Archive for November, 2009

Internal Health: Feed or Fast?

Posted in A Time for Everything on November 27, 2009 by bethleasure

Clean It Up

12“He is able to eat solid food again, as the other end of his digestive tract is now working properly. ‘It’s nice to be able to poo again.’”         Jan Rehula, Czech Olympian

 

A little forced but you get the idea

 

 

Resting sometimes means withdrawing from the structure of an elite racer’s spartan diet by feeding the body what it wants and what is withheld during competition. This can bring some emotional comfort or possibly nutritional restoration after a depleting season. Or sometimes resting the body can mean withholding some food for a time. The timing can vary for these off-season nutritional journeys – whether forays into indulgent treating or respites for fasting and cleansing – both in moderation. For instance, one could indulge during the holidays or when reconnecting with friends and family but set aside some time for cleansing or a fast.

Sometimes a fast is forced due to injury, surgery, or rehabilitation. The body works efficiently when cleansed internally; it can be like a fuel-efficient high octane performance machine when digestion is unhindered. 13Studies show that fasting combined with feeding can spark an increased performance effect, but changes in diet should be done as trials when not training hard or racing.

Fasting works best when combined with lots of rest and minimum amounts of stress. It’s best to perform a fast or cleanse with some oversight and expert advice in the off-season. Even with this advice, question ingredients for any supplemental cleanses and check the 14WADA list for banned substances. Check it out, and then after you do, release into the benefits of a cleanse or fast. It can lead to clarity, vision-casting, and experiencing life with the refreshed senses of a different season. 

 

Prayer for Internal Health

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?” 15Matthew 15:17

 

Our bodies are wonderfully made and responsive. We are grateful that we can work hard and that healthy eating and digestion are available to us! We are grateful for advances in nutrition. We pray for internal healing and for the sparkling insight cleansing may yield.

 

Ponder What habits can be changed for greater health and who can you ask to help you with this? Affirm I have a purpose which requires strength and internal fortitude. Watch how purification affects your energy physically and spiritually.

 

 

12“Rehula on the mend,” cyclingnews.com, News for February 10, 2001. “Czech triathlete and Olympic bronze medalist Jan Rehula….after a second operation to repair the extensive damage to his nether regions, Rehula told Cyclingnews he was recovering rapidly.”

 13“Effects of 24-hour fast on cycling endurance time at two different intensities,” by S. F. Loy, R. K. Conlee, W. W. Winder, A. G. Nelson, D. A. Arnall and A. G. Fisher. Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 61, Issue 2 654-659, Copyright © 1986 by American Physiological Society. “…the 24-h fast had no effect on resting muscle glycogen stores but significantly increased plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels. Despite the increased FFA availability, time to fatigue was reduced in the fasted groups.” 

14World Anti-Doping Agency banned list is at www.wada-ama.org

15The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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Off-Season: Let It Go

Posted in A Time for Everything on November 24, 2009 by bethleasure

Time for enjoyable eats too

 

9“It’s the off-season – time to sit on my couch and eat 10Cheetos®.”         Dave Harr, weekend warrior 

Bike riding often attracts lovers of solitude, whose familiarity with isolation grows into fondness for its refuge. Many hours spent training alone, while beloved and protected – sometimes fiercely fought for – are then managed with many more hours seeking and absorbing the approval of many. This pendulum that swings between disciplined singular hardships and short-term public affirmations takes its toll after a long, even successful race season.

Beyond the physical need for rest, an emotional change is necessary that moves from responsiveness and approval to deliberation and self-acceptance. The racing lifestyle is about moving, travel, transport, staying in uncertain circumstances for varying amounts of time, keeping things fast, loose, and in the air – ready for dreams to be met and opportunities to unfold on the fly, in the moment, and spontaneously. Risk-takers are rewarded. The successful speculators soar in these spring and summer breezes. Yet even freedom-loving eagles have nests and must land at times. Digging in to re-group and ground one’s heart in stillness, predictability, and privacy during the autumn and winter gives annual balance. Even the trees are stretching in anticipation of a winter break to release their unnecessary burdens for those months.

Let the shedding leaves be your signal to let it go, let it go. Let past expectations and results fall away and land upon new refreshing ground. This is unshakeable ground that knows that everything has its time, and its efforts are the reward.

