Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Training for the Detail Deficient Pt. 1: Outline

Planning and executing a successful season of training and racing is an extremely complicated system dynamics problem (see diagram). Fortunately for you, the readers, we don't really care, except to make the diagram and laugh at ourselves. Training should be about enjoying yourself, unless you're a triathlete. Then it's about chasing your wife's hazard-light blinking minivan around town like a greyhound after a rabbit at the track (oh, I wish I had pictures), but I digress... Particularly as an endurance athlete, when you can't avoid volume, having a plan that keeps you amused is really important. Fortunately, I have Eric for that. Here's an excerpt from our discussion on training:

EE: [cracks open a beer] "Whatever man, I'm not gonna ride with a heart rate monitor"
KB: "Dude, it's not exactly like it's extra effort, and it's good data. You like data."
EE: "We need some alternative metrics, like comparing libido to fitness"
KB: "So you're telling me you'll use a heart rate monitor if I make a daily log of my sex drive for you?"
EE: "Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. It'll make for some awesome graphs..."
KB: "sigh..." [cracks open a beer, drinks it.]

Training should not be about meticulously organizing schedules months in advance, having your walls covered with graph paper, or spending more time downloading your heart rate data than hanging out with your buddies. There are a couple of useful quantitative things that ARE really important, but if you want a step-by-step for training with power, you're going to have to buy us a pair of SRMs first (our email address is on the right).

What you will get out of following this thread is a sound philosophy about sane and effective training for regular people, with the following guiding principles.
  1. Have Goals: It's hard to achieve something if you don't now what it is.
  2. Have Fun: Stop frantically leafing through your training manual of choice, it says nothing about fun in there, but the moment you're not having fun any more your results will suffer. Like it or not, a whole lot of this success thing is in your head.
  3. Have Milestones: Goals that provide motivation in the short term--they're good procrastination fighters, since they're not 8 months away. We'll have fun milestones for each period (see below) when we get there.
  4. Have Measurable results: This is all about fighting the demons of self-deception. Like spending too much time in a cage in North Korea Vietnam, if you spend enough time on your bike you can convince yourself of just about anything. Though it's unlikely you'll try to run for president, a good solid testing schedule will ensure that you don't overtrain, or let your ego get too far out of hand.
  5. Have Flexibility: There are days when it rains, and that shouldn't shatter your training plan into tiny fragments.
  6. Have Rest: Because your local pub needs your business, and your training partner is tired of your stink.
We're not cave-dwelling neanderthals, so we will follow a form of periodization, the periods of which will have "themes" and corresponding, thematically appropriate, milestones but overall we'll be following the lead of my hero, and keeping it simple.

Our year is divided up into the following themes, which we will be explaining at length, one by one, over the coming months. They have been given descriptive names so you'd remember what we think of them (they largely correspond to the traditional Base, Build, etc. that you've always heard about, but we're are changing things up a bit, for good reason, and don't want to start debating semantics with anyone).

The Themes (in order of appearance):
  • Freebase
  • BS
  • Bricks and Mortar
  • Bragging Rights
  • Rebase
  • The Epic
Each theme will have a corresponding list of workouts, will be motivated by one or more milestones, and throughout the whole program there will be a couple of recurring tests to gauge progress. We will also have an online training diary you can follow, if you're into that sort of thing, which will have some conventional and some "alternative" measures of workload/performance. All to be revealed in good time... (Don't worry, the details and the numbers are coming)

Stay tuned for "FreeBase"