Thursday, April 16, 2009

(R)est and (R)ecovery: The discipline of (not)riding.

If you’re like me, there never seems to be enough time to train and ride as much as you’d like. Paradoxically, though, the best strategy in the week before a big event is to pull back on both distance and intensity. It’s shocking how hard this can be. Justifications for a last minute hammer fest abound:

  • “The other riders will all be stronger, faster and better trained.”

  • “If I just ride more miles I’ll be in better shape.”

  • “Maybe more hill repeats will strengthen my legs.”
As many wiser and more experienced cyclists and trainers have written: very little gain is possible in the final week before a big event. The best we can hope for at this point is to enter the ride as well-prepared and well-rested as possible. Any intensity at this point will be counterproductive. It's time to taper. While I can grasp this on an intellectual level, it’s very hard not to get up on that bike and hammer away. This is why R & R right before a big event requires so much discipline.

Tapering has been especially hard this week because the weather is fabulous and I have so much extra time on my hands due to vacation. So I’ve spent some time as a tourist on this lovely island, ridden with my son and father-in-law at “family pace” and focused on OFF bike planning and preparation as much as possible. I’ve reviewed the race cue sheet, planned liquid resupply, scoped out the weather forecast and fine-tuned my nutritional strategy through research on the Hammer website.
I may not be the strongest rider in the field on Sunday; my focus now is to be the strongest rider I can be. So far, it seems like things are falling into place nicely.

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