If You Do The Same Things…

…You’ll get the same results. Is a sporting trueism. It basically means that whilst performing to a certain level, you cannot just expect to improve consistently based on the same inputs.

For example, my best year on the bike was 2006. 3 or 4 good placings in road races and all on hard courses. 5th fastest in the Fred, good rides on Etape Du Dales, Polka Dot Challenge and the Marmotte and some good Hill Climb showings too. Those successes were based on training a 14 hour week minimum, commuting to and from work 3 days a week (thats a 40 mile round trip) and 2 long rides at the weekend. My only interval training came from Road Racing and Time Trialling and I bumbled through the season at a constant level and I was pretty pleased with the results. I can’t do that any more due to not being single and having a job that requires me to move around between sites, so I had to change it.

2007, 2008 and 2009 were not what I hoped and now it’s time to change again. One of the hardest things anyone can do is take themselves out of a comfort zone and risking a new approach. This year I’m planning to take in structured gym work (which seems to have worked miracles for Honister 92’s very own Schleck brothers) and approach my goals in a different fashion.

I’ve always picked out individual events and said “that one” building up to a peak for one day and then beating myself up if I didn’t measure up. I think this year I’m going to pick periods of a few weeks with decent races I can do well in and aim to perform right across them. Hedging my bets, if you will. I’m going to prepare differently too, by breaking my goals down in to physical characteristics required giving me something to hang my hat on while I’m training.

Likewise I need to amend my mental approach. I havbe a tendancy to think myself out of a race before I’ve left the house. I don’t know what it is, but I need to address it all the same.

Anyway, will update this later on following my first gym session and my goalsetting session with Coach Sam!

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Here We Go Again!

So the moment had finally arrived. Up early, excited about going out on my bike for the first time in 3 weeks, training for the 2010 season starting today and really up for it. I was like a kid at Christmas, until I looked out of the window.

The tree across the road was at a 45 degree angle, our wheelie bin was at a 90 degree angle and I’m sure I saw a cat fly past. To cap it off there was the kind of rain last seen in a Batman film and a severe weather warning on the telly. Bloody Cumbria, I know i’m going to lose days outside to the weather throughout the winter, but to lose the very first one was just unfair!

The plan had been my 50 mile, 3 hour, Thirlmere loop at an easy pace. This takes you up the A66 to Keswick, out over the Nest (a horrible little climb) into the lakes, you do the loop round Thirlmere and then head back through St Johns in the Vale and round the back of Bassenthwaite (where my friend Rachael works in a really nice cafe, by sheer coincidence). I had planned to put in a Max HR test on the climb out of Keswick too.

Clearly, I now needed to re-jig my plan based on an indoor session. The thought of 3 hours on the Turbo (Even the Kurt Kinetic) is enough to make me sell my bike so I plumped for an hour and a half of easy riding (keeping my HR below about 85% at all times) with the aforementioned Max HR test thrown in. I cribbed the structure from an illicit copy of Pete Read’s Black Book (Thanks to Will from Bikeradar’s forums!) and, essentially, you batter yourself at increasing intensity until you can’t batter yourself no more. My musical companions were Mogwai and my DVD choice was The Quest. The Phil Ligget narrated tale of Gilberto Simoni’s 2003 Giro Win.

So 30 minutes into my session, my long suffering girlfriend stood with a pen and a stopwatch to record the results. I started off in a 53×18 at a cadance of 100 for 2 minutes, then up a gear, then up another… By 3 minutes it was agony. The Polar later told me that i’d passed from my endurance pace to above lactic threshold in just over a minute. By 4 minutes i was wondering if I could last. By 5 and a half my candance had dropped to 85 and my heart rate by about 15 beats, the test was over.

And the result? 196 max HR. Exactly the same as last year. So I needn’t have bothered. The things we do eh?