It has been known for some time that caffeine has a positive effect on athletes that experience exercise-induced asthma (also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction). A recent study published by the International Journal of Sports Medicine, “Comparative Effects of Caffeine and Albuterol on the Bronchoconstrictor Response to Exercise in Asthmatic Athletes” found that moderate (6mg/kg) to high (9mg/kg) doses of caffeine provided a “significant protective effect against EIB”.
The study was conducted on ten asthmatic subjects. Though the sample size was relatively small, it was a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy crossover study. One hour pre-exercise, subjects were given 0, 3, 6, or 9mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo. Then, fifteen minutes pre-exercise subjects were given albuterol or a placebo. Scientists administered pulmonary function tests pre-and post-exercise to evaluate effectiveness of albuterol plus caffeine, albuterol plus caffeine placebo, caffeine plus albuterol placebo and placebo.
While caffeine only did provide some positive effects, caffeine did not seem to improve the affects of albuterol.
If you experience EIA/EIB, it might be worth reviewing the results of this study with your doctor. The study concluded that negative effects of daily use of short-acting beta2-agonists could be reduced by increasing caffeine consumption prior to exercise.
To find your weight in kg, divide weight in pounds by 2.2
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting some great reader questions and feedback. I will admit that I have a backlog of questions to get to and I think the answers will help several of you. Stay tuned.
I’ve also received some nice compliments, which always make me feel good that the training plans, blogs and columns are helping people. It keeps me motivated to know that people benefit from my work.
For today’s blog, one reader requested that I re-post the column on bike fit for women. Thanks Chris, will do.
In Chris’s e-mail I’m glad to read that outdated bike industry myths, at least at one company, are changing. Perhaps a better description is “have changed”?
The e-mail and link to that blog post is included below.
Hi there Gale,
I was directed to a blog post of yours from a while ago:
I just wanted to say that I certainly hope you’ll consider reposting this again, as it is in keeping with everything we learned when we first started changing the design of our bikes to fit women.
We were also going on the notion that the ole proportion stereotypes were true, because it’s what ‘they said’, after all. But, when we started examining the science behind the difference between us and them, we found out, like you, that there wasn’t any evidence to support the LL/ST myth.
I spent my first 5 years at Trek as the WSD demo chick, and I went around the US trying to educate women and our dealers that LL/ST was something to stop believing and talking about. I explained that it was pelvic placement that lead to our decision to change the fit for WSD bikes, and that proportions were not part of the equation. Every time I thought I was making progress to blow the myth out of the water, it would resurface. Very frustrating.
In short, your post reads like a breath of ash cloud-free air. The message needs to be heard again.
Regular blog followers know about the three-day block of high volume, the crash training block (explanation text here and summary stats here). For those of you that want the short story, it worked. I achieved my first bump in fitness this season.
For those that want gory details, those follow.
I think there are some important points to make about the training block itself and what happened the week following the block.Something I didn’t discuss last week was exactly how I felt by day 3. In a single word, flat. What happens at the end of a big training block (and when people are overreaching in their training) is a feeling that you are working harder than your heart rate monitor shows. A week ago Sunday, my legs felt as though I was working in Zone 4, but my heart rate monitor was showing low Zone 3.
Important point – when you are tired, you cannot force your heart rate to respond to the level of your rating of perceived exertion.
I wasn’t running a power meter on that day, but I know from past experience that power is low, heart rate is low and rating of perceived exertion is high.
For the three-day block, here is summary heart rate data:
Zone 3: 32 minutes
Zone 4-5a: 21 minutes
Zone 5b-c: 0 minutes
Monday following the block, was light stretching and light weights. Legs didn’t feel too bad. Though I’ve viewed this as a nice surprise in the past, I knew what was coming.
Tuesday’s morning swim was a clear indication that I was tired. I couldn’t make the intervals on the main set, so I simply sat out several 50s and tried to stay out of the way of my lane mates. (Which was tough because I couldn’t get out of my own way.) The Tuesday run was barely classified in the jog category.
