Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Getting back on the horse

I'm starting to feel better. At least I'm not cold all the time and don't have that sickly feeling. Although there is still quite a bit of sinus congestion and crap up there.

It's time to move forward into the MSP phase of training. In general, I'll be doing some MSP intervals in the 8-17minute range. Also thrown in there are some SMSP intervals with half the rest as normal. For example, 3 min on: 1off as oppsed to 3on 3 off like I was doing in the SMSP phase.

The MSP is an interesting phase. It's the place where I'm trying to develop my sustainable power. Which is the pace at which I'd time trial at or do a long sustained climb. Dave's philosophy is that this metric is one of the most indicative factors for cycling success.

Obviously there are technical skills, tactics, sprinting ability, the ability to recover from hard efforts, etc... that are all in the mix. But for the most part having a high sustainable power is a key to getting faster. Especially for new/developing riders.

Somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes is where things seem to transition from SMSP to MSP. I might be able to do 4 minute intervals at 290W, but then I'll be able to do 8, 9, 10, 12minutes at 280W.

Lots of MSP also creates a little staleness in the legs. That sort of flat feeling. So it's important to throw in some shorter hard efforts and some race like riding. Which I'll do in another 2 weeks or so.

There is this line in the sand defined by MSP. Stay behind it and you can go a long time, cross it and pay the price. One of the keys specific to mountain bike racing is the ability to cross the line for short periods of time and then recover back to sustainable pace.

Yesterday I hopped on the road bike for 1hr. Took it very easy, but had to go a little harder on the hills and the wind. These efforts made me really winded which is a little disconcerting. I always feel a little gyped coming off a rest week. You expect that you can fly, but it always takes a week or so to get the legs back underneath me.

And obviously, I'm taking it easier while recovering from the sinus infection.

Today I opted to try out some MSP just to see how it feels. My plan was calling for 3x10minutes on 5 off. However, I thought it more prudent to try 8minutes and just see what would happen. The most dangerous part is remembering which side of the towel I blew my nose into and which side to wipe the sweat off with.

Testing the waters..First one was at 260W which was doable but slightly painful in the legs.

I've also been recalibrating the Tacx after one interval as it seems to need more time to settle. Then did another one at 270W.

The third one I did at 280W. This is was the sweet spot. That perfect feeling of cycling nirvana. Right on the razor's edge of tolerance. Breathing is labored, the burning in the legs slowly builds, but you can hold it for longer periods of time.

This feeling is basically my goal in life, as I know when I can hold it that it's going to be a good day.

These types of intervals train your mind as much as your body. They take a lot of focus just like racing does. I can't tell you how many times I've been racing and start to daydream or lose concentration an start to go slower w/o realizing it. Once I catch myself and refocus my speed increases dramatically. In a group ride it's a litle easier to focus because you'll lose a wheel and get dropped right quick. But when riding alone it's easy to get out of the zone.

Watching the timer or daydreaming is the kiss of death. One the road or trail you just end of going slower. But on the ergo trainer which outputs consistent power you just start to bog down.

Note on cadence. I do these somewhere between 70rpm and 100rpm. Though usually not below 80rpm. But I tend to climb with higher cadence anyway. Now that my gearing is slighly lower with the compact crankset I don't think I've got a tall enough gear to go at 70rpm. My SMSP intervals usually done 80-110+.

When I got done, I felt ok. A little light headed and my hands were shaking. It didn't seem to be a bonk shake. I'm thinking that in another 3-5 days I'll be back to normal and I'll just take the next few days by feel.

Monday, February 26, 2007

slippery bar tape

I'd put some Deda bar tape on (silver with carbony look)

Big mistake. This stuf has a decent feel with just bare hands, but with my windstopper shells or full finger mountain bike gloves, it is way way to slippery. It's going to put me flat on me face, so off it goes.

lesson learned.

Treading lightly

Sinus infection has got me treading lightly. Still don't feel that good. Just seem to be cold all the time. Sinus pressure, congestion, terrible taste in my mouth.

Got some Augmentin which is a 10day course of horse pills. Supposedly takes about 5 days for it to really kick in.

Basic colds are an entirely different animal. Once the fever/aches go away and as long as it hasn't moved into my chest I ride again, even hard. Exercise and even hard riding can be beneficial. It seems to take at least 7-10 days to cough up and blow out all the crap and riding helps loosen things up.

In fact I've had some of my best races on the tail ends of colds.

But an infection is different. Too much too soon and it's like digging your own grave. A conundrum for sure because the legs are ready to go, and the longer I sit out the harder it is to get back into it.

I'm just going to take it easy until I don't feel so cold, that's probably a sign that it's ok to go a little harder. Though I might keep up with a few 1x intervals to keep the legs from getting too stale. Tomorrow I'll try to spin around at lunch, but I'll be bundled up even in sunny/50s.

Medicine notes to self:
pseudoephedrine based decongestants work better for me than phenylephrine based.
Ketek didn't seem to do anything in January

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bad to worse

whoever left the comment two days ago called it right. Sinus infection to the maximum. Cold symptoms are leaving but sinuses are clogged tight, fever comes/goes head in a vise.