Prayer for Release

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth…

A right time to hold on and another to let go…” 11Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5

We acknowledge that we are an insecure group of athletes. We are performance-driven and need regular recognition. We are grateful that our completion comes in being, not just doing. We pray for relaxation and for release from expectations.

Ponder little. Enjoy some delicious moments just as they are! Who can share these gentle times with you? Who can you refresh with quietness? Affirm I am loved even when I’m still. I am worthy even when I’m not achieving extrinsically – rather when my efforts are within. Watch how well the world greets you while you smile at it.

 

 

9Outspok’n is the newsletter of the International Christian Cycling, circa 1994. Quote by Dave Harr, Club President at that time

10Cheetos® are a registered trademark of the Frito-Lay Corporation. This product’s motto is, “It’s not easy being cheesy!” Definitely atypical cycling nutrition for an atypical time of year in the life of a pro cyclist.

11The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Off-Season: Repair

Posted in A Time for Everything on November 20, 2009 by bethleasure

7“During heavy exercise, the membranes of muscle fibers, the connective tissues surrounding them, and the actin and myosin filaments of your muscles are damaged…your muscles require time and nutrients for repair…”  Edmund Burke, Exercise Scientist

Just as race season training intensifies, so off-season takes rest to another level, a micro-fiber respite. Physiologically-speaking, now is the time for rest at the cellular level. Sure you may feel antsy after days off, but a simple test will demonstrate that more recovery is needed. It’s best to recover until a deep tissue massage feels enjoyable rather than tolerable. This may mean weeks off the bike.

What does a cyclist do during these weeks? Things you cannot imagine most of the year. Reacquaint yourself with sedentary activities or movement that is lightly active. Finish projects from last year’s off-season, begin ones to complete next year. Take a trip to a place that isn’t cycling-related, like a beach or a canyon hike – or even a tourist attraction (can you believe it?) or stay home for once!

Pursue a new interest. Remind your legs that they were made for non-circular types of movements also – but restfully. Be prepared that a mind accustomed to frequent exercise-induced pleasure will also be affected. A real sense of loss may occur, but remember it’s partly because you’re not triggering that brain chemistry in quite the same way during these weeks. This is guilt-free unstructured living while accomplishing the important work of losing fitness to improve fitness, thereby increasing your gains annually. Caring for your muscle fibers in this way is honoring and practical.

Prayer for a Restored Body
“After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it…” 8Ephesians 5:29 

 

We honor the principle of physiology where rest is as necessary as stress. We are grateful for seasons, transitions, and changes and ask for guidance about how best to utilize our energies during this time! We seek encouragement in this transition. We pray for ways to return the privileges that fitness and health give.

Ponder What interests or responsibilities have been shelved during the busy race season? Have I made any promises to others that haven’t been completed? Affirm I am a person with many gifts. Watch how doing other things contributes to your cycling as well as your life!

7Optimal Muscle Performance and Recovery, by Edmund Burke, Ph.D. Copyright © 1999, 2003, Avery Books, Penguin Putnam Inc.

8The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling Brotherly Love

Posted in Today's Topic on November 19, 2009 by bethleasure

Another way to see a city

In the pro ranks we have examples of brothers competing with and for one another, such as the Schlecks of Saxo-Bank and the Meyers brothers for Garmin-Slipstream in 2010. Recently, I ran across an example of this closer to home.

 

Josh Vogelstein is a pro in his field. He is a post-doc at Johns Hopkins University studying Neuroscience and is seeking links which will enable improved learning in the future. Specifically, he is looking into what we can say/predict about personality/cognitive abilities from simply looking at an individual’s brain architecture. Josh notes, “Much like how exercise science is informing us about better ways to train, more reasonable goals, etc., it is my hope that brain science will lead to complementary advances in training our brains more effectively.” Sounds like this could have athletic applications in the future.

 

Josh used his brain architecture in applying an athletic solution toward spending some time with his sister because Josh also likes to ride. His sister, Ahava, whose name means Love, is not so crazy about riding but she does love her brother and so these two adult siblings have found a novel way to tour together. This is the kind of wacky fun that families figure out.

 

Happy sister Love

 

No wonder then why Josh asked me recently if he could improve his legspeed on the hills while pulling 120+ pounds. The things we do for Love…of riding and family.

