Sunday, February 18, 2007
Me and Ethan got in base BMX miles in at Wheeler this weekend while Miya chased the chickens.
Something I've wondered about and don't fully understand is the concept of base training. Since I'm not an expert, I don't dispute their conclusions or arguments regarding the effect and importance of base training. Last year, during the winter, from September '05 to March '06, I attempted a traditional base training program. This meant relatively no high intensity. I generally kept my HR below 150. In Feb. and March, I would push it up hills and began to get some intensity. I don't doubt that this training program was beneficial. It helped develop my endurance and transformed my metabolism. I did a large portion of the base training in a "fasted" state and limited caloric intake. This taught my body to feed itself and, hopefully, to rely more on fat stores, than rely on the carbs I poured into my body. This, of course, helped me endurance-wise.
However, when race season came, my strength and LT threshold level were inadequate. I cramped and simply did not have the necessary output. By July, however, I had developed the necessary output, but it was only average, and it took a fair amount of effort to get there.
This year has been different. During this year's off season, my thought process was as follows: I don't have enough time to base train properly and to get in the necessary miles. Furthermore, in Utah, it's impossible to log the miles necessary for a good base training program. What's the point of doing a half-baked low intensity program, especially when I'll fall out of shape and especially when I'll have a big hole to dig myself out of in the spring? So, my plan? My plan is what I call the "do what you can plan." My plan was to get in all the miles/time my schedule and the weather would allow without setting any parameters on intensity. In my head, I thought that if I can only get in 1 hr, then I should try to get the most out of it.
So, after LOTOJA, when I was a bit tired of road riding and when road riding had lost some appeal, I dusted off the mountain bike and did some trail riding. Since it's not possible to do mountain biking without intensity, I got intensity. I also took up trail running. Trail running in the Wasatch also demands intensity. The nice thing about a trail run is that you get solid blocks of intensity. I would say that cardio-wise, a 1 hr mountain run is as good as a 2-3 hr bike ride.
Then, in November, I got sucked into cyclocross racing, and I'm glad I did. Although cross races are only 45 min to 1 hr, it's a solid 45 min to 1 hr of intense racing. After the races I logged some lower intensity/base miles.
Then, it got too cold to ride a cross bike. In years past, I've done a fair amount of backcountry skiing. Last year, I also bought some cheap skate skis. This year, inspired by Bart, I got some faster skate skis and learned the tecnique. I have even done a few nordic ski races this year. The thing about skate skiing is that it's very hard to do without being at or above your LT threshold. Skate ski racing is more intense than a 30 min. time trial. So, I've gotten lots of intensity skate skiing.
In sum, I've gotten lots of intensity during this year's off season. So, what's my point? My point is that yesterday I did a four hr. endurance ride and decided to push it up Traverse Mountain. My average power for 20 min. (20 min. peak power) was the same as the highest level of 20 min. peak power I *recorded last year -- a sustained power to weight ratio of about 4.5. My point is that in Feb. I am at approximately the same level (for 20 min peak power) as I was last year at the end of the season.
My hope is that I improve on my current state and achieve even a higher output level. I guess the good news is that I don't have a very big "hole" to dig myself out of. The downside is, I might be lacking a base, but right now, I'm not feeling that. Only time will tell.