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Tip of the Week

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Tip of the Week

Postby natellerandi » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:44 pm

General Fitness v Specific Fitness.

I started to gain an appreciation for off-season general fitness, an appreciation which has grown by an order of magnitude this off-season. I define "general fitness" as things we do aside from our primary sport in order to stay fit. We may view these activities as exercising rathre than actual workouts because mental acuity is less and the fun factor is higher. We get fit and we don't even know it.

As this forum knows, I now focus on cycling. In the past, I'd ride 5-6 days/week, even if all those days had to be on the trainer due to cold or inclement weather. I'd also lift weights 3x a week. This off-season, I put the bike away and started running again. At first 20min would cause my hips to feel like my femurs were punching through my pelvis. But, now, I'm running 2+ hours straight and run/hiking up to 3.5 hours at a time. When the wind is blowing too strongly to ride safely outside, instead of hitting the trainer, I'm hitting the trails.

I've also logged 2-3 cross-fit workouts per week, each session maxing out at 30min. The shorter workouts allow for higher intensity and greater mental focus. And, I look forward to them rather than loathing them. So, I get more out of them. The progress has been marked and very positive thus far.

I got on my bike for the first time in over 2 months just this past Monday. For the heck of it, I did a 20min power test. Just to see where I was at. The result -- 280w. At about 80% capacity of my in-season, mid-summer form. Not bad at all for the first day back on the bike. Subsequent workouts in the L2/L3 range feel pretty darn easy.

So, what this tells me is several things:
1) All the general fitness stuff has kept my aerobic engine well-tuned
2) The time off the bike understandably blunted my top end performance on the bike -- for now
3) The time off the bike did little to negatively affect my overall fitness
4) Now that I'll be biking 2-3 days/week, when I re-test heading into the year end holidays, I would expect a fairly big step forward in my 20min test

See what I'm getting at? My point is that we don't have to always focus on our primary sport in order to stay fit. In fact, avoiding our primary sport for a protracted amount of time ultimately probably does us some good. The mental and emotional recharging that goes on is indesputable and invaluable, especially the older we get and the longer we've been at it.

So, my challenge to the group as we head into the heart of the off-season is to step out of your comfort zone and really mix things up. Do things that you have been afraid to do because you think it will detract from your progress. There will be plenty of time to focus before your big races; allow yourself to de-focus here in the winter. You'll have a blast doing it and you'll remain fitter than you might think.

Happy Training,
Nate Llerandi
natellerandi
 
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