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Posts Tagged ‘training’

My First Double Century

200 mile group photo

A blurry shot of the 200 mile group. I am second from the left in a borrowed vest and arm warmers (thanks John!)

On Saturday, August 8th, I completed my first double century (200 miles) bike ride with a small group of Thread City Cyclers. The ride took us from Willington, CT to Portland, ME. The route had been ridden multiple times by Garth Bean, and he was gracious enough to let us tag along this time around.

All in all, I must say it was an incredible experience. It took an indescribable amount of physical and mental endurance, and it is definitely an athletic achievement I am glad to have completed.

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What is Your Favorite Electrolyte Replacement Drink for Cycling?

Sports drinks are crucial to cycling success. Photo by BurningKarma.

Electrolyte Replacement Drinks are crucial to cycling success. Photo by BurningKarma.

Nutrition is a huge part of cycling. Without proper nutrition, you will be unable to maintain a steady pace and your performance will be much poorer than what it should be. One of the most important parts of your nutritional plan is the electrolyte replacement drink you consume during your rides.

The world of electrolyte replacement drinks is very big, and there are a multitude of options on the market. Most riders have favorites which they prefer to drink. However, as a relatively new cyclist, I am still trying to find my favorite brand of electrolyte replacement drink.

As a result, I’ve turned to you guys, the loyal readers of MikeMartinRacing.com. What are your favorite electrolyte replacement drinks? I know some are better than others, and rather than constantly change my program trying to find the best brand, I’m asking you what yours is. Your responses will greatly impact my choice of electrolyte replacement drink heading into the near future, so don’t forget to leave your reply in the comments.
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Running is a Great Way to Cross-Train, Even for Cyclists

Running is a great supplement to your cycling training. Photos by thebrandbuilder andaarmono.

Photos by TheBrandBuilder and aarmono.

I began cycling in order to train for motocross. I knew that I needed to be in better shape in order to perform at my absolute highest at the track on the weekends. I was never a huge running fan, and cycling was more similar to motocross than any of the other cardio activities I had tried. As a result, cycling became my training method of choice by default, not because I enjoyed the sport.

However, after spending an entire spring, summer and fall cycling almost every day, I grew to love the sport. The speed, adrenaline rush and sense of adventure I got from the sport left me dying to ride day in and day out.

After about 10 months of solid cycling, I have ben adding a good amount of running into my training program. Before cycling I really disliked running, but I have begun to love it. I still prefer cycling to running any day, but, running is a great substitution when cycling just does not fit into my program.

If you are currently a cyclist, and looking for a way to add some diversity to your program, running is a great option, and heres why.

Running Uses Less Time

A good workout while running can be accomplished in less time than cycling. Photo by donjd2 on Flickr.

A good workout while running can be accomplished in less time than cycling. Photo by donjd2.

I’m a teenager, and as a result I am a pretty busy person. Between school, homework, this website, and cycling, I have little to no free time. As a result, sometimes I don’t have two or three hours to spend on the bike. However, when I still want to get a good cardio workout in, I have begun turning to running. Spending 30-45 minutes running can give me the same workout in less than half the time.

The stark time difference between running and cycling may lead you to wonder why I don’t just run all the time. Well, the reason is quite simple: I don’t enjoy it. For me, running takes a lot of mental perserverance and it overall just isn’t as fun for me. If I based all of my cardio training off of running, I would have a very tough time running day in and day out, which would make my training less effective.

Running Uses Different Muscles

Running uses different muscles than cycling. Photo by Kiki Tohme.

Running uses different muscles than cycling. Photo by Kiki Tohme.

Unfortunately, when you cycle you use essentially the same muscles day in and day out. While this is great if you are trying to build those muscles, when cross training, it is crucial to build more than the standard set of muscles so that you are totally prepared for motocross.

This is where running comes in. Running works a totally different set of muscles as cycling which is a great way to round out your training and ensure that you are as prepared for motocross as possible.

Furthermore, this will allow you to train more often. Because running uses different muscles which allows you to put in hard days of riding and running back to back without feeling too many of the effects. This will allow you to train harder and more often and allow your muscles to recover at the same time, which is an earth shattering training routine.

Variety Helps Make Your Training More Effective

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, having variety in your training can help make your training more effective, which is, of course what everyone is trying to do with their training. Introducing running into your program in addition to just cycling can help keep you motivated to train throughout the week and prevent dry spells due to burn out.

Running in between hard bike rides helps to break up your week and really gives your training some variety. This prevents burn out and boredom from doing the same training rides every week. Even though I love cycling, after a few weeks I sometimes need a break. Rather than take a day off and waste valuable training time, I can now go for a run, unwind from cycling, still work my legs and get a good cardio workout in.

Breaking up your workouts with running is a win win situation no matter how you look at it. If you don’t mind running, then it is just another form of training. However, if you dread running (like I used to), then spending one or two days a week running will make the cycling days even sweeter and will motivate you to train even when your ti

red, sick, or the weather is subpar.

Running Is Mentally and Physically Tough

Running is mentally and physically tough. Photo by Unlisted Sightings.

Running is mentally and physically tough. Photo by Unlisted Sightings.

There is no doubt about it, running is tough. There is no relief from the pain and even when your going down hills, you can’t fly down them like you can on a bicycle. Running requires constant effort by your legs and as a result is an extremely tough exercise, both mentally and physically.

Mentally, running has always been extremely hard for me. I’m so used to the speed and adrenaline rush of motocross and cycling that it takes a lot to accept the fact that you simply aren’t moving fast, even when you’re putting in a very hard effort. This type of mental integrity, can actually be a benefit come race time. It helps to build your mental strength, which should help you out on the track at the end of a long moto when you really want to give in to the heat, to the fatigue and to the rough track, but know that it is in your best interest to push for 2 more laps until the finish.

Physically, the toughest part of running is that their is absolutely no relief. No matter the terrain, you always must be moving your legs, and even going fast down hills takes energy. While cycling you can recover slightly on downhills and flats, however, while running this simply isn’t possible and you are forced to put in a constant effort. This allows running to greatly improve the effectiveness of your training.

We’re In a Recession, and Running is Cheap

Running is a cheap form of training. Photo by jenn jenn.

Running is a cheap form of training. Photo by Jenn Jenn.

Our economy is in a very tough time right now, and motocross riders will be hit some of the hardest of any consumers. Everyone is looking to cut costs, and your training routine may be one of those areas in which to cut costs. I love cycling, but it can be a very expensive, especially once your equipment begins breaking and clothes need replacing.

Thankfully, running is a relatively cheap way to get in almost the same level of workout. It may not be quite as fun as cycling, but when your choice is between running or no workout at all, running is always the better option.

One of the greatest things about running, is that you can run under almost any conditions and with almost any equipment. While a good pair of running shoes is a plus and proper winter aparell is great for cold winter runs, household items can be made to work, making running much more of a budget activity. Cycling, on the other hand, requires special shoes, special clothes, a helmet and gloves. I’m not saying that all of the cycling gear is a waste, in fact it is one of my favorite parts of the sport. However, when times get tough, sometimes we need to cut costs, and running is one possible way to accomplish this.

Surprisingly, Trail Running Can be Fun

Trail running can be a fun form of exercise. Photo by anselm.

Trail running can be a surprisingly fun form of exercise. Photo by Anselm.

While running on the road is possibly one of the most boring training activities I do, trail running can be surprisingly fun. There are not a lot of mountain biking trails around here, and if there were, I am in no position to invest in an entirely new bike and set of gear just to mountain bike in the woods. However, trail running is a great way to see the sights and sounds of the woods for a low cost.

I first got introduced to train running during middle school where I was a member of the cross country team, and ever since I have had a soft spot for the sport. I don’t do it enough, especially because of the rough winter weather we’ve been having, but I will definitely be introducing it more into my program come spring, and more importantly, summer.

One of the great parts of trail running is that you can use essentially the same gear as road running. While mountain biking requires an entirely new arsenal of equipment compared to road cycling, you can basically use all of the same gear for trail running. This keeps the price low, yet maximizes the fun level of running, which can be quite boring in other cases.

Conclusion

I love cycling, it is my preferred cardio exercise and the main way I train for motocross. However, after months of cycling, I began looking for something new to introduce into my program. I wanted a way to mix up my training a little bit and add some more variety. In addition, I wanted to find a way to get my cardio in when I didn’t have 2+ hours to spend on the bike. For me, running has field this void and I have greatly enjoyed the nice addition it has made to my training. I still cycle for about 75% of my motocross training, however, running has offered a valid alternative when cycling just is not feasible.