It's definitely a sinus infection and I'm going to see someone tomorrow ENT or family doctor, but the OTC decongestants only just helping out enough to minimize the panic attacks of not being able to breathe.

Legs still feel good though. Spun on the trainer a little, which actually helps loosing the head up a little.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Road to recovery

Friday was feeling a little better but still out of it enough to warrant another sick day. Just to do something I rode my bike around the block. The legs felt fine but my chest was tight and breathing winded.

Today was better. Rode with the kids on the path for a 1/2 an hour in the morning.
(Now you midwesterners and nor-easters don't take issue with my low tolerance for cold) But my goodness it felt cold. I just don't understand. We went from teens and 20s to now into the 40s-50s and I still feel cold. Doesn't seem like I built any tolerance up.

Later in the afternoon I got on the road bike. The legs fel really good though can tell that they will need some help to transition back into harder efforts. I was tempted to go longer but wisely turned around and limited the foray to 35minutes. My cold is on the path to recovery but even that little ride has made me tired.

It usually takes 7-10 days to get it out of my system totally. While I am drying up there is still this deep seated congestion high in my sinuses that has been nagging for weeks. It's time to see the ENT.

2-3 more days in this recovery cycle. I'll get in another short ride and will throw in some 5x1minute SMSP before starting the next phase. But I can just feel the legs are ready to throw down.

Something's going to happen... Something wonderful.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


As a dog.

Yesterday I just got worse and worse. The last few weeks my congestion level has gotten worse again and my son had been sick. It is no surprise that it got even worse last night, combined with creeping crud, aches/chills and a nose that just started to drip like faucet. This cold has just been waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Needless to say today's workout, the last of the SMSP phase has been scratched. In fact I took some sick leave and came to lay in bed. Can't even remember the last time I did that.

In the grand scheme of things this cold comes at a perfect time. 5 day rest period prior to transitioning into the MSP phase. Though it obviously sucks to have your head feel like it's going to explode while at the same time incapable of swallowing because the congestion creates a negative pressure in ths sinuses.

I hope that the fever breaks soon and I start to dry up. If the cold is just in my head and there are no chills/aches then it seems to help to train some. I'd like to get some 1hr easy rides in and some 5x1 SMSP in to keep the legs from turning to wood.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Today was one for the books.

5 reps of 4 min on 4 off
5 reps of 3 min on 3 off
5 reps of 2 min on 2 off

1:45+ on the trainer.

It went pretty well. The 4 minute ones were hard and my legs were definitely worked. I tried to go higher power on the 3 minute ones but could not do it for all 5 reps so dropped power down.

The two minute ones were done at higher power but not by much. Just barely made the last few and I was talking to myself the whole last set to just make it through.

Recently I'd been working with 9 year veteran of the NFL, Superbowl and everything. He was telling me some of his mental toughness philosophies. One of them was just accomplishing things on pure will. Which was what those last few reps were like.

the other one I found intriguing was the idea of making the edge routine. What he meant by that is taking those things that put you to your limit and making them routine.

This training does that. It makes being on the edge seem routine.

Regardless, I'm cooked. The whole day has been a blur and have been eating constantly. I've had bad congestion for the past few days and now it feels more like a cold. Tomorrow's workout may get bagged and the rest week start a little earlier.

But I'm really happy to have made it through this workout. It's definitely the edge of my tolerance. Time wise it wasn't too bad actually because the actual quantity of intervals was not high, the volume was but it's the # of reps that mentally wears me down.

5 sets of 8 reps of x1 is much harder mentally than what I did today.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The march continues

After a 3 day rest period I got back to it with some 4 minute intervals. The next day was some 2 minute intervals. These two sets consituted two of the longest trainer workouts I've ever done. It's amazing how time flies by when there is a set program to follow, but just riding along goes by at a snail's pace.

Over 1.5 hrs with warmup and rest periods. Went through two full bottle of energy drink. Both days went pretty well though the 2 minute ones were tough at the end and a few failed.

I've also raised the front end of the bike about 4"s to simulate a climbing position. This also serves to reduce pressure on the saddle making for a more comfortable trainer experience. The new position has made my muscles a little sore because I'm in a slightly different position.

Used the Stick to roll the muscles out and some Biofreeze as well as laying on my back with my legs up against a wall.

I don't know if any of this crap works in terms of recovery though. The man says that carbo replenishment is the best path to recovery.

Today I drove in with the bike on top and was planing on commuting back but the kids had a thing that needed some shuttling so that didn't work out. But I did hop on for a quick errand. Legs felt decent, but what does 1/2 hr of tooling around really tell.

Tomorrow brings the longest SMSP workout of the block and my training history. With 45 minutes of total on time. It's a combo of 5 min, 4 min and 2 minute intervals. The longer the interval the less puke-o-rama pain there is and more steady deeper leg pain. One more day after that of some 2 minute runs (but with signifcantly less total work) and then it's a rest block of at least 5 full days with a day of 5x1min 2 off thrown in and some 1hr zone 2.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Big shout out to John at Tour of Belize

One of my coworkers, John De Long is an elite road racer. He works full time while training and racing at an elite level. It's always motivational to hear the about his training and it's quite clear the dedication that it takes to race at his level all while working.

He and his team, Alliance Environmental are down at the Tour of Belize this week.

They've done 8 stages and are completing the last one today. Up until yesteray, John was in 4th.

It looked like a brutal stage yesterday with the leaders putting big time on everyone else.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Going Custom Part 9: Long Term Impressions


This is part 9 and the last of the Going Custom Series

Had the bike 8 months now.

In a nutshell,
it's the first frame I ever had where I'm not thinking about the next one.

For a bike geek this is the highest praise attainable. This includes all the mountain or road frames I've owned which included 3 other customs over the past 15years. The only things I'm thinking about for the future are components and to a lesser extent future colors.

It's that good. There's not much more to say.

The ride is awesome, the handling is exactly what I asked for, Jim Kish was wonderful to work with. He listened to my needs, asked the right questions of me, answered my questions and concerns in a timely manner on email and the phone and delivered in a reasonable time.

I love the design he came up with. It's a subtle thing but when you look at bikes over and over the thing I like is it's just proportioned right. It's a small frame and with the requirement of a taller head tube and to me just looks right. There is a personality to his frames. Clean. No bull just straight up.

It's stable and solid. And begs to be beat on.

In today's era of custom bikes and the romanticism with Lugs and brazing, TIG seems to still have little bit of a stigma. But I came to cycling through mountain biking, not road biking. So my aesthetics are influenced by the hardtail customs such as Strong, Wojcik. Not that I still don't appreciate a lugged bike, it's just right now my personality is definitely mirrored in this Kish.

And Kish has got to be one of the best TIG welders in the bicycling industry. He's more known for his to-die-for Ti bikes. But the welding is just as clean and tight on the steel frames.

I'd highly recommend Kish Bikes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

transitioning from rest

Plan called for 2 days off: 1 day easy + 1 day zone 2.

Made it 2 days completely off the bike due to work circumstances and the need for some mental rest from training as well. Instead of jumping back into the intervals today I opted for another day of active rest.

Zone 2 on the trainer with some 5x1 on 2 off. I knew from experience that to go right back into intervals would be a wash and more of a mental negative. It takes time for the legs to get back underneath me after rest. I just have to accept that there is a time lag before the benefits of rest kick in.

Sure enough those 5x1s I did felt hard and the legs complained and they were even done at 10W lower than what I'd been doing them last week. No problem. After the first day back of intervals I should be going strong. But I bet the first set tomorrow is going to hurt.

Of more concern is that my trainer isn't holding its calibration. I calibrated at the start then 30mins in rechecked and it was at -2. I'm going to move the rear tire to the front and the front to the rear to see if that helps.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Morris musings

One of my favorite commenter, anonymous, left a comment in yesterday's post. This is a must read for anyone self coaching themselves with the Morris plan. It brings up a lot of questions and concerns that I've encountered over the last few years and things that I still think about and analyze.

I'm going to address some of the questions/comments from my perspective of having been on the program for several years. These are just my opinions as a zealot convert of the plan.

  • I am actually in my 2nd week of SMSP intervals - and I feel gassed. You know the feeling - that blank stare at the wall as the day goes on at work. My heart feels pooped - although the legs feel pretty good and I am enjoying the benefits of a reset metabolism from the effort with some fat being burned off (3 pounds in week one).

Not including dehydration issues or have a lot of excess weight to begin with, I think a loss of 3lbs a week during this phase is a bad idea. As my partner in pain says: Feed the machine. During the endurance phase, or during taper (rest) weeks than yeah cut weight. But not right now in the SMSP phase. I am eating a lot. Like 2-3 plates at the buffet a lot. And my weight is stable. Not talking junk here, but eat a lot of healthful foods. Eat often. This stuff is so hard right now that in order to properly recover you've got to replenish your carbs.

  • A lot of things I have read with regard to cycling on other sites and books say to limit interval workout days to 1x or 2x per week. Some say one of those interval days should be devoted to the 30-90 second interval and the other day (with at least 48 hours rest between interval sessions) should be devoted to the 2-4 minute variety. That's kind of what I have used in the past with some variations.

One of the tenants of the Morris method is block training. Back to back hard days. His research and my experience shows it to be an efficient way of eliciting super-compensation. Not to say that the old school method does not do that as well. I just think that the block training methods do it much more time efficiently. His plan follows a philosophy of working on high power for short intensities first (SMSP phase 1-4 minutes) and then working on your sustainable power (8-20mins) intervals. There are also leadouts and sprint intervals thrown in there too. The book (which you can't find right now) explains his reasoning in detail.

