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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've picked up lots of tidbits here and there from this forum and just listening to people through the years regarding training. In college, we had a coach who has trained a few VERY well known cyclists at different points in his career but training with him was agony and I hated it. I knew I wasn't cut out to be a pro, but I still wanted to race. To be honest, when the talk turns to heart rate, Lactate Threshhold, wattage, cadence, periodization, etc. my eyes sort of glaze over.
While I do race (on the road mostly) and want to do well, I do not want to put too much structure into my "training". For example, I'm the only one in my group that does not own a heart rate monitor. To me, there is a line that would be crossed by being too scientific that might make me feel that I'm working instead of enjoying my free time. I ride hard about half the time, and do not stick to a rigid plan. It all depends on my mood and the weather around here. When I ride with my group, sometimes they kill me- sometimes not. The fastest guy in that group is a master's racer on the road and a former Pro MTB racer. I have neither his genetic gifts, his focus, nor his bank account for that matter- but I still love competition.
This winter, I bought a set of rollers I ride when I feel like it (just now learned the balance) and I try to get up nordic (skate) skiing at least once every weekend. I have heard that this will benefit my conditioning as well and I enjoy it for it's own sake (I don't do it just becouse it will make me a better cyclist). Skate Skiing is really fun, by the way.
The benefit of this attitude (for me, at least) is that I avoid mental burnout and cycling doesn't feel like a task that I must do. I was up at the nordic center just the other day and did 24 miles with 2000 feet of climbing and my legs are killing me, so I know I'm "training" without training. I'm sort of curious about how others feel about structured training verses hard recreational riding and if I am holding myself back more than I realize by not taking advantage of all the science out there. One reason "training" doesn't suite me is becouse I can be sort of "scatter-brained" lots of times. I do realize that I could probably improve somewhat by "training", but if I have to give up the freedom I feel now to stay competitive then it will be a little sad. Thanks in advance for any input.......
 

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No need to make "training" an unpleasant experience if you just enjoy being out there and finishing wherever your fitness takes you that day. Having fun is what it's all about in the end.

However, If you want to improve, it's likely you'll need to do more focused "training".

Of course, this is without really knowing where you are with your fitness right now.

Cheers!
-Ian
 

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I want to "shuttle" back and forth from the more science based fitness world to the "just for fun" world too.

I have no genetic gifts, so training will only lift me to some very modest level, but I like the science reading, implementation for the knowledge itself, and to watch the "experiments" from the "that's my body" perspective. Plus, I am old.

For whatever reasons, I've gotten more into training the last year, but I am also looking forward to the time when this runs it's course and I go back to the behavior you describe so well.

I don't get disgusted when I read or listen to talk about training, I find it intrinsically interesting.
 

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There is nothing more fun than riding stronger/faster than you ever have. And keeping up if not leading the fast group rides that you used to be last on.

There's a lot to be said for being a balanced athlete. Cycling is definitely NOT the most balancing of sports. I'll be the first to admit that my flexibilty is terrible, my core is weak, my ankles are bad, I can't run to save my life, and I'm scared of getting hurt playing dodge ball with my kids.

But at some point sport specificity is going to take priority. If you are like me, time is the biggest enemy. My goals are to be the best mtn bike racer that I can be and with limited time that means 'training' and it means outside of a several weeks of cycling specific strength training that any of my time for 'training' is in the saddle. And my training is regimented and focused.

But you hit the nail on the head when you said that regimented training doesn't work for your personality. And that right there says that you know yourself and are adapting your 'training' to the way you work. That is the most important thing. I am opposite, the focused and planned training helps me motivate.

You will definitely improve if you constantly challenge your self. Whether that involves intervals that were harder than the week before, or pushing harder on a ride is all up to you. It's only when you do the same thing over and over at the same intensity that you don't improve.

Do what works for you as in the end if you like it you will actually do it vs hating it and then blowing it off. But know that there will always be a debate over which 'way' is better which 'way' makes one stronger/faster, but that it's hard to deny that a focused, regimented training progrm isn't the most time efficient manner to improve.
 

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Should be element fun no matter what

In my opinion fun should ALWAYS be part of it. Whether you use HR monitors, don't use them, X-train, Don't X-train or not, there should be at leat SOME element of fun or why do it?

Myself I ENJOY keeping track of my mileage, HR, training plans etc. I'm NOT saying this makes me good, I'm an average racer at best. But you have to do what works for you, is fun, and makes you want to ride and race your bike.

I once heard an interview with J. Bishop on Endurance Radio, and when asked about his training he said his favorite training was going on adventures in the mountains near his home in Virginia. Hiking, biking etc. Now I'm sure he does a LOT more than that, but dude sees the beauty in riding and racing his bike too.

