‘No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it.’ Harry Emerson Fosdick
I can go to sleep carefree knowing that there are plates in the sink that need washing up, and I don’t have to lock-up the house in a certain order before I leave. I would say I’m free from the obsessive compulsive disorders that many people develop around their daily lives. The main reason for this lack of OCD is for many years I have been far too busy stressing about training.
In 2008, in my first year on a UCI team I was especially keen to start our first team training camp. I had brought my power meter, laptop and trainingpeaks software ready to continue the power based training I’d been doing for a couple of years. After each ride I would analyze my speeds, power, heart rate, cadence, time spent in the 7 training zones and numerous other measurements. Most importantly, I could look at the parts of the ride where I was riding at full intensity and then track my progress against other all out efforts that I had done previously. I was sure I was well ahead of everyone else at the time who had not been training scientifically, or who only used heart rate.
In contrast to the masses of data I was gathering, Russell Downing the team leader wrote down how many miles he did each day on a scrap bit of paper, not for any other reason than to brag to his training partners back home.
After the training camp I knew what my best power output for 1min, 5 min, 10min, and 20min, I knew how many calories I burned on each ride , I knew average speeds, cadences, and time riding in the 7 different heart rate zones; Russell knew he was riding faster than everyone else. That year I got glandular fever and hardly raced, Russell won everything.
I don’t think that the training methods were the only factor in the gap between our fitness and the way our seasons panned out. He is, and has been the one of the Britain’s best cyclists, and has done so without too much planning where training is concerned. He simply goes out and rides hard up hills, races for the 30 mph signs, repeats the next day, and rests when he needs to. Hard days and easy days. It is incredibly simple.
I have spent many hours creating training plans, and then re-done them days later after I read something about a pro who swears by some other magical training zone. I have laid in bed the night before a race wondering if I have done enough 4 hour rides, if my nutritional strategy for the next day is perfect, and what I’m going to do in the next few weeks to improve even more. Is this the ideal state of mind for an athlete who is competing the next day?
This post is not to discourage people from taking their sports seriously, or to stop you looking for ways to improve, but to make you aware of the stress that I and many others can create about their training. In the next blog post I am going to explain what I have done to simplify my training for 2013, why I have done it, and also give some observations of what I’ve found so far.