The weather was fully cooperative this week, with off and on rain. The Wednesday ride was on the road, a loop that included hills, but no intensity. My legs still felt tired.
Though the Thursday swim was slightly better than Tuesday (I could make more of the intervals), I was still low on energy. The trail run in the afternoon was really a hike-jog. (Great day in the drizzle, very peaceful.)
Friday, was an easy 30-minute walk in the rain. (Last week Friday was 4hrs of riding, day 1 of the block.)
Saturday’s swim was better, I’m starting to get some energy back. I was in the pool 1:15 at what I consider a moderate-effort workout. Rain all morning kept me off the mountain bike until late afternoon. I couldn’t stand the thought of a trainer ride, so waited until the wind and sun dried off the Horsetooth Mountain Park service road. This was the only off-road option I thought would work without tearing up the trails and making a mess of the bike and me. Total ride time was 50 minutes. It is a road that climbs just over 1000 feet in 2.2 miles. I kept the intensity down and would classify it as a strength workout. (Last Saturday I was on the bike 3:15, “out” 4:20.)
There are several ways to structure a crash training block and the recovery week. Because I needed a boost in preparation (base) fitness, I didn’t have the ability to drive intensity at the same time as the high-volume block. (Which will NOT be the case in a couple of months, where I’ll do another big volume block that will include more intensity.) In the week following this crash training block, there was almost no intensity above Zones 1-2 until yesterday, Sunday. Obviously, training volume was slashed as well.
My measure for both the effectiveness of the training block and my recovery was yesterday’s group ride. The goal was to hang on the wheels of lead riders for as long as possible. I was able to make that happened for about three hours, which was good. The last hour of the ride, I suffered a strength bonk (my legs refused to power up the last climb); but by that time Ron Kennedy and Bill Danielson were the only two left. They took mercy on me and waited.
In the summary below, notice I was able to drive significantly more time at higher training zones in a single day than I could manage in accumulation last week. That is intentional – cut volume, increase intensity.
For the 78.5 mile (2933 ft ascending, 18.7 mph avg. speed, including warm-up and cool down time) road ride:
Zone 3: 33 minutes
Zone 4-5a: 33 minutes
Zone 5b-c: 2 minutes
I’ll continue to work on fitness by putting a mountain bike ride on Saturday, followed by a road ride on Sunday. The strategy and mix of these workouts will change as the season progresses.
Sub-10 hours at the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.
Earlier this week I received a question on Facebook asking me about recovery strategy during the crash training block. Thought you’d like to see the discussion, and I’ve added a few lines:
Q. You discuss doing self-massage at the end of the ride. What specifically does that entail and how much time should be devoted to it? I know I need to do that for better recovery from longer rides (and runs as well, I imagine).
A. For the self-massage, I try to do a recovery/flush type massage - gently stroking the muscles from extremities towards the heart. My technique is just based on personal experience from getting massage from someone else. I do try to put pressure on knots I feel, but I'm not as willing to work those out as a massage therapist is.
I typically do this self-leg massage immediately post-shower, if possible, and I use an anti-inflammatory massage oil. I’ve used various crèmes and lotions over the years, but now I typically use arnica massage oil. I currently use a Weleda product, but I'm experimenting with making my own blend.
I try to do this massage after long and/or hard bike rides and runs. I suspect I devote no more than 15 minutes to the task.
Many self-coached athletes do a great job of scheduling workouts and training, but they don’t give enough thought to recovery. Recovery is the only way your body can absorb workout benefits.
You have to check out this fun tool that shows what active people are doing real time – and it is called “realtime”. It shows that someone is registering for an event, checking results and searching for an event. You can do it for “everywhere” or a location closer to your home base.
