Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Training

The snow is still piling up on our front lawn, but the days are getting longer and spring is hopefully not too far away. For those winter-bound cyclists and triathletes like us, it may still seem like a long way away. It's the time of year when many take a vacation or holiday or a dedicated training trip away from where they are, to some place warmer and nicer. This has become a very popular thing to do for both serious and recreational triathletes and cyclists. It follows the tradition of Professional cyclists who would travel from their Northern European homes to the south of Spain, France or Italy in later winter to put some early season miles in.

Many triathlon and cycling coaches offer fully supported training camps now in Southern Europe as well as southern parts of North America. In fact, we are about to head off for 10 days of riding in Tucson, AZ starting this weekend - although there is a bit of business side in for me with Trifest going on. Tucson has become a bit of a go-to place for this sort of thing at this time of year. It's long, been the winter home of top triathletes and cyclists, but now more and more recreational triathletes are starting to take a week or so and head to Tucson for some warm weather training and an escape from snow, cold and wet weather.

So, what to do on these weeks away from home? My general suggestion is that for most, if they are coming from a place where the outdoor riding has been limited to non-existent for the last 2 - 3 months, that the best use of a week or more, where you can ride outdoors in nice weather, is to . . . . . just ride. Many get all hung up on what to do and what about running and swimming, but a 7+ day block of just cycling can really jump-start things for the spring, and start to lay down a decent base of cycling miles. Don't worry so much about time and pace - just get out the door every day and ride. If their are groups of others so much the better. Part of the challenge for more than a few with this, is that they are on their own proprietary training program. Nothing wrong with this, and I am not advocating not doing what a coach has said to do, but that push-pull dynamic of a good group can be hugely beneficial. A good coach will know this and give you the green light to ride as much as you want, or as much as is realistic or reasonable during such a time period.

Cycling is good for this sort of thing - unlike swimming or riding where it is much harder to really ramp up the training in a very short period of time. It's a much more pleasant environment to spend a lot of hours doing something and the overuse injuries typically, are minimal. That's not to say that you are not supposed to pay attention to how you feel day to day and that you need to know what a serious ache or pain is vs. the good ache or pain from good training is. If you have been doing a decent amount of indoor riding - quality oriented sessions of about an hour 2 - 4 times a week, it's realistic to think that you could get out and ride about 2 -3 hours every day for a week at a decent pace and maybe throw in a few longer rides to.

Don't want to take the bike or you are going on a more family oriented vacation - then think about doing a run focus week. The great thing about running is it's portability. You can do it anywhere. Also a good run takes up far less time than a good ride. You can be up at sunrise run for an hour each day for a week and no one would know about it. For most, that would be a solid week of running!

Happy holidays!

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