Category Archives: Phil Elsasser

Post Race Recovery

Recently with the start of the racing season I have had a lot of clients looking for some help with post race recovery and trying to maximize the short time between Saturday and Sunday when racing both days of a weekend, or maybe even a double day.  The closer together workouts or races come after one another the more important maximizing your recovery becomes.  The same is true with weekday workouts where often two hard workouts are paired back to back.

If you look at the athletes that are at the very top of the sport, they have several gifts which is why they are the best of the best.  These things include, amazing work ethic, genetics, opportunity, and drive to be the best at what they do.  One thing that many of them also have is the ability to recover faster than most.  Not only does this allow them to race hard day after day (as in the grand tours) but also allows them to stack more quality training into the same time frame (back to back to back hard days) as someone who doesn’t have that same ability.  There are many factors that go into ones ability to recover, some are controllable and some not.  The aim of this post is simply to try to take a look at your current recovery habits and possibly make some adjustments to that in hopes of better recovery.  I will say what works very well for some people may not work great for others, but this is what I have found to work well and have also had good feedback from others.

By far the most important aspect of recovery is glycogen replenishment.  Much has been written in regards to this, but the main idea is that there is a window of time post workout that the body is able to uptake glycogen into the muscles at a quicker rate.  From what I have read there is some debate as to how long this window lasts but I would shoot for within 20 minutes of ending your workout making sure you are taking on higher glycemic sources of carbohydrates.  Having a post workout “recovery bottle” made in advanced sometimes makes this a whole lot easier.  There are many companies that make products aimed at this.  I personally have had good success with Recoverite from Hammer Nutrition.  Although, If I am at home I still will go after whole food rather than powders or mixes, but on the road they are sometimes the easiest option.  Additionally, getting a real whole food meal quickly afterwards is also important.  Also addressing hydrating throughout the rest of the day to replenish lost fluids cannot be overlooked.

The other concerns that need to be addressed as quickly as possible post race/workout are immediately getting out of your cycling kit, both for hygienic reasons, and also for temperature control.  If it is cold, getting out of your sweaty clothes and putting warm dry clothes on to try and get your core temperature back up is extremely important.  I cannot tell you how many athletes I know get sick over the first couple of rainy early season races.  It sometimes happens even if you take all the precautions but minimizing your exposure is key.  Along those same lines, hand washing, and realizing that your immune system is compromised already after a hard workout is important.

On the other side of the coin if it is exceedingly warm, cooling down after  a workout becomes paramount to limiting stress and starting the recovery process.  A cold shower, an ice bath, or just a few water bottles over the head can really help.  Again getting out of your sweaty close is important for hygiene, even thought you won’t be cold.

The rest of these suggestions are smaller things that can add up to feeling much better the next day:

Compression Socks/Tights – Relatively inexpensive (especially socks) and great for recovery and travel, purchasing a pair of the socks or tights is definitely worth the investment.

The Stick / Foam Rollers / Trigger Point – All products that are meant to be self massage tools that can aid in myofascial  release and increased blood flow leading to quicker recovery.  I think the stick is the most inexpensive and transportable option.

Easy Spinning later in the day – While sometimes it is hard to find the time, jumping on the rollers or just going for a super mellow 20 minute ride can really help loosen things up.

Rest / Napping / Legs Up – The more time you can spend off your feet the better.  So try and maximize the time you are laying around.  Keeping the legs elevated will also help to increase blood flow again speeding the recovery process.  If you are able to take a nap, do so (especially on double days).

Stretching – There is alot of research on both the pros and cons of stretching.  I am not going to dive into it here, but if you are a stretched do so, if not well it may or may not be for you.  For me it helps, both with feeling looser and with being able to ride a more aggressive position on the bike.

Again, everyone is different, and these are just a few items that have worked for me and others I know.  Feel free to post your own ideas in the comments section if you have something that I didn’t mention!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Feedback from our 8 and 8 program!

So early this year we released a new program aimed at recreational level atheletes who were looking for some guidance in achieving an event based goal.  To get the word out there we offered up one of these packages to an auction fundraiser for a local school district.

The winner of the package, Greg Rehm, was looking to complete the infamous Seattle to Portland (STP) in one day.  We got him on a program and away he went.  After a very strong performance over the 205 mile ride, Greg let us know about his thoughts on his performance and our coaching. Here are some excerpts from his email.

