Thursday, May 10, 2012

Make Sense?

I was asked the single hardest question of all time to adequately answer today.

Actually, it is number three on the list of hardest questions to adequately answer, right after,

Why are we here? and,
How do you make love last?

But it is a good one. Rich, complex, subjective (with hints of lavender and elderberry). It has nothing to do with metaphysics, religion, politics, philosophy or happiness, although it contains elements of them all. Its wholeness rests in its parts. Equal, opposite, independent and complete. The cadence yin and the power yang. Yes and both. 

The question, asked innocently and with great sincerity, was this:

How to I turn the pedals with more power and efficiency?

After twenty minutes, the duration of the first of two 85% of ftp sets, I finished my opening diatribe with the standard disclaimer, "Does that make sense?", even though I sensed losing her at about the halfway point. 

I tried to connect the mechanical componentry first, establishing the linkage between the posterior kinetic chain and the primary movers; glutes, quads and hammys. Referenced the role of the core and the ability to lift, pull, push and flow. Mentioned the integration of cadence and resistance. Spoke of blood flow, ATP, mitchocondria, glucose, lactic acid and dopamine. Isolated the importance of creating fluidity and oneness. Orated on the lungs and fat oxidation, delivery systems and recovery. Heart rate, wattage, vasculatiry and focus all received honorable mentions. We dissected the whole into a hundred parts, examined each and re-assembled, all freshly inspected, cleaned and replaced where necessary. There were examples, anecdotes, illustrations. There was the occasional drift into the subjective. A few opinions were held in the light to determine their prospective value as fact. Names were dropped faster than bad habits. 

It occurred to me, as I paused to refresh, that since this wonderful question could not be answered with one word, that perhaps it could with a thousand. And since I had a captive audience, now half-way into the second of the 2 x 20s, working hard, seated and locked into a pedal system, that I could stretch it out a little and explore some tangents. After all, where was he to go? Off to average torque angles, percent of dorsillflexation at bottom dead center, hip flexors, diaphragmatic breathing, mashing, attention depict disorders, Ayn Rand, Henry David Thoreau, Eddie Mercx, Greg LeMond, Bruce Cockburn, Tom Douglas and Michael Bay. The elderberries were in maximum fermentation stage one. 

It's a flow, a feel, the combination of all of the above. You have to test yourself and find where your strengths and weakness' are and then take the necessary (long, boring and endless) steps to improve them. Once they have become your de-facto spin, your enhancements can begin. You can add speed, power, endurance. You can become a master of the climb. You can sprint with the big dogs. You can ride a hundred miles (yes, in one day). And after you have done all this, after years and years of indoor structure and dedicated training, thousands of outdoor miles and hundreds of races, you can…

….start your training. It is all of the above. And a lot more. One must do them all. One must feel, experience and fail. One must fall. We want the complete package, an athlete capable of supplying adequate pressure to the pedals on demand as the situation dictates. The fitter we are the more we can enjoy.  The harder we work indoors the greater the rewards out. "THIS", I said, once again referencing the value in the 85% of ftp drill, "is for THAT."

Does that make sense?

Footnote: If you answered in the affirmative, then you know the answers to the first two as well.

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