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  1. #1
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    Hey Koffee. Girls and training

    I have a good friend and riding partner who just happens to be a female vegetarian. I was looking through Freil's CTB about females, and he mentions that for the most part, females are the same as men as far as training's concerned, although probably don't need the same volume, as their races tend to be shorter. He also mentioned some pretty interesting stuff about her vegetarianism and how to compensate for deficiencies in that type of diet.
    We get along really well and are pretty close in terms of fitness (except for instances where power is involved. Then I win). We have the same MHR and have a jolly old time watching our identical heartrates in different situations. It's pretty cool.
    Anyway, as far as the training schedule's concerned, is it likely that I'll begin improving at a rate at which she can't keep up at some point? She's got about a year of experience under her belt, the majority being base miles. We're doing the official base periods now, and will be moving into Base 2 in about 2 weeks.
    I'm not asking this so I can look foward to killing her, but rather to see how long we can ride together daily until it would be better for her own fitness to not have me drag her along for the ride every day when we move into the harder periods of training.

    Any other female-specific tips I can pass along to her? She has a terribly slow computer and doesn't have the patience to sit around for hours trying to read a few posts.

    Thanks!
    Cole
    I like my Madone.

  2. #2
    Guest
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    Just for her to work at her own pace and for you to work at yours. Really, the lenght of base training will depend on how aerobically fit you are. Someone who is very fit may not need as long to train in base as someone who is less aerobically inclined.

    Actually, because of women's hormones, they tend to be better at endurance activities (increased estrogen than men). Men are better at shorter bursts of energy because they have more testosterone (and therefore, a higher amount of muscle and more fast twitch muscle fibers). There is bound to be differences in your strenghts and weaknesses, so you both will eventually end up on different training schedules.

    If you're close to Arlington, VA, I'd love to perform a test on the both of you when I'm out there for the holidays... (I'm bringing my rollers).

    Koffee

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Sadly no, we're in Blacksburg, which is in the southwest portion of VA. I'll be at home in Prince George (30 min south of Richmond) from the 23rd to the 3rd or 4th, if you want to test just me (I'll do some driving), but Elizabeth will be back here. Sorry =0(

    Cole
    I like my Madone.

  4. #4
    Guest
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    I can test you. Just drop me a PM.

    I head back to Chicago on the 27th, though. Don't wait until the 27th in the morning to drive up...

    Koffee

  5. #5
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    P.S. Bring a trainer if you don't want to do it on rollers. I'll need you to sit through an hour of testing.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    Pat
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    I am a recreational rider, a strong one but still a recreational rider. I was out with a strong group and we got into a fast rotating paceline and I just managed to hang on with my bloody fingernails. There was a lady in the group and she looked fine. At the break, I thought that it had been awhile since I had been beaten up on a bike by a girl and I heard them chatting and she had come in third in a national championship triathalon. Well, I had been able to push her some and I knew there was no way I could push a guy who was that level of cyclist that hard. So I did a little reseach on women and atheletics compared to men.

    1) Women's muscles are just as strong as men's for their size. That is no big wow because muscles are muscles and have the same strength corrected for size even if you compare between phyla. However, men because of their testosterone tend to have more muscle for their body weight then women. So as Tim Tailor on Home Improvement would say men have MORE POWER.

    2) Women tend to have more fat for body weight then men. This is not a big disadvantage but fat does not motor you down the road now does it?

    3) Men tend to have larger hearts then women of the same weight. Larger hearts mean that men can pump more blood to their hearts which gives men an edge in aerobic power over women.

    4) Men tend to have higher concentrations of hemoglobin in their blood then women and this again gives men an aerobic power boost over women.

    5) Women tend to be significantly smaller and lighter then men. This handicaps women because a bicycle has a certain weight period so a small rider is essentially riding a heavier machine compared to their weight then a larger rider. By that I am saying a 120 lb woman on a 20 lb machine is riding a much heavier bike compared to her weight then a 240 lb man on a 20 lb machine.

    Now, I think Koffee made a slight error in her post, which is rare for Koffee. I have read that the proportion of quick twitch muscle fibers is genetically determined and that men and women have similar numbers. However, men's quick twitch fibers are larger then women's (a slight adjustment to cite 1) above) and consequently mean that men are stronger in sprints. However, quick twitch fibers vary widely. I know my sprint stinks but I have very good endurance and aerobic power.

    In practice, it is my opinion that a man has a large performance advantage over a woman of similar atheletic talent, conditioning and age. I figure that if a woman can hang in my draft, that she is probably as fit as I am. I know in our "A" rides which degnerate into impromtu races we have say 20+ men in the club who can hang in the fast group and only 2 women who can and they can only do it on a good day. In facts, it is my opinion that the most skilled and best conditioned cyclist in our club is probably a woman but the strongest men can still beat her.

    Another thing is men tend to be knuckleheads. It is a fact that men suffer far higher injury rates in cycling (and virtually everything else) then women do. This might be cultural. Afterall competition and mindless macho behavior are strongly encouraged in men and much less so in women. I suppose it could also be biological but I suspect that it is mainly cultural. Anyrate, women seem far more content to enjoy rides. Also interestingly enough, I see men all the time who burn themselves out on long rides by riding far too hard and I rarely see it happen in women. Maybe women have more sense then men but that wouldn't be hard now would it?

