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Daily Archives: March 1, 2012

Finding My Zones

I’ve posted many times about my lack of love when it comes to the act of running – finishing I love, but the actual run itself has never been more than, maybe, enjoyable.  I love being in shape and I love not being flabby but I’m a cyclist first.  More than likely, just because I like the speed.  In any event, riding on the trainer in my office has helped immeasurably with my running.  I was able to better define my aerobic zones which translated into an ability to push it a little harder when I run because I used to cruise slower to save energy for fear I’d run dry before the finish.  Today things are quite a bit different.  I’ve tied my aerobic zones (and the anaerobic zone 5) to how many strides I take per breath in and breath out.  It’s made an incredible difference and has only gotten better over the winter.

This is an excerpt from a previous post that explains my experience:

Without getting too scientific, the best description I read to know the zones (which actually center around heart rate) is through knowing your breathing. Now, I’ve been breathing methodically, measuring exertion in relation to my stride for years, I just never knew what I was doing. This is the best way I’ve read to measure without electronics:

Zone 1: Breathing through the nose only is easy. Full conversations are possible

Zone 2: Breathing through nose and mouth, conversations still possible, a few sentences at a time

Zone 3: Breathing shifts more to the mouth, one sentence at a time.

Zone 4: Only a word or two are possible at a time before catching the breathing up.

Zone 5: Conversation is impossible

As a rule of thumb, I used to think that if I could talk, I wasn’t running hard enough. While noble, it was all wrong and actually detrimental to my time; I was spending too much time in Zone 5 and burning out. I’d have to drop back to Zone 2 or 3 to catch back up which slowed me down considerably. Now I’m able to keep it in Zone 4 and I can run for miles there. On up hill climbs, I can kick it up to Zone 5 for a minute to push up the hill and then drop back to 4 (or 3 if necessary) to catch the breathing up.

Another method I use for running is matching breathing in and out to my cadence. Zone 2 is four strides for every inhalation and four for every exhalation. Zone 3 is three and three. Zone 4 is two and two and Zone 5 is one in, two out or one and one. Now that’s just a personal thing, I’ve never read anything that suggests breathing this way, but I hated feeling out of control as I was running – there was no method, only madness – so I developed that method, right or wrong, to stop the madness which helps me get into “the zone” a little easier.

In any event, I’m a lot faster, both on my bike and running, since figuring all of this out.

UPDATE:  Christos who handles the Christostriathlon1 Blog comments:  “…the number of strides should be around 90, it only changes the length otherwise you are not running efficiently and economically”.

I should have been more clear about this, he’s right.  While there will be variations to the theme, and speaking from experience here, if the cadence is too much below 90 strides per minute, we end up plodding which is the equivalent of putting on the brakes with every stride (not unlike the heel strike if done improperly).  To get to my different zones, I’m taking bigger strides at the same cadence which takes more energy.

Metric Century Here I Come…

I just signed up for my first long ride of the year, the Dawn Farms Ride for Recovery.  I know there are a few Michiganders who will see this, if you’ve got the time on April 29th (8am) come on down. They’re located between Ypsi and Ann Arbor on Stony Creek Road.

Dawn Farms is where my recovery journey began.  Without getting to sappy about the whole thing, they absolutely tore me down and then built me back up.  They gave me what I needed to make it, and I don’t know what I’d have done without them.

The Century is a 100% paved ride so any type of bike will do, from leisure to road bike.

If you can make it, I’ll be on the Trek 5200 shown on the “My Bikes” page.

Road Bike Maintenance Day – Newbie Style

I got into the office early this morning so I could perform some preseason maintenance on my beloved Trek.  On the menu was complete degreasing and cleaning of the drivetrain to make way for a new chain lube that I picked up last night, the replacement of the rear wheel tube that had developed a slow leak last weekend and the reversal of my front tire due to an egregious rookie error (more on that later).  The reason for the maintenance day is tomorrow’s weather report.  Sunny early, high of 51-53 (F) with a chance of evening showers…daddy’s going for a ride at lunch tomorrow and I’m fired UP!

My cleaning regimen for the drivetrain is a little more meticulous than it probably has to be, I like to see the cassette sparkle and I pay a fair amount of attention to getting any gunk off of the chain, rear derailleur guide rings and chain rings as well.  After all, it does no good to clean the chain if the drivetrain is a mess and promptly deposits crud back onto the chain.  I also decided on a new lube for the road bike because frankly, I’ve grown tired of lubing my chain once a week with the spray and I really want to treat this bike as well as is practicable.  Replacement components are extremely expensive.  For example, a replacement chain goes for upwards of $60 which is a lot of cheddar when you consider a standard chain runs around $20.  So, I’ve got it degreased and drying.  The lube I’ll be trying, Boeshield’s T-9 was recommended by the estimable Walter at Assenmacher’s, has gotten very good reviews.  It’s a touch more labor intensive, but if I can get 150 miles out of a lube, I’ll be happy (they claim 200).

Next was the replacement of the rear tube for the slow leak – before you scroll down to the comments section, the replacement (rather than a patch) was necessary.  The tube I had in there had a shorter stem, my wheels require the 48mm stem so I had to replace it before the season anyway, it might as well have been today.  I also had to reverse the front tire as that one will be staying on the bike for the season and I missed an important little tidbit when I put in on in the first place…  So noobs, pay attention (so you don’t do what I did):  When putting a new tire on a rim, you will be looking at the bottom of the tire…that means the pattern will be opposite when you flip it over.  In other words, when you’re on the bike and you want the tread pattern to look like this:  >>>>>, when you’re putting the tire on the rim and you’re looking at the bottom of the tire you should be putting it on like this <<<<<<.  I’ve taken a couple of photos of mine to illustrate because this confounded me for a minute.  This first photo is with my bike right side up, you can see that the V that makes up the minimal tread is pointing forward:

Admittedly there isn’t much of a tread to this tire, but the pattern does make a “V” and the bottom of the “V” points forward as it should.  Now look at the same tire upside down:

The “V” is pointing toward the back of the bike.  Now people who have more  experience than I do will be chuckling by now, and that’s ok…  I missed it so I’m passing on my error in the hopes that it might help someone else.  I wouldn’t have bothered pointing this out had I not screwed it up again this morning.

Finally, I’ve got a tip for inflating tires…  Sounds silly enough, but let me get through this first.  I have one pump, a Serfas frame mount that has its own pressure gauge.  I bought this particular pump because it’s got a small hose rather than a solid body so that makes for easier pumping because I can use the ground for leverage.  Also, I won’t be jamming my presta valve against the rim while trying to get to the 120 pound minimum pressure in my tires which would be near impossible anyway for anyone but a body builder.  Also, I didn’t go with the CO2 pump for a number of reasons, not limited to a limited availability of pressure (90 lbs max on a canister) and cost.  Also, I’ll be able to claim superiority with the tree huggers (that’s a joke).  The trick is to use this pump like a floor pump, standing over it as one would a full-sized floor pump.  I can crouch down and get up to 100 easy enough but to get to 120, I’ve got to stand over it and get my whole body into it.  There just isn’t enough leverage otherwise.  One hand on the left and one on the nub on the right.  In any event, here’s to finally having a few days that won’t be miserable to ride in.  I can’t wait to get out of this office.