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Relaxation drills?

Old 11-07-17, 11:43 AM
  #1  
rickbuddy_72
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Relaxation drills?

I'm posting this because I saw a few threads where I thought relaxation drills might help. Yet I saw no comments regarding relaxation.

I'm a big fan of picking up drills from one sport and applying them to another. For example when I was a track sprinter in college I studied karate to better understand how muscles create explosiveness. It seemed to work.

Coming from track & field, one concept I brought over is the importance of relaxation during a sprint. Basically, learning to relax at maximal effort is free money. Here is a link to a paper that hits on the subject:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc...=rep1&type=pdf

You can adapt some of the drills listed to the bike.

When I was racing back in the 70s and 80s there was a big emphasis on spinning, with many and there were drills to improve spin. That was back when top sprinters were using gearing in the low 80s and spinning up to 200+ RPM. I'm a relic of that era. Many of the drills had relaxation elements, like taking your fixed gear bike down a long hill in a low gear. Or, maybe doing some low-gear sprints. But in my mind learning to relax during maximal effort is more than that.

One drill I really like is something that makes indoor trainer work fun. Mind you, my trainer is nothing more than an old Brian Wind (turbo) Trainer, with an old training bike attached. The turbo fan gives me the exponential increase in resistance this drill requires, and I simply shift gears to change resistance. I start in a small gear, accelerate up to max RPMs where I start to bounce and feel a bit unsteady, and then back off until I'm steady and feel relaxed. I'm not floating, you are still putting out high power. Then, once you are comfortable, accelerate again up to top spin speed. There are times I may do this in a ladder-type format where I might spin up to 145, back down to 140, accelerate to 160, back down to 150, up to 200+.

Out on the road (because I live hours away from a velodrome), I go to my favorite deserted flat road where I apply my relaxation techniques to my flying 400s. I roll up to 100 meters before the 400 start, hammer hard, and when I start to feel the cement setting in my legs I back off just a bit until I feel the sweet spot. I take notes on every effort -- gearing, power transition zones, where I began to relax, etc. Now that I have power metrics I'm able to compare notes. Then I take that information, including the "feel" of my max power/speed/relaxation zone.

Just wanted to share.

Rick
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Old 11-07-17, 11:48 AM
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I know what you mean. I can think about the first few elite races I won - a few eliminations and long scratch races that came down to me and another rider.

I remember several races in which my opponent jumped first and I thrashed myself to get on their wheel... and then knew I could start to come around on the backstretch. I pulled beside them, top speed through the turns, absolutely elbow to elbow, millimeters away, and I could feel as if time slowed down, as if everything were going in slow motion and it allowed me to see clearly, coming down to the red line, spatially bullying them a little bit, and concentrating power into the pedal stroke at 150rpm, those last few kicks out of the turn before the bike throw for the win.

If you want to put down power at high RPMs you definitely need to be loose for it.

But I still think of that strange slow-motion feeling of those races.
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Old 11-07-17, 11:58 AM
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Every year from October 1 to January 1 my road club has what we call "Fixie" season. Every one is supposed be in 39-16 or 42-17. We have a couple of long steep downhills that really challenge your ability to go down them. It is not unusual to be spinning at 200 or more. My mantra to my teammates is to relax, yet attack, at the same time. It is very good sprint practice. At the moment, even though I am 67, I still hold the record for highest measured RPM, 213 RPM. They say I look like a comic book character. Very fun. Riding downhill like this, you can feel your spin pick up when you focus on relaxing and just letting your legs go.
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Old 11-07-17, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
I remember several races in which my opponent jumped first and I thrashed myself to get on their wheel... and then knew I could start to come around on the backstretch. I pulled beside them, top speed through the turns, absolutely elbow to elbow, millimeters away, and I could feel as if time slowed down, as if everything were going in slow motion and it allowed me to see clearly, coming down to the red line, spatially bullying them a little bit, and concentrating power into the pedal stroke at 150rpm, those last few kicks out of the turn before the bike throw for the win.

If you want to put down power at high RPMs you definitely need to be loose for it.

But I still think of that strange slow-motion feeling of those races.
Oh, man, Yes! queerpunk,

I was going to write about that effect, but I didn't think anybody would understand or believe. I get to that place, stuff slows down, and I feel like I've gone up into my mind operating my body systems like I'm mission control. Even though I'm spinning at high speed it's like I can feel every leg muscle in my legs applying force.

There is this other feeling that goes along with this. I don't know how to describe it, so I say, " Oh! My pedals are feeling 'squishy' today! It exists right below the point where I feel no resistance at high spin, but much higher point than the seizing feeling I get when sprinting in a higher gear. I can feel light resistance like I'm stepping into a pool of mud, hence, "squishy."

I just returned to the sport after a 35-year absence and it took me about 6 months to find that sweet spot.

Rick
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Old 11-07-17, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
That's called "The Zone". A lot of athletes across all sports experience it and it's a cherished state. The goal is to be able to turn it on at will.

