Banging on about moderation is something I tend to do, but if I am brutally honest about it I am not particularly good at it. Life is a million miles an hour, even though I am working less at my main job, all the other stuff that goes along means that every inch of my life is full, and this is never more apparent when I talk to other people about life, especially when we are trying to arrange a catch up. It becomes pretty apparent quite quickly that I am the problem child with a race or event scheduled every weekend, because that’s the way I spend my clams in order to keep my own equilibrium (it teeters on the edge on occasion).
I am beginning to understand the appeal of the old ‘less is more’ adage, however I have always been this way and I don’t know how I would do life if I was not cramming events, work and training into every corner or crevice of time I have.
Thus, while family and bike time is primary, I have figured out how my time is best spent in order to maximise the training time I have.
Have a plan. Having a plan allows athletes to go out and achieve something purposeful every time they ride. Training goals can be as simple as completing a session, yet can do myriads for performance. Having a well-crafted plan reduces the likelihood of going out and doing rides that aren’t going to benefit your fitness and skills. Merely having the structure of a program with consistent measured periods of overreaching and recovery will result in fitness increases. Riding for fitness doesn’t have to be difficult if you apply the key principles of coaching, and doesn’t require $10000 bikes and fancy new $500 shoes (but hey, if you can afford them and that’s your thing go bananas!).
A plan for me, who crafts voodoo-like macro and microcycles for my athletes yet doesn’t have time to pore through my own stats with needle-like finesse, can be as simple as ‘the last two days were heavy training days I will feel like shit, probs should do some strength that doesn’t require too much top end, maybe slightly more than last week, the recover tomorrow’. Wa la. Voodoo.
Evaluate the optional extras. I understand the varied benefits of optional extras. Strength work on the bike can be complemented with gym sessions. A bit of stretching and yoga never went astray. Power metres and heart rate monitors can be invaluable tools when used correctly. Shedding excess fat mass will result in climbing up hills better. But what’s the best way to spend your clams? If you are an athlete, like many I coach and know, who max’s out at 10hrs/week on the bike, I would argue replacing bike sessions with gym time may not be the best way to spend those clams. If you are a shredded whippet then investing time in reducing minimal fat mass becomes a game of diminishing returns, when you could be looking at boosting watts instead. It comes back to specificity; what are you trying to achieve and how are you going to get there? How is your time best spent in a manner that is congruent with getting to the final goal?
Keep it in perspective. Yes many of us have bikes and racing pulsing through our veins, along with coffee. It becomes a part of our identities.
Yet…it’s just a bike race. Winning a bike race doesn’t make you a better person, or contribute to society. I love bikes, riding, and racing, but at the same time being able to see it for what it is; essentially a hedonistic fickle hobby (harsh but true) in which we attempt to improve ourselves as a personal challenge, can allow athletes to reduce the innate pressure on themselves to perform and help develop a bit of resilience. No one is solving world hunger with a bike race, it’s just a thing we do because we love it, and that’s ok. But sometimes the moderation can go out the window when we’re chasing the good feels.
That’s not to say I don’t care, I do (otherwise I wouldn’t be hauling my arse out of bed before 0500 in the mornings, and tasting vomit and blood during efforts), just that in the grand scheme of life your kids probably aren’t going to remember the time you came second in the C-grade criterium.
Spending clams wisely may mean doing a 2hr30 ride on the weekend instead of 3hrs, so you can go to the pool with the kids or catch up with friends. We only have a finite amount of clams and the way in which we spend them is pretty important. Use the clams wisely.