Preparing for the ride

Training with a specific goal is an important element for a successful workout program. The goal may be weight loss for a reunion, improved lab values, or completion of an athletic endeavor like a marathon or triathlon. Charity fundraising events often require walking or cycling long distances for pledged support of a worthy cause.

Before taking on physical challenges, careful preparation is crucial for success. Stretching and adequate warm-up is necessary to avoid injury. Marc Nee, personal trainer and owner of “Training With Heart,” recommends jumping jacks or squats to increase circulation to large muscle groups before stressing the muscle during activity. Inadequate stretching can result in strained or torn muscles.

During a cycling event it is wise to set the gears on low resistance and high revolutions when first starting out. After a long-distance run or bike, a warm bath increases circulation and relieves tightness and cramping.

Diet plays a big role in getting in shape. It is also important for completing any physical goal. Chris Warren, a registered dietician at Backus Hospital, suggests increasing the amount of dietary carbohydrates to 80% for one to three days before a challenge. The last meal should be more than four hours prior. A cup of coffee and a light snack before beginning a morning race is appropriate. Warren recommends refraining from any high fiber or high fat foods before or during an event. Fruits such as oranges or bananas contain simple sugars and potassium which are helpful during competition. Jelly beans are often eaten during and after long distance training.

Adequate hydration in the form of water and electrolyte drinks is crucial to success. This will avoid muscle cramps.

A tandem was my chosen vehicle for the “The Five Boro Bike Tour” in New York City this spring. Tandem cycling is a unique approach to a cycling event. It requires a captain (front rider) and a stoker (rear rider). The most important duty of a captain is to be sympathetic to the stoker who has no control of the bicycle, yet works diligently with blind faith. The New York City event has become so popular, registration is capped at thirty thousand participants. Cycling through New York with riders of all ages on a beautiful day was very encouraging.

Each year it seems more people appreciate the joys of exercise and good health.

No comments: