Thursday, 23 January 2014

Rubber Glove....

Ok i know I'm a nurse but this isn't anything to do with my job.... I have just completed the first video (the fitness test) from and I thought I'd share my suffering with you !

Sufferfest, for those that don't know is a website where you can download videos featuring cyclists on Grand Tours, with instructions to match your effort to.

For example... warmup of 20 mins at effort level 2-7.5 at rate of 90, then test of 20 mins at effort level 7.5 and above.

It is down to you whether you try as hard as you can and try to match the effort levels accordingly... so it is possible to go through the video with not huge amounts of effort but I guess anyone who is mad enough to download the videos isn't the kinda person to take it easy...

The Kit.. my new indoor exercise bike.. looks like a racing bike and feels much the same.  the saddle is slightly different and after an hour of hard effort i think i need to move it forward a bit but other than that the bike works well.

I chose (somewhat unwisely) to wear long cycling tights and a baselayer top and although my flat is not warm...well more of that later.

So tab set up to play video, water bottle filled, i am ready to go.

It starts with a few easy minutes of effort level 2 at around 90 cadence (fairly fast but easy leg spinning)... fine, chilled out getting comfortable on the saddle, settling into the elbow pads.  the video shows various scenes of cyclists touring the countryside along with instructions on measuring heart rate every minute to find out what my Functional threshold Power is (or the heart rate equivalent in my case) - basically to find the heart rate (or power effort) that i can sustain without going into lactic overload.

Still with me - anyway once that finished the 'warm up' began....

Starting off easy effort levels it ramped up over the next 20mins (accompanied by some pretty awful  'music') .  I was fine for the first 10 mins, although i could feel sweat starting to accumulate already (I'm blaming the baselayer and not my recent lack of unfitness).. then 10 mins , or what felt like forever, of effort level 7...

My heart rate climbed, though not so much as to make me stop or slow down...yet.
By the end of the 'warm up', it had done just that - i was sweltering....

During the 5 min break i was treated to a video of a girl cooking an omlett, whilst on her bike rollers.  not that it was a complete rest... just for fun the video threw in minute intervals of easy spinning at a high speed (cadence) of 110.

Well I'd survived this far.. but the real test was about to begin.

Accompanied by du du duh music, it began... at effort level 7.5 BTW... reasonably difficult and guaranteed to make my heart rate shoot up.  Every minute a note of my heart rate was made... 5 mins in and the effort level increased... for the next 10 mins at effort 8, I followed Tommy Voekler (a french cyclist) in one of his infamous breakaways.. with the pack chasing. My HR went up and it began to hurt... By the end of 10 mins I was bright red, puffing from the exertion... my head was pounding and I missed half the video as my head was bent down staring at my knees with studied concentration

I could feel the lactic acid rising, that familiar taste in the back of my throat, my head screaming at me to stop... and then ... UP goes the effort level to 8.5.

Starting to feel dizzy from the effort I kept the legs turning, at one point following Tommy out of the saddle in the effort to keep it going.  I could see the minutes counting down and like I was in a real race... the adrenaline surged to keep me going.... 2 minutes left, everything was telling me to slow down, stop... i didn't have to put myself through this..WHY GOD WHY!!
30 seconds, 29 28, still I kept my legs turning round, perhaps even pushing that little bit harder with the knowledge the pain was almost over and then i looked up - Tommy sailed over the finish line, ahead of the chasing pack... I'd made it.. well i hadn't collapsed at least.

Maximum heart rate was 180 and as I took a few deep breaths, whilst keeping the legs going round.. I grinned to myself...that was fun!!  It certainly was a bit different to my usual bike outing...

I completed the warm down 2 mins at an easy effort level then climbed off the bike and downed a bottle of water.  that's it, i'm hooked.

My bike computer said I'd used 520 KCal and gone 34 Km.  My Functional Threshold Power (basically an average of my HR every minute is 166.  the idea being that I will be able to increase this over time.

So one question remains - Which video shall I download next?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

And so it begins again...