    So what does all that mean? In cycling, conditioning is nearly everything. A fit woman can still crank out centuries just like a fit man, albeit at a slightly slower pace. But I consider myself a pretty ordinary cyclist but when I am in top shape, it takes a really, really good woman cyclist to beat me. Now if you are a guy with a female cycling companion with similar abilities and conditioning, you will have to moderate your speed some to let her keep up or zoom off ahead on hard points and wait or just let her draft you nearly all the time. I had a cycling pal (lady) and we road centuries together. I told her to draft me and not do any pulls at all until we had done more then 70 miles. I told her that I wanted to keep her fresh so she could give me a few breaks towards the end of the ride. It worked great.

  7. #7
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    I guess it would be an error if they went by what you've read. But what I've read says that men have more fast twitch muscle fiber. so I guess we're at odds there. No biggie. Otherwise, hey, we're all good.

    Koffee

  8. #8
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    Whoops, I just thought about it, napped a little on it, etc. Pat's right. Men and women have similar amounts of muscle fiber. I think my assumptions came from the fact that women have more slow twitch muscle fiber than men, which doesn't mean they necessarily have less fast twitch muscle fibers. The slow twitch muscle fiber are oxidative, which means they are aerobic capacity muscle fibers, which means they can sustain contractions long after fast twitch muscle fibers fatigue.

    Still, women do have less strength in their lower body then men... something like 70%? (something like 50% less strength in their upper body as compared to men) Pat?

    Koffee

  9. #9
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Just for her to work at her own pace and for you to work at yours. Really, the lenght of base training will depend on how aerobically fit you are. Someone who is very fit may not need as long to train in base as someone who is less aerobically inclined.

    Actually, because of women's hormones, they tend to be better at endurance activities (increased estrogen than men). Men are better at shorter bursts of energy because they have more testosterone (and therefore, a higher amount of muscle and more fast twitch muscle fibers). There is bound to be differences in your strenghts and weaknesses, so you both will eventually end up on different training schedules.

    If you're close to Arlington, VA, I'd love to perform a test on the both of you when I'm out there for the holidays... (I'm bringing my rollers).

    Koffee
    Hey, Koffee, I'll be around DC at that time. Will you test me too?
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  10. #10
    Pat
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Whoops, I just thought about it, napped a little on it, etc. Pat's right. Men and women have similar amounts of muscle fiber. I think my assumptions came from the fact that women have more slow twitch muscle fiber than men, which doesn't mean they necessarily have less fast twitch muscle fibers. The slow twitch muscle fiber are oxidative, which means they are aerobic capacity muscle fibers, which means they can sustain contractions long after fast twitch muscle fibers fatigue.

    Still, women do have less strength in their lower body then men... something like 70%? (something like 50% less strength in their upper body as compared to men) Pat?

    Koffee
    Well 50% and 70%, sounds about right to me, but I have never seen or even heard of a study where anyone got a bunch of volunteers and quantified relative strengths between males and females. Conceptually speaking this one would be tough. It seems to me that men tend to be much more focused on atheletic conditioning then women because of social pressures. Women have social pressures to apply weird stuff to their faces, lips and to color their hair. That social effect would have a tendency to mess up the underlying biology. A weight lifter will be stronger then a couch potato even if the two happened to be identical twins. So how does one control for the probable social effect? Also men tend to be significantly larger then women and bigger people tend to be stronger then small ones. So do you normalize for size? Or do you compare men of average weight to women of average weight?

    I have found in my personal experience that fit ladies tend to do very well relative to their conditioning on longer rides. I know a fair bit of this is that ladies usually are willing to pace themselves and many of the knuckle headed guys burn themselves out early by riding too hard. But maybe there is a physiological basis there also. It could be that men tend to burn themselves out early because they are natural sprinters and one has a tendency to do what one does best.

    The great thing about cycling is that a fit lady rider can do things on a bike that the general public views as verging on the supernatural like ride centuries or even ride across the country. The great thing about cycling is the conditioning effect is so great and you don't need any particular talent to achieve very impressive results.

    Also it could well be that Koffee and I have found two studies that don't agree as far as the quick twitch fibers go. It wouldn't be the first time that has happened in the scientific literature that two studies came up with different conclusions.

  11. #11
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    I've seen a study out of NASA and a couple of university studies, and it was mentioned in a lecture I went to, so hence the assertion.

    I think a lot of studies will tend to disagree... they're funded to prove their theories, and if they disprove their own theories, the funding stops... I think the NASA one would probably be most accurate, since it was just studying the effects of fitness on men and women in space. It was more neutral than most.

    Koffee

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpohl
    Hey, Koffee, I'll be around DC at that time. Will you test me too?

    I'll test you if you give me a ride to the mall so I can christmas shop while everyone's at school and work... how does that work? Drop me a PM.

    Koffee

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