Interesting to see the activity of all the active athletes and you can click on the event they have registered for and check it out. On the same page you can also do a traditional event search in your area too.
As promised in my earlier blog, this is the follow-up column on crash training. Crash training is a term that I believe has cycling roots, though I can’t trace the origin. Traditionally, a crash training week is one that is high volume, relative to the athlete’s current training schedule. Training is some 50- to 100-percent above the athlete’s normal weekly volume. Often, cycling teams will have a spring training camp to focus on riding, team building exercises (formal and informal), distribute new kits and begin to plan strategy for the season.
Cycling teams intend for this big-volume training week to spring-board the fitness of every team member, and very often that is indeed the result. Unfortunately, while some athletes respond very well, others leave the week of training ill or injured.
My first experience – summer bike tour
The first time I personally experienced an abnormally high volume week of training was the first year I did Bicycle Tour of Colorado. I was racing triathlons at the time and was not sure how my body would respond to such a high volume of cycling. The route that year was 468 miles over seven days and included climbing nearly every day. I can tell you I was very nervous about not being able to complete the ride.
My original plan was to include a couple days of swimming and running after I got off the bike. The short story of that is I didn’t have the least bit of interest in running or swimming after I got off the bike on any day. I don’t believe the lack of swimming and running hurt my triathlon training one bit.
What I found is that my overall endurance in all sports was significantly improved after the week of cycling. It took a little over two weeks for me to recover; but when I did, my fitness was significantly improved. As you would imagine, my cycling was much stronger. My swimming was unaffected and my running was also noticeably improved. (“Improved” means lower heart rates for the same speeds and the feeling like I had the endurance to go forever.)
The second experience – spring self-designed road riding block
After my experience with the fitness results produced by the bike tour, I decided to do a spring trip to Arizona. Several of us from Colorado decided to travel to warmer weather to get a jump on spring fitness. The first year we did a spring trip, it was in February. As it turned out, the trip was great but we returned to cold, snowy Colorado weather for the month of March. Though we felt the trip was somewhat beneficial, we decided that February is too early to do the week-long trip if we want the fitness to make a difference for summer riding.
What I have learned
In the last ten years or so, I’ve done multiple spring trips and summer bicycle tours. The trips have been a week long and other trips have been shorter. I’ve done organized tours and I’ve organized my own groups. I’ve also advised many athletes on how to structure crash training blocks to their fitness advantage. Here are a few things that might help you when you design your crash week on the bike:
If you are riding six or seven days, pick no more than three days to be “hard”. “Hard” can be fast, hilly, long or long mixed with fast or hilly. Make the remaining days lower intensity.
If you try to make all days fast or high intensity effort on all the hills, the result will be mediocre training. Manage your daily ride goals to achieve the results you want.
A crash training block doesn’t have to be an entire week and can be three or four days of riding. This can be a road trip somewhere or it can be done from your home base.
For a week of riding, you can make the training volume 50- to 100-percent greater than your current training volume. This is one guideline for design.
How much intensity you can tolerate needs to be determined for each individual athlete.
For athletes aiming for longer key events such as 100-mile mountain bike races or 200-mile road races, you can do shorter block of training, three days for example. Make the total training time in the three-day block equal 80- to 150-percent of your total predicted event time. This can be done early spring or within six weeks of your race.
You MUST be rested before doing the crash training block.
Ignore anyone that has not been doing the training block with you. In other words, if you have been riding for three days on your own and you show up to a group ride where other people have fresh legs – ignore them. They do not have the accumulated fatigue you have in your legs. Ride to your own plan.
Excellent nutrition, hydration and sleep habits are critical to be able to absorb the benefits of the training block.
Get daily massage to speed recovery. If you don’t have access to a masseuse, you can do your own leg massage. (I have never had access to daily massage for my crash weeks and caring for my legs at the end of each day is critical.)
If you do the training block from your home base, you must manage your work, family and social obligations or the training can end up leaving you overtrained, ill or injured.
