Posts Tagged ‘training


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Semi-endless Winter and 6 weeks of Pre-race Panic

In Minnesota, even in the southern-most tropical region of the state, the abundance of this winter’s snow harvest continues to pile up. The 3.5 feet sitting in my yard no longer represents a winter wonderland, but a multi-layered, crusted reminder of days, weeks and months of wind-whipped bitter cold.

However, in the winter of my discontent, I’ve found my cycling motivation for the upcoming year. I followed an actual training program, spending about 8-12 hours a week on the trainer, mixed in some strength training, ate smart and worked with a trainer partner that kept us both motivated. I managed to drop about 15 pounds so far, a couple more veins have chosen to make their appearance on my calves and I’m feeling a lot stronger. All in all, pretty damn happy with the way this winter has gone.

The rest of the winter’s program has me targeting building up more fitness and riding strength along with dropping another 10 before the pretty ambitious race schedule I set out for 2010 comes about this spring. No problem, let me see now…check the calendar…Holy S#@t, my first race is in 6 weeks.

All of a sudden I find myself less worried about whether or not the winter will end and if the snowmelt will leave us in a giant Great Plains-sized flooded mud pit until after the 4th of July and more worried the starting-line jitters building in my gut and how I’m going to attack the first climb. I know it’s a bit premature, but given my stellar effort at last year’s offseason training stupidity, early season incompetence and overall failure in my racing ‘program’ last year, I’m anxious for this year’s racing to start. I took the time to learn from my mistakes, train smart, make progress and set goals…you know, all that stuff they write about in magazines and people pay coaches to help them with.

The Glory I’m searching for is glory on a Very Small Scale. Cat 4 Masters Road and Citizen class MTB wins. Results that you have to scroll down 3 pages to find my age group and class to reach. The fun I’ll have pursuing this Small Scale Glory and the happiness I’ve had along the way will be far greater than any medal I might receive. The smile on my face that was missing through many years of workaholism is back, and I don’t want it to leave anytime soon.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to contain my starting line nerves until I actually reach the starting line. However, my outlook has changed a little – the winter can’t last forever, I can now envision myself out riding in the sunshine and my competitive side has started to stir. So, for those that will be at the opening Psychowpath race on April 3rd – just know I’ll be easy to spot. I’ll be the slightly catatonic, overly caffeinated guy with the big grin on his face.


2009 – the year of training stupid

Sometime in December 2008, I felt inspired.  I dropped almost 40 pounds from cycling during that year; I wanted to recapture my youth and do a lot of racing in 2009.  I knew I needed to still drop ‘that last 20’ and add endurance.  So, I did what worked for me in my 20’s.  I rode inside through the harsh Minnesota winter.  I rode longer and more often.  I learned the ‘political insights’ of rural America by talking those spinning around me.  If anybody really needs to know the heartbeat of America, just ask.

Once the snow and ice cleared and the temp climbed up close to freezing, I got outside and rode.  I had delusions of being semi Belgian-tough for riding in late winter days in the biting cold and miserable drizzle in the early spring. I got a new computer for heart rate and cadence that reported back crucial data that had to make me faster. I got really good at riding the really nice, really flat roads of southwest Minnesota for a really long time keeping my heart rate between a pretty tight range of 145-165.  If I dropped down to the 120-130 range, I felt I was going too slow and the brief, rolling hills weren’t enough to get me to blow up.

For all my efforts through the winter and spring, I weighed roughly the same and was marginally faster, with the only real tangible result being some semblance of endurance.   Apparently the Merckx mantra of “ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike” doesn’t work as well for semi-old, semi-fat guys looking to act 20-something again.  And it was fairly obvious that I wasn’t 21 anymore.  Despite the lack of results, I enjoyed myself immensely and couldn’t wait to get out and ride more.  Looking back, that was precisely the problem.  I was enjoying riding so much I didn’t think about how I was riding.  Others may say that the problem with training is that it takes the joy out of a recreational activity.  However, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself any less if I had introduced some performance plan to structure how I was riding.  I would have weighed less if I had taken it slower occasionally and paid attention to nutrition.  The proverbial win-win could have happened.

My lack of structure came shining through in my 2009 race campaign.  The results can be summarized as “I got dropped.”  The breakthrough finally came later in the summer when I climbed back onto a mountain bike for the first time and both saw results and enjoyed suffering through climbs, grinding, spinning, recovering.  But, after a few rides, I observed actual, tangible improvement. An epiphany in mud, if you will.

Despite my educated ways, I spent last year training stupid.  The lesson here is a series of coaching clichés: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail; If you’re not training with power, you’re not training; et al.   Unfortunately for me, the clichés are true, but this winter is on a different, much better planned path.   2010 will be a different story.  Not saying it will be Pulitzer, Nobel or even local free newspaper-worthy, but it will be different.

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