In life and in training we are often forced to deal with the unexpected. I hear many reasons why people are unable to complete a workout or follow their training plan. I don't like to call them excuses. An excuse indicates that you were unable to overcome something. Instead, I call them obstacles. With motivation, dedication, and improvisation, we are able to work around obstacles and stay on track.
Saturday was one of those days for me. Winter weather impacted the area leaving snow and ice on the roads. Trails are heavily rutted after the wet weather of a few weeks ago. It is friggin cold. Those are sizable obstacles but it does not mean all is lost.
I had a workout to do and planned accordingly. I would ride my cross bike on the D&R towpath. The flat terrain allowed me to control the intensity. The cross bike easily handles the gravel path and light snow. Bundle up with the hand and foot warmers to manage the cold.
I added an obstacle that often sidetracks athletes. I did a group ride. Too often I hear people say, "Well, I decided to do a group ride so I wasn't able to get my workout done." That is not what I want to hear. Groups rides play a significant role in our training. I encourage them but you still have some specific work to do.
On this day, I rode with two clients and another friend. Since I was playing coach I had some influence over what we did. Without that, I would still be determined to get my specific work done. Even if it was with a group of people I did not know.
So I did two 15-minute intervals at 90% FTP. Another rider did the same. We just got to the front and lead the group down the path. Since I wasn't able to control everything, I ignore my prescribed rest periods. They end up being longer than ideal and also not as slow as I'd normally do. The entire ride was longer than I needed so I added some extra training towards the end just to ensure I was using my training time wisely.
Here is my data from the ride. Lambertville Towpath Data After warming up and sharing some conversation with others, I begin my first interval after 25 minutes of riding. 15 minutes at my prescribed power. You can see my HR go up and slowly increase with my perceived exertion. The power is pretty constant, dipping only to go around the closed gates we encounter on the path.
The rest interval starts slow as it should. Then we increase the speed slightly since most are not interested in riding at a walking speed. I get behind others and save some energy in the draft. We arrive at our turn-around point and take a quick stop to adjust clothing and stuff. We begin our return and I begin another interval. In this case, I was not in the front. In order to stay in my prescribed power range, I allow the others to ride ahead so I'm no longer in the draft. Just 5-6 bike lengths is good. Eventually the others slow and I take the front with another rider doing a similar effort. Then another rest period.
Another rider had enough in the tank for a third interval. The rest of us did not. He takes the lead and just drives us down the path. Although my legs wouldn't allow me to repeat the intensity, I found another way to benefit from the time on the bike. I finished the ride by keeping my cadence above 100RPM for 20 minutes. A higher cadence provides many benefits but takes time to get used to.
So I was able to ride with others and still get my specific workout done. I take pride in doing this often. Usually, I let myself fall of the back of the group and do the intervals without others even knowing. Doing it behind the group is less disruptive to others or the nature of the group ride.
Consider this the next time you are forced to deal with obstacles. Improvise and find a way to complete the training you need to reach your goals.