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Push Through your Plateau

eebee's picture

There are some interesting posts on www.pickthebrain.com, offering advice from a feelings-to-common-sense perspective. One article entitled 8 Moves to Make When you Feel Like Giving up, mentions hitting a plateau:


"In some cases you might feel like giving up even though you’re doing all the right things. This is called “the dip” — the plateau that separates the average from the best in the world"


Now, in the past, especially regarding training for A2A, I never stuck with anything long enough to even get  to the plateau! From some personality-defect, I'd throw myself gung-ho into June and July and completely abandon everything in August, either out of sheer panic of the looming event, or some weak-brained sense of comfort that I would 'be ok on the day'. Eating my way uncontrollably through August and September usually accompanied this.  


This year I have been trying to see progress in my heart rate whilst hill-climbing, and I even posted something here, whining about my lack of progress. Well I'm not sure if I'm going to jinx myself now by blowing my own trumpet, but I think I may have finally busted through my high-heart-rate plateau. This might all be completely wrong, and it may purely be for the last 2 weekends' gloriously 'cooler' weather. But I noticed that climbing back into Greensboro on the Cycles de Oro ride up that busy road to a roundabout (Elm St.?), and going up the Dock Davis Road hill on the Clemmons ride both seemed utterly doable to me. I can't put into words how happy that makes me. And one other thing I noticed, is that even though my heart-rate spikes pretty high on a steep uphill, it bottoms out again within seconds of the terrain leveling out or dipping, thus bringing my heart-rate average way down.  What a relief! The Lance/Chris training suggestions have helped, apparently.


Another fascinating (to me) observation: It is possible to execute a more efficient skate-stroke on a relatively steep hill once you've built the muscles and stamina capable of propelling you. Aprr's Mark Day told me this once a few years ago, but at the time all I could think was "hmph, easy for YOU to say!". Having said that, I'm still staggering erratically up most of my training hills, but it's a great feeling to be able to squeeze more out of a stroke through efficiency on a hill that previously left me gasping.  


Anybody else feel like they've hit a plateau this summer?




roadskater's picture

Wow Nice to Hear Some Good Results

As one who has followed your comments on your training and heart rate and hill climbing, I'm glad to hear you're feeling the results of the workouts. What do you think you are doing differently, now, specifically, in your workouts, that has led to the improvement. Is it the repeats at Tribble Mill, and would those be the loop repetitions or the longer 2.5 mile route including the hill loop once per 2.5 miles, or is it something else? I have done very little specific training but felt we both were getting up the hills well even on the day I had a +20 base rate, though I did notice getting up in the 90% from resting to max range going up Dock Davis Road in Clemmons. The biggest difference in my day was that my HR didn't drop much. That rapid drop from a peak is generally a sign of fitness as I understand it, and sprints and their siblings, hills, seem to be good training for that. That rapid drop into a recovery zone makes a lot of difference in a very long day.
eebee's picture

Regular Skating Plus Some Running

Thanks for asking about my progress! It was a big surprise to me, to be able to climb those hills feeling like I must've switched bodies with someone fitter. I did not feel stronger, lighter, or more energetic until the Cycles de Oro and Clemmons rides. I thought those were fluke skates due to cooler weather. However, back home during the week at my local park I noticed myself being able to glide up what I previously perceived as a hill, with my stroke closer to my 'flat-land' stroke, rather than my hill-climbing thrash. Thinking about it, I have come up with these reasons for the improvement in long-distance heart-rate and effort:


A) Change in routine? In the past 30 days I have skated on 14 of them, and done short runs (<20 mins, to accompany my son) on 7 of those days. Sometimes I skated THEN I ran, and the run was absolutely pathetic, let me tell you. I noticed how much harder running is than skating, although my heart rate did not get any higher than it does whilst skating hills, even when (I thought I was) sprinting all out. It hadn't occured to me before when trying to achieve a lower heart rate skating hills, to try RUNNING them a few days a week also! It's all a matter of perspective and relativity, right?


B) Consistency and regularity. I guess skating on 14/30 days doesn't sound like much, but it works out to about 3-4 times a week. I start off aiming to skate every day, and this is what it trickles down to, when all the working, traveling and parenting is taken into account. For me though, this is mainly for my sanity. After 2 days of no exercise I start to nose-dive emotionally. No other exercise is fun, so I don't do anything else if I can't skate (except the running - but that was a parenting thing!).  Running hurts!


C) Regarding the extremely hilly course during the week: I dropped the idea of doing hour-long hill-repeats 2 x week. Instead I decided to wear down my heel brake and take the short cut through the woods to add 2 different long hills (longer and shallower), making a 2.75 mile loop. This extended loop includes the previous hill repeat at the end of the loop, but it also includes a shallower climb twice as long, and a longer climb equally as steep as that original hill repeat. I was disheartened to see I could only do 3 of those in an hour! Still, doing it at all is better than giving up in disgust, and the recovery included in this loop may have helped.


In the past I have known this about myself: I lose conditioning at an alarmingly fast rate. So a pansy-skate for 40 mins is better than nothing at all, and probably makes the difference for me keeping previously-earned conditioning, or turning to mush overnight.

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