As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m taking a few weekends off from racing. Although I’ll be out of town so I can’t race, the time off from racing should be beneficial for me. Racing is a good way to build fitness, but with it comes fatigue and burnout. By taking a short break from racing I’ll be able to refresh my body and mind.
Ideally, I would have taken a week off the bike first, before starting my endurance block. The would have been the best way to recharge my batteries, but I have a long weekend coming up where I won’t be riding at all, so that will be my time off the bike.
Overall, my endurance block has gone well. I started with a simple endurance ride, aiming for an average heart rate in the middle of Zone 2, and focusing on keeping the effort constant throughout the ride. I probably should have gone out a bit easier, but my legs felt good so I gave in to the urge to ride a bit harder.
Here is the tracing from the first day (above). You can easily see my very steady power output (purple), matched by my ever increasing heart rate. This is a very clear example of heart rate drift. Heart rate drift indicates poor endurance / aerobic fitness, which I have been neglecting by only training with short, intense workouts recently. The heat (95+ F) may have also contributed.
My second workout was cut short by even more extreme heat and the fact that I felt terrible. I only made it 40 miles before calling it off. That night I had a fever and a very angry gut. I’m not sure if I had a small bug or had simply overdone it in the heat. Unfortunately I had to call off the following day’s ride in Bighorn National Forest.
I found some good riding outside of Bozeman, MT. The flatlands around Belgrade are some of the flattest roads I’ve ever ridden, even rivaling the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I rode a 15 mile segment of Dry Creek Road, which was so flat my speed only varied by 7 mph and I never stopped pedaling. This re-inforced my theory that the trainer is miserable in part due to the extremely steady power output, since I found myself more fatigued than normal after this part of the ride.
For my last travel day I rode most of the Tour de Bozeman road race course. The views, roads, and weather were perfect. I have the race penciled in for next year. I continued down the backside of Bridger Canyon and suffered again in the heat and really ran out of gas for the last half hour of the almost 4 hour ride. I finished off the road trip training camp with a final two hours in the heat, and again saw significant HR drift.
Finally on the last day (yesterday) I had the legs I’ve been hoping for. I rode 3.5 hours including 75 minutes at Zone 3 power, and I didn’t feel wasted at the end of the ride. I’ve got another week of low intensity training coming up, and then I’ll be transitioning into my last month of road racing.
I’ll be going into the intense 20 minute hill climb at Lookout Mountain 10 days from now without any training above Zone 3 in the preceding 3 weeks. Surprisingly I’ve had good results in the past in intense races after a period of training at lower intensity. I think having a rounded base of fitness is important so hopefully rebuilding my endurance and taking time off from racing will pay dividends.