Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Consequence not the Cause

In one month my time for the Beaufort workout has improved from 5hrs 05mins to 4hrs 32mins. More important though is that there has been an even bigger improvement in enjoyment. This last workout took me to the 3000km mark for this year and it seems that this amount of mileage is where things start to become interesting. The body just functions much better and even when pushing the limits it’s enjoyable. I still can’t sleep properly after a very hard session – the body just throbs all night – but that’s not an issue. The main thing is the great feeling of power in the legs and connection with muscles right up through the body – all the way to the end of the workout. It’s not the scenery that’s important – though that certainly helps – it’s the feelings that are inside the body. When it was all going wrong for me earlier in the season – trying to race without a proper base level of fitness – even the best scenery in the world didn’t stop me from feeling miserable. On top of all this I’ve found out how to keep up running while still building cycling stamina. The key is to only run 5km instead of 10km. Running 5km yesterday evening had no impact on the legs today – whereas a 10km run would have left the legs tired. Regular 5km runs have a strong impact on running fitness and allow different muscles to be used from cycling, calories to be burned, cardiovascular work to be augmented – but without leaving the legs empty for a proper cycling workout.

In both running and cycling I’m now really feeling the core working differently. Many years ago I realised in skiing that even correct instructions were just a crude template to get all the body parts in approximately the right place at the right time – but actual skiing wasn’t about that at all. When you get all the parts firing in the right order then suddenly and unexpectedly you find skiing “happening to you” – the moves become involuntary, some triggered by reflex and some by mechanics. This sensation of “happening to you” instead you you making it happen is a true key to knowing that you are on the right path. The body simply can’t do this if the movements are not organised in a way that comes to life on it’s own. Until recently the use of the core in running and cycling was a bit like my early skiing – done by numbers and by making it happen. Get the spine rotating – the stride reaching backwards, the foot strike correct etc. On the bile it meant pulling back the hip when pushing down on the pedal – and pulling up on the other pedal. All the time it was me making it happen and any loss of concentration would cause it to stop. Now that has all changed – but it happened suddenly  just like in skiing. I now feel the motion ORIGINATING in the core and driving everything else. When it’s happening I don’t want it to stop. If it does stop it all feels wrong and weak. If you are climbing and pushing hard on the pedals with the legs then that is going to be tiring and weak. The moment that the core drives the action it connects the push to the pull on the other side and gets the big core of the body completely involved in initiating the movement – and suddenly not only do the legs feel light but there is a big acceleration. You simply don’t try to push with your legs – that’s a consequence not a cause – just like all those parts in skiing – they should be the consequences not the cause.

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