Monday, May 25, 2009

Lactic Acid Myths

From Matt Fitzgerald

The February 2009 issue of Triathlete Magazine contains a feature article, which I wrote, entitled, “The Lactic Acid Myths.” It summarizes the latest scientific knowledge of lactate metabolism, which includes the following points: 1) the human body does not produce lactic acid at all, but lactate; 2) lactate does not cause muscular acidosis; 3) muscular acidosis is only a minor cause of muscle fatigue; 4) muscle cell depolarization is a much more potent cause of muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise; 5) lactate actually delays fatigue caused by muscle cell depolarization; 6) the body can recycle lactate to glucose, the muscles’ primary source of fuel for high-intensity exercise; 7) lactate can be directly oxidized inside cellular mitochondria to yield energy (in other words, far from being a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism, lactate is an aerobic fuel); 75 percent of the lactate produced by the muscles during exercise never leaves the muscle cells but is used directly for energy; 9) lactate production during exercise upregulates genes that generate new mitochondria (in other words, high levels of exposure to lactate during exercise lead to physiological adaptations that strengthen aerobic capacity).

Racing Weight

From Matt Fitzgerald

(World Champion Andy Potts) says that he struggles to remain heavy enough during periods of peak training and takes aggressive measures–such as eating gourmet pretzels!–to keep from becoming too lean before it’s time to peak, or he gets run down. He has found that he is only able to productively hold his optimal racing weight for a short time, just as he is only able to hold peak race fitness for a short time. So he watches his weight carefully and does everything he can to keep it at what he considers the optimal training level until it’s time to pull the trigger on a racing peak.

Push Your Limits

From Matt Fitzgerald

Quoting Michael Atkinson, PhD, a sociologist at England’s Loughborough University:

"In our culture we are told that suffering is a bad thing, and you should never do it. But these people say to me that when you discover that suffering isn’t going to kill you, a lot of really important things about yourself are revealed to you. You learn a ton about who you are and what you’re capable of, not just physically but also mentally. This becomes a vehicle of self-exploration."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Repeat Workouts and Learn a Deeper Lesson


The first handful of times you repeat a session/plan, you are only just getting into the routine or swing of things but even then, you'll start to notice little subtleties in the impact from other things.

If you explore deeply (repeat over and over), rather then widely (changing often), you'll develop a greater understanding of your training. With the sessions being KNOWN, you can start to see the impact from other sessions. Did dinner last night help or hinder? How much sleep did I get? How was my attitude going into the session? What are my stress levels like? And any number of other factors that present you with huge learning opportunities to continually refine your approach so that you get more and more out of each time you repeat that session.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Watch For Symptoms of Overtraining

From Joe Friel

There are several categories of markers that may predict when you are exceeding your overtraining threshold. They are:

Fatigue which doesn’t go away with 48 hours of low workload or even time off from training. The legs feel tired or there is general body weariness that lingers even after taking it easy for two days.

Little control of emotions — evidence of anger, feeling sorry for yourself, moodiness, depression, grumpiness. In short, you are hard to live with. A spouse or roommate may be the first to recognize this.

Performance declines. For example, you are slower at a given heart rate, or for any given speed, heart rate is higher than usual.

Self-confidence declines. This may be the best marker, but it’s hard to assess. One way to do it may be in the athlete trying to visualize accomplishing a very high workout or race goal. If it seems out of reach and farfetched, self-confidence may be low.

When any of these markers show up and linger for more than three days, there’s a good chance that the overtraining threshold has been exceeded. At this point the workload must be reduced immediately until you are back to normal. Then take time to evaluate what level of workload produced the problem, and make adjustments as you start back into higher workloads.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Truth According to Doc

From Brett Sutton

I know the true meaning of winning, and that is to do better than you ever have before .
To thyself be true. You must do it for your own personal reasons, revel in knowing you're doing a good job. Take a little read of Kipling and treat it all as the imposter it is.

Editor's note: From Kipling's If: "...If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same....yours is the earth and everything that's in it..."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pacing a Bike Time Trial

From Joe Friel

I like to have the riders I coach divide the time trial course into four quarters...

Q1. In the first they simply try to hold back. The tendency is to go out much too fast and pay the price later on. Heart rate will mean little here. RPE is everything, especially if you don’t have a power meter. If you start breathing hard here you went out much too fast.

Q2. In the second quarter, if you don’t have a power meter, heart rate and speed are watched closely. If using a heart rate monitor and RPE stay in your goal average zone with an RPE which is only slightly harder than for the first quarter. Do not let heart rate rise above goal heart rate.

Q3. If you will slow down, this is when it will happen. The purpose of the first half of the race is to prepare you for this section. If you controlled your effort and stayed in the moment earlier you will now be able to maintain average power, heart rate or speed here, altho it will now feel much harder. Maintain focus and effort.

Q4. In the fourth quarter you know there are only a few agonizing minutes left. The end is mentally in sight. It’s just like the horse smelling the barn – you feel capable of increasing the RPE. Now you can race others IF you held back in quarters 1 and 2.

Maintain the Adventure

From Gordo Byrn

This week's title is short for "Why wait to be great" - a mantra from my elite racing days. For athletics, the mantra was a reminder to maintain my adventuresome spirit. While it is true that all we really need is a reasonable weekly structure, it takes so long to get decent (to achieve our own 'greatness') that compliance is increased if we maintain the adventure in our training. In reality, athletics is no different than our wider lives. If you pursue sport for long enough then your approach (and often your successes) will bring out self-limiting patterns and habits. As adult athletes, it is far easier for us to maintain an open mind athletically than in the other areas of our lives (where we've been repeating patterns for years). Perhaps this is a good reason to change careers, or cultures, every decade, or so.