Definitive Guide to Training for Your Journey

This training guide is designed to give you the tools, resources, and information necessary to create a successful training regimen and to satisfactorily prepare you for the event.

Before you put together your training plan, you’ll want to assess your physical condition. First, get your doctor’s permission, then ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my current state of fitness?
  2. What kinds of physical activities do I now regularly perform that build strength and endurance?
  3. Do I have any physical limitations that will require special attention while I train for the event or during it?
  4. What’s the longest ride I’ve taken?
  5. What’s the farthest ride I could take with relative comfort now, providing I had water, food and rest periods along the way?

Determine your fitness level, and then decide what training you’ll need to do before the event. If possible, leave entire days free for longer training rides. You’ll also need to do a few back-to-back longer rides, so leave a few full weekends open for those.

If you are entirely new to exercising, begin with 20-minute rides. Whatever your fitness level, you shouldn’t increase your time or mileage by more than 10% to 20% each week. Remember to stretch during and after each ride (see the diagrams later in this guide). We suggest a two-month training plan for those currently at a good level of physical fitness.

Hydration
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to drink water during the ride. Do not wait until you’re thirsty or your mouth is dry to drink by then, you are already on your way to dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to drink every 15 minutes, consuming at least one 28oz. bottle of fluid per hour. Most people don’t drink 28oz. an hour but on a hot day it could be needed.

You should carry your water bottle in a cage attached to the bike or in a jersey pocket, not in your hand, as an uneven distribution of weight on your hands will affect your comfort over long distances, and holding a bottle will affect your ability to maneuver quickly. Water carrying systems are also available that incorporate a hose and “bladder” that can be carried in a waist pack or on your back.

To help your body absorb the water you will be consuming, you need to eat foods with sodium in them. If you have any health concerns or are on medication, it is important that you discuss hydration and the proper intake of sodium and sugar with your health care provider. He or she should give you advice on the type and amount of sports drinks or nutrients you should consume on your training rides and on the event. Also, please note that some over-the-counter medications can affect your sodium level. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your sodium and sugar levels or hydration. Output of fluids is as important as input of fluids. If you are drinking a lot of water, but not going to the bathroom, you may be suffering from dehydration.

The treatment for dehydration varies. For mild dehydration, consuming fluids may be sufficient. For moderate to severe dehydration, IV fluids and hospitalization may be necessary.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Dry or sticky mucus membranes in the mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Decreased urine output
  • Heartburn or stomachache
  • Recurring or chronic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Headache
  • Mental irritation or depression
  • Water retention
  • Lack of skin elasticity
  • Sunken eyes

Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia results from a loss of sodium through sweating or from over hydrating. It is possible to drink too much water, which can dilute your sodium level and put you at risk for hyponatremia. Therefore, it is important that you consume salt or sugar in addition to water. Water alone can cause electrolyte imbalance, as can profuse sweating. For your training rides, you may want to try sports drinks, which contain sodium, sugar and other electrolytes to counteract this.

Hyponatremia can cause seizures, coma and even death. Symptoms are similar to those of dehydration, but the consequences are far more severe.

HYDRATE – Every 15 Minutes

You should also remember to eat salty snacks and high carbohydrate foods (or add salt or sugar to your water) to help balance your electrolyte level. Some individuals choose to increase their salt intake in the weeks leading up to the event, during and right after the event. We recommend you talk with your health care provider to decide whether or not this is a good idea for you.

Signs of Hyponatremia
· Bloating
· Swelling of hands and forearms
· Nausea
· Headaches
· Cramps
· Confusion
· Slurred Speech

If you experience any of the symptoms of dehydration, please stop, rehydrate, get into the shade, rest and cool down.

If you experience any of the symptoms of hyponatremia, stop riding immediately and seek medical attention.

Do not assume that these symptoms occur just because of the heat or simply being tired. Also, please watch out for these symptoms in your fellow riders. If you notice someone exhibiting these symptoms, or that he/she just doesn’t “look right,” make that rider stop and rest. Let’s all take care of each other and ourselves.

