Monday, October 24, 2011

Raceless Weekend

The past weekend was the first break in the OVCX series this year, and although there was an ICX race at Major Taylor Velodrome on Sunday, I thought that a weekend off from racing would be good for me. Besides, my mom was coming to visit, so I just went ahead and chilled out with a couple of bike-free days.

I've not been on any sort of formal training plan since racing began, and I usually just evaluate a my level of fatigue on Tuesdays and Thursdays and decided whether I should ride hard, easy, or not at all. Very rarely has the answer come up as "hard", and it doesn't really seem to have hurt me. Racing doubles every weekend really fatigues the body and I'm not going to help myself by pushing further into fatigue that I won't be able to recover from before the next race. The only part of my training week between races that I don't compromise on is my one day of maintenance strength work on Wednesdays, because I feel like my gym time over the summer was the major contributor in my improvements this season, so I'm doing my best to maintain my strength and not have to go through any major soreness when I start to go heavier again in the off-season.

Anyway, with a weekend off from racing, I knew that I needed to get a couple of hard workouts before I raced again, even though I was out of practice in forcing myself to go hard without anyone to chase. A combination of the last days of sickness and then some days of crappy weather caused me to delay the first workout until Friday morning, which I had off from work in anticipation of my mom's arrival. I decided that a set of Jamie's "Intervals of Death" would be a good tune-up between races.

The workout consists of 6-12 rounds of 30 seconds as hard as you can go with 4:30 rest. Sounds like a lot of rest, huh? The key to the workout is that if you just go "hard" it isn't that hard, but if you can force yourself to go bleeding eyeballs hard on each rep it is hard and gives a big improvement in speed. I'm not even sure of the mechanism (maybe neurological?), but for my May training block I did two days a weeks of heavy weights and two days a week of these intervals and when it was over my legs were super snappy and I got my first XC win. They just work. Anyway, I went for eight rounds and had good numbers. Not only did I set a all-time best 30 seconds, there wasn't too huge of a drop-off between my best and worst. Normally when I set a short power PR a) I'm intentionally trying b) the rest of the workout is crap. Neither was the case this time.

Bhu Fan (went with my first instinct there) got her first hard workout, as well, and rode like a dream. Unlike her namesake, she definitely doesn't have a "tin can Oriental voice", just smooth and quiet with zoomy carbon fiber sounds here and there. (Bhu Fan the character is a Korat cat, so I don't think "Oriental" is racist in this case. Just as long as you stay PC and call her a "companion animal" instead of a pet.)

Fall foliage in Cascades Park

Saturday and Sunday were spent off the bike and with my mom. We did some fun stuff like shop for antiques, hit up the farmer's market, and took a tour of Marengo Cave. We saw this guy on the way out. It was the first woodchuck my mom had ever seen and only the third for me.

This week will start looking like a normal race week again, but I will be rested enough for one more hard workout on Tuesday. I'm going to try something a little different of my own devisement. With the current infrequency of hard workouts, I was trying to figure out what two workouts would give me the best tune-up during this mid-season mini-break. I thought the 30-seconders were a good choice, but I decided that rather than doing just a regular V02 max workout that I would go to the hill that I use for V02 max intervals in the 2-3 minute range. I think it might be 3.5 minutes to the actual peak of the hill, but less than 4, so I've never really ridden it out all the way in repeats. The last minute is tough, anyway, since it flattens out after a really steep section, and it gets hard to hold my power high. So for tomorrow, my goal is to ride to the peak regardless of time and not let my power drop during the last flatter section. This should be a good simulation for not letting myself slow down on the flatter, straighter sections during races where I tend to back off a bit and get passed.

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