I think it's possible to do some structured training around fun. Example: This weekend I want to go for an XC ski. Plan on 2 hours, Than will be 2 hours of my "base" for the week. Some structure (and God given talent) is needed to be successful. I need to do a LITTLE structure since I didn't get the God given talent, ha!

Good luck, do your best and have fun.
 

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jasondean said:
In my opinion fun should ALWAYS be part of it. Whether you use HR monitors, don't use them, X-train, Don't X-train or not, there should be at leat SOME element of fun or why do it?

Myself I ENJOY keeping track of my mileage, HR, training plans etc. I'm NOT saying this makes me good, I'm an average racer at best. But you have to do what works for you, is fun, and makes you want to ride and race your bike.

I once heard an interview with J. Bishop on Endurance Radio, and when asked about his training he said his favorite training was going on adventures in the mountains near his home in Virginia. Hiking, biking etc. Now I'm sure he does a LOT more than that, but dude sees the beauty in riding and racing his bike too.

Good luck and have fun.
Note that JB also is coached by Hunter Allen at Peaks coaching and does some of the most scientific power training around. Lots of number crunching. So an interesting combination of back country technical expertise/epic riding combined with highly scientific training.
 

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Agreed for sure

ashwinearl said:
Note that JB also is coached by Hunter Allen at Peaks coaching and does some of the most scientific power training around. Lots of number crunching. So an interesting combination of back country technical expertise/epic riding combined with highly scientific training.
That's what meant by "A LOT more" than just the adventures, but it shows that even as professional he does have some fun. He's one of the best technical racers out there. You can't get like that by measuring HR and wattage. Fitness etc. improves for sure and the combination of talent, skills and fitness is what makes those guys great and me a "shlep" crusing the internet at work instead of out training as a pro. HA!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
jasondean said:
the combination of talent, skills and fitness is what makes those guys great and me a "shlep" crusing the internet at work instead of out training as a pro. HA!
LOL, I hear you. I was wishing that I won the lottery today and if I did, I would quit my job and hire a coach. If I didn't have to worry about my job, I think I could focus more and still have time to "train" and have fun also. I think all these years of this tedious desk job are grinding down my ability to concentrate and shortening my attention span.
 

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About 3 years ago, I had my best race results/improvement ever. I used a coaching service. Very difficult for me. Do this, do that, and when to do it, based on my training results through the season. Last year, I think was one of my best years. Very little structure. Rode my single speed to work. On the way home using my trailer for resistance, I pedaled harder and slower. Without the trailer I basically did a time trial for the 1.5 mile home. About a 3 percent all the way. I am also able to snowshoe and xc ski to work over a longer route, during winter. That was my training. recovery days were still important.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
roaddog said:
About 3 years ago, I had my best race results/improvement ever. I used a coaching service. Very difficult for me. Do this, do that, and when to do it, based on my training results through the season. Last year, I think was one of my best years. Very little structure. Rode my single speed to work. On the way home using my trailer for resistance, I pedaled harder and slower. Without the trailer I basically did a time trial for the 1.5 mile home. About a 3 percent all the way. I am also able to snowshoe and xc ski to work over a longer route, during winter. That was my training. recovery days were still important.
XC ski to work? Now that's cool
 

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Kudo's!

After 3 seasons of very structured training I found myself this offseason still using a coach and traing plan but doing everything I can to have fun with my training. The first step was no weight training! I hate it and have found no improvement in my performance and I was always on the verge of burnout. Also my coach really does not like the singlespeed. He feels your either overgeared or undergeared and it's just to hard on the body. Well I just love the SS so I ride it 1-2 times per week and make sure I get plenty of recoverey.
2 thumbs up for having fun!, Great post!
 

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well i'm not a huge fan of training, but i try to train well. I try and ride rollers everynight and i hate it sometimes just because i'm not in the mood to ride...however i enjoy riding rollers for some reason. someitmes i just make myself hoop on them and ride and then i'm usually happy after becasue i feel like i've done something good for myself. i also do ab work outs almost every night and i hate those because they hurt and burn like crazy, but then when i'm done i feel good about it casue its paying off!! my father owns a heart rate moniter and i think i'm going to start using it just because i'm intrested in how my body is doing.

