Power Zones and Comfort Zones

Eish! Haibo! Bliksem!

If I could use proudly and traditionally South African words to express where I am at now with regards to my 2016 Absa Cape Epic training (Follow the links on the words of you are not a South African to find out what it means). I knew when my rubber arm(s) were bent and I buckled under peer pressure to ride the Cape Epic again that it would take a lot of hard work, dedication and training.

The training in the off season on Castle Lite with my mate Ev did not put me in the light weight category of cycling and in the greatest of shape once this monstrous decision was made (We had to finish the free cases of beer). But hey, I’ve done it before so I can do it again and this time from a stronger base and less weight to lose (until I got on the scale and it told me a different Fairy Tale – “Mr Adventure Whale, you have reached baby whale status again and I weighed in at 118kg in October, as per my previous post – WTF!)

The benefits of being out early mornings in Beautiful Cape Town #Sunrise

The benefits of being out early mornings in Beautiful Cape Town #Sunrise

The good news is that yesterday when getting my doctor to verify that I am medically fit (note: not mentally fit) to ride the event, I weighed in at 112kg. Progress made or does the Virgin Active scale add those extra kg’s to make us train harder, who knows but I feel progress are being made. Talking of ‘made’, going for that much needed sports massage made my, and all my aching muscles’ day. One must not under estimate the value of a good quality sports massage on a regular basis. Thanks Nicole (Advanced Massage Therapy) for sorting out all my niggles and also sorting out those stubborn muscles in need of stretching. My calves thank you, so does my hamstrings and my quads and my back and my shoulders and my…every aching muscle in my body.

 

Enough of being zoned out on the torture chamber and back to the other zones. Normally I get on my bike and ride and that was my training, but with what coach Alasdair Garnett (from The Practice) has thrown in, it has been very focussed. We are in the base building phase and phase one included endurance and speed skill, and base building phase 2 started this week that includes Endurance, Force, Speed skill and Muscular Endurance.

I was really starving on this ride and for some reason no one wanted to feed me

I was really starving on this ride and for some reason no one wanted to feed me

Well let me go back a week when I had looked at the 30min gym training scheduled for me post doing the Pennypinchers Origin of Trails (Which was tough but awesome by the way):  10 Burpees, 25 Vertical Jumps, 10 Push-ups, 25 Squats, 20 Mountain Climbers (WTH is this any way I thought!?), 10 Alternating lunges, 100 Jump Ropes, Rest for 1 min AND REPEAT! Haibo! Eish! How will this body ever be able to do that went through my head? Of the exercises that I have done before, those were probably done in the previous millennium and the ones I didn’t know how to do was just too daunting – Bliksem!

At first I was looking at the option to do this at home but then realised it won’t work, my duplex ceiling is just too low and there will be

Good to have had Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events and KTM Ambassador out riding Origin of Trails

Good to have had Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events and KTM Ambassador out riding Origin of Trails

jumping involved (not that I jump very high). So after some correspondence with the coach and some encouraging words that it will only be daunting the first time round, I did some research and saw that the studio 1 at my gym is not in use early mornings. The perfect place to hide away from providing the general gym members with some comic relief in my attempts at doing this routine, and it has all the equipment one needs – an exercise mat and a high enough ceiling. Fortunately no one was around to video tape my first attempts at these exercises. When last did you do Burpees or do mountain climbers and jump in the air 25 consecutive times – eish! The gym has no skip rope so fortunately I did 100 jump ropes with an imaginary rope and not once did the rope get caught in my feet, my perfect exercise from the list above.

Surfs up! The one thing I haven't attempted yet is surfing. Maybe my mates Ev, Matt and Toby could take me sometime (Would I fit in a wet suit?)

Surfs up! The one thing I haven’t attempted yet is surfing. Maybe my mates Ev, Matt and Toby could take me sometime (Would I fit in a wet suit?)

