The goal of the advanced club ride, at least as I’ve experienced, is to either prep for racing or to ride ridiculously hard for a couple of hours – I’m the latter. Our Tuesday night club ride is an “Everyone Gets Dropped” ride. We start out the 33 mile ride in a group ranging from 20 all the way up to 40 cyclists in a double pace-line. The lead group is down to 5 or 10 max by the last couple of miles. By the time we get to the finish line, the one time I made it, there were only three of us. I won the sprint.
Riding like this, especially if you’re one of the weaker horses (like I am), isn’t easy but it is fun.
This past year was only my second riding with the club. Last off-season I worked pretty hard on the trainer hoping that I would be in better shape going into the beginning of the season than most of the other guys. I was mistaken – they worked harder than I did and I ended up having to play catch up when I thought I’d be tearing more than a few of them up.
This off-season I’m implementing a newly designed workout that mimics the on-again off-again see-saw of an actual club ride. It’s actually a hybrid of an interval workout. The difficult part of a club ride (again, at least for me) is the transition from pulling at the front to fading and latching on at the back. What happens is this: As I move up the line, the draft weakens and it becomes harder to pedal. Once up front, I’m pulling for a mile (2:15-3:00 minutes depending on the wind direction) with no protection and at speeds of up to 27 mph on the flat, I get worn out. If I pull too long up front I don’t have enough in the tank to latch back on at the end… Unfortunately, the best way to get faster overall is to pull just a little longer than I’m comfortable with. All too often I’ve missed the latch-on because I don’t have enough in the tank to speed back up to get into the draft.
This leaves two options: I can simply pull off a little earlier while I’ve still got a little left (I don’t like this) or work all winter long on recovering in the 20 seconds I’ve got while I’m drifting back to latch on – with a modified interval workout.
So here’s how this looks over a 50 minute workout on my Mag Trainer (hardest of three settings):
1 minute warm-up (I’ve never been big on warming up).
10 minutes 90 cadence 52/14 (26 mph)
5 minutes 90 cadence 52/13 (28 mph)
3 minutes 110-120 cadence 52/12 (36+ mph)
15 seconds soft pedal
1 minute 110 cadence 52/12 (35 mph)
Rinse and repeat. Twice. I cut the 10 minutes down to 5 on the last two. Cool down last two minutes.
The idea is no different that your standard 1 minute on, one minute off interval workout except the plan above is closer to what really happens in a group ride… The important thing is that that last minute before the rinse-repeat is a real ass kicker. I was absolutely cooked after doing it through my lunch hour today.
This is part two of two, part one is here and introduces what I have come to know as a rectifiable problem in how I interpret those things that I have no control over: Other people, places and things. You will rightly understand this to mean there isn’t much else I can control. The only thing left is me, or more importantly, what occurs in the gray matter between my ears.
Herein lies a rub: A small percentage of our society is angry, some even go so far as to say we are an angry species. I disagree – I see us as we are, good and decent folk, if a bit self-centered with a few bad apples that make a rather large mess for the rest of us. We believe there should be a certain order to things, whether it be the Ten Commandments type of order, or some other natural progression of things. When something interrupts that delicate balance, we often retaliate. From there, misunderstandings escalate and chaos ensues. There is a reason for this, and a simple fix to ensure that one can rise above this – almost every time.
The answer to a happy, enjoyable life, at least as I’ve come to see it, is to properly manage my own thought process.
First of all it is important that I understand that not every thought that enters my head A) has validity and B) makes sense. In fact, I have some pretty odd stuff blow through the gray matter from time to time. For instance, and coming at this from a recovering drunk’s perspective (which I happen to have a lot of experience with), I have the thought pop into my head every now and again that a drink or fifteen would be nice. It doesn’t happen often anymore but it does happen. In fact, just the other day I was at the supermarket picking up coffee for the office and passing by a holiday beer display, out of nowhere, BAM… “A six-pack would be nice… Wait a minute, a twelve pack is better… Wait, why mess with that, a case!” This took approximately 0.8 seconds, that fast. Now I used to be defenseless against a few thoughts like that – I’d be drunk within six hours. Today things are different because I have the ability to, very quickly, turn around with “Are you f****ing NUTS? Run!” I ducked my head, picked up my pace and headed directly for the coffee aisle. A nice quick, “God, please take that thought from me and throw it in the s#!t heap where it belongs” prayer and I’m right back to normal, where I belong.
Exactly as I described above – I am powerless over that first thought, but not the response. The example above is an extreme one but the same principle works for any detrimental thought that pops up with practice. The trick is to follow that negative thought with the proper action which is simply defined as “the next right thing”. I look at thinking like this: At any given moment I’m walking a path. The destination is not important, staying on the path is. The initial thought is a fork in the path that leads somewhere and I don’t always know if that’s a place I want to go or not – so I do my best to look down the fork.
Going back to my drunkard example, if I look far enough down the “six-pack” path, my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my house, my bikes, my life as I know it is gone – all of it. I am that kind of guy – if I take that first drink, I’ll give up everything that is good in my life for the second (this is one of the few times a little self-knowledge does come in handy). The next right thing is to abandon that thought process and continue down the path I was on. Today I can do this within a matter of seconds but it wasn’t always so easy. Perfecting this takes practice – and worse, when I add new problems to the process, things I don’t know how to handle intuitively, I have to start back on square one…
Take fitness for example. I started running about twelve years ago because I’d packed on some serious weight. I went from an admittedly skinny 150 pounds to just shy of 200. I actually made a decision, the day before I started running, to go down the other path. I chose, if only for 16 hours, to allow myself to get fat. I looked down the path I’d chosen and I saw me at 250 pounds, miserable and sickly – on a half-dozen prescriptions for heart problems, sleep apnea and depression… I bought a pair of running shoes that day.
Now, from time to time I had a tough time sticking with running, especially when I had to deal with running injuries – and I had a few. Early on I needed help staying on the right path because, from time to time, I was weak. I received this help from friends, indirectly and directly. Indirectly from showing up to the running club and feeding off the energy of others. Directly by calling specific friends and talking through my difficulties. Through these interactions I changed the way I processed thoughts about my fitness so that now, when I have one of those, “I should just throw in the towel” thoughts I can make immediate corrections by discarding the initial thought as ludicrous. I learned to control which thoughts win and which don’t.
This is the secret to my happiness, to my success. One way or another, I have a tape that I play in my head that directly effects my performance in life. If I run into a situation where my thoughts are taking me in a direction I don’t want to go, I change the tape.
Ultimately, what’s important is how to get back to our proverbial path – the one that doesn’t end in a crash and burn. Once I can stay on the winning path I am no longer my own worst enemy.