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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Which Fit Tracking Software Do You Use?

In preparation for a post about a very serious subject I am looking for a little help from my fit friends who use fitness tracking software.  Rather than try each of the different apps out myself to work that into my post, I’m hoping I can simply use your experience with your favorite app to make my conclusions.

Now, with most trackers, they take weight into account and if they are like Endomondo, they factor that into their calorie burning equation.  This shouldn’t be a problem for what I’m looking at so don’t worry about it if you don’t want to get that descriptive.  Also, if yours is anything like Endomondo they factor speed in as well.  This will be an important factor.

Here’s what I would like to know (please leave a comment or email me at BDJ[dot]fitrecovery[at]gmail[dot]com):

Which fitness tracking app do you use?

Which type of cycling?  Mountain Bike, Road Bike, Hybrid, Commuter or running etc.

How many calories does it say you burn per mile during a ride or run?

What was the average speed for the ride or pace for the run?  (or simply give me the distance, average speed and the calories burned and I’ll do the math – and preferably a long-ish ride 20 miles plus or minimum 5 km for a run).

I appreciate the help in advance.  Thank you.

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Hydration And Cold Weather Cycling, Running or Cardio in General

I’m out for a 35 mile ride, it’s below freezing and I’ve got one H2O bottle on board. Twenty miles in I reach down and take a swig – I chuckle to myself as a thin layer of ice crunches when I squeeze… That’s the last time I touch it until I get home. I pull my phone out of my back pocket to hit the stop button on my fitness tracking app and it tells me I only needed to drink 10 ounces on that trip.  Above 60 degrees that’s a two bottle trip.

I’ve run a below zero half marathon without a drop.  Above 55 degrees I carry a bottle of water for anything more than seven miles.

So one of my riding friends was out on Sunday… Temps in the mid 40’s, for a 2-1/2 to 3 hour ride. Almost home, having not touched his single H2O bottle once, he’s having a great time. It’s cold but at least the sun is shining.  In fact, my post for the day was entitled: Great Day For A Ride.

41 miles in, 5 to go he passes out, while pedaling. He goes down hard, cracks his helmet, smacks and bruises his face, scrapes the hell out of his left arm, hip, leg and bike.  Thankfully a couple of motorists stop and help him.  They call an ambulance which takes him to the hospital.  The doctors are concerned because of his age and the fact that he passed out on the bike so they run a battery of tests and keep him overnight for observation.  On Monday I found out that he’d gone down and that initial reports were not good, that he had some problem with a name that I can’t pronounce that caused the fall.  My worry, of course, was that his riding days were done unless he got a trike recumbent or something and/or limited himself to short rides.  Trying to do that, for me, would be a fate worse than death.  For him?  Even worse.

At dinner that night, as a family we prayed for my friend, and I added a little extra:  “Please let it be something simple that won’t limit his riding”.

Folks, I put some ass into that prayer.  I meant it with everything I had.  So I see him yesterday evening…

Dehydration.  He didn’t drink enough and that made him pass out.

Folks, I’ll never look at cold weather hydration so nonchalantly again.  He’s lucky.

Now, all of you non-helmet wearing folks out there…  Imagine the damage if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet.  He cracked his helmet on the pavement.  Your head has, roughly, the resiliency of a watermelon.  Think on that a minute…

Helmets seem a little cooler now, don’t they?

The Specialized Propero II is an excellent choice BTW – I love mine, very breezy (I have an Echelon for the MTB).

UPDATE:  Please scroll down to the comments section, especially to fatguy2triguy‘s comment which is eerily like my friends, there’s a lot of first-hand experience in there.

Saddling Up To The Trough…

I had a pretty decent week despite the weather. By the time we hit dinner on Sunday evening I had over 100 miles, most of it riding in temps between 25 and 40 degrees. Between Saturday’s ride, Sunday’s ride and roller blading Sunday afternoon I’d burned off more than a pound’s worth of calories – in 26 hours.