I've been in the zone a few times. I certainly can't will it. But, I think a lot of it comes down to relaxation.
Also known as the alpha state. Some people come by it naturally. It is at the core of creativity and you'll see it's common in creative people. I've been blessed. It was a key aspect of my success as a comedy writer and advertising creative director. It's also a part of the hero and survivor responses, where people also report time slowing down.

But, it can be trained! I've actually conducted corporate seminars on how to access creative thinking. And as queerpunk noted, and what I've seen, is that relaxation sprint drills can create it. I never thought of sprint relaxation drills as a way of creating the state, likely because I've always been able to turn it on and off, but now that queerpunk points it out, it's likely there is a relationship.

Of course, let's not forget that relaxing during sprint conserves your phosphate energy stores, and promotes resupply during that sprint.

A few ways to work on it include:

Try a meditation class.

A karate class where Sensei emphasizes mediation is excellent. You may have seen people practice kata at a very slow speed, integrating mind and body and inducing an alpha state.

I took a few improv writing classes at The Second City in Chicago where classes began with alpha state warmups. First maybe write what comes into your mind as quickly as possible, do free association, and reactive drills where you have to respond to another word or phrase given by another classmate, and do that around a circle.

You can find some good material online about the relationship between sports performance and athletic performance, and how to train to achieve alpha state. Among other techniques, this article suggests a mix of green tea and caffein can enable it.

Oh, and another thing you can do to improve alpha state readiness: dump your smartphone for a dumb phone. The addiction and interruptive nature of the devices kill the state.

Stephen Guise as written well on the related topic of deep thinking:

Deep Thinking Can Change Your Life

Here is a pretty good link that sums up the association between alpha state and athletic performance:

http://blog.prymd.com/science-behind-peak-performance/

Rick
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Old 11-07-17, 02:24 PM
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Thanks, Rick.

I deleted my post because after reading the PDF you linked, it was a different sort of relaxation. The report seemed to focus on physically relaxing key muscles as opposed to a mental state ("The Zone"). So, I figured my post was off-topic.
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Old 11-07-17, 05:27 PM
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I think I got the same effect from ingesting ayahuasca before a race one time
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Old 11-07-17, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by taras0000 View Post
I think I got the same effect from ingesting ayahuasca before a race one time
Makes me wish I could remember the firsthand story I heard about people doing whippets before one of the chases in a big sixday a couple years ago. But I was tired, and drunk, and forget all the details.
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Old 11-07-17, 09:14 PM
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Mmm, drugs...
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Old 11-07-17, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post

I could feel as if time slowed down, as if everything were going in slow motion and it allowed me to see clearly, coming down to the red line,-----

But I still think of that strange slow-motion feeling of those races.

I don't really want to get into it in depth, but in an earlier life, I served Uncle Sam -- these same sensations come into play in combat

Its a truly odd sensation when your sensory receptors seem somewhat detached but operating at a high level ------ its when sanity bows out and training kicks in

Its also a rush bigger than anything pharmaceuticals can do --- its also a reason many soldiers have a hard time adjusting to life after combat -- I mean, really what gets more extreme than that? Bungee jumping? Bullfighting? - mud races? some sort of Reebok Challenge? -- most likely not -- the scorched earth element still is not there no matter how much people try to ratchet up the intensity on the weekends


The fact that a 100% anaerobic sprint can bring this out in a small way though does not surprise me although ive never experienced these sensations on a bike myself

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Old 11-13-17, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
I don't really want to get into it in depth, but in an earlier life, I served Uncle Sam -- these same sensations come into play in combat

Its a truly odd sensation when your sensory receptors seem somewhat detached but operating at a high level ------ its when sanity bows out and training kicks in

Its also a rush bigger than anything pharmaceuticals can do --- its also a reason many soldiers have a hard time adjusting to life after combat -- I mean, really what gets more extreme than that? Bungee jumping? Bullfighting? - mud races? some sort of Reebok Challenge? -- most likely not -- the scorched earth element still is not there no matter how much people try to ratchet up the intensity on the weekends


The fact that a 100% anaerobic sprint can bring this out in a small way though does not surprise me although ive never experienced these sensations on a bike myself
To that point, my father used to know a guy who was a World War 2 fighter pilot who post war went on to racing cars in SCCA. Certainly not to the point of take-off and dogfighting, but similar in thought.

I used to also do track days with cars, but due to my living situation (and budget, for that matter), I have to get similar adrenaline pumps through bike racing.

RE Deep-thinking though, despite considering myself primarily as a cyclist, I find running with my headphones in can give me much more of a meditative state versus just going on a mediocre couple of laps of Prospect Park (mostly due to the fact that the body starts dumping in serotonin as you reach the fabled "runner's high"), and that helps sort out thoughts more than dodging peds, or being on the trainer (Not to say that trainer time should be ditched).
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