Training Assessment 30th January 2013

I completed my 3 month goal of riding 1,000 miles. I am absolutely delighted that I have achieved this goal. I now need to review my training over the past 3 months and use it to define/refine my next programme which will run in February and March. The main positives:

1. Completing longer rides more regularly

2. Developing less back aches

3. Started weight training

4. Reduced body fat

5. Started eating properly – reduced fats, increased proteins, regular smaller meals, portion controls, etc

5. Eating less food on bike rides and not binging post ride

6. Riding with other bike riders – motivationally, this has been good as it is a lot easier to ride longer rides in a group than it is alone. it is also a lot quicker

7. I have been regularly maintaining my bike and keeping it in the best condition possible

8. I can cycle for longer at a higher HR

9. I believe my aerobic capability has moved up to 154bpm – I think it used to be about 148-152

10. On average I have been completing 10 rides per month totalling 22 hours or 2.5 rides per week totalling 5.5 hours

11. It was a very simple programme, the main purpose being just to accumulate miles

Areas requiring attention and improvement

1. Focus has been on achieving distances so there has been no focus on specifics

2. Struggling to maintain sufficient speed with club riders on longer harder rides especially on climbs. My HR moves into ‘threshold’ and limits my ability to maintain the clubs higher pace. I can only assume that the club riders are riding within a lower HR zone, i.e., tempo

3. My weight hasn’t come down. I have discussed this in another post. There is a relationship between weight and power which comes to the fore when climbing. The less weight the easier the climbing

4. Early on in the training I would suffer with lower back pain and a tense neck. The lower back pains have diminished recently however there is tension in the neck


Training Programme February & March 2013

The key objective for the next training programme is to build my base endurance to a higher level. I want to complete a club ride with all the other riders and maintain a good pace especially on climbs. To do this I need to continue to build my base endurance and to do this I need to ride more often. I will be aiming for a total of 68 hours over the two months, which is a minimum of 8.25 hours per week, broken down as follows:

Club ride – 3 hours (50 miles) at upper tempo and intervals at threshold (when climbing or pushing it)

Easy long ride – 2-3 hours (40-50 miles) within tempo, no intervals

Moderate/hard ride – 2 hours at upper tempo with focus on higher cadence

Strength ride – 1.5-2 hours tempo/threshold, focus on steady climbing in threshold to build strength

The key focus is on hours ridden and the other specifics such as HR zone, cadence, etc can take a back seat. Any additional hours will be a bonus. I will also complete 2 sessions at the gym each week to build core and upper body strength. I will complete British Cycling’s Functional Threshold Test at the start and finish of the training programme to gauge progress. If I ride at an average pace of 15mph then I will cover approx. 960 miles – to make this 1000 miles in 2 months I will add 4 hours to make a total of 68 hours for the 2 months. I can then set my Runkeeper App goal to 1000 miles in 2 months.

My Heart Rate Zones

My heart rate zones are as follows:

Zone 1 – active recovery <112

Zone 2 – endurance 112-116

Zone 3 – tempo 136-154

Zone 4 – threshold 154-172

Zone 5 – VO2 max 172-182

Zones 1-3 all use the aerobic oxygen system which is the most efficient whereas zone 4&5 use anaerobic. To build strength there is a need to train in zones 4 & 5 but as this can only be done for limited periods then this needs to be done using interval training.

Calorie Calculation

How many calories do I need each day?

This is calculated as follows:

calorie requirement = {BMR (weight in kg x 24)} x {PAL (between inactive 1.2 to very active 1.7)}

BMR = Basal Metabolic Rate (this is the number of calories the body needs to perform basic funcitons such as breathing, heart beating, maintaining body temp, etc)

PAL = Physical Activity Level (measures activity levels)

My figures 25/1/13: weight: 76kg, PAL: 1.4 based on 2/3 activities per week

My calorie requirement based on 2-3 exercise per week = 76 x 24 x 1.4 = 2554

My calorie requirement based on 3+ exercise per week = 76 x 24 x 1.5 = 2736

How does this requirement break down into carbs, proteins and fats?

Carbohydrate requirement

Moderate duration/low intensity activity requirement = 5-7g per kg of body weight

Moderate-heavy endurance activity = 7-10g per kg of body weight

Based on 5g per kg of body weight my carbohydrate requirement = 76 x 5 = 380g (1520 calories) Based on 7g per kg of body weight my carbohydrate requirement = 76 x 7 = 532g (2128 calories)

Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.