For the next couple of days, my muscles not pampered, stiffened up and my quads felt like after stage 1 of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic – don’t touch me or make any attempt to move at all – stiffness galore. But did I listen – No! The training goes on and onto the bike we went again, knowing that a second session of these functional exercises was around the corner. Doing this exercises that I felt daunting at first makes one belief you can actually do it if you apply your mind,  it does  totally push you out of your comfort zone but by just doing it, it does become easier and one realised when things look daunting just go out and do it, it might not be as bad as you think. Having broken through this comfort zone I do realise the benefits of these exercise in explosive power and total functionality and the benefits for me, so I’ll keep on doing it when required, but always in studio 1 away from the public. (The tremors experienced in the Westlake area recently is due to a jumping whale)

 

Last week I had to do 1 hour spin ups on the Watt Bike (just after the burpee episode) which really tested character to push on and keep going at the relevant cadence and heart rate. Up next on the Watt bike was Zone 2 to 4 with Single Leg drills, with the exercise broken down into the relevant Power Zones and not Heart Rate Zone. This was a first for me, I just always got on the Watt Bike and pedalled at whatever I felt comfortable at and at the required heart rate, no focus on power whatsoever.  Apparently the biggest advantage of training with power is that it is like lifting weights, it gives you a distinct workload or total amount of work done. So yesterday’s power zone exercise I think was to assist in getting that peddling stroke symmetric, thus the single leg drills as well as having to focus on staying within a certain power zone whilst at a certain cadence. Not as easy as it sounds and eish, it takes focus and endurance to stick within those parameters.

I like to be outside on the bike but the Watt Bike has it benefits and that is that it can help you get the specific training you need done in a relatively short amount of time each week, certainly less than riding on the road and more focussed. But Haibo! I have had to dig deep at times to keep up to the required cadence and Power Zones. Still though, hard as it has been with getting up early mornings, trying to eat less and right, going out and doing the daily exercise and also put aside some time for work, the journey thus far has been fun and knowing my riding partner is going through the same as what I am, helps a little bit in keeping that discipline and determination of not taking the easy road.

 

All I can say is that when you commit to training for a specific endurance event, know these words, Eish, Haibo and Bliksem – you might be uttering them at numerous time as you push yourself towards your goal!

Now that functional 30 minute training routine is waiting for me again this Friday – Bliksem!

Messing around on Table Mountain with the Flying Pharaoh (Eben Nel) before he leaves for Egypt and Willie du Plooy our pro athlete to keep us in check

Messing around on Table Mountain with the Flying Pharaoh (Eben Nel) before he leaves for Egypt and Willie du Plooy our pro athlete to keep us in check

Playing photographer to give Eben some memories before he departs SA

Playing photographer to give Eben some memories before he departs SA

Glad I am still able to lift my bike above my head. Love my KTM Scarp Prestige

Glad I am still able to lift my bike above my head. Love my KTM Scarp Prestige

The Orange brand dominating Table Mountain at the Blockhouse

The Orange brand dominating Table Mountain at the Blockhouse

Willie just showing off

Willie just showing off

Barrowing through the comfort zone (s)

It’s been quite a journey from July 2012 where I weighed in at a colossal 135kg to where I am today at 108kg of nearly pure muscle  (lol) and all the different adventures I ventured on in the process and none so than this week to properly shove me out of my comfort zone.

Now those that no me closely no that I am a quiet reserved guy that does not quite like to have too much attention and is a firmly set creature of habit, I know what works for me and that is that. Creature of habit does not function well without their habits – fact!

The weekend stared off with a social mountain bike ride on the Xterra Grabouw route, where for a change I had to wait for Shané riding with myself and Willie du Plooy. I should have known then that the week coming would be a weird one where the universe would be turned upside down and kick me out of my comfort zone. Me waiting for someone riding with me, not something that I know, normally it is the other way round.

Me waiting for riders to catch up, should have known a weird week would lie ahead (Photo Credit: Willie du Plooy) Sneaky Sneaky

Me waiting for riders to catch up, should have known a weird week would lie ahead (Photo Credit: Willie du Plooy) Sneaky Sneaky

Anyway Sunday I did the Medallion Tour de Stellenbosch (shucks, must still add this to my adventure list) on the road bike and lets not say too much about that. It was freaking hot, they ran out of water on the route and I had to dig deep to hang on to get my oddly shaped body on a carbon road bike (KTM Strada 4000) to the finish line. All I can say it that is was supposedly good Absa Cape Epic training. Once again, I don’t like road races and having to drive that far to race – not something I normally would do.

