Tag: whoop

Snow Outside Means Tweaking Your Training – Here’s What I Did Last Week

SURE, there are other things you can do to augment your cycling training besides hitting the trainer. In the long-term, it’s definitely NOT just about the bike.

I have a goal, though, damn it (5000 miles for the year – and I’ve significantly curtailed that from what it was at the beginning of the year) and I’m going to hit it, or I’m going to hurl trying. Maybe…

MY quandary is that I need to chillax a bit (and I’m a firm believer in that being a big part of the fitness regimen – see this post from May). I’ve got 131.8 miles to go; I’m in dire need of a rest day; the snow keeps falling (which means it has to be moved) and we’ve got family coming for the New Year’s weekend.

REST may win. I am sore from head to toe, okay more like from calves to shoulders. And a little neck. Head, good. Toes, okay.

Here’s How I Got Here

  • MONDAY the 20th
    • Rest Day
  • TUESDAY the 21st
    • Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende
    • 29 miles
    • 1:25:42
    • TSS = 108
    • Worked in 5 miles of Sweet Spot Training (SST) and 3 sets of HIIT (Tabatas).
  • WEDNESDAY the 22nd
    • Zwift – London
    • 21.1 miles
    • 1:07:21
    • TSS = 74
    • Mostly Tempo and a PR up Box Hill!
  • THURSDAY the 23rd
    • Fulgaz – Creede Highway 149
    • 21.9 miles
    • 1:04:14
    • TSS = 62
    • An easy and fast spin (85 RPM avg.) on a mostly downhill course.
  • FRIDAY the 24th
    • Fulgaz – Hidden Valley RT; Golden Gate Cooldown; Pacific Coast Highway Cruise
    • 22.9 miles
    • 1:12:31
    • TSS = 76
    • Did these three (3) different rides I had never done, mostly to get some miles in.
  • SATURDAY the 25th (Merry Christmas!)
    • Zwift – Yorkshire; Duchy Estate Sprints
    • 18.2 miles
    • 1:00:03
    • TSS = 68
    • Short course (~2.5 miles) with a sprint (total of 8) on each lap
    • Felt it today. As hard as a tried I could not get the HR up to what I normally can. Tired legs and body…
  • SUNDAY the 26th (boxing it up)
    • Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende again
    • 29 miles
    • 1:26:53
    • TSS = 79
    • Mostly about the miles today and I knew there were several hours of moving snow to come.
    • Moving snow afterwards (see pic below)
      • 2:36:38
      • Avg. HR = 103 (max 135)
      • TSS = 103
      • Editors note: Did another 2+ hours Monday the 27th, this time recording the distance; about 3/4 of a mile walked.

Moving snow, I’ve learned, is a great workout too – especially for the core, back and shoulders. Combined with, or as a follow up to a ride, it makes for a great day of training! The blower does a lot of the work certainly, but a shovel is still needed for those hard to blow places.

And there is something else that can be done with that snow…

Zwift and Fulgaz – a Great Combination

FOR me, having the ability to ride both in an animated and in a “real virtual” format via Zwift and Fulgaz makes all of this inside riding much more bearable. Add some good tunes, and focus on those (get through the song, then check the stats), or the scenery, depending, and plowing through those miles indoors can be fun, or at least do-able.

I’VE done several posts on the Zwift and Fulgaz dynamic over the last several years so if you’re interested in learning more just search for either term and you can meditate over those missives.

What About the Results?

AS it turns out I took another day off yesterday (somewhat forced due to the day job and some chores that needed doing (did those over the “lunch break”), and today, voila, a 96% recovery and Whoop tells me I’m primed for strain.

Today’s Adventure?

I’M not quite sure yet but I think it’s going to be a Zwift workout: Matt Hayman’s Paris-Roubaix. I have yet to complete it; it’s a challenging all around effort that is best done after a rest day (or two). Maybe today’s the day I’ll actually finish the entire thing.

IT doesn’t look good for that 5000 mile goal (132 miles to go with only 3 days left).

REST did win out and I still received the reward – my CTL (Chronic Training Load) score is trending up and so is time in the tub!