There was a purpose to killing calories. Sunday evening we saddled up to the trough for our bowling banquet. This is a once a year ‘occasion’ (if you can call it an occasion) where we eat at a buffet. I view the buffet as ‘the trough’. The place where the regulars make a joke of trying to put the all-you-can-eat establishment out of business in one sitting. Let’s just say I, at 6′ tall and 160 pounds, look strangely out of place there.

I was gawked at as an alien, as I made my way from bar to bar, two plates in hand. I’m sure more than one regular thought it’s not fair that such a skinny guy can eat so much (I get this all the time). Not fair? They’re obviously missing something, eh?

I attempt to explain to them that it is fair, that a healthy and fit life has its advantages. That there really is something to daily strenuous exercise…

The excuses will come out. The hips, legs, arms or back are bad and therefore they’re doomed to their girth. It happens more often than you would think. The reality is very simple: you can’t eat like Michael Phelps if you don’t exercise like him. And I’d bet you my bike that if I asked their doctor, were they cleared for a daily ride on a mountain bike, 90% of those cases the doctor would say they’d been recommending that for years. Not only that, having battled the bulge, I know that most of their pains are due to a lack of activity. In other words, their pain is a product of their lethargy, not a result of activity.

So I headed into hell’s restaurant, feeling out of place and a little self-conscious (I always feel bad for eating at a trough, being a skinny guy – believe it or not I don’t like going through the refutation of ‘it’s not fair’ – I feel as though people will perceive me as “showing off”). The food was a whole lot better than anticipated and the company was pretty fantastic (my bowling team and I are quite a tight little group). Oh, and I stopped eating before I was full (just barely). In other words, even though I did eat a lot, I didn’t overeat.

Why the distinction? I am not (nor do I want to be thought of as) a unicorn. I am no different than most anyone else. I have good joints and muscles because I exercise them. I am thin because I don’t eat more than I burn in a given week. The trick to the trough is that if you’re burning a ton of calories and you generally don’t eat a whole lot in a sitting, your array of “cheats” can be fairly numerous. It wasn’t always this way. I struggled with Soda for years. I struggled with overeating, but only because I was so damned inactive. I struggled, I struggled, I struggled – until I didn’t have to struggle anymore. Not because my body processes food differently but because I eat it differently. What seems like a lot of food to me (three or maybe four pieces of pizza for dinner on pizza night) is an appetizer to most people… Then add to that the fact that I’m burning a thousand calories a day and you get the picture.

What A Difference A Millimeter Makes… The Cleats

I’ve written before about the importance of saddle height, of bike fit, stem length, bar angle and the lot but I ran into an interesting one last week that had a huge impact on my cycling and running…

Now, I should listen to Matt at the bike shop when he encourages me to try to fix and fit things myself. His theory is that it’s really tough to break a bike component when you’re simply adjusting it, so adjust away – if it gets worse, put it back, if you mess something up so bad that you can’t figure it out, bring it in and we’ll get you fixed and explain where you went wrong.

So over the winter while I’m riding on the trainer, I look down and notice that my left heel toes out just a bit. My Look cleats have a 4.5 degree float (this means that your foot is not locked in to a set position, the cleat will ‘float’ just a bit to the left and right). For some reason I naturally used up the float, to the left, on that foot. When I’m on the road I’m not looking at my feet so I didn’t know it was happening until I had some time on the trainer.

I hemmed and hawed over whether or not I should make the adjustment myself for at least a couple of months before I finally bit the bullet and made the change two weeks ago – just a millimeter or two on the cleat meant a centimeter at the heel and now both feet are dead straight when I pedal.

Here’s the reason for the hesitation: The equipment used to line my cleats up was extensive, blocks on the pedals with rods sticking out of the blocks, angles and measurements and probably 45 minutes… It was a pretty big production, so I hesitated, thinking “who am I? I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground as far as cleat alignment goes. Truthfully this is the one problem I find with going to the bike shop to get things fixed: Relying on the shop can lead to paralysis for simple adjustments. Of course, not knowing what you’re doing can end a lot worse, so there’s that too.

