Saturday, December 12, 2009

Athlete Types - Joe Friel

Mr. Friel, in the article above, outlines three different athlete types: artist-athletes, scientist-athletes, and accountant-athletes. It's an interesting article because I can see people who trend these various directions on the team.

I'd like to see myself as an artist, but I rarely am what I think I am. I place value on certain ways of thinking or doing, but don't always act the same way. The first time I was aware of this was when I was on a trip to Hong Kong to visit relatives, back when I was a kid. One of my uncles bought my brother and I table tennis paddles. Real ones, not the "walmart" paddles you mostly find here; blade and pads sold separately. He bought two pads, an "attacking" pad and a "defending" pad, one for my brother and one for me. I thought of myself as a defensive player - I placed value on defensive play, and wanted the "defending" pad. My little brother countered saying I should have the "attacking" pad - in reality, I played an attacking style.

On the bike, I value being an artist: training and racing on instinct. On the other hand, I question if I really have the talent to pull it off.

December Training Plan

After a lot of thinking, here's the idea. If there is one theme for December for me, it is base. I want a BIG BASE this year. Not the little wimpy one I've been working with for the last couple years.

For the four full weeks of December, with one week nearly over, here's the idea:

Week 1: endurance rides. Two hour roller sessions at high zone 2 intensity. So far I've completed the two hour roller sessions on each Tuesday and Thursday, and there is no obstacles to the roller sessions today and tomorrow. This is be a total of 8 hours at high zone 2 this week.

Week 2: endurance and threshold rides. Tuesday and Thursday will be 2x20min sessions on the trainer. Sat and Sun will be endurance. Hopefully outdoors for 3-4 hours on Sat.

Week 3: same as week 1, but with the addition of a Wednesday endurance roller session.

Week 4: same as week 2, but with a Wednesday, 1 hr "sweet spot" roller session.

My biggest obstacle in all this is schedule. Weeks 1 and 3 are my most free, because my wife works late on those days. Weeks 2 and 4 are difficult because I need to dodge her schedule or sacrifice time with her (which are why the 1 hour threshold sessions are on weeks 2 and 4). This has been a constant battle between my home schedule and my training schedule, as it is with many people. This year though, I am resolved to just make better use of my time in general and communicate with my wife better about her schedule and work around it. I am fortunate that my work hours are relatively flexible. Between the flexibility in my work schedule and my resolve to make better use of my time, I should be set for 8-12 hours a week throughout the year.

With December being devoted to base, January will probably be more of the same, but with some more bias towards threshold intensity level efforts. In the last couple years, I have been trying to mix in different training intensities into different weeks. I have not really been that consistent, more like "well, I should get an interval set in today, so let's climb some hills..." That sort of thing. Better awareness, coming from the last couple years, of what is required in my training and what I can do with the time I have is essential to my training this year.

This year, I am making a theme for the week and running with it. For instance, I want every other week this year to be a threshold week. Something like two hours of threshold ever week. In the winter months, this will be a 2x20min trainer workout. In the summer, it will be one hour at threshold workout done on the time trial bike.

The week in between weeks of threshold work will be season specific. December and January, these will be endurance weeks. February and March will probably be VO2max (1-4 minute intervals with short-ish rest). Between all these intensity specific rides, there will obviously be a fair number of tempo rides/races, and I want to keep one endurance ride going every week through the year.

"A" races this year are the Cherry Blossom Stage Race in April and the Cascade Classic in June. These are more like markers for my training progression rather than actual racing goals. I want to have good form in late-March/early-April (Cherry Blossom + Spring Classics) and again in July/early-August (Cascade + Track/Crits). So the "A" races are not really targeted races per se (I am not even sure I can ever be competitive in a stage race), but more like anchors to fix my training progression in time.

All of this is just a rough outline of what I would like to see happen. Day to day training will still be done pretty much on the fly, within a general week-specific goal that fits within a monthly progression. This is because I need the maximum flexibility in my schedule. I need structure in the big picture, but flexibility at the day-to-day level. Time will tell if I can pull it off.

Like making a move in a chess game, sometimes you just have to admit that you can't perfectly predict the future. You just choose the move that puts you in the best position after the next couple moves are played; then pick up the piece and play it. Right now, the best I can do is say I want hours on the bike at endurance pace if nothing else. Build a big base while working on my power at threshold - that's how the next month is sketched out, and that's enough for the moment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

After all the talk is over...

...there are still only three things I need to do to have a successful 2010 season.

  1. Race. Every chance I get.  
  2. Ride more. Find the time to train. Ride in the dark, in the rain. Train in the garage at midnight if need be.  
  3. Lose weight. Don't we all. 

All else will follow: the power numbers, results, all of it. All this training stuff is kind of confusing when you start thinking about it too much. The last two posts I've published were all about numbers and I kind of got caught up into it. Seems to be a side effect of reading too much into all the training theories about training "with power".

What a bunch of bullshit. When it comes down to brass tacks, it's still all about time on the bike. Yea, yea, you don't want to "waste" your training time by doing the "wrong" thing. But make it too complicated and you end up not riding at all. Instead, you spend all your time talking about numbers and chasing numbers instead of riding and listening to your body. After thinking about it for the last few days, I am of the opinion that all these theories of power meter training are better left to professional coaches. Leave the rider to riding and not bother with the numbers at all. Except for motivation by way of measuring pissing distance of course.

In previous seasons, the two most valuable things I did were to: 1) spend a lot of time on my bike, and 2) 2x20min intervals. My weak points still haven't changed. My FTP is still my limiter. I still need to lose weight (though I am better off by a good eight pounds over last year). Sounds like I need to do more of the same as I did last year. It's not like I hit a plateau or anything yet.

Furthermore, I have to be patient. It's the first week of December and I'm already starting to freak out about my training plans. I almost spoiled a perfectly good (and rare) lunch with my girl because I was obsessing about a ride at lunchtime because I couldn't pull off my training session last night. In reality, it's simple. Ride a bunch. Do 2x20's as much as I can stand. When race season starts, race. That's it.