My first steps on STRAVA (include cycling)

Last December, I did it! No, no, I did not made any New Year’s resolutions. But I registered on Strava. This is a tracking system for running, cycling and other sports. It is quite sophisticated and I found myself struggling with all those options for planning, tracking and analysing my activities. You can set goals, track your runs and rides, studying profiles, speed, personal records for 400 meters, 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile, 5 and 10 kilometers as well as your performance on Strava segments.

Segments?

Yes. These are one of Strava’s most striking features. A segment is a route starting at one point in the landscape, running for some hundred meters or several kilometers and ending at a certain point. Everybody is free to run or ride segments either for fun or to compete for minimum times with all others, who finished a segment. There are overall rankings, year’s rankings, rankings for women only as well as rankings for the present day, week or month. The leader of the overall ranking is awarded – he/she can name himself/herself „King of Mountains“(KOM) or „Queen of mountains“ (QOM), respectively.

ultramarathon2

Be prepared!

Now, do not think that becoming KOM/QOM is a no-brainer. It is very though as I exeperienced in these first few month of running and riding with Strava. I quickly understood that there are very though, strong and motivated guys at the top of each segment ranking. Today for instance, I get to know that Vincenzo Nibali, a pro cyclist, became KOM on two segments in the region of Lugano (Switzerland) – see featured image. Congrats, Vincenzo!

This summer is gonna be great

For me, Strava is a great opportunity to add a competitive touch to my training routine. Chasing personal records, trying to progress in the rankings – this is what keeps me motivated, so that I stick to my sportive activity even if I am „a bit tired“ or have other poor excuses not to get myself out of the sofa.

And it is even better! I think, Strava offers the opportunity to become rewarded with a personal record or a new record on one of the segments while comuting. So even on my daily way to work and back home I get the chance to achieve results. Are you ready to join and experience a great, racy summer with Strava? No excuses. Here is the link to your summer challenge in 2018: www.strava.com. Have fun 🙂

Of inches, feets and miles and their metric counterparts

I enjoy riding and running with Strava. But I am confused. Confused about the length of my favorite segments. For instance one of them is 0,15 miles long, starts at 1’418 ft and end at 1’424 ft. This makes an elevation of 6 ft. Simple maths. However, as I am used to measure distances in kilometers and meters, I always feel a bit fooled by the imperial system of measurement. And this makes me writing this short note, which should help me to cope with all these miles, feets and inches. The table below sets the stage.

Imperial system Metric system
1 inch 0,0254 m = 2,54 cm
1 foot = 12 inches 0,3048 m = 30,48 cm
1 yard = 3 feet = 36 inches 0,9144 m = 91,44 cm
1 mile = 1760 yard = 5280 feet = 63360 inches 1,60934 km = 1609,34 m = 160934 cm

So, done. Now, I think I have got it. You too? An example to check what we have learnd form this little note:

The Strava-Segment which measures 0,15 miles is approximately 0,2414 kilometers long. Why? Because 0,15 miles divided by 1 mile times 1,60934 kilometers is 0,2414 kilometers.

Stop doing planking challenges

Let’s find an app to take a planking challenge. I tell you, there are dozens of apps in Google’s play store. Which one would you choose? My tip: Choose none of them. They all suffer from major shortcomings, and, hence, you won’t get stronger in the longrun. Here are two reasons, why taking planking challenges will disappoint you sooner than you might think.

plank1

Challenges keep you busy for only one month. When the challenge is over, you have no reason to keep your workout going, because you got your motivation from the app. It was fun, but it didn’t really hit you. So all the gains you achieved during the thirty days will be gone within a week or so.

Challenges set the wrong incentives. They want you to perform a particular exercise – the plank – for increasingly longer time. You start withe 20 seconds and end up with 3 minutes for example. This is good for the ego, but it makes you not stronger in the long run, because the resistance always remains the same. Therefore you are supposed to increase the resistance as soon you can hold the plank for 90 seconds. You can do this by practicing more difficult variants of the plank. So your core muscles get new incentives, which make them to adapt – i. e. getting stronger.

 

 

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Go for a hundred (caution: ultramarathon)

Yesterday, I was so comfortable. A documentary was telecasted. I sat on my couch jumping from one webpage to the next. An all of a sudden I hit www.100km.ch. To be honest, the website hit me and inspired me to participate in the 100 km run – an ultramarathon – in Biel (Switzerland) at the beginning of June.

Today I came back down to reality. No, no, not what you might think now. I still stick to the idea and still want to go for my hundred this year. But today I realised that a I need a plan or a training schedule. And this is what I was searching for in the web. Believe me, you can find serveral dozens of schedules to prepare for a 100 km run. So I arbitrarily picked up a couple of them and created a mashup schedule, which is now supposed to help me to finish the ultramarathon this summer.

As I read all these different plans I got aware of some remarkable facts. For instance, some professional runners say that you can finish an ultramarathon, if you can finish a classic marathon of 42.195 km. This also means that you won’t have to double or even triple your training effort in order to progress from 42.195 km to 100 km. And in a particular respect you will have to thighten you schedule, because you will have to perform a long run once a week. And this long run’s distance prolongs from under 20 km to 60 km or above. This in turn requires that you extend your recovery time, too. Overall you will end up with a training scope for an ultramarathon that is similar to a marathon preparation schedule. Good news? If you want get to know more details about my ultramarthon training plan, click the link below. It takes you to Google Docs where my schedule is hosted – feel free to use it!

Here you go for your hundred. There is a German and an English version.

 

Skip HIIT (at least sometimes)

In recent years High Intensity Interval Training (short: HIIT) has become fashionable. And it seems to me as if this method must be the best way to get fit and lean. The argument sounds compelling: Short and tough efforts take a lot more energy than easy going long endurance trainings. Therefore the effect from HIIT on your fitness and body weight would be greater than the gains you get from traditional endurance workouts. And the best of all would be that a unit of HIIT can be crammed in 20 minutes whereas long endurance training takes 90 minutes or even more. At the end of the day you can get better results in less time, according to HIIT proponents. This is good news for busy people or guys, who find usual cardio exercises boring.

hiit_exercise

Source: Muscle & Fitness

Now, I have to add that I am a fan of HIIT. So I would subscribe to the proponent’s arguments. However there is a pitfall: You can become strong and lean by doing HIIT, but you will never become an athlete without doing extensive and low intensity units at least in the off-season.

Think of a pro cyclist who aims to finish the Tour de France. What do you think does his schedule looks like? I tell you: This guy spends 90 or more percent of his time on medium and low intensity rides in the early stage of a season. This is the way a cyclist builds the basis of a race winning shape. On top of this fundament our to-be Tour-de-France-finisher grows his anaerobic capacity by doing high intensity intervals, tempo slamming, up-hill racing and – of course – participating in competitions.

longride_exercise

Source: Livestrong

Hence, if you want to finish a something like this, that or that, you have a lot of aerobic work to do in the first place. In this respect HIIT is not the silver bullet, but a great workout to complement your schedule and sharpen your form before you take your personal long distance challenge.

Cliffhanger

Do you remember Sylvester Stallone’s breath-taking stunts in «Cliffhanger»? Nevermind, if you don’t. Have a look at this picture and you will suddenly get aware of what it takes to be a leading actor in such a blockbuster.

Stallone_Cliffhanger

Of course, you have to be a great actor and you are supposed to be stress resistant, e. g. when you have to stay at the set a whole day to produce a few meagre minutes of your movie.

But to act as Gabe Walker in Cliffhanger you have to be an athlete – or at least look like one. In the picture above you see, why. Sylvester Stallone is hangig on a rock bank. Below him is nothing but some hunderds of meters of free fall into death. So, well developed arm, back, chest and core muscle are an assets. The bad news now is that avarage people won’t be in the position to free themselves of such a life-threatening without the help of somebody, who accidentely comes along. The good news is, however, that a) you most probably never get into a situation like Gabe Walker alias Sylvester Stallone, and b) there is an excellent exercise to prepare yourself for case, when the worst comes to the worst. And I’m sure that you know this exercise. Here is it:

Pull-up_CoastalCrossFit

Source: CostalCrossFit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many pull-ups do you have in you? Twenty? excellent! Ten? Impressive! Five? Okey, let’s talk about something else! Less than five? Poor guy … don’t worry. Let’s fix this. Here is your challenge:

  1. Define the number of pull-ups you want to perform in a row with – for instance – four months. For example you go for twenty reps in row.
  2. Block the time for your training on three or four days per week. One hour should be enough to start with. The stronger you get, the less time you need to do the exercise described in step three.
  3. Now, in each of the training sessions you do twenty pull-ups. Do not give up, keep on, try it as hard as you can, especially when you are a beginner, who can perform one pull-up ‚in a row‘ only. In this case you will have to do twenty sets, i. e. twenty times one pull-up. If you are in a good shape, yet, you need to do just two sets of ten reps, for example.
  4. The challenge is to reduce the number of sets to one by keeping the number of reps constant. That is: As a beginner you start with twenty sets of one rep and complete the challenge when you get one set of twenty reps.
  5. Important: Go in each set for the last rep you can perform in a propper manner. It may happen that you exceed twenty reps. For instance you do eighteen reps in two sets. In the third set you have enough power to do six additional reps. Then do them – i. e. don’t limit yourself to twenty reps when you can do twenty-four, because you have to check your limit to get stronger and, hence, to reduce the number of sets to one to complete the mission.
  6. However, if you feel sad during the exercise or if you feel tired, then refuse to follow your routine for an additional day. To sum up paragraphs five and six: Hit it hard, but don’t jeopardize you health!

 

Jump!

You! Do you want to get fit, strong and powerful? Of course you do. Many of us wish to be in good shape. But what does a conventional sport program look like? Some hit the gym twice a week. Others do pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and so on at home. And quite a lot of people are used to running, spinning, cycling, walking etc. each other day. But only a few of us get aware of one of the most effective workout ever: Jumping.

Disappointed now? I admit that jumping sounds somewhat old-fashioned. And indeed, it is old-fashioned, unspectacular, antiquated and cannot keep up the trendy workouts you can do in the fitness boutique just around the corner, where the wealthy and the beauty meet.

However, jumping is one of the most effective ways to get in great shape and stay strong. Think of a squat jump, for example. This exercise involves calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and a bunch of other lower body muscles. In addition to that a squat jump put your abs and your back muscles under pressure. Even your shoulders and arms are needed to complete the exercise. This means that a squat jump is a highly functional whole body exercise. It trains not a huge number of muscles, but also combines their individual contractions into a complex movement, which corresponds with similar movements known from team sports, tennis, running, and the like.

Try it yourself! Get on your feet, allow yourself to be creative and start jumping either outdoor or indoor. Maybe you want to get inspired. If so, look at these exercises and have fun with it.

Self-made indoor cycling workout

On Youtube you will find a lot of great indoor cycling workouts. My personal favorit comes from Australia. These guys do a great job. Their workouts are challenging, and the videos give you everything you wish: a detailed outline of the workout, useful hints to guide you through the workout, each interval and every recovery is announced, during the intervals a timer tells you how long you have to go. And the effort level is represented by a scale with levels from 1 to 6 with 1 being very easy and 6 standing for an all-in effort. These features are the reason why I follow the workouts for around 1.5 years. However from time to time I need change in my routine. Therefore I created a couple of alternatives. One of them I will share with you today. All you need is your smartphone, an interval timer from Google Play and your preferred workout sound.

Then edit this workout on your timer, turn up the sound and get into it!

  • Start with thorough warm-up to prepare your body for the following exercise

After the warm-up there a four intervals per set:

  • 2 min 10 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery
  • 2 min 50 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery
  • 1 min 45 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery
  • 3 min 15 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery

As you can easily calculate that one set lasts 14 min 40 s. Since you spend around two thirds of the time with efforts, choose an intensity that takes you to the threshold, or slightly below or above.

Depending on your fitness level you can do several sets according to the pattern I just described. For instance do four sets to do a one hour workout. And please keep in mind that you should spend another 5 to 10 min cooling down. That helps you to recover quicker.

For some of you it sounds annoying to spend an hour or even more time on an indoor cycling bike. Here a few tricks to keep yourself in a good mood.

  • Alternate sitting and standing position
  • Try out different combinations of cadence and resistance – in general, a high cadence goes with low resistance, and a low cadence implies a hard gear.
  • Sound! The right sound will push you through the workout as if you had a tail wind. Nice is, for instance, this piece.
  • Reward yourself! My favorit after workout reward is big cappuccino followed by cheese cream with ketchup and a two-hour-chill-out-TV-session.

