Friday, April 30, 2010

Flog, recover, repeat

I will freely admit that occasionally I flog myself.  It’s not often but it does happen on a regular basis.   However, more frequently I am flogged by other people.  It could be men, women, groups, younger people, older people, you name it.  They all have their own rewards but pretty much leave you feeling the same way.  Now, I was trying to figure out how to work chamois cream into this but since I just remembered my mother-in-law reads my blog I decided it’s time to drop the double speak and get on with it.

Of course, those of you who cycle know exactly what I am talking about.  That flogged feeling we know so well comes from riding harder, faster, further or higher than you ever have before.  It’s the kind of ride that when you finish you simply lean the bike against the garage, find your couch and curl up in the fetal position.  As you slip into your “flogged coma” your last thoughts are “I hope whatever Sherry made for dinner can be blended and drank through a straw”.

The whole idea behind this is that pushing yourself makes you stronger.  It’s that simple.  But you still need to be smart about it.  With flogging you need recovery if you are going to get the true benefits.  As someone who started cycling a little later in life, recovery is an incredibly important aspect of my routine and fortunately, I have a coach that recognizes that.

Let’s start with the flogging bit.  As mentioned earlier, you can flog yourself in many ways.  It could be the first time you climbed that monster hill in your area or hung on to the back of a pace line going 28 mph when your average is closer to 18.  It could be the first time you rode a century.  The bottom line is that you are exhausted at the end and believe it or not that’s a good thing especially since it is frequently combined with a sense of accomplishment.

After a monster ride you obviously need to recover but that shouldn’t mean staying off the bike for the next couple of weeks.  While rest is important, recovery rides are also an important part of the process.  This is the step I think a lot of people miss.  They have a “go hard or stay home” mentality with no recovery steps in between.

Here’s my normal weekly routine on the bike.  Mondays are rest days, so I only ride when it’s a holiday.  Tuesdays are when the floggings commence.  I will normally do speed or hill intervals, push monster gears, and squeeze out every ounce of energy I have into one intense 90-minute workout.  Thursdays are for active recovery rides.  These rides are all about just enjoying the bike and cruising around at a good, but not intense, pace.  Wednesdays and Fridays are also rest days.

floggedWhat’s the difference between the rides?  On flogging days my average heart rate will be 150 or higher and max HR will top over 180.  On recovery rides, I don’t allow my HR to exceed 150 and usually end with a 125 average.   I may raise the pace for a few minutes on my recovery rides but nothing drastic and I still stay below a 150 HR.  Plus, as these two contrasting non-floggedphotos indicate, there is difference in how you look.

I apply the same principles to the weekend rides.  Saturday is normally my go hard day.  I push myself up big, big climbs, try to hang with faster riders for a little longer, or push longer distances.  In the end, I am usually feeling the efforts but “I’m not dead”.  That will be followed on Sunday with more active recovery riding that includes a lot of pre and post ride coffee chat with friends.

There you have it.  My little secret for getting stronger and having fun on the bike.  I am not espousing that this works for everyone but it works for me.  I make the most of only riding four days a week with plenty of time for rest and recovery.

Now if you’ll excuse me, since it’s Friday I think it’s time for another cup of coffee.


1 Comment(s):

dan said...

recovery: one of the hardest lessons for a cyclist to learn. enjoy your coffee and keep thinking of the fact that your muscles are rebuilding themselves stronger each time you do!