There are ramifications too… Over the winter I complained of a hamstring issue, the left hamstring to be specific. I thought the pain was from ramping up my running miles over the winter and running on snow covered roads (I wrote a couple of posts about this). So I pulled back on my running miles thinking I just needed to rest the hamstring and while it’s gotten better, there was still quite a bit of tightness during a run. Afterward there was a little soreness… After the cleat adjustment though, the hamstring pain is starting to fade away – even yesterday after all of the miles I put in over the last week or so, while there is muscle soreness to recover from, my hamstring is feeling a lot more “normal”.

Lesson learned, while I had my cleats fitted by one of the best guys in our State, with professional equipment that I didn’t have access to, that last final adjustment made all of the difference in the world. I’m getting a much better push from my left leg and the proper muscles are now taking the hit rather than my hamstring.

Holy Smokes, I Need A Day Off!!!

Well by hook or by crook I’ve actually managed to put a few miles in over the last ten days. I’ve ridden or run seven of the last eight days and I’m actually… Tired!?

Last week was my first hundred mile week since last October and I’m actually feeling it a little bit. Of course this is my fault. Yesterday, being the nicest, sunniest, decent day of the year, was supposed to be just an easy recovery ride… Sunday was another of my fun duathlons: 22.5 mile ride followed by rollerblading with the wife and kids… I skated for an hour, probably around 12 or 13 more miles, and I was tuckered out.

Just four problems for yesterday’s ride: Temperature, 63 degrees (warm enough to ditch the damned tights). Sunny, gloriously clear skies. Breeze, note that word is not wind. Time, plenty of it for a fantastic ride…

I clipped in and managed to keep a 15 mph pace for all of a tenth of a mile (pretty far by my standards)… I ended up at 22 by the time the mile was up. I followed the first mile up with a 2:57, a 2:50 and a 2:45 – one with a tail wind the rest with a cross breeze. Daddy’s legs are back (it was obviously the cold).

Wisdom finally caught up and I managed to dial it back to 3:15’s give or take. That’s when I noticed my rear shift lever sticking a bit… I had a couple of more 3 minute miles and then pulled it in to the bike shop just after mile ten. The problem was a stuck cable cover so Walter, Matt’s main mechanic changed it out in less than ten minutes, including a new 5mm sheath instead of the stock 4 (which, by the way, made the Ultegra Derailleur’s shifting even more responsive. I pretty much just took it easy on the way back enjoying the warmth and the fact that I was comfortable in my shorts and a light long sleeved shirt – and fingerless gloves for crying out loud!. Although I’d bet that motorists probably didn’t appreciate my hi-viz legs too much.

Afterwards I changed around, took out the garbage, cleaned my chain, cassette and chain rings then played softball with my daughter until dinner was ready (kid can hit!).

My wife put together a fantastic spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread dinner… After having my fill I sat down on the couch for a minute and that’s when my muscles let out a collective groan. I’m beat. Fifteen minutes on the couch and I took my wonderful fishes to swim class…

Thankfully, they’re calling for rain tomorrow afternoon so I won’t have to miss out on any sunshine. Many of my fitness friends talk about ‘listening to their body’… Well mine usually has to get pretty belligerent before I’ll listen and the expletives came out this evening so it’s time to comply. It’s one of those things… You yell, Shut It Legs and they smile up at you and reply, Kiss It Punk, we’re out. Not too many ways to argue with that.

On the other hand, my God did I sleep well! Woohoo!

90% Mental – The Long Ride and Preparing To Succeed

This Sunday is the Dawn Farm Ride For Recovery 100k and I far am less prepared for it this year than last.  Some could make the leap that I’m not ready at all but longer rides are a funny monster.  If ever there were a case of something being mind over matter, I don’t mind so it doesn’t matter, it’s a long ride.  Don’t get me wrong, riding hard for 3-1/2 hours (solo) is no easy task but there are ways to recoup available in cycling that just don’t work with running.  If I crap out on a long run, I’m walking back and that takes forever.  On a ride though, if I’m cooked I can stop for a few minutes, lay down and stretch out, drink some water (or Gatorade better yet), eat a power bar and I’ll be right as rain before I know it – especially on something as short as 62.3 miles.  Even on a century (100 miles), a little break will do wonders.  With running, on the other hand, anyone whose put in any distance knows that once you stop for more than a few seconds or so you tighten up (or worse, cramp up) and getting going again hurts terribly.  With me it’s so bad I know I’m toast if I walk with more than a mile or two to go.  On those rare occasions where I want to walk, rather than walking I’ll slow my pace from 7-8 minute miles down to 10-11 minutes rather than walk.  I find that this can reset my breathing, heartbeat and cadence.  This works on the bike as well and I’d say even better because instead of slowing down to six miles an hour, I can still pull a four-minute mile and recharge.