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7 Ways to Make Your Motocross Training More Effective

Floyd Landis knows how to train effectively, and you should too!

Floyd Landis knows how to train effectively, and you should too! Photo by Whileseated on Flickr

Training is a crucial part of motocross racing. It is impossible to be successful in motocross without a vigorous and effective training routine. Being fit allows you to push harder and last longer which can be extremely beneficial at rough tracks such as Southwick. Motocross is a physically demanding sport and being in excellent shape can have lasting effects on your performance.

However, most motocross athletes are novices to training. They are unaware of how to workout and how to make it as affective as possible. Here are seven ways to make your motocross training more effective.

Eat Right

Eating right is crucial to effective training. Drawing by Timothy Pearson.

Eating right is crucial to effective training. Drawing by Timothy Pearson.

I have found that most amateur motocross are notoriously bad eaters. Maybe this is as a result of the heavy influence of the energy drink market, or maybe it is due to the nutritionally lacking food sold by vendors at the races, or maybe it is a result of the fact that many motocross riders are teenagers, who also, notoriously eat badly. Regardless of the reason though, many motocross riders eat poorly, which has a significant negative impact on our training.

As a result, if you want to maximize the effect your training has on your fitness, eat right. Eating right can be an incredible task, and I am not going to begin to cover it all here, but there are some tips which should get you on the right path to eating healthier.

  • Go Organic: Organic foods contain less chemicals, more nutrients and are ultimately better for your body. They allow you to maximize the nutritional value from your food and minimize the damaging chemicals found in many of todays foods. Thankfully, organic foods are clearly labeled and can be found at many big grocery stores including Wal-Mart, Stop and Shop and, obviously, Whole Foods.
  • Eat a Big Breakfast: Eating a big breakfast prevents mid morning snacks and helps to carry you throughout your entire day nutritionally. Don’t skimp on breakfast, its an important nutritional step in your day.
  • Don’t drink your calories: Calories in a liquid format go down much easier than in solid food. Furthermore, sugary drinks such as soda contain incredible amounts of sugar and calories an considerable decrease the effectiveness of your training.

These are just a few of the ways to help improve your eating habits. In the future, I will go over the many other ways, but those are a few tips to help you get started improving your diet.

Recover After Hard Workouts

Recovery is crucial after hard workouts. Photo by danya.

Recovery is very important to maximize the effects of a hard workout. Photo by danya. on Flickr.

There is no way around it, intense workouts take a toll on your body. Whether cycling, running or lifting, exercising puts a toll on your muslces, your bones, your joints, and ultimately your mind. Almost as important as actually working out is the recovery days in between tough work outs. Whether you choose to take a day off to recover, or simply take it easy, recovery days can do wonders for your fitness.
Recovery days allow your your muscles to rest and repair themselves for another hard day. In addition, they allow your mind to rest and get recharged for another hard day in the gym or on the bike. Finally, taking an occasional day off gives you time to do other things that are crucial to your motocross success.

Take a day off from cycling to work on your bike, do a few extra laps at the practice track, get organized for the weekend or spend some time resting your mind and getting yourself in a good mental position to perform at your best during the race weekend.

Recovery is almost as important as actually exercising and without it your training routine is simply doing harm to your body and is not actually allowing your fitness to improve.

Take Your Training Indoors

Taking your training indoors can maximize your available time to train. Photo by Velo Steve.

Taking your training indoors can maximize your available time to train. Photo by Velo Steve on Flickr.

We all love sunny weather. It makes running and cycling much more enjoyable and ultimately motivates us more to get out there and exercise. However, it is not always sunny out. Whether rain, snow, ice, or wind, in New England adverse weather is unavoidable.

But, this does not mean that your training routine must be put on hold while the weather is holding you up indoors. There are a number of ways to continue training inside your home. Even if you cannot get to the gym, the show much go on as far as your training goes, here are a few ways to go that.

