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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 02-13-12, 08:09 PM   #1
rousseau
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Am I learning how to do this right?

Six-foot-tall 45-year-old tipping the scales at 255 lbs here, working in my home office between 8 to 12 hours a day. Mostly sedentary, in other words.

A couple years ago I made it down to 215, but I was stupid in how I exercised. I had no plan of attack at all, but just went out on my bike every day and tried to go harder, faster and longer than the previous day. I kept my stats in an Excel file, and became addicted to competing against myself. I took no easy days or rest days. I ended up burning myself out, and it took a year to recover from that. In the past year I've gently gotten back into cycling and exercising, and I want (no, need) to do it right this time.

So I joined a gym this winter, and have really enjoyed it. For the first two months I went three times a week, doing 45 minutes of cardio on the treadmill followed by some light weightlifting, hitting six or seven of the machines. In between days I rode my bike for an hour on the trainer. Then I took a whole week off and just went for walks. This let my muscles heal up nicely, and I was raring to go by the end of the off-week.

So, so far so good: two months on followed by one week off is a real plan of attack that feels right to me.

But here's my question: In my first two months of working out I noticed that I felt pretty beat up the following day, and often couldn't do much of anything. Which was a pain practically speaking, but I figured "no pain no gain." But now, in my first week back at the gym following my rest week, I've been running for a whole hour at a slightly slower speed on the treadmill (7.5 km/h), and I'm barely breaking a sweat. I don't get as much of the endorphin high anymore, but then the recovery process the following day isn't as excruciating or fatiguing.

I'm starting to think I could get into running every day for an hour at a slower speed and really take advantage of being in the "fat-burning zone." So, like...this is a good thing, right? Am I finally learning something that people in the know know? Is this, combined with cutting out the donuts, a better way to bring my weight down than beating myself up on the treadmill one day followed by couch-sitting the next day?

I think I'm on to something here that works for me. Am I?
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Old 02-13-12, 09:25 PM   #2
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if you enjoy it, keep it up, maybe also consider lifting weights in a circuit. if down you right you burn calories up to about 30 mins after you stopped lifting. and while running you only burn from start to finish. something to consider. and anything in excess is never good, stay active and find what you enjoy, if you dont like it, you wont keep doing it.
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Old 02-14-12, 04:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
I'm starting to think I could get into running every day for an hour at a slower speed and really take advantage of being in the "fat-burning zone." So, like...this is a good thing, right? Am I finally learning something that people in the know know? Is this, combined with cutting out the donuts, a better way to bring my weight down than beating myself up on the treadmill one day followed by couch-sitting the next day?
You might Google "Training Load", or flip through pretty much any endurance sport training book, for more information. The idea is to quantify your exercise in duration*intensity, and then track that to see the cumulative effects. You can have a load low enough that you can maintain it daily, or high enough that you need to take a day off every other day, every third, etc. If you're just trying to lose weight, then maintaining a consistent load and eating what your body requires will do it. If you're trying to get stronger/faster, then the theory (at least of many books on the subject) is to change the duration and intensity (independently) over time to stress your body, as well as allow it to adapt to increasing loads. The efforts required to get stronger/faster are likely to require more rest than one week every two months.

Ten years ago I ran almost daily, and it took work not to get too skinny. Ten years later, married with kids, and not having run in a very long time, it's not hard at all to get fat. I find "zone 2" cycling (measured in power, but equals ~60% of my max heart rate) to be far less stressful on my body than running/jogging, given trying to burn the same number of calories.

Last edited by anotherbrian; 02-14-12 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 02-14-12, 04:57 PM   #4
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For an hour of exercise, being in the "fat burning zone" means you burn fewer calories. But as you have discovered you can do more of it. So you can burn more total calories than if you go all out, although it takes more time to do it.

Rather than plan the optimal training for losing weight, I suggest picking an athletic goal. Like completing a metric century, or a 10k run, or whatever appeals to you. Working towards that is a more interesting and motivating goal than "weight loss" but will get you the additional exercise to enable the weight loss. And it's way better than trying to "beat" yourself on every ride. You become a better cyclist through both training stress and rest. If you only do one you won't get far.

Running every day for an hour is tough on the body. Unless you have been doing it for years its likely to result in injury. Even when I was a hard core 20-something runner I didn't run more than 5 days a week. But I'm 30 years older now and I can handle 12-17 hour weeks on the bike with no problem.

On week off every two months is probably not enough. Depending on my training load I do an easy week (not a full week off) every 2-4 weeks.
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Old 02-14-12, 06:30 PM   #5
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Thanks for the great responses. I should clarify that I used to beat myself up on the bike every day, but not any more...that's what led to my physical and mental breakdown three years ago.

Maybe instead of a rest week every two months, I should do an easy week every month?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericm979
Running every day for an hour is tough on the body. Unless you have been doing it for years its likely to result in injury.
Okay, that's not what I want at all. When I say "everyday," perhaps what I really mean is Monday to Friday. Five days a week. Would that be more realistic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anotherbrian
I find "zone 2" cycling (measured in power, but equals ~60% of my max heart rate) to be far less stressful on my body than running/jogging, given trying to burn the same number of calories.
That's something I want to throw into the mix, definitely. Especially as the weather gets warmer next month.
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Old 02-14-12, 09:42 PM   #6
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Yes. This is well known. Don't do a complete rest week. Cut back to about 75% in daily volume, maybe reduce intensity a little, too. I often add one complete rest day into a rest week.

You are beginning to investigate what is known as scientific training. Scientific, because researchers run repeatable studies to find the most effective techniques. The first tool, the entry really into this study is the heart rate monitor. Logging everything is the next step, along with taking morning resting heart rate, and subsequently heart rate after standing two minutes.
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Old 02-15-12, 07:28 AM   #7
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Consider a recovery drink within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, and solid foods within 30 minutes of the recovery drink.
Consider supplements to fill in what you aren't getting.
Consider a modified workout fuel source if doing >2 hours.

I became addicted to Hammer Nutrition's product family last year. I now use their Perpetuem for rides >2 hours, and a variety of their supplements. Did my first century ride last October, and 57 miles the next day. Felt great both days. Slowed down part way through the second day because we broke a wheel, otherwise riding strong all the way through.
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