  • Having read everything I can possibly find on Morris, my first week (7 days) included 4 days of interval training and one day of a 1 hour Zone 2 recovery ride. Day 1 was 2 sets of 7 x 1 on x 1 off (300 watts). Day 2 was 2 sets of 7 x 1 on x 1 off (337 watts). Day 3 was stare at the wall recovery. Day 4 was stare at the wall just a little bit less than the day before type of recovery. Day 5 was 1 hour at Zone 2. Day 6 was 2 sets of 6 x 2 on x 2 off at 280 watts. Day 7 was 2 sets of 7 x 1 on x 1 off at 320 watts

Dave's research has shown that athletes can successfully complete back to back (even 3-4days in a row) of hard work when sufficiently motivated. Often times my plan calls for intervals one day then a race the next. In these races results are secondary to the quality training you get because nothing is as motivating as race. These consecutive days of training force you to work hard when fatigued. I'd call it overreaching. After adequate rest, the super-compensation you create after overreaching is called getting stronger.

Also find some good songs for your SMSP intervals. The song makes all the difference in being able to complete them sometimes.

The main idea here is to keep the intensity at the same high level over consecutive days. In order to do this, the duration of the work is typically reduced on the second (and third, or maybe 4th for high level studs). Or you give yourself more rest. For example:

Day 1: 2 sets of 7x1 on 1 off

Day2: 2 sets of 5x 1 on 1 off, or maybe better 2 sets of 5x1 on 2 off.

  • And I am feeling gassed and can't imagine how I am going to start pumping up the power as the month unfolds. Maybe after 2 days of recovery before I head into a block of 3 consecutive days of interval sessions starting this Friday I will feel better than I do today. I don't know

Ah! Yes. I know this feeling well. A couple of thoughts. This is some hard sh*t. It's a shock to a system that isn't used to it. Every year I get surprised though. Several times a year actually. In the strength phase and SMSP phase and later in the year as well. I'm astounded by how my body adapts and gets stronger.

Also 3 weeks of ON might be too much for you to start with. Instead of 3 weeks on 7 days recovery period, maybe 2weeks on and 5 day recovery might be better. As hard as these intervals are it's often times harder to just be smart and take some rest. Just yesterday I started to fall into this trap and my friend had to remind me to chill.

Regular life is hard. Everybody has stress in their lives and it affects our ability to recover. With this training you're treading a fine line between blowing up and getting stronger. Honestly. This is the first year in the past 3 years where I'm not falling over dead in this phase.

Also you need to set up a progression of these intervals that look something like this:

smsp 2007

Make sure you're not biting off too much to start with in your enthusiasm. DO NOT SKIMP ON THE REST WEEK BETWEEN SMSP AND MSP PHASES.

One of the criticisms of this type of training is the mental and physical fatigue that these blocks of intervals impart on the rider. My view is that right now it's ok to work myself into the ground. It's February, the weather is for crap and I'm going to have plenty of time to rest and super-compensate before racing. Riding hard under fatigue is what tears you up. But after you rest you come back stronger.

Is riding the trainer fun? Compared to trail rides maybe not. But here' my reality. Family. jobs, kids, house, etc. And I don't have Lance's genes. Right now I want to be the best that I can and 'training' is required. This type of training fits into my available time.

How long will I last? Dunno. I know of several people that stopped this type of training after several years because mentally they just didn't have the desire to go this hard with this volume. No one I've talked to has said that it didn't work to increase their power. It works, it's just hard. All still incorporate several of Dave's philosophies into their training though.

My inseason work is much different and easier in some ways. My weeks are set up to where I'm usually rested to ride strongly on the weekends and there isn't as much cumulative fatigue as in the SMSP and MSP phases during the off season. I'm making an investment now that will pay off later.

You need to listen to your body and mind and develop a program that works for you. If you find that this volume of intervals kills your enthusiasm in races than do something different. If you find that 3 weeks on 1 week off is too much volume of work at one time, than change to 2 weeks on 1 off. Or some other varient. Every part of the plan needs to be tweaked for you and your life.

  • After reading some of your posts and prior posts in archives from previous years, I guess I am not alone in the feeling gassed department. I wonder if you have found any information to support the frequency of these interval sessions under Morris as compared to only doing 2 sessions per week and what it translates to in terms of on the bike performance come race season? Hard to get a handle on the physiology of block training like this compared to previous years for me where I was doing intervals, but not block training versions of them. So the question is, with consecutive day blocks is more harm being done than good? In other words, isn't there a law of diminishing returns with regard to these intense interval sessions? Not having the book, I wonder what Dave says about the value of day 2 or even day 3 when doing consecutive intense sessions.

Later in the year I might only ride hard 2 or 3 days in a week. But you can bet that at least 2 of those days will be back to back. There is no doubt in my mind that back to back days create excellent adaptation. More importantly to me is that the adaptation is more time efficient. Meaning that I can ride less volume and get the same adaptation as if I'd ridden more volume but not including consecutive days.

And yes there is a fine line between doing more harm than good. It's all individual and if you work hard you have to rest harder. That is why you see 2 days on 1 day off 2 days on 2 days off or 3 days on 3 days off.

