Friday, June 25, 2010

The Day After

Monday 21st June 2010

Recovery Workout.

Keeping heart rate below 132bpm just went for a climb up to Granier on the mountain bike. Climbing to Granier (about 600m) normally takes about 35minutes on a racing bike, but today it took over an hour. My calf muscles were twitching and the left knee felt sore, muscularly, but it had done on waking in the morning. The objective was to see if a “recovery” workout would be useful or not. The sore knee felt better after warming up and the calf muscles settled down so it would seem that at least no damage was done.

Wednesday 22nd June 2010
Recovery Workout.
Another recovery workout on the mountain bike. Still feeling very tired so I resisted the temptation to work above 132bpm. This proved to be a good move because my initial enthusiasm faded into tiredness half way up the climb to the waterfall (820m climbing). Today being the second day of sunshine meant that the off road trails were dry and the opportunity for a real off road descent was available for the first time this year. It was a real pleasure although I was a bit over-cautious on the singletrack hairpin bends sometimes. Off road descending takes a bit of practise.

Thursday 24th June 2010
Excellent Workout with Paul

GPSies - Aime - Macot - Bourg St Maurice - Cormet de Roselend - Les Chapelles - Aime
Paul Evans paid a visit – over from Chamonix - and was very keen to get out and explore the area on a hired racing bike. Paul brought his own shoes and pedals – which is a very practical way to train properly on hired equipment. Unlike me Paul had fresh cycling legs, but was very short on training. The combination proved to be a good match for levels on the day, so we both got the best out of it. I chose the Cormet de Roselend so there would be a good clear objective and sense of achievement without straying too far from home if my still unrecovered body decided to reject me completely. Mentally I was absolutely resistant to working out but the legs didn’t quite agree, they seemed to have a reasonable amount of will of their own. Paul set the pace on the climb with his fresh energy and I just tagged along with my brain and legs in constant dialogue with each other – brain “Stop!”, legs “Go, on, accelerate!” etc.

Without Paul there it would definitely have been a rest day. I was very curious however to see what the result of pushing the body would be – whether it would delay the overall recovery from the weekend, or whether the recovery would proceed regardless the following day. I also didn’t know if the legs would work or not – but they seemed quite happy to do whatever their unwilling master (my brain) asked. Higher fitness means that “normal” rules don’t really apply any more so it would be an interesting test – though it was already taking a long time to recover from Sunday’s unaccustomed efforts. Paul tended to push hardest at the bottom of the climbs, which is normal when you are keen to get into it. It was a bit hard for me to adapt to the slightly uneven pace produced by Paul’s energy, but it was also a good exercise. Most of the climb for me was above Lactate Threshold – from Super Threshold into Anaerobic Threshold. It was mentally a bit hard to sustain this at times, but the body appeared to have plenty in reserve. I was glad that Paul was able to stretch me like this – because it is good practise for other times when the body is tired and the mind unwilling. It’s left me with more questions than answers regarding “recovery” and “over training”. What is really setting the levels? The body or the brain? In this case it clearly felt like the brain and not the body.

At the top of the Cormet at 2000m it was warm enough to sit in the sun in cycling shirts , rest, drink and enjoy the scenery a while before descending back into Bourg St Maurice for a coffee stop (Hey, this wasn’t a race!). With the road being dry and clean it made for a fun and fast descent into Bourg, though a bit less for Paul who was on a strange bike, unfamiliar roads and is not accustomed to Alpine hairpin bends. Paul had a close call – skidding the back wheel and brushing the bank at the side of the road with his arm – but he stayed up. It’s also hard getting used to the continental swapping of the rear brake to the right hand side. I’m only feeling confident to go fast downhill after several months of practise with those parameters on my own new bike – plus I spend all year throwing myself down hills. After Bourg we climbed up through Vulmix towards Les Chappeles and a trip home via the “Versant du Soleil” route. This time the climb was much shorter and surprisingly my legs were quite cooperative again and made the climb enjoyable – but still feeling Sunday’s aches and legacy with the occasional calf muscle twitch (never experienced prior to this week). At the summit of the climb we stopped at a view point so that I could point out the other routes in the area to Paul. Sitting there enjoying the sun we turned around to see Chris arriving – aiming for the same point where he likes to stop and stretch out his quads and back. The coincidence was appreciate by all and as we had all finished our real workouts for the day we could relax for a while in the early evening sun – with a great view of the valley extending before us. Not difficult to see why people in France love cycling!

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