5x5's

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5x5's

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, less than 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

12 days to go- Tuesday August 6th

What a difference a rest day makes. I felt a lot better today and was ready for some good training. I’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts that my training has been lacking anaerobic efforts, so today was another day to get those efforts in.

As athletes, we usually dislike the workouts that are the best for us. Some dislike threshold intervals, others dislikes sprints. For me, I always dreaded the 5x5 workout. These intervals are done just above threshold with little recovery. So, today, I decided it would be good for me to do this workout.

I warmed up, went to the flattest dirt road around, and did the intervals. It took my legs ~30 min to get going and feeling better (no proper ride since Friday), but once going things went well. I did the 3rd and 4th intervals in one too hard of a gear to challenge leg strength and keep the HR somewhat down (I was at 9,000ft), and the last interval I did on the bumpiest part of the road to make sure I could make power on the pumps and my bike, chain, and shifting was all good over the bumps. I feel lucky that I can train on dirt roads on my race bike every day. Some people do not have this privilege/advantage.

After the ride was a recovery shake and then ~20min of core strength and push-ups.

The day was not quite over as I headed to Golden later in the afternoon to pre ride the Colorado Classic stage with ALP Cycles Racing. We rode the race lap twice for about an hour of riding. My legs were not psyched on this ride but it was good to spin out and get a little additional ride time in. The excitement of the day was getting pulled over by a Golden police officer. We were riding 2 by 2 through town and that’s not allowed. It was a good day of bike riding and coaching.

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Unglamorous

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

14 days to go- Sunday August 4th

The most exciting part of training plans are the workouts. I know this because I enjoy seeing workouts that other coaches prescribe, and anytime we post workouts on this blog, the website gets far more hits than when we post about mindfulness, recovery, etc. But, in reality, the rest and recovery parts of the plan are the most important. An athlete can not sustain quality training and peak performance, if they are tired.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling exactly the same as when I went to bed Saturday night. It was like I didn’t sleep or recover at all. My legs ached, I was sleepy, and my energy was very low. I had a 2 hr mountain bike clinic to teach and that took all energy I could summon. The clinic was awesome and minus me almost eating concrete demonstrating going over a curb, the women learned, we all had fun working on skills, and it was a success.

When I came home, I was dunzo. We had family nap time and it was a very relaxing and much needed chill afternoon. I did some rolling and stretching before bed and that felt great. I had hopes of waking up Monday morning ready to ride and do a solid workout.

13 days to go- Monday August 5th

I woke up and my legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds each; just while laying in bed. I had hopes that after coffee and moving around a bit, my energy would magically return and I’d be ready to ride. But, if I am honest with myself and my body, I am still tired. The ache in my legs is gone but the fatigue is still there.

While it is disappointing that I’m still tired and I pulled the pull on any kind of ride today, the most disappointing thing would be waking up on race day with tired legs. I know from both personal and coaching expierence that pushing through this kind of fatigue, this close to race day, is not a good idea. In 2013, I did not listen to my body and tried to do TT intervals leading into Nationals. That nationals was a giant disappointment filled with fatigue, sickness, and poor results. The next year, I errored on the side of doing too little and won both the road race and TT race.

I know my body will come around and it takes patience and trust to give it the time it needs. To rest is to recover.


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Rest Day?

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Rest Day?

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

15 days to go- Saturday August 3rd

There are days when a rest day and a day off are completely different things. Yesterday was a good example of just because you have the day off the bike (or away from training) doesn’t mean you had a rest day.

The day started with going to a Memorial service in Boulder with standing room only (I was late…). Then straight to Littleton for the Littleton Crit. ALP Cycles Racing was racing both the Cat 3/4/5 and the Pro 1/2 race later in the evening and I was the coach/director. I did get to pre ride the course a bit (~30min total), but the combination of being in the sun, on my feet, standing, walking, and staying up late (didn’t get home until 10:30pm), had me tired and my legs aching worse than had I had a bike ride today.

Even though today was a day off the bike and away from training, it was far from a rest day. It’s important for athletes to learn that a rest day is a rest day. The harder you rest on a day off the bike, the better your training will be after the rest day. Days like I had today, are neither a training day nor a rest day, they are kind of a lost day (but they do happen and we have to be ok with days like today).

On the coaching side of things, however, it was a great day. The team raced really well and each rider learned something and achieved a personal goal and a team goal. This kind of day, on a personal level, is really rewarding.

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Hill Attacks

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Hill Attacks

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 2 weeks out from race day, she’s been blogging every day leading up to the race. She blogs about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

17 days to go- Friday August 2nd

Yesterday, I blogged about how much sitting I do. Today felt like the exact opposite. The day started with coaching a 2 hour private mountain bike skills lesson. I very much enjoy this type of hands-on coaching and she was a strong rider so we got some solid pedal time.

Back at home was another dog walk (with 3 dogs there is a solid amount of dog walking per day and today was a little extra), and computer time. Come 2:15pm, I had free time until another phone call at 4. If I wasn’t training for Steamboat, I would have used the free 90min to take care of house things such as vacuum, pull thistle, etc. But as race day is just over 2 weeks away, house things get put to the side (and dog fur piles up).

So, out I went for Hill Attacks (a simple, but challenging, workout that I often give my ALP athletes). I mentioned in an earlier blog post that my training has been lacking anaerobic efforts, so today was a day to get those efforts in. Before going out the door was a quick dynamic warmup as I had tightened up since riding this morning. I’m lucky in that I live on a fairly hilly dirt road. I warmed up, rode the 5-ish miles to the pavement, turned around and every time the road when uphill, I went full gas. By the time I reached the pavement on the other end, it had been 25min of intervals. The last time I did this workout (mid winter) I was dead at the end and this time, I felt like I could do another set of 25min intervals, so that is promising. This is where, if I had a power meter, the data would come in handy. I could compare the power and time I did in the winter to what I had done today to track progress. All in all, I was out for just over an hour and I think that hour is the only part of the day that it rained…

Quick protein recovery drink, bike wash, shower, dog walk, and out the door to help build trail with NATO (Nederland Area Trails Organization). Building singletrack trail (by hand) is fun, rewarding, and hard work (manual labor). Like multiple dog walks, doing manual labor is not ideal for recovery, or training (but it’s fun and #happiness watts goes a long way).

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Are the Legs Ready?

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Are the Legs Ready?

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 3 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

18 days to go- Thursday August 1

I woke up in the middle of the night worried about what I was going to do for hot water (coffee) and bathroom while in Steamboat for the race. I plan to #vanlife it for the race- a quick in and out trip with one night spent in Steamboat. But that one night is important and that one morning (race morning) is most important. While figuring out how to make hot water and what to do for a bathroom isn’t that big of a deal, in the middle of the night it seems like it is. So, I have 17 days to figure out what to do for hot water and bathroom.

Moving on…. today was another recovery day from the #alptoc. I already felt a lot better today. I’m lucky in that my job as cycling coach and business owner involves a lot of computer time. That means I sit and sit and sit and sit. Sitting and staying off the feet is good for recovery. However, sitting too long can cause things to start to tighten up and I was starting to feel my legs, hips, and back starting to tighten up this afternoon.

We have a great group of friends and almost every week we ride mountain bikes together on Thursday evenings. Before I left for the ride, I did ~25-30min of core strength and push-ups. This involved Foundation Training, planks, and green band glute work. It felt really good and it’s been a while since I did an actual core workout (other than activation before riding).

For me, mountain biking is a great test to see how the legs any body are doing. Unlike the road bike, you can’t just sit and spin. Mountain biking requires pressure on the pedals to get through technical features, and focus and coordination to get through technical features. If I’m any bit tired, either mentally for physically, my MTB riding is pretty poor. Also, a sign of fatigue is burning legs (from the get go, not from intervals) that don’t produce power. So, if my legs are burning with any effort on the pedals, then I know I my body is tired. Tonight would be a good test as our friends are good riders and we usually ride challenging, technical trails. The good news was my legs felt good and climbing with the big bike felt easy. And, for not riding the MTB in about a week, my skills were also fairly good. This shows me my body has recovered from the Tour and I’m ready for training.

No Garmin on the MTB, but I would guess our ride was ~2hrs. We were out there for 3 hrs but we stop, laugh, wait, chat, B.S., drink beers, etc. It was fun.

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ALP ToC day 3- a day of pedaling

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ALP ToC day 3- a day of pedaling

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 3 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

Day 3 of our annual tour of Colorado went from Carbondale to Avon. At 66miles and 2400ft of climbing it was our easiest day of the Tour. However, due to all the pedaling, it felt harder than I thought it should. Minus a bit of downhill bike path riding (which was a wonderful warm-up), it climbed steadily for 53miles. So, for 3hrs we pedaled. No coasting, no real climbs to get out of the saddle for. For me, this felt hard on my body- my back was a little sore (not as bad as Saturday), my butt was getting sore, my arms were getting tired, etc.

It was a beautiful route. Riding through Gleenwood Canyon next to the high running Colorado was awesome. We saw rafters and kayakers.

Today, I got to ride the entire route while Paddy and Brie took care of the van and van stops.

The morning started close to usual- mobility, dynamic warm-up. No Foundation training today nor BCAA’s or preload. I started with the first group to leave and we had a great pace with high cadence on the path to Glenwood. Then came the canyon and it was hard to focus on anything other than the coolness of where we were riding. Once out of the canyon and onto highway 6, we had a nice pace and rode steady.

By the time we got to Avon, I was tired but not cooked. Today and Friday I had coke at the last van stop to make sure it went well with my belly as they will have it at SBTGRVL. Coke is the bomb and it tasted good and I liked it.

For me, I’m most satisfied with these type of events when everyone makes it to the end safely, with smiles on their faces, and satisfyingly tired legs. Mission accomplished on this year’s Tour! It was really awesome. The second sag car was most helpful and our logistics were on point. We are already planning next year’s route. Thank you to Paddy and Brie for their amazing help, great attitudes, organization, and willingness to laugh and be laughed at. It’s such a good time.

For me, this was a good 3 day training block. Given the fact that I’m in charge of 24 people, I was psyched to get some solid riding and my own tired legs. I now need to work on some repeated intensity (after rest).

Speaking of rest- today (Wednesday) 20 days to go- is a rest day. I did some solid foam and lacrosse ball rolling last night and that helped me feel so much better. Rolling really is so important to stay on top of. It helps the body feel better, and stay mobile.

Riding through Glenwood Canyon

Riding through Glenwood Canyon

Heidi pulling us home

Heidi pulling us home

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ALP ToC day 2

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ALP ToC day 2

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 3 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

Day 2 of our annual tour of Colorado went from Aspen to Carbondale by way of Maroon Bells and Ashcroft; two amazingly beautiful climbs. I was support and van driver today (coaches Paddy, Brie, and I take turns driving the van and riding). Because we had 2 out and back climbs, I was able to squeeze in a little riding between van stops. I was tired today, but felt surprisingly better than I thought I would after yesterday. After sending everyone on their way and getting the van to the proper location, I was able to ride a steady tempo toward Maroon Bells. Once the first riders started coming back, I flipped it and was ready for a fun pedaling descent to meet them at the van with food, water, goodies. Unfortunately, my Di2 battery was dying and I couldn’t shift into the big ring (apparently I need to charge the Di2 far more often…). Fortunately, while everyone was refueling at the van, I was able to charge the battery just enough to get back on my bike for the second climb before driving again.

Our van stops are some of the most fun parts of our Tour. Yes, the riding is amazing and the people are great, but at the van it all comes together. Stories of riding, eating, Boom in our Belly sandwiches, laughing, etc. It’s like a mini party and it’s really fun to be part of.

Once everyone was on their way toward Ashcroft, I was able to ride a bit more. This time, to avoid any battery problems, I left it in the big ring and only shifted the back between 3 gears as little as possible. This proved to be a solid challenge, one could call it intervals. I used to prescribe single speed rides/workouts and, after today, I think I’ll start doing it again. You get it all in one- big gear intervals, high cadence intervals, standing intervals, etc. All in all, I got about 1:45hr of riding and that was just fine. Today was not my day to ride, it was my day to support.

Once at the hotel, with bags unpacked, and riders taken care of, I was able to do some much needed lacrosse ball rolling. Then we had our nightly happy hour followed by dinner which was a giant hamburger.

Tomorrow is our last day of this year’s ToC (I will ride all day while Paddy and Brie split up the driving/support). It always go by so quickly. It’s so much fun and we are already planning our 2020 route.

Heidi and Mike at Maroon Bells

Heidi and Mike at Maroon Bells

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Rest then go Big

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Rest then go Big

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 3 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

23 days to go- Saturday July 27th

I needed another rest day for 4 reasons-

1- I wanted one (no desire to ride)

2- I was still tired (from the Lickskillet ride)

3- I knew what was coming (ALP tour of Colorado)

4- I had to finish up details for the Tour (organizing 3 days of riding for 24 people).

22 days to go- Sunday July 28th

Day 1 of ALP Cycles Coaching tour of Colorado. The best 3 days on a road bike every year. This year, I was a bit selfish and scheduled the Tour exactly 3 weeks out from Steamboat. Three weeks out from an event is a perfect time to do a big training block. We have several riders on the Tour who are racing Steamboat and Leadville, so the timing is perfect (3 weeks and 2 weeks out).

Today was big and a it was great training and preparation for Steamboat; 97 miles and 7,400ft of climbing. We rode from Avon to Aspen. The goal of today was to go hard, see what we were made of and how much we could handle. I got cooked. The first climb started a bit fast and I knew it was more than 1- I could sustain for 75 more miles and 2- the others could also sustain. But that’s why we are here, to see how much we could handle before exploding (i.e. to learn pacing and patience for a long event).

In addition to taking care of the Tour riders, I fit in the usual Foundation training, mobility, BCAA’s, and pre load. 4 hours later I was questioning doing Foundation before a ride. While it does activate my “posterior chain” I started to wonder if it also pre fatigued it. My back was dying today. My legs were also hurting but my back was very sore/tired and ended up being my limiter. This is discouraging, but all I can do is keep working and doing my best to get it ready to handle 8+hrs on the bike on dirt roads.

Hydration was good. Nutrition was good. Pacing was too fast to start. Head space was good.

Brie taking care of us

Brie taking care of us

Today was the most tired I’ve been on a bike in a long time. Soaking in the river in Aspen with my Sister and John was amazing.

No stretching and rolling this evening- I could use it, but time is the limiter and I’d rather go to bed.

PS- Everyone made it to Aspen safely and had giant smiles while telling their ride stories over happy hour. It was a great day!

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Active Recovery

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Active Recovery

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 3.5 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

24 days to go- Friday July 26th

After the Lickskillet ride, my legs hurt so badly that I took Ibuprofen before bed. The research on taking “vitamin I” as a recovery tool is not good and it’s not something I make a habit of doing. But, for me, Ibuprofen works. Laying in bed with aching legs and low back does not make for good sleeping and sleep is the #1 most important tool for recovery. It doesn’t matter how much you are training, how well planned/structured/executed your training is, if you are not getting quality sleep, forget about it. You’ll never reach your fitness potential. For me, when I take Ibuprofen, I sleep hard and I wake up feeling so much better.

That being said, even though I felt better, I was in need of a recovery day (mentally and physically). My in-laws are visiting from Florida and they wanted to ride mountain bikes. We got them bikes from Tin Shed and off we went. It was super fun. I have no idea how long we were (maybe 75min?) out there or what our ride time was but it was fun to be outside, move the body, and be with family. I felt my legs on every little uphill so today was perfect to promote recovery and not add any extra fatigue.

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Other People's Pace

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Other People's Pace

In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 3.5 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

25 days to go- Thursday July 25th

I have a small group of friends who are also “in training”. Among other races, both are racing SBTGRVL. Every couple of weeks we get together and ride. I very much like these rides as they let me pick the route (usually very hard), and they are mostly ok with my “no phaffing” philosophy (No B.S.- let’s ride and then get home to work and take care of dogs). These friends are also quite strong riders and each ride challenges me; I come home tired.

When training for an event, it’s important to ride with others. Riding with others forces you to change pace (sometimes faster, sometimes slower). It can be easy to become complacent on your own riding your own speed all the time.

The morning started as usual- pre load, BCAA’s, dynamic stretching, activation, water bottle fill, snack making, etc. I was very sleepy this morning due to dog drama in the middle of the night, but my energy levels were a-ok.

Today’s route was going to be a hard one. 4hrs with over 6,000ft climbing with Lickskillet (a very steep dirt climb) as the main goal. While it was a route that was totally doable on road bikes, I chose to my CX bike turned gravel bike so I could bank more time on it.

Climbing Lickskillet (thanks for the photo Jiri!)

Climbing Lickskillet (thanks for the photo Jiri!)

90 minutes into the ride, Daphne, put in an attack that not only hurt my legs, they stayed loaded up the entire ride. Meaning, they loaded with lactate and my body was not able to clear it. My legs never felt the same after that— a sure sign that I have done no specific interval training in the past months and if I don’t start, my SBTGRVL could be over in the first hour when separations are being made.

We climbed Lickskillet which was indeed very steep and I was thankful for my 42. There was no shortage of water today as we passed the Ward spring twice and nutrition seems to be pretty dialed now (eat early, eat often, and front load the calories with 1/2 a PBJ).

The last hour of the ride was quite uncomfortable. My legs hurt, my bad ached (but not from pain, from fatigue instead and this is exciting!), and I was mentally tired. I imagine I’ll feel like this (or worse) the last couple hours in Steamboat so this was good practice.

Home to a recovery drink, and the foam roller. I’m more than ready for a rest day tomorrow.


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