Monday, December 15, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

" WARM equals PERFORM!"

Can you imagine being fined in Swiss Francs for not putting a beanie on your teamate's head after a bike race?! Well, I'm here to tell you today that in the world of professional cycling, this kind of scenario is true! It is very common for athlete's to compete in sport in all kinds of inclimate weather, whether it be squall conditions at sea in the Volvo Ocean Race , unbearable heat with 100% humidity at the Australian Open Tennis, or freezing rain and gusting winds during the Tour de Flanders Cycling Classic. Hypothermia is not that common of an occurance in professional sport, but must be prevented at all costs. Athlete's that race the Tour de France will begin their season with as low as 7-9% body fat and will drop down to as low as 3-5% by the Tour de France's end in late July. Doesn't that cap on the old noggin make more sense now?! We lose our body heat through our extremities, and through our exposed head and neck. Wearing a cap or beanie helps keep your core body temp stable and is one way to help prevent hypothermia.

Regardless of what your sport is, having the right clothing is crucial. I am not going to discuss expedition climbing in Nepal, or other sports of extreme cold exposure,but I do want to go over the importance of warming up,working out, and cooling down. If it is cold enough for a thermal long-sleeve full-zip jersey, legwarmers, a wool beanie and thermal gloves to start your cycling training ride, by all means, start out correctly! You probably won't have a domestique' rider riding next to you who is going to shuttle your layers back and forth to your team car during the ride as they would if you were a team leader in Europe; what a luxury you might think.....for the leader, that is! As your core body temperature rises and the blood flows to your large muscle groups, you will begin to feel warmed-up and supple. At this point in your training, regardless of incliment weather you probably would want to remove some layers and tuck them into your pockets. As long as you stay warm you will perform at your peak. There are many liniments, embrocations, and thermal patches that can be used on the body to assist in increasing blood flow and keep you warm. There are even liniments we used in Europe that were derived from the feathers of ducks that were silicone-like in nature that we used on the Pro cyclists legs.We would top-coat the hot liniments with the 'duck feather product' to waterproof their legs from the rain during the Classics like the Paris-Roubaix, Tour de Flanders, etc. These products allowed the body to stay warm but kept the rain's cold/wet properties from getting in. It was amazing!

Back to keeping warm! So you see the importance: WARM EQUALS PERFORM!!

After training or racing:

  1. Cool down if you can. Get your heart rate down to resting/normal. If you just sprinted, get your system back to norm. Sometimes this is not possible to do on the bike if you have to go to the podium or to dope control. Slow down the jets. Stretch later.

  2. Put a hat or beanie on to keep your body heat in. You could lose up to 30% just through your head.

  3. Get out of your wet training or race clothes. If you are a cyclist, get out of that chamois as soon as you can. Get into your warm-ups or appropriate attire according to the weather

  4. You have 60 minutes to close your glycolic window after your training or racing...CLOSE IT IN 30 mins! Drink your recovery drink ASAP to increase your recovery rate.

  5. Cool down if you have the opportunity after you have changed into warm attire. Can you take a cool down run or ride? Can you get your stretches in? All this will help your muscles recover and remain supple.

  6. If you trained or competed in cold conditions get into a warm shower or bath. Drink warm beverages. Drink your favorite teas with honey or agave syrup. Stay WARM! You will recovery faster and feel fresh.

  7. Experiment with different clothing during training , never during competition. Try using arm warmers, knee warmers,and different fabric combinations in regard to underclothing. Try out different vests and raingear. Have you used shoe covers or thermal booties before? Have you finished a ride and later realized that you should have ridden in that one piece thermal suit and gotten it over with?! Try using other training partners caps, gloves and jackets if they are something you might be interested in.There might be a vest with a wind resistant front that might be the cat's meow for you on descents....then again you might be so hard core that you just shove that section of the sports page up your jersey front on top of your italian undershirt and between your long-sleeve,grit your teeth, jut out that numb jaw, get in the drops and let her rip on the rivets of your saddle......