Early Season Form Uncertainty

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I was talking to Catherine Walberg before she left Topeka and headed back to Seattle. She got in 3 pretty good rides with us here in Topeka, but is worried that she is behind, even though it is just mid-February. I think it is strange how we now judge our form and dedication to the sport because of what we now know others are doing at the same time. I blame, or credit, media for this phenomenon. I think it is more of a hindrance than a tool, this comparing what we are doing to what others are.

Don’t get me wrong here, I think there are valid reasons to research how others train, trying to allow ourselves to progress forward in the sport. But the day to day competition that athletes are doing in training, really isn’t a great way for anyone to control his form, thus get to an ultimate goal.

This time of the year, the weather controls most of what a lot of us can do training. That, and of course, the amount of daylight. I’m a big fan of the moving up of daylight saving time in the spring and back in the fall. The more useable hours of the day of daylight is a good thing for people who like to spend their extra time outside.

The more I use a power meter, the important I believe its information is to me. I don’t sit there and stare at my Garmin all day, but I do look at the Power curve number on Strava and compare those numbers to previous rides I’ve done. I don’t do much structured training, so I am not comparing workout to workout, but I do think that general numbers do indicate a positive trend upward in fitness or a negative trend.

I try to get fit and then do races when I think I have good form. I try to get to the best race I can when I think I’m riding well. Of course there are many, many times when an important race falls during a time when I’m riding like shit. That seems to be happening more often nowadays, but we all hope to avoid those days as well as we can. But, I have been surprised many a time, when I think I’m riding very poorly and have a stellar race.

I’m still on the fence about racing up here, a local training criterium, the Spring Fling, on Saturday and then the season opener road race, Frozen Toes, in Columbia Missouri, or heading down to Austin and doing Walberg Road Race and Pace Bend. My recent historic races have been in Texas. There are more riders down there and the field is a higher quality. But, there is the 10 hour drive each way. If I went to Texas, I’d probably feel obligated staying there next week and then race the next weekend.

The next weekend would be a quandary. If my formed improved, I’d like to do the Mellow Johnny’s MTB race. I haven’t done a big MTB race in a long while and would like to get back into it a little again. I’m just not sure I’m anywhere near the form to do something as intense as that. These MTB races have gotten so short, under and hour and a half, that I have to imagine that the effort is closer to a hard cyclocross than a “normal” MTB race. Plus, I haven’t ridden a MTB bike in months, so I’d have to spend some time on it before. There are always the Lago Vista road races the same weekend, which are very hard, and fun, races.

I’ve been riding alright the last two weeks. Yesterday I got in 108 miles. It was really about a 95 mile ride, but Bill and I had to do some junk miles to get to 100. Then I just kept going until it was really dark, so got in another half hour. I felt pretty unbelievably good for riding in the wind for that long. We road back from Lawrence on gravel, which was harder, but kept us out of a stiff headwind.

I’ve been using a foam roller to try to help my left leg work better. The area where I had shingles a few months ago isn’t back up to speed yet and I think it is helping. At least I seem to have more power than before. I like to use new techniques, but am a little lazy when it comes to doing them on a daily basis.

Okay, I’d like to get some good miles in again today. It is only going to be in the 40’s, and windy of course, but it is supposed to be raining/snowing tomorrow, so I guess I’ll rest then.

Early season is just that, early season. Don’t stress about keeping up with others, do what your lifestyle allows. One of the coolest thing about our sport is that there is always another weekend, another month to race, so if you can’t participate now, there is always tomorrow.

The gravel road back from Lawrence to Topeka was in pretty bad shape the first half.  We were on our road bikes, sans extra tubes and air, so we were riding gingerly.

The gravel road back from Lawrence to Topeka was in pretty bad shape the first half. We were on our road bikes, sans extra tubes and air, so we were riding gingerly.

12 thoughts on “Early Season Form Uncertainty

  1. Jeff Unruh

    Excellent words we all need to be reminded of. It is just February. I, like Catherine stress about this time of year. How do I feel on the bike, have I gained a few pounds, what is everybody else doing, am I missing some new training principle, more core? You get the idea. Then I remind myself I’m a Masters racer and I get paid to do something other than race a bike. So I totally enjoyed my 2 1/2 hours at 16 mph yesterday!

     
  2. Carl Sundquist

    It seems to me that more and more clubs and coaches are having early season training camps. Certainly that is more fun than riding the trainer for another week, but I think it also puts pressure on riders to be ready for the camp. An increase in the number of early season races (and the popularity thereof) adds to that pressure. Along those lines, it seems like more riders are burnt out befoe the end of summer. Almost everywhere in the country has beautiful weather in September and the Southern part does in October, but those races are falling by the wayside. I don’t know if it is due to burnout or the growth of cyclocross, but it is sad to lose those races.

     
  3. channel_zero

    FYI, don’t ever trust Strava numbers for anything. None of their track processing is anchored to GIS files. Since your track data is not anchored to a GIS encoded road/trail, the numbers they produce are all terrible estimates and that includes segment times.

    The map provided by Google fits your track data so you get a pretty picture of where you went. That is Google’s GIS stack at work, not Strava.

     
  4. channel_zero

    Measuring performance with a stopwatch and two physical markers on the road/trail is actually much more accurate than what Strava is estimating.

    Ride lots Steve. You’ve got some rebuilding to do!

     
  5. mike crum

    steve, you know your body better than anyone, so how long do you think it will take you to have all the confidence in a road race or crit? when you are at or near top shape..i know you missed a lot with injuries and bad weather, but baring any other setbacks and you just ride and train hard/race, how long do you fiure it’ll be before you’re ready for any race?
    thanks
    mike

     

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