I was once a runner. I ran as much as I could but I never got to a point where I ran enough that I could become comfortable with running daily. I was a three, maybe four times a week guy. I didn’t understand back then that the key to being able to run every day was just doing it, then doing it enough that you would become comfortable with it. Eventually.
Cycling, with its lack of jarring impact, is a different animal. I started cycling four days a week right off the bat and quickly expanded, comfortably, to six. This was all on a mountain bike, mind you.
I graduated to road cycling in short order and cycling took off for me. Weekly mileage went from 4 miles (Sunday May 23, 2011) to 60 miles (for a full week) in five weeks. I was just shy of 100 a week later. Another four weeks and I was fluctuating between 85 and 105 miles a week – all on the mountain bike. Then winter and I was training indoors on a trainer as well as running outdoors. When spring hit, in March, I went straight into 100 mile weeks and I started flirting with the 150’s. With road cycling, an easy week was 100 miles, a normal week was 150 and a heavy week approached 200. Today, an average week is a little more than 200. A heavy week is north of 300 and tops out north of 400 miles during DALMAC week. The trick is, I might take one or two days a month off of the bike – and it’s been six or seven years since I took time off for an injury (other than letting a saddle sore heal).
Put simply, I don’t need time off like I did when I was running.
Right or wrong, according to whatever professional you’d want to ask, I’m happy and that’s what really matters most.
The trick to my ability to ride as much as I do is a judicious use of the easy day. My hard days I’ll turn out an average pace between 20 & 23 mph (usually between 21 and 22). It’s a rare day I’ll ride two hard days in a row, let alone three, and I only ride four hard days in a row once or twice a year.
Before a big day on the bike, I’ll ride easy and usually a little shorter, making sure to spin my legs out, tenderizing them if you will. The end result, if done right, is that my legs feel a little more lively when I’m lining up for a tough ride. There are a host of things I do to keep my body fit for cycling but the easy day is just as important as properly fueling a ride.
And here’s the best part: most people think that we fast people are all go all of the time. While there’s some truth to that, in that our slow days are often faster than many other’s fast days, a 17-1/2 mph day is still a perfect speed to sit up and take in the sights that I’ll normally miss because we’re cruising down the road in a pace line with less than a foot or two between bikes at 40 feet per second (1/2 a meter/12 meters per second).