In my last post, I shared part one of training tips for Cheaha. It was perhaps the best-written, most engaging work ever crafted. This post may not live up to the same literary standard, but it will be a continuation of the training tips. Part two of two will give you everything you need to conquer the Cheaha Ultra. Or something like that.
I never was a believer in strength training for endurance sports. Generally, I believed that loading my legs up with strength training would hinder my ability to get in quality training sessions both throughout the week and on the weekend. I looked at strength training as compromising my ability to train at 100%. And there are a lot of people that have that same stance.
My perspective changed when I had my accident and when strength training became an integral part of my recovery process. When I was stripped to the base – when I couldn’t even walk – I was given the opportunity to reevaluate and experiment with how I was going to rebuild myself. As I was rebuilding my base via strength training I found that my body was more and more resilient. By week six of my recovery, I was able to put in 90-120 minute strength training sessions in the morning and still knock out a 60 minute trainer ride in the evening. The best part? I would wake up the next morning still feeling as though my legs had some juice. Your body will adjust to your new routine.
If you’re not convinced, try this one on for size. My injury was very severe. Like you’d usually only get that type of injury in a car crash type of severe. The recovery process is usually 4-6 weeks just to walk again. Months before you can run. Oh, and they told me I’d never ride a bike again. For the first three weeks following my injury, I obviously could do no cardio. All I did was non-weight bearing mobility exercises, and towards the end of the third week some very lightweight strength training (leg extensions, leg press, calf raises). By week four, I was just barely able to spin the pedals of a stationary bike. On week 9, I rode the Six Gap Century – a race that also bills itself as the “hardest in the South”. Six weeks previous I could not walk, and there I was on race day powering through climb after climb after climb. My cardio was obviously sub-optimal, but yet I was smashing through the climbs. I had the strength training to thank for that.
Ok, ok. I get it. Strength training is amazing. I’m going to incorporate it into my training right away! That’s what you’re all saying, right?
Great! Here’s how I incorporate strength training into my routine:
I’ve found that this is the best way to mix strength training into my regimen without loading the legs up to the point that my training is compromised. I’ve found that when I mix in strength training in the manner described above, that my training is substantially enhanced.
Or in simpler terms – I feel way more powerful on the bike.
Plyo-whatrics? Dude, I’m not trying to become the next Bo Jackson. What the hell do I need pyrotechnics for? Err…plyometrics for?
Plyometrics are great for increasing your explosive power. Think of it as your burst power. As I said in the epic literary work (AKA my last post), we really, really want to focus on building up the type of power that will lend itself to the short, punchy climbs. If you’ve got that punchy power, everything else will take care of itself.
So mix in those plyo workouts. Don’t know where to begin with a plyo workout? I “like” to do a 30-45 minute plyo workout that encompasses the following:
Repeat once (two total sets). Adjust as necessary based on your level of fitness and level of freshness. I haven’t yet done a plyo workout since my accident (hardware in hip and femur + jumping = scary), so my first plyo workout will likely be one or even one and half times through that list of deathercises. Exercises. I mean exercises.
Plyo workouts are generally not very fun. But dominating those short, punchy climbs is. Oh, and there’s the added benefit of plyometric workouts being great for shedding some of that extra weight that doesn’t necessarily need to come with you to Cheaha.
The Deader the Better
I’m a big proponent of the dreaded dead leg rides. One or even two weeks out of the month, I’ll absolutely smash myself to pieces and try like hell to power through dead leg rides on the weekend. How do you achieve the mythical dead leg status, you might ask? Well…take some of these workouts (and the workouts from post #1) and stack them together in one week. Here’s an example:
You’re going to feel awful on those rides. You’re going to question your sanity. You may even come out of the rides feeling a little discouraged by your pace.
But, when those legs come back around the following week, you’re going to love how you feel on the bike. I love the dead leg rides one week before a race. It gives me ample time to recover before the race and it usually results in a race day performance that I’m very satisfied with.
Ok, so now you've got everything you need to dominate the Cheaha Challenge or Ultra. Well...kind of. In the coming weeks, I'll post a full course preview that hopefully will help you lay out your race day strategy.
Until then, feel free to buy a million of these rad jerseys that I designed. All the proceeds go directly to Big Brothers Big Sisters! Awesome looking jerseys. Awesome cause.
I'm a proud Big Brother, and despite my Little wishing that I wouldn't run so much, a proud endurance athlete. I started my endurance career by signing up for a marathon when I couldn't even complete a 10k, and I started my Big Brother career by volunteering when I wasn't sure I even could offer a youth much. Both processes have showed me that stepping outside of your comfort zone serves as the best method of improving yourself.