I never really closed out 2011. Hectic work schedule has been getting in the way of many things. Here are a few introspective thoughts on 2011 and going forward into 2012.
I generally strive for about 600 hours of aerobic activity per year. I consider anything that raises my heart rate to 2-3x resting rate an aerobic activity, even things like hiking or shoveling the driveway. 600hrs per year is about 10-12hrs per week. In winter months, less is usually achieved, but the deficit is easily made up when I go on trips in summer months.
I have maintained a training log in Microsoft Excel for 10 years now. The format is very simple and has changed little over the 10yrs. Recorded are usually conditions, who I trained with, how I felt, and the usual metrics of activity, distance and time. Here's how my 2011 activity broke down:
Most notable here is this is the first year in many that I've logged more trail riding hours than road riding hours. Perhaps I got a little burned out on the road scene. What also hasn't helped is that most of my favorite road races have gone by the wayside, like Jiminy Peak, Turtle Pond, Bow and others. I've become a bit more risk adverse since my 2010 mishap too. Road competition is not without risk. Here's a weekly snapshot of 2011.
The weekly average is a little more uniform than most years, excluding the trips. The trips I failed to go on in 2010 due to my injury were made up in 2011. I experienced some amazing rides in my favorite places, plus a new favorite place, the Italian Alps.
Exceptional trips were offset by lack-luster competitive results. Psychologically, I don't invest heavily in results objectives. It takes too much fun out of staying fit. Then when results are not achieved, despair sets in, and you begin to question why you train at all. I've seen this happen in other people. The process of staying fit should be reward enough in of itself.
2011 pretty much lacked any sense of direction or goals. Training became less bike centric as running became part of the mix. I suspect running diluted my cycle training some, especially since I used my customary recovery days to run, which was anything but recovery. I don't see this changing much in 2012. I may experiment with run-bike brick days to get back my rest days. Not having the same snap on the bike doesn't mean I'm less fit. I can run 5km infinitely faster now than a year ago. That has to count for something.
Perhaps one of the high points of 2011 didn't involve a bike at all. I ran the CIGNA 5k at a sub-6min pace. That in itself isn't very noteworthy, but I had accumulated a lifetime total of running to that point of only around 35hrs. I couldn't run a mile in high school before asthma doubled me over in a hump of wheezing flesh.
The last three months of 2011 have been pretty much a free-wheeling affair. I used up any residual fitness I built up over the summer by just riding. No intensity, no hill intervals, just blissful riding. The record low weight I maintained without even trying all summer didn't last. Many late nights with takeout food at work packed it on quickly. So here I am, going into 2012, feeling a bit like Fat Doug back in 1993, when I believe this gem was taken:
No idea what I weighed there, but it had to be more than 230 pounds. Besides boosting VOmax, intensity also spikes the metabolism for many hours after exercise. I need to get back into that regime again.
Work will have me pegged out for another 3-4 months it looks like. That makes trips hard to plan. I didn't get into Battenkill this year, partly because it filled more quickly than I anticipated, but also because I don't think I'll be ready for it. No trips, no early season race, equals no strong motivators on the horizon. How does one break this death spiral?
Normally I get the bulk of my training on skis this time of year. But we all know how well that is working. There is a new series that started last year called the Winter Wild series. These races go to the top of a alpine ski mountain and back down. You may use whatever means you want, but what you take up must also come back down. For example, you cannot plant downhill skis at the summit, snowshoe up, leave snowshoes at top, then alpine ski down. You must carry downhill skis up, then ski down carrying snowshoes. I would like to try one or two of these with skate skis. Looks like winners were typically on skate skis. Going up would be exceedingly intense. I cannot think of a better way to achieve a fitness boost. Snowmaking at these venues gets around the snow drought were in.
I plan to hit the longer MTB races again in 2012, including a new Leadville qualifier in NY. I still want to solve the cramping issues that plague my endurance events. There are more experiments in training and diet to try. Trips will no doubt be part of the picture later in summer too. I hope to visit Sun Valley Idaho this year, maybe in lieu of going to Colorado in August. Need to get high at least once a year, and Sun Valley offers terrain that could rival Durango. Regardless how the season pans out, I will still have fun riding bikes in many stimulating places.