Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I guess I haven't written about it, but I've been attending the yoga class after our Tuesday night training sessions at the shop. It's been interesting. I feel like I do OK in some of the positions, but others need a lot of work! It compliments my FMS work pretty nicely. The yoga gives me an alternate way to find and improve my tight spots.

Anyway, the FMS tests didn't go much better this week than last week, but yoga seemed noticeably better this week. That's sort of how this whole flexibility/movement thing seems to have gone for me... a lot of fits and starts. Some weeks, it seems like I see very little improvement, but then the next week, I see big improvements. Anyway, I guess it's good as long as I continue to progress.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First Skate of 2010

Last night was my first skate of 2010, and, in fact, the first time I've played hockey in about 9 months! It actually went much better than I expected.

For sure, my hockey skills weren't great, and my skating wasn't great, and my "hockey fitness" wasn't great, but somehow, I actually felt somewhat decent. It's hard to put my finger on it, but I felt like I was able to make better athletic moves than I remember being able to before. Things like stopping faster, changing directions faster, reaching farther, leaning farther, etc. You know what I'm going to attribute these changes to...

I also did my weekly FMS test yesterday before hockey. I really wasn't expecting much, since I didn't make much improvement last week. I expected a slow slog toward passing my remaining tests, so I was pleasantly surprised to see big improvements in my weakest tests. I am very close to passing the inline lunge. The first couple times I did this test, I thought that there was surely an error in the test description in the book because I couldn't see how you could lean back enough to pass (actually, you stay upright... I was leaning forward before). Now, I don't have much problem keeping my upper body straight, but I'm still a little wobbly (wobbly = fail).

I also improved a lot on my worst test, the seated rotation. According to the book, this test will demonstrate how tightness in the body can severely reduce range of motion. For me, it seems to be tightness in the hips and low back that are the problem. Like I said, I didn't improve much on this movement last week, I needed about 3 inches more rotation to pass, which is about where I started. Last night though, I'd dropped it down to 1/2-3/4 of an inch!

Anyway, it was nice to see progress in the tests, but it was also nice to have some validation that it really influences sports performance. My expectation is that the changes may be more subtle on the bike, since riding doesn't require such a wide variety of movements, but maybe I'll be surprised again?

Friday, January 15, 2010


"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."
- Leo Tolstoy

Patience is going to be the name of the game this year. Things will take as long as they take. Lack of patience is definitely part of the reason I got hurt early last year, and may have contributed to my flame-out during cross season. This year might have required some extra patience anyway. We've got a new baby coming in a few months, and I'm going to move up to Expert for mountain bike racing (sounds like a great combination!).

As I wrote earlier , I've been spending a lot of time working on my basic movement and flexibility. It's been pretty interesting to learn which parts of my body are reasonably flexible and which parts are definitely not. Progress in some areas has been pretty rapid, but other areas have been pretty slow. It's my goal to be able to pass all of the FMS tests by mid-February, but like I said, if it takes longer, it takes longer, and I'll keep working on it and maybe delay some other things.

Interesting aside, as part of working on this basic stuff, I've been keeping my posture in mind throughout the day. I went to the doctor's this week and they happened to measure my height; the physician's assistant was quite surprised to see that I had "grown" a quarter of an inch over the past year! I don't think she quite believed me when I said I'd been working on my posture.

One of my questions when I started working on this was if it would help me ride my bike better. After a month or so of doing this work, I definitely feel better; I feel like I move more freely (and, apparently, I'm also taller!). Last night, I got on my bike to practice trackstands, slow riding and basic body position in the garage. It was the first time I'd done this in quite a while, so I assumed I might be a little rusty. I was surprised to find that it actually went really well. It seemed like my range of motion on the bike was larger (and easier to access), so I was able to comfortably stay on the bike even when it was leaned to larger angles. Very interesting...

The last thing that had me thinking about patience was an article Joe Friel wrote about "aerobic de-coupling". Essentially, he says that you are aerobically fit when, on a ride of an appropriate length, your heart rate and power (or speed, on a flat / not windy course) are coupled together. If you're not fit, your HR will drift up for a constant power/speed, or, for constant HR, your power/speed will drift down. The idea is that you stay in the Base phase until you see the appropriate coupling... however long it takes.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Skiing at Independence Oaks

I took advantage of the snow we got this week and went skiing at Independence Oaks this morning. Since it was pretty cold today, I dressed warmly. As it turned out, I had on at least one too many layers. The sun was out, and with the heat generated from skiing, I was a little overdressed.

I ran into Tom Payn in the parking lot. Tom was one of my regular adversaries during the 'cross season; in particular, we had good battles at Munson and Lower Huron. So, we decided to ski together today. We also saw a few other bike racers out there.

Snow conditions ended up being just about perfect. I'm thinking I may go back again tomorrow. Might as well take advantage of the snow while we have it!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Does it say "PRO" or not?

It's been a quick week. I've felt a little off the past couple days. We're moving my daughter into a new bedroom, and the adjustment has meant a little less sleep for us. Still, it's going better than I expected.

We finally got a little snow yesterday. It should stick around for awhile, so I'm hoping to get out tomorrow and do some cross-country skiing. Hopefully it won't be too cold.

A couple of random links:

- Joe Friel's comments on pelvis position on the bike. I ran across this a long time ago, and didn't get too far with it at the time. Jeff has also been encouraging me to change the way I sit on the bike. So, I've been working on that, and my posture in general.

- Xtranormal video about a bike racer's Thanksgiving plans. Pretty funny.

Monday, January 04, 2010


So, it's back to reality. I started working again, and I resumed training last week. The break was nice; I got a lot of stuff done around the house (although there's more to do!), but I was ready for things to get back to normal.

My training is pretty light right now. I'm trying to ride at least once a week, but otherwise, I'm mostly doing stuff off the bike. My latest fascination is working on basic movement. There's a guy named Gray Cook whose theory is that basic movements form the foundation of your athletic ability. If you can't perform basic movements correctly (due to tightness, using the wrong muscles, etc), then you won't be able to perform at your highest level, and you will be at a higher risk for injury.

He's a big proponent of training only what you can test. So, a foundation of his program involves a "functional movement screen". He provides a simplified version in his book, Athletic Body in Balance. The first time I tried it, I failed 3 out of the 5 tests! Kind of humbling. After working diligently for a week on improving one of the movements, I easily (and I mean, easily!) passed it the second time. I think passing some of the other tests will take a bit more time.

One of the benefits of working on these movements so far is that I've gotten better at paying attention to what my body is doing. I'm noticing which muscles I'm using to do something, where I'm tight, etc. It remains to be seen whether this will make me faster on the bike, but it certainly can't hurt anything...