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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Training Highs and Lows So Far

I spent a while looking online at century bike ride training schedules and found one that was 16 weeks long, which is ideal because the Tour of Acoma is 16 weeks away. I printed it off and took it home in preparation.

The first week I just wanted to see what it was like being out on the bike. I cycled two miles, instead of the thirty that the schedule demanded. I think it was assuming I was fitter than I am. Truth is, though, that this isn't just about physical fitness but also about mental preparation, and I found it difficult to get up especially early in the morning, particularly on mornings following when I've been out trying to scare coyotes away from our property!

Week 2's schedule asked for two 5-mile rides, a 10-mile ride and a 20-mile ride. I did my first five miles in 29 minutes. I was totally wiped out. I actually sat in a bath for half an hour afterwards. It's really different cycling at altitude. I know I've lived here for two years so walking around is fine, but exercising at altitude is different. And I came to realise exactly how unfit I am. The next day I went out again and shaved three minutes off my time. Although the schedule asked for ten miles on Wednesday, I just did five, in 27 minutes and then the following day I did another five in 27 minutes again. So the schedule asked for 40 miles and I did 20, which is at least progress.

I'm very lucky in terms of route. From my house to Desert Academy is exactly 2.5 miles, so there and back is 5, and it's a nice ride in the morning. I'm behind schedule at this point, but I'm making progress.

Week 3 asked for 5 miles on Tuesday, 10 on Wednesday, 10 on Friday and 25 on Sunday. I'm finding the Sunday rides difficult to fit in because of work. Because I didn't do a Sunday ride last week, I go out on Monday and decide to try 10 miles. I'm flying after 5 miles and shave my PB (personal best) down to 25 minutes. I'm starting to notice that I'm getting fitter. I start my second lap and after about two miles my back tyre gets a massive puncture. Really frustrating. It's fixed by the end of the day so on Tuesday, I decide to attempt 10 miles, and smash my 5-mile PB with 21:33, and set my first 10-mile PB at 43:44. That's the longest I've cycled in four years. Thursday I try again and get 22:14 and 45:12. It's not a brilliant ride but it's another ten miles on the schedule. 25 miles cycled this week - slow progress because the schedule asked for 50, but at least it's progress. Every time I go out for a ride now, Asher says he's happy that I don't get a puncture.

Week 4 asked for less - 30 miles - but work, allergies and fatigue meant it was a very lean week - two five mile rides (23:06 and 22:40). The first one my head was in totally the wrong place. I finished the first five and really pushed myself to go onto the second. Less than half a mile in, I changed gears on a hill and the chain came off. I took it as a sign, fixed the chain, and walked back home.

Now I'm onto week 5 of training. By now the schedule suggests 65 miles this week. That's a lot of miles considering that my maximum so far has been 25. This week, I pull out the cycling gear that I wore for my bike ride 34 years ago. It helps mentally to look the part!
On Monday I once again smashed my 5-mile PB with 21:21, and this morning I cut it down again to 21:00 exactly, and matched my 10-mile 43:44 PB.

5 mile times
10 mile times

I take some comfort from this chart. In four weeks, I've been able to take 8 minutes off my 5-mile time, that's 28% off the original time. If I can do that for the 10-mile and then the 15-mile rides, I'll be in good shape in ten weeks' time.

In theory, tomorrow is meant to be a 15-mile ride, and for the first time this morning I felt like I would be able to do that. In fact, there are no more 5-mile rides in the schedule at all - 10 is the minimum from now on, so that's the PB I really need to be focusing on. I also need to start doing the longer rides. This week's long ride is suggested at 30 miles, but that's not going to happen. If I can do my first 15 tomorrow and then maybe another 15 on Sunday, that would be a total of 45 miles this week, which would be a big jump. That said, I’m aware that I’m really going to have to step up my game here.

Total Miles on Schedule
Total Miles Cycled
15 so far…

I think this schedule assumed that I was fitter than I am. Next week it's going to be asking for 70 miles in total and I'm going to have to start doing more than 50% of what it asks. Revd Ben Larzelere, who is hoping to be joining me on the ride, says that if you cycle 250 miles before a Century, you should be fine. He might be right - I've so far cycled 67 miles and I know I'm not ready. The total on the schedule is 1045! I'm rather hoping that Ben is right...!


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