Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Racing - 2010 Stats, 2011 Outline

For whatever reason I have my SRM set so that a season starts on October 1. It would make sense that the season therefore ends September 30th. I'm not sure why I left it like that other than maybe I got the bike (with the SRM on it) at about that time.

Whatever, the fact that the 2010 season ended "officially" for me means I could check out what I did. It helps that my SRM is working again so it kind of motivated me to look at my past performances. For me that means looking at the big picture stuff. I'm less concerned about exactly what I did on a particular day. I'm more interested in the workload I did during different parts of the year. This is most important when looking at races where I felt particularly good or strong. In order to try and replicate those good days, I need to look at what I did in the prior two or three months, week by week, and see how that differs from other two or three month periods.

Okay, I really need to look at the prior two weeks (a "tactical" period) as well as the prior six or eight months (a "strategic" period). My overall fitness gets decided by my training for the past half year or more, but my freshness on a given day usually gets determined by the amount of rest, the type of diet, and the training I do in the prior week or so.

Remember that training breaks your body down. You don't get stronger by training, you get weaker. If you got stronger by training, you'd feel better the day after a 6 hour ride, and you'd feel great after a dozen consecutive 6 hour rides.

Unless you're a freak of nature, that's not the case.

If you're anything like me then you feel like a waste product the day after a 6 hour ride. If you did a dozen consecutive 6 hour rides, you'd barely be able to get out of bed. I couldn't tell you because I've never done anything like that.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that training isn't where you make your gains.

Resting is where you gain your strength. Resting rebuilds your body, refuels, refits, revitalizes, renews - all those Re-Re-Re things. It gives your body time to adapt to the stresses it's just seen, the 6 hour rides, the 10 intervals, even the jog from your car to the registration table. Rest is where you build your strength.

Therefore the resting prior to a good day is key ("resting" doesn't necessarily mean resting the day before, it just means the rest you get in general).

The goal for anyone seeking to peak on a given day is to carefully break down the body by training as hard as possible while still giving it enough time to recover in time for the Big Day. You have strategic plans, big picture type schedules, and you have tactical plans, the day by day small picture schedules.

For me it's pretty straightforward. For all Big Days, I need to take it easy the day before, do maybe an hour or so. If I've been riding a lot, 4 or 5 days a week or more, I need to do a similar ride two days prior, with a day off the bike three days prior. The easy ride helps loosen the legs, else I feel like I'm pedaling with Pinocchio legs.

If I don't have a lot of miles on my legs then I don't ride at all two and three days prior. I don't need a couple days to get back into it. The only exception is if I've taken more than a few days off, due to illness or real life things. For example I had to take over a week off just now due to illness. It took three rides before my legs felt anywhere near resilient - the first two days were horrible.

For the big picture it's also pretty straightforward. I have a couple season goals each year, and they don't change very much. In fact they haven't changed for 15 or more years. Those goals then determine my overall schedule.

1. Go hard January. Go hard part of February. End one big ("macro" as coined by Lemond and I think Paul Koechli) cycle. This is my big build phase where I get my base miles in. I try and do some long hours here, even in a short-hour year. I've done over 30 hours in a single week while averaging about 10 hours during most of the other weeks. I hope this year to hit that 30 hour mark one week, and I think that 10 hours in the other weeks is a bit much for me. We'll see how that affects the rest of my season.

2. Finalize promotional prep for Bethel Spring Series. Race March and first half April, focus on recovery and not getting sick. I typically train only 2-3 hours a week during Bethel so I basically build reserves the whole time. End second big cycle. Take second half of April easy.

3. May, June, part of July, go hard. Take a week or so easy before Nutmeg State games (CT Crit Champs). With group rides, Tuesdays at the Rent, I did consistent 2 hour daily rides in 2010, a lot for me. I hope to repeat this at some level in 2011. This ends my third big cycle.

4. July, August, September, go hard until the end of the season. I have no particular goals so I use whatever form I have to do whatever I can do. At the end of that I ease for the year, so it's my last big cycle of training. I'll do Pedal4Paws, a charity ride to benefit Forgotten Felines in Connecticut,

In 2010 I accomplished something along those lines. In some raw numbers I did the following:

- Rode 293 hours
- 4913 miles
- 30 races

The first number is high for me, especially considering that I lost a lot of days towards the end of the season due to logging things incorrectly (SRM wasn't charged, no magnet, couldn't find SRM, etc - all errors on the part of the nut that holds the handlebars, i.e. the rider). In prior "working" years where I had a job, 150 hours for the year seemed like a lot. 450 hours for the year I didn't work was a lot - I actually got tired of riding - and I raced worse than I did on shorter hour years.

The second number is kind of just interesting. Miles don't mean anything, really. I didn't know that when I "tried to be a pro" so I tried to pile on miles, even riding up and down my street to round out a ride's mileage. I managed to do 10,000 miles that year and finished one race. I believe I DNFed 44 races.

30 races - that's 30 entries, with dual entries on a few of the Bethels. I think I had 27 race days overall. Not bad, all considering. I thought I raced tons, and to me tons means 40 or 50 races. My record year was 55 races or so, and I was a racing lunatic. So 30 races is a lot, just not at a lunatic level.

The fact that the Missus was at virtually every race (once her work season ended) is pretty incredible.

I'm a bit worried for 2011. I probably need to train more, especially since I struggle once a race hits the 60 minute point.

Well, okay, the 35 minute point.

Doing a 25 mile crit is fine. Doing a 40 or 50 mile one... I haven't done that much crit racing in a single race ever. For me that's a 2 hour flat road race, not a crit.

When I thought about upgrading many years ago, a Cat 2 told me that I'd have to double my training miles. He'd had to go from doing 200-250 miles a week to 400-500 miles a week, and he told us so.

My then girlfriend laughed and asked if that meant I had to train 90 miles a week instead of 45. The puzzled Cat 2 had a look of concern on his face. She explained that I'd usually train about 45 miles in a week. Since the Cat 2 had just taken me across three lanes of pavement in the last 200 meters of the race to beat me, he must have figured I trained more than his easy day mileage.

(That day he technically beat me but was disqualified for his swerve from one edge of Limerock's main straight to another. I feel that even if he hadn't panicked and made his drastic move he'd still have won the sprint, but the officials didn't like his 30 foot wide swerve.)

Whatever, his reaction to my mileage was worth a chuckle.

(To give that same rider props, he attacked at New Britain in the 1-2-3 race, with me on his wheel. We both almost went off the road in Turn 1, a long, gentle sweeper. We had to ease hard and brake. Then we looked at each other to make sure the other guy had to do the same thing - we started laughing when we realized that we'd each done the same thing. We'd entered the turn at 42 mph after attacking out of the field, pedaling furiously, and couldn't lean hard enough to make the turn. I've never had to brake to stay on the road in that turn, before or since.)

I do have one thing going for me as far as miles go.

What my then-girlfriend didn't mention is that I did some mad hours (or miles) on the bike in the winter, building a base, breaking down my body. I still do this, albeit a bit more focused. I cram a winter of training into about four weeks, maybe five, doing long trainer sessions and my now-regular SoCal training camp.

Then, in the spring and summer, to allow my body to be as strong as possible, I'd do weekly micro-cycles, riding hard just on Monday or Tuesday. Then I'd rest ("double secret training") until Saturday, doing a short 20 or 30 minute spin to loosen the legs. I'd feel great on Sunday, race day.

After four or five weeks of this I'd be way behind in fitness because I'd only ridden 300 miles or so. This would force me into doing a hard week, maybe 250 miles, recover while doing another 150-200 miles the next week, and start my distorted macro-cycle again.

For 2011 this last bit won't work.

I'll need to be constantly building my form to remain even slightly competitive in the Cat 2s, and when I say "slightly competitive", I mean I just want to finish a race. I figure I'll be okay in the races that truly suit me, the ones that force those at the front to work extra hard compared to those sitting in. They include races like Bethel, New Britain, even Ninigret and Keith Berger. It's the races where it's harder to sit in where I'll be in dire straights - Red Trolley in San Diego, New London, maybe Fall River.

If I ride a full season as a 2, it'll be interesting what those stats read at the end of the 2011 season.


Jancouver said...

Good luck with the 2011 season! See ya in San Diego :)

Aki said...

Thanks and see you out there. Hopefully I ride fast enough in a month :)