Putting The Fun In Training

This has been a tough stretch. There were no mountain bike races this weekend, and none coming next weekend, plus some monstrously stupid mechanic'ing that has left my mountain bike unrideable anyway. You know what that means -- time to start road racing! Er, riding the road bike. Er... training.

My general M.O. is to ride a bit, race a lot, and get kinda fast. Thus far it's been totally effective, provided you call a career arc that falls far short of "professional" effective. But we've all got big dreams, and with two blank weekends and no mountain bike, it was a perfect time to do some big time training.

One problem, though, training sucks. Enduring extreme pain so you might be faster later? Come on. If there's no number on your back it doesn't count, no matter how much you write about it.

As a long time hater of training, I have been working hard on puttting the F-U-N back in training. This is not as easy as putting the FUN back in FUNdamental, or the FUN back in FUNky (or even the FUN back in FUNicular) -- most people's first attempt at putting the FUN in training end up with a big ole' F-U left over.

But, after a whole shit-ton of solo miles this weekend, I think I've figured it out. Here's how you make training FUN (fu-training?):

1) No loops. Ever. The second you start doing laps of something, a.k.a. "reps," aka "intervals," your body figures out that something totally sucky is going on and starts bargaining with your brain about quitting. It is not natural to ride your bike in circles (unless you have a number on). It might be "better training" to do the same hill/loop repeatedly, but if you were really about getting the best training wouldn't you just ride the trainer? No hills, no traffic, just a perfectly controlled workout of pure suck. You'd be the fastest sad person out there.

2) No VOMax intervals. Look, I realize that there's a training benefit to having your heart push your lungs out your throat, I really do. But you know what makes me not want to ride my bike? Hitting the top of Eastern Ave, nearly vomiting on my stem, and realizing that I have to endure that much pain four more times, for no obvious reason. I will happily go anaerobic when being chased by zombies or racing Cary, but those are the only two circumstances. Other than that, anaerobic is NO FUN.

3) Do LT/Cruise/Tempo intervals. So obviously you should be doing something out there on your single-loop ride, because you're a racer not a tourist, and it can't be some brutal VOMax shit, because that sucks. Step it down a notch to your lactate threshold or lower, and suddenly, training ROCKS. You still get a real benefit (any interval type that has a specific name in the Joe Friel-iverse is obviously UBER PRO) and unlike VOMax intervals it's a manageable sort of pain. You might stop after 10 minutes or whatever, but you know you coulda gone further, unlike a VOMax interval where you might actually combust if you don't let up when the clock hits 4:00. As an added bonus, you are f'in cookin' out on the road. Mr-Wobbly-Aero-Bars-triathlete is out there plunking away at 25 rpm and you smoke him, and depending on how easy the interval is you might even be able to nose-breathe on your way past to complete the humiliation. Damn! You rule! Training is fun!

I'm not even joking. Be careful not to do these with other people, though, because you might find out they can go a lot faster at LT than you can, which is NOT FUN. Hell, that's what races are for.

Alright, so now your training is totally fun, and as long as you race your face off on the weekends you can probably make up for the VOMax stuff you skipped. Nice.

But sometimes, you need a little extra motivation, like when it's raining and you can't be assured of smoking past lots of yellow windbreakers out there while you ride tempo. In this case, you might need to accept that training isn't going to be super-fun, and take the Nega-Coach approach: if you don't get out there and hammer, you are gonna get crushed (maggot!).

The actual Nega Coach site is too tongue in cheek to adequately terrify you into training, but luckily, other resources on the internet exist to fill that void.

If you've got a lot of time, I strongly recommend the Threshold Cycling Team Blog. Start clicking through random entries and you'll soon hit something that makes you realize how utterly screwed you are, like, say, Cat 4's doing harder weeks than you have ever done. In your life. In February.. Read further and you can probably find another post that details just how many kilojoules they make on a ride. I don't even have a kilojoule-ometer on my bike, and if I did, I bet I don't ride over 9000 kJ like those guys.

Seriously, next time you consider skipping a ride, go click around there. Or if you're really pressed for time, you can just hit up two adventures and realize that Cathy Rowell has ridden twice as far as you this year.

So there you have it -- everything you need for fear-driven, super-FUN training. Using these methods I was able to ride 135 miles this weekend, and put out WICKED HELLA joules -- and you can too!


Unknown said…
next time we'll invite you to join us for our 130 mile fun ride to wachusett and back.

seriously though, using a kilowatt o meter, documenting your outputs and generally obsessing about your amateur numbers has to be the fastest way to make biking unfun.
Big Bikes said…
So ya Colin, I talked to Jon today about getting your Power...er, I mean "Fun Tap" ordered.

RMM said…
You like data. You will love having a "work o meter"
Luke S said…
I have/get to start training tomorrow. I am equal parts excited and terrified.
Cary said…
Did you get the FunTap yet? I hope you have it for the weekend...
Colin R said…
Luke: training in May for a sport that doesn't start until November is the epitome of NOT FUN. Mad props, I guess, for hardcore enough to do that, although I would argue it's also a recipe for burnout. And plenty of guys who own us on skis race road bikes all summer (Hollenbach, Tremble).

Everyone else: I look forward to posting some sweet fun graphs in the future, and maybe even updating you every time I set a new record for my CF60.
Luke S said…
I'm guessing a lot of my training is going to come on my broke-ass mtb. That IS fun. Plus my rollerskis are still broken.
Cathy said…
We'll see which one of us is still having fun in November ;)
Colin R said…
Cross bikes are fun for everyone, don't be silly.

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