  • Rollers or a trainer: Rollers and trainers are excellent ways to take your cycling training indoors. Rollers help to increase your straight line stability and trainers can significantly increase the overall power of your pedal stroke. Both devices can easily be used indoors, regardless of the weather.
  • Push Ups and Sit Ups: Most people who spend a lot of time in the gym overlook push ups and sit ups as a waste of time because the effects are not as noticeable and they obviously put much less resistance on your muscles. However, the fact is that when done right, they can be very beneficial to your overall fitness. In order to maximize the effect, do many sets of many reps, do your reps slow, and don’t allow too much recovery time in between sets. While push ups and sit ups will never be as effective as lifting, they can be a great alternative if you are stuck inside.
  • Recover: I just went over how beneficial recovery is to your training. So, if your stuck inside due to inclement weather, take a day to recover so you can come back rested and recharged when the weather improves.

Find a Workout Buddy

Finding a workout buddy can make your exercise more fun and thus more effective. Photo by Adrià garcía.

Finding a workout buddy can make your training more fun and thus more effective. Photo by “Adrià garcía on Flickr.

One of the toughest parts about keeping your motocross training effective is working out when you plan to. There is no denying that some days, you just don’t feel like getting on the bike and putting in a hard 60 mile ride. This is where a workout buddy comes in. Having a friend to work out with is a great way to stay motivated.

Working out with a friend as opposed to doing your exercises solo can benefit your training in a number of ways. Not only does planning workouts with a buddy keep you on track and makes skipping a workout less convenient, but exercising with a friend can be incredibly motivating.

While running, riding, or lifting by yourself, it is too easy to give up when the going gets tough and let up while in the middle of a tough climb. I’m not saying everyone will give in, but the vast majority will, and this limits how effective your training can be. Thankfully, working out with a partner can help to eliminate this and as a pair you can push yourself to new levels and allow you to go further on the bike, running, or in the gym than you ever thought you could.

Develop a Schedule

Having a schedule can keep your training on track. Photo by roland.

Having a schedule can help keep your training on track. Photo by Roland on Flickr.

Another tip to help prevent missed workouts, developing a schedule can be infinitely useful in keeping your training on track. Formulating a set in stone schedule not only allows you to easily plan around when you will be working out, it also allows your body to adjust to your workout/recovery cycle. A predetermined schedule prevents you from the dangerous cycle of extremely hard periods of training followed by extended periods of rest. Instead, having a good schedule can ensure that you get a consistent amount of training in week in and week out.

Furthermore, having a schedule can make your life easier when it is time to increase your training regime. With a good solid schedule as a starting point, it is easier to add a number of miles to certain days when you know you feel the freshest in your week.

I strongly feel that most athletes do not plan their training regime enough and rather just train when they feel like it which is both inefficient and can be quite dangerous.

Push Yourself To the Edge

Pushing yourself to the edge can do wonders for your fitness. Photo by pl jakub.

Pushing yourself to the edge can do wonders for your fitness. Photo by pl jakub on Flickr.

While it is important to ensure that your training and your workouts are all done safely and within your own personal limits, it is equally important to take certain days out of your schedule and really push yourself to the bitter edge. It is almost impossible to ever improve in your fitness if you always ride within your comfort level. Instead, it is crucial to push yourself as far as you can, essentially to the verge of failure.

This will benefeit your training in a number of ways. Not only will it test your body so you know exactly how much your training has improved your fitness, but it also pushes your muslces to an area of fatigue that they are not adjusted too which makes it easier to go to that same level next time. Essentially, this will ultimately allow you to increase your lactate threshold which helps build stronger muscles and ultimately increases your fitness. Here are a few ways for you to push your training to a whole new level.

Cario Exercises (running/cycling):

  • Distance: Manny cardio athletes have a certain distance they are comfortable with. For me, this is about 60 miles cycling and 3 miles running (I don’t run a lot). One way to push yourself to the edge is to increase this distance. The key, however, is to not give up. Many people would be surprised to see how far they can actually ride/run, and the key is to push yourself up the last hill on your ride and push yourself to spring the last 100m after a long run. It is tough to do, and takes a certain amount of mental integrity, but can have an incredible effect on your fitness.
  • Hills: Every cyclist and running dreads hills. They take an incredible amout of extra energy and force your body to push it self beyond its comfort zone. However, as a result riding hills can increase your fitness far beyond the normal riding. Try to find a loop around your home with a number of long, steep hills in quick recession to really test and improve your fitness.
  • Workout with someone stronger: When your workout by yourself, you naturally get into a comfort level and it is very hard to push yourself past this. However, working out with a friend who is stronger and more fit than you can have great effects on your training intensity. Working out as a pair can help motivated you and help push yourself when you are struggling. As motocross racers, we are all incredibly competitive and mentally we have a hard time letting someone beat us up a hill or through a flat. There is almost no more affective way to push your training to a new level then training with someone who is stronger than you.

Strength Training (Lifting):

  • More weight: Obviously the more weight you lift, the stronger you get and the more you can push your body. However, you must be careful with this technique. It is easy to lift too much and severely hurt your muscles. So, if you choose to increase your weight in your weight training, please be sure not to push yourself too far or you could find yourself unable to ride motocross for weeks or even months.
  • More Reps: An extremely effective way to increase your fitness using weight training is to increase the number of reps you do with the same amount of weight. This is a very safe way to increase your fitness and can build strong, lean, and efficient muscles which can be very beneficial to your motocross riding.

Variety in Your Routine

It is both physically and mentally draining to do the same type of workouts day in and day out. It is hard to get motivated for a road bike ride when you know you’ll just have to climb the same hills, tuck in the same descents and deal with the same stoplights. It is much easier to get excited to workout for a new ride or run with new features to test your body in different ways. This is why it is almost crucial to build variety into your workout routine. Variety helps keeps you mentally and physically fresh and prevents you from burning out and abandoning your intense training schedule all together.

Here are a few ways to build variety into your workout schedule:

  • Different exercises: Mix it up. Lift one day, cycle the next and run on the others. Depending on what you enjoy doing, favor your schedule to that activity, but always be sure to do a little bit of what you don’t enjoy as much. Not only will it make your favored activity even better but it will help to build different muscles which otherwise would go ignored.
  • Different routes: Map out a number of routes on Google Maps and print them out. Cycle them throughout your training schedule to keep it fresh and exciting.
  • Different time of day: Depending on your schedule, this method may or may not be possible, however, riding/running/lifting at different times of day can add a ton of variety to your training. Cycling/running in the morning is a totally different experience than in the evening and can make your training unique even if the route and intensity are exactly the same.
  • Recover: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again, because it is incredibly important. Recovery is crucial in your training routine and your hard work is wasted if you don’t give your muscles time to re-grow, get stronger and prepare themselves for the next days workout. Make sure to include one or two days a week for recovery so that you are not constantly beating your body into the ground.

Training for motocross can be monotonous, painful, and sometimes ineffective if done incorrectly. However, there are a number of tips to help make your motocross training not only more effective, but more importantly more enjoyable which will help motivate you to train more, preventing burnout and maximizing your results to have the largest effect on the motocross track.

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Essential Road Cycling Decision: To Use Clipless Pedals or Not?

Pedals are an important part of a road bicycle, and most serious cyclists chose clipless pedals. Photo by bryanpearson on Flickr.

-Photo by bryanpearson on Flickr.

Pedals are one of the most crucial contact points in any bicycle. For cyclists, this raises an essential question. To use clipless pedals or not. Most bikes come with no pedals at all, leaving the buyer to decide which types of pedals to use. By far, clipless are the most popular. However, the cost and complexity of use drive some riders away from these pedals. The other road-based options are platform and toe-strap pedals. These types of pedals offer various advantages and disadvantages, and are all used by many riders because of these. However, I believe that for any type of serious cycling, clipless pedals are by far the best choice.

Platform Pedals

Platform
-Photo by square_eye on Flickr

Of the three choices, platform pedals are by far the simplest solution. Basically the same type of pedals on childrens bikes, they are a flat, two sided platform where you simply put your foot on the platform and ride.

The major advantage of these types of pedals is that they allow you to ride in any type of shoe, are very easy to use, and are the cheapest of the three major options. However, they can limit your power output as you have absolutely no ability to pull up on the pedal in the second portion of the pedal stroke. This means that you are only outputting power when pushing down on the pedals and not when the pedals are moving up. This can theoretically decrease your power output by up to 50%.

Who are platform pedals good for?

  • People who want to get one and ride, with little concern about performance
  • Newbie cyclists who want an easy to use pedal system as they adjust to the rest of their bike
  • Commuters who do not wish to deal with seperate cycling shoes

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