There are big advantages to taking a trip away from home to do the training. (Minimizing distractions, minimizing other chores, maximizing rest and recovery.)
You may need to rest more than someone else doing the same crash training week.
In order to reap the benefits, you must recover after the crash training block.
Crash weeks for other sports?
You can do crash training blocks for swimming, running or nearly any other sport. A crash block for running carries more injury risk than cycling, in my opinion. Be very careful with a running-only crash block.
You can combine running and cycling to yield running results from a crash training block.
A crash block in swimming is not as risky as running, but depending on your sport history, be aware of any shoulder pains.
Have you done a crash training week?
If you’ve done a crash training week, feel free to comment below about your experience.
As I mentioned in the Friday blog, Saturday ride goal was 3-4 hours on the mountain bike. Bill Beyers and Todd Singiser helped pull me through yesterday’s ride. We did manage 3:15 ride time, 4:20 “out” time. (That includes a stop for fuel, clothing adjustments, and chatting with the Peloton Cycles team that we crossed paths with. There’s a fit looking bunch.)
Day #2 – check
3145 ft. of climbing
117.1 ft/mile hill climb ranking
The next post will cover Day#3 - I was a suffering soul, but got it done.
I’ve lamented in some recent posts (within the last month) that my fitness stinks compared to past years at this same time. I’ve been working on that issue, including today's first long day in the saddle on the mountain bike. I was able to recruit Bill Beyers and Ted Mioduski to ride 4:00. Our ride time was right at 4, with “out” time at 5:15.
Today's ride is part of a crash training block of three days. Though I've written about crash training weeks in past posts, I've not written about blocks of three or four days - I'll write more about strategy in the upcoming week.
The goal is to get 3-4 hours on the mountain bike tomorrow and then about 4 hours on the road on Sunday. Three rides, three days in a row can do a lot to bump fitness up.
It – the kite incident – happened on the Saturday ride (which is normally a Sunday ride), rescheduled due to the Easter holiday and various riders having commitments. Some things seem surreal during and after they occur, the kite incident is definitely one of those events.
I’ve written a lot in past blogs about riding to Estes Park once per month, year round. Estes is about 32 miles west of the Front Range city of Loveland and sits about 2,500 feet higher than Loveland’s 5,000 ft. elevation. The route winds along the Big Thompson River and is one of my favorite rides.
Fourteen of us rolled out of my neighborhood on Saturday morning. We had some wind as we left, but nothing out of the ordinary for a spring day in Colorado. Due to some wardrobe adjustments, the group got split. Eight people were ahead of our group of six.
At about 9.5 miles into the ride, we enter a part of the canyon called “the Narrows”. As the name suggests, the path between the towering canyon walls is narrow. Between the walls, there is enough room for a two-lane highway to sit beside the river, and nothing else. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep can often be seen gracefully maneuvering the rock ledges.
As our small group got into the Narrows, we saw one rider from the lead group coming back toward us. We heard her say, “Blah, blah, blah, blah….wind!” It is not unusual for the canyon to funnel the wind in this section, giving it added speed and some gusty unpredictability. Though it was windy, I didn’t think the wind was excessive.
Within a minute or so, we saw another rider coming back toward us. “Something, something, something…WIND!”
I’m riding along thinking, “It is windy, but it’s not that bad. Nothing more than we’ve encountered in the past.”
Two minutes later as I rounded a corner of the canyon, an extremely strong gust of wind blew me sideways toward the guard rail. All I remember thinking is that I needed to get off of my bike - NOW. I was able to get the bike to stop and I dismounted.
I decided to try to walk the bike through this section of the canyon, some 50 to 100 yards. While trying to walk the bike, a wind gust swept up my bike and threw it toward the guard rail. I felt like the bike was a kite and my arms were the strings. I have never experienced anything like that. I was able to pull the bike back to the ground and continue walking. In over 20 years of riding that canyon, I’ve never walked that section nor have I had my bike become airborne. Weird.
Some of the other riders walked as well and a couple of the guys got on their bikes and slowly pedaled, struggling to control their bikes in the gusty winds. We regrouped in a wider section of the canyon and continued riding.
The remainder of the trip to Estes was windy, but there were no gusts like we had in the Narrows. Four of us went all the way into town and stopped at the Notchtop Café for a bite to eat and something warm to drink.
As we watched the weather roll in, one of the other riders (Bill Frielingsdorf) asked me why I continued to push to Estes that day when I had turned around at the top of the switchbacks in less threatening weather. Good question.
I told him that I thought it was partially because I knew Scott Ellis was trying to get in a long training ride that day in preparation for an upcoming Ironman race. His Ironman race is in just a few weeks. A race goal looms.
When I turned around earlier in the year, in February, it seemed as though there was plenty of time to do long training rides. Now it seems that time is at a premium. Not only is Scott’s race looming, but my own goals seem too close for slacking.
It is funny how a slap of reality brings goals so close and fuels a desire for improved fitness. It was in March that I suffered through a century ride that we’ve done for years. It’s not that I don’t normally suffer on this ride, but this was unusual amounts of suffering. The kind of suffering that is up close and personal to say, “Your fitness is currently lacking. Pay attention.”
Now, a few days out from that windy Estes ride, I think about Bill, Scott and Ron Kennedy sitting around that Notchtop table. There is something, perhaps many things, not normal, average or ordinary about this group – including me.
I received the note below from a self-proclaimed guiltless poacher. You can read my response below his original note. The only items I edited from our exchange were his name and some specifics about his current and past home towns. I did that so he could be the one to decide if he wants to complete “the camera test”. Everything else is direct copy and paste.
Nice to meet you, and read your bio. I recently read your piece on Liars, Cheaters and Thieves Pt I and II ... Perhaps I need more clarification, a correction or to be annihilated with my reason. But, preferably, I would like to seek vindication, given my perverse rationale.
Clearly you have done your homework, seeking the counsel of professionals in their respective fields. However, one of my relatives was a Psychiatrist, well educated, good person sort of, and boy, perhaps she did a number on me...
I don't know where to begin but to say I am an Ironman and participate in lots and lots of events each year. Do I deserve an ObamaCare Tax Credit for good health? Don't get me started on that cost.
Some races I do are for good causes, some races I do are for no good causes but a good time.
As a coach, I hope you are aware of the periodization training table, prioritizing races in A, B, and C categories. Further, I see your favorite races you like are mostly in Colorado. I live around a big Midwest city, one of the largest cities in the country, with the worst predictable weather on earth. Just last month the most well respected man in weather predicted 1-2" of snow... Any guesses on the total? ... 8" fell, are you kidding me? I plan for 1" and they give me 8"?
Colorado cannot possibly sellout an event as quickly as my city, given the weather and shear population, no way. Can you get me in the largest triathlon in the world a week before the event, legally, ethically and depending on the weather or my mood? Either way it's a C race, not an A race like Ironman. Then, can you promise me a refund if it doesn't meet my requirements? Certainly the cost isn't cheap.
I pay $1000's a year in entry fees, all over everywhere. I have run 13.1 in monsoon rain, I have run 26.2 in 87 degree heat. I have swum miles and miles in 2 foot chop with 20 mph blowing winds. I pay my USAT dues every year. But darn it, if a friend of mine registers for a run beneath me, say a 8K, and I prefer to go with him under the most ideal circumstances, say; 1) Am I in training or not? 2) Did I have too much to drink the night before? 3) Did the event sell out? 4) Do I need sleep? 5) What about the weather? 6) What cost will this event set back my retirement plans? 7) Did my boss fire me for living, breathing, sleeping TRI?
Forgive me Gale, for I have sinned...
