Well, right after camp I got down to business with some serious and seriously hard training . . . and forgot that I had scheduled 4 days easy/off at the tail end of Spring Break! Now I am not one to declare that I can predict the future, but I know myself pretty well by now and I NEEDED that break in order to build back up through April and race strong in the Armed Forces circuit race on May 4th.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I went really easy on Wednesday and Thursday for around an hour or so, and was WHIPPED! I could barely get up from my chair to mess around with this stupid robot that the Fantastic Four (Sol Cycles founders, Tom Yersak, Will Watts, and Doug Wolf, that is!) had to get to autonomously follow a light. That is a whole other story that is too depressing to talk about now . . . let's just say that not ALL of our classes are stimulating and inspiring!
So I do some good openers on Friday morning and then we all caravan to State College, PA for what should have been an AWESOME weekend of racing: tons of climbing in a decently-long road race, a sweet and windy ITT Sunday morning (short, but hey, I'll take any ITT!), and then a cool 60-minute crit later that afternoon. Well, after crashing <10>
Then things got interesting: I took Tylenol on an empty stomach, after a demanding race, and then by dinner time I was feeling the need to pray to the porcelain gods. Well, none were to be found, but an alleyway outside the race banquet suited me just fine! Needless to say, I missed dinner and had to cram down some gas station sandwiches just before a terrible night's sleep on sore hips and road rash before waking up at 6:30AM to suit up and warm-up in sub-freezing weather for a prologue TT. Yeah, this is collegiate racing.
I was throwing up in my mouth while pre-riding the TT course, and wisely decided to call it off before it started. I cruised back around town found some breakfast, then went back to our awesome host house and proceeded to crash on their futon for over 3 hours. The whole day is pretty hazy to me--I was just completely whipped from a too-long stint of training and racing, some serious stress from school and crashing, and not enough sleep in the previous few days.
As cyclists, we tend to push through things because to get good, you have to know how. That said, it is very important to listen to one's body and think days and weeks ahead and KNOW how different training and races are going to affect you, as well as quantifying non-cycling stresses which play just as large a role in your performance. After looking at my performance manager and seeing the blue Chronic Training Load line just flat for a long time, near my peak-to-date of 135 training stress points per day, that tells me a lot: I have been holding on to a lot of fitness for too long without a break and another build-up period. I know I could have stayed with that front group up the climb because when I was with them and watching the watts, they were easily 40-60 below what I can do for 20 minutes. However, I could definitely NOT do it that day!
Now I know what to watch out for in the future, and I know at least a ballpark limit for myself: when I get above 130 TSS/day, I should only hold it for a week or two at most before taking a nice break and recovering. Your fitness as an elite cyclist is not the kind of "fitness" that 99% of the populations talks about--rather, it is an incredibly high level of stress that your body has adapted to for a finite period of time. The hardest part of cycling is not getting to that point, it is figuring out how to arrive at that point on or during your most important events, and then doing it multiple times throughout the season. I am not talking of a "peak" because those are often far too difficult to predict, I am just talking of having an overall form of 7+ on a scale of 1-10. From there, you just have to do a lot of events and know that you will really hit it out of the park in only a couple. It is a LONG season, after all!
By the way, look for big things from Sol Cycles in the coming couple of months . . . those bamboo bikes are getting quite a lot of interest!