Monday, January 21, 2008

Puking is no fun, but winning races is!

Today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is a day where I could have used some inspiration from him. I have the day off from work, so I used the opportunity to start my revised training in preparation for my cycling racing season which will start in February. My friend and unofficial coach, Mark Edwards, helped me write up a new weekly training schedule that ramps up the intensity in advance of my priority races.
  • Mondays: "L6" 10x1-minute intervals workout ride, probably during my morning bike-commute.
  • Tuesdays: "L7" 10x10-second "jumps" workout ride.
  • Wednesdays: "L5" 6x3 workout ride, probably during lunch near my office.
  • Thursdays: "L7" 10x10-second "jumps" workout ride split into my bike-commutes.
  • Fridays: Very easy bike-commute, or preferably day off.
  • Saturdays: "L4" with 3x20-minute FTP workout ride with Team Bicycle Trip.
  • Sundays: Very easy ride, or preferably day off.
The basic theory here is that short intervals (sprints) really don't take long to train for; just a month or two. So I haven't had to do short intervals during the off season (though Mark felt I should continue to do 10-second "jumps," which are very short sprints at 100%, and which I've always found to be easy).

My new program calls for 1-minute intervals, which are a long sprint, and today was my first workout incorporating these. The 1-minute intervals are similar in length to the 1K "kilos" they race on the velodrome. I rode a respectable 1K in 1:17.48 at the Elite California State Track Championships in September, but it was never a distance I targeted. I nearly blacked out from oxygen deprivation then, so I knew this new workout would be hard. The trackies nickname kilos "killers" for a reason! By the way, the experts seem to be saying that short intervals are of incredible benefit to athletes in surprising ways.

This morning I had my usual workout breakfast: cooked buckwheat cereal with berries, juice, banana, protein powder and coffee, and gave my stomach three hours to digest it. I was able to find a break in our latest rain storm, using the Doppler radar from the NWS. But I rode my old Stumpjumper because the roads were still a bit wet and my new Giant TCR C2 is too nice to mess up needlessly! I had scoped out a suitable hill on Rio Del Mar Boulevard, near Aptos, just up the beach from the famous beached cement ship.

The first interval up the hill got me pretty far up there, and pretty exhausted. I was gasping, my legs on fire. Whew! I definitely couldn't sustain that for 10 repeats, so I held back a little on subsequent intervals. Even so, after about 6 of them, with 5-minute breaks between each, I started feeling a little whoozy. My head was swimming, and I started getting those gross half-burps that warn of impending puking. Ugh.

I managed to ride only 8 intervals before I gave up. I was not in the mood to lose my breakfast! Apparently even three hours of digestion wasn't enough. I made a mental note to do these before breakfast in the future so I won't be as likely to vomit, and just slam some energy drink during the warmup. But on the ride home I felt a little better and got in a couple more intervals, so I am happy to say I got the full workout done!

These intervals are hard, oh so hard, and the nastiest workout I've ever done. But the guys who can do them consistently are the guys who win races. While I was suffering through these intervals I asked myself if I really wanted to win badly enough to make these workouts worth it. Now, in the comfort of my home, I say "of course!" If it was easy then everybody would be winning races, huh?