I poached the Shammie Shuffle 2010. And it was brrrrr, cold. But I paid $20 to park for 2 hours. Come on, I live in the home state of political corruption! I used a chip of a 9 year old who went to baseball practice instead. My Lady Friend would have registered, but the event was sold out and we couldn't coordinate the event in advance given her hectic work schedule. Anyway, she ran next to her friend who did register. Where is my weather refund or credit if I don't use the goods and services provided?
I bike so many miles each year I have no idea what goes on in my back yard. One Saturday I came across a group on a 3 day ride, biking through my town. I asked a police officer directing traffic through a farm community what's up with it, he first asked if I was serious, then told me the details. Bikers are great, we talk as we ride, and this particular year I was training for my first Ironman. Thanks to them, I was able to get nearly 90 miles in instead of 40 that was planned. They were happy for me and I didn't lie cheat or steal from them. Did I poach this, or did I meet a friend? (I took 3 gels, a banana, and topped off my fluids, $4.50 max cost) This was a USAT event they payed $100's for, and I pay my dues. Also, I don't really need another goodie bag full of junk I don't need, or a shirt I don't like, or 50 advertisements, if I opt out, what can I save!?
Then, one time, I skipped a Triathlon I paid $96 for. The weather was 56 degrees at the start, foggy, windy and dangerous. The water was 57 degrees. The bike course was soaking wet. This might be ideal midwest conditions, and I would gladly partake, however, I had an Ironman a few weeks in the near future. Where is my credit? If I travel more than 200 miles to any event, it is no less than a $600 weekend. Why shouldn't I get a refund? Why can't a race be postponed? Why can't honest hard working people get a break? Why can't I poach the Shammie Shuffle since none of the runners are really runners and just wanting a drink at 10AM?
As you can probably tell, I don't have much guilt ... I guess my ego is still too big.
All the best,
PS. Perhaps I need a sports physiologist, any recommendations?
First, you have a well-written story and I do understand your view. I have heard it all before. And, I feel some of your pain in the weather department. (Did a 100-mile mountain bike race at altitude (cold, cold, cold) where NO rain was predicted for race day. I rode roughly 6 of 10 hours in rain. Miserable at the time. Now an epic story.) And yes, Colorado events sell out quickly.
You see, an event director does not promise you great weather, that you'll feel good, that you won't have equipment troubles or anything much more than they will host an event on a given course on a given day. They ask that you pay for the privilege of doing this event on this day with all of these other people and with the safety and medical services readily available. The time, and loss of family time, that they put into organizing this event is how they make their living. They too pay USAT, so the fact that you pay fees to USAT does not make them feel like giving you a complimentary entry to their event. Also, the fact that you skipped someone else's event (after paying for it) doesn't make them want to give you a comp entry to their event. The race director of the poached event has a tough time paying the mortgage or feeding his/her family with poacher's fees (or lack thereof).
Speaking of costs, we all have chosen to "play" in sports such as triathlon, mountain biking (in my case) and other such follies. The equipment, races, coaching advice, etc. all cost something that we've decided is worth the cost. (Or at least some people have decided these things are worth the cost.) It seems that other people have decided that anything sport or recreation related should be ultra-cheap or free. I happen to disagree. I think that the people wanting to make a 5k run free should run that 5k anywhere other than the race course. People that plan to run, ride or swim an event on event day should pay for it. If these people didn't get entry, for whatever reason, too bad. (I know, kinda harsh, but so it goes.)
Now, I would like to see a way to transfer entries for people that can't do an event after registering - but - apparently this can be a nightmare for race directors, so some choose not to do it. (Actually, I think there could be a business just insuring or transferring race entries, but I digress.)
The real question is...Could you go on camera for the nightly news and tell your friends, family, business associates and neighbors what you did (the real story not a made-up one), why you did it - and be proud of yourself?
If you can do the camera test, I think your actions and behaviors are probably fine.