Knowing when to call it a day

Or in this case, it’s knowing when to call it ‘two months’, which is the length of time I went without a rest week. Most people come down here to Tucson either fresh or relatively out of shape and leave cracked after a week or two of hard training. I’m the opposite. I came down here in need of a rest week.

I didn’t plan it this way. I had huge ambitions of finally hit a 30-hour week, which is something I haven’t done since I was a cat new 3. “So what you’re saying, Kennett, is that your ambition is to train like a cat 3 again?”

No, no, no you’ve got it all wrong I swear!

It’s not like I didn’t know what I was doing; I’d been keeping close track of my training, including paying extra attention to my Excel spreadsheet bar graph, which compares every year of training I’ve ever done since getting on the bike.

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While I was certainly paying attention to it, that doesn’t mean I was being completely smart about it. In fact, the more I trained and saw the big numbers roll in, the more drive I felt to completely smash what I’d done last year. As of this week, I’ve done 41 more hours this year than last, with both “years” starting in mid November when I began training. That doesn’t sound like a lot since it’s only an average of 2.5 extra hours per week, but adds up.

Still though, there are so many guys out there that train quite a few more hours than me. I’ve only averaged 19 hours a week for the past 8 weeks. From talking to people and reading interviews/books/blogs/whatnot, there seem to be plenty of guys out there that average 20 or more. Maybe they’re riding at a different pace or not including rest/sick weeks, or they’re just stronger-bodied and stronger-willed than me. Who knows how they do it but I sure can’t yet.

At times, I catch myself wondering if I really do train hard enough. It’s difficult to get a grasp of what “hard” really means, since there’s no ceiling to it. You can always do more. You can always try just a little bit harder. I guess being smart is more important, and finding the best ratio of work-to-pay-off is what gets results.

Usually it takes me one or possibly two days of easy riding to recover from a 2- or 3-day block of hard riding. I did intervals and rode long on Monday and Tuesday this week, rode easy Wednesday morning and flew on Wednesday night. I did an easy 2 hours on Thursday, feeling worse than I thought I should since it was my second day of rest, but still figured I’d be good to go on Thursday for 5 hours and 3×15″ intervals on Mt. Lemmon. I did one set of intervals on Lemmon, shrugged off the fairly poor performance due to fatigue, and started the second set. Wait. Shrugged it off to fatigue? Wasn’t I planning on doing 6 hours the following day, including the Shootout in the morning and Old Pueblo GP in the evening? I decided to be smart and turned around to go home a few minutes into the second set (actually I kept riding for 20 minutes up to mile post 4 so I could write “2.5 hours” in my training log instead of just 2.25 hours…neurotic much?)

That night I got almost no sleep after picking Adelaide up at the airport at midnight. Part of my inability to sleep was the late night drive and the even later night bike build so Adelaide could do the Shootout early the next morning, but there was something else there too. Some extra deep fatigue that made me tired but wasn’t letting me fall asleep. I pondered, like I have been recently, about a few things from the past week and a half that had been worrying me just a bit.

1) My left quad had just suddenly developed a strange stabbing pain when I bent my knee.

2) I’d been able to do my intervals and ride long day after day for weeks, and even during my rest days I’d been able to climb fairly easily at 300 watts up Lee Hill (my rest days involve climbing both sides of Lee Hill and sometimes Deer Trail). The constant “openness” of my legs was encouraging as well as startling. This is what happens when you never fully rest.

3) My sleep pattern had been way out of whack. I’d have trouble sleeping for a day or two, then the next couple nights I’d sleep for 10 hours straight. (Last night I slept for 11 hours).

4) Strange parts of my body were aching without having been used for any activity. Last night my forearms ached for some reason. I hadn’t lifted anything heavy for days and I hadn’t even ridden long since Tuesday.

5) I’ve been EXTREMELY scared of getting sick. I keep getting imaginary sore throats and sick-trickles in the back of my mouth (just made up that word–sick trickle. I like it).

This last warning sign was definitely my subconscious telling me to back off and rest. Also, from looking at my “Graph of Training Years” Excel spreadsheet, I’ve noticed that I tend to get sick the first week of March just about every year. As of today, I’m still holding strong.

With all of this in mind, I decided to not do the Shootout Saturday morning. When I ended up not falling asleep until 6:30AM, I decided to not race Old Pueblo GP. It was a good decision. Adelaide was practically dropping me on the way to meet Quinn and Allie at their house to ride over there together and watch the race.

But wait there’s still hope!

I had been planning this sort of catastrophic breakdown and ensuing super compensation all along, just not quite to this degree. And while I wanted to make it another 10 days through next weekend’s Tucson Bicycle Classic before resting, I guess I can live with this scenario. Recovering down here in Tucson isn’t ideal because it’s so warm and the rides offer a fresh landscape on which to smash the pedals, but it’s the right decision.

I can tell the difference between truly overtrained and just overreaching and I’m happy it’s the later. The main difference, between the two, for me anyways, is the ambition. I still want to get out there, which means I’m tired but not utterly drained. My power, through Tuesday that is, was still on the rise as well, so I think I’m in the clear as long as I’m smart about the next week. I’ll still race Tucson Bicycle Classic but I’m resting (for the most part) until then. And when I get back to Boulder on Sunday night I’ll continue to rest until I’m fully recovered and fresh for San Dimas, Redlands, and Europe.

I knew it would be difficult reigning in my willingness to train after leaving SmartEtailing and being given all this time. This was the first true test. The old Kennett would have finished Friday’s ride, struggled through the Shootout and Old Pueblo yesterday, and would have slogged through the originally planned 5-6 hours today as well, just to get in those 31 hours. But I’m smarter now. This week will only be 17 hours, which definitely counts as a rest week…