 

"Riding" together

 

 

 

Finding the Balance: Rest

Posted in A Time for Everything on November 17, 2009 by bethleasure

3“Form is Fitness + Freshness. In order to become fit, you give up some freshness; you become fatigued. In order to be fresh, you give up some fitness. Finding the balance is the key to form.” Hunter Allen, Power-Based training guru 

 

Talk about Balance

Exercise physiologists employ many measurements to note training stress including the non-instrumented old-fashioned way known as Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Coach Kim Morrow has her own RPE 4scale numbered from 1-7. Number 1 is, “I feel like Superman” an elated strength registered only about twice a season due to periodization for peak performances. Conversely, number 7, “I don’t even want to look at my bike” is something you never really want to feel; it means you are overtrained and demoralized.

Elite athletes must plan the rest as much as the training, monitoring progressive overload with enough rest for incremental gains. The optimal perceived rate of exertion varies depending on type of training, time of year in the race calendar, periodic goals, even rest between workbouts. A knowledgeable coach can assist with the science of periodization, mapping out annual or career long progression. Yet in application, the athlete must get a feel for one’s own body and its unique rhythms and nuances.

This heightened sense of self-awareness was once 5explained to me as a meter with red and black gauges. At times, an athlete wants to be as close to the red line of over-reaching as possible while staying within the margin of black. Over the red, and even more time is needed than ordinary for rest. At least once a season, usually late October or November, tipping the balance toward prolonged freshness is one’s welcomed goal.

 

Prayer for Rest
By the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work.” 6Genesis 2:2-4

We acknowledge that we cyclists are overachievers. We become addicted to that which is supposed to free us. We are grateful for time to let things settle and enjoy what was completed. We pray to listen for our body’s cries for rest and resolve to honor these signals.

Ponder What are my signs of fatigue? Who is tracking my training load, life stress, and offering feedback? Affirm I can learn my body’s particular balance. Watch for those personal bests after the beautiful pauses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3Teaching from Performance Manager, by Hunter Allen, founder of Peaks Coaching Group, and co-author with Andy Coggan of Training and Racing with a Powermeter. The authors gave a webinar on 11/28/07 sponsored by USA Cycling.

4Training journal for coaching from Kim Morrow, founder of EliteFit Coach, and owner of www.bicyclecoach.com. Kim is a multiple national Masters Champion and Masters World Champion. She was one rock solid role model in the ‘90’s American racing scene.

5Training notes from Alexi Grewal. Alexi’s unique brand of advisement advocated “feel” over science, and Alexi was known for his emotional performances. He taught me to use my gut, critically developing my race intuition for strategic insight. Alexi was the first American to win Olympic gold on the road.  He won by a well-timed move in the ascending finish while in a two-up break to beat the capable Canadian road sprinter, Steve Bauer. The win was called a victory of an athlete “digging deeper than he ever had before” and an inspiration to anyone who overcomes adversity, especially in the form of unpopularity due to singularity. In this way, in my opinion, this win was a triumph by Alexi. See Les Earnest’s opinion at www.stanford.edu/~learnest/cyclops/grewal.htm

 6The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling: A Treasured Subculture

Posted in A Time for Everything on November 13, 2009 by bethleasure

This Treasured Subculture

 1“Ride a bike, ride a bike, ride a bike.” Fausto Coppi, Il Campionissimo

kidOnbike

happy like kids on our bikes

High atop its slender chariot, freedom speeds along heralding us to join in its willful direction. We call this freedom cycling. We exercise this freedom and are exercised by it. We may look very different from one another: astride sleek frames or surly, turning one gear or navigating in triplicate with narrow or fat tires. Our motivations range from transport, touring and recreation to competition, career, or obsession. We may be entering the community with awkward legs unaccustomed to circular motion, pedaling amidst the bunch with spindly sinew, or maturing through life’s passage with a graceful spin. Our destinations may be an office, a landmark, or a finish line in our role as commuter, tourist, or race personnel.

Whatever our place in this treasured subculture, we all have a purpose in cycling. This purpose is above our roles and beyond our destinations. We all meet at its crossroads and join its global peloton. Our collective soul is inspired by the sacred hymns of winded spokes ascending altars of a crested hill. We are religious people who worship in the sanctuary of the outdoors.