so i guess i really hate training, but at the same time i love it. cause i just got back into mtn. biking this year and the local trails...the fast people are doing the 7.5mile loop in 25-28mins and i was riding it in the mid to high 40's. BUT after setting myself on a good training system that basically just consisted of me riding a minimum of 10miles a night on the rollers...i usually would do 15-20-miles, but sometimes i just had too much home work to ride more than 10, but i would make sure i rode 10. then i would just stretch and do weights 3times a week...and i take weight training completely unseriously beucase i hate it with all my heart. well after doing this training routine for a month i had amazingly improved. i went from dong 47mins laps to just 32mins. i think thats a HUGE improvement! i rode a 29min lap with a guy who is a really fast local, but i pushed my self too hard that time and felt sick the whole next day.

so as much as i hate it i'm going to keep training, but i hate winter training the most. my fav. training is when i go to the trails to train cause a nice xc course is only 20mins away from my house so i try and hit it up after school and i go there when we have half days at school and my friends and i will just have fun and train. but i also do road training because my friend and i like to have races through downtown during rush hour!!!! i know really stupid but really really fun!!!! i can't wait to do one of those races in new york someday!!!!!
 

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Very interesting thread. What I do notice, as a cycling coach, is that here in Europe we have the same "problems". When fun is not involved into training, training will be boring. And when boring is involved you will never get results. It is a balance between fun and must do. If you want to get the most out of yourself you have to train, you have to train very hard. But, in mine opinion training is fun.. Well that is what I always tried to build in in the programs of my athletes. And so far no one runs out the last 5 years. But you have to look for a coach, or find out yourself, that will make schedules for YOU. That is the most important task of a coach, making training schedules that suit's you. If you do not like training with a heart rate monitor, he have to make altarnative schedules. If you do not like interval training or long endurance training your coach must be able to find alternatives for that. And when he is a good coach, he will.
Have fun and keep training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
This thread seems to be becoming relevant again since our road team is starting to do early season training rides already. Here on the Front Range, the weather has been warm and dry (albeit windy) for weeks now and biking is possible without to much bundling up. While my teammates will be riding on the road around the Front Range, I would rather be Nordic skiing or snowboarding in the mountains (at least on weekends). In fact, my first Nordic ski race ever will happen in March and I would rather get in as much time on the snow before it all melts away then do something like ride my road bike that I could do almost year round. “training” for the skiing to me consists of nothing more than skiing the normal routes. The thing is, since I’m still fairly new to the sport, it seems more fun to me than riding my bike right now. I just feel like I might be falling behind the rest of the guys by not riding with them and that racing bikes has a way of pushing all other activities to the wayside. Last season I suffered in the beginning, but caught up by late spring to most the other guys. That effect could be amplified this year because I plan on putting cycling off even longer to ski more. It will be interesting to see how it goes… Anyone else run into this same predicament?
 

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DutchDynamite said:
If you do not like interval training or long endurance training your coach must be able to find alternatives for that. And when he is a good coach, he will.
Actually, I take the opposite approach. If someone doesn't want to do the hard work, then he really doesn't want to have me as his coach. There is no shortcut, and I don't want to mislead someone into believing that we can optimize his performance WITHOUT the efforts. Before I start, I really try to make sure that the racer knows what is on the horizon.

Then again, I do this as a labor of love, and thus am not trying to build a business. I suppose that if someone is willing to pay you, and you need the work, you let them dictate what they will and will not do. The main constraints that I see come down to scheduling, and that can usually be worked with.

DaveM surprised me years ago when he told me about racers that continued to pay for coaching, but didn't follow the plan. I don't get it, quite honestly. For me, I wanted to maximize my abilities, and was willing to do the work.

As to the initial topic, I certainly appreciate the difference between being a recreational rider/racer and a COMMITTED, WELL-TRAINED racer. I don't know if I'll race this year or not...my focus has shifted over the years. But, I can tell you, to echo what AEarl posted above, I really got to enjoy the killer workouts for a time. It was a real buzz to finish a workout in the am, set a new standard for myself, and then go to work!

Walt, I understand about the limited ability. That's where a lot of us around here live. I spent many years taking my mediocre innate talent to its max. Call it mid-life crisis or whatever, but this was in my early 40's and was quite the rush! The only downside that I found: I got used to winning! I ALWAYS expected to end up on the podium...and that was pretty heady stuff. Getting a call-up [to the starting line] at Nationals was really cool [as was not having to line up an hour before the race!]. The problem has been that I am not there anymore, and I find that all of the suffering in the race and NOT getting a good result is just not as rewarding...and this is a mindset that we have to work on.

I do suggest that for those who really enjoy the competitive aspect of racing, get serious for a couple of seasons and see what happens. That was an incredibly rewarding time in my life. I know live vicariously through those I coach and try to remember what once was...and who knows...maybe one day I'll go back there!
 

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I'm giving racing a serious go this year, and so I'm spending mucho time on the road. I HATE riding on the road, I detest it, but I know that is how I'm gonna get stronger and faster. In a perfect world, my fun mtb rides would give me all the training I need.

