Wednesday, August 19, 2009

19 Aug Article

Joey, here is the latest.  IMG is Nina Maalouf in Duck Creek Utah and IMG00426 is Gabriel Maalouf in Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, NV

I just got back from vacation with my kids.  It was just me and my 4 oldest kids, so vacation didn't mean any riding time.  Many times when training, it is good to take a break.  Although I don't train enough to need to take an extended break from training, many high level athletes do need a break.  The cycling season can last year round when considering road and mtb racing start in February and mtb and cyclocross racing can last through the fall and winter.  It is important to remember that training in any sport, you don't get stronger from hard workouts and hard training blocks.  An athlete gets stronger while recovering from hard workouts and training blocks.  It is this recovery period that is all important that many people don't realize.  Of course athletes need to have frequent enough hard workouts from which to recover, that is to say that just recovering from easy workouts won't get the results desired.  Not recovering from successive hard workouts will make the athlete fatigued mentally and physically which is called overreaching.  If this lack of recovery is carried out for extended periods of time, like on the order of months, overtraining can result.  Overtraining can also take months from which to recover and may ruin a whole season.  Performance degrades no matter how much recovery is experienced, essentially this is the point of no return (at least for a while). 

When taking some time off from training, performance does degrade somewhat, but often it refreshes the body for a new block of hard training.  Taking time off from intense training does not necessarily mean that an athlete should do nothing.  Hikes, swimming, riding the bike to the ice cream store are great ways to keep active when taking a break.  A lot of sports have seasons, like cross country or soccer in the fall and that is it.  This means the athletes can recover from injuries, physiologically and psychologically while doing other sports or other activities, even getting a job to fund the things we need for the next season. 

So to finish where I started, I was on vacation for a week and did very little riding.  It was nice to be around my family and get all my kids' cousins (12 in total) together in Duck Creek, Utah and Las Vegas.  There was great riding in both places.  Although I wasn't able to ride in Duck Creek, by my sister and brother did.  I was able to get out early for a ride in Las Vegas and somewhat beat the heat.  It was about 95 deg F when we finished, but when riding in the heat, usually it is sufficient to stay hydrated (about 1 liter/quart an hour) and let the air from riding keep you cool via evaporative cooling, like a swamp cooler.  It is nice to know that wherever one travels, it is easy to find good mountain biking and road riding.  I think people find road routes that are nice rides and mountain bikers build great trails no matter where one is because riding bikes appeals to so many people. 

Mel Maalouf
Alta Alpina Junior Cycling Team Coach


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