With the “bad” year behind, or you could call it a learning year, longer rides and centuries consumed the end of the cycling season. Off-season started in November, where for about a week, I did nothing and ate almost everything from my refrigerator and pantry (and had to fill it up just as quick). It was also a time to plan for what I was going to do to increase my fitness and have some structure. At the time, this was my plan:
- Do CrossFit to increase my general fitness;
- Do lots of Skate-ski to build up my VO2max;
- Lift weights to increase my physical strength;
- Do Yoga, both Vinyasa and Yin to work both core muscles and connective tissues;
- Get a VO2max test done;
- Indoor trainer with Trainer Road.
I only got to three of the five activities in this plan as I discovered quickly that I didn’t have the time and energy to do everything. A couple of CrossFit community classes put my body out for the entire day. I wouldn’t recover in time to do every other activity I wanted, so I had to ditch it. Granted, I probably would have adapted to the high intensity, but I also wanted to have compassion for my body. And I tried to get outside as much as possible to go Skate-skiing. But of course, this past winter was another winter with very little snow. So I had to build my base in other ways.
I began with the medium volume, base training plan from Trainer Road and worked around that. I could still feel remnants of my injury, the lingering fatigue and strain in my lower back and gluteus so I had to take it easy.
Once I completed the 8-week plan, I did the VO2max testing to determine how hard I have to train the rest of the off-season. I was getting ready for the Killington Stage Race and needed to know these numbers. Let me just say, going through that testing was anything but having compassion to your body! Breathing through a restricted mask, sweating like buckets and getting finger pricks on a frequent basis were literal pain points to the test. Other than that, it was fun!
After learning about my numbers, it gave me extra motivation to select a build plan from Trainer Road and then later, a specialty plan for climbing.
Next up was doing my full-body weight lifting to prime and condition for more intense efforts in the new year. Before last year’s injury, my FTP was substantial and I experienced plenty of power I never knew I had. What was missing was muscle strength in the gluteus and lower back to support the higher output. By the time January hit, I concentrated on developing these muscle groups by doing specific exercises. YouTube is a great resource for that!
To round out everything, I did Vinyasa Yoga about once a week to keep my core strength, and Yin Yoga twice a week to address the connective tissues to keep my flexibility. The meditative qualities of Yin Yoga did wonders.
During this time, I also held a Yin Yoga for Cyclists series at Riverbend Yoga for the cycling community to experience what the practice can do to compliment their indoor training. The idea is to discover a new routine to restore your body (addressing the connective tissues) and mind – something you can carry onto the cycling season as a regular practice. It was very well received and I’m looking to do another series soon.
But of course, none of these activities could happen without revising my nutrition. As my previous trainer taught me, 80% of staying fit is about nutrition. With the number of calories skyrocketing due to doubling up on activities four times a week and working out six times a week, I started to eat more protein. As a pescetarian, my typical day consisted of eating:
Breakfast – 3 organic eggs, avocado, turmeric, a couple of ounces of organic nuts;
Lunch – sweet potato burrito or crab cake sandwich;
Dinner – depending on the mood, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts and/or salmon or scallops with soba or udon noodles with spinach and kale. Sometimes Kimchi before the meal.
In between the meals, I would have wellness bars from my business or an organic banana. The great thing about the wellness bars are that they are non-GMO and gluten-free.
For the post-activity protein shake, I use Nutiva hemp protein with SO Delicious organic coconut milk, turmeric, Maine maple syrup, ginger, black pepper and a banana.
My goals for nutrition were:
- Increase the amount of akali (versus acidic) foods thus reducing the amount of muscle and tissue inflammation;
- Reduce the amount of regular fish intake, supporting goal #1;
- Find protein alternatives that my stomach and taste buds can handle.
I can say without a doubt that with the cycling season now in the full swing of things, I’ve realized some gains. Read more about them in my next post!
Ride on! Or should I say, “Eat on?”