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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.


The Sporting Life

by ikeepittight in Blog Comments: 2 tags: Andersen

By guest KIT blogger, Dave Andersen

When I was a freshman in high school I began experimenting with sports. At first it was basketball, then I dabbled in track and field, then I found my way to cross country running. I immediately fell in love with it. It required hard work, and I liked pushing myself to my physical limits. I found that if I trained hard I had some success in competition. Little did I know back then that this path was the beginning of what would become the defining thread throughout my life. Fitness coupled with competition is what I like to call “the sporting life”.
“The Quest for a Balanced Life

Cross country races led to track, culminating in several NH State Championship races. After a few wayward years I found my way to road racing: 5K, 10K, half marathons, and by age 22 my first marathon. By now I was living in NYC and found myself on a sponsored running team. This was the life, traveling to races with other young guys. However, sport, like life is not always a constant upward trajectory. I got injured and burned out. Life took a turn. A couple of years later I began again. At first I jog-walked a mile. I also bought a bike. It turns out there were run-bike-run races (back then we called them biathlons). I met other like-minded guys and heard about triathlons. I got married. I started swimming. A couple of years later I did my first Ironman. Then another. I began to travel to far away races with my wife.

Fast forward 15 years, 25 marathons, hundreds of running and multisport races, life took another turn. Injury and burnout (again). My wife and I picked up golf and that was our “sport” for several years. It was fun, involved travel to new locations, and a new group of friends. Alas, people grow apart and although we tried, we amicably divorced. Once I got used to my new life I fell back in love with, you guessed it, the sporting life. Running, multisport, even cross country ski racing. Up to this point (age 50) I had yet to try bike racing. Luckily for me my co-worker Gus helped guide me in the beginning. Now here I am with 2 years and 60 bike races under my belt. In a few weeks I’ll start my 2012 race season in the Cat 1/2/3 Marblehead Circuit Race.

I strive to live a balanced life, after all, one thing I’ve learned is that injury and burnout are no fun. Balance and moderation are important. Friendships, family, and work are not to be taken for granted. Still, there is no escaping the fact that when I look back on my life, many of my happiest times are when I have been engaged in the sporting life with friends and family. Many of these friendships have endured through life’s ups and downs. I will share more of this lifestyle choice in future updates. In the meantime, keep it tight!

* 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.


Keep It Light

by ikeepittight in Blog Comments: 0

By guest KIT blogger, Chris Chapron

These days my riding is predominately associated with my commute. Depending on the time of year, at least part takes place before sunrise or after sunset and safety is always an issue when traveling the streets of Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs. I rely on a variety of lights to make sure motorists and pedestrians alike can see me.“Light and Tight”

I started off running the Knog Beetle up front and the Boomer in the rear.

The design is simple, they wrap around the bars and seatpost rather easily and the button cell battery has a good life when using the strobe mode. Their ease of use, reliability and waterproof casing all make these a solid commuting light in low light situations. However, I wanted more power, more “blinky” (“strobing” for you technical folks), as being seen well in advance is my first priority.

So I went back to a tried and true manufacturer of cycling lights that I have relied heavily upon, Nite-Rider. Up front I added the Lightning Bug 3.0.

Like the number says, it uses 3 LEDs with the same type of silicone bar enclosure, battery, and push button operation. I have switched this light frequently to my helmet when riding different terrains. It is far brighter than the Knog, the strobing is more intense and it illuminates farther (yes, I realize I’m comparing a 2 LED light to a 3-LED light). The push button operation can be finicky because I can’t tell the difference between the high and low setting other than both settings are blinding. I have heard and seen the silicone bar enclosure break, however customer service will hook you up. For the rear of the bike, the Cherry Bomb really lets motorists know I’m in front of them.

Of all the red blinking/strobing lights, this light crushes them all for brightness. It runs on 2-AAA batteries and runs for a decent amount of time (I use rechargeable AAA’s). I have it attached to either my seat stays or seatpost so the mounting position is versatile. It has two settings: “on” or “strobing”. The only negative remark is the button to turn it on is too small.

Are there other lights out there? Yes, the supply is endless but the goal is to be safe and be seen.

“Bright and Tight”

The lights mentioned above get me through the commute, however if your ride is going to be epic — whether it’s the weekly night ride at Harold Parker or getting your LSD training ride in before or after work – you want even more power. You want lights that are bright and TIGHT. I won’t compare lumens on the tiny lights mentioned above – it’s something that is more important for technical lighting systems and should factor into your decision.
I personally run the MiNewt pro 750 from Nite-rider.

Four settings for brightness, lightweight and rugged battery so far have survived a few adventures into the woods and one weekend of 24 hour racing. The light is probably the heaviest of the three I mention here so it could get a little awkward when helmet-mounted. 750 lumens is pretty standard for a light of this size, and the LEDs produced a nice crisp light without too much of that HID blue haze from previous lights. At the max setting I get about 80 minutes of consistent power before it begins to fade, however you have the option to switch to lower light settings before you start stumbling around in the dark woods (which is about par for the course for me anyway). Nite-rider offers more powerful lights to fit your illuminating needs as well

“Bright and Super-Tight”

A second lighting system that I have only had the pleasure of borrowing but not actually owning, are lights by Ay-Up Lights.

The newer version will have a fuel gauge so you know how much power you have left. These are by far the lightest set I have ever used and one of the most rugged. When ordering you can even specify what “beam” you are looking for, narrow, intermediate and broad. Now that’s TIGHT! The battery is stored in an easy Velcro neoprene pouch. The kit came with different mounts: handlebar, helmet, head torch. These were the best lights for helmet use and illuminated the path superbly. I was able to see all the rocks and roots I was about to hit and still hit them anyway. The twin lights are attached to a bar which allows each light to be adjusted independently. I don’t know the lumen rating of these lights, however they were bright. These are manufactured in Australia so you can brag to your buddies how your lights are Aussie tough (I don’t know what that means but it sounds good).

Lastly, there is one last light that should be thrown into the mix: The Lupine Tesla SC 750 lumen light

Unfortunately I haven’t used this light but a close friend swears by it and motorists have surely cursed at him for its blinding bright beam. I have seen him ride and this light has to be bullet proof to withstand the pounding it takes when he is out commuting and mountain biking. They no longer make this particular model light and it has since been replaced by the Piko 3 or Piko 6 but they will still service this light. The circuitry in his light broke, causing it to turn off randomly, customer service mailed him out a new lighting head and all was good as new so they continue to service past products which might lead me to believe they have decent customer service. Now I’m done writing this piece, so get out and ride even if the sun isn’t up, there is no excuse not to now.

*Chris Chapron is a father of two boys, mountain biker, roadie and a daily bike commuter. When not putting the hammer down (PTHD) at work and enjoying time with family, he is out exploring local trails, roads and New England breweries.