Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Straight climb up to La Plagne

Tuesday 31st August

Straight climb up to La Plagne. Legs still a bit tired from Saturday's tough race so no heroics today. Still, it's always a hard steep climb so good training. Would perhaps have been better with an extra day's rest so as to get a more powerful workout tomorrow.

Moved the saddle up about 4mm and the difference was major. It seems that there is a sweet zone where tiny saddle height adjustments make qualitative differences. At first I thought it might be too high again but later decided that it was probably perfect. The extra height means that there is not such a build up of pressure late on the down stroke (forcing the pedal down at the bottom of the stroke would be a total waste of energy). The feeling is that just before the bottom of the stroke the lessened force makes it easier for the pedal to move backwards - it feels very "round" as a stroke. The "pulling back of the foot to scrape mud off" motion seems to actually happened to you. Next thing is that it is easier to pull up because the leg and foot feel more naturally extended and less cramped at the start of the pull. Combining the pull and push with opposite legs forces the bike to remain very stable. If you shift weight from side to side to get more pressure on the pedals for the down strokes, then you lose the pull up. The pull up feels much more powerful and effective as an option. There is also an engagement of the lower abdomen when the pull is used and it feels quite strong and effective. The ankle can extend on the lower part  of the stroke to use the calf muscle more and engage the quads when they are probably most effective. The first part of the down stroke seems better with the ankle flexing - allowing the glutes and hamstrings to contribute more. This "Ankling" is really to be able to access all the muscle groups in the legs when most appropriate. Very little of all the above could be felt when the saddle was a few millimeters lower.

This morning my nose was blocked and I didn't feel comfortable breathing though it. It feels like it was blocked by congestion. The Buteyko theory is that it is blocked by pooled venous blood caused by "hypocapnia" - in other words - over breathing. The idea is to reduce breathing with breath control exercises and the blocked nose will clear due to improved blood flow. I felt sceptical but spent some time reducing my breathing and lo and behold it worked. The nose unblocked without blowing it or picking anything out of it (not that I would do such a thing). Later on the entire climb to La Plagne was done with nasal breathing because the nose stayed clear all day. I'm hoping that this will help with recovery (lower lactic acid levels) from the session and permit another longer one tomorrow - or the next day.

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