Here in California, the road race season starts with the Mt. San Bruno hill climb on January 1, and ends sometime in early October with a couple crits or circuit races. For me, the road season ends the last weekend of September with Everest Challenge, so this week effectively marks the half-way point.
Being half way done with the season, I think it’s a good time to take a look back at how it’s been going and see if any adjustments need to be made going forward. I feel that the season started out very well for me with some strong performances in early races and a fourth place at Madera. The hard block of training I put in early in the year definitely paid off, and not doing my first race until late February, in hindsight was a good call.
Then I got injured doing a double century in SoCal, which required me to take some time off and let my Achilles tendonitis subside. It never really fully subsided, but I got it to a point now where I can manage it enough to still train and race hard without being in too much pain during and after.
Another thing that I have noticed is that my legs and body definitely don’t feel fresh anymore. More important races are coming up and I’m now taking a slightly different approach to my workloads to make sure I have enough time to recover before weekend races. I still go hard during intervals and indoor training, but I’ve backed off from back-to-back interval days, and I no longer do hard three-day blocks. Instead, after each hard workout on the bike, I take a day off, or I spin easy the next day. Then, there is another hard training session or a race. I’ve noticed that at this point in the season, I can’t recover as quickly as I was able early on. This is only normal as the long-term stress (a.k.a., fatigue) continues to build. The reduced volume definitely makes me feel more refreshed for races and I feel my body slowly “recovering” from the early season workload. On future non-race weeks, I will likely go back to three-day blocks, however, to ensure I don’t lose fitness as I gain that “refreshed” feeling.
There are only two road races left until we get to mid-August – Mt. Hamilton this Sunday and Pescadero in mid June. I will taper for both per the above and hope for the best out of my body and legs. The rest of the weeks ahead will be filled with crits and circuit races until mid-August comes and the road races resume.
After Pescadero, when the crit and circuit race period will come along, I plan on resuming the higher volume training weeks to balance out the lesser demands of these 40-minute to an hour races. I didn’t really like crits before, but after having done a few, they are growing on me, and maybe once I figure out a strategy that works for me in those, I can pick up some points (fingers crossed).
Looking further ahead, August will be a very hard month, as I’ll be killing myself getting ready for Everest at the end of September. September will be a month of careful tapering to make sure I show up at Everest in top form. I finished 25th there last year in E4s and this year I’m hoping to crack top 10. I won’t really know if that will be possible until I do this ride to prepare. If I’ll be able to swing it in around 10 hours (down from 12 last year), top 10 will definitely be within reach. If not, then I’ll just go as hard as I can and see where I end up, a.k.a., the usual plan.
There’s definitely some exciting stuff coming up in the second half of this 2011 season and I’m looking forward to the hard training and racing that lie down the road. So stay tuned!