Respiration Training

Tuesday 21st & Wednesday 22nd September 2010

Training this week is mainly about focusing on maintaining the fitness level between races.
Tuesday’s training was just a short high intensity climb half way up to La Plagne. The legs were still tired from Sunday’s race but it was still possible to train at high intensity and at high lactate levels. Regardless of tiredness I arrived at the top of the climb only seconds behind my personal best time – so it was a worthwhile workout. Time distribution – Anaerobic Threshold 30.7%, Super Lactate 22.8%, Lactate Threshold 7.3%.
Wednesday’s workout was intended to be longer – starting at Aime and passing though Macot towards Laundry – from where there is the long steep climb up to Les Arcs 1800 – then the long descent to Bourg St Maurice. The highest intensity on this workout was Lactate Threshold at 8.8% of the time – but it still feltt like hard work. The Google Earth images below show the 54.54 km route… (Click to enlarge)
I’d started the workout quite late and managed to lose the sun when climbing in the Peisey valley – only to get back into it’s warming rays near the top of the climb at Vallandry. I’d taken a wind jacket to give some protection if on the descent in the shade from Les Arcs. It was the first time I’ used my new superbright USB rechargeable bike lights. It get dark rapidly on the return home but the lights were very reassuring: that’s a link to the shop selling the lights – I highly recommend them – total of 17 grams both together. I used the front one last week clipped on a baseball cap for reading a book – very useful.
Respiration Training
Having failed to control my breathing during the last two races – where I’ve been focused more on pedalling technique and dealing with higher speed – the mid week training focus was an opportunity to shift it back to respiration. Both workouts were done with nasal breathing. Interestingly the high intensity workout was no problem with nasal breathing. I had more trouble on Wednesday’s slower workout and had to breathe through the mouth on the last climb. This is interesting because it shows that problematic respiration control appears to have more to do with fatigue levels than workout intensity.
Training on your own is greatly assisted by music. Often I just listen to music radio for variety – but in the mountains reception is not always great; My favourite music is the Afro Celt Sound System – which is a fantastic blend of traditional and electronic music with haunting melodies mixed with driving African rhythms – great for lifting your mood. There is nothing better than finding yourself in the early evening warm sun at 1800m altitude, no traffic and in the middle of a great workout and listening to your favourite music with a bird’s eye view of the stunning Mont Blanc directly in front of you.
Pedalling Technique
Felt a better physical connetion today with the pedalling – though the abdomen. I noticed that the upstoke and dowstroke on opposite sides only seem to connect when the downstroke is started with the heel down and the hamstrings engaged. If the downstroke starts with the toes down (more emphasis on quads) there is almost no muscular engagement of the lower abdomen. I think that during the last race I was tending to keep the toes down due to the slight back probllem and thus using less pull with the psoas on the upstroke. That’s probably why I didn’t feel much happening during the race – it all felt a little bit disconnected. I might lower the saddle slightly until the back is fully recovered – making it easier to keep the heel down at the start of the downstoke.

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