HERE’S hoping that my recap gets your juices flowing and gives you some ideas as to how you can mix things up a bit.

WE hope you had a very Merry Christmas and we wish you a joyful New Year filled with exciting experiences and fantastic fitness. Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses! next year, or even this year.

IF you have skies or snowshoes, that is. It’s starting to snow again.

Getting Fatter Yet Fitter – What the What?

MR. Scale has been feeling the extra weight and yours truly has been noticing the gain in girth. Since the Tamarack Fire really…About 15 pounds gained since July. Ouch. Yet people are telling me I look thinner or more fit. What the what?

COULD it be muscle mass? Great question! And that’s the interesting (and good) part. It’s been trending up. Due mainly to more core work and strength training; definitley not from the copious amounts of tequila or cerveza.

NOR is it from the extra “work” post-dinner, including ice cream and other sweet treats. Step away from the fridge, Mark!

WHILE on the trainer last Sunday I experimented a bit and found that I was pushing more watts with less effort (and as it turns out a slower cadence) even though I’m more rotund. Now certainly that trend needs to stop but my big takeaway was that the hard work has been paying off, even though I’ve been putting on the poundage.

A selfie of yours truly, in the ToC polka dot jersey, on the bike during stage 3 of the FulGaz French Tour last year.

GET back down to my “fighting weight” and I should be even stronger and faster, right?

RIGHT!

AS long as I keep up the training and continue to increase that muscle mass (or at least don’t let it decrease too much). Notice the fit ball and Bosu ball? Key items that really help with my balance and core strength.

THE other key is rest.

AND sleep training.

AS you may have read in a previous post my Whoop strap has really helped me focus on rest, recovery and sleep and that has helped me get more fit, also.

AND, when I do work out I’ve been overreaching (higher strain than recovery) more often after those restful days. That is optimal for increasing fitness says Whoop and I’ve certainly noticed it.

CHECK out this post, by the way, for more on that rest ‘thang.

PART of the recent weight gain could be attributed to my recent birthday. Last Wednesday I turned 58 and I went on a mini-vacation, which is why there was no post for you last week. Among other things (can you say Scoma’s?) I was able to partake of some Doobies. Brothers, that is. Was our (wife and Mom joined me) first concert since the pandemic began and it was awesome. Outdoors at the Shoreline in Mountain View and boy, what a show! Did you know the Doobs hail from San Jose, my hometown? Pat Simmons went to the same high-school I did.

THOSE boys may be old(er) but they can still rock, let me tell you!

ANYWAY, I digress. Apologies. Back to the story…

It’s also due to the business trip I took the week before. Couldn’t bring a bike and while I did miss that time, I did did hit the elliptical and did a bit of running (jogging, really) on the treadmill. That also makes a difference fitness-wise, at least that’s been my experience. Mixing it up makes the body react differently and gets some of those other muscles firing, too.

I was also able to pump some iron.

ALRIGHTY, then. Let’s bring it home so I can go get something to eat. πŸ˜‰

YES, gaining weight is generally not good. If it’s muscle mass it certainly is, but if it isn’t?

ALL is not lost dear reader. Focus on building strength, mix things up somewhat, and most importantly get some good sleep and schedule those more intensive training days on days after which you’re nicely recovered.

THE proof is in the pudding. Mmm, pudding. That sounds good!

Rest – What a Concept!

ADMITTEDLY it’s been recently forced upon me – rest that is, but nonetheless it appears to be what I needed.

FOR various reasons, since last Saturday’s hike with fellow members of the Alpine Trail’s Association (ATA), I haven’t done any riding, or any strenuous activities for that matter.

SPEAKING of the ATA…Saturday, June 12th is the ATA’s Curtz Lake Trail Day event.

We’d love to see you there!

That Was My Quick Plug. Now Let’s Get Back To Rest

AS I was saying…er, writing, I’ve gotten three (3) full-on rest days since that walkabout (we were doing some fascinating recon – finding missing sections of an old YCC trail) near the Markleeville Airport, and that itself was somewhat restful. We did three (3) miles in the same amount of hours. A nice pace indeed and a nice break from “the usze.” Youze? Yooz?

