Caffeine: Daily use vs. Performance

It’s the holiday season again and everyone likes to give themselves a present right? Well then try the gift of a caffeine-free lifestyle. A number of my coaching clients have recently challenged themselves with this journey of detoxification and are now, just two weeks later, realizing large improvements to their health and fitness.

Some of the results have included the ability to nap on command, sleep through the night consistently, manage stronger friendships/relationships and read their favourite books or detailed textbooks for greater periods of time.

Why does a caffeine-free lifestyle create such positive changes? Because like refined sugar, caffeine is a powerful drug! For a detailed report about the how our cells use energy and what caffeine does to that process, please check out this link. Or take the PubMed route and hear what Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org has to say about caffeine.

December Cycling: Mini Camps

December is a tricky time of year for cyclists with too much time on their hands. How hard should I train? I don’t want to burn out! But I don’t want to waste my time! What to do?

Step 1: Look at your race season. How many days of stress are you going to be dealing with? Multiple days in a row?

Step 2: Create your own training camps/mock stage races.  Shoot for 3-4 days in a row, followed by 2-3 days easy. This way you can usually target good weather and weekends.

Step 3: Plan it out, make it hard, get it done and then take Christmas off. Place more emphasis on the recovery portion of these “on days” than on the rides themselves as it is by monitoring differences in sensations due to changes to nutrition, sleep and general stress that will provide the most long term benefits. Learn your body. Take notes.

Step 4: Realize that each day is a notch in the tree, and only in time can it become a canoe. Precision and patience today = perfection tomorrow. So do as Krogg would do, and go swing that axe. Then have big caveman nap!

Riding in the Winter

Everyone says…just deal with it. It makes you tough. You’ll be better off during the April Spring Series. You’ll have an edge at every rainy race. The group riders will think you’re a badass. Or if not, at least you think you are! Ride in the rain, snow, sleet, thunderstorms, tornadoes….get nuts!

Whow Ace….chill out. Inclement weather is just that, so respect it. But let’s take the ego out of the equation. Like this group of kids in Calgary. They ride to school because they like to ride their bikes. Period.

So next time you suit up for those inclement conditions….remember just why you are going out there. Hopefully it is because you love it. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Stay safe out there! To learn more about some gear choices, read this one!

 

Should I try meditation?

Trends are cool, patterns are powerful, fractals are fundamental and so is meditation. If you haven’t tried meditation yet…”it sounds hard, I don’t get it, sounds boring”, then I would strongly suggest you invest some more time in yourself.

Finding success in all walks of life, including athletic goals, requires strong mental fortitude. Would you start the race season without riding your bike? Thinking that you can just power through it and still win the race….ya right, that would be incredibly naive and a giant waste of your race fee investment. So why do you go to that same race without confronting your own consciousness before hand?

In silence, we can learn a great many things about ourselves that no nutrition book, coach’s interval session or game of Sudoku can teach us.  So be courageous and follow the inflow and outflow of your breathe. You never know what you may discover.
Great sources include the Chopra Center, Learning Meditation.com and The Meditation Podcast. Of course as a Toque Coaching client, you’ll have open access to many types of meditation sources if ‘inner work’ is interesting to you. If so, I also strongly recommend learning about Dyhan Vimal and his free 90 day challenge.
Good Health!
PS: Did you know the root of the words heal and whole are the same!

Rediscovery

It’s dark, raining, cold, and slippery, but instinct is conquering habit so I keep pedaling.  Bright reds and whites glare off the glossy black of the surface out ahead of my handlebar spotlight. Shoulders hunched up close to my ears, forehead tipped down slightly, I squint my eyes away from the beating raindrops.

Out of the saddle, my legs flick underneath effortlessly. My gloves, still dry but dampening, warm my fingers as I gingerly navigate through the many slippery urban obstacles. The dinner in my tummy is now almost digested and I feel lighter and faster after each kilometer pedaled. Is commuting to dinner with friends better on the way to or on the way home? Balancing baguettes or pedaling out the flaky pastries?

Either way I don’t want to stop riding, I don’t want to stop moving forward. Sometimes it is the fight to stay upright, something that a cyclist can almost take for granted on dry roads, that reconnects an experienced rider with the joyful early days of bike riding. And as in life, sometimes those wobbles make the day and the journey worth remembering.

Thunderous Call Ups

December 11th, 2011:  After a long but “interesting” day on the Greyhound bus, I arrived back in Canada after 2.5 months of hard zone 2 training in Walla Walla, Washington. Although not quite home, staying the night in Vancouver on a friend’s couch, I head down to the coffee shop to find some internet.  Breathing in the fresh winter air and squinting against the rising but low-angled sun, my ‘greyhound’ lungs clear and my eyes gently tear.  Starting to feel human again now two days after my last real training session, I’m optimistic that I can bounce back from tomorrow’s dental surgery. It will be an operation that will pull me off the bike for 3 weeks, an operation that has single-handedly structured my entire off-season. My career depends how well I come back from tomorrow and how efficiently I can regain my fitness in January.

The thin paper cup of hot chocolate cradled in my hands gently burns my finger tips, and tingles against the roof of my mouth as I take the first gulp of ‘comfort’ food in months. Becoming lost in the over-sized leather seats adjacent to the cafe’s fireplace, I settle in and let my shoulders and low back slouch into the plush support. Wrapped under a thick winter top and covered by a grey toque, knowing that two months of hard work is “in the bank”, I relax and exhale.

Opening my laptop I surf through the usual social media and cycling news articles. The “regular” articles are there, scandal and words larger than legs. Then I see it! Gastown returns! Global Relay is pumping a big interest into our sport! Immediately I email my teammates…”WE HAVE TO GO TO THIS RACE”.
The next day I went into surgery with a goal, a goal made even more crystal clear by the news that Gastown, the biggest 1 day race in Canada, would return after a four year hiatus: I would be the national champion come its start line. #make it so.
BC Superweek 2012: Gastown GP: 30,000 spectators + 25 year race history = Best Call Up of my Life

Home Race

I’ve been extremely fortunate to race at many different venues across North America over the past 3 years, but there is something special when the ones you care about the most are right there on the sidelines. Instead of guestimating the intensity of the closing laps, the thunderousness of the crowd’s cacophony, or the oppressive heat of the sun through the wonderful albeit stifled experience that is online-streaming and/or television coverage, a home race provides the chance to connect and translate just how amazingly complex and interesting this whole sporting thing can be. It makes you want to push the limits even further.

Whether it is that quick moment to make a funny face as you pass by, or the increased pressure to leave everything on the course and achieve a worthy result, the pressure of home is a powerful performance enhancer. But just like anything though, it can overcome the unconditioned. Touching back on a mentality I first discussed at Cyclingintoque way back when, if you are confident that you are doing the right thing at every given moment, then there is no anxiety, only an open door to walk through. Of course at a bike race, those doors take you into larger and larger rooms filled with physical pain, but eventually you hope their is a finish line and maybe a beer awaiting you.

However the question remains not if you’ll make it to the finish line, but when you do that you cherished the journey as much as the summit. So take a breathe, relax, tuck down and enjoy that leadout because before you know it it’ll be your turn to lead and the finish line will come and go and journey might be over before you even noticed.

 

brenco-2012   leadout