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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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.