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Daily Archives: August 15, 2012

The Power Nap

I like to fancy myself as the king of my little slice of the universe from time to time. Not a royalty King, thus the small “k”, but in case you didn’t know, I’m kind of a big shot around here. That said, I’m a busy guy. I work hard and play harder. The point is, being awesome as I surely am, takes a lot of energy and when you are this awesome you actually hate to miss anything because of sleeping, so you have a tendency to only catch five or six hours a night (four on Wednesday night). The only problem I have with four or five hours of sleep in a night is that I need six. Without that extra hour or two I can get to feeling a little less than awesome.

To fix that, I make use of the power nap. 15 – 20 minutes max and I feel like a new man. The health benefits linked to napping are well documented (if a little heavy on the cheese – “boost creativity”? Oh give me a break). For me, timing is everything. I’m up unusually early, before 4:30, to get ready for and to the office before 6. The extra hour gives me time to get a lot of work done before the phone starts ringing at 7:30 – 8. Often, if I can’t crash before 9 or 10 pm, I run short on sleep. If that happens, I’ll find myself with heavy eyes around lunch time (11 am). I’ll eat lunch and then nap for 15-30 minutes so I can attack the rest of the day. What I try not to do (and sometimes fail at) is take a nap after I get home. First of all, that’s my ride time. Second, if I nap late I’m either wrecked for the rest of the evening or I have a tough time falling asleep later on that evening, thus compounding the lack of sleep problem in the first place.

Now, some employers don’t agree with or allow the power nap – I don’t know any of them, I used to shut my office door regularly for 20-30 minutes at lunch time to decompress, but I’m sure they’re out there… There is a solution if that’s the case for you: Throw aside the chains of bondage and open your own shop doing what you love. As the boss you’ll get to take naps whenever you want… Unfortunately you’ll also end up working twice as hard if you want to keep that business for more than a couple of years. Admittedly, it’s not perfect. Let’s nap on it.

Results! Busting Through My Cycling Plateau…

This evening was the absolute perfect night for the club ride. Minimal wind (5mph), temps in the mid 70’s and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. A vast improvement over the rainy, cool start to the day… And only a few of the really fast guys showed up. The jerk TT bike guy stayed home (he’s so “pro” that he, and only he, can ride a time trial bike in a club ride – folks, he is an actual, real-life anus) and so did both Mikes.

Judging from the crowd, three tandems and a triple, I figured it would be a pretty easy ride. After the first mile at just 19 mph I was ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. The pace picked up but it rose slowly enough that I hardly noticed and with the whirring of the pedals and cassettes and the breeze from the speed I couldn’t hear my Endomondo chick counting off the miles. It was 25 miles (still with the main group) before I heard her. 25 miles in one hour nine minutes, two seconds… We were moving out pretty well.

One of the riders on the triple lost a water bottle so the stopped to grab it and from that point the group splintered. I stayed up with the front group for a few miles but eventually let them go so I could relax and keep it at an easy 20. I was starting to poop out and I’d pushed my legs hard enough (a lot harder than planned) after finally shaking out the soreness from the weekend. In fact, considering that, I can’t believe that I was able to ride as fast as I did.

I pulled into the parking lot, 32 miles in 1:30:14. The fastest I’ve ever ridden that route by eight minutes, at 21.4 mph.

I’ve written about this before, but it was such a big deal breaking out of my plateau, it’s gotta be reiterated… I was absolutely stuck before my trip to the mountains and my first really long ride. I could flirt with improvement, maybe an increase of a tenth of a mile per hour or two on an inconsistent basis, but I’m picking up speed now at a rate that was previously a wish.

These results began just after my 80 mile ride – I literally felt stronger. Then, with the daily rides on the mountain roads, the repeated climbing really added to those gains – and they were obvious in my first century. Now I’ve got a few recovery rides and one more hard effort before I head out for my next century on Sunday. I can’t wait. Not only for the ride, which should be a blast, but for the results that come afterwards.