In our common creed, we believe in health, enjoyment, discipline, and empowerment. Our solitary experiences are part of a corporate body of unusual occurrences. In communication, we can share many insights, sorrows, and joys. We can trade pace and pull one another along, and be refreshed in turn. As we start this new route musing together, Godspeed.

Prayer for You, the Special Reader
2“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2

We are thankful for a vibrant global cycling “congregation” and our distinctiveness from other pursuits. We confess we sometimes isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and each other. We ask for understanding amongst ourselves and that this blog of cycling thoughts inspires and blesses each reader, who in turn, shares and blesses the world.

Ponder What do I want to learn in this reading, activating it to improve circumstances for myself and others? Affirm I can pray directly and intelligently for my cycling and the world’s. Watch for ideas and changes as you pray for progress in cycling life; see how the act of praising what’s good and right adds further blessing.

 

 

1Fausto Coppi is called the Champion of Champions. There is continuing debate, especially by Italian tifosi (fans), about who is the greatest racer ever: Coppi or Eddy Merckx. The Italian’s palmarès, or cycling accomplishments, are impressive, despite a stint as a prisoner of war during WWII. His approach to training referenced here to get faster, stronger, better – RIDE! www.en.wikipedia.org

2The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Brand-Building

Posted in Bottom Line to Start Line on November 10, 2009 by bethleasure

What’s in a Name

32“…a team with the uncommon vision of restoring faith…besides argyle is way cooler than skulls.” Jared Eborn, Cycling Consumer

ArgyleTatoo

Brand launches a Movement; a Movement launches a Brand

 

 

As resources and their allocation come under pressure because these are times to justify every expense, competitive cycling as a whole must embrace a brand-building strategy with vision. It’s clear that building a stronger brand for competitive cycling is necessary for it to thrive. In a race against other outlets for corporate ad expenditure, branding is one of our strategic assets. Unfortunately, cycling’s brand as a quality sports product has taken a hit.

Focusing on just the 33attributes of cycling – competitive or recreational – may not be the best approach for its recovery. At times, external emotional responses have been negative since our symbols for health, wellness, and overcoming have been overshadowed by a dark cloud of doping. Marketing pro cycling into something the People can identify with is less about inherent benefits of bike racing and more about the emotional responses it creates and its value as a symbol.

A different focus is on cycling’s ability to sell relevant and exciting products to its demographic. This is more than brand awareness and moves into the realm of ad expenditure to move units directly. In this way, cycling offers a very competitive advertising buy. Some products can move units of product directly – such as consumer goods.

A third approach is to use naming and image rights as a campaign in a demographic outside of those interested in cycling. Cycling then becomes a symbol of whatever metaphor is sought for the brand. The good news is that brands can be adapted to changing environments using consistent symbols. Witness the power of the argyle.

Underwritten by various title sponsors, Slipstream Sports gained brand power as an innovator team: a white knight in a dark fiefdom overcoming evil with good. Symbolizing all that’s best about a People’s movement, the team sought to stand for changing a corrupt status quo using ingenuity, unification, and a heightened sense of morality. The Argyle was an overarching symbol even while the team’s circumstances went from a developing domestic espoir presence to an international professional squad. The argyle itself, a symbol of enduring quality, silently mirrors the mission of the team – to restore faith by offering quantifiable quality. Arguably, the argyle restored faith for pro tour cycling during a dark day. 

Strong brands can be leveraged into new products and markets. Even juxtaposed against negative publicity or especially providing a bright light during dark times can draw a wider audience. People want to believe in something. They want to have hope in good things, good times, and good people. There are symbols that renew trust.  Cycling must have a saleable image and that image must restore faith and renew trust.

Faith-Restorer is an attractive title. All of cycling should be seeking it.

Prayer for Brand Building 
“You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.” Nehemiah 9:10
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed…better than silver.”34Proverb 22:1

We confess we deserve some of the name-calling. We seek mercy and high morals to restore cycling’s good name.

Ponder Does my character inspire loyalty or am I relying on a title? Affirm I inspire trust through consistent quality and a sound identity. Watch because team success doesn’t keep sponsorship indefinitely, but can inspire long after the sponsorship ends and is as enduring as character.

 

 

 

32“Slipstream of consciousness,” by je posted January 17, 2008 on his blog, “I Ride, I Write” www.irideiwrite.wordpress.com

33Brand Leadership, Brand Equity by David Aaker

34The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson