January 2013: Team training begins with base building
So it is here. Just like that, it is 2013. After a month of time off from riding, loads of delicious holiday cooking, travels to visit families, we are all now back, and now riding together every week. And based on the texts, emails, phone calls and Facebook messages between us, it is safe to say we are ready to begin. So here is our first official training blog of the year.
Pittsburgh was hit with snow over the holidays, but that did not keep us from moving indoors (as well as getting outdoors, from cross country skiing the Laurel Highlands to running and mountain biking in the snow) to build our base fitness. With Week One of Winter Training at Cycling Fusion, we have begun to build our base, are learning training principles and riding indoors together. Now in it’s 3rd year, were were impressed how Winter Training was a PACKED HOUSE. And if Week One is any indicator, training with this group is going to be a ton of fun.
Many people have asked, how will you train for RAAM? And the succinct (and accurate) answer is: Ride our bikes… a lot. But more than that, it is also about training smartly. Every workout has a purpose. Even recovery days have a purpose. Training will not involve a steady build for the entire 16 months, but periods of building, then recovery, building, recovery, and so forth. Just like achieving other tasks in life, sometimes a huge goal is best achieved by breaking it down into measurable increments. Smaller goals set for 2013 that will help us get “RAAM strong” for 2014.
The next 12 weeks are important as they lay the foundation of our training for this year. We will be “base building,” focusing the bulk on building a solid foundation of aerobic fitness, rather than intense high heart rate sprint efforts (those come later). It is also a time to explore cross-training, off-the-bike activities that complement cycling (examples: cross country skiing, stair climbing, and core strengthening). And as we use the concept of periodization and understand each of our body’s abilities to adapt to a training load, we begin to get stronger, ride by ride, workout by workout, week by week. In our first week at Cycling Fusion, we tested and calculated our Heart Zones, and we will use this these zones as points of reference in our workouts over the next few months. We started tracking our data using Ride Buddy and Ride Journal, measuring our workouts and recording data from each ride. We are, in the words of Sally Edwards, “quantified athletes,” realizing that only by measuring what we do each workout, and keeping track of the cumulative load, can we understand how each of us adapts and gets stronger. Put more simply, if you ride without tracking how much you’re doing, training can be risky. Too little, and you won’t challenge your body, get stronger and achieve your goal. Too much and you risk “overtraining” and the body breaking down in the process. So we will each track our workouts, measure our progress, and adapt when we need to. Training smartly and efficiently also allows us to train as athletes while working full-time jobs and enjoying life off the bike.
Finally we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that training this year carries a new meaning for each of us. As members of Team PHenomenal Hope we know we are riding for people with pulmonary hypertension, and this motivates us a little more to get out of bed and run early in the morning, or push just a little harder or longer during a cycling workout. We all know that we are no longer just doing this just for ourselves or for our own fitness, but now for others whose challenges are greater, and for a cause much more important than each of us as individuals. It is an honor to have this opportunity.
Yes 2013 is off to a great start.