 

Please keep in mind the following:

As with any exercise, you should consult a doctor/physician before beginning a programme of exercise. Discontinue your exercise session immediately if you experience any pain, dizziness or discomfort. Doing the workout described in this blog post is entirely at your own risk, and I can not be held responsible for any injuries which may occur as a result of this exercise.

 

Der Janaur wird sommersportlich!

Das neue Jahr hat eben gerade begonnen und schon erhalten wir die ersten sportlichen Grüsse des Sommers.

  • Am 12. Januar beginnt die Rückrunde der Fussball-Bundesliga mit dem Spiel Bayer 04 Leverkusen gegen Bayern München. Die Bayern-Verfolger Schalke und Dortmund greifen am 13. respektive 14. Januar ins Meisterrennen ein – sofern man angesichts des 11-Punkte-Vorsprungs der Bayern von einem solchen sprechen kann.
  • Im Januar wetteifert die Weltspitze des Tennis an den Australien Open um den ersten Grand-Slam-Titel des Jahres. Los geht es am 15. Januar. Die Finalspiele finden am Wochenende des 27./28. Januar statt.
  • Auch die Radprofis pumpen die ersten Rennkilometer des Jahres in die Beine. Im aktuellen Monat stehen fünf Etappenrennen und sechs Eintagesrennen auf dem Programm.  Drei weitere Touren starten am 31. Januar, reichen aber noch in den Februar hinein.

Wünsche allen eine spannende Sommersportschau 2018!

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Von wichtigen und weniger wichtigen Toren

Habt Ihr gestern Abend auch den Champions-League-Final mitverfolgt? Das Spiel bot so einiges an Toren, von denen zum Beispiel das von Mandzukic in der 27. Minute ohne Weiteres das Zeug zum „Tor des Jahres“ hat. Doch so schön das Tor des Kroaten war, so nutzlos erwies es sich nach 90 Minuten, weil Ronaldo, Casemiro und Asensio das Spiel noch zugunsten von Real Madrid und gegen Juventus Turin wendeten.

Mandzukic_Juve-Madrid_CLF2017

Mandzukic trifft, Juve verliert dennoch, Real Madrid gewinnt die Champions League 2016/2016. Doch dieses Tor werden wir noch ein paar Mal sehen – vielleicht sogar als „Tor des Jahres“.

 

Immerhin löste Mandzukics Traumtreffer die Idee bei mir aus, zwischen wichtigen, ergebniswirksamen und weniger wichtigen, ergebnisneutralen Toren zu unterscheiden. Ein Tor gilt als ergebniswirksam, wenn das Spiel ohne dieses Tor anders ausgegangen wäre, wie es ausging. Demgegenüber ist ein Tor ergebnisneutral, wenn das Spiel genau so ausgegangen wäre, wie es ausgegangen ist, falls das Tor nicht gefallen wäre. Das klingt theoretisch und für eine Sportart wie Fussball etwas gar fade. Ein paar Beispiele lichten den Nebel der Theorie.

Benfica Lissabon vs. Dynamo Kiew 1-0

In diesem Spiel in der Champions-League-Vorrundengruppe B schoss der Argentinier Eduardo Salvio in der 45. Minute das Tor des Spiels. Hätte er nicht getroffen, so wäre die Begegnung 0-0 ausgegangen. Also hat Salvio ein ergebniswirksames Tor erzielt. Gratulation.

Bayern München vs. FK Rostov 5-0

Im ersten CL-Spiel der Bayern in der abgelaufenen Spielzeit schossen Lewandowski (28. Minute), Müller (45.), Kimmich (53. / 60.) und Juan Bernat (90.) die Tore. Allerdings hätte Lewandowskis 1-0 bereits gereicht, damit sich die Münchner die drei Punkte hätten gutschreiben lassen können. Denn Rostov erzielte genau null Tore. Somit hat Lewandowski das einizige ergebniswirksame Tor erzielt. Alle anderen Tore erwiesen sich als ergebnisneutral. Das zeigt auch, dass die Torfolge respektive die Chronologie der Tore eine Rolle spielt. Hätten der Pole und Thomas Müller nicht getroffen, so wäre Kimmich der Schütze des ergebniswirksamen Tores gewesen.

