Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If It Ain't Broken...

Find a longer, steeper hill. More on that later.

Last week I got an email forwarded from our webadmin, it was someone in search of me. Somehow they managed to track me down, either through luck or searching the team rosters. It turned out to be an old college buddy I hadn't seen in almost 3 years. His email was quite funny, he told me how he dropped 30lbs and was into cycling and was preparing for his first race, the Carl Dolan crit later this month and was looking for someone to help him prepare. I'm no coach, and can't offer anyone anything but useless anecdotal advice, but I liked his attitude. He told me victory to him wasn't winning the race, but finishing in the pack. I could work with that. We rode together Thursday evening so I could get a sense of his fitness level, full time job and a family I wasn't expecting much but he impressed me, good endurance and really good form for a relatively new cyclist. What he was lacking though was a bit of intensity, especially speed changes. So I put together a little plan for him to help get some intensity into his riding so his body didn't go into a complete state of shock in the race. His plan wasn't suppose to start until Tuesday, I told him to do whatever he usually does for the weekend then recover on Monday and we would start on Tuesday with some Vo2 intervals. Being that he only has a heartrate monitor and his knowledge of HR and RPE, I estimated his threshold HR and provided his intervals based on the percentage of that threshold HR. As I was doing my own workout Sunday, I was thinking to myself that I may not have been clear on what the percentages were, 100% is of threshold HR not 100% is max HR, he would figure that out right? The intervals were only prescribed at about 105%, so not too much over his TH, maybe not even enough for real anaerobic Vo2 efforts.

When I got home from my ride, I had an email from him in my inbox. Apparently he was a bit eager to get started so he decided to go out Sunday and take a shot at the Vo2 intervals. It must have been intuition because this is what he wrote:

"i assume you knew i'd puke after several of these, but it slipped your mind to include that in the prior email! i set out towards the biggest hill i can find (> 10% grade for 1/2 mile)... it broke my legs...so the first interval i charge up the hill and think this is good...by the 4th i feel my drink creeping up my throat and lost it..."

I felt bad and clarified for him how to use the percentages, he responded:

"ugh...miscommunication. i thought you meant 100% of my max. i pegged my hr. the effort felt more intense than my readings"

Oh, well, it's all a constant learning experience. He's enjoying it and I think he can do alot better than just finishing in the pack. Unfortunately he's a Cat5 so the hardest part of the race will be not being taken down by a muppet and learning to safely navigate surfing the pack.

As for me I'm finally coming off an extended base period. I don't believe in LSD rides and living around Howard county, there's no way to do them anyway so I have some intensity in my legs but nothing structured. My first race is in two weeks, Mt. Joy up around Lancaster. There's always something brutally hard about racing in PA. The roads are rough and the PA guys who ride around there are always hammering it these steep, stair-step climbs. So I decided it was time for a little leg breaking of my own. Ellicott City has some great climbs up from the river that are steep and twisty, makes the suffering a little more tolerable. While I love training with a power meter, I've found that trying to use it for structured anaerobic intervals leaves a gap in my fitness when compared to going out and just punching it like I would have to in a race. Like the old saying, practice how you play, well, train like you race. When was the last time an effort lasted exactly 2 minutes at and your power and cadence stayed in a specific zone? So taking my own advice for my buddy I went out and trained like I expected to have to race. Ilchester Rd. is this ball buster climb, it starts out at 18% for the first 200m then eases up a bit before kicking up to around 10%. Overall the climb is only a 1/4mi. but feels like a mile. After about 5 of these I was done. Enough so that the 3 mile ride home might as well have been straight up. I'll be looking forward to those 20min threshold intervals after today.

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