Big blocks of Racing

Thinking back to the first weekend in September, the kick-off round of CX racing in America, until now feels like ages ago! This seems fitting seeing as how in 4 weeks (this is including Charm City CX coming up) cross racers will have put 11 races in the books. Two of which were world cups and 5 of which were C1’s. Not only is that a lot of racing but it’s a lot of racing at very high stakes (UCI Points, Exposure, and Money). Therefore, it was critical, at least in my thinking and my coach’s thinking (Jim Lehman of Carmichael Training Systems), to come into the Rochester weekend hot!

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The idea for successfully maintaining consistency through these big blocks of racing is to think, “There is no time for training, only time for rest”. I did a few big blocks of training leading up to these first 4 weeks of the season and then tapered into it so I would come in fresh but fit. Then throughout these 4 weeks I have simply been focused on racing my ass off and subsequently resting my ass off. It is kind of pessimistic to think this way but coming into a race block like this you either have it or you don’t…

To try to train in between these races would have been disastrous for me. I think I struggled with this in the past and it is something that I have learned by thinking back on the past couple years of racing cross. 

I would run into problems when there were big chunks of down time in between race weekends. I hate sitting around and my impatience led me to make decisions I shouldn’t have. With this extra time I would think, “Why only ride an hour when I could ride two?” or “Why not push these mid week openers a little harder?” This kind of thinking is really easy to vindicate, especially, when the outcome is an unfavorable result or being so close but not having that extra match to burn when you needed it. Consequently, I would justify extra training when I should simply be sticking to the plan.

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For instance, I use to come out of a race weekend with a disappointing result and chalk it up to a lack of training. So I would think, “Lets push it a little this week”. Now I am slightly over trained. Maybe I don’t show it immediately that weekend, however, that same weekend digs deeper into the hole I dug and now two weekends down the road I am in real trouble. Do you see where this vicious cycle is heading? At this point there is no way to recover from it except to take a weekend (or two) off and miss some racing opportunities. 

That was the old me. This season I have determined that while doing too much can be detrimental and throw you in a hole you can’t climb out of, erring on the side of conservation can actually allow me to build fitness through these racing blocks. I am not saying I make huge gains in overall fitness but rather adapt my current fitness to specific racing efforts. Then the pain doesn’t feel so unfamiliar and unpredictable. 

For instance, maybe I do a couple more rides with my mom to keep me in my place… haha!

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Believe me, I didn’t come up with this on my own. It took some talking with the almighty force in my life, Jim Lehman, some hard decision making, and deep analytical reflecting on how I handled the same racing blocks in the past to come to this realization. It’s important to have someone other than yourself to talk to about these situations. If you are anything like me you tend to be hard on yourself and, therefore, blame the problem on lack of doing, instead of looking at the bigger picture and factoring in travel, just bad legs, bad pre race prep, stress leading up to the race, etc. Sometimes, things just happen. And sometimes you have to make mistakes, like this too much training and not enough rest, in order to look back and connect the dots.

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