WELL since then, and as I alluded to earlier, due to work, life, and such, I haven’t been able to put in any serious athletically-oriented time. The benefit? Real rest. And, real recovery.

NOW I realize that this isn’t the best way to gain fitness. On the contrary, my fitness, and the corresponding “scores” are declining. Not for long. But that’s not my point. My point is that I’m REALLY seeing the impact long-term rest is having on my performance. In my mind it’s validating that focus on rest and sleep is as important as focus on HIIT, TTs, endurance and tempo. See this earlier post for more on that if you’re so inclined.

HRV up.

RHR down.

THAT’S the long and short of this little missive.

I don’t share this data out of hubris, no; it’s just that since I’ve been in denial for most of the weekend-warrior part of my life I figured that you too might not be as steeped in those sleep and rest habits as you could be either.

KNOWING these little details has helped me better understand how my body reacts to stress, both chronic and acute, and so I can more easily know when things are off and more importantly, when things are on.

MY genuine desire is that what I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, will help you in some way.

I’d love to know either way so do comment on this post, will ya?

IN the meantime let’s all relax, have a cerveza, and get ready for the Deathride!

FINGERS-CROSSED, my new, more restful outlook will help come July.

REST ON!

Riding Less but Getting Stronger – How’s That?

THE short answer is that I’m getting more rest and better sleep. I’m listening – to my body and to my gadgets.

GADGET may not be the best descriptor I initially thought but upon looking up the definition (a small mechanical or electronic device or tool, especially an ingenious or novel one) I realize it is apropos.

THOSE gadgets to which I refer, and about which I recently blogged, include my Garmin Fenix 6x and my Whoop strap.

LISTENING

THIS morning I had planned on getting in a fairly hard training session before work. However, my tech was suggesting otherwise. And after a month of wearing said strap and “comparing notes” with the Fenix, as hard as it was, I decided to listen.

I need more rest and frankly I find that part of training to be the most difficult. It’s easier to just ride.

OUR cat Ditty (nothing knows how to rest and relax better than a feline, right?) consistently shows us how to get it done so I figured I’d follow her example, and actually pay attention to what my devices, and more importantly my body, were telling me.

THE Fenix’s display indicated that I need 31 additional hours of recovery and that my recovery was delayed by poor sleep. Indeed, I was up late, celebrating my wife’s birthday and so was not able to get my usual Zs.

WHOOP’s recovery screen advised that I was only 18% recovered – my resting heart rate (RHR) was up and my heart rate variability (HRV) was “33.1% below its typical range, indicating that your body is not fully recovered.”

IT seems counterintuitive, at least to me, but since I’ve been focusing more on rest and sleep and mixing up my harder workouts with walks, runs, Kenpo workouts, easy e-MTB rides, and long endurance rides, I’ve been getting stronger.

GO figure! Putting in fewer hours (and miles) on the bike yet getting stronger…And, having more fun in the process.

ON April 1st I was following my new guidelines and I jumped on Zwift for an easy 45 minute spin. It took me a minute to realize what was going on (that’s my avatar with the yellow wheels) but rather than stress about not having my “real bike” (one rider chatted “this isn’t funny anymore Zwift, give me my bike back”) I just enjoyed the ride and the memories that came flooding back. I had one of those Big Wheels when I was a kid, you know?

I was smiling and giggling almost the entire session; in the past I would have whined about it.

PERFORMING

THE reason I’m still in need of more recovery is three-fold.

  • An intense HIIT workout last Friday
  • An endurance ride on Saturday
  • A virtual climb (focused on a new personal best – which I attained) on the Ebbetts Pass North Ascent on FulGaz on Monday.

FOR the HIIT workout I went with rocket drills. My workout consisted of six (6) sprints, two (2) minutes each at full throttle, from a standing start, up a small hill on Hot Springs Road. The rest interval was five (5) minutes, by the way, and I did that by doing a bit of easy spinning farther up the hill as well as back down to the starting point.

ON sprint #5 I hit almost 900 watts – the highest I’ve ever done on the road and it was the penultimate interval!

SPRINT #6, however, was almost a hurl-fest. Thankfully, though, no technicolor yawn.

