I have been slogging away between work and other commitments on the bike in preparation for the BCBR 2017. Right now I am couch-bound and not excited about anything beyond my next coffee/wine (after two days of racing plus working a night shift last night: yes I am sometimes stupid), but I know when the fog of fatigue lifts, I will be excited and ready for anything. Perhaps.
The road back to some form is difficult after a lot of time off. I went from form of my life to bulk couch time, and now back into it. A few weeks in, I am starting to feel like my legs are less like empty vessels, and have more pedal-hard potential; but it’s come and go, which is to be expected.
Additional challenges include being back on shift work, though I feel it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise as I can now at times ride in school hours and it omits all the 0400 riding I was doing. But night shift is a soul destroying experience, every time. So once again fatigue management is a big issue for me, as it is for many other athletes; not just shift workers.
As I employ more back-to-back long and/or hard sessions, it is becoming more important to recover well, which for me means emphasising good nutrition, rest and stretching rather than my usual lazy approach of wine and Netflix. I am sure many of you can sympathise with this experience. In addition to this, a couple of days at the gym really spikes my fatigue and hunger, as I am beginning to lift heavy weights again (plus, you have to mitigate the tried, sore legs, extra kgs and lack of speed that lifting heavy brings…).
So if you were looking at the previous training you will remember it was pretty general, and fun-orientated:
Monday: Day off or active recovery
Tuesday: Short trail ride, slightly higher intensity (work day) (<2hrs)
Wednesday: Long trail ride, focus on hills and technical trails (3-4hrs)
Thursday: Medium fireroad hill ride or road ride up the mountain (3hrs)
Friday: Off/active recovery OR short technical trail blat (1hr-1hr30)
Saturday: Long ride, mixture of fire-road, trails and mountaineering (3hr45 ride, 45min mountaineering…)
Sunday: Technical trails blat (2hr) and bushwalk (1hr)
From here, I have upped and changed a few bits, working my mesocycles into my work life (so I will start with a Saturday):
Saturday: Tough subthreshold trail ride: bulk singletrack. 1hr50.
Sunday: Technical trail riding, tempo pace but arduous trails. 3hr30/1000m elevation
Monday: Hills, subthreshold. (2x25min plus some shorter hills, finishing with singletrack) 3hrs/1500m elevation. Run dog: 25min.
Tuesday: Road miles: 2x Cooth-tha and Nebo return. 3hr30/2000m elevation.
Wednesday: off (13hr work day)
Thurs: off (75min heavy gym session: ow, 13hr work day)
Friday: 1hr recovery ride + yoga
Saturday: Ride to/from Crit: 2hr30. Nearly die from fatigue but somehow get up for a sprint!
Sunday: 100km marathon teams race with Aido, limited caffeine due to working this evening. 2x25km laps: YUK. total ride time about 2hr45 (3hrs including limited rolling: followed by 12hr night shift)
Monday: Walk the dog!
So in the 8/day cycle I have shown I have done a total of 18hrs riding + gym (not including stretching and core stability at home); a fair amount for me, who tends to prefer short and sharp. My own top end is suffering, especially with the added fatigue, but it’s all about the endgame: getting through the BCBR, which is why I am putting up with the fatigue of gym and backing up multiple hard sessions. Also, I keep trying to remind myself that it really doesn’t matter to be doing bulk strength right now, it doesn’t matter that I am fatigued and slow, it’s all a part of the process.
Bike wise, prioritised time on the MTB to replicate BCBR demands means I am feeling pretty good technically again, which is great. The legs are far from race ready but I am starting to feel like going the distance isn’t going to be an issue. Working on dominantly my aerobic system also means that the top end is a little latent, but considering the elevation and distance of BC, plus my more natural aptitude for top end (ok…it doesn’t feel like it right now!) I am avoiding working that until just prior to the race.
Backing up is hard to do, so that’s why I am trying to have a few instances of back-to-back racing and training. It ain’t pretty, but it’s necessary as much mentally as physiologically, to ensure the body and mind knows what it’s in for. You can see I have been prioritising elevation in my rides, and multiple 1500-2000m elevation rides of 3-4hrs with some intensity are going to be integral in preparing for the rugged terrain of Canada.
So what’s next?
•Race simulation block. While I am not going to go and do 7 days of hard singletrack with bulk elevation, I am pushing the backing up days out to four, with some added subthreshold and threshold intensity.
•Prioritise recovery. This one is hard because of life getting in the way. I wish I had a washing and cooking and working fairy to do those parts of my life sometimes! But perhaps this means, for me, reducing wine intake on backing up-days, prioritising ride and post-ride nutrition (which will probably help me feel less blobby in the wake of brownie-gate, too!), stretching, and getting good sleep.
•Pick your races. I am feeling particularly uninspired by most XC racing at the moment. It’s the demands, the scene, the politics, the lack of adventure, it’s all a bit dead to me. I wake up and I am like ‘why am I going??” most of the time life is so crammed that I would prefer to spend the day catching up, rather than schlepping out for a day of flagellation. I am not feeling the joy in it, but I think it may come back in the periods where I back that fatigue right off. A few races coming up will include some gravity style races, road crits, and some other races to complement BC…yeah probably some XCO too. I am not going to go out of my way to race every weekend, I have been there, done that, caught the burnout!