Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Training Plan Curiosity

Oh, the things that run through my head during long rides. Welcome to the thought of the day. (One of the many)

When I teach private music lessons, one of the first things I work on is setting the student up with a good practice technique and a consistent practice schedule. Without those two things, never practicing and practicing 10-12 hours a day will give the same result. You can’t just have a regular practice routine, you have to have good practice technique, and vise versa. Without both of those things present, you’re just spinning your wheels. (waka waka)

The same thing goes for training for an event. I feel like in the past I have had a good training technique, but not always a consistent training schedule. So, this year I’m trying something different.

Granted, I’m also training for something different. Seeing how far and how long I will be pushing myself for these events, I’ll need some help on the training front. So, for the first time, I downloaded a basic 16 week training plan for riding your first double century.

It’s just a day by day schedule that gives you a certain mileage to aim for, and a weekly total for each of the 16 weeks. It’s definitely not a modern training program, and if I really wanted to get everything out of myself and my body that I can, I would hire a human trainer, or pay big bucks for training software. And get a human trainer. You can’t beat real, human feedback.

But I wanted to keep things simple. (Also I’m cheap) So, I found and downloaded this little free 16 week training schedule, entered the date of my first event, the Solvang Double Century, and realized I was, at the time, already on week 3. Time to get cracking.

Now, it seemed to be set up for non-distance riders that are unfamiliar with and have not attempted long distances in the past. That’s not me; I did a 180 mile ride last August in under 12.5 hours. But, I still wanted to try going the structured way, just to see how it worked. After all, I tell every one of my students these very things, I might as well try some of my own medicine.

I’m currently in week 13, and things seem to be going pretty well. Sure, I missed part of week 5 due to weather and nearly all of week 6 due to sickness. Rain again took out most of week 8. So, sometimes I missed my daily/weekly mileage goals, but other weeks I went over. (Definitely more under then over, I’ll admit)

All of that being sad, when I first started on this program, I told myself I didn’t need to ride everyday. That this plan would be an encouragement, a helpful, albeit silent, plan, prodding from the depths of my computer, pushing me by forcing me to think about how my real miles add up to those on paper. My mild OCD certainly helped.

And now that I look back on all the riding I have done up to this point, with 4 weeks still remaining, it has been incredibly effective. Even with viewing the whole thing as loose encouragement, and that missing rides or days don’t really matter. After all, no one is paying me to ride, it’s not a living, just a hobby of mine. A self-possessing, time-swallowing, all-encompassing hobby of mine. Nothing really depends on me completing all these miles and training rides. I’m not letting a team down, or in danger of failing to meet a goal. Or worse yet a paycheck or someone else’s goal.

So, with that loose of a grip on this whole training program, with an attitude of, “It’s OK to miss, to not ride” but still having a schedule to follow in general, I compared my fitness and the amount of miles and hours riding I have completed this year compared to last.

2011 through February: 733.9 miles in 52:08:48, 16.1mph, 36,170 feet altitude gain

2012 through February: 1,508.7 miles in 88:23:14, 17.18mph, 63,460 feet altitude gain.

It’s amazing what a loose, partially ignored plan can do for you.

Now if I can just figure out how to like riding in the cold...