Avoiding a “Bonk”
Sufficient intake of calories and fluids is essential for safe long-distance riding. Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. These days most riders carry a nutrition bar, Tums, or Gu for backup. “Bonking” occurs when you have completely depleted the glycogen stores in your muscles. Your body runs out of fuel.

When this happens, disorientation, headaches, and loss of body control set in. This can be a very serious situation. If it happens to you, sit down and start eating and drinking to immediately replenish your fuel stores. To prevent a “bonk,” consume enough food before and during your long rides to sustain your energy. Don’t forget to eat when you’re finished as well.

Socks
Next to your shoes, socks are the most essential component of your equipment. Blisters, in fact, are often caused by socks that have wrinkled or bunched up. Socks can gather beneath toes, causing painful blisters under the middle toes; be worn at the sides of the heel, causing blisters there; or can slowly inch down your back heel as you ride, causing even bigger blisters at the heel’s back. So don’t grab just any pair of socks from your drawer when you ride. Remember! It is not always ill-fitting shoes that can cause blisters.

Socks come in many varieties. There are even so-called “riding socks.” Whatever your choice, socks should be form fitting and comfortable. Avoid tube socks, “six pairs for six bucks socks,” or one-size-fits all socks, all of which invite trouble from poor fit. Many riders choose cotton, but cotton absorbs moisture easily and can lose its shape, making for uncomfortable feet. However, if cotton works for you over very long distances, keep wearing it. Other socks are constructed of a cotton and synthetic blend, like polypropylene or Orlon. Synthetic materials can help wick away moisture, keeping your feet dry and the sock in a uniform shape.

Your feet sweat up to a cup of perspiration a day –that’s half a gallon per foot each week. Never wear socks twice without washing them first.

Foot and Muscle Injury Prevention
A slow warm-up ride and stretching during and after (see the stretching diagrams) can help prevent some of the following problems. For any pain accompanied by swelling, just remember R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression (wrapping with athletic bandages) and Elevation (raising the injured area). See page 8 for more about R.I.C.E treatment. Ibuprophen, commonly called vitamin I among the older set also can be used liberally.

  • Ingrown toenails can be prevented by cutting the toenail straight across.
  • Blisters are caused from friction between the feet and badly fitting socks or shoes. If small, blisters will heal naturally without any attention. If large, cover them with a thin pad with a hole in the middle (check your drugstore’s shoe section). If a blister breaks, clean the area with a clean cotton pad, dry it, and cover it with a light bandage. A product placed over blisters called Second Skin (a bandage with a gel center that minimizes friction) might work well for you. Try out various products in the months before the event so you’ll know what works best, and to create your own personal “blister kit” to carry with you on training rides and the day of the event. Some blister prevention items you may want to include: baby powder, Vaseline/petroleum jelly, dry socks, precut moleskin, antiseptic, and adhesive tape.
  • Shin splints are sharp pains felt at the front of the shin when weight is placed on the foot. This overuse injury also can be caused by ill-fitting shoes. Try riding on a softer surface for a while, or if the pain is severe, take some time off and rest. Icing the area will also help. See page 7 for more information.
  • Strains and sprains can occur in the muscles and tendons in the feet, ankles, legs and knees that are torn or overstretched, causing swelling and pain. Rest if the pain is slight. If more severe, apply ice or cold water, use compression and elevation of the injured part in addition to resting. For serious injuries, consult your doctor.
Blister Kit
  • Scissors/knife
  • Cloth sheets that stretch
  • Second Skin®
  • Alcohol Swabs
  • Body Glide®
  • Foot Fungal
  • Band-Aids® (various sizes)
  • Moleskin
  • Tube Foam
  • Needle and Felt to hold it
  • Baby powder

Basic Nutrition and Hydration for Athletes

“The physician of tomorrow will be the nutritionist of today”-Thomas Edison

  • When you are thirsty, you have already lost 0.5%-1.0% of your body weight, That’s too late, so drink before you feel thirsty.
  • Danger signs: strong thirst, vague discomfort, dark urine, loss of appetite, dry mouth, flushed skin, impatience, apathy, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, confusion, and muscle spasm. The physiological dangers are too numerous to indicate. KEEP HYDRATED!
  • Drink every 15 minutes, to avoid thirst! Fluid requirements vary depending on body type, conditioning, acclimatization, weather (heat index), and pre-event hydration. The goal is to replace 80% of sweat loss during exercise. Even a normal sedate person will lose 4-6 liters of water per day in a hot/humid climate. Bicyclists lose even more.
  • Sports drinks provide some advantages. They contain carbohydrates and electrolytes. These help counter fatigue, prevent dehydration (CHO increases H2O storage), provide fuel, replace minerals, and control body temperature. Start drinking 30 min. to 1 hour prior to the event. The ideal is 4-8% carbohydrate (sugar/complex carbo). Carbohydrate should provide 50-75 calories/8oz. The important minerals are sodium (100 mg/8oz), potassium (50 mg/8 oz), calcium and magnesium. Cool fluids absorb quickest.
    Home sports drink recipe: 30 ounces of water
    10 ounces of fruit juice
    3 tablespoons of sugar
    ¼-rounded teaspoon of salt
    (Drink frequently while riding)
Remember: Have fun, but train wisely!Increase your mileage no more than 10% each week and incorporate a warm up and cool down period with stretching into your daily training session.

A balanced diet is the starting place for a successful event. A good starting point is to consume about 55-65% carbohydrates, 12-15% protein, and <30% fat. You might find a slightly different balance that works better for you. Beware of super low carbo diets, and remember that fat and protein burn in a carbohydrate flame. Fat also is used in low intensity exercise (<60% of VO2 max). If you become fatigued, carbohydrates are the fuel of choice. Breads, grains, energy bars, fruit, and whole grain cookies are good. Consuming enough calories and keeping a good balance are key.

Calories burned: Walking at 4.5 m.p.h. burns approximately 891 calories/hour. Running at 9 m.p.h. burns approximately 1,086 calories per hour. Riding burns approximately 9,000 calories per hour. Food, rather than sports drinks is the preferred choice to get calories into your body. Avoid getting hungry. Increased activity (high mileage riding) and dieting are bestnot done simultaneously. Diabetics and hypoglycemics must pay very close attention to caloric needs. Signs of “bonking” or glycogen depletion are fatigue, lethargy, irritability, and loss of mental focus. Full recover takes days.

BLISTERS

What are they? “The lowest common denominator” of the ride! A blister is a raised fluid filled area of skin. The skin covering the fluid can break, leaving raw, exposed, tender skin beneath. They can occur anywhere on the body, including on the feet, toes, and ankles.

What causes them? Friction rubs are the direct cause of blisters. Any amount of friction between skin and skin, skin and sock, or sock and shoe eventually will cause a blister.

How do I know I have them? Anywhere on the feet or toes where you feel pressure, tenderness, pain, heat or burning is a potential blister. When you remove your shoes and socks after training check your feet for “hot spots.” Areas that are more tender, red, or warm are the most likely to become a blistered on subsequent rides.

How can I prevent blisters?

  • Choose correct footwear for your foot. Buy shoes at the end of the day when your feet are a little swollen. Ensure your shoes are the correct size and fit the architecture of your foot.
  • Break in your shoes properly by slowly increasing your amount of time spent in them.
  • Choose correct socks. Many shoes stores carry different brands of socks deliberately designed to keep your feet both cool and dry (generally synthetic blend, sometimes with double layers). Experiment with different types and train in the socks you intend to wear on the ride.
  • If you feel a “hot spot” while you are on a training ride, stop if possible, and change into dry socks get home as soon as possible and do ice massage (see handouts), place the appropriate dressing over the area (Second Skin/moleskin donut etc.), and use Vaseline or cornstarch in shoes and in socks the next time you ride.
  • Make sure your socks and shoes are dry. Carry one pair of clean dry socks every day of the ride and change at lunch when you are resting and cooling off your feet. Use cornstarch or Vaseline to eliminate friction throughout your ride (studies have shown that there is some evidence that rubbing alcohol applied topically to the feet appears to reduce the incidence of blisters).

I have a blister…What now? On the ride, first aid kits will be available at each SAG stop to treat and dress your blisters. If you currently have blisters, follow these steps:

A. Wash the area well and do not puncture the blister.

  • Apply 5 minutes ice massage to the area (or an ice pack) for about 5 minutes.
  • Cover with a moleskin donut and protect the blister if from breaking.

If you have a large blister that needs to be drained:

  • Put several small holes around the base and allow the fluid to drain (may have to be done more than once). Keep the overlying skin intact.
  • Cover with Second Skin and moleskin donut.
  • As top skin dries out cut back and keep clean.

SHIN SPLINTS

What is it? Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, otherwise know as “shin splints” is an inflammation of the covering of the shinbone. It happens as a result of increased stress placed upon the bone by muscles that are attached to it, and it can occur for a variety of reasons. The pain is usually diffused along the top two-thirds of the shinbone and can lead to a stress fracture if not properly managed.

What causes it? It is generally an “overuse injury” a result of overloading the tissues and can be caused by overtraining (for the ride), decreased ankle mobility, or poor alignment or mechanics of the leg, ankle and foot. Excessive weight bearing along with improper footwear that does not provide adequate support can cause shin splints.

How do I know I have it? Pain and tenderness are diffused along the upper two-thirds of the shinbone and increase with activities. The onset of pain is gradual. Pain disappears while at rest and may also disappear with an adequate warmup that includes stretching and slow riding. Beware: If you have shin splints, you may find that pain increases with stretching: however, stretching within a painfree range is important in managing the problem and healing the tissues.

What should I do if I think I have it? You cannot recover from shin splints without rest; therefore, stop your training rides for one week (it is still early in your training, and it is more important to allow adequate healing than to exacerbate the problem and be unable to do the ride). Begin icing at least 2-3 times a day with ice in a plastic bag for 15-20 minutes (until the area is numb and red), and begin taking ibuprofen (check with your MD first). Modify your routine for a week by cross training with a walk or swimming. After one week, modify your riding by decreasing your mileage by 30-50% and continue to cross train and stretch within a painfree range. If your symptoms persist, call a physical therapist, who can readily treat the symptoms and also help identify the cause of the problem.

How can I prevent it? Proper warmup and cooldown with stretching before, during, and after your rides is essential (see diagram for the specific stretch). A physical therapist can help you with training tips and possibly orthotic devices/inserts/taping to decrease stress on the shin bone.

Why Ice?

Cold is a physical agent that can be used to control musculoskeletal aches and pains, a common occurrence while training for the ride. It will be readily available in camp.

What does cold do?

  • Cold causes the blood vessels to constrict, which stops bleeding inside the injured area.
  • Cold decreases the body’s metabolism, which decreases the chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling.
  • Cold increases the body’s pain threshold, which decreases the sensation of pain when a site is injured and inflamed.

What form of ice should I use?

  • Cold Packs or Ice Packs: Cold packs can be purchased at a physical therapy supply store or a physical therapy office. Cold packs may be filled with a gel or sand-slurry mixture and should be chilled in the freezer for 2 hours before initial use. An ice pack is a Ziplock bag filled with ice from your freezer, or a frozen bag of peas, etc. It is best to use a layer of thin towel between the skin and the cold pack for good hygiene and comfort, as well as to prevent ice burn. Wrap or cover the injured area with the cold pack for 20 minutes. Cold packs are most appropriate for larger areas such as the hip, or for larger muscle groups such as the quadriceps or hamstrings.
  • Ice Massage: Fill a small paper (Dixie) cup with water and freeze it like a Popsicle. Tear off the top edge of the cup to expose the ice. Apply the ice directly onto the skin by using small overlapping circles within a 10-15 cm area for 5-10 minutes. Ice massage is most appropriate for a small or concentrated area such as an inflamed bursa, tendon or muscle belly. Examples include infrapatellar or Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, or plantar fascitis.
  • Cold Bath: A cold bath is most appropriate for a distal extremity such as a foot or ankle when the pain is circumferential (Circular) and diffuse (All over). Fill a bucket or tub with ice water and immerse the extremity for 10-20 minutes. Note: If pain is in a specific area, it is best to use ice massage as described above (#2) because the dependent position of the foot and ankle while in a bath increases swelling and inflammation in the area.

How do I know when the injured area is cold enough?

  • Go by the general guidelines outlined above.
  • The area being treated with ice will undergo a series of sensations: cold, burning, aching, and numbness. When the area is numb and red, your job is done. In the case of cold, more is not necessarily better. If an area becomes too cold, frostbite or nerve damage can occur. Therefore, do not ice more than 30 minutes with a cold pack or cold bath, and no longer than 10 minutes for ice massage.

How often should Ice?
Once an area begins to hurt or become inflamed (signs include swelling, warmth, redness, and pain), it is imperative that you ice the area multiple times per day (generally three) and limit activity to a minimum until the inflammation decreases. Remember that even if the area does not look inflamed, if there is pain, then there is probably inflammation on the inside that is not visible.

The key to decreasing pain and inflammation and jump-starting the healing process is RICE.

R = Rest (from the aggravating activity, e.g., riding)
I = Ice (cold pack, ice massage, or ice bath)
C = Compression (e.g., wrapping with an Ace bandage)
E = Elevation (injured area above the heart)

Apply these principles when treating an injured area.
Warning: If your have a known sensitivity to cold, do not use ice and consult your doctor.

If the injury does not seem to be improving after you have followed the above guidelines for 1 week, consult a physical therapist.

STRETCH

Are you absolutely committed to the notion of stretching 5 minutes for every hour that you ride?  Are you ready for this undertaking, but not quite sure which stretches are the best?

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01The Arch Self-Message. Using your thumb, rub the arch of each foot in a circular motion for 30 seconds.  Repeat on the other foot.

 

 

The Ankle Roll.  Rotate each ankle in a circle 10 times in each direction

 

 

 

The Achilles Crouch.  Keeping your heel planted, lean forward from a crouching position.  You’re stretching the Achilles tendon, which runs down the back of the ankle to the heel.  Repeat for the other leg.

 

 

The Lunge Stretch.  In a lunge position, keeping your forward knee behind the forward ankle, lower your pelvis to the ground.  Keep your head up, shoulders level, and eyes looking forward.  This is for your groin and hips.  Reverse foot positions and repeat on the other side.

GifBuilder 0.5 by Yves PiguetThe Butterfly Stretch.  Using your elbows, press your knees down toward the floor. This stretches your inner thighs and hips.

 

 

The Glute Stretch.  Laying on your back, hug one knee toward your chest to stretch your “butt muscles.”  Repeat with the other leg.

The Seated Hamstring Stretch.  Bending at the hips, lean forward reaching your hands toward your feet.  This stretches the back of your thighs and lower back.

 

 

 

The Figure “4” Stretch.  Bring your foot to your opposite knee, making the figure “4” with your legs.  Lean forward from the hips, bringing your nose to the knee.  Keep your back straight to stretch the hamstrings and lower back.  Reverse the leg positions and repeat.

 

 

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0The Spinal Twist.  Cross one leg over the other extended leg, planting the foot on the floor.  Twist your trunk toward the crossed leg.  Switch legs and repeat on the other side.

 

 

 

The Squatting Stretch.  Keep both heels planted and lower your butt into a squatting position; hold the position.

 

 

 

The Calf Stretch.  Using a wall, tree, or riding partner for support, extend one foot 3 feet away from the support, with the heel firmly planted.  Lean forward to stretch the calf of your extended leg, putting your weight over the bent leg.  Repeat with the other leg.

 

 

 

 

The Quadriceps Stretch.  Supporting yourself against a wall or tree, or your riding partner, bend one knee, grabbing the ankle or foot.  Gently pull your heel toward your butt, stretching the front of the thigh.

 

 

 

 

The Back Scratch Stretch.  Reach behind your head and grasp the opposite elbow, gently pulling it back and toward the center of your body.  This stretches the triceps, the muscle on the back of your arm.

 

 

 

 

SINGLE KNEE TO CHEST:

While lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on a mat at hips’ width apart, do a pelvic tilt and pull one knee up with your hands.  Release the pelvic tilt and pull knee to chest while breathing.  Hold this position for a 60 count.  Alternate and do each leg 3 times.

 

DOUBLE KNEE TO

CHEST: While lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on a mat at hips’ width apart, do a pelvic tilt, and pull one knee up, and then the other.  Release pelvic tilt, and pull knee to chest while breathing.  Hold this position for a 60 count.  Do this 3 times.

 

ADVANCED PELVIC

ROTATION:  While lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat at hips’ width apart, do a pelvic tilt and cross one leg over the other.  Drop both legs to the side of the bottom leg, while keeping bottom foot stationary on the mat.  Be sure both shoulders stay on the mat, and turn head in the opposite direction.  Hold this position for a 60 count.  Do each side 3 times.

PRETZEL: While lying on

your back with knees bent, feet flat at hips’ width apart, do a pelvic tilt and cross one leg over the other.  Put hands on opposite knees, and pull the top leg up in the direction of the shoulder, then the other leg.  Hold this position for a 60 count, then release the stretch, but allow the legs to remain up in the air in a relaxed position.  Repeat 2 more times, then return feet to the mat.  Change sides and repeat.

SIDE LYING

QUADRICEPS STRETCH: Lie on your side with your hips perpendicular to the mat and legs in line with your body.  Keep your abdominal muscles tight.  Bend your top leg, then reach behind and grasp the foot of your top leg with your top hand.  Keep the foot directly behind your buttocks.  Your knee should be in line with your hips, and your entire top leg should be parallel with the mat.  Pull your foot back toward your buttocks.

 

SOLEUS STRETCH:

Standing with both knees bent and one foot back, gently lean into the wall until stretch is felt in lower calf.  Hold for a 60 count.  Repeat 3 more times.

STANDING ADDUCTORS/HAMSTRING:
1) Stand facing toward a chair or a low table (approximately mid-thigh high).  Place your left leg up on this surface (rest on the heel, toes relaxed).  Keep your torso upright, sternum lifted, and bend forward at the waist, over the elevated thigh.  Support your weight by resting your hands on this thigh.  Hold for a 60 count.  Repeat 3 times.  Change sides and repeat.

2) Start in the same position, with your supporting foot turned 90 degrees to the table/chair.  Again, bend forward at the waist, keeping your torso upright.  Repeat 3 times, holding a 60 count.

 

KNEELING HIP FLEXOR:
Kneel on a pillow with left leg forward.  Balance by using a wall or by placing both hands on your left leg.  Keep your head, neck, and trunk upright, drop your hips forward, and allow your left knee to bend to the arch of your foot.  Hold for a 60 count, then repeat 2 more times. Switch sides and repeat.

GASTROC STRETCH:
Keeping your back leg straight, with heel on the floor and turned slightly outward, lean into a wall until a stretch is felt in the calf.  Hold for a 60 count.  Repeat 3 more times.

STRETCHING
Stretching may be the most important adjunct to your riding program.  There are three main benefits of consistent, safe stretching, and these will aid in maximizing your fitness training for the event.  Fitness training, in any form (riding, running, swimming, Pilates, weights, etc.) is all about adaptation.  Your body adapts to the stress of exercise by becoming stronger and more able to handle the load.  Stretching will aid the adaptation process.

 

BENEFITS OF STRETCHING

INJURY PREVENTION

Stretching prepares muscles for workouts; everyday activities leave your muscles tight and susceptible to injury.  Stretching before, between and after your rides will prevent injury to tight muscles.

Riders have among the lowest incidence of injury among exercisers.  Injuries that do occur can easily be prevented.  Both inadequate training and overtraining can cause injuries, as can poor shoe and sock fit, poor flexibility, and inadequate hydration and nutrition.

The remedies for some injuries are obvious.  If your shoes fit you correctly, they should not contribute to injuries.  Likewise, if you train wisely and consistently, and if you don’t overdo it, injuries from inadequate training or overtraining can be prevented.  Stretching regularly will avert injuries caused by poor flexibility.

IMPROVED PERFORMANCE

By increasing range of motion of bones around a joint, stretching improves the biomechanics of your body.  Muscles that are stretched 110% of their resting length will contract more powerfully and allow you to perform better (i.e., ride longer and stronger with less fatigue and soreness)

AIDES IN RECOVERY PROCESS

Muscles are left short and tight after a ride and if left in that state, will become permanently shortened.  Stretching after riding ‘wrings out’ the waste products and allows muscles to recover in their lengthened state.  This is essential in your training program to enable you to get up and ride on day 2, and again, on day 3.

PRINCIPLES OF STRETCHING.

RELAXATION
It is essential that you choose positions that allow for relaxation of the muscles that you are trying to stretch.  The target tissue in stretching is connective tissue which is the white tissue that surrounds each muscle fiber and wraps bundles of muscle fibers together.  It also makes up ligaments and tendons.  Connective tissue is most effectively stretched in anonweight bearing position (i.e., lying down) Accordingly, these positions must allow for easy breathing.

SUBSIDING TENSION
Stretching should be done slowly and gently, until you feel the stretch in the targeted area.  As you hold a position, you should feel the stretch sensation subside or stay the same.  If the sensation is increasing as you hold the position, you are overstretching and the muscle will tighten up instead of relaxing and lengthening.

PAIN/DISCOMFORT
Never stretch into pain, however tolerable you think it is.  There is no place for pain in a stretching regime.  Pain causes the muscle to contract in a protective reflex, and shorten.  Remember to use your breathing to aid your relaxation.  Do not hold your breath.

WARM OR COLD?
Stretch before, during and after each ride.  Yes, connective tissue will stretch better after a warmup, but it will stretch even more effectively at normal resting temperature.  Choose the safest positions and follow the above principles.

NOTE:  If you have any particular concerns (e.g., back pain or knee pain) consult your physical therapist about modifications to your regime.

S-T-R-E-T-C-H!
Tight muscles hurt and perform less efficiently.  They are also more prone to injury.  The more you strive to prevent muscle tightness, the better off you’ll be.  To warm up, just begin strolling at a leisurely pace for up to five minutes.  Stretch regularly, making a habit of stopping to stretch 5 minutes every hour of your training will help attain and maintain flexibility in your muscles and joints.  This will have tremendous payoffs for you later during the Event:  Muscle pain, stiffness, injuries, and fatigue will all be lessened.  These stretches can be incorporated into your weekly training schedule now.

GUIDELINES FOR STRETCHING

STRESS + RECOVERY = ADAPTATION

(EXERCISE) + (TIME) = (INCREASED FITNESS)

Warm up first. (Ride in place for 3 to 5 minutes.)

Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds.

Achieve the stretching position gently; NO BOUNCING OR JERKING!

Stretch only within your limits.  If you feel any discomfort, STOP!

Breathe with a slow and normal rhythm.