Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learning to train...

As with any new sport, part of learning to get good at it is teaching oneself how to train for it. In the case of skiing, I avoided that for many years - natural athleticism got me through. Until I was training for my PSIA Level III exam while teaching in Vail, I really didn't know how to isolate a movement and focus on it while turning.

In the case of biking, I've been racing for just over a year now, and I'm going to have to figure out how to turn training hours into going faster. So far, I've mostly figured that riding hard on my mountain bike and going to cyclocross practices in the fall is good enough. But now the pressure is on a bit... I upgraded to Sport in mountain biking with a 5 year plan of being competitive in Expert class. I have a sneaking suspicion if things go as well as Sunday's race that I may not get to spend as long at Sport as I might have imagined.

So it's time to learn to train properly. The fast guys on our team and everything I read says intervals are the way to do it. I half-heartedly have been putting in efforts on hills all summer - playing with my cadence and pedal stroke, standing on the steep sections, etc. Last night Shea and I went out for some proper intervals - this time it took the form of hill repeats at Patapsco - hills are a very natural way for me to get my heart rate up. The trails were wet, so we were limited in choices that were dry enough to ride responsibly and didn't get to enjoy any singletrack after the intervals. But I finished what I intended to do - 6 x 3-3.5 minute climbs with 3 minute recoveries. It was steamy enough that I had a pretty crappy fourth trip up the hill... I had forgotten to take my glasses off and they were so fogged I couldn't see the trail. But I was too stubborn to stop and take 'em off and they don't stay on my helmet. By the last repeat, I actually felt pretty good. I realized later how tired my legs were from this. I probably have another round of intervals due over the weekend - no race and Tuesday is the biweekly time trial that I've been doing.

Can I train myself to be disciplined enough to do intervals without a hill forcing me to do it?

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