It has been a good year with regards to cycling. For all intents and purposes I accomplished all the goals
I set out to do for this year.
-I've cut weight and seem to be holding well. Though I have gotten my sweet tooth back and we'll see how it goes with Halloween. But in general I just don't eat a whole lot these days
-I broke my PR on my timed local climb
-I beat my time on Poor mountain from Last year
-My sustainable power numbers are up from last year.
-My races results were decent. This was my first full year in vet expert. My times on some courses are improved compared to last year, but results wise I tend to be in the lower/mid part of the group. It just shows how fast the experts are.
During this year, I also saw some more patterns emerge that are comparable to years past. There seems to be a lull in motivation in the early part of the summer and then again towards the end of the year in October-ish.
In addition, there were several times where my mind just got totally focused on something else be it work, or family issues or other hobby. The problem is that I couldn't even for 1/2hr or 1hr separate my mind from the interfering fixation in order to do my training. After this happens a few times, it's easy to get off track and take a little while to get back on task. This year I also did the Mountains of Misery road century. It seemed to take me a while to get my mtb race legs back after preparing for this. It definitely helped my overall fitness and sustainable pace, but seemed to take away some snap.
My fitness and riding is going well overall. I focused this year on developing sustainable power, and think that was a success. It just felt good to go a certain speed and was able to hold it for a decent duration. However, I also noticed that performance outside of this zone nosedived quickly.
I could go outside of it for very short sections like short grunts or technical sections and then recover back. However I could never start very fast, or if I did go overlimit at the start then it would take a significant amount of time to get back to a good pace. More often than not I'd fry myself within a few minutes and then be shot. It's always been like this actually.
I had gotten coached by Dave
a few years ago. And have taken those workouts as my template and increased the number of reps and sets over the past few years. The intent was to increase the duration of work performed in order to prepare better for the length of expert races. The goal is always to perform the intervals at the highest power setting that allows me to complete the entire workout. However, the greater the # of reps or sets, the lower the power level. This seems to have emphasized the ability to go at a decent pace for a longer period of time but did not improve my top end as much.
I'm thinking that I'd like to attack it from the other end this year. And focus a little bit more on the higher power output. So my intent is to take my workouts and drop down to the same # of reps/sets from two years ago. But attempt to increase the power output at which those intervals are performed.
So for example. Instead of doing 4 sets of 6x1 on 1 off at 310W, I'd go back to 3 sets of 5x1 on 1 off and shoot for 320W or whatever.
Some of the trainer workouts this year did get a little long. So it might be nice to drop back down in duration.
There are some complications upcoming this year though and for the next several years. I'm starting to take a class a semester with the intent of working towards a PhD. Classes are the least of my problems, it's the rest of the program that I have no clue how it'll go with working full time, family, etc.
I have gone back and forth a few times about bagging racing year. If I don't race or set some very specific goals, then it would be too easy to just drop it all. I've worked really hard the last few years and it would be a shame to lose all I've gained. But at the same time, my priorties will be different. Something will have to give I'm sure.
If I could just figure out how to compartmentalize my mind a little bit, I think improving or at least maintaining could still be a reality. The Morris plan is so time efficient that I can make some gains in under 7 hrs a week. We still don't have TV/cable so come on I gotta be able to fit that in.
One thing I know is that success at developing fitness is a result of consistent work spread out over a long period of time. Ever heard the saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step" Progressive periodized workouts combined with strategic rest through the course of the year and successive years has been the key to my improvement. So if I can just be consistent through the year even with shorter workouts maybe I can continue to improve a little.
The other thing is to make the training require no thought so that it is like brushing my teeth. Don't even need to obsess, just make it second nature. The more autopilot I can make the training the better chance at success I've got.
Regardless of racing, I know that I just cannot 'ride to smell the roses'. For me there is a minimum level of fitness and skill required for mountain biking to be fun. This is especially the case with the terrain locally. I just cannot enjoy coughing up a lung on Old Farm, or struggling on the Gap trails without some level of competency.
So for now my goals are to
-finish my strength training early enough so that I can get some decent endurance rides in before the bad weather hits
-focus on higher power output at shorter durations than compared to this past year.
-try to develop the ability to comparmentalize the obsessive mindset as needed in order to accomplish training for just 1/2hr-1hr at a time and for a few races (maybe 5 or so events??)
-Hang on at the start even for just a minute!!