The event went great!  I felt stronger at mile 200 than I felt at mile 100 last year.  Had a good pace group and we were able to hold a smooth line all day.  Averaged just shy of 18mph over the whole 205 which I feel good about. Thanks for working with me and supporting the Columbia Parents Assoc.  I  really enjoyed having a plan and am having a bit of withdrawal now that it’s over.  I still have two more riding goals for the year and am hoping to carry this fitness level into them.

While the season is winding down it isn’t too early to start thinking about next year!  Feel free to email us to see how the coaches at HCCS can meet your needs!

The event went great!  I felt stronger at mile 200 than I felt at mile 100

last year.  Had a good pace group and we were able to hold a smooth line

all

day.  Averaged just shy of 18mph over the whole 205 which I feel good

about.

Thanks for working with me and supporting the Columbia Parents Assoc.  I

really enjoyed having a plan and am having a bit of withdrawal now that

it’s

over.  I still have two more riding goals for the year and am hoping to

carry this fitness level into them.

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Touf of Utah: TT and Crit

The TT stage was a bit off the grid so to speak and on the drive out there everyone in the team van was certainly a bit curious as to why the race organizer had us driving a ways out of SLC for a simple 9 mile TT.  Well that question was quickly answered when we pulled into the Larry H Miller motor sports park.  It proved to be an amazing venue.  Not only could spectators watch the entire race from the viewing area above, each team was giving a pit bay as a warm up area.  Pretty cool!  The course itself was pretty straightforward with most of it being on wide open racing track with large smooth turns allowing for ridiculously fast times.  Taylor Phinney pulled it off again averaging well over 33 mph to take the win.  Insane.

Oddly enough, that same adjective describes the course the race organizers had chosen for the “crit”.  The reason for the quotes? well lets say this “crit” had just shy of 5,000 feet of climbing and was held at 7,000 feet of altitude in Park City.  There was alot of grumbling about the course, and the time cut, which apparently was adjusted at the request of BMC’s team management.  Whatever the case maybe, I didn’t make it through it, and nor did 40 other guys.  It was an unfortunate end to my experience at the Tour of Utah and I would of really like to be one of maybe only 10 amateurs that actually finished the race.  I am sitting here in SeaTac airport about to board a plane to head to Philadelphia for Univest Grand Prix.  This will be my last race of the season, a fact that I am very ambivalent about.  Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Phil Elsasser, Race Reports

Tour of Utah: America’s Toughest Stage Race

Well the mental stage race fog has cleared slightly and now I can try and share a bit of the amazing race that is The Tour Of Utah. This race certainly lived up to it’s billing with a short technical prologue, 3 hard road stages, a flat and super fast TT, and an insane crit held at over 7000 feet.

Having never really raced at anything above 5000 feet I was obviously a bit worried about the effect the thin air would have on my sea level blood. Some of my teammates had the good fortune of leaving straight from cascade classic to stay in Park City, UT for the three weeks prior to the race. While due to some life responsibilities I had to wait until a week before the race to head up to altitude in hopes of acclimatizing slightly prior to the race. Todd Hageman of Cole Sport was awesome in helping us out with a condo to stay in in Park City.

While they say altitude affects everyone differently I was amazed at the drastic differences I was pretty floored how bad I felt riding around the first couple of days. A tempo pace felt like it was darn near threshold and recovering from supra threshold efforts seemingly took forever. I took it very easy with two longer rides hoping I would feel a bit better during the race and would start feeling fresh and rested.

The race started with a short prologue around the Capitol building in SLC. Taylor Phinney blasted around the course to take the day and I had a decidedly terrible ride. While hard to completely say why I am pretty sure I blew it within the first minute where the course started on an uphill and I went out way too hard.  Pacing becomes even more crucial in such an extremely short effort, and I definitely didn’t nail it.

The next day was a road race starting in Ogden and ending on the outskirts of SLC. The route traversed two major climbs with some minor, but still challenging climbs sprinkled in for fun. The first climb wasn’t an insane pace by any means but still did enough damage to shred the field into several large groups which eventually came back together on the descent of the climb.  I latched on to of the last groups to rejoin and made it back into the field but could already I was pretty cooked.  There were a few hard sections leading up to the next climb.  Mainly, the section through the feed zone and over a dam had some shorter climbs that proved to be pretty difficult as the slight accelerations left me grasping to last few riders in the field.   There was one last hard acceleration as people jockeyed for position into the feed zone and I cracked hard.  I road with one other guy for the next 10 miles until the base of the final climb up Big Mountain.  I am not sure if it was the altitude or what, but I was unable to even make myself breathe hard going up the climb.  It was impossible for me to go hard and at the the crest of the climb I was caught by a large gruppetto containing my teammate Kennett and the current race leader Taylor Phinney.   We road pretty fast down the winding descent and rolled in together to the finish well behind the leaders.

I will continue this post in the next few days with some pictures.  Thanks for reading!

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Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Prologue

Post by Phil Elsasser

Well,  after spending the last several weeks dealing with some terrible allergies, things have started to come around a bit.  A visit to the doctor office and a lot of medication seem to have me feeling a bit better on the bike and certainly off.  Yesterday we started the 6 day stage race that is Mt Hood Cycling Classic.  The prologue was held on Portland’s International Raceway late in the evening under heavy rain.  Everyone did 2 laps for a total of 4 miles. I had a good warm up and felt like I rode pretty well, save for one left hand turn that I completely botched and ended up losing a lot of time on.  In a prologue every second counts, and every time you grab brakes, you can be sure you are losing some time.  Well I grabbed a lot of brakes, and lost a lot of time as a result.    The second lap was infinitely better.  I should have pre-road the course (dumb mistake).  Luckily with the hard racing to come later this week, the 26 six seconds I sit behind the leader will be insignificant.  Hopefully I will keep updates coming to the site throughout the week.  It is supposed to be a wet one.

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Back To The Real World

Post by Phil Elsasser

Well the dust has settled and I am back in the swing of cold, rainy rides in the Pacific Northwest.  The return from California was a crazy affair.  The funniest part of it all is that almost all of us where in a pretty big hurry to get home after the conclusion of Redlands.   I think as soon as we crossed into Oregon and it was ~40 degrees and pouring rain we soon realized the absurdity of this decision.

Our lives as bike racers are quite funny, we travel to big races where we are away from our friends and families for days to weeks at a time.  While often we stay in some great host housing, there is also times when we are poaching the smallest spot to call a bed while on the road.  While the first few days on the road seem amazing no matter what the circumstances, it slowly wears on you.   Your thoughts slowly drift to this idealistic thought of what home is like, and while still enjoying yourself, the weather, the racing, the team, and the overall experience, you are excited for when the time comes to return.

Soon enough the time approaches after a couple of weeks and you jump at the opportunity and expedite the process to return often driving long stretches  cross-eyed in then team van.  You return home exhausted but happy to be back.  Your own bed, your woman, and all the comforts of home await you.  It sounds perfect and is for about the first 12 hours, when all you do is sleep, relax, and reunite with your family.  Then it is time to get back to the real world.  Suddenly all the free time you have on the road which is spent lying around exhausted from racing, quickly disappears.  Training and recovering takes a back  seat to trying to make a few bucks to scrape by on.  All the neglected tasks you left behind are demanding attention, and your days are quickly filled attending to what everyone else calls normal life.  The irony of it all is a few days into it, your start thinking about how good it sounds to be on the road, leaving all the worries of daily life behind, with no schedule to keep but the teams.  Racing, training and recovering become paramount, you count down the days until you reunite with the team and hop into the van once more.

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San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands

Post by Phil Elsasser

So it has been a while since I have posted an update of my southern California racing trip.  So here it goes.  After an amazing couple of days training in the valley and along the southern California coast with the likes of Ivan Dominguez, we headed out to San Dimas prior to the start of the race.

There was tons of pre-race excitement prior to San Dimas.  San Dimas is the first big race of the season with a stacked field of 150 riders from all the top pro teams in the U.S.  getting the engines fired up for next weeks inaugural NRC race, Redlands.  The race consists of an uphill TT, a circuit race with more road furniture than I have ever seen in any U.S race, and a flat crit.  The TT went okay for me, despite going out a bit too had, and just clinging on for the last couple miles of the climb.  Unfortunately, things went rather pair shaped in the circuit race, and a comedy of my own errors left me off the back around half way through the race.  disappointing to say the least.

So after a few more days of hectic transfers, and baffling host housing situations, we are now comfortably situated in Redlands, CA patiently awaiting the start of the TT prologue.  We have previewed just about all of the courses down here, and they are some ridiculously hard courses.  It isn’t just one thing that makes them hard, on paper they don’t look like anything crazy.  However when you combine the 200 super fast dudes, the exposed sections with hard cross winds, the climbs, the poor road surface, and the hair-raising crit course, things start to take on a different perspective.  I have already learned a huge amount in this first trip of the season about racing in the “big leagues” hopefully I can put some of this new knowledge to the test and make it all the way through this one.  Wish me luck, I go off today at 12:58:30.

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