FC Porto vs. FC Kopenhagen 1-1

Das 1-0 fiel in der 13. Minute durch Otavio. Den Ausgleich schoss Cornelius in der 52. Minute. Beide Torschützen haben je ein ergebniswirksames Tor erzielt. Denn wenn einer dieser Treffer nicht gefallen wäre, so wäre das Spiel mit einem Sieg der einen oder anderen Mannschaft ausgegangen.

Bayer Leverkusen vs. ZSKA Moskau 2-2

Mehmedi (9. Minute) und Calhanogh (15.) brachten Bayer Leverkusen mit 2-0 in Führung, ehe Dzagoev (36.) und Eremenko (38.) die Russen wieder ins Spiel zurückschossen. Nach 90 Minuten hiess es nach wie vor 2-2. Alle vier Torschützen haben ergebniswirksame Treffer erzielt. Denn hätte nur einer von ihnen nicht getroffen, wäre das Spiel nicht remis, sondern mit einer Siegermannschaft ausgegangen.

Die Analysen der beiden Spiele mit unentschiedenem Spielausgang lassen sich verallgemeinern: In Spielen, die mit einem Remis ausgehen, gibt es nur ergebniswirksame Tore, ausser natürlich, das Spiel endete 0-0. Weiter geht es mit Beispielen:

Paris Saint-Germain vs. FC Barcelona 4-0

Champions-League-Achtelfinal, Hinspiel. Für das Heimteam treffen Di Maria (18. / 55.), Draxler (40.) und Cavani (72.) die Tore. Barcelona reist mit einer massiven Hypothek nach Hause zurück. Das einzige ergebniswirksame Tor dieser Partie schoss Di Maria in der 18. Minute.

Doch das gilt nur, wenn die eine Partie betrachtet wird. In der K.O.-Phase der CL entscheidet jedoch das Gesamtergebnis nach Hin- und Rückspiel über Sieg und Niederlage.

Sergi-Roberto_PSG-Barca_CL2016-17

Sergi Roberto kehrt die Achtelfinalpartie zwischen Barcelona und Paris Saint-Germain – ein historisches und ergebniswirksames Tor.

FC Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain 6-1

Suarez (3. Minute), Kurzawa (40., Eigentor) und Messi (50.) schossen die Katalanen mit 3-0 in Führung. Dann erzielte Cavani in der 62. Minute das 3-1. Das Auswärtstor für Paris Saint-Germain hätte den Ausschlag geben können. Immerhin, bis zu den beiden Toren von Neymar (88. / 90.) zum 4-1 und 5-1 war Cavani tatsächlich der Mann der Stunde, weil er aufgrund der Auswärtstorregel die Pariser in das Viertelfinale geschossen hätte. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt wären alle Pariser Torschützen aus dem Hin- und Rückspiel mit ergebniswirksamen Toren erfolgreich. Keines dieser Tore hätte fehlen dürfen, um den bis dahin stehende Ausgang der Achtelfinalbegegnung herzustellen, sprich: den PSG ins Viertelfinale zu bringen. Doch es kam mit einem Schlag anders: Sergi Roberto traf in der Nachspielzeit zum 6-1 und wendete das Blatt zugunsten von Barcelona. Sein Tor war für die den Ausgang der Partie im Camp Nou zwar nicht relevant, also ergebnisneutral – Barcelona hätte das Spiel sowieso gewonnen, wenn nicht 6-1, dann halt 5-1. Doch in der Endabrechnung von Hin- und Rückspiel erwies sich Sergi Robertos Tor als entscheidend: Denn es sicherte den Katalanen die Viertelfinalteilnahme und machte alle Torschützen der Spanier zu Skorern von ergebniswirksamen Treffern. Und ein riesen Spektakel ging zu Ende!

Ein spanischer Klub errang schliesslich auch die Champions-League-Trophäe. Beim 4-1 gegen Juventus gab es allerdings nur zwei Spieler, die ergebniswirksame Tore schossen: Ronaldo und Casemiro. Doch auch wenn dies die ausschlaggebenden Treffer waren, das Glanztor des Abends war doch das von Mandzukic. Damit will ich sagen: Auch ergebnisneutrale Tore können Geschichte schreiben!