Ride More

For most of June and July, I was experiencing a persistent calling to “ride more.” The strange thing is that my training load has been far above what I need to be healthy/happy.

I shared this feeling with Monica and she asked me what “more” was. I replied, “five rides a week, 5/4/3/2/1 by hours.” She smiled, noted that was an elite triathlete training plan and suggested that I ride long the following day.

So I headed out and ripped 65 miles at a solid pace — about halfway through that ride, I found myself wondering if I really wanted to do 15 hours of that sort of riding every single week, for the rest of my life…

When “more” doesn’t seem to be the answer that I thought it would be, I look deeper at my true motivations.

Ego and performance:
When I ride a lot, I become a decent cyclist. Like anyone, I can get hooked on the results, rather than the process. Having been on a powermeter for a decade, I’m well versed with my physical potential (if I ride lots). I think part of the drive to ride is coming from my ego’s desire to rip people’s legs off.

My ego strengthens in direct proportion to my stress level.

Seasonal: My physical energy is directly linked to weather and daylight. So it’s not surprising that it peaks in June/July when the climate is perfect (not too hot) and the days are long. When I was racing elite, I would short circuit my reality by taking “winter” in the Southern Hemisphere. This worked great but I would pay-the-price every three years (or so) with a bout of overtraining.

If you have been overriding your natural systems by ramping fitness during the winter, then watch that you don’t go flat. Because of the heat, August is the month where we see athletes go stale — both in terms of desire to train and capacity to recover. If you’re getting warning signals (and want to be fast in October/November) then a short unloading period could save your season.

Escapism: This is what was really driving me!

I started exercising for three main reasons:

  • Endorphins: Training made me feel good.
  • Weight loss: I was fat and wanted to be fit.
  • Escape: I wanted to get away.

Based on the photos that you see on the site, you’d think that weight loss wouldn’t be an issue for me. However, if you’ve been fat then weight is always an issue!

What was strange for me in June/July was that I was training lots and slowly gaining weight. Not much, one or two pounds per week. My shirts (never that large to begin with) were starting to look like tankinis!

So my profile was:

  • Slow weight gain
  • Desire to leave the house all day — until I left the house all day
  • Wanting more — despite doing more

I think the above would describe most athletes at some stage of their fitness cycle and it’s caused by “too much.”

So the cure for my desire to ride more is to look at my life and see where I can remove stress. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Stick to my schedule: The weeks in my life that “work” all have the same structure — I move around the world but my life functions best when it’s very stable in terms of work/family/self.
  • Moderate intensity: In June/July, I switched from my low-standard deviation training approach (moderate daily load) to a more variable approach (Big Day / Easy Day). While that enables me to bump my capacity to race — it is tough on my brain-chemistry! Given that I want to be fast in October/November, I was way ahead of the curve on intensity-driven overload. I need to have more control over my efforts (sounds like I need a coach).
  • Simplify my life: Whenever I arrive at a time “crisis” it precipitates a hard look at where I am spending my time.

It requires consistent effort to hone my life to focus on the areas that I do well. EC operates on an October to October cycle so now is a natural time to review where we want to take ourselves over the next 18 months.

I’ve scheduled a cyber-vacation and a week-long couples retreat for August. Time to put some effort into understanding the life I want to live.

My take home point — when more doesn’t give you the satisfaction that you thought it would… consider how to achieve less stress.


Categories: Bike, Lifestyle

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