Cycling & Sun, Air, Sleep
54“…it was still a shock to the system…today’s…ride I got the joys of sunburn and dehydration…” John Lieswyn, Pro Cyclist, on going from an Iowa winter to Tour de Langkawi in tropical Malaysia
Imagine going to the supermarket and searching for a bottle of sunlight, a carton of sleep, or a can of air. What isn’t ridiculous is the importance of these intangibles upon your energy.
Exposing skin to ultraviolet rays, especially the sunlight’s complete version is the primary means of producing Vitamin D. Because Vitamin D deficiency is an 55emerging problem, it’s worth planning for sunshine during the waning sunlight and weather-darkened days of winter months. Most cyclists aren’t underexposed to sunlight part of the year and receive an adequate 56dose of about 15 minutes per day. Yet darker skin requires up to 10 times more exposure than fair skin. Conversely, overexposure isn’t an issue as far as Vitamin D over-production but avoid sunburn. Skin is designed to tan as a natural protection. As days warm and the body strips, plan to gently “train” your skin for increasing exposure to the elements.
Another essential resource is pure air. Monitor pollution in risk areas by 57noting ozone levels; increased exercise ventilation at high ozone levels “sunburn” lungs, which can lead to chronic damage. Working the breath is part of training. 58Devices which strengthen inspiration-expiration muscles can be paired with psychological techniques to control breathing. Studies show these do have an effect especially with lung-impaired conditions, but the same amount of time is probably better spent working the lungs doing hard intervals – more specific.
Proper breathing in full, deep inspiration fills the lungs with oxygen and purifies the blood. Healthy respiration soothes nerves, stimulates appetite, improves digestion, and induces refreshing sleep.
If one has the luxury to sleep until awakening naturally, this ensures better recovery, as do consistent habits. Fragmented sleep 59two nights before an event shows no physiological effects upon performance, but does affect alertness and mood; however there are other studies which show effects on performance with one bad night. Strive for consistent deep sleep, and one worrisome pre-race night shouldn’t be an issue after a day of breathing in sweet air and sunshine.
Prayer for Wise Sunlight, Deep Sleep, Clean Air
“The sun…will dawn…healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking.” 60Malachi 4:2
We are thankful for the sun, air, and sleep. We confess our compulsions sometimes resist our seeking the best of these gifts. We ask for awareness to adjust for wise sunlight, deep sleep, and clean air.
Ponder Getting the most of these intangibles? Affirm I am nourished by healthy patterns. Watch for tangible energy improvement.
54“Ready for the Tour de Langkawi: Malaysia,” The John Lieswyn Diary, February 3, 2004 on www.cyclingnews.com
55“According to the world’s leading expert in the field, Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, dermatology, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, relatively brief exposure to sunshine or its equivalent several times a week in tanning beds can help to ward off a host of debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, uterus, kidney, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” declared on www.tanoramasalon.com. I believe they mean in absence of regular sunlight. Sunlight is superior to unnatural ultraviolet ray exposure, such as tanning beds, which do not produce the complete form of Vitamin D.
There’s also a trend in medical research linking cancer rates to geography; where sunlight is significantly diminished during winter, higher percentages of breast cancer are reported. There are several conditions which are exacerbated by sunlight; seek an expert about your particular needs.
56“Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D? Many of us are short on Vitamin D, which has plenty of health benefits,” By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on www.medicinenet.com
57Breathing Exercise devices which provide resistance claim to increase lung capacity www.expand-a-lung.com
Breathing techniques for both activation-psyching for sport; and relaxation to control for sport have been around a long time as practiced in ancient disciplines, such as yoga and martial arts.
58“Ozone Code Red days – should you ride?” by Randy Collins on www.cyclingpeaks.com
Ozone air pollution alert means levels above 100 ppb. These can be checked at www.epa.gov/airnow
Much is being done to prepare for competitions in highly polluted areas.
59“Sleep Deprivation and Exercise Tolerance,” by B.J. Martin INDIANA UNIV AT BLOOMINGTON SCHOOL OF MEDICINE Annual summary no. 4, 1 Feb 84-31 Report Date Jan 85. The abstract states, “Heart rate, metabolic rate, and body temperature were identical to control, in contrast to sleepiness and mood disturbance, both of which were significantly elevated.” In other words, physiological responses were less affected than psychological, but psychology and fast reaction time is an important consideration for bike racing.
60The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson