Friday, June 12, 2009

Training - Density

So apparently I'm more dense than I thought.

Meaning, I'm heavier than I thought. What did you think I meant?

I've been pretty happy, my perceived weight dropping to below 170 lbs more than once or twice in the past few months (for reference sake, I'm 5'7", so on the BMI scale that would mean a 26 or so, just a tad into the "Overweight" category. For the past 5 years, this is how I saw my weight.

2003: Peak of 193+ lbs. This means the needle didn't quite get to 194 lbs, but eating a, say, Twinkie would have done it. BMI = Obese. Yep, obese.

2004: "Rapidly" dropping weight by doing my first set of winter training camps, one in Florida, one in California, getting into the low 180s by Bethel. I managed 4 minutes in the first race before getting shelled, but I won a field sprint by the end of the Series. BMI = Overweight.

2005: Due to a repeat of the winter training camps, peak fitness and motivation by March, culminating in a Bethel Spring Series overall win. Weight at the time, about 165. BMI = the cusp of Overweight.

2006: 175 or so, with some 180s. Well into Overweight, obviously.

2007: 180s, with some 170s.

2008: 170-180, even with a lot of training.

2009: Thanks to being sick, not lifting for the first time in many years, and some regular riding last fall, down to 170 for the Bethel Spring Series. I even saw 167 on the scale once. BMI = almost into Normal.

This is when someone opened the curtains and revealed the imposter. The missus bought a scale, one that, when I think about it, jibes with the "inaccurate" doctor's scales. See, the one I have is, shall we say, optimistic. Not just a little optimistic, a lot optimistic.

Let's try TEN POUNDS optimistic.

Holy Fatmobile, Batman!

This means that, at my peak (weight, not fitness), I was in the 205 pound range (!!). Try lugging that up some hills. BMI = Obese. I stretched out a size Large jacket. Jacket!

And even at my optimal fitness, I hovered at 175-180 lbs. Much of my racing occurred at a chunky 185-190 lbs range.

I guess it makes sense. My 10 hours a month training just isn't enough. It's pretension I suppose, an illusion, like the Wizard or the Emperor's Clothes.

I thought how it felt to train hard back in the day. I felt an inkling of what I used to feel after the track stuff on Wednesday night, when I piled into the car, legs totally wasted, and started the long drive home.

Back then I used to walk around in a constant fatigued zombie state. I'd get on the bike, my legs stiff and a bit achy, and start pedaling. Thirty minutes later my muscles would start to loosen up, and an hour later I'd feel somewhat normal.

Then, if doing a hard ride, I would ask my legs to do just one more effort. Just one more, for the Gipper. One more, to that mailbox. One more jump, to get that truck. One more lap of my Downtown Sprints. One more lap at SUNY Purchase. One more lap at whatever race I was in. One more, one more.

My legs responded every time.

For hours.

I remember the first (and last) double metric century the team did, in the early 90s. We did two laps of the Bloomin' Metric, 124 miles. The first loop went by pretty quickly, a full complement of team riders with another 15 or 20 random riders contributing to the flying paceline.

The second loop seemed a bit tougher. A bunch of guys dropped off to head to something as unfathomable as "work". Everyone felt a bit tired - we'd done the first lap in just about three hours, stopping at every stop to refuel. I had no idea what to expect on that second lap, none at all. I contemplated giving in to my aching, sore legs a break, but when our illustrious leader Mike gave me that grin and cajoled me to keep going, I knew I'd have to do that second lap.

I knew that I couldn't climb as well as the others. I'd been struggling on that first lap as it was, and I'd been hiding a lot, trying to save some juice for the second one. With some relatively fresh legs, concern about the climbs, I decided I'd have to act to keep from getting shelled: I'd lead into the climbs to buy myself some "drift back" room.

Each hill I'd guess at how hard I could go up. Big ring on many of them, small one for the toughies. I rolled into them, stood, rocked the bike, and prayed my legs would hold together. And they did. Hill after hill after hill.

Problem was that I went fast enough that others didn't want to come around. I found myself pulling over climb after climb, descending at the front, then trying to help out on the faster bits. Unbelievable. Big gears, little gears, I could turn them over at will.

I drank frantically, worried about cramps, worried about bonking. I couldn't eat very much, but I ate what I could, anything to avoid running out of gas.

I had one trouble spot, a false flat that absolutely killed me, but the next rest stop popped up just over the crest.


Regrouped, we soldiered on, until, with maybe a mile left, I popped a spoke in my rear wheel. We'd been attacking each other pretty consistently for the last five or ten minutes, and when I went to counter what ended up being the "winning" move (our leader, of course), it went. The other guys asked if I'd be okay (of course I would) and then they set off after the solo break. I shredded a tubular getting to the parking lot (I rode my race wheels - it was a do or die day) but it was worth it.

Could I do that now?

No. Not at that pace. Not with those efforts, that speed. Nowadays things are a bit different.

I don't want to feel zombie-like. I don't train outside when it's raining. I have other things in my life, things other than training 30 or 40 miles each night, or venturing out to do some night time sprints at 11 o'clock at night.


I still want to be under 170. For real. 165 if possible. For real. I want to remain relatively fit this year, and have a good base to build on for next year.

And, contrary to my beliefs just a day ago, I am positively not at 170. I'm at 180.

So what's that mean?

Training density must go up for my body density to go down.

Okay, that's not technically accurate, but you get the gist, right?

Yeah, you got it. I gotta go ride.

See you out there tomorrow at Nutmeg.

1 comment:

Suitcase of Courage said...

"I don't want to feel zombie-like. I don't train outside when it's raining. I have other things in my life, things other than training 30 or 40 miles each night, or venturing out to do some night time sprints at 11 o'clock at night."

My sentiments precisely (not that I *ever* did sprints at 11pm)

But I still prolly should get a "real" scale myself...