Mar 25, 2011

Weather, three-day blocks and warmth in numbers

Welcome to my Friday ramblings!

It’s been (and continues to be) a rainy week here in San Francisco. But despite the fact that I do complain about it to other San Franciscans, I can’t really take myself or other complaining parties seriously. I’m still only a year out of Chicago and I remember very well what March feels like there. I actually think they got some snow this week. Another reason that I don’t take the complaints seriously is that once we are out of the rain, it doesn’t rain for like seven months straight, and for anyone who’s been randomly caught in a midwestern thunderstorm, that counts for a lot.

While rains may be annoying when I’m trying to get my training in, they certainly don’t stop me from going indoors and doing some lung-busting intervals at M2. I was actually lucky enough to catch some sunshine this Tuesday, as I mentioned earlier. Not to mention, if it hadn’t rained, I wouldn’t have had all the fun skiing last weekend. I guess what I’m saying is, “take the bad with the good and look at the positive side of things” – we’re almost into the dry season. Oh, and remember what a gift from nature January was!

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So this week marks the start of my fourth training block, and I discovered that I really like the three-day block patterns – three days on the bike, one day off. Somewhere among the “on” days I work in an easy ride, but usually not more than one per week. So a training week would normally have a high intensity three-day block followed by a day of rest and another three-day block with the last day of the three reserved for recovery. Then another day off, and the cycle repeats. It’s hard to maintain this pattern with weekend racing, so I typically switch it up with a three-day block and a two-day block. The first day of the two-day block being the race. Obviously things change even more when an A race is approaching.

Regardless of whether I can get two three-day blocks in per week, I always get at least one and it’s been paying off huge. The biggest change I’ve noticed is the time it takes me to recover before I can put in another long, hard effort. I used to need two days off the bike after two hard days on the bike. Now, one day of recovery is plenty even after three hard days, and I’m ready to get back to hard work, which definitely makes high weekly volumes easier to achieve. If you’re used to a “day on, day off” or “two days on, day off” pattern, I suggest trying three-day blocks (with all three days being at high intensity) for a few weeks and see if you notice any positive changes. Fair warning – the first two weeks, you will probably not like yourself very much on day three.

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Two things are planned for tomorrow: (1) Mad Marchness, which is a great event where Mission Cycling folks get together and ride 96 miles or so from San Francisco to Santa Cruz; and (2) 80 percent chance of rain. If you’ve been reading regularly, you know I’ve been down this path before: Cantua Creek looked like it was going to be rained out, but it was nice and dry; Snelling looked like it would be 28 and snowing, but it was also nice and dry, and sunny; the day of the Merco RR it was raining, but the water stopped falling from the sky right before my race was set to start, and it looks like Bariani, which looked like it was going to be rainy, will be dry and sunny as well.

Tomorro, however, I don’t think there is a chance in hell that I can avoid getting wet, but unlike all the events above, I don’t have the “ugh, this is going to be miserable” feeling in my gut. I’m actually looking forward to the ride regardless of conditions because it will be with cycling friends, in a sort of non-competitive atmosphere – not counting the choco-milk chugging challenge and the three timed segments – and I’m sure that the chatter (not of our teeth) will distract all of us from the potentially inclement weather and whatever obstacles the road may present. This ride may make my toes cold, but it will surely warm the heart. Oh, and it will keep my legs nice and ready to work for Bariani the next day. It’s always a good idea to ride a century before a race, right?

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