Also don't be surprised at all if after 3 days rest period that your legs feel like crap. Often times it's not until 3-4 days AFTER a rest period that my legs feel strong. Also never take the day before a race totally off the bike. Always do some short high intensity work. Not enough to do harm, but enough to prime the legs.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. Some of the best money I ever spent was to have Dave put together a 4 month training calendar for me. I've used it as a template for the past 2 years now. In a sense, I put my faith in him and it. And just said to myself: follow the plan as best I can. Plain and simple. No second guessing it.

This, of course, requires some faith. But I've found that if you don't believe in what your doing 100% than it takes away from your training significantly. More importantly, though is that having someone experienced put together your first plan could potentially save you several seasons of trial/error.

There are lots of coaches out there too and you need to find someone that works with your personality. Some coaches are more into the fitness physiology while others are more hand holding nurtering types. Know yourself and try to figure out how you tick.


calibration issues and need for a break

After last night's late night raid on the trainer, I had trouble sleeping. Exercising late and eating late probably isn't a good thing for sleep patterns.

This morning was one more day before a break. 4sets of 8x1min on 1 min off with 5 mins rest. That is 32 individual intervals. I believe that I'm at the upper end of my tolerance in terms of sheer quantity of intervals. Next year I'm not going to increase the volume any more. Yesterday's workout had higher total work but they were 3 minute intervals so there was less quantity. There is something about looking at 8 reps x 4 times that just takes the wind out of my sails a little. A sure sign that a mental break is needed.

I followed the typical warmup of the Tacx and the calibration steps I do every ride and proceeded to do the intervals. They felt surprisingly easy. After 2 sets I stopped and went through the calibration routine again and it came up at -2.

Negative values in the calibration routine mean you need to turn the knob counter clockwise which adds more resistance (it's backwards of the direction you think you need to) It took several times to get the cal to 0 out. When I tried the intervals again I had to drop by 10w to do them.

I'm a little concerned because the whole point of a calibration routine is that you can have some trust in the unit. My rear tire is very worn from the trainer and am thinking that it might be introducing some variance in to the calibration. Regardless, my numbers may be off a little I've been going more by if I can do the workouts or not rather than by the pure #.

In the last set I was getting late for a meeting so just ramped it up super high for 1 interval and bogged it and got off.

2 days rest now. And I might take some more for good measure. My friend gently reminded me how important rest is during this time, especially when outside stresses add up in your life. I'm going to heed this same advice that I give to many others and rest.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

commitment or (need to be) committed?

So I was a little bummed all day today that I had to cut my workout short. If I hadn't gotten distracted I think physically I could have finished it.

After a stressful day at work, I got home and ate too much and hung out with the family. After they'd gone to bed I pulled out the shorts/jersey and went back down to the basement to knock off those 5 intervals that I hadn't done this morning. My wife was quite surprised.

I wanted to check that workout off and couldn't rightfully do it w/o bagging those 5.

Let's just say that I ate too much for dinner.
It was hard. Want to puke/pass out hard. But I did it and checked it off.

I've gotten several comments lately and emails about my training. It's quite motivating to know that others are reading and watching my progress. I'm definitely more externally motivated, though I bet most champions are internally motivated.

Mental breakdown vs physical breakdown

Today was 2 sets of 6reps of 3min on 3 min off.

I experienced a phenomena that I've seen over the past two years. My 3 minute intervals go better than my 2 minute intervals . One speculation is that in my plan the 3 min intervals don't come until the 2nd week. By this time I'm definitely getting some adaptation taking place and getting stronger.

Another speculation is that the 3 min intervals force me to be more mentally detached in order to complete the interval. With a 2 minute interval, maybe 1 minute of detachment, and 1 min of on/off mental war of trying to focus vs my mind going all over the place.

Regardless I was doing 300W (calibrated at 57kg) difficult but doable. This is as much or more as my 2 min intervals. The problem arose in the second set. Mentally I just started to wander.

Started thinking about needing to get to work, and started feeling guilty for being down here while my kids/wife are upstairs. Lately with this routine I'm up before the kids get up or they are just getting up then down to the trainer. They are off to the bus oftentimes before I get done. Then off to work and either I'm getting back late or they have their Karate and then I don't see them until late. Even if it's just for a few minutes to tussle their hair and tease them it's important.

In this kind of workout, it just takes a tiny seed of errant thought and I'm screwed.

So getting into the last set I was bogging down the last 30seconds. Sometimes when I fail I'm going down fighting to the last pedal stroke. This time I just sort of put my sword down and got rolled over. The electromagnetic brake just ramps up and it's all over.

So I just stopped it partway through the second set. Physically I felt pretty good. So that's a good sign

Went upstairs and hung out with the family till they went to the bus. My youngest said bye SuperDad. His favorite word is super right now.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Rest week or just regular rest?

I was planning on taking a longer rest week now based on my past history. In the past I've had problems with the transition to SMSP intervals and have been pretty tired out by the second week. Currently, I'm not doing too bad. In fact I seem to be quite fine.

Not quite sure exactly why. Built up tolerance? Not working it as hard? Choosing power settings that are more doable and therefore not exploding each workout? Eating better/more often and therefore recovering better? Several higher intensity rides prior to entering the SMSP phase?

