Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dodging the plague.

I am interested at the moment in training and it's effect on your immune system. Mainly this is driven by wanting to avoid a cold or flu at a critical time such a race week, but generally because I hate being sick! I won't go into the science and mechanisms here for how this stuff works for fear of boring you to death, but will give you the practical bits of what I have figured out, and how I plan to apply it for myself.

I've got a qualification in Nutrition and Body Fat Management, so I know the basics about how many calories, carbs, protein and fat my diet should include. I think most keen athletes these days would know this stuff, so I am not going to go over that. What I was really interested in here was reading a bit more on immune suppression and exercise, and what the research is currently showing.

On top of the standard advice in ensuring your diet has adequate carbs, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals - I learnt some interesting stuff - specifically:
  • When you don't consume enough carbohydrate you become more susceptible to infection. In particular it is during your sessions that the damage is done, not so much after. For me this is key, as often I will not eat during a ride, and simply ensure I refuel adequately off the bike. It's a no-no. Apart from avoiding hitting the wall, eating on the bike on long or tough sessions can also protect your immune response. So more attention to eating on the bike then (stop laughing TR)! Even a hard 40 minute session is enough to induce the response. So more eload and gels for the miles ahead.

  • Zinc was another interesting one. It has been shown as critical in the function of our immune response. It has also been shown that serious athletes have lower plasma levels of zinc compared to couch sitters. Basically we sweat our zinc out. Ok then, so I just need to take a Zinc supplement right? Wrong. Some studies have figured out that too much Zinc also interfers with the immune response, just as much as having too little. What is the answer? Eat more zinc-rich foods (poultry, meat, fish and dairy) and if you must (say because you are vegetarian) only supplement with a small dose (say no more than 10mg/day).

  • Even with these tricks recognise that after a smashing race or training session you mostly likely will have a dampened immune function. Where you can, go into avoidance mode (as a parent with a young child I am laughing as I type this... but anyways..). This means avoid crowded places (big shopping centres, trains etc), wash you hands like there is something OCD wrong with you, stay warm (not really a problem in BrisVegas), and keep away for people who are ill.

There you go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

4 parks.

For the long ride this week what started as a random wander turned into an epic that took in four forest parks in one ride!!! We opted for MTBs this week, as mine has been in the shop and was begging to be ridden plus conditions had been wet. TR demonstrated that road bikes and wet roads don't mix by crashing his roadie on Friday so I took little convincing. As I stepped out my front door I found these two waiting.
As you can see it was so foggy we were soon wet as if riding in rain. It wasn't too long until it cleared and was replaced with heat, heat and more heat. The route ended up being a half nebo (centre road) down in to Bellbird Grove, across and up Camp Mountain, down into Samford for an obligatory bakery stop. I was definitely feeling the hard weeks training in my legs by then, and while I was ok on the hills staying with the boys on the flats was hard if not impossible. Actually ok on the hills is probably a stretch, as I thought camp mountain was going to kill me. Here I am thinking about how to kill TR - if only I could catch him.

The view from the top was pretty special, we paused long enough for me to figure out how to set the timer on my camera and take this photo of the escaped mental patients.
After Samford we headed back to ironbark gully down sunset and then across to Bunya and along Jurassic. Then out the other side of Bunya and on to Albany Creek where Mrs. TR had cold drinks and freshly baked biscuits waiting. Thanks Sandy.

I can't wait for next week. Something tells me it will include Camp Mt.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The hard yards

This has been a solid week. After the usual cruisy ride to kick off the week (river loop, mainly focused on coffee intervals and bacon) it was into Race Elements for strength and conditioning. This is usually where the week gets hard, and this week was no exception. Thing i hate the most about weights is knowing at the time although the session itself is not that bad, in 48 hours you will be in a world of HURT. But there are still rides to be done.

Wednesday AM was a hard ride from ironbark into Dayboro and back with Matt Dog and TR. I was meant to be doing an E1 ride, but when Matt Dog calls you for a turn on the front what are you going to do! And when he says from your wheel 'push it, just to the next yellow sign' what are you going to do?! Hurt yourself. Thankgod for the banana in my jersey pocket as TR hit the wall and I was right there too giving him a leg up. Have you ever seen two idiots happier to be back at a carpark?

Today I picked up my MTB from some work from my great sponsor Riders. And it helped me remember why I am doing this all this hard work. NO CHARGE. I could get used to that, thank Jezza. Even better I then took Gareth (husband) out to Daisy Hill for his first visit, and after the trails we hammered a few laps on this just to be kids.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not much doing.

Nothing much doing this week. Clocking up the kilometers as per the program.
Spring is definitely here, with the light and temperatures seriously on the up this week. It is great but it also tells me that November is not far away!

Highlight of the week was the long ride on Sunday. TR and Nick, who are turning out to be my weekend long ride regulars, were present and accounted for. We were also joined by Meg, who is nothing short of "hero" on the Aus MTB scene. We cruised over to Samford from the Gap, and out a bit towards Dayboro before looping back and taking on the Goat Track. We bumped into other ride buddies at the cafe at Nebo and had some laughs at Matt Dog trying to drown himself by shaking pepsi and putting his mouth over it as he opened it..... toooooo funny!
It was a great morning, and nice to chat as we rode, though we did suffer a bit of a case of 'keepstopping-itis'. The picture below, shows a case - note the key symptoms -the rider has thrown his bike in the bush, is sitting on his ass, and is eating. The head may also seem larger than normal. If this happens to you immediate treatment with a good dose of HTFU is recommended.For once it was not an E1 type ride for me - I had some heavy work sections prescribed in my long ride, so when we hit the hill I hurt myself all the way up. I was satisified with my efforts, and even better today there is no trace of fatigue in my legs. I AM getting stronger, I can feel it.

Bring it on.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Riders Christmas Comes Early

One of the best times in a bike nuts life is the getting of a new bike.
And I don't have long to wait. Thanks to my great sponsors at Riders Cyclery I will soon be aboard a new Ridley Blaze 2.0.

Ridleys have not really been about too much in Australia. No-one here really paid much attention until Cadel rode his Ridley into 2nd at this years Tour. Most people are surprised to hear I am getting onboard a Ridley mountain bike. Do Ridely even make mountain bikes?
Yep, they sure do. The 2009 range is also second generation, despite the fact we haven't seen many here. I guess Belgium is a long way! The Blaze design is centred around the horst/FSR linkage so that is well and truly proven design, not much risk there. As a 24 rider, the most attractive thing about the Ridley Blaze to me was the weight. Off the shelf this bike is considerably lighter that the other brands I considered. With a bit of bling it will be superlight. And I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cross Training

In addition to loving mountain biking, I also spend time racing around the Adventure Racing circuit. Having hung up the AR boots to get a bit of focused riding done, I have discovered something new. An AR racer not currently in a team is a popular person. AR is tough, right. And bodies get busted. So if people know you are not entered, the week before the race the phone starts ringing as people search for replacements for sick, busy or broken team mates.

I ended up saying yes to a good friend of mine - Sharyn. She loves her AR and generally ends up on the podium for the female teams. Never having raced a girls team, I thought why not!! What a great day out! We had a great time together and the team work and encouragement absolutely made the race for me. We had a very exciting and tense race, exchanging the lead with the 'Injini Salomon Suuntos' too many times to count. In the end our monolopy knowledge let us down and they got away. Thanks guys! The 2nd place and new shoes was just icing on the cake.
This bull's got NOTHING!
My 80's song identification wasn't too bad.
Slip and slide target practice is harder than it looks.