Monday, January 23, 2017

Masimo MightySat

When the majority of the pack in cycling can compete at the same level, winning the race comes down to the marginal gains. Before Road Worlds last year I added a new, extremely valuable tool to my collection... the MightySat Fingertip Pulse Oximeter! Now I am still pretty new to all of the science behind the functions on it, but basically what it does is measures your pulse rate, oxygen saturation, perfusion index, respiration rate and pleth variability index.

The pulse rate is pretty self explanatory; how many times your heart beats per minute. The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate will be, because more blood is pumped with each pulse; your heart is strengthened to work more efficiently :) One of the most useful measurements I found was the oxygen saturation. It is the measurement, as a percentage, of oxygen in the arterial blood. Higher levels of blood oxygen, means that more oxygen is being transported around the body, thus providing more oxygen to your muscles. Ideally, as an athlete you want the blood saturation percentage to be in between 97-100%, which means that your muscles have enough oxygen and are fully recovered. If the percentage is in the low 90s or less, your muscles haven’t had enough time to fully re-oxygenate after your last workout. Part of my routine when I was training hard at pre-camp before Worlds would be to check all of my levels in the morning, which helped reassure me that I had properly recovered from the previous days training, and that I was good to go for the day. Using this knowledge, of course along with how my legs and body were feeling, allowed me to maximise each days training endeavours.
Finding out that my legs were pretty much always 98/99% leading up to Worlds also really helped me mentally, finding more confidence and reassurance in the fact that I was in prime race form and ready to take on the world!
Got the essentials for a successive day! 

The perfusion index is used to measure peripheral blood flow, which is how much blood is flowing to your fingers and toes. Less blood flow = colder fingers. There is no “normal” ratio for the PI, so it is a matter of finding out what the normal ratio is for you, then keeping track of any changes and how they correlate with changes to the other measurements. The respiration rate is how many breaths you take per minute, and like the pulse rate, can fluctuate up and down more quickly for people with higher levels of fitness. It is important to know this and find out how to influence how many breaths you take per minute because when you get nervous before a race, for example, you breathe shorter, hyperventilating breaths which inhibits the amount of oxygen that goes to your key muscles like your brain and legs! Fun fact, people take 12-20 breaths per minute at rest. Lastly, the pleth variability index is the change in blood flow to your fingers (your perfusion index) in one breathing cycle.

Being more aware of what is going on inside my body has inspired me to find ways to influence the levels to improve performance. Breathing exercises became a big part of my morning routines as well. Increasing my lung capacity so I could be more efficient with absorbing oxygen during races, and control my anxiety before competitions as well as and watching how the breathing exercises influenced the blood oxygen levels and heart rate gave me some extra marginal gains to focus on utilising.

Morning routines :)

Thanks Dotsie Bausch and Masimo for introducing me to this invaluable tool, and I look forward to continuing to learn about it and use it to make this year a great year of racing!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a good holiday season and a great start to 2017! I am writing to you from school, where I am sitting at the window watching people slip on the dreaded 4 inches of ice outside, and stressing about online calculus because the WiFi is down! All negatives aside, here is a summary of my fairly chill past 2 months :)

After a successful Junior Road World Championships in Qatar, I took 7 weeks off the bike and decided to not go to Cyclocross Nationals because I was in dire need of a mental and physical break. I still went to the gym, did lots of yoga and TRX and rode my horse, Elmo to try and avoid going stir crazy! However, coming off of an amazing season and the “racing high,” then that shift back into reality, along with time off the bike is very mentally tough. Those first couple of weeks that I was off I was in a super strange headspace and would have these random meltdowns at school and the gym. Yoga was a huge asset for me then, because of the mental relaxation and all of the balance and stability in life it preaches.

December 1st, training officially started again, but I eased back into it with some time on the track and trainer as well as a new gym program. Conveniently, around the time when I was going to get out on the road bike Vancouver got its first real snow in many years! Which then froze... and is only melting now. I probably sound pathetic compared to the rest of Canada, but -5 to -15 is cold! That meant more time spent inside over the break :/

The winter break brought with it lots of family and Christmassy stuff and some nice downtime where I had no regrets about being lazy! Then came a pretty chill New Years Eve and shortly after (well, 2 day to be exact), January 2nd, where my dad/coach and I sat down and looked at my next few months and discussed how my training would go. Back to the grind, and there’s nothing I want more than to be back on the bike!

Some very exciting stuff in store for 2017! Over the Christmas break, I signed my first team contract to race with the Belgian UCI Women’s development program, Lares-Waowdeals. I am so honoured to be a part of this team, along with 5 other junior women and, on the elite team, Thalita de Jong! (2016 Elite Women Cyclocross World Champion).

I am also excited to share that I will be racing North American races with the team who gave me so much incredible support last year, TaG Cycling Race Team! Stoked for some awesome team trips with the squad again this year. :)

First up is a training camp in Spain with Lares-Waowdeals, then a full road season with TaG. Following Road Nationals, I am going to move to Belgium for the summer and fall and race with Lares-Waowdeals. My goals for this year include a gold medal in the new omnium at Junior Track Worlds, a podium at Junior Road Worlds and win a European race!

I would like to say a big thank you for all of the support in 2016, and would like to welcome some new sponsors on board to help me with my journey in 2017! Thank you Local Ride Racing, TaG Cycling Race Team, Lares-Waowdeals, Cycling Canada, CODE Sports, Power2Max, Masimo, ISM, Podium Sports, Epoch Analytical, Cycles Lambert, Vision Wheels, Orange Sport, Born SportsCare, Bont Cycling.

-Maggie :)