Fitness Blog: The Final Countdown To Ride 24
by Mark Tearle
The Countdown clock theme tune has started to play in my head, though at 33rpm as apposed to the 45rpm it should be playing at, it will no doubt click at the right speed by the end of the week and be a constant reminder that I am about to take part in one of the toughest cycling challenges in the UK.
The Training Roads
The last two weeks have been heavy going; the weather has played its part to try and foil me somewhat and a busy work schedule has had me stressed to the eye balls. Allow me to admit I haven’t quite managed to keep to my training plan.
However, all is not lost; I have been getting out as and when I can and getting as much racing experience as possible. Series 1 and 2 of the Lewes Wanderers Evening Criterium Series couldn’t have been more different – series 1 saw a sunny but very blustery evening of racing, with me going for a sprint too early and blowing up to finish amongst the also-rans, and series 2 held last Thursday night was a deluge of rain and road grit where I unfortunately punctured with two laps to go. I survive to see another day.
Lewes Evening Criteriums
Last Sunday was the Dragon Ride. A couple of things that ride taught me, 1. I have the endurance fitness to complete a very long ride but 2. Despite being surrounded by hills I do not ride up them enough – those Welsh climbs are absolutely awesome, and awesome is not a word I use lightly. You can read my review of the day here >>
A couple of things have been on my mind recently; firstly, nutrition and secondly, Rest and Recovery. Uncanny that on Thursday last week a courier driver knocked on my door with a rather large box filled with Science in Sport products; Go bars, gels, hydro tablets, sachets of Electrolyte powder and Rego Rapid Recovery sachets. To coin a phrase, SIS has become part of my ritual.
For the most part my diet is very good, though I know there is a distinct difference between eating and eating for performance and recovery. A careful balance has to be met between enjoying the food you eat and making sure that what you are eating is appropriate for what you are putting your body through and let’s not forget hydration.
Sharing a Moment (Aw, bless -Ed)
First and foremost I should state that I am far from being an expert on nutrition, though as a vegan of nearly 10 years I do take a very close interest in what I put into my body, if only to bat back an informed response to those usual curious questions and statements one tends to get when it is known that you have a slightly different dietary approach – “where do you get your protein and your calcium from?”, “It’s unnatural not to eat meat”, “you don’t look like a vegan”, “Can you eat cheese?” etc.
Vegan Food Can Have Benefits
I won’t fill this page with half-baked ideas that I’m not qualified to give about what to eat and when, the internet is a wonderful resource and a good start is the Science in Sport ‘Why Sports Nutrition’ page here that offers a quick summary guide that will help you prepare, perform and recover effectively.
The page, amongst other things states: “Whatever your target, from a January gym schedule to becoming a professional athlete, your body needs to be fuelled and looked after properly. Motivating yourself to get up and exercise day after day can be difficult enough, but without the correct recovery, diet and nutrients the body will get run down and be more susceptible to illness and infection.” Which is good enough for me to concern myself a little more closely with nutrition. There are plenty of publications out there too – my nose is currently in ‘Thrive Fitness’ by Brendon Brazier, a former professional Ironman Triathlete.
Rest and recovery: I recently asked Dan Henchy of PB Science - Other than just a build up of general fatigue, what are the dangers of over training and why is it so important to factor in rest and recovery periods into your training or racing schedule?
Dan: “Basically, training breaks you down and makes you tired. It’s only when you have a period of recovery that you bounce back, hopefully to a higher fitness level than previously. This is termed supercompensation in the training literature. The key to a successful plan is getting this balance right: a novice cyclist may find that one session with a day or two to recover is enough to see improvements, whereas an experienced rider may need a month of hard work (or more) before resting to see a small performance gain."
He continues: "Overtraining is a risk, even for working athletes with a relatively low training load compared to a professional cyclist, but it is important to remember that the training should make you tired; the key is to make sure you’re never more than a few days away from recovery. If a week’s rest still sees you tired and below form then overtraining is a possibility but a little general fatigue is not overtraining and just part of the process. It’s a fine line but in general it’s best to err on the side of caution and do a little less than you think you can manage. Better to have 3 or 4 weeks of consistent training rather than one really hard week and then 2 or 3 weeks trying to recover.”
What is the main idea behind 'tapering'?
Dan: “Tapering is really just a consequence of the above points on training and fatigue. The aim of your training plan is to reach that elusive form to coincide with your goal event. There are two components to form, a positive component in form and a negative one in fatgue, so it can help to think in terms of the following equation:
Form = Fitness – Fatigue
A hard period of training will leave you with high fitness but also high fatigue. Fortunately, fitness lasts longer than fatigue once you ease back on the training, so the taper is just a period of reduced training aimed at maintaining fitness but shedding fatigue. In this way, fitness stays high, fatigue disappears and your form shows at the right time. The trick is to do just enough cycling to stay sharp but drop volume enough to freshen up.”
Rest and Relaxation
I feel ready for the Ride 24 challenge. With special thanks to Dan Henchy of PB science the personalised Training Plan has worked wonders for my fitness levels – although not scientifically measured I feel so much fitter than I did when I started and I know my own half hearted attempts at “training” would have been disastrous. The plan offered by Dan was targeted and specific and his helpful advice and calm responses to my idiot questions has been invaluable.
My Cyclsoport.org Ride 24 team mates have been busy with their own training and preparations and each have offered a few lines:
Howie Johnson wrote: “Preparation for the 24 event has been unconventional to say the least, or should I say non existent. Over the past 6 weeks I have been through the mill so to speak. But what this has done is give me the training of staying awake for hours on end, without the aid of loud music and alcohol. One bonus from the last few weeks has been some dramatic weight loss. It's now 10kg in 2 weeks and counting.
As for riding, no chance - I feel like I will be the escapee from the prison camp that clears the wall and breaks his ankle on landing. There's always one, it's just me at the moment. But I do have a secret weapon. Chain Reaction Cycles have loaned me a Sean Kelly Vitus bike. It's blue, it's carbon, and it looks gorgeous. It needs pedals too! This bike is going to so thoroughly tested during the event, if it survives this it will survive anything. With my team mates, I am looking forward to bouncing back to riding.”
Caven O’Hara adds: “I have a couple of big events this year and Ride24 happens to fall in the middle so my training hasn’t been specific but has included plenty of time in the saddle. I’ve even managed to fit in a few 100+ mile rides whilst dodging showers. Having recently ridden the pavé of Paris-Roubaix, I’m hoping for a smoother ride but happy to have got the distance under my belt. I’m confident of lasting the distance but it will be interesting to see what the cumulative effects of a 24hr event will be. I think the prospect of riding on a closed circuit will be awesome and can’t wait to give it a go.”
Sean Lacey says: “Well, we are only days away now from what is probably the biggest challenge of the year for me. With a large number of events this year my training started early, following as closely as I could the sessions set out by last years coaching plan. I had to amend it in places as the focus this year wasn’t just about hilly sportives and when the nod came for Ride24, it had to change again. Riding lots of hills is good for just that – riding fast for extended periods needs something else."
Sean continues: "Flatter routes were picked where I could concentrate on maintaining a good average speed and build power. My local club 10 mile TT season started this month too, which again has given me the right focus for the demands of Ride24. The only thing I can’t really prepare for (shy of adopting a new born baby for a month or so) is the mental strength required to keep the body going over the 24 hours. Here I’m hoping the camaraderie and team spirit of my Cyclosport buddies and other competitors will come to the fore. That and caffeine! See you on the other side.”
Final prep for me, as I taper my efforts this week is to clean my bike and make sure it is mechanically sound then I am ready to go! All that is left for me to say: best of luck to all the 200 riders who we will be joining at Ride 24, we look forward to riding with you at Goodwood.
For more information about Action Medical Research and Ride 24 please check here http://www.action.org.uk/ride24
If you are thinking about getting a coach or having a personalised training plan then I highly recommend the services of Dan Henchy at PB Science – more information can be found here http://www.pbscience.com/
- 23/06/2012 - Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex
Rating: 91.9% based on 6 reviews - See Previous Ratings
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