October 8, 2007

The return to hard work

Phase three of 2007 began on Saturday with a 1.8 mile run -- which was probably really a 1.5 mile run, the rest of it heavy-breathing and walking for recovery. MAN, this is hard. Which is exactly what I need -- the key now is to stick with it. I have the same careful spreadsheet mapped out for a ramp-up of effort and distance, and when the weather turns nasty I have the treadmill in the house to revert to. Sunday was a rest day, and tonite after work I'll get another run of the same distance in. The long, slow rampup to what I'll need to complete a marathon begins!

Yeah, I haven't forgotten that goal, as mentioned June 8th, 2007.
Since the cycling calendar is now clear, it's time to shift gears - and if nothing else prepare for a successful 2008 cycling season. Honestly, I think a change in approach and type-of-goal is going to be a good thing. I already have some space between me and Tejas, and the future is clear.

The only thing I probably need is a heart-rate monitor. Universally, that is the one thing that I've read in all of these "running-for-dummies" books (Not to be confused with the not-so-best-seller "Running IS for Dummies"). It makes sense for cycling, too, from a training perspective -- while it might just be another number to keep track of, it can truly be a good gauge on how hard the body is working, how well I'm recovered from an effort, whether I should skip training, or train harder. It can also be a terrifc gauge of improvements, if used consistently and on the same course. Since my training is mapped out on the same out-and-back course from the house, this might work well. So, something from Polar towards their cheaper end might be on the list soon, if I can unload some other random cycling items to recharge the budget.

You know, looking at cycling compared to my current goal and how I've been thinking about how to accomplish this new goal, it's clear that I've almost become "bored" with riding. This is a clear sign of burnout, perhaps. Goal or no goal, it's clear that I should have hung up the bike for a while regardless. I haven't paid THIS kind of attention to cycling method for a while, and that may be the difference. While I know a lot, I certainly don't know everything about cycling training - but I have gotten to the point where I barely want to ride - much less practice a particular training platform, ride intervals, do hill sprints, etc. Perhaps I can learn a few things with running, and transfer them over once I've had a chance to reset. The only thing I'll be doing with the bike for the next couple of months is commuting -- which is something I can use to recover from runs, keep the joints limber, and stay stretched out. But things like cadence and trying to improve my average speed will be on the back burner. It might be interesting to see if, while I train for this new discipline, anything improves by consequence. Over the course of this spring's brevet series I watched another rider, Jeff, ride faster and with more focus and endurance that ever before -- the difference was revealed as a few months taken off to train for a marathon. By consequence, his speed on the bike rocketed up, and he was consistently the first one to finish each brevet, or at least in the top five riders. While finishing fast isn't the goal at a brevet, you see my point; the training benefits of diversification are clear. While I can't expect a carbon copy result, it should help me in a lot of ways, physically and mentally, and if my goals are beyond the brevets, then speed and endurance are a huge plus. It seems these last couple of years the only desire I've been able to maintain is the desire to show up at these rides.

But, let's not get ahead of ourselves; I've only got 2 miles invested towards this thing so far --- part of the beauty of the blog is accountability and the ability to look back at my own thoughts. Looking back at June's entry and the announcement of the marathon goal, the tone of my writing is markedly different - a tone of hope and spirit that is absent from recent posts: a clear indication of how stressful the summer was, and how things changed. The June post seems like it was from LAST year, seriously -- but I am sticking to that goal and will try to recapture the spirit of the guy that wrote it only a few months back. As the leaves change and the air turns cooler, it's time to leave the stresses of summer behind, and try something a wee-bit different. Stay tuned as this new chapter unfolds.

It will be hard - like nothing I've ever done - but I think that's exactly what I need!

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