It is never to early to begin practicing for a big event. As I mentioned previously, I'm starting early. Adding miles, increasing endurance, and riding with more purpose. Although I'm not doing many structured intervals, I'm not just riding around.
Riding with purpose can have many forms. Long steady-state intervals, varying cadence, varying terrain, varying road surface as I plan to do some dirt road races. How about simply riding more in the drops to get my back and neck to acclimate to the lower position? Always look for something you can add to your workouts in order to increase the benefit.
I had this in mind during recent workouts. I did about a dozen road races in the Spring of 2013. I analyze races to find trends. Then apply training strategies to prepare for common race scenarios. Let me share two race files with wildly different circumstances but a common pattern.
In the Tour of the Battenkill, nearly all race categories explode on difficult climbs towards the end of the race. Only the leaders of each race ride together to the end. Everyone else is left behind and fights to minimize their loses.
During my 2013 Tour of the Battenkill, I was fighting to minimize loses much earlier than I anticipated. You can see exactly where that happened in the graph. Lot of haphazard efforts for an hour or more while sitting within the group. After being left behind, the effort became much more consistent.
The next weekend at the 2013 Farmerstown Road Race, I went out to crush people. Halfway through the race, I broke away to catch another rider while leaving everyone else behind. Notice a similarity in the graph? The second half is significantly more difficult with very few opportunities for rest.
These two events were among my hardest of the year. Although every race plays out differently, this is the type of scenario I need to prepare for. I recently did a couple Endurance-building workouts. My current priority is extending my endurance. Additionally, I'm trying to build resistance to discomfort and fatigue. Resistance to fatigue and endurance are very similar. I want to do more than endure. I want to overcome. Train through discomfort. Ignore the burn. Ignore all the signals asking you to slow down. Focus on the task and put everything else aside. I am making mental preparations for those max efforts I will do in future training.
During this 10/16/13 Tewksbury Loop, I started at just a moderate intensity. I mixed in some hills and rode them briskly but well below a max effort. I wanted to generate fatigue. During the second half, I hit my lap button and punched it all the way back. I rode at Zone 3-Tempo for the remainder of the ride. It started relatively moderate but becomes a race-like effort towards the end. 50 minutes at Tempo at the end of a three hour ride is not easy.
This past Thursday, I did this 10/24/13 Princeton Loop. Very similar. This time is was 57 minutes of Tempo. This was a killer on a windy day. At this point, I am not ready for short and very intense intervals. If you visualize a pyramid of fitness, I'm building the foundation. The wider the base, the higher and more stable my fitness will be. I will top off this Pyramid in March and April. We don't know what it will look like but construction has begun.
This is why I nag you about your goal events. I need to know well in advance. I will dissect previous versions. Look at course maps and profiles. Consider your strengths and weaknesses and figure out what you need to do in training to prepare. Vague goals leads to vague training. You end up with vague results. We can do better than that.
Don't just go out and ride. Ride with purpose.
Thanks for reading.