorb the brunt of the impact.

Shoulder Bumping & Leaning – Once you are comfortable with elbow touching, you can practice making direct contact with your shoulders. Once again, keep your hands in the drops to protect your handlebars. Try to stay shoulder to shoulder and progressively increase the strength as well as the length of the impact. Practice leaning into each other and holding it for a few seconds.

The ultimate goal with this drill is to ride the length of the parking lot completely leaning on each other. You will be surprised at how stable you feel, even though you are wholly dependent on the other rider to keep you upright. The take away from this drill is that when you are bumped in the pack, your instinct should be to lean into the impact rather than pull away from it.

BUNNY HOPPING

These skills are important, not just for safety but also to avoid flat tires and to keep your wheels true. As with the other drills, there is a natural progression here.

Front Wheel – Assuming your parking lot has white lines to indicate parking spaces, practice riding the length of the lot, hopping your front wheel over each line as you cross it. This is mostly done using the arms to pull up on the bars.

Rear Wheel – Now do the same thing but with your rear wheel. You will use your legs to pull up on the pedals and lift the rear wheel off the ground.

Both Wheels – Once you’ve mastered the front and rear wheel separately it is time to get both wheels off the ground at the same time. At a jogging speed, bend your knees, push the bike down into the ground and then burst upwards, pulling up simultaneously on the pedals and the handle bars. Once you feel comfortable jumping white lines, you can try some bigger obstacles such as soda cans or sticks.

Advanced Bunny Hopping – Once you can easily jump your bike over curbs and pot holes, give these advanced skills a try. Ride up to a soda can so your back wheel is even with the can. Bunny hop just the rear wheel and while it is in the air, swing it to the side, knocking the can over. Next, try a sideways bunny hop. Ride parallel to a white line or an obstacle. Do a bunny hop and once you are off the ground, move the entire bike sideways and over the line or object. Do both these drills to the right and then to the left.

TURNING

There are three ways to take a corner on a bike: Lean the bike, lean your body and the bike, and turn the handlebars. Most steering is done by leaning, but learning how to turn the bike using the handlebars can be a useful skill. By turning the handlebars instead of leaning the bike, you prevent the possibility of having the tires slide out from underneath you on a wet road or on a gravelly turn.

Parking Space Crit – In this exercise, you are going to have your own little criterium inside a single parking space. Attempt to make a full circle inside the confines of a parking space. Remember to look to the place where you want to go instead of where you currently are (this is important in all turns). Once you’ve mastered turning in one direction, try it the other way.

K Turns – This drill is more of a confidence builder than an actual skill you might use on the road. At a slow speed, ride parallel to a wall. With the wall on your left, turn directly into the wall so your front wheel hits it at a 90 degree angle. Allow the wheel to bounce back off the wall a few inches. Turn the wheel to the right and continue riding parallel to the wall. Do this several times along the length of the wall.

THE BIG FINISH

I like to finish all my skills clinics with a little competition that incorporates a lot of the skills we just worked on.

The Slow Race – Have all the riders line up as if at the start of a race. Mark a finish line about 20 meters away. Using balance and steering, each rider will attempt to ride as slowly as possible without falling over. The last rider to cross the line is the winner. If they clip out, ride backwards or crash, they are out of the race.

By Josh Horowitz, PezCycling News

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Snack Attack – Coconut Mug Cake

This quick ‘n easy treat is super decadent and packs a protein punch. Perfect for a post-workout or bedtime snack!

mugcake

What you need:

1 scoop Vanilla Whey or Casein Protein (I really like the taste of FitMiss Delight Vanilla Chai, perfectly sweet without the added sugar!)

1 Tbsp coconut flour

1 egg

1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

1 Tbsp Libby’s Pure Pumpkin or pumpkin puree (You won’t taste it, I promise! This keeps the mug cake moist!)

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp almond butter or peanut butter (reserve for topping)

1 tsp unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (reserve for topping)

What you do:

1.  Spray the inside of a coffee mug with non-stick cooking spray (I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil cooking spray)

2.  Add protein, flour, egg, coconut flakes, oil & baking powder to the mug and mix well with a hand mixer or beater.

3.  Microwave on high for 75 seconds.

4.  Top mug cake with almond butter or peanut butter and remaining coconut flakes. Enjoy!

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Finding Inspiration

“The difference between motivation and inspiration: Motivation is external and short lived. Inspiration is internal and lifelong.”
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

My state of denial gave way this month, and I finally acknowledged that the stars didn’t align for my oly race at Williamsburg at the end of this month.  After filing in and out of doctors’ offices over the past few months and getting pricked & prodded one too many times, it became clear that my health wasn’t where it needed to be in order to put in the quality training hours any race deserves. I’ve been able to wing plenty of running races in the past with little to no preparation, but triathlons are different. The first sign came at Peasantman in early May, when I spent the entire bike ride fighting the urge to yack as my head spun like I was on a never-ending Tilt-A-Whirl ride.

So now it’s on to a rebuilding phase–rearranging those small foundational bricks that help establish a solid fitness base. Getting healthy is my first priority (obviously!), but it’s also important to repair any cracks caused by frustration and disappointment. I’ve focused on tapping into the people and activities that seem to help instill some new inspiration for the road ahead:

Surround Yourself with Awesome

Despite not feeling 100%, continuing to surround myself with the people and places that pump me up helped me hold on to some of my endurance, particularly on the bike. I joined a friend for her morning commute on Bike to Work Day (I was working from home on May 17th), scored some free BBQ during Freshbike’s Tuesday Night Ride (while admiring the speediest 300+ peloton on the Eastern seaboard), and felt like a giddy schoolgirl watching the pros race in The Air Force Cycling Classic’s Clarendon Cup (tight turns & gnarly crashes are a sure way to get the adrenaline pumping).

Hanging out with fast/driven/intelligent friends is another way I’m keeping my spirits up. If I’m inclined to up my mileage, squeeze in one more set, or lose track of time talking about their latest race, it’s bound to be a great thing. Like attracts like!

One of the several pit stops on Bike to Work Day.

One of the several pit stops on Bike to Work Day.

Indulge in Others’ Stories

I’m a self-proclaimed documentary junkie. Aside from pulling on my heart strings, I tend to feel like I can go out and conquer the world after flipping off Netflix. Some of my current favorites include Ride The DivideSpirit of the MarathonUsain Bolt: The Fastest Man Alive as well as any film in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.

I’m also guilty of keeping tabs on several athletes via Twitter and Instagram. Paying attention to what others are doing & how they are doing it seems to serve as a mini shot of espresso that gets me moving in the right direction.

The Air Force Association Cycling Classic’s Clarendon Cup

The Air Force Association Cycling Classic’s Clarendon Cup.

Find a Tough Workout

And CRUSH it! I recently ran the staircase near the Lincoln Memorial until my legs were about to give out and had a killer strength training session where I upped my sets to 4 x 20 reps (yikes!). All in the name of endorphins, baby!

tough

Relish the Quiet Time

I realize that I’m in the minority when I say that my training and workouts provide my mind a moment to “go blank” in the sense that my brain finally gets some quiet time. For others, the gears start turning and some of their best ideas come to them while on the bike or running the trail. Do whatever necessary to break away and get in a good place mentally. I cut out the music on my runs, make regular escapes to the beach in South Carolina, and mess around in the kitchen with some new recipes. Finding a way to break away from the daily grind is important and shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when laying a fresh foundation for building new goals and challenges.

namaste

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