“Training sucks,” said my friend/mechanic/bike shop owner/climber/drinkin’ buddy Tyson the other day as I was dreading heading out for my first interval session on the bike this year. “Riding bikes is great,” he continued. “But training is terrible.”
“It’s only three weeks,” I countered. “That’s what it always takes to transition to a base of fitness where it’s no longer miserable. But it’s three weeks of hell.”
I’ve been putting off writing this blog—perhaps dreading is a better word—because once it’s published I have to do it. And while I’m often so excited about training that I can barely keep from overtraining out of the gate this is not one of those times. I can’t seem to change my mindset and am not sure exactly why. Maybe I’m more psyched on climbing. Maybe exploring trails sounds more fun than repeated intervals. Maybe I’m just old. But for whatever reason I’m looking forward to the Butte race with about as much enthusiasm as a colonoscopy.
But I stated last week that I’d write up an example so here it is. Besides, I’ve been doing it anyway. And while it hasn’t been pretty, and every morning I wake up feeling as though I was in a bar fight even though I’m ramping up intensity very slowly, I will sally forth and record the results for posterity. ‘Cause that’s my job and, to be honest, I love it even when I hate it because in the big picture it’s another experience to reflect on and learn from.
So here ya go; a glimpse at race build-up from 7-weeks out (while concurrently training for climbing). To understand the reasoning you need to read the backstory here:
Week 1 (went like this)
Day 1 – Long mtb ride: a little over 3 hrs of saddle time and a few thousand feet of climbing. Felt hard, especially after 2 hrs. Long road ahead. Did easy yoga and a little foam rolling.
Day 2 – 4 X 10 min intervals full-on with 5-7 min rest in between. Did hill repeats on mtb. Felt weak, miserable. Still sucked it up for some NIS stretching and a 20 minute core workout afterward.
Day 3 – 45 min aerobic spin on the fixie and easy yoga. Went climbing all day.
Day 4 – Biking rest. Climbed half a day. Did easy yoga.
Day 5 – Easy 1 hour mtb ride on trails. About 1,000’ of climbing done easily spinning. No hard efforts. Nice ride. Slacked on post-ride stretching.
Day 6 – 2 X 20 minute full-on intervals. 15 min rest in between. Two long hill repeats. Felt horrible and slow but could feel a slight power improvement from previous workout. Abridged stretching session. Easy recovery climbing in the PM. Blew off both foam rolling and planned full body workout session. Dumb but seriously lacking motivation.
Day 7 – 1 hr RUKE (run/hike), no bike. Hard climbing/training session. Asylum Strength. NIS stretching and foam rolling. This is today. Enthusiasm is a bit higher writing it, probably thanks to reading an old Ben Moon training dairy this morning. Remains to be seen how it goes.
Evaluation from week 1. It happened and that’s a start. Need to get much better at restorative stuff: foam rolling/yoga/core/stability work. Hopefully psyche will perk up.
Going forward this is my template. Each week to consist of:
2 hard targeted bike workouts, always some type of intervals. Goal is to slowly increase these to 4 X 15 min and 2 X 30 minute of all out climbing. These workouts are highly stressful and require a lot of recovery so my daily recovery modalities, supplementation, and diet need to improve.
1 long ride. Saddle time is sorely lacking. Bonked after hour 3 on first ride. I need to be able to do 8 hours without a thought because that’s probably where Butte really gets started.
2 recovery rides. Hopefully these are nice trail rides. Lots of spinning and work on technique.
Daily mobility work – either foam rolling or yoga, hopefully both. All of my down time (TV, movies, post-ride beer, etc) should be utilized to work on this weakness. Week 1 was not nearly good enough.
Core and stability work – done post climbing workouts, 2 X per week.
Full body training – One Asylum/P90X2-type workout each week to stay sharp. One hard resistance/agility/plyometric workout during the week helps hormonal production stay high provided recovery is going okay, so this is evaluated on the fly.
Climbing – 3 sessions per week, 2 of them hard. Either outside or in the Coop. Currently climbing outside a fair amount but might move towards hangboard training as bike volume gets high because it takes less total energy output—plus is better training than climbing anyway.
2 weeks away from the race I’ll do a big test, then taper towards race day. The general pattern is 3 weeks of hell followed by a shift in mindset and inspired training. But we’re not machines and things always go a little different, and that’s where all this training stuff gets interesting. I’ll report back after Butte with the results.