Fifty Plus (50+) - If you want to ride well in the cold.....train in the heat?
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11-03-10, 09:16 PM
Seems counterintuitive, no?
From today's New York Times
11-03-10, 09:34 PM
I rode a lot more this summer than last. About a thousand more, give or take a little. Most of it was in the high 80's and low 90's. I did not usually go out if the temp above 95. Last weekend, I rode the same metric century (68 miles a metric???) I rode last year. The conditions were about the same. Mid 40's at the start warming to the the high 60's at the end.
Last year, I finished it in 4+25. This year was 4+05. Improved 20 minutes. Mostly, I think because of the increased miles but the lower temps felt much easier on me to push harder.
11-03-10, 10:22 PM
I'm a little skeptical of the study. Science is not my job, and I'm not a physiologist or kinesioligist (although kinesiology was my minor in college). However, I'm not happy with the size of the study (n=20, with two groups of 10, hardly a statistically significant sample). And I'm very dubious about the Hawthorne Effect. The test group knew they were the test group (they were in the hot room); the control group knew they were the control (they trained in the normal room). The test group had an incentive to go harder in the time trial, and I think that the improvement in performance probably falls within the bounds of psychology and adrenaline. I would have structured it differently. I would have told the subjects that they were going to ride two time trials, separated by various training modalities. Whoever gets the best time in the combination of the two time trials would win a prize. Then everything is the same for both groups, except for room temperature while training. I think this would have introduced a much different dynamic which might have influenced the results, possibly differently.
11-03-10, 10:29 PM
I agree that the sample size is small and I would not read too much into a single study. OTOH, all the participants were competitive cyclists, and I'm sure they all poured their hearts out during the time trials b/c that's what competitive cyclists do.
I'd say it's a seminal study, but worth pursuing with additional research. It seems reasonable to me that even in cooler temperatures (and 55 degrees F. seems to be considerably less than what I would describe as cold), that riders would still be generating enough heat that their bodies would need to dissipate it. And if the mechanisms for doing this were already fine tuned from having to acclimate to the 104 degree heat, it should be easier in the 55 degree setting. Hence, more energy reserve or capacity is available for performance.
What I'm not sure of is the value of the Times printing the article in the manner in which it is written. On one hand it could be new information that has value, but on the other hand they warn that overheating could be dangerous for people trying to put the "principle" into practice. My reading of the article left me thinking that it provided information in a less than responsible manner. It would most likely appeal to a targeted audience of folks interested in fitness, but the "findings" were too preliminary to put it out there as a possible fitness tip, and I suspect that how many might read it. But, it's raining, dark, and chilly today. So, I'm feeling a bit cranky and perhaps to critical.
Well the notion of the sample size is valid. But even a small sample size is fine if the observed effect is large enough. They did not give any results of statistical tests they ran for significance. So one can not tell from the report.
Also the criticism of the way they handled control and treatment is valid too. But if the effect is large enough, it should be enough to outweigh any placebo effect. Again there was not enough information.
What is more troubling is they had no suggested mechanism for the observed effect and they did not test for any mechanism. In science, having a proposed cause for the effect and seeing just how it works is where it is at. They did propose that the effect of the more blood being shunted to the skin to vent off excess heat was a factor. But they did not test to see if that shunting was increased by the relatively easy training they did in the hot room. Also, they did not demonstrate that improved dumping of excess heat could enhance performance at 55 degrees.
So it is intriguing but unproven.
I've been outside with 110F heat index soaked in sweat. I definitely had to adapt over the summer. I prefer the cold with less sweat involved and I'm not slowing down only if it's raining.
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