I may not do this more than one season, but for this year I'm gonna do it even if it kills me.:D
 

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MTBDOC said:
Actually, I take the opposite approach. If someone doesn't want to do the hard work, then he really doesn't want to have me as his coach. There is no shortcut, and I don't want to mislead someone into believing that we can optimize his performance WITHOUT the efforts. Before I start, I really try to make sure that the racer knows what is on the horizon.

Then again, I do this as a labor of love, and thus am not trying to build a business. I suppose that if someone is willing to pay you, and you need the work, you let them dictate what they will and will not do. The main constraints that I see come down to scheduling, and that can usually be worked with.

DaveM surprised me years ago when he told me about racers that continued to pay for coaching, but didn't follow the plan. I don't get it, quite honestly. For me, I wanted to maximize my abilities, and was willing to do the work.

As to the initial topic, I certainly appreciate the difference between being a recreational rider/racer and a COMMITTED, WELL-TRAINED racer. I don't know if I'll race this year or not...my focus has shifted over the years. But, I can tell you, to echo what AEarl posted above, I really got to enjoy the killer workouts for a time. It was a real buzz to finish a workout in the am, set a new standard for myself, and then go to work!

Walt, I understand about the limited ability. That's where a lot of us around here live. I spent many years taking my mediocre innate talent to its max. Call it mid-life crisis or whatever, but this was in my early 40's and was quite the rush! The only downside that I found: I got used to winning! I ALWAYS expected to end up on the podium...and that was pretty heady stuff. Getting a call-up [to the starting line] at Nationals was really cool [as was not having to line up an hour before the race!]. The problem has been that I am not there anymore, and I find that all of the suffering in the race and NOT getting a good result is just not as rewarding...and this is a mindset that we have to work on.

I do suggest that for those who really enjoy the competitive aspect of racing, get serious for a couple of seasons and see what happens. That was an incredibly rewarding time in my life. I know live vicariously through those I coach and try to remember what once was...and who knows...maybe one day I'll go back there!
I would love to see you return to the start line.Its been 7 years sence I did a structured program and I'm looking foward to the pain and suffering you are going to put me through. :D It's taken 7 years for me to want to be a dominant racer again and be willing to do what I have to do to get there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
SeanL said:
I HATE riding on the road, I detest it, but I know that is how I'm gonna get stronger and faster. :D
Depending on where you live/ride, road riding can be great or horrible. When it comes to what type of roads I like to ride on, I've become a bit of a snob. The road has to be interesting and not crowded, etc for me to want to ride it. If you find a good road without a lot of cars, then maybe you will start to enjoy it more. In my opinion: bad roads= suburbia, urban, flat, crowded, etc . Good roads= Rural, mountains, twisty, trees & views, uncrowded. The worst roads I've ever ridden were all in cities or along crowded highways where I was sucking in car exhaust, riding through broken glass, and afraid of being run over. The best roads were (examples) Catalina Highway up Mt. Lemon (Tucson, AZ) or the road through the eastern unit of Saguaro National Monument (also Tucson). Highway through Arches NP (Moab, UT) Trail Ridge Road (Rocky Mt NP, Colorado). Highway 550 (Durango to Ouray, CO). Etc… If you find the right road, road biking can be way better than mountain biking on a mediocre trail. My problem is that I don't want to be road biking this time of year anywhere, I'd rather save it for springtime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
SeanL said:
I live in Florida(that's my main problem, I know:D), and my main route (which is an uncrowded road on Air Force property) is damn flat, with nothing but longleaf pine trees to look at. I'm sure that if I had mtns or some other scenery to look at I'd enjoy it more.:)
I used to live in Boca Raton when I was much younger, never had a road bike at that time (actualy used to ride my brother's motorcycle when I lived there) and a BMX bike. Check out this pic from Graham Watson taken during this years Giro D' Italia. I want to goto Italy !!!!!
 

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hardtail05 said:
Depending on where you live/ride, road riding can be great or horrible. When it comes to what type of roads I like to ride on, I've become a bit of a snob. The road has to be interesting and not crowded, etc for me to want to ride it. If you find a good road without a lot of cars, then maybe you will start to enjoy it more. In my opinion: bad roads= suburbia, urban, flat, crowded, etc . Good roads= Rural, mountains, twisty, trees & views, uncrowded.
I live in Florida(that's my main problem, I know:D), and my main route (which is an uncrowded road on Air Force property) is damn flat, with nothing but longleaf pine trees to look at. I'm sure that if I had mtns or some other scenery to look at I'd enjoy it more.:)
 
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