With that out of the way, here’s a quick background:  Last March I put in 410 miles on the road.  This March I was stuck inside on the trainer because of nasty weather.  I did put in a little over 350 miles but trainer miles don’t come close to road miles.  Last April:  510 miles.  This April I’ll be lucky to hit 400 and that includes the 100k in one day (though things are absolutely looking up around here).

So, the question is am I physically ready for this?  I think so, especially if I can get into a decently paced group (the groups were pretty slow last year, I’m pretty sure I finished first – they don’t keep track but I even passed a guy who’d started out a fifteen minutes early) and I’m still in excellent shape, even after this extended winter we’ve had.  My miles are coming back and I feel great.

Here’s the trick, the ride snuck up on me.  I just realized yesterday that I’ve only got a week until it’s here and I’d like to have a few more 30+ mile rides in to be comfortable.  Unfortunately cramming the week before like it’s a test won’t work, I’m just going to have to muscle this one out – but we know for sure these endurance events are 90% mental, so how to prepare for the mental toughness I’m going to need to muscle it out in the first place?

The answer lies in a recovery trick that I learned long ago in dealing with anxiety attacks.

Doubt mimics cancer.  It starts very small and benign – as if a few cells mutate and grow into a monster that kills the host.  Doubt starts as a single thought.  If we are prepared, really ready for a race, this thought is extinguished as easily as putting out a match – a simple puff of breath and it’s gone.  If not, that simple thought multiplies, it is entertained…  “Maybe I’m not ready”.  “What happens if I bonk”?  “I’d better come up with a plan in case I have to bail”…  And so on.  This is 30 seconds into the thought process and if I allow my mind to continue down this path, I’ve doomed myself to fail a week before I hit the starting line.  Riding well, while fighting doubt, is as tough as it gets and here’s why:  At the first sign of difficulty on the road (or even sitting at the starting line waiting to take off) all of those thoughts and fears from the last week will flood back in and you will crash – it’s almost an inevitability.  It’s at this point, after the difficulty and the flood of thoughts that we begin to believe that we were right all along, that we indeed were not ready, and we start looking for the SAG vehicle.

There is hope though, and not some wishy-washy notion like maybe I’ll be okay…  There is a way to stop the cancer before it can grow and the only requirement is that we pay attention and combat those negative thoughts as they enter.  Using the same starting thought, “Maybe I’m not ready”…  “Oh yes I am, I’m in way better shape than I was last year coming out of the winter, I’m going to be fine…  I’m going to start out easy and I’m going to finish strong and I’ll deal with the adversity as it comes – I did a half-dozen of these things last year only 30-60 miles longer without a hitch.  It’s mind over matter and this won’t matter”.  I completely change the tape that plays in my head.  I change the entire thought process from one of doubt and negativity to victory.  Trust me on this, you throw enough shit at the side of a barn eventually some will stick – politicians rely on this reality.  Well it’s the same principle at work here, you just do it positively.

Now this isn’t all peaches and cream.  Just because we kick the hell out of negativity once doesn’t mean it won’t try to creep in through another door.  Persistence is the key.  Over the course of the next six days I must come to believe that this ride is mine or I will lose that 90%.  I may not be able to PR on Sunday but I won’t be mentally unprepared going in.

UPDATE:  Be sure to check out the comments – less than an hour after publishing this post Saltyvelo added a treasure trove…

Beautiful Day For A Ride

Still chilly, but 43 (F) is at least a step in the right direction after yesterday…

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