Thursday, March 17, 2011

Endurance Training

Barefoot Running

Our early bust of summer weather prompted me to start running again - but with a view to avoiding injury and building up again slowly from scratch using forefoot running. For the first attempt I ran just 20 minutes on relatively flat Mizuno running shoes - btu still ended up almost unable to walk the following day due to calf muscle pain. Discomfort lasted for about four days, during which time I've ordered a pair of Vibram "Fivefinger" barefoot - running shoes. The hope is that with no heel raise on the shoe my heel will be in a lower position while running barefoot and this will remove the strain from the calves making the whole process more natural. Attempting to run barefoot style with running shoes incorporating a ramp angle or raised heel may be causing mechanical problems.

Prior to the start of last season I had been trying to develop a forefoot running style with normal running shoes and switched back to a heel strike with disastrous results - plantar fasciitis - which gave me excruciating pain under the right foot when skiing all season long. The injury did not happen when working on the barefoot technique - but on changing back to using a heel strike over long distances (18km plus).

Bike Training
First serious hill climbing workout of the year.  The first climb was from 600m up to 1250m altitude. Amazingly, despite it still being winter there was a bee on the road at exactly 1000m altitude. All sorts of wild Alpine flowers were already starting to appear despite there being nothing surrounding them other than dead winter vegetation. Air temperature was high enough so that with correct clothing cycling was enjoyable and not cold. The second climb up to Notre dame du Pré  (1310m) from Moutiers (480m) is usually a killer as there are some really steep sections. I stayed focussed on pulling up on the pedals with the psoas muscles and was able to complete the climb without a drop off in performance. I'd dropped the saddle height 1.5cm to 71cm (above crank axel measured along the down-tube axis) making it the same as for my indoor Tacx trainer setup. This seemed to remove back strain but didn't compromise performance or the ability to "pull up" on the pedals. Dropping the heel a little during the downstroke seemed to permit more leg muscles to be involved in the pulling up phase. I'd noticed that some pros have their saddle high and keep their toes pointed downwards all the way through their stroke - but this seems to be less powerful in both the upstroke and downstroke. There must be a good reason for them doing this - but for me it only seems to damage my back.

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