It’s been more than a month since my last blog update. Why? Well, work, that’s why. The middle of January until the middle of February is one of the busiest times of the year for me on the work front. And this year, possibly more so than before. How did this affect my life?
Well, my family feels neglected and I had to skip some planned training sessions, so my bike riding condition is probably not what it could be. But that’s life. Real life. Putting it in perspective, these are problems most people would love to have. So know that this is not a complaint, I’m just telling you…
What has been noticeable is my adaption to training with guidance from a coach. Mark Carroll of Cadence Cycling Performance Centre also runs a business and has a family so completely understands it when I tell him I wasn’t able to fit in all the planned rides on that week’s schedule.
I have tried to only skip steady 2-hour rides on the bike, making sure not to miss any High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions on the CycleOps power-bike at my local Cadence Cycling studio. Also making sure not to miss any long rides (usually on Sundays).
Mark had to increase my power zones because my first couple of HIIT sessions seemed a bit easy to me and clearly this was evident in my numbers and graphs. Note: I have actually never spoken to Mark. Our coach/athlete relationship has been purely via email so far. He has access to the data from my HIIT sessions and can see how I’m coping. Power doesn’t lie and that is always an absolute value. Heart rate on the other hand can be affected by various things such as lack of sleep, poor quality sleep, stress, illness/allergies and even what you ate the night before…
I’ve been able to complete the HIIT sessions with a reasonable level of composure, although my last session (last Thursday) had me properly challenged…
I recently had a bit of communication with Nic Lamond, our Cape-based TREAD editor, who is also on a coach-based training plan for the Cape Epic. He was saying how broken he was feeling. I, by contrast, was feeling quite fresh. Immediately I feared that I wasn’t doing enough, either distance or intensity, or both and fired off an email to Mark asking why I’m doing around 12-15 hours a week only, while others (not necessarily Nic) were doing over 18-22 hours a week and/or saying they’re feeling shattered.
This is Mark’s reply:
If you started Epic tomorrow morning, you would have the endurance for the distance, so it’s more a speed endurance question of how long you can sustain a given intensity. It’s also about having the aerobic structure and conditioning to recover well enough from day to day at the Epic to keep going at pace.
The 18-22 hours approach is no guarantee of a decent Epic. A lot of guys focus on hours with too many of those hours being too easy (like at or below 60% of their max heart rate) or all over the map on intensity, i.e. smash up hill and coast everywhere else. It’s also easy to end up in a state of non-functional over-reaching putting in this volume of hours.
With your training, I am trying to get the most from the hours you hope to have to train, and as you know, running your own business, the intended plan is tough to follow. With the intervals at Cadence you have the speed focus. With the rides outside I am trying to get you to pedal steady as close to 100% of the time to work on the aerobic structure and muscle endurance. The going hard toward the end of longer rides loads the muscle endurance component.
There you have it. Because my time is limited, Mark is getting me to make the most of it – no wasted hours or too-easy hours. Makes sense really. Let’s hope it all comes together in that third week of March.
Quick update on my teammate, Issy Zimmerman. We’ve been working on his skills and it’s paying off. Singletrack wasn’t his strength, but he’s getting quicker and quicker when the trail gets narrow and this will be essential at the Cape Epic, which has more singletrack than any edition before…. You can lose a couple of seconds on every singletrack corner if you don’t know how to ride it properly – and we need every second we can get!
I’ve been trying out Fizik’s new Boa shoes. They’re great in every way except the high-ish sides have been pushing on my inner anklebone a bit, which becomes uncomfortable after a few hours. They’re made from kangaroo hide, so I’ve been advised they’ll soften up. I hope so. I do like them, but I won’t use them for Cape Epic if they’re still nagging me anklebones. They’ve been washed and are in the sun now, hopefully softening up…
I’ve been doing most of my training on a Fizik Tundra 2 saddle and have had no hassles. Then, when my Momsen VIPA Team Issue race bike arrived, I didn’t really check closely, but have discovered that it comes with a Fizik Thar saddle. At a glance, it’s similar to the Tundra 2, but it’s not for me. I never really have chaffing issues and I did have some at Tankwa Trek on the Thar. So I will be changing saddles back to the Fizik Tundra 2 for certain. It’s one of the narrowest saddles out there and I have discovered that I have very narrow sit-bones, which means there’s a good match.
I’m not naturally a gadget guy, but I’ve been using a Mio Cyclo 105 GPS/bike computer which even I have found easy to use. I love how it organises my rides on the MioShare website under my profile, including a map of where I’ve ridden in the country. It automatically uploads my rides to Strava (not that unusual, but useful), and, since I added a power meter to my bike, also reads that without any extra fuss.
Next blog will be soon, promise! A description of the two build-up races I’ve done: Fairview Attakwas and DUTOIT Tankwa Trek – and what they taught me.