Training Training Diary

Cramp, Socks, Cow Face Off and a bit of Aerobic Endurance

I was up working into the small hours but I managed a few hours sleep until my clock set to cramp went off. My head still half asleep, my calf was in the mother of cramp hostage situation. I had to make a tactical call. Fight it out with the cramp giving it no quarter, or give in to its demands and allow further contraction hoping for it to ease. With some leg straightening and frantic rubbing I fought it out with the cramp. I was finally victorious with limited collateral damage to my precious muscle fibres. Situation resolved in a manner that Liam Neeson in this role would be characteristically nonchalant about. Ben 1, Cramp 0.

I don’t often have cramp. I am working on my posterior chain at the moment with a focus on foot and ankle strength. This, hand in hand with my adjustment to the time trial bike, is the likely cause.

In these sessions I am conditioning myself to be the rider I want to be, not the rider I currently am.

I was expecting to feel the legacy of my morning’s alarm clock to plague my training ride. Fortunately it didn’t. I was out a bit earlier than usual. It was a race against time to get the emergency jobs done before the forecast deluge heading Cheshire’s way arrived. My anxiety to flee the impending storm escalated during my search for the illusive left sock of the usefully L & R embroidered pairing. I had two rights but no left and I couldn’t bring myself to don one of the rights on the incorrect foot. After huffing and puffing I eventually abandoned the plethora of right socks for a different homogeneously embroidered pair.

The ride: Aerobic Endurance

Out on the road it was down to the business of the day. Non cyclist friends ask me if I get bored during training. I never do. However you would think that of any workout the Aerobic Endurance workout would be the least stimulating mentally. Tootling along in zone 2 without intervals or drills to distract. For me it’s far from it. Lot’s to do. I see this workout as the ‘blueprint’ training session.

How can this be boring?
How can this be boring?

In these sessions I am conditioning myself to be the rider I want to be, not the rider I currently am. It’s at these low intensities that my form can be worked on most effectively. Improving my efficiency. During hard intervals or races your body will engage the default movement pattern. I want to make that default pattern optimal. I can’t truly be on the ‘rivet’ and improve my form at the same time. It’s that training to train thing.

My mind therefore is kept pretty occupied. I focus on a multitude of things for instance:

  • Stability of the pedal stroke.
  • My poise. Am I centred on the bike?
  • Hip rotation. Head, shoulders and chin position.
  • Breathing regularity. Am I holding my breath?
  • Releasing unnecessary tension.
  • Overseeing intensity

The last one is important for the others to work. Go too hard and I’ll slip into the old habits, too slow and I won’t be practising the right movements.

For these sessions I stick to zone 2. However zone 2 is not zone 2 when going up a hill. My season’s objectives require me to include hills in these early base period workouts. When standing out of the saddle or changing position from aero tuck to the bull horns, what zone 2 is, alters. I obviously have the power meter and heart rate zones glaring at me on the Garmin. Incidentally of the two I find HR in this session the most indicative. However both these numbers tend to relate to my flat terrain aero position.

It is more about feel (RPE) on the hills. If no one is in ear shot I will keep my self in check by singing a verse of a song. If I can do this with only a slight gasp at the end I think I am about right. Today I danced on the pedals to an annoying earworm inserted into my brain by an advert for something I have no recollection of. “I was born under a wondering star”. I ran out of lyrics at that so it was just as repetitive and annoying externalised.

Ride halted for something other than this.
Ride halted. Unusually for something other than this.

Half way through the ride I had to stop. Not for yet another temporary road work traffic light leaping out on the road like gorilla units ambushing my attempt to keep a somewhat consistent effort. Today it seemed my arm had the biggest workout from waving at traffic light sensors. This at least seemed to bring some joy to the workmen who on one occasion waved back. However I stopped this time for a marauding cow in the road. Some ramblers were trying to coax it into a field. Animal husbandry isn’t a strength of mine. So I was concