Thursday, January 16, 2014

the Hardest Part

Yesterday was all about cheer and optimism and motivation and splendid sunsets. The reality is that it is not all sunshine and it may be true that it is what you make of it but there are certain times when it is just plain hard. For me, right now is that time where it is trying it's darnedest to kick my ass.

The same thing has happened the past couple of years. After a long hard and focused race year culminating in a very targeted training plan for cyclocross, I find myself in January switching gears between ride focuses. We move from low duration high intensity or low duration recovery to long duration, high volume endurance. All the while the weather is at it's worst, doing it's utmost to discourage us from getting out, getting on and getting the job done.

Over the years become more focused on the cyclocross specific plan, which by the way yielded incredible results, from an historically less structured plan that included way more volume. The down side of this switch is that when the cyclocross season is over and the volume increases, I seem to suffer more.

Part of this is physical as my body just isn't use to the countless three plus hour rides sandwiched between the endless two plus hour rides with the occasional four or five hour rides. It has spent the past four plus months getting really adept at going super hard for a short period of time, one hour or less in this case. Additionally, you have the cumulative effects of the increase in ride time which leave you sore and tired, no exhausted almost all of the time. How can riding a bike that easily hurt that much?

As much as this is a physical thing, I think that a large part is psychological as well. You as the athlete go from being in top racing form to suffering on endurance paced training rides at the hands of those who are not necessarily stronger or faster than you but who either were not racing cyclocross or who didn't focus their training quite as specifically to the discipline.

The reality is that it is just different. This is the ugly downside to being specifically trained for any one thing. When the demands change, retooling takes time and there is a physical cost in making that change. Is the answer to try and be prepared at all times for anything (any ride) that may happen, be it a short race or a long endurance epic? Not if you want to do the best possible on race day. The hybrid training plan can get you far, there is no doubt about that. I used that plan for years and years and had some pretty good success. However, it wasn't until I stopped using that plan that I really saw big improvements in my game, come game day.

Choose as you will though. The fact is that I'm suffering right now on rides that most avid cyclists would think of as just riding your bikes. Normal activity. Nothing epic or over the top. From experience I recognize that I have three or four weeks of feeling slow, sore, tired and uncomfortable and then it starts to swing back around.

I'm currently two or three weeks into that bump in volume so from experience, the end is almost certainly in sight. I sure as heck hope that is the case anyhow. Until then, it is just a matter of sucking it up and knowing that as with everything, "this too shall pass".

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