By "When In doubt"...read this | October 04, 2011 at 09:38 AM EDT | 2 comments
I continue to see people training themselves to quit. What I mean is that instead of timed intervals, or picking out a start and finish line, they simply go “hard” until they are ready to give up. They make the decision when to quit after the effort has begun. Think about a race. In competition, I have yet to have the luxury of deciding when to stop the effort, and if I do, I lose. Mental toughness plays one of the biggest roles in a sport like this one. Chris Carmichael says mental toughness is what he looks for first and foremost in a champion. So stop training yourself to be mentally weak. You race like you train. When you train to quit, you will quit in a race as well.
We seem to forget that cycling is actually an endurance sport. The confusion is that in midst of this sport, there are explosive efforts as well. When you think about an explosive effort, you think “hard”, but in all actuality, these short intense efforts are easy and usually fun, so we love to do them. Sure your legs might burn a little and you might breath a little heavy; but what about 10-20 minute threshold efforts, or 4-8 minute anaerobic efforts. What about riding easy until every ounce of energy you have is gone and your knees, back, neck, and hands feel like they are going to explode. We don’t do these efforts because they actually are “hard”. They are hard mentally as well as physically and we simply choose not to do them, and tell ourselves it’s because we need to be able to go “hard” with the group tomorrow. we need to wake up...and stop training to be a quitters.
Lastly, we need to know the difference in an actual endurance ride and a long ride. Just because you ride long, it does not mean your training endurance. There are physiological benefits to riding at an endurance effort for long periods of time. What we have to learn is what an endurance effort actually is. I can ride for 5 hours, and only train my anaerobic system. I just simply push really hard and then coast, push hard, and then coast. Our heart rates monitors have gotten us in trouble as well, because our hearts don’t respond quick enough to match our actual efforts. If I keep my efforts short enough, I can actually achieve this 5 hour sprint workout, and still keep my heart rate in my “endurance zone”. This is basically how I see the majority of people riding. When they hit a little hill, they crush it, then coast down, then crush another, then coast down, and soft pedal all the flats. This is simply teaching yourself to quit. This is not an endurance ride, and it is doing nothing for your aerobic capacity. What about picking a long route, grinding out a gear, telling yourself you wont let this pressure off your pedals until the planned route is complete, and not giving up! Then, when your dog tired, pick out a sign 250 meters away, and sprint as hard as you can through the sign! We have to learn to judge our efforts, and be able to recognize the difference in an aerobic and anaerobic effort, based on feel. If you cannot feel it, there is another solution. Get a coach that can show you how.