My last posting generally moaned about feeling restless and not exercising... therefore I thought I would describe my morning and the start of what I hope will be my path back to fitness again.

Cycling at the moment is not holding much appeal. Having seen the sights of arizona and new Mexico from the saddle, the appeal of reading surrounds has been somewhat diminished so foolishly I decided to give... running a go.  Its been on my mind for a while. .. the ability to run along quiet mountain trails would be something that I would love to have. But everyone has to start somewhere amd for me it began this morning at Dinton pastures .. a large nature area with lakes and rivers and more importantly. . No roads.

So feeling somewhat self conscious with my camel back and running shoes .. I set up map my run and set off.  Before I go any further on my run descrption.. I must say that I have never been a runner, I dont think I'm built for it and at this present moment in time I am probably the unfittest I have been for a while.

So I set off at a slow jog... slipping and sliding through the mud and dodging the dog walkers... for about 300 feet. I slowed to a walk... coughing, spluttering, lungs gasping for air. This was not going well. I recovered quickly and set off again, hoping that this was just my body going into mild shock after so many weeks of inactivity.  Another 300 ft and there I was again. .. pulled to a walk by lack of air. I swear dinton has less oxygen in the air than the rest of Reading.  And so went the rest of the run. I was careful not to ground to a wheezing mess in front of anyone
... my embarrassment was already sky high.  One lap was quite enough for one day... like I said this wasnt the best idea I have ever had.  It makes returning to the bike positively appealing to be fair.

I do intend to persevere with this because I have some nice challenges that this would open up to me but its going to require a lot of suffering.

Roll on 21st jan when my indoor bike arrives and roll on some decent weather where getting on the bike will once more hold some joy. Meanwhile if you see me running ... try not to laugh :)

Monday, 6 January 2014

New year... new dreams

I have to admit to an utter lack of motivation at the start of this year. Perhaps because of exhaustion hangover or a lack of something to plan and throw myself into.  Add to that the crappy weather and a bad cold over christmas and it led to the longest period of inactivity ... or at least lack of exercise... that I have had in a long time.

Not that I'm short of plans for 2014. Firstly I still have my dissertation to write.. yes I have started and no I haven't made huge amounts of headway. I will be swabbing on the Declaration Mike Peters tour and have the usual plans to walk up mountains with LHS.  Also I will have a book of my Route 66 ride published... hopefully by end of January.  So I wont be idle but yet I am already restless.

Since I got back... I have eaten too much... exercised too little and generally given myself over to lethargy... which is now beginning to bother me. And so the plans have started....

I decided that to do another big ride this year would maybe be a stretch too far to fit in.... but 2015 is another matter... but more of that in a minute.

As part of my '10 year path to Everest' I have booked a trip to the wilds of Snowdonia to begin learning about crampons.. ice axes... avalanche awareness and winter mountaineering in general.  Box 1 ticked... something new to learn and some time out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothingness...

In order to reinvigorate a healthy lifestyle.. I have invested in an excercise bike and some training videos from videos which guarantee entry into the pain cave and no guarantee of exit!  So expect some updates on how that is going in my quest to regain a higher level of fitness. Which leads me to...

.... 2015 plans!

Details are sketchy as I am in the research mode but it looks like I'm setting myself up for a gruelling challenge filled with mountain passes, spectacular scenery, and a battle with my familiar foe... headwind.  What crazy stunt are you going to do next I hear you say...(amidst headshaking and eye rolling .. and that is just me!)

Well my eyes and my head are turning in the direction of New Zealand... a 2450km ride, obviously to raise money for LHS. It's less mileage than Route 66 but by all accounts will be a much tougher ride.
The main thought of people who have cycled in NZ seems to be a fear of traffic and the main roads. However if I can survive Highway 100 out of St Louis... I can't believe that it could be worse!

I'm not 100% certain that this is what I'm going to aim for but for the moment it gives me something to plan, something to set my sights on, something to aim my training towards. And it turns out that this is what I needed to get my arse off the sofa and into gear.
So 2014 has begun... with a hint of optimism and a little crazy.... long may that continue :)