12 January 2006


Kim asked me THE QUESTION this morning. No, not that question … the other one. The one that always seems to get asked when it's mid-January and I'm putting in more hours each week than I do in July … "Are you 'training' right now?"

I try not to get defensive, but I'm sure I do a little. See, I feel guilty -- I take a couple of weeks off after 'cross each year, but I still weight lift a little. And then by Christmas I'm starting to feel fat and lazy. By New Year's, I'm back on the bike and maybe still doing a little running. And then the weather gets nice for a week in January, and my hours spike …

My weight is usually still up, mostly due to weight lifting, so of course I'm freaking out about that. All the roadies I know are riding pretty big miles; well, at least those who have relocated to warmer climes. The first indoor TT is coming up, and I'm thankfully skipping it again this year -- but the results will still get posted to the web, and I'll still comb through them trying to get a sense for where my competitors are at. Heck, even Todd Wells is back on the bike … sure, he gets paid to be, but still.

And bless my coach, but he just doesn't get it either. Each year, he schedules me for 10 or 11 hours a week in January, with another hour or 90 minutes of running/cross training and 3 or so hours in the weight room. This year, he even suggested taking a month off the bike. Completely. I lasted 6 days, and then started calling him every other day until he wrote me a program for the month.

And I sort of feel bad, but I see that program as a guideline at this point. "Just do whatever to stay in shape," he tells me. "Here's the plan, but if you miss because of weather, that's OK." See, Bill's an Olympic track sprinter, used to focusing all his peak energy on one or two efforts a year, lasting less than 10 seconds each. The first time I showed him a month's worth of road races, he almost keeled over! Then again, the first time I did his hill sprint workout, I almost keeled over. He's great at finding the right workout at the right time, and fitting it all together … but I'm not sure he fully understands my compulsion to ride.

So in this week of 10.5 hours, with 90 minutes of running, I look for the opportunities. And 10.5 hours becomes 12. Or 15. Last year, we had a four-day run of great weather that saw 11 hours turn into 19. When he schedules me for an hour-long run, I do it that evening … after putting in a 2-hour ride/commute to work.

Do I train too much? Maybe. Do I "over"train? I don't think so. See, even when I'm putting in hours on the bike, and hours in the weight room, I'm having fun. Sure, it sometimes gets boring, or tedious. And sometimes I sleep a little longer in the morning, or take a nap on a weekend afternoon. But except for last August -- which I attribute to overracing, not overtraining -- I have never once had a breakdown where I've wanted to put the bike away and not ride. Every day except one for the past 5-1/2 years, I have wanted to ride -- and even on that one day, I put in 90 minutes before trying to forget I was a bike racer.

And each year, my results get a little stronger, and I make progress toward my goals. That's all part of training smart -- if you're going to do the volume, you need to know when to step it back. And until last August, we got it right more often than we got it wrong. But with a little corrective action, I was back at it again by mid-October, and the 'cross season ended on a fairly positive note.

So I tried to answer the question this morning. The answer is sort of "no," but the answer is really -- as it always is -- "yes." And until I'm sick of it, I'll keep doing it. Some weeks more than others, but in the end I'm focusing everything on the next major goal … and training to get there.

Small world: Rode 2 hours last night in fabulous weather, with 20min of 'cross drills and two laps at Montrose. Ran into Andy on Pratt, driving the work van around -- the world truly is very small! Our alarm got messed up this morning, so I missed the group and rode to work … the legs are a bit tired after fighting a headwind all the way here!


Anonymous said...

"I try not to get defensive, but I'm sure I do a little." The wife says says he does get a little defensive but someone has to ask the question.


Anonymous said...

Just a thought: maybe the lack of results in August was in fact overtraining not over racing. Not to sound like an attack but to some it may seem like you're more concerned with traning and the #'s, and rank status than with "actual" results. Since it's not really stated anywhere, have you ever placed on the podium in any race/races? Overtraining is not just a breakdown in motivation but it could aslo be seen as a decrease in fitness/focus. You say you you've always wanted to ride because it 'fun'. How many charity/leisure rides do you do a year? I'm sure your local club could fill you into the 'poker rides' or the occasional 'Tour de Doughnut' and you could still get the 'volume' and maintain the fun factor. Heck you could always noodle around with the wife or go for an overnite journey it'll bring you guys closer together. If you don't agree than remember that it's just an opinion and everyone has one.

Anonymous said...

As the siser-in-law, I feel compelled to say that I have been on several leasure rides with Chris & Kim (and he knows that if I'm going with - it truely is a LEISURE ride for him)