I feel like my cycling, training life is a bit like a Chinese buffet right now. A few favorites, a few new flavors, some stuff I’m not sure about, but hey, why not give it a whirl? Here’s a look at what’s on my plate and why:
Cyclocross: I’ve always really enjoyed this muddy mash up of cycling, running and roller derby. This year, I’m loving it. I ride hard, get heckled, try to pick good lines, and simply have fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to take a stab. You’ll be back for more.
Swimming: I’m only going once a week. But it’s just what I need on a Monday morning after ‘cross racing (see above) and running and strength training. Swimming takes my muscles through a full range of motion like nothing else. It also allows me to shake out my legs without adding to the fatigue. I feel taller and more limber when I get out of the pool.
TRX: I’m new to this suspension training system, but I can clearly see the appeal…and the benefits. Doing push ups, mountain climbers, pikes and pull ups with your upper or lower body suspended in those stirrups gives your core muscles a whole new level of attention. I also like how I can use it to do pistol squats and other moves I can’t manage without a little of support.
Beets: Can’t get enough of them. Sautéed, shaved, roasted, raw…love, love, love beets. Now new research reveals why I might crave them so: Scientists at the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences found that beet juice gave cyclists more stamina during an endurance test and may increase your ability to exercise by up to 16 percent. Delicious results if you ask me.
Foam Rolling: What did I do before they invented these self massage tools? I roll my IT bands every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It keeps my legs loose and limber.
Foundation Training: I’ve talked about it before and I’m still doing it. I don’t have back pain, never have (knock on wood). But my left knee occasionally gets grumpy and lord knows I sit on my butt far too many hours a day (like many of you, I’m sure), so my hips, hamstrings, and glutes are weaker/tighter/more imbalanced than they ought to be for how active I am. A few Good Mornings, Windmills, and Woodpeckers, à la Eric Goodman and Peter Park of Foundation Training, stretch and strengthen my muscles in all the right ways.
Long Rides: Fall mountain bike season is heaven on earth. If I can slip into the woods on my big wheels for a few hours to just play, I’m a very happy woman.
Trail Running: I’ve got two young dogs who are very, very good when they’re tired dogs. An early morning run with them on the mountain trails behind my house leaves all of us happy, calm, and ready for the day.
The Tabata Protocol: Micro-intervals of about 20 seconds in length are the “it” workout right now. I did these early this year and loved the results. Full-bore efforts improve your top end fitness and, as they say, a high tide raises all boats, so every aspect of your riding, including endurance, improves. I’m not doing these right now; but you better believe I will when the weather turns and the bike is perched inside.