Sunday, January 06, 2013

Training - 2012 Strava Numbers, Sort Of

I started using Strava consistently once May 2012 rolled around. My main reason is to show people that it's possible to race without being ruled by training. A solid tactical racer can get by with a lot less training than many people realize.

I found that 5-8 hours of training a week gets the most out of my body without sacrificing much from the rest of my life. When I do 10 or 15 hours a week I race better but I sacrifice parts of my personal life. At 20-30 hours a week I can barely function off the bike but I get that final bit of form.

I also find it important to race - I haven't been able to do intervals in a long time, probably over a decade. Mentally I find it virtually impossible to push hard on my own for any length of time. I need a goal or some external stimulus, like a race. My training is steady with a few jumps for fun; I hone my fitness by racing, hopefully two to three times a week.

In this vein I'll post my somewhat incomplete 2012 Strava calendar. January-April are not really accurate, but I never really did any long rides. We were working hard to prepare the house (and ourselves) for Junior's arrival. I did no SoCal training camp, which I did from 2004 to 2011, no Las Vegas trip, no real extended time on the trainer.

I have a bunch of training data (aka SRM files) on a PC that isn't up right now. I haven't gotten around to pulling the files off of it so I can't backfill the 2012 numbers from the winter. I'm pretty sure that the numbers aren't too different from the rest of the season. I think my biggest week during the off season was a 5 or 8 hour week, and most of them were 2 to 4 hours.

For those that don't use Strava the big numbers for each month represents the number of hours of training. Again, keep in mind the first four months are incomplete. For example I think some of the Bethels are missing, and I rode more than an hour in January. However May to December is accurate. There are a few extra workouts in there - I actually tried running a bit, and once, when I walked around a shopping center with Junior, I used Strava to track where I walked.

Two thirds of my 2012 schedule - the top row is incomplete

Another thing to keep in mind - although I managed to finish some races I certainly wasn't in condition to contest much during the season. I had my hands full just trying to finish Cat 3 races. So although I want to illustrate that you don't need a lot of training to go through a season, I also want to point out that 12 to 14 hours a month is probably a bit low for training.

Finally, please note that I usually raced Tuesday night and usually Sunday as well. If I raced I hopefully got in an hour of racing. Some of my races lasted much less than that, like 8 or 10 minutes, but there were other days where I did two races, spending a good two hours out on the bike. What this means is that a very high percentage of the riding hours each month from March to August was spent racing the bike. In other words I was averaging 25 mph and working very hard for most of my summer riding.

My training rides tend to be very consistent since I leave the big efforts for the races. I typically do 14-15 mph on the trainer (fluid resistance so it's comparable to a road ride) and 16 or 17 mph out on the road (it's faster because I can coast on downhills and I tend to chase trucks and such). I think that on every single solo training ride this year I rode the same loop, a 15 mile loop nearby. After doing the loop a bunch of times I thought it'd be fun to do just the one loop the whole year. It sort of happened too.

You can see the huge uptick in hours in December 2012. Both the Missus and I were disappointed in my lack of form during the 2012 season. It's not really fun to drive out to a race, watch me get shelled in 10 minutes, then go home.  The Missus was the one that started commenting that maybe I should train more. It was a kind and supportive suggestion, not a harsh one - how many racing spouses actually ask the racer to train more? For both of us it's much more fun if I can get involved in the race. I know for her it's very exciting if I'm contesting a finish, much more so than if I roll across the line 30 seconds after the field.

It's only January 6th now but I've already done over 10 hours in 4 rides this year (all on the trainer). Although I don't expect to be doing any 30+ hour weeks like I try to do in SoCal I hope to get some 5 or 10 hour weeks done in the next two months.

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