Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Bike shoe tension


There is a simple way to keep your feet comfortable while improving your pedaling efficiency at the same time. By loosening the straps on your shoes you may find yourself pedaling more efficiently than ever before. Here are some thoughts/ideas and how this can be achieved.

Too often people buy bike shoes that are very narrow and tighten them as if they are wearing hockey skates. This can cut off circulation and squeeze the bones of a foot together causing any number or foot injuries'  or at least numb feet. A simple suggestion is to buy bike shoes a half size larger and search for ones that have a wide enough toe box.  If you live in a warm climate your feet are going to swell during longer rides so a larger size is warranted, and if you live in a colder climate you need to make sure you allow for extra room for thicker or warmer socks during the cooler/colder winter months. Make sure to adjust tension every hour of riding to accommodate for swelling. Bike shoes are often narrow so a simple shoe stretcher could be used to widen out the toe box if needed.

The best way to start this process is when you doing workouts on your indoor trainer. Loosen the straps a little bit at a time. If you find your feet moving around inside the shoe then you may not be applying force to the pedal efficiently. With practice, you will learn to relax and unweight the foot on the upstroke you find a better connection to the pedal if you give yourself a bit of time to work with this.

Next, do this during your easier road rides.  Play with different tensions to find one that feels right. Over time you will find the optimal tension to relax the feet given enough room and allow for optimal power transmission.

You just might find your riding better and more comfortable without numb or cramped feet.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Hot Tubs- A Secret Training Weapon

I've always viewed hot tubs as a great great way to relax and recover. When I started my career in the health and fitness industry in the late 80s, I'd end my swims in the hot tub to warm up and recover. It wasn't until a year ago that I decided to get one for home to enhance recovery and improve sleep.

The new type of hot tubs which are called plug and play are fantastic. All you have to do is fill them up and plug them in and they are self-contained, and provide all the features of much more expensive versions.

Once it arrived, i just filled it up and plugged it in. I use it every evening for 10 to 15 minutes as part of my wind-down /sleeper routine. This has worked tremendously, but along the way, I have found some  added benefits which have made this even more valuable to my training and recovery.

My daily hot tub sessions have allowed me to get more benefits out of my time spent in the warm water. These include:

Breath Work- With nowhere to go for 10 to 15 minutes, I work on slow relaxed breathing to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a nice relaxing way to end the day.

Stretching- while in the hot tub, I can do a variety of stretches and work on flexibility.

Trigger Point Work- After completing my breathing exercises I can often use my thumb and work on the calfs  or any other areas in my lower leg that seems to be tight.

Meditation- Although I really haven't delved into this as of yet I feel like the hot tub with the sound of the bubbles e is a perfect place to work on meditating.

Hot water immersion is a proven method to heat acclimate. Living in the warm humid weather of Florida, the ability to heat acclimate not only makes life more comfortable but allows me to train and compete at a safer level. Two to three times per week after key run workouts when my core temperature is above  102F, I will immediately jump into the hot tub with a temperature of 105F for 10 to 15 minutes. Unlike my evening routines, this is not so comfortable. I have found after a couple weeks, my heat tolerance in training is enhanced.

I now view my hot tub as an essential part of my training. I hate missing a session due to thunderstorms, as it has become an integral part of my training, recovery,
and sleep routines.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Incline Tempo Runs on Treadmills

 If you want to build muscular endurance and reduce the impact stress on the legs, then incline tempo runs on the treadmill might be your answer. This is a workout format I have recently begun experimenting with. As an expert and contributor on any question, I often love asking questions of other experts I have read and respect. A workout that piqued my interest was an uphill tempo workout that I saw posted by elite running coach Brad Hudson. This workout calls for a 4 to 5-mile uphill tempo effort. Unfortunately, this is not available to most people unless you live in the mountains and have a nice long uphill for 5 miles. But I did like the purpose of the workout and think it would be very valuable for triathletes to develop muscular endurance running off the bike without beating up the legs.

The treadmill became the best place to execute this workout for many reasons. First, it would allow us to lock in the speed and the grade and go for either distance or duration. By locking in a speed we can settle in and work on running economy and relaxing or ticking off the miles. A 3% grade is a good starting point; even going for 10 or 15 minutes provides a great workout. This can be a great workout done right off of the bike as an uphill transition tempo run of 10 to 20 minutes.

Workout variations

decreasing incline- 5 minutes at 5% grade/ 5 minutes at 4% grade/ 5 minutes at 3% grade. As you lower each grade by one percent, increase the speed by .1 – .2 mph.

Increasing incline- in this variation, you will keep the speed constant while increasing the grade 1% every 5 minutes. This tempo section can range from 15 to 30 minutes.

Broken tempo- in this variation, you will use a 4-minute run/1 minute walk or rest to break up the tempo efforts. This allows you to go a bit longer and hold a higher pace.

The goal of these workouts is not to beat yourself up but to provide a stimulus that will work the legs well while keeping your heart rate at or below your threshold pace/heart rate. It provides a good solid workout but minimal recovery center not pounding your legs. 

Happy Training!