Learning Patience

One of the things I’m working on this year is finding the right balance of training and rest. It’s always been dificult for me to take time off the bike, like many cyclists. I get the feeling that my lungs, heart, and legs shrink with every minute I’m not on the bike. Everyone knows you become stronger while resting, not training. I know this. But I still grimace when I look at my training diary and see multiple days that say “1 hour easy” or “OFF day.” This psychological flaw was probably planted by all my soccer coaches, karate senseis, and track coaches over the years saying, “pain is good. Pain makes you better. The more you train the better you get.” Maybe they didn’t realize I took this literally. Or maybe I got this exercise craze from my dad, who at 55, works out two to three times a day. Anyways, I didn’t learn the flaws of this high school football coach mentality until I hurt myself.

I overtrained, while also pinching a nerve in my back, due to excessive rowing/erging three years ago while I was on the UO crew team. I had to take time off from the erg, which lead me to pestering my parents about the fact that they owed me a road bike (a promise they made to me once I finished my first year of college). I caught the cycling flew flu, and switched sports. I soon forgot about the overtraining thing. That was a mistake. I spent the next fall and winter doing 1 minute intervals 3 times a week for two hours a session, then I put in 120 hours of riding in one month. That ruined my next full year of racing. My resting heart rate went up to 60 (usually it’s in the low 30’s). I couldn’t ride more than a couple hours without bonking and turning home early. And I got dropped in the Cherry Pie Road Race after about 40 minutes (a very flat race too). Luckily Gilad started coaching me that winter and put an end to my training craze. He had me take three months easy. I didn’t fully recover until late in the summer.

But last year I did too much without quality rest again. I wasn’t overtrained, but looking back at my training diary, I can see that I was overexerting myself during the spring, which lead to being sick for six weeks in June and July. And I didn’t rest enough while I was sick either. Throughout the year I went into interval days already tired and I went long on days my body told me to rest.

This year will be different. I have changed my ways already. I’m about quality now. And if I see that I can’t maintain my watts, I cut the ride short and go hard the next day instead. Ivar is also helping me track my fatigue by using Training Peaks to make sure I don’t do too much.

On Tuesday I did 3×10′ uphill intervals, then 15 miles of hard climbing. It felt great. But Wednesday I was a bit tired. So instead of doing 4×9 mile hill repeats, I only did 2. As a result of listening to my body this fall, I already feel stronger than I did last spring. I constantly tell myself it’s not about the length of a training week. 25 hours isn’t necessarily better than 20. Quality training and quality rest is more important. The goal isn’t to have the hardest workouts, it’s to have the best race results. OK, now that I wrote all this nonsense, I guess I have to follow it…