This week started out with a mountain bike ride that makes all the training worthwhile. On Sunday, I rode for 40 miles at Scioto Trails State Park near Chillicothe, Ohio with several other racers from the Columbus area. Being in good shape makes a ride like this more fun because you don’t have your physical limitations interfering with your enjoyment of the trail. …This was an adventure that demanded a lot from those who took it on. The day served two purposes. First, it was a pre-ride of the course for the OMBC race on May 4, 2014. Second, it was a training ride for the Mohican 100k on May 31, 2014 in Loudonville, Ohio. There was plenty of climbing on both singletrack and gravel roads and that made it a good proxy for the Mohican course. Chris Knapp, Cory Knight, Nahum Burt and I met up with Christopher Seeley, who organizes the Scioto Trails race, and some of his friends. He gave us a great tour of the course and many other trails that aren’t featured in the race. It was more climbing and descending than I have done all spring and it was a ton of fun. The climbs were a great workout and the downhills were an nice reward for all the hard pedaling. …and it was a lot of hard pedaling.
I didn’t realize how much I had done until I tried to workout on the following Tuesday. My legs were heavy and dead. I got about 3 minutes into my first tempo interval and realized that I didn’t have the energy for a productive workout. I was having a really hard time maintaining both my power and cadence levels. Immediately I switched from workout mode into recovery mode. I did 60 minutes of easy spinning and started reevaluating my training week. Training involves periods of both stress and recovery – from day to day, month to month and season to season. Athletes use rest to rebuild their muscles and get them ready for the next hard workout. One thing I’ve gotten much better at this season is training on a hard-easy, hard-easy schedule. I go easy more often so that I can make my important workouts more intense. However, this school of thought, also says that you should dial your training back every 4 weeks to give yourself a lighter week to recover in – 3 weeks hard, one week easy. I know this is how it is supposed to work, but practicing it has been difficult for me. As a self-coached athlete, sometimes its hard to convince myself to dial it back. You feel like if you turn your workouts down a notch you are missing opportunities to increase your performance. Sometimes it would be good to have someone else providing the voice of reason. One way to overcome this, would be to write out a training schedule. So far this season, I have just been tracking my workout plan in my head. I have a general idea of what I want to work on and then I adjust my training based on the circumstances that the days and weeks hand me – like family duties, fatigue levels, etc… I really should write it down though. Maybe I’ll try and work on that soon. 🙂
Recovery Week or Taper Week?
For the first couple of days of this week after “the big ride” I was walking around like a zombie. I was very sleepy, but my schedule wasn’t giving me the freedom to rest the way I needed to. I ended up in a caffeine death spiral. The decaf coffee turned to regular. Diet Coke entered back into my diet. I needed a boost to perform as a father and had no time to nap. As a stay-at-home dad, you would think that I could find the time to get the rest I needed. However, 3-year-olds aren’t very understanding of the training stress/recovery process and constantly need attention and stimulation. Parenthood is my number one priority in life right now. I’m glad that I am able to stay at home with my children because I think that they benefit from it, but if I’m being honest, I find it fairly exhausting. After a full week of childcare, I usually feel somewhat depleted. Inevitably, this detracts from the energy that I can put into mountain biking.
After several days of feeling exhausted my mental state was deteriorating as well. I was getting irritable and mildly depressed. Wednesday morning I tried to rally. I woke up and did my normal running workout – 26 minutes on the elliptical, 5 minutes of walking, 54 minutes of running at 6.7 mph on the treadmill, and a 5 minute cool down. It felt much better than the previous day’s workout, but still took some extra focus to finish. I spent the rest of the day acting like a grumpy-saurus rex. Thursday morning was my breaking point. Wednesday was poker night and I was up later than usual – 11:30pm. That’s not very late for some of you, but when you have to wake up at 4am to fit your workout in that feels very late. My alarm went off and I wearily got out of bed. I stood in the bathroom for a few minutes trying to wake up and dreading the intense training I had planned. How could I muster the energy to stick with the plan? I decided I couldn’t. I went back to sleep. It was the first time I can think of all year that I completely cancelled a workout, but it was the right decision. This week had to be my easy week. My body and mind had reached their limits. I needed a break. I woke up early on Friday morning and did an easy 60 minute spin in the basement with 10 x 30 second high-cadence bursts every 3 minutes. My legs were starting to feel better, but I purposely didn’t push myself too hard. Now I’m starting to feel a lot better. My head is in a much better place and my energy level seems to be rising.
On the bright side, these easy workouts are also acting as an unintended taper for Sunday’s race. My legs should be well-rested when I hit the starting line. I wasn’t planning on peaking for this race, but I’ll gladly accept a little extra boost if I can get it. Last year at Scioto Trails was the only time I have ever won my age group at an OMBC race and I’m looking forward to tackling this beast again. Hopefully the equation goes like this: (Pre-ride of trail) + (Week of rest) = Successful race. …and then next week I’ll pick up my training intensity again. Come back to Quickdirt next week to read my race report for Scioto Trails and see how it turns out. Until then, you can follow Quickdirt on Facebook and Twitter. Also, make sure you subscribe to Quickdirt in the right-hand column to get instant email updates when I post new articles. How have your workouts been going? Do you have a hard time getting motivated? Let me know where you struggle in the comment section. I’d love to have a conversation with you about it.
What Tires Am I Running at the Race?
This has been a rainy week in Ohio and although most of the course will be in good shape, there will definitely be some muddy sections. I will be running a Kenda Nevegal (Check out the reviews) on my front tire for grip and a Kenda Kozmik Lite II (Check out the reviews) on the rear. Right now the Kozmik Lite II is my favorite XC race tire and I will be running it on the front and back for most of my races this season. Which tires do you like to run in the early spring season? Do you change tires as the season goes along? Let me know your strategy in the comment section. I’d love to hear it.
My New Bike Rack is Awesome!!!
I recently purchased a Yakima Fullswing hitch-mounted 4-bike carrier (Check out the reviews) from roll: Polaris here in Columbus. So far it’s been an awesome upgrade from my Thule bike carrier (Check out the reviews of the Thule Vertex 9029 which is a newer version of the rack that I had. This one looks much nicer than my rack). The Fullswing swings completely out of the way of the tailgate. With my old rack I wasn’t able to open up the rear door to my vehicle. Now I have full access to the back of my car and it feels like such a luxury! The other thing that I really like is the carrier can be removed without tools. There is a lockable dial that you can twist to securely attach the carrier to the car. A few extra turns of the dial increases the tension of the mount and prevents the rack from swinging or vibrating when you drive. This makes it easier to take the rack off when it’s not in use and has the potential to add years of use to the device. I do miss the stretchable straps that attach the bike on the Thule carrier, but that is very minor compared to all the other things I love about the Yakima. Check out the price of the Yakima Fullswing Bike Carrier on Amazon. If you love your bike rack, let me know which one you have it and why in the comment section. I’d love to learn about it, so I can recommend it to other people who read Quickdirt.