Passion vs. Planning in training

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by NuCommuter, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. NuCommuter

    NuCommuter New Member

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    I'm not a competitive bicyclist--I do marathon ocean kayaking. About three years ago, I read the book, "SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes." I set up a spreadsheet, calculated my minutes, and followed the program for a couple of years.

    I made definite gains in long distance endurance, but then I seemed to plateau again. My workouts felt stale, and I was a bit obsessed with minutes. I've also aged, and a group of younger people with more time to train (and the advantage of training together) now leave me behind in races.

    I started biking again this year, after a 15 year hiatus. Making a kayak go fast is horrible hard work (whereas playing in the waves is delightful). By comparison, I find trying to make a bicycle go fast a more joyful experience. Just like biking, a kayak's resistance goes up exponentially as speed increases--but much faster than a bicycle's (because it's water resistance rather than air). So you can pump out 4 times the energy and only go 1 knot faster. That's dispiriting.

    Since I'm just a "fun" bicyclist, I can keep in touch with the joyful feeling of speed. Recently, I started trying to recreate this feeling in a kayak. I've replaced many of my obligatory "overdistance" or "speed" workouts with "angry man" or "enthusiastic man" or "joyful man" workouts. I put whatever emotional energy I have into the paddling, and rest when I feel like it. I even stop sometimes, and just bob in the waves.

    The results have been great so far--I've broken through the plateau into a new speed realm a few percent higher. And I'm enjoying kayaking a lot more. I actually look forward to my workouts, not even knowing how long I'm going to spend in the boat each time, or how hard I'm going to go out.

    So, a long convoluted intro to my question: what do people here feel is the place of passion vs. planning in training? Is it better to be a machine, a la Armstrong or Landis, or is there room for tapping emotions in the way I'm describing?

    Thanks,

    NuCommuter
     
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  2. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I think that all depends on one's personal preferences and goals regarding the recreational activity/sport of cycling. Fun should definitely be part of anything people spend so much time doing, but your question is a bit misleading/biased. I've read in Lance's books that he really enjoys cycling, so how is it that focused performance training ends up being the "not fun" or "passionless" choice to your question?

    This topic comes up from time to time, and while most of us enjoy simply going out for a ride, there are others (myself included) who also enjoy getting the most out of their bodies. That's why new posters are typically asked to describe their cycling experience and related goals before training advice is offered. The thing to remember is that most people don't read books or post questions on a cycling training forum to ask others how to simply go out and enjoy a ride, so when questions are posted here some respondents will simply assume that the poster is interested in performance training.

    If your training techniques are providing benefit and helping you to reach your goals in an enjoyable way, then I say good on you -- keep it up. I don't think many people here would tell you to change. OTOH, if the purpose of your question is to tell others to "chill out" in their training, then I don't think that'll do much good either.

    I guess the short answer to your question would be: both. :)
     
  3. NuCommuter

    NuCommuter New Member

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    I'm totally not into telling others what to do. I'm just relating my own experience, that going "by the numbers" seemed to take some pleasure out of the sport. On the other hand, I'm still planning to generally follow the basic principles of building a base, increasing intensity, adding speedwork, and tapering--I'll just do them less rigidly than before, and hopefully with more pleasure. Probably it was just my own over-obsessiveness, worrying about getting 128 minutes or something rather than looking up to smell the seaweed every now and then.

    My post probably did sound a bit biased, but I am in fact curious about the extent to which skilled bike racers have complete control over their workouts, given how impressively detailed bike training has become. Is it just a sign of amateurishness on my part that I don't always feel like disciplining myself to a precise set of calculated intervals, or that I enjoy it more if I mix up their length and the rest times between them? Or am I tapping into something that I'd been missing when doing purely programmed workouts?

    NuCommuter
     
  4. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I do both types of rides. My solo rides (basically M-F) are focused and targeted for specific adaptations, engineered if you will. But, that doesn't mean I can't look around and enjoy the scenery (and I do). My weekend rides (other than races) are group rides and I especially enjoy chasing a couple of little 20 year-old flyweights that I ride with up long climbs for fun. Plus, I really enjoy a tight, well organized paceline that functions like a fine watch as it eats up the highway at a blistering pace. A well organized paceline is almost symphonic.
     
  5. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I believe the sport has become more competitive as it's become more popular in the US. If there's one guy out there who's willing to put his nose to the grindstone, it means that others better follow suit if they want a chance at the trophy. That's not a bad thing, but people just need to have realistic goals for the investment they're willing to make. If someone only has fun when they win, then they should either be ready to work hard, or stick to fun rides. I know lots of people who don't win, but still have fun training and competing.

    You mentioned buying a book and formulating a plan for training. I think education is definitely a big help to someone who is looking to improve their cycling, as there's a lot of 'advice' out there and as much of it needs to be weeded out as followed. Following a plan straight out of a book can be pretty boring, though. Something that I strongly suggest to anyone (even someone looking to have fun) is to look into the local cycling scene and get involved in the group rides in their area. Group riding really boosts the fun factor, and also helps a cyclist understand their strengths and weaknesses so they can better focus their training. Watching numbers go up and down can get to be a bore, but trashing your buddies and riding away into the sunset never gets old. Fortunately, that also counts as training. :)
     
  6. blkhotrod

    blkhotrod New Member

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    I have a number of people, who use my triathlon training software, ask this or a similiar type question. By balancing out their amount of Zone 2-5 training for biking ( swim & run also) you can have your cake and eat it too. Frenchgye is right: Both
     
  7. normZurawski

    normZurawski New Member

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    Me too. During the week I ride with a purpose. Tonight I will be out doing the first day of back-to-back intervals. Limited time, most effective training in the least amount of time, etc etc. On the weekend I go for a long MTB ride and a long road ride. Neither are structured, both are for fun.

    For me, the harder training allows me to enjoy the MTB rides much more. Instead of feeling like puking after this or that hill, I can climb a lot that I might not otherwise be able to. It allows me to extend the rides, and enjoy the time out there.
     
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