Friday, June 20, 2014

Side stitches

For those that suffer from side stitches when running here's a possible solution. Sports that involve an up-and-down motion are most susceptible, though it does occur in cycling and swimming but not as often.  It's also true that most stitches are on the right side of the abdomen, in the area of the liver, the heaviest organ in the abdominal area. The liver, stomach, and spleen all hang from ligaments attached to the diaphragm, a large, flat muscle in the core region that creates inhalation as it contracts. During running these organs bounce pulling down on the diaphragm, sometimes causing the side cramp known as a stitch.

Here's what to do. With a stitch on the right side, exhale when you’re left foot strikes the ground. This will transfer most of the jarring force away from the afflicted side allowing you to lessen the stress on the diaphragm. Hopefully you don’t have an ongoing issue with side stitches but if it occurs give it a try.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bike tours & riding styles

I had the pleasure of riding the Bethel cycle fest in Connecticut this past weekend which is a tour with distances of 23, 54, 84 and 105 miles and for good measure a strava team challenge on the 105 mile route. Even though it's technically not a race, at times you’re sucked into the competitive nature and become part of it. And as a perk there's always Strava segments sprinkled throughout. I guess that's why I love doing these things. Another thing that makes these tours interesting is at various times your riding with perfect strangers at all different skill levels, much of the time in a pack or pace line. You have the recreational riders with just finishing being the goal (which is fantastic and everyone's very supportive) then A and B groups of riders mixing it up as well as the Tri folks on TT bikes with their own style. The Triathletes generally don't mix it up with pace lines due to the safety factor of tri bars and pace lines which is understandable.

What I also find fascinating it's only on these tours that you can study the different riding styles while being part of the action. It's a really unique sensation when you find yourself in a group pace line and no one really knows the level or experience of everyone else around them when inches apart at 26 miles an hour. You don't get that with your familiar friends on a group ride. It's amazing how fast your mind will analyze everyone around you. You stay pretty frosty to say the least. I have to say most everyone was focused and rode hard and careful. A really good crowd.

 I find the Triathletes have very similar styles whether on a TT bike or road bike. In one of the pace lines I was a part of there were 1 or 2 Triathletes mixed in on road bikes and their style is always the same "steady". They've properly trained themselves not to go anaerobic if at all possible, stay just below lactate threshold, keep a good fast solid pace, don't sprint and conserve energy. Their all very disciplined and very good riders. Your general roadies are more explosive; love going anaerobic and love to sprint. Hmmm, sounds familiar. You even meet an occasional mountain biker who is using the long tour to really stimulate their cardio system and put long miles on a mountain bike to condition themselves for an upcoming mountain bike race. If you've never ridden a mountain bike on a road for a long distance at speed it's a workout.

It's not often on my road bike when I can ride one on one with a full-fledged TT bike and get that direct comparison. Fortunately, I had that opportunity when I came upon a Triathlete from NY on a Specialized TT bike. On the climbs I caught him almost too easy, again triathletes ride steady with very little explosiveness and TT bikes don't climb well at all. Once over the crest on the flats he just pulled away almost too easy with that aerodynamic advantage. This went on for 4 or 5 climbs and then flat sections; it was almost funny at times but really showed firsthand the differences on specific bike types.

All in all whatever anyone's goal was every one rode hard and were really cranking out those endorphins.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Muscle fiber types

Muscle fibers can be classified in three categories: Slow twitch or type 1, type 2a and fast twitch or type 2b. Type 2a are essentially fast-twitch fibers but have a somewhat trainable ability to adapt the traits of both type 1 and 2b fibers. It's really dependent on the type and bulk of training you do. Type 2a are normally classified as intermediate fibers. The differences between the fiber types are based on chemical, functional and structural differences.

Slow-twitch fibers exhibit a very good blood supply and are sometimes referred to as red fibers. This large supply of blood ensures that slow-twitch fibers receive large amounts of oxygen, which provides them the capacity to perform for extended periods. They have very little potential for hypertrophy and are best suited to endurance activities such as running and cycling long distances. In contrast, fast twitch fibers have a relatively poor blood supply and are subsequently referred to as being white in color. This lack of blood results in relative oxygen restriction, so fast-twitch fibers tend to fatigue much faster than the better oxygenated slow-twitch fibers. Fast twitch fibers tend to be physically larger than slow-twitch fibers and also have the greatest hypertrophy or growth potential. These fibers are best suited to high-intensity but short-duration sports such as lifting heavy weights or sprinting.

We humans have a baseline ratio of Type I to Type II muscle fiber. This ratio is genetically determined. In most people, the ratio of slow- to fast-twitch muscle fiber is around 50/50. In elite endurance athletes, however, it can be skewed as much as 80/20 either way: world-class Olympic sprinters can exhibit 80% fast-twitch fiber in their legs, while the muscles of ultra-long distance runners can reach 80% slow-twitch fiber. If you are curious to determine your personal ratio there are methods to determine it including a needle biopsy where a small fragment of muscle is extracted and analyzed but some less intrusive methods are being developed.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tubeless tire pressures

Here's a cool starting point formula if your running a tubeless tire - wheel setup on your mountain bike.

Rider weight in pounds divided by 7 = x
x - 1 gives you FRONT tire pressure in PSI
x + 2 gives you REAR tire pressure in PSI

For example my weight is right now 183. 183 divided by 7 =26.1
FRONT pressure: 26 - 1 = 25 PSI
REAR pressure: 26 + 2 = 28 PSI

Of course this is only a starting point to launch from and depending on the terrain, wet conditions, tire tread you can tweek the adjustments