Regardless, I'm not so sure I need the extra rest right now. One problem with rest is that the more I take the harder it is to get back into it. Mentally I call it negative momentum. Sure I love to ride but the less I do it the harder it is to get myself to do it. The other issue is that it take time to get the legs back underneath you after extended rest.

One of the things is that the Morris rest period is not just pure on the couch rest. There are some 5x1 min intervals in there and some zone 2 to keep things sharper than just laying on the couch. But even with that it still takes me several days for the legs to come around and be ready to work hard.

Work right now is hectic as well, so the additional rest wouldn't be coming at a bad time or anything, but I'd like to continue with the workouts if possible. The last 3 days have been rest.
Easy easy on the trainer and one day outside and another on the trainer zone 2-ish. The legs are definitely feeling it.

On tap is some 3min intervals. 36mins of total work. So far what I've seen is that my 1min power output is significantly more than my 2min (30-40w difference)

I also might be running a lower wattage tomorrow because I might change the body weight used in the calibration of the unit. I think I've been rounding down a little too much!!! Doesn't matter. It is what it is.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

oh my feet!

oh man my feet are in agony. It's been going on for weeks now but it's getting worse. I'm pretty sure it's hives. They swell, and itch something fierce, and some have been chafed and turned into callouses.

At first I thought it was athlete's foot but the situation is very similar to some hives I had on my hands last year. Hypersensitivity on the tips of the digits combined with a few red/swollen points that itch to the point of madness.

Wearing socks/shoes aggravates the swelling/itching. It's got to the point of almost panic attacks today. And so painful on the tips of my toes and the bottom of my big toe that I have difficulty walking. But riding is actually not too bad because once the shoes go on the foot really doesn't move around a whole lot in the shoes. But getting the shoes on is painful.

Benedryl is helping a little but after 4hrs the itching comes back bad.
**Edit** Zyrtec has helped for 12hr period. **

Last year I finally got some prescription corticosteroid that helped end the hives. I'm not quite sure what the cause of onset was. Maybe the stress from increased training, though the issue has been going on for well before the intervals started.

I don't think I've eaten anything out of the ordinary

Friday, February 09, 2007

Incremental gains

Working it hard since October. All for what?

Incremental gains. Every year I'm looking to get just a little bit better than before.

But man it's a lot of work to just get a little better.

When I train in the bubble of my little world it's easy to be the best and see visions of the podium and winning. But I've got to ground myself and know that this the path to glory is built with one step at a time. And guys like us don't just all of a sudden make huge jumps in fitness.

We've got to work it for each little step.

3 day block wrapup

Just finished a 3 day block. Here's the recap:

Day 1: 2sets x 8reps x 2min on 2min off at 300 W (calibrated at 56kg)
Total Work: 32mins

Day 2: 3 x 9 x 1min on 1 min off at 330W/56kg
Total Work : 27min

Day 3: 2 x 7 x 1 min on 2 min off at 340W/56kg.
Total work: 14mins but at higher wattage than yesterday.

This was a great litimus test for my current fitness and a confidence boost. A couple of things stand out to me in comparing this effort to years past.

1) While I may have failed a few individual reps, I did not bag any of the workouts and haven't since starting this SMSP phase. In the past I've just been blown during some workouts and wisely stopped them mid way. This year I seem better prepared to work through the entire workout

2) On Day 3: I saw that the duration of intervals dropped a lot, and also there was twice the rest as per rep. So I made a decision to up the wattage and see what would happen. Just barely, I was able to make it (a few failed). That is the beauty of power vs heartrate. Heart rate would have indicated that I was tired and should rest. But here on the third day I was able to sustain a higher wattage for the same 1min interval.

3)I'm at a higher power output compared to last year. The Taxc only has 10W resolution but some of these intervals have been done at 10W higher than last year.

I've been hurtin' for certain but not as blown up as in previous years. This last week I was nauseaous afterwards and just slammed an Ensure and had to wait for breakfast till later. I've also been EATING a ton. No dieting right now. Hungry? Eat. Eat right after. Eat 2hrs later. Eat big lunch. eat again, eat big dinner.

I'm eating more than if I'd done a 3 hr road ride and these workouts are only 50mins-1hr. I'm also NOT eating anything prior to the workout.

Get up. Slam coffee. Get on trainer. Drink Energy drink immediately from the first pedal stroke.
I've learned that unless I've got 2hrs to let my blood sugar settle than it isn't worth eating prior to the workout otherwise I'll get exercised induced bonk for sure.

I've also got to thank my wife for being understanding. Even with short workouts. It's still hard in the MWC/FTJ environment. We tradeoff working out in the morning and getting the kids ready for school. Then I barely have time to shower (skipped shaving a few times) and am out the door to work. And she's sick too.

I can't imagine if I was doing anything more than sub 1hr trainer rides. How do those guys put in 2hr-3hr rides. Evening time is so hard. It's the witching hour come 5pm.

