Friday, August 20, 2010

Lessons from Early Races - Applied to Future Training

Coming out of the Beaver Creek race I was pretty disappointed in how I raced. I really thought that my fitness was, or should have been greatly improved. I had really put in a lot of quality intervals on both the run and the bike. The good side of a bad race, if you have the right approach, is a renewed vigor to just kill it in training. That was my mindset as I formulated the plan to bring me to nationals. First, let me explain what I think I learned from the BC race.

1. I need to warm up better, longer, more race specific.
2. I need to take my cycling training to the mountain, on the mountain bike.
3. See number 2 above and apply to running.

To be more specific with #2 and #3, I need to work on more explosive strength in both cycling and running. On the bike, I put in a lot of quality threshold, VO2 and anaerobic capacity work through focused intervals on the trainer. The problem is, those intervals were done with a resistance/cadence in the mid 80's to low 90's. Many times due to the terrain on a mountain bike you have to generate the same watts at a lower cadence. This was a big hole in my fitness as I found at Xterra 4 corners and at the BC race.

On the run I had done a lot of hill training, but not a lot of intervals on the hills, so I was lacking the ability to be strong for 1-5 minute hills and on hills that are long and steep like BC. I experienced the lack of snap on short, punchy climbs in Xterra 4 corners, and the lack of strength on the long, steep hills at BC. I attributed my lack of snap in the 4 corners race to having just raced the Bolder Boulder, but I think my results at BC proved that it was the hole in my fitness more than fatigue.

So, with that, more mountain biking with plenty of climbing will be on the training schedule. One day of focused higher intensity hill repeats of varying lengths, and another day of long mountain bike rides in the mountains around 2.5 to 3 hours will be 2 key workouts, with the rest of the cycling training being done either on my road bike, trainer, or mountain bike, with less structure, and more of a time/aerobic endurance work. When I do have to do my training on the trainer, whether due to weather or time constraints, I will focus more on lower cadences. One of the key workouts that I will do on the trainer no matter what is a ride with 2x20 mins at threshold wattage, with 30 second bursts into the anaerobic power zones every 2 minutes. This will closely simulate the extended climbing for Ogden.

On the run I am incorporating on long trail run that is around 1.5 hours and a trail hill interval workout into the schedule as the 2 key running workouts each week, with probably 2 other mid-distance, aerobic intensity runs worked in.

Jaime has been great in helping to redesign my approach to swimming as well, with more sprint work, and changing pace more often. She's great at coming up with tough workouts that keep things fresh in the pool. That's important, because when the weather is nice like it has been, and it gets later in the season, my motivation to swim drops quite a bit.

So, this was my plan coming out of the BC race. I felt confident in the plan and was ready to attack it. I came out blazing and had a good 1st run in the first training session after the race. Then the wheels came off and I couldn't get the energy to do anything later that day. I took the evening off, and then ended up basically taking the whole week off from structured training. I quickly realized that I needed a mental and physical break after building for the BC race for 20 weeks. The decision turned out to be the right one. The break allowed me to really recover physically, and I found that coming out of that week I had gained quite a bit of fitness. In hindsight I went in the Beaver Creek race a little bit overcooked. A really good lesson to learn for future planning!

So, the newly developed approach just got a one week delay. The next post will be about the Xterra Indian Peaks race and an assessment of how the changes in my training has worked.

Keep it in the big ring.


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