Lighting a Fire

Want to be fast next year? Better start now.

Conventional wisdom – and actual experts – says a base of long, steady miles in the winter will lead to a perfect launch pad of fitness in the spring. And then you can do all of your sprinty, high-end intervals, sharpen the sword and crush your opponents/riding buddies/spouses/children in the summer.

Each fall, a cyclist hoping to be competitive (or maybe even victorious?) the following summer has to ignore the natural instinct to hibernate; to eat cheese-laden soups; to say “nah, I’ll wait until it’s warmer;” to eat peppermint stick ice cream by the pint (hello, personal vice).

By the way, if you live in year-round warmth, I hate you. (OK, maybe it’s more of an irritation.)

OK, back to what I was saying before. Ice cream. It’s awesome. Starting up a training program. In my running days, my greatest successes came when following a structured training program. Of course, it required me to make the commitment to run in some fairly miserable weather, and to do some fairly horrible workouts.  (How about a seven-mile run, followed by two miles worth of track work at 5K tempo, then another seven-mile run?)

Similarly, when it was time to see what I could do on a bike, I went for a structured plan. (And yeah, the horrible weather/workouts thing holds true. Sorry.) After listening to teammates talk about their plans, which enabled them to destroy me at will (a certain lack of talent on my part also played a role), I picked up Joe Friel’s The Cyclist’s Training Bible.

I have a bit of a physiology background, so it made instant sense as I read through Friel’s theories and his methodology for building a successful program. That background isn’t necessary, though, since Friel explains the plan in a way that makes it pretty obvious why it’s become one of the go-to cycling books for competitive riders. (Yeah, competitive is a pretty relative term, I know.)

My first goal events aren’t until the middle of May. That’s seven months from now. It would be really, really easy to bundle up, scoop another bowl of ice cream and put this whole thing off until after the first of the year.

But then I think back to things that didn’t happen this year, whether because of injury, bad luck or a simple lack of fitness. The first two are sometimes not up to us to determine (the scars on my knees are living proof). But the last one? The last one we can control.

It won’t happen again.

Random link time:

  • Mark Savery is one of our buyers, and he’s known around these parts as a bit of an expert in the ways of racing bicycles. Check out his winter clothing guide here.
  • In the shop, in November, we have stretches of down time. While we’ve been tasked with keeping the place clean, we like a little diversion now and then. Yehuda Moon is one such diversion. His tale has taken an interesting turn or two lately, but it’s best to start at the beginning.

3 Comments to “Lighting a Fire”

  1. [...] to read the rest? Head to the Velo Jones blog … [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Savery and, said: Light it up: [...]

  3. marcaw 18 November 2010 at 10:19 am #

    A few pointers that I like to give athletes that I’m not coaching is to set up goals. Set your goals up S.M.A.R.T. Specific Measurable Achievable Record Timetable.

    Then you training specifics or sub goals.In the weeks leading up to a major race you need to know that your training is paying off. This can be done through testing, race simulations, or challenges.

    Tell your friends, family, your social networks your goals. You’ll be held more accountable.

    Have someone to enforce your training plan. A training partner or a coach.

    Have a plan. Knowing that you’ve done the work, and not guessed, helps you go into the event with a positive frame of mind.

Leave a Reply