Goals

One of the things I’ve been brainstorming about is my goals for the upcoming season, and I should probably get them written down so I can more easily remind myself of them and review them. Actually, that’s the whole purpose of this cyclocross blog. To keep track of my progress and educate myself on whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing.

February is just beginning, which means…

  • 1 month until Bockfest 5k – (goal: under 9:30/mile)
  • 3 months until FPM 10k – (goal: under 9:30/mile, under 9:00 mile would be awesome) (I’ve also toyed with the idea of training for a half-marathon on this weekend. I just can’t decide!)
  • 4 months until first triathlon (TDB)
  • 5.5 months until Cincinnati Tri (After further research it looks like this event may be no more, which I find VERY upsetting. I’ve been looking forward to doing that bike route again for quite a while.)
  • 7 months until cyclocross season begins!

General goals:

Cyclocross:

  • Podium in a women’s Cat4 race
  • Upgrade
  • Learn how to do one cool thing (barrier hop, ride sandpit, etc.)
  • Be able to ride the Kings CX camel humps

    This photo makes it look less intimidating than it seemed at the time, especially when it was slippery and wet.
    This photo makes it look less intimidating than it seemed at the time, especially when it was slippery and wet.

Running:

  • Run 10k <9:00/mile pace
  • Run 5k <8:45/mile pace (Accomplished 3/7/15 at Bockfest 5k! 8:18/pace)
  • Half-marathon?

Triathlon:

  • 20 mph bike time
  • Finish 5k run <9:00/mile
  • Olympic length?

For the past month or so, I’ve been focusing more on running than biking, largely because I can run outside vs. sitting in my basement watching Ironman coverage from the 1990s. But, since when it all comes down to it, cycling/cyclocross is my focus I should really be riding just as much (ideally more) than I’m running. My tentative goals for the next few weeks include –

40 minutes on the trainer, 3-4xweek

core work, 2xweek

running, 2-3xweek

I’ll re-evaluate in a few weeks to see how much I think I can reasonably up the amount of time I put in. I’ll also need to figure out when/how often to incorporate intervals, etc. Do you do that when you’re building a base? Building base on a trainer sucks – can I wait til its warm? When do other people build their bases? How does all of this work?

I need a heart rate monitor yesterday.

The core of the matter…

I’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of core strength in cycling lately. Part of me just accepted it on face value, like “Oh, of course you need a strong core” but the other part of me (the lazy part that really doesn’t feel like doing core work right now, okay?) wondered “Why? What’s so important about your core muscles in cycling?”.

How Does Core Strength Affect Cycling?

Basically, a strong core provides improved body control and a solid power foundation. Even if you have rock-hard quads and calves to die for, a weak core will affect your overall cycling effectiveness. The muscles in your core keep your body stable in the saddle (aiding efficiency) and will provide a solid foundation for your hips, thighs, and knees to draw their power from. For example, if your pelvis rocks side-to-side with each pedal stroke, you’re wasting a lot of power and energy on the lateral motion of your hips that should instead be used to maintaining a smooth, steady, and strong pedaling motion. When your core is stable, everything below your core is stable too.

Core strength can be especially important in cyclocross, as many of the movements such as quick accelerations, barriers, riding in mud, tight turns etc. demand a lot of core strength (especially lower back) and body control. Cyclocross also demands a bit more upper body strength than regular cycling and having a strong core linking your upper and lower body is essential for powerful, fluid motions.

Okay, now what?

So, apparently core strength does matter. Guess it’s time to pull out a yoga mat and get to work.

Videos:

CORE sequence for cyclists from Kathryn Slater on Vimeo.

I hate yoga but this video is so effective I can’t NOT do it.  I’ve done core work but this is one of the few things that has left me noticeably sore for a few days after.

If, like me, you’re not into yoga vids, Cassey Ho of Blogilates has a MILLION ab-specific workouts that are super tough. Plus, Cassey is just sweet and perky enough to make you feel bad for swearing at her under your breath.

Oh, what’s that? You don’t want to spend a solid 15 minutes grunting and sweating on the floor? A five minute alternative is a great way to reasonably guilt yourself into getting your core work in!

Dynamic movement core work. Too bad I don’t have a medicine ball. Or a partner.

A lot of the videos I’ve found online focus a lot on abs. The key to overall strength, though, is balance, which is why I try to occasionally target my back muscles. Plus, anyone who’s ever ridden in a bumpy cross race knows how painful it can be for your lower back.

Articles:

Training Peaks

Bicycling.com

So, now that I’ve reasoned myself into doing core work, I’ll just have to make weekly goals about how many core sessions I do per week. For right now I think two seems reasonable and eventually I’ll up that to doing three to four per week. God knows I need as much help with “body control” as I can get.