Muscle stores up to 400g = 1600 calories

Liver stores up to 100g = 400 calories

These stores need replenishing during and after exercise

Carbohydrate requirement during exercise = 20-60g per hour (80-240 calories)

Carbohydrate requirement after exercise = 1g per kg body weight per hour = 76g x 4 = 304g (1216 calories)

Protein Requirement

Moderate duration/low intensity = 1.2g per kg BW = 76 x 1.15 = 87.4 (350 calories)

Moderate to heavy activity = 1.3g per kg BW = 76 x 1.3 = 98.8 (395 calories)

Fat Requirement

Calories required from fat = 25% of total calorie intake

Calorie requirement from fat for moderate exercise = 2554 x 25% = 639/9 = 71g of fat per day

Calorie requirement from fat for moderate-heavy exercise = 2736 x 25% = 684/9 = 76g of fat per day


Calorie requirement based on 2/3 exercises per week = 2554 calories; carbohydrate (1520 calories, 380g), protein (350 calories, 88g), fat (639 calories, 71g)

Calorie requirement based on 4+ exercises per week = 2736 calories; carbohydrate (2128 calories, 532g), protein (395 calories, 99g), fat (684 calories, 76g)

I will use the moderate exercise activity as my base requirement. This means I need to consume 380g protein every day. When I exercise I will take in an additional 100g carbohydrate within 4 hours to aid recovery and replenish stored body glycogen.

I will aim for 100g protein every day from 4 sources: 1 egg = 6g, 1L milk = 30g, one tin mackerel (100g) = 23g, meat (100g) = 25g, oats (50g) = 5g, rice (50g) = 3g, pasta (50g) =6g, bread (50g) = 5g, potato (50g) =1g, dried apricots (50g) = 2g

My daily fat intake from the above protein is as follows: 1 egg = 5g, 1L milk = 36g, one tin mackerel = 6g, meat (100g) = chicken 7g & mincemeat 19g, oats (50g) = 0g, rice (50g) = 0g, pasta (50g) =0g, bread (50g) = 1g, potato (50g) =0g

Breakdown of carbohydrate requirement:

Oats = 100g/day = 60g

Milk = 1L/day = 50g

Rice = 100g/day = 74g

Pasta = 100g = 73g

Bread = 100g = 39 1 bagel = 85g weight (43g carb, 8g protein, 2g fat)

Potato = 100g = 17g

Dired apricots = 50g = 25g

Eating Success 25/1/13

One of the most difficult challenges over the past few months has been dealing with my lack of weight loss. My weight has remained around 76/77kg. Up until December it was hard to recognise the ‘physical appearance’ benefits of my training and given that my major goal is to shift excess weight, the lack of perceived progress has been difficult to accept.

I concluded that the reason I wasn’t losing weight was because I was consuming more calories to offset the increased training. Therefore, from the beginning of January I changed my diet as follows:

Nuts and seeds – They were included in my breakfast, I was snacking on them, I was eating them on my bike rides. I have dramatically reduced my consumption of them and avoid them wherever possible

Bike rides – I don’t use my bike rides as an excuse to eat whatever I like. I now weigh what I take and ensure I have enough to cover the ride (no more than 60g carbs per hour because this is the limit of the body’s intake). I continue to consume a raw egg mixed with skimmed milk as soon as I return from a ride and eat a meal within 60-90 minutes. This is reducing the wild fluctuations in blood sugar and curbing potential hunger pangs. I have also learnt the importance of a good breakfast or meal before I go out riding. I increase my normal calorie intake prior to a ride. This makes a big difference to ride performance and enjoyment.

Cutting out fat – Apart from easting a lot less nuts and seeds I have also cut out other fatty foods, notably Greek yogurt (10% fat), semi-skimmed milk, cheese, butter, cakes, biscuits, chocolate. I look back and I realise I was eating a lot of these food types

Bad snacking – I have definitely cut out snacky foods such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits and crisps. We have them in the house most of the time but I genuinely choose not to have them. I am not finding this difficult. I know the food choices I am making are much better. If I snack I eat dried apricots which I increasingly love, especially when out cycling.

Portion control – I have reduced the size of the meals I am eating. I now weigh my carbohydrate and restrict it to no more than 50g. I bulk out the meal with veg and salad. I take out less food on my rides too.

Regular smaller meals – As well as eating smaller portions I am now sticking to a more disciplined schedule. I’ll have breakfast, something mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon tea, and dinner and perhaps a glass of milk before I go to bed. I am trying to eat less but spread it out more evenly across the day.

