Monday, January 5, 2015

Making progress on the bike...

I shared recently that my theme for 2015 is to get stronger. After 13 seasons of triathlon, my *aerobic engine* is not generally in question, so if I am to extend my athletic boundaries and continue to improve in the coming season, I need a stronger platform. With my physical and adrenal health slowly getting back to 100%, I have been loading up the weight in the gym.

- Lots of single leg pistol squats (TRX to stabilize)
- Weighted squats
- Hang clean to push press
- Renegade rows
- Lots of core - plated sit-ups, push-ups and plank (60s alternating every 10s), V-ups, Russian twists

Friday night strength session at the Olympic Club, SF

I found some heavy weights at our Park City hotel gym
With more time spent in the gym each week in November and December, I've had a little less time to focus on endurance miles on the bike and run. This lack of time outside also happened to coincide with some very rainy weeks in San Francisco and a Christmas vacation in Park City and Alta. 

Most of my riding in late November and December was done indoors. I definitely squeezed in a couple of 3-4hr outdoor rides in the past 6 weeks but more than half of my bike training was on the Computrainer, either at home or at Shift. My indoor bike training has also been focused on helping me build strength and pushing my top end power abilities. And most of my rides have been no longer than 90-100 minute sessions.

There are two types of key sessions that I've been doing on the bike to build strength:

Session 1: Alternating intervals of very low rpm (45-50rpm) in zone 3 with very high rpm (105rpm+) in zone 1-2. 

I think of this workout as muscularly challenging but you're never breathing hard. As Matt Dixon would say, the focus is downstairs, ensuring each pedal stroke is as good as it can be and that you engage the hamstrings and glutes in the latter part of the pedal stroke. It's a great session for working on technique.

Session 2: After a solid 20-30 minute warm-up that reaches into zone 4, do 8-10x maximum effort 1min intervals (zone 5+) with full recovery (~2:30-3:00 recovery between each interval). 

This type of session has been my nemesis over the years, as my zone 4-5 power efforts usually taper off into failure pretty quickly. My power files for sprint races are very similar to my Ironman effort! I am committed to change this year so I started out doing these 1min max efforts in November at around 275-280w and I've slowly increased to 310w. I still would like to find another 15-20w in this session to be happy with my progress for the season but I'm already seeing the benefits of this work when riding outside.

With drier California weather (so far) in January, my husband and I decided that we wanted to kick off the New Year with a cycling adventure and so this past weekend we embarked on a destination ride! Just before New Year's we Fedexed a box of clothes (cycling kit, jeans, tee shirt, swimsuit) to a hotel in the Carmel Highlands. This past Saturday, we rode ~85 miles from the Bay Area to the hotel  on highway 1 at the start of Big Sur. We stayed the night and then rode back via a slightly different route (~95miles) on Sunday. 
Love the Betty 2 kit!

Bike path in Seaside

A room with a view!

Sunrise on highway 1, Big Sur, CA

Day 2 was pretty hard with a more challenging route that included a steep climb on a single lane road over Mt. Madonna (1600ft climb over 4mi or ~8% grade). This time, I lost Blanco's wheel as I was grinding up the steeper sections that were 11%+ grade but he waited patiently for me at the top.

Top of the big climb on day 2 (Mt Madonna)
I recommend reserving a hotel with pool/hot-tub when doing destination rides!
The adventure ride was a great test of where my cycling fitness is (especially with the 375 mile Coast Ride coming up in two weeks!) and I was excited to notice that Blanco's wheel didn't disappear up the hills ahead of me... for the most part, I stayed right on his wheel, holding watts that usually have me freaking out. Now, perhaps my SRM was reading favorably so I won't get too excited but it did boost my confidence that my lack of road miles in the last few weeks has not been a bad thing ;)


  1. Ah, you almost make me want to get back on the trainer! I'm excited to see how your new focus pans out this season. Looks like a gorgeous trip!

  2. That's awesome; Jason and I have always talked about mailing clothes up-island and riding to a resort... we have friends that used to do it all the time. Now you've renewed my interest in doing it! Cheers.

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