La Plagne PB

Suffering from severe calf d.o.m.s. today from having started running again. I knew that would be the case having launched straight into a full 8km run at normal speeds. It’s always two days after the run that the pains reach their worst – making it really difficult to even walk.
Despite the discouraging leg pains I decided to ride up to La Plagne ski station for the first time this year. It’s a tough climb ascending rapidly from 600m at the Isère river to 2000 m at the ski resort – over a relatively short distance of 17.5km. For example, the same starting point to Val d’Isère would be about 45km and only goes up to 1800m. To my surprise there was no pain at all from the calves while cycling and I’d recovered my energy levels completely from last week’s really low point – back up to full power. In fact, despite using nasal breathing for the first 45 minutes I ended up with a personal best time, beating the previous time set last year by almost 3 minutes – now at 01hr 19min 56secs. Last year I really wanted to break the 1hr 20min barrier but didn’t make it. That’s starting from the crossing of the Isère river – the lowest point before climbing up through Macot.


Be low 69kg for the first time this year – 68.6kg this morning. No amount of exercise was getting the weight off and the long distance training was giving me sugar cravings that seemed impossible to ignore. Now I’m only eating fruit and zero fat yoghurt for desert and snacks – plus the odd raw carrot if the munchies come on. This is definitely a better nutrition and the weight is shifting at last. Basically, exercise in not enough – you need to avoid rich food too. Being tired from intense training doesn’t help though – it makes control over eating very tricky. My personal aim should be to maintain this fitness permanently and not to have to lose weight or make a massive surge on training to generate stamina and endurance. Winter will be a real test this year – but it’s got to be a top priority this time.

Another link to Skiing
During the climb I was thinking about how to tackle the issue of which edge of the foot the pressure should be on – with my natural tendency to end up on the (damaging) outside edge. It struck me that pulling inwards with the adductor muscles on the inside of the legs might work and sure enough it did. Once again, this is exactly what has to be done in skiing to align the leg over the inside edge of the foot (no matter which edge of the ski you are using – but we won’t get into that here). I was able to draw on my skiing experience to employ this all the way up the climb and noticed a better and more constant pressure on the pedals. I have to play with this a bit more but it looks like an additional skill that needs to be worked on.
Core Muscles
The main focus on the climb was on “core” issues. Using the core muscles (which include adductors) and relaxing the extremities. This felt very good. Meanwhile I worked on improving breathing quality – not quantity – by using the diaphragm to breathe – forcing out with the abdomen and letting the lower ribs expand automatically on breathing in. I kept the breathing shallow, efficient and fully nasal for as long as possible. This didn’t interfere with working with the core muscles for pulling and pushing on the pedals. When walking yesterday with Christiane it was clear that she didn’t understand how to use the pelvis and core muscles because her entire bottom was pivoting around on her spine – like a catwalk model – despite having correct pelvic tilt. In an effort to explain I visualised it all slightly differently. Imagine that the pivot point is not the spine but is the top of the femur of the leg supporting you. The leg which is behind will swing forward with the pelvis pivoting around this point. This feels more like a back and forth “translation” of the heads of the femurs – not a rotation. Any rotation at the hips or spine are then secondary – they are effects not causes. “Translation” is a mathematical term for a displacement that is not a rotation. The difference might sound to be subtle but it worked immediately for Christiane. Today I felt this also on the bike. It clarified even better how the core muscles need to be accessed for greater efficiency.

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