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Apr
11

By guest KIT blogger, Dave Andersen


Endurance sports require humility and patience. We all start with baby steps and then gradually move forward in our athletic journey. Some move forward rapidly, others, one step at a time. No matter how fit you are, if you are going to be an endurance athlete—at least in my experience—you better be able to eat humble pie. Here’s a quick story…
The Journey Becomes Our Lifestyle


Back in high school when I was a year or two into my running “career” my little brother decided he wanted some of the fun. So he joined me at a 7 mile road race and proceeded to beat me. That was my introduction to the fact that some people have a genetic gift (high VO2 max, etc) and their steps forward are bigger. While I was pretty happy to run sub 10-minutes for 2 miles in high school, my little brother was about 1-minute faster. Years later his sub 2:30 marathon would drive the point home.

So, really the goal for 99% of us (nonprofessional athletes) is to have fun and, given our physical and time limitations, try and reach our own personal limits. That being done, we must be satisfied. I know I am. I’ll go a step further and say it’s the journey (training) which becomes our lifestyle, which is perhaps most rewarding and brings a rare quality of life. Sure a solid race performance underlines all the hard work and sacrifice, but they are often far and few between.

The bottom line is: those of us that can follow our passion for fitness, sport, or even regionally high-level racing should never take it for granted or put too much expectation upon ourselves. Work as hard as you can without sacrificing your job, family, etc. It is a gift to do what we do and in the context of a balanced lifestyle it doesn’t really matter if you make the podium or come in with the pack. Do the best with what you have and be satisfied. Then flip on the internet and watch Tom Boonen riding away, while you dream away.Tom Boonen 2012 Paris Roubaix

KIT!

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*Dave Andersen lives in Boston and works in the educational publishing business. He shares his passion for cycling and sport with a wide range of friends and competitors.

Mar
27

By guest KIT blogger, Dave Andersen


Most of us first learn to ride a bicycle as young kids. Riding a bike is so simple even toddlers can do it. Yet serious cycling and especially bike racing are anything but simple. Or are they? Many folks labor over bike fit, wheels, heart rate monitors, power meters, and training plans. Granted, some of this stuff has it’s place, but at the essence we are turning the pedals and just trying to keep up with our fellow riders.
Good Enough for The Cannibal


While some of my competitors are dropping thousands of dollars on power meters to go on their already expensive bikes I made the decision to train and race by feel and sensation. If it was good enough for Eddy Merckx (see below), it’s good enough for me. Training is or can be a complex mix of distance, intervals, group rides and periodization. Racing is all about pack skills and keeping up. Either you can keep up or you can’t. I don’t need a heart rate monitor or a power meter to tell me I’m suffering or getting dropped. And if I can’t keep up it’s because the other guys are stronger.

Hey, I’m not anti-technology! I like the internet and carbon fiber, and I like having folks with their map-equipped Garmin’s along when riding in some far flung locale. I have simple cyclometers mounted on some of my bikes, but I usually only look at the data after I’m done riding, to see how far I went. When I do intervals or hill repeats I use a stop watch. In a race I never look at the data, or if I did glance at my cyclometer it would be to see how much farther we have to go, but then again, what does it matter? The object of the race (Winning? Having fun?) is to keep up for as long as possible, preferably, right to the finish line.

Kudos to those that utilize these advanced technological tools successfully, but I’m going to keep my cycling simple; I’m going to look outward (where I’m going) and inward (monitoring my sensations).

If you don’t agree with me, I refer you to RULE #74:

“Rule #74: V Meters or small computers only.
Forgo the data and ride on feel; little compares to the pleasure of riding as hard as your mind will allow. If you are not a Pro or aspire to be one, then you don’t need a SRM or PowerTap. To paraphrase BSNYC, an amateur cyclist using a power meter is like hiring an accountant to tell you how poor you are. As for Garmins, how often do you get lost on a ride? They are bulky, ugly and superflous. Cycle computers should be simple, small and mounted on the stem. And preferably wireless.”

To the folks at SRM (if you happen to read this): you might change my mind about technology by setting me up with the SRM SRAM S975 Powermeter System
(retail: $3,845.00). Jussayin!

In the meantime, keep it tight (and simple).
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*Dave Andersen lives in Boston and works in the educational publishing business. He shares his passion for cycling and sport with a wide range of friends and competitors.

Mar
19

By guest KIT blogger, Dave Andersen


Many of us have no problem training hard, but training without recovery leads to a downward spiral. I love recovery days because usually you are basking in the glow of a hard block of training or racing and the rest day(s) put BALANCE into your life. To understand the significance of recovery, you need to grasp the fundamental principles of progressive training overload. It’s important to have a training plan that incorporates not only higher degrees of stress (training) stimulus, but also consists of adequate bouts of recovery. And while you don’t always know how you’re going to respond to training, you’ll have a pretty good idea that if you’ve planned a hard training block, you’ll need to back it up with the appropriate amount of rest. But rest as needed, not as planned. Just be sure to plan to rest.

Train Hard, Recover Harder


I’m a student of endurance sports, and with over 35 years of training and racing experience I’ve learned a few things about recovery. Ultimately, movement is the best medicine we have, but it’s not enough in and of itself. You need to do whatever it takes (legally) to enhance recovery. Thankfully, most recovery-boosting options are free.

Sleeping. Thankfully, sleep is free of charge, and it recharges your batteries. Sleeping includes napping, a learned skill but one that helps release more of that ever-important human growth hormone, your body’s very own recovery drug. I’m not much for napping but I do sleep 9-10 hours every night.

Relaxing. Relaxing is also free, but it’s truly amazing how few people know how to do it. Sometimes it’s important to spend some time doing nothing, and perhaps even less. I mean, how great is it to do nothing and then rest afterward! Ask yourself: are you capable of doing nothing today?

Eating. The key thing with recovery-related nutrition is to know that your immediate recuperation needs depend on what you shove down your gullet (and when you do so) and that your long-term wellness also greatly depends on it. Food is the only source where we humans get our energy. Take in nutrients, not just stimulants.

Hydration. It’s crystal clear that rehydration is imperative when attempting to augment recovery. I often grab a chocolate milk or recovery drink as soon as I get home from training. For the rest of the day I’ll sip non-alcoholic beverages.

Massage. Use your hands or a foam roller or a device like The Stick.

Elevating. The heart pumps blood through the body, but it takes work. Elevate your performance by elevating your legs.

Compressing. Socks, calf sleeves, or tights. Whether or not it works, doesn’t matter. You should decide yourself, like with all things in life.

Warming-up and cooling-down. My bike rides always start and finish with 30-minutes easy. Follow your own common sense.

Stretching. Some studies show that stretching can speed recovery where others demonstrate absolutely nothing. If you believe it helps, keep doing it. If you’d rather not, keep doing that.

Fun. Laughter. Joy. Delight. Pleasure. Smiling. Happiness. Bliss. Ecstasy. Take part in these vital parts of being human and having a balanced lifestyle as often as possible, and you will recover more quickly.

I don’t know who said these words (below) first, but they seem appropriate when talking about rest and recovery:

Don’t run, if you can walk.
Don’t walk, if you can stand.
Don’t stand, if you can sit.
Don’t sit, if you can lie down, and
Don’t stay awake, if you can take a nap.

* David Andersen lives in Boston and works in the educational publishing business. He shares his passion for cycling and sport with a wide range of friends and competitors.