Saturday, 27 June 2015

End of June (almost) Weight and Training update, and thinking about targets and visualisation (and their pitfalls)

The effect that "event" preparation has on weight loss
As you can see from the graphic, my weight loss has levelled off, and even got back up a bit.
Is this a problem?
Have I "failed".
Because ...
... well, because I had those two "century" rides, and I switched from losing weight to "event" preparation.
I had a holiday week, and being away from home, I had no bicycle ... so I ran a bit - a few tough "interval" runs. No weigh-ins for that week, so the graphis just shows a straight line.
Of course, when i am at work, I walk 7 km a day anyday, so i have to do quite a bit on holiday to prevent my weight rising.

But every training schedule needs a few lighter weeks in it where you body gets a chance to catch up on that unrecovered damage that you never seemed to leave it quite enough time for ...

Then, before an "event", the focus switches from training to making sure one is in the best condition on the day. In my case that means taking it easy for a week, but, of course, I am still walking that 7kg a day at work, so it is not as if I am a couch potato!
Of course, during that "rest" week, I am also trying to eat an especially varied diet to make sure I am nutritionally sound at the "Start" line.
I made a point of eating a good mix of carbs that week - pasta one day, rice another, boiled potatoes, too, and, on top of that, the "superfood" buckwheat. Actually the buckwheat is something that you might eat anyway if your relatives or in-laws have connections with Eastern Europe - some of mine do. But the point I am making is that I am eating a wide variety of foodstuffs during "preparation" week. Yes, tofu was in there, too.

There is no point starting an event dehydrated, either!
So one always drinks a bit extra each day, just to be on the safe side.
Then after the event, there is a "recovery" period, when it is eating lots of protein.
But the point of "event preparation and recovery" is not to lose weight,
The point is to perform well in the event (and the next one, if several are close together).

After that 1st event, I had two weeks to the second event. A week of recovery, and a week of preparation after that left me only the weekend in the middle for training. So I did a hilly 60km ride, with some hill reps in it. Again the purpose was to improve my climbing, rather than to lose weight.

Naturally, while actually on the event, the diet goes out the window. It is about performing well, rather than watching the calories. So I basically just eat sugar for 4 hours. Actually I drink most of it in solution, but it is much the same thing!

Second event is done, too, now, and after a few days rest, I am back out running again.
I have another event planned, but that is seven or eight weeks away.
So I have plenty of time for some proper tarining and weightloss in the meantime.

Shifting a bit of extra weight would make the climbing (on a bike) easier, too, but it needs to be done without losing fitness or muscle.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am having a look at a slight variant for my training, Joe Friel's Lactate Threshold training methods.
I'm sure the actual numbers won't make that much difference, but he does have a number of nicely explained training exercises in his book that I am likely to be employing.
His training methods also seem to involve more cycling at a slightly higher heart rate than I was before, so naturally, that extra bit of exertion will pay its own dividends - if you train at 65% of maiximum heart rate for an hour, then compare it with training at 75% of maximum heart rate for an hour, of course you will lose more weight - you should have travelled further for a start!
And as you may have noticed (and Owen Barder specifically points out in his book), calories burnt equate much better to distance, rather than peak intensity. It is how FAR you go that counts more than how FAST you do it. Speed just allows you to go further in a given time ...

Folks sometimes asks me what my weight loss target is.
To be honest, it hasn't really been like that.
It has been more about "the journey" than the destination.
I had originally said that I wanted to do a "double century" before I got a more expensive bike (Mermaid is a tarted-up "supermarket special", that, even if had had started with a new bike (I did not!), and made all the modifications, it still wouldn't add up to more than about 300 pounds ($450 to 500).
I could easily lose 5 kg off the weight of Mermaid!
But so far I have lost 5 or 6 kg off the weight of ME!
And it makes me healthier for doing it.
So I can still lose that 5kg off Mermaid! (most of that would be an upgrade from the heavy "cheap-steel" frame to something a bit lighter, like 531/525, or 631, or 725, or the equivalent from Columbus, or some other "quality" tube maker).
Anyway, given that I have lost that 5 or 6 kg already, and given that I have cycled both events, non-stop, including all the hills (and they had "challenging" hills - the first has a 9% climb that touches 13%, but with a challenging approach with some shor, sharp, rises to break up the field, while the second has a 9% climb that touches 16%, but there is a long 3% "warm up" to reach the bottom of it!), I think I can manage on my current bike for a bit.

All the "psychology" books say "visualise your goals, and it makes it easier to achieve them".
But other research says that too much thinking about success, and not enough "reality" actually makes one's goals HARDER to achieve, not easier. It seems that the brain can sometimes be fooled into accepting that the "dream" is actually more of a reality than it is, and thus the motive to succeed can be reduced ...

So, remembering that "too much visualisation can be counter-productive", perhaps my "enjoy the journey" style, rather than the "concentrate on the destination" technique, is not so bad after all ...

However, I'll state a target just for those who like one.
Before I buy a "better" frame, I want to get down to 85kg, AND complete that 200km ride.
That'll do for a target, and a "reward" when I get there

I've been drooling over a 725 frame for a while now.
I can almost taste it.
Got to get the weight down first, though ...
No weight loss, no frame upgrade, no get-out clauses.
And maybe when I get there, all that drooling will make me feel that I can manage a bit longer with the frame I already have :-)

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