Protein – I try to get in about 100g protein per day made up from eggs, fish (mackerel, smoked salmon), meat, and milk. I aim for about 25g from each of these food types every day

Carbs – I try to eat most of my carbs in the early part of the day. I’m not sure how successful I have been in this but I do know for sure that I have reduced my overall consumption of carbs. I need to have a clearer understanding of how many calories I am getting from carbs each day. The main sources are oats, bread (bagels typically), rice, pasta, dried fruits and potatoes. Just reading this makes me realise that I should be consuming more wholemeal as opposed to white bread.

Coffee/tea – I have noticed an increase in my coffee consumption and a decrease in tea drinking. When I drink tea I use skimmed milk and I have a small spoon of sugar with my coffee. I am aware that there is evidence that coffee can contribute towards fat burning but I also have an increased desire to drink it as opposed to tea.

The result of the above dietary changes has been evident both physically and mentally. Mentally, I am in a much better place. For the first time in a long time I feel like I decide what and when I eat as opposed to being dictated to by my body. I mean, this is a big change. Just the feeling of controlling what I consume is liberating and empowering. If I can better control of what I eat then I know I stand a much stronger chance of achieving my goal. If I can control what I eat then there are many other aspects of my life which I can manage better. It also means I am better able to deal with the perceived lack of success in weight loss.

So, over to weight loss. I know I haven’t lost any weight, however, I have noticed physical changes which are encouraging:

My trousers are looser on my legs and around my waist

The fat around my upper/lower stomach has definitely reduced. There is less of it.

My face is less jowly

All of the above are encouraging, however, I need something a little more objective to establish my progress or lack of it in reducing body fat. I need to explore options as to how I can do this. I think there are body callipers that crudely measure body fat. I think a crude measurement is better than no measurement at all. It would also be a good idea to start taking body measurements such as waist, chest, arms, legs, etc, etc

Throughout January, I feel like I have made inroads for the first time in reducing body fat. I genuinely feel like I have made progress. It hasn’t been difficult and the benefits of the mental well-being have been worth the extra discipline. I’ll definitely keep it going.

Its Time for Hours 25/1/13

I’ve been looking through my bike stats for the last few months and I notice that I am averaging 20 hours per month in the saddle. I was surprised it was this low – that works out at about 4-5 hours per week. In my chats with other riders they always mention their goals in terms of hours on the bike as opposed to speeds, miles or anything else. Therefore, I think it is important with my next goal for it to focus on hours on the bike as opposed to miles completed. I am not ready to get too specific or refined with my bike training just yet, e.g., cadence, intervals, etc. I think that can be brought into play from April onwards – for now, I’ll focus on the simple goal of spending more time on my bike.

So, what should my target be and over what period? I am thinking that the next goal should cover February and March which would lead nicely into spring. If I am currently doing 20 hours per month, then a reasonable target would be an additional 10 hours per month, which amounts to 60 hours in 2 months, which corresponds to 1-2 extra rides per week. This breaks down to approx. 7-8 hours per week as follows:

Club ride Sunday 3-3.5 hours

Saturday ride 2-3 hours

1 midweek ride tempo 1-1.5 hours

1 midweek ride endurance 1-1.5 hours

The important thing I will need to do to achieve this goal is to get in a minimum of 4 rides per week, 2 at the weekend and 2 midweek. Based on an average of 15mph, 60 hours will equate to 900 miles over the 2 months. Runkeeper doesn’t have the facility to set goals by riding hours so I’ll have to revert to using miles – I’ll set it up as 900 miles. I’ve got a few more days to reflect on this ‘hours on the bike’ goal before I finally commit to it but it is looking likely that I will go with it.

I think the other area I need to look at is strength training. I’ve been to the gym a couple of times. I’m just wondering how I can fit in 1 or 2 sessions per week. Would be great if I could because it would improve my bike riding. I’d like to focus on working my core and upper body although there is also scope for muscle-building in the legs too. I guess I need to research this a little more. One of the benefits of strength training is the ability to improve all over body definition and this is part of my overall goal. The other thing I need to look into is building in recovery periods. How many recovery days are required and when should they be scheduled? Some buffers need to be built in to accommodate for bad weather and illness, etc too.

Approaching My 1K Goal – What Next?

17th January 2013

I am delighted to be making good progress towards my goal of 1,000 mile in 3 months. I have reached 865 miles, just 135 miles to go in 14 days or two weeks. My plan is to have completed my target by Sunday 27th January – 2 club bike rides with the Wheelers should account for 100 miles leaving 35 miles. I’d like to get to the target before the 27th so I can use the remainder of the month as a rest period. So, given I am approaching my 1k target, what is next? Probably best to catch up with what has been going on since my last post at the end of November.

