Thursday, August 13, 2009

MTB Season Finale Blog, Conclusion

So what's next?

Well, cyclocross season. But since I'm going to Bhutan for most of October and may or may not be able to race competitively on my return, I'm not going to be very serious about 'cross this year. I'll still race with my whole heart, when I race, but I'm not going to be turning down work to do it, and I'll probably only try to go racing every two weeks. So cyclocross is kind of an afterthought. That happens before the next thing.

After 'cross, I'm putting away the fast bikes for a month. I'm not going to look at them. Often. And I'm not going to do speed work or rides over two hours. On purpose. Unless one of my friends wants to go.

Then in January, the bikes come back out. It'll be me and the people riding New Year's Resolutions, doing laps around Lake Washington and passing all the shut down drinking fountains. I'm going to try to do two training blocks, in the beginning of January and the beginning of February, ramping up to three four-hour rides the last week of the second block. Maybe I'll finish it with a Century ride. My current record is 11.5 hours start-to-finish, with 7.5 hours rolling.

The first mountain bike race of the season will be in February if the schedule follows the same pattern as it has in the past. Those races are typically shorter and easier than the Indie Series races - perfect for reintroducing fast riding to my (hopefully) endurance-trained legs. That gives me a little less than two months of "go fast" riding before the Indie Series starts in mid-April.

This time, I'm going to make base rides a priority in my training and do fewer speed days. I don't need to go much faster to do well in my races, but I do need to be able to maintain a slightly faster speed for the whole race, and I need to be more efficient when I'm off-road. Which brings me to my other priority for next year's training. More mountain biking. It's not really practical to do intervals off-road, and I like doing my recovery rides on a road bike, but tempo rides and long rides can be on a mountain bike. Part of why I'm racing cross-country instead of on the road is that mountain biking is really my first love as a person who rides bikes, and I want to do more of it. So the last training week before my first Indie race should have two speed days, one or two long days, and two easy days.

For all the above, I'm going to try to be even more relaxed about my training schedule. I think that part of why I started feeling overtrained this season was that I misread the Indie Series calendar when I was planning and thought that races tended to fall every three weeks. It's more realistic to say that they alternate between two and three weeks between races, and when I noticed this I started skipping recovery weeks before some races. Unsurprisingly, I didn't race as well as I could have when I went to those races. I also think that part of why I haven't been as healthy this summer as I'd like to have been was that I was pushing myself too hard. So the only part of my schedule that I'm going to try to structure in blocks is the base period. Once the racing starts, I'm going to make every pre-race week an easier week and every other week a training week. Unless I'm still feeling beat up from racing the weekend before.

Next year's pre-race weeks will have a Wednesday night race (probably) and a bunch of easy rides. Post-race weeks will have recovery or long ride, depending on how I feel. Followed by a recovery or long ride, until I've done a long ride. Then a day off. Then I'll figure out if speed work even fits in before my next rest week. Intervals are really only going to figure into my training schedule in March, since racing is already speed work and once the Wednesday Night Worlds start up, I'll be doing those instead.

Some people say that the best way to train for racing is to race. Other people say that racing breaks athletes down, and they should only go to 'A' races and only target a few. I think racing's fun, so I'd rather go to a lot and do what I need to to be in the best possible condition for all eight of my 'A' races and five(ish) 'B' races. Anyway, the idea for next year is to work out a little more before the racing starts, then race a lot more and work out a little less through the end of the Indie Series.

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