Now it gets interesting, Tuesday had a 45min scheduled swim. Those that still have their brain cells functioning to remember my swimming escapades at Virgin Active last year will know that this is not my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I like splashing in a pool with a cold beverage in my hand, but swimming. I think the last time I had to properly swim (besides the Virgin Active attempt with floating aids (No Nikki not with Mili’s inflatable kid arm-bands)) was in the Crocodile River on my Grand-Dads farm. Then I was young and swam sort of frequently, stride after stride going forward through the water. This was not the case on Tuesday.

After endless deliberation with myself during the day if I would actually go swim or not, my mind somehow convinced me that I had to do it, I hate my mind. With the South Easter howling I even decided to stay clear of staring peeps in Virgin Active that would be judging my every doggy paddle as I would attempt the swim 25m without having to stop or drown and decided to give Silvermine Dam a splash (and you need like goggles and a cap, it would just mess up my hair wearing a cap). I really like it up there and I was sure that there would not be too many spectators in gale force wind conditions out swimming, beside me that clearly was not thinking clearly.

Take the plunge - don't take the plunge - ah what the h... let's do this!

Take the plunge – don’t take the plunge – ah what the h… let’s do this!

Arriving at the dam, I was right, there were not many people so I explored and found a secluded launching point. Doubts were still running through my head, should I swim and why coach, why!? Well I’ve done everything else asked of me in my training programme, I can’t skip this now, it would be failure. Inch by inch I venture into the dam, water and acceptable temperature (normally I would only swim if it was 28 degrees Celsius, minimum at least) and then the big splash! Gasping for air I attempted free style swimming, which to the people having a picnic must have look like no style swimming. Arm strokes, arm strokes, doggy paddle, doggy paddle, doggy paddle, crawl, float, swallow, spit, swim and repeat and rest and somehow I got to 45 minutes of what no one that was there would call swimming. I did fall asleep by 20:30 that night. Comfort zone broken!

 

I now, even more, appreciate the soft touch and feel of a woman’s leg – oops did I say that out load!

For some reason cyclist shave their legs, something to do with when you fall to keep the wounds clean or something, I do it to show of my sexy legs, I never fall (lol). But the whole process of shaving is a tedious task and to do it often in a confined shower area space is just not that much fun. “So why don’t you go for a wax I was asked” Mmm, ok if it will save me shaving and especially during the Absa Cape Epic then I am in, so I made an appointment, that was last Wednesday and sorry, your hair are too short, come back next week, which was yesterday.  No the girls at NGRY Spa was very accommodation and understood my reluctance and, ok let us be honest, fear or getting my legs waxed. They were actually great and made me feel at ease talked me through the process and so forth. Let me cut to the chase – I now, even more, appreciate the soft touch and feel of a woman’s leg – oops did I say that out load again!

%&#^*@&%@^*@^*@* ! ouch!

%&#^*@&%@^*@^*@* !
ouch!

Mother Father and all the small children in Africa – if I might borrow a saying from a friend – not knowing what to expect it was freaking painful as I fell into painful laughter every time Monique pulled on the strip to remove the wax, oh and hair, from my small and petite non muscular legs, a very small surface to wax. (Insert Swear words here). It feels like thousands of little pins hitting you with a burning painful sensation, and apparently (yes ladies) it is more painful for men. Fortunately nothing in the waxing room was broken during my sessions as I fought off the urge to scream like a little baby, laughing at myself the only way to handle the pain, with the calves and ankles the most painful. I survived and something else I did that got me out of my comfort zone of not living life.

In four weeks I will be back for a pre Absa Cape Epic wax, let us see if I stick to my scheduled appointment, I can’t promise anything. Like Willie said to me this week, a year ago I would never have even considered going for a swim in Silvermine, it shows that one can get yourself to barrow out from your comfort zone to do thing you thought you never would. Me getting my legs waxed should say it all.

Technical and mechanical session with coach Swen Lauer - more on this in the next blog

Technical and mechanical session with coach Swen Lauer – more on this in the next blog

Back to the serious stuff, on Thursday I had a session with coach Swen Lauer and some other riders on what one needs to take with on the Absa Cape Epic as well as some technical and mechanical tips and skills. It was very informative and helpful, perhaps my next blog will be about all this, in the meantime if you riding the Absa Cape Epic, why not contact Swen to look after your bike.

Until next time

Singing off as Comfortable Whale

 

 

Just a cool pic - silver lining...

Just a cool pic – silver lining…