My morning and reality moving forward
The possibility that I would not be able to ride, as mentioned in my last post, has become a reality this morning. Leg stiffness aside (I can work through that), the pain in my left ankle and right knee is ensuring that my ride would do more harm than good this morning, so I’m off to the pool (ah…the beauty of low impact training). I’m not quite sure what I did to my ankle, but it feels like a bruise so I must have knocked into something. My knee, on the other hand, is stress-related pain–most likely from the combination of riding/running/lifting.
I’ve come to the realization that I need to stop doing strength training for my legs in the gym. This sounds a little odd considering I freely admit that powering up hills is my biggest weakness. However, going up hills isn’t simply a matter of pure power. It is a function of power, muscular endurance/anabolic threshold (the ability to sustain that power), and body weight.
Power. As far as power, I have pure power in my legs. In fact, this is probably the only muscle group that I enjoy working out in the gym because I can play with the big boys. I’ve always had strong legs; I squatted 405 lbs. as a freshman in high school and still today–despite the fact I hadn’t lifted in about a year until recently–can do repetitions on leg presses with about 4X my body weight, or 720 lbs. Power is not my problem.
Body weight. I probably have about 10-15 extra pounds on my body, but I know that this will come off over time since I have a healthy diet and I’m training so much. The trick, however, is to not lose too much weight at too rapid a pace. If you’re ever on a weight-loss plan and you find yourself losing more than two pounds a week, it’s likely that a high portion of that weight will be lean muscle. Not only will that lower your strength, but it will also lower your resting metabolic rate or RMR. Why is that important? Have you ever lost a lot of weight only to gain it back even quicker than you put it on in the first place? You most likely lost a good deal of lean muscle when you lost your weight which lowers the amount of calories you burn at rest (RMR) which means that you’ll pack on the fat very quickly if you’re not even more careful on your diet or continue with your training program.
Muscular Endurance. Finally, my nemesis, muscular endurance. This is where I fail. I can power up a hill or two no problem. Third or fourth hill, a little slower, but OK. Long hill…forget about it. I need to build this if I have any hope of improving my overall pace and endurance, so in two weeks I’m starting my hills program: all hills, all the time (well, almost). I’m going to be interspersing mock time trials into my cycling every two to three weeks in order to determine, and then improve upon, my anabolic threshold. The time trials are going to take place on a flat stretch of land along the Silver Strand in Coronado.
This plan goes along with my overall plan of building on my weaknesses. My goal is to get my overall fitness level in each of the three sports to a respectable base level before I shift my training over to a more traditional race-training approach (i.e. long workouts, tempo workouts, intervals, etc.) One thing is for certain though, hitting the hills can only help…no matter how painful it might be.