SUNDAY, after Saturday’s approximately 90-minute endurance ride, I joined the wife for a short and easy ride on our e-MTBs.

THAT set me up for Monday, where I was able to set a personal best on the entire climb, as well as one of the segments, and hold a heart rate of 159 bpm for 60 minutes (per Trainingpeaks), a 2021 best.

RESTING and SLEEPING

AND so it was that I scheduled yesterday as a rest day and joined the wife again on our e-MTBs, this time for an easy ride up to Grover Hot Springs State Park, where my wife got her first taste of gravel on her new Rail.

AS for sleep, that’s where WHOOP is really helping. Now that I’ve been religiously wearing the strap for over a month I’m finding that what I like most is the focus it provides regarding sleep. From the after-action report in the morning, to the alerts the night before, it is teaching me (and it’s validated in my performance results) that sleep is just as important to training as the actual workouts.

WHEN I pay attention to the feedback it provides, as well as the input from the Fenix and Trainingpeaks, I perform better.

WHEN I don’t, I don’t.

AND so while I find myself champing at the bit to ride, or do something else hardcore today, I’m not going to do that.

I’M going to heed the warnings and try to be more like my cat. And in the process I know I’m going to get even sturdier on my steed.

THE Deathride is just over three (3) months away after all and it’s going to be a doozy.

HAPPY hump day! I hope you too are conquering some of those training humps and as always your comments are most welcome.

A More Holistic Approach to Fitness? WHOOP May Be Your Answer

AS you know I’m a bit of a data junky and between Trainingpeaks (TP) and Garmin (Fenix watch) I’m getting some pretty good information. But I’ve found that I just don’t have the time to jump into the TP data and with the Fenix, IMHO, the feedback is lacking.

AND so it was that I found myself getting a WHOOP strap earlier this month. I’d heard of, and seen (on Strava), some of my fellow athletes, including pros, using this unobtrusive little band and so when I got the special-offer email I thought I’d give it a try.

Inspector Gadget

YUP, it does feel a little bit like that with the Fenix on the left wrist and the WHOOP on the right but after thirteen (13) days I’ve gotten used to the set up.

THE WHOOP strap is minimalistic – a strap with a clasp.

What It Does (and Doesn’t)

DO, that is.

  • It doesn’t have a watch face.
  • It doesn’t track your steps.
  • It doesn’t track your pulse ox.
  • It does track your sleep (better than the Fenix does) and gives you specific feedback.
  • It does track your recovery and gives you specific feedback there as well.
  • It focuses on what it calls strain and what level of strain (load) you are under currently, and more importantly what kind of strain you can or should undertake that day.

SAYS WHOOP — “By balancing your daily recovery, strain and sleep, you will train optimally and unlock the secrets to your body’s true potential.”

I’M finding that to be true.

The overview panel provides a quick glance at recovery, strain and sleep.

The strain dashboard assesses your current strain and suggests the level of strain needed for optimal training.

The recovery dashboard gives you feedback on your current recovery and readiness for strain.

The sleep dashboard interprets and reports on your sleep performance.

Sleep is Key

AT least I’m learning that it is for me and WHOOP is driving me to focus and prepare for sleep like I do for workouts and training.

MY goal is to be able to sleep like my cat, Ditty. That’s her in the image at the top of this post.

All Together Now

  • The Fenix gives me the ability to capture my workouts and such while at the same time assures me that my resting heart rate and pulse ox are good. I find this especially reassuring when I’m not feeling 100%, especially in light of Covid-19 and the fact that those two data points are often key indicators of something being amiss.
  • Trainingpeaks lets me dive deeply into the specifics of my rides while at the same time mirrors nicely with WHOOP when it comes to things such as Acute Training Load (ATL), Chronic Training Load (CTL) and Form.
  • The WHOOP strap, and associated app fills the what-should-I-do-about-it?-gap and so far this is what I like most about it.

IN the end, what I’m seeing is that the COMBINATION of these three (3) pieces of technology, with their amalgamation of data and interpretations thereof, is giving me that global view, if you will, that I didn’t have before.

WHAT about you? What do you do to keep yourself honest and focused? Please share!