Thursday, May 30, 2013

Choose or Double Lose

A battle has been raging in my head and body. I registered for the August Mt Washington bicycle hillclimb race after a few-year hiatus from the August event. I'd like to give it my best shot, maybe even strive for a new best time if the weather gods smile on the Rock Pile on August 17. I feel I still have some unfinished business there. My current best of 1:05:33 was when I broke a rear spoke and my wheel went totally wonky. I had to stop twice to apply medieval techniques to coerce my wheel to stop rubbing the frame. Of course, without a spoke wrench, I was only partially successful. The rear tire still nearly rubbed  through the carbon chain stay by the time I reached the summit. What did I leave on the table that day?

Also in August, nine days before Mt Washington, I plan to to run the CIGNA 5k again in Manchester, NH. I did very well last year with minimal training.  Just days away from turning 50, I would have handily won the 50+ age category out of hundreds. Seems my VOmax training on the bike carries over nicely to running. I ran sub-18 minutes last year. This year I'd like to run sub-17:30, or about a 5:38 pace. I can break 18 minutes running an hour a week with minimal speed work, but not 17:30. That will take some serious commitment, particularly speed work starting about now.

So therein lies the conundrum.  How can I peak for both of these events so close to each other? I would need to do speed/intensity work in each discipline 2-3x per week, which is simply not sustainable. Tri-guys do training bricks, but their events aren't 17 or 60 minute anaerobic puke fests.  I need to train at higher intensities than at what triathletes train.  I'm not sure which one is more important to me, PR the 5k or PR Mt Washington.

My cycling form is quite good right now, hitting power numbers consistent with very good results in seasons past.  I find, however, that I'm tired almost all of the time. Too often, I attempt or plan a VOmax workout on the bike on Tuesdays, only to quickly learn it just isn't happening. I shut it down or don't even attempt intensity work. Mondays and Thursdays used to be my recovery days when I did not run. Now I run 5mi or 10k on those days. I simply don't get rest. And I haven't even started speed work on foot yet. So something has to give. If I continue down the current path, I will surely self destruct and fail to do well in either event.

A new 5k best is probably more attainable. I'd trade one of my bike VOmax sessions for, say, a 4x1200m session on foot. Done deal. But I'd be lucky to break 1:10 on Mt Washington under that program, or be a contender in any number of other cycling events later this summer.  Running is a new world, full of all kinds of pitfalls and pleasant rewards. There are not as many mysteries left in cycling endeavors. Over the 12 years I've been competing in hillclimb events, the training process is pretty well dialed. A new PR at 50 would be quite satisfying though.

My triathlete friends say I need to combine riding and running on my hard days so I can get rest days back into my week. I've tried running after a hard bike workout. It sucks. A typical VOmax workout on the bike completely depletes me. How can one get high value speed work on foot in that state? If I backed off on the bike work some, say did only four instead of six intervals, I'd leave something for the run, but then I wouldn't reach the same level of proficiency on the bike. The only way going for bests in both events could work is if speed work on the bike and running substantially compliment each other, in that trading bike VOmax time for running speed work is almost as good as doing all of the bike VOmax work. I don't know.

Historically, I've always focused more on the process than results. There's a lot less stress and let down that way, and burn-out is much less likely to occur. Strange how something I picked up only to improve bone density came to such a lofty level in my psyche. Any thoughts how to get through the next two months without imploding?

7 comments:

PatrickCT said...

Doug - as a 48 yr old runner/cyclist of much less talent (but with lots of experimentation under the belt)...just wondering how 1 hard running session/week (hard tempo or intervals) might work for you, instead of the 2 hard runs/week (ideal). If you have 1-2+ additional hard biking sessions to help max cardio, maybe the 1 hard run would complement (& channel the running specific muscles in addition to training the soft tissue). Of course a day of hard run intervals + a tempo run day would be optimal to max running fitness...cheers...

Rob Hult said...

Doug you need rest days, especially as you get older. Most amateurs screw this up and ride medium all of the time. That is fine for general fitness, but not to win races and smash records.

One of my friends asked me how I still stay so fast. He said, yeah most of the time you just run or ride easy. I responded, yes, but my hard days are usually very hard, sometimes almost maximum effort. I have another friend who only rides 3-4X per week. On alternate days he does nothing. When he rides his bike he puts in a hard day of 50-80 miles. He is one of the stronger riders I ride with every Tuesday.

It is the concept of emphasizing the peaks and the valleys in your training. You need both to get really fast. One ProTour rider gave me this advice years ago. Of course he also turned out to be doing some other things we won't talk about hahaha...

As for the 5k, it is all about speed. I like running blocks of 1/2 mile or 1 mile at faster than race pace. I also like doing ladder or pyramid style workouts where I run 400, rest, 800 rest, 1200, rest, 1600, and then come back down. You can do these on a nice rubber track, the road, or even the trail. It's pretty simple - to get fast at running, you have to practice running fast. Another way is to simply jump in a couple of local 5k races prior to the event. You always push yourself harder on race days.

Trying to do two hard workouts in one day is stupid. I have done it and I always feel terrible on the 2nd session. I suggest you replace one of your hard bike workouts with a hard running session. You don't even necessarily have to do it every week.

plum said...

I would focus on the 5k. Running is so hard. Very rewarding best case scenario for you. You have nothing to prove on Mt. Wash at the moment.

DaveP said...

Gosh, it sure sounds tough to be a legend.

Mr. Quindazzi said...

Forget the intensity training for running now. The running season goes well into the fall. Peak for Mt. Washington, get D2R2 out of the way (you are going this year, right?) then start blasting the running.

Peter Minde said...

Take that rest day Doug. I'd avoid doing two high intensity workouts in one day. You might get away with it now, but it'll come back to bite you down the road. If you're gonna do two hard workouts in a week, try doing one running and one riding.

DaveP said...

I guess what did you end up doing this weekend towards conditioning for the 5k or mount washingtion? I guess that might create a clear picture about where things will go. Dude, forget about that bs and stick w/the boondoggle rides. I think that is when you are most happy? You've already reached legendary status, so what do you have left to proove?