It's time for a 3day rest block. Then start again. I was contemplating doing a 5-7day rest but now that it seems that I'm running pretty well I'm not so sure I need it. But next week is a hell week of work so may be forced to take the rest next week.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A cold feet tip

Just read this in the weekly newslett from

It's a tip for cold feet. I'm gonna try this one out.

Comment: Cold winter rides are bearable for me if my feet are warm. I've never liked hot packs under my shoe covers. For me the best foot warmers are heavy wool socks between my cycling shoes and shoe covers. Kathy Kirk, wife of Axel Kleat and a former Michigan time trial champion, knit me a pair of what she calls "Toe Cozies" from felted wool. You can make your own. Find a pair of heavy wool ragg mountaineering socks at an outdoor store. Cut them off so they cover your foot to just past the instep. Then cut holes for your cleats. You'll probably need shoe covers a size larger than normal. Kathy's Cozies keep my dogs warm in temperatures down into the teens (around -10C).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Allergy Alley

Don't move here if you have allergies. It sucks bigtime.

I'm allergic to anything living, green, has ever been alive, or is dead. Spring time brings runny noses, watery eyes and sneezing. And winter brings this god awful upper level congestion.

My ENT says that it is related to the manufacturing plants in VA and WV firing up their coal burning operations for the winter. He said that we have worse air quality than Atlanta.

Every year from November-April I can't breathe.

I had it under control a little with Mucinex but last night it came back with a vengance. When the wind picks up it gets worse.

How hard to do an interval

Someone asked me what power settings were prescribed by Dave for my workout.

In the book there are ranges assigned for SMSP, MSP Zone 2, etc that are a % of your MSPO.
But the real key is to do the intervals at the highest power setting at which you can complete the entire workout. See this post for more details.

So it's better not a set # but rather find it by trial/error. Sometimes I over shoot sometimes I undershoot. But it's usually feels easier to start with and then gets harder as the workout proceeds

If you want some #'s to see how you stack up to the rest of the world go to Hunter Allen's site. And read the power profiling article. I often find myself wanting to go through the testing to find out what my #s are. But on the flip side there is something wrong with this dependency on some testing telling me where I stack up. In these days of power trainer you hear plenty of people throwing their #s around. My FT is 4.6W/Kg, etc. Or you need to have at least 5.0W/Kg to get on the podium. yada yada.

The next time I get spit out the back of some pack, I'll yell to them to wait for me because my FT says that I should be dropping them.

#s are meaningless except to yourself to track your progress.

Getting back to my intervals. For example: 2sets of 8reps of 2 on 2off with 4 mins between each set. I did them at 300W on my Taxc Flow which is a meaningless # to anyone but myself. The real world accuracy of the Tacx is questionable. But what is important is that the unit is calibrated every time I ride and I believe in its repeatablility. So from day to day and year to year the numbers can be compared to each other.

The first few were very doable and I could have easily upped the power on them. But wisely I kept the same power setting. It was a real struggle to complete the last ones of the first set. In fact I bogged down on the last one. After the 5 minutes rest I started the 2nd set.

It was tough. Really tough. But I did them all except one where I bogged in the last 20seconds.

In looking at past logs I'm pleased to see that I did 2 x 7 x 2on 2off at 290W and some at 300W last year. My Tacx inputs your body weight when doing the calibration. I'm lighter this year so I'm assuming that the calibration routine factors this in and I can compare the #s from one year/weight to another.

So I'm improving. I did 4mins of additional work this year at the same or higher power.

So back to the original question about what to shoot for as a sport XC racer. The answer is the highest that you can for the entire workout. A better question would be.

How much total work should I be shooting for during a SMSP workout as a Sport XC racer? I'm going to hazard a guess of a goal of working towards(Stair stepping your way to) 25-27mins of total work (SMSP phase).

Typically an expert race (if it's a lap course) has one additional lap. Which might add on 30-45mins of racing. Of that racing maybe 10-15 mins is at SMSP power levels. So a goal for an expert might be to work up to 40-45 minutes.

I dunno, just guessing. That's why I'm not a coach.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Here's a good video I saw over at Belgiankneewarmers

I love the pictures of the pros just turning themselves inside out. Lance, Ullrich,etc. Attitudes, doping allegations, million dollar salaries aside there is no doubt that they know how to suffer and how to make themselves suffer.

Cycling is one of those sports where the pain is self inflicted for the most part. The desire to suffer the ability to push yourself to suffer is a trait I much desire. High maximum sustainable power would be nice too but that's byproduct of the former.

Zone 2 recovery days

When I've got 2 days off in a row, typically:
1st day rest: Easy/off
2nd day: Zone 2 1hr.

Or if it's a 3 day rest block the 3rd day is zone 2.

Zone 2 is defined as 76-85% of your steady state power/hr.

What I've found is that zone 2 is actually just a hair above what I'd do if I wasn't following a plan. It's just a tad bid uncomfortable on the legs. My legs are typically fatigued after an block of work (2 or 3 days) and the zone 2 intensity feels harder than it should be. Especially when you compare the intensity to the much higher power outputs of SMSP intervals.

But I've found that it's really important to the success of the next day's intervals to get the intensity into Zone 2 even though I'd rather be piddling along. Too much rest actually makes it diffifcult to go hard for the next day's intervals.

This is the same reason why I NEVER take the day before a race completely off. In fact I always do some high intensity such as 5x1 on 2 off +1 hr zone 2. I need some priming of the legs prior to going really hard.

It's also interesting to note that the day after a race is a good time for me to go tempo or medium hard. But two days after a race the fatigue has set in and it's much more difficult to ride hard.

This morning I did 45mins on the trainer, which is more like 50-1hr on the road because there is no coasting on a trainer. Yeah I know I should have done an hour but it's tough to sit on that thing w/o a set workout.

Tomorrow is that start of a 3day block. First day is 2sets of 8x2on 2off.


Monday, February 05, 2007

It takes money to make money

You know that saying about the rich getting richer or that it takes money to make money? I'm starting to feel that the same thinking applies to training. It takes fitness to make fitness. I'm going on my 3rd year of good solid consistent training (Morris plan). And I think I've got some money in my realestate that is appreciating in value.

This year, more than any year in the past I'm just feeling less torn up from these first intervals. I'm not sure if it's the accumulated fitness, or that fact that I did some harder rides prior to entering this phase but I've entered them strongly. In the past the first week of SMSP has usually been a real struggle.

But it just seems that the fitness and tolerance built up from the past few years has set me up to work hard w/o feeling as blown up. As any good over analyzer it worries me that 'I'm not working hard enough'.

But the 'hard enough' part is taken care of by the power setting on the trainer. The goal is to do the entire workout at the highest power level that I can. So either I can do it or I can't. If I can't than it's more than hard enough.

They are hard and my face is as contorted as ever while doing them. And Mentally it's tougher than the past cause I don't have the same eager enthusiasm as when I first got my plan from Dave. But in the past I've also been pretty trashed from doing them. Right now I do feel fatigued and HUNGRY ALL THE TIME, but otherwise not too bad.

Yesterday was some 3sets of 8x1on 1 off. The first set was at a higher power level than my first day of 1 min intervals so some adaptation has occured. In fact it was easy to the point of my almost questioning the calibration on my Tacx. Though the next two sets were hard enough that I failed a few reps and had to bump the power setting down. It was encouraging though.

These weeks on the trainer are also mentally tough because you're training in a bubble. Yes I've got the quantitative feedback of the trainer to tell me how I'm doing. But it's not the same as riding outside with a group or in a race, where reality is king.

Compared to last year I'm running almost the same power levels. Maybe a tad higher. But I am also doing at least one additional rep compared to last year. So that's added between 7 and 9 minutes of work over last year. AND I'm also close to 7-8 lbs lighter. Boo Yah!

For the future, I plan on shooting for the same total work but place more emphasis on upping the power output.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

wishful thinking vs visualization

The trainer sessions are hard. The fatigue is starting to build up a little. Motivation is hard to muster concentration is difficult to maintain. Just 2 mins. 2minutes of pure focus and it's difficult to even do that.

When your mind is like a hamster in a cage
always bopping around from one thing to another it's hard to concentrate for even 1 minute. Work, home, front derailleur issues....

I can just feel the intervals get harder with each lapse in concentration. I just bogged down on a couple of the intervals due to lack of focus and mental will. The power setting chosen at first for today was just too hard further into the intervals and I dropped it down. But I was thinking it should be higher. The power is what it is. It doesn't matter just do the hardest that you can do for the entire workout.. Gotta remember that.

Today was 2sets of 7x2on 2off with 5 mins rest/set. This is what creates the foundation for confidence at a race.

I find myself falling into the trap of spending too much time on wishful thinking..with regards to my racing as well as life in general. Visualizing myself riding strong.

However very rarely does anything you want to happen ever occur without a lot of consistent effort. Wishing to race well and wishing to get on the podium just is not going to cut it. Confidence is built upon hard work. But it's tough to go hard.

Visualization is a good tool for things like skills, cornering, technical riding. But for going hard it about one pedal stroke in front of another. One day to the next.

Cheers to another workout checked off. Tomorrow's another day.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

harder day today

The intervals felt a little harder today on the 2nd day of the block
2set of 9x1 on 2 off. The xtra minute of rest allowed me to perform them at the same or higher power as yesterday.

The last 4 or 5 were really hard.

Though it's funny, my legs don't hurt that much when walking around or walking up stairs. And I'm a little tired but not too much.

I caught a head cold from my son. No fever, aches or sore throat but congestion. Not that this is any different than most days. But I'm really congested now. The only thing that was helping was Mucinex and that isn't doing squat right now so I know something is up.

Tomorrow is an easy day than comes a 3 day block.

I'll still be working on shorter duration intervals 1-2 minutes. These workouts are based on the plan that Dave Morris wrote for me. I think that for developing riders he likes to focus on shorter duration intervals during the first part of this period. Maybe next year I might start focusing on a little longer intervals like 4 min-2 min during the first part of this phase.