I did my first ‘introductory’ ride with the Exeter Wheelers Cycling Club on the 8th December. Run at a steady pace between 13-15mph and covering 33 miles it was my first exposure to group riding. I loved it. The time flew by and the drafting from other riders made the ride a lot easier than if cycling alone. I then went on to my first ever Wheelers Sunday club ride on the 16th which was a lot quicker at over 18mph covering 38 miles but I felt strong and really enjoyed it. I’ve subsequently done another 2 club rides both of which have been harder that the first one. Having a group of riders to cycle with is much better than cycling alone and it becomes routine as you know you’ll be going out for a decent ride every Sunday. It is kind of a given that you will do a minimum of 50 miles per week.

I am now able to ride longer distances and at higher speeds. My last two 50 milers have both averaged over 15mph. A few months back I’d be struggling to do this on a 25/30 mile ride let alone 50!! So, I am well chuffed about the progress I have made. I definitely feel stronger and the aches and pains in my lower back are diminishing. My weight hasn’t shifted much, if anything it has gone up slightly. I am averse to going on the bathroom scales because I find it a little demotivating – after all, one of my main goals was to lose weight and have a better body shape. So, whats happening? I guess I have increased the amount I eat with the increased training although recently I have cut out a lot of crap and switched to low-cal alternatives such as skimmed milk but there is significant room for improvement. So, what can I do?

1. Make sure I eat well before I go out

2. Take only enough food on rides that is required. It is not possible for the body to absorb more than 60g carbohydrate per hour, therefore, the maximum amount of food must be below this. Interestingly, I have noticed that my need for food whilst riding has diminished which I can only put down to my body switching to burning more of my fat stores as opposed to glycogen.

3. Keep up the post ride recovery eating – this involves stocking up with protein within 15/30 minutes of the end of a ride. This makes a difference as it staves of the feeling of being ravenous and over-eating

4. Better managing and controlling what I eat during the day. Focus on high quality food and about 130g protein per day. Carbs in morning and at lunchtime with emphasis on proteins and veg in the evening. Start weighing food and understanding the nutritional content and corresponding calories.

Even though my weight hasn’t changed I have noticed a reduction in body fat, especially from my legs and around my stomach/torso. If my weight hasn’t come down I can only assume I have added muscle mass. I have not been under-eating so will not have lost muscle mass, therefore, I must have gained it. Good stuff.

I went to Coaver Club gym for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to go more often to start building muscle and working on definition in my upper body. I need to fit this into a routing to make sure it happens. Two sessions a week would be great if it can be fitted in but at least one.

Turning to my next goal, here are some thoughts:

Complete 1000 miles in 2 months, that is, February and March (8 weeks)

This breaks down into 125 miles per week compared to 90 miles per week the last 3 months (11 active training weeks and 2 rest weeks) which represents an increase of 39%. Based on 15mph this is represents approx  65-70 hours riding or just over 8 hours per week. The club ride will take 3 hours of this leaving 5 hours cycling the rest of the week. By the end of January I will expect to have done a total of 28 rides which is about 2 1/2 rides per week. I need to get on my bike more often so I should be aiming for 4 rides per week. Taking out the club ride leaves 3 rides totalling 5 hours – I’d like to do a long solo ride of 2/3 hours every week so this leaves 2/3 hours in two other rides. One of these rides can be an easy short ride and another can have a more technical aspect such as intervals or cadence training. There is the option of doing the longer mid-week ride with a friend or other club rider perhaps at an easier pace. However they are mixed up what is important is to increase the weekly mileage/hours on the bike. This will be my primary goal.

I’ll think about the detail a little more over the next week or two about the specifics about my training and when I have decided the precise make-up I’ll post it to this blog. For now it is enough to know more miles/hours in less days.

OK, what about rewarding myself? I kind of agreed that if I achieved my 1000 mile goal by the end of January then I would treat myself to a decent carbon-frame or equivalent bike. I’d like to do this but there are 2 things getting in the way of this: no money and a desire to buy a Thorn Mercury steel tube bike fitted with a Rohloff hub that I can use for sporty touring, winter riding of lanes, etc. I’ll think about this too.

I am very pleased with my training progress. It is making me more disciplined in different areas of my life and having a positive impact. I should congratulate myself on turning things around and making steady progress toward my overall goal of being in the best possible shape I have ever been in by the time I turn 50 in July.