Thursday, February 28, 2013

I don't know how to work out!

It is now just 23 days until my first race of 2013. And I am panicking!!!! I feel so incredibly weak, overweight, and just slow as all get-out! Plus, I have no idea what tires to use.

The fitness is the worst part. I like working out. But I have no real knowledge of how to work out effectively. So what to do? Well, I did what anyone in 2013 does when they don't know the answer to something. SIRI!!!! Joking. Google, of course.

After doing enough research to be able to tell people I did some research but not nearly enough to actually be informed about anything, I decided to do Tabata intervals. The Tabata protocol goes like this:

20 seconds as hard as you can (170% VO2max)
10 seconds of passive rest
Repeat 8 times
Do 4 times per week
On 5th day, do 30 minutes at 70% VO2max followed by 4 Tabata intervals

In Izumi Tabata's study, doing this for sixweeks yielded 14%-15% increase in VO2max among his subjects (Olympic speed skaters). This is the same benefit seen by his control (also Olympic speed skaters) that did 1 hour of steady state (70% VO2max) five times per week for four weeks. Except that the control group did not reap the benefits of anaerobic capacity gains!

Brilliant, right? I only do 4 minutes of exercise per day! And I benefit more than doing an hour of exercise! Except...go and try this set of intervals. Just once. Get on your trainer or stationary bike. Go as hard as you possibly can for 20 seconds. Rest 10. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

By the third one, your legs are on fire. By the fifth rep, your lungs and heart feel like they want to explode. By the seventh rep, you start making all sorts of involuntary grunting and whimpering noises, and can barely support yourself on the bike. And the last one, there's just nothing left in the tank. After you're done, you really do feel like you have to vomit. When you get off the bike, your legs are wobbly and you simply cannot stand up. It takes quite some time before you're not gasping for breath.

This stupid protocol is BRUTAL!!!!!!

Oh, and also, it was tested on Olympic level athletes. They recover faster, push harder, and are mentally stronger. What does that mean for me? Well...I'm almost done with the four weeks (two more days to go), and I think I've done more damage than anything else! I feel like it has ravaged my leg muscles beyond repair. And I am mentally beaten down. When I first started, I could push hard and bring myself all the way to 205 bpm heart rate. But now? My legs aren't strong enough to push that hard. And my mind can't endure the suffering. I'm nowhere near 170% VO2max on the 20 second efforts. I'm reaching a heart rate of 188-195 on most days. I will not see the gains reported in the study. I am defeated to the core.

So why have I continued to do this? Because I'm stubborn. Plain and simple. I started it, so I'm going to finish it even if it's ultimately detrimental!!!! I am a dumb man. Really. Ask my wife.

After today and tomorrow, I'll be done with the Tabata Protocol. Then I'll still have three weeks until race day. I think next week, I'll do one, two, and three hour workouts of various intensity. The following week, I'll try to do the same. And I'll try to get enough rest days to start healing up from the past four weeks of hell. The week of the race? I think I'll do 2-3 light workouts. The nothing on 21st and 22nd. Race on the 23rd.

That's my plan! I'm pretty sure I'll have poor results in this race. But...that will give me incentive to "research" better workout regimens!

Related to fitness, I'm finding dieting to be a big problem. Right now, I'm about 10+ lbs over my ideal race weight. And I'm probably heavier than I have ever been.When I was single and/or a hermit, eating healthy was simple! But being married and social, eating healthy is impossible. For me, I'm not one of those people that can watch others eat a burger while I nibble at a salad. No, if other people around me are ordering burgers...then I'm ordering a burger, another burger, and a plate of ribs.

I don't know how to fix this. It may be impossible to fix.

My other problem is equipment related. I hear Barry Roubaix is a very hilly, challenging course. I have a compact 50/34 chainring on the front. And my cassette is at present a 11-26. I think that will be ok. It was fine for Lowell. I plan on pre-riding the course with Joe and Danielle on the 9th. If it's more challenging than I thought, I might use a 12-28 cassette.

The bigger problem is tire choice. When I go road riding, I don't even think about it. I grab my road wheels, almost always mounted with Vittoria Corsa CX 23c road tires, and I'm set. But cyclocross and this off-road, gravel stuff...it's a pain! There are so many different tread patterns for so many different conditions. Knobby tires? File tread tires? A in-between tire? Or almost slicks? 28? 30? 32? 34? And what wheels? I think I'm going to leave my Reynolds MV32T UL carbon tubulars at home since this course is sandy and potentially muddy. I don't want to ruin the carbon braking surface prematurely. But then, I have many clinchers to choose from. Very light ones that are less robust? Medium weight ones? Or heavy bomb proof ones? Too many choices to make...

Accuweather is showing some pretty fair weather in Hastings for the next three weeks. Most, if not all of the snow should be melted. But how wet will it be? Damp? Muddy? Swamp? What to do!!!!

I'm leaning towards a 32c file tread pattern tire, which should give me good grip but low rolling resistance on dry or hard packed surfaces. And I guess I'll deal with mud and really wet sections the best I can.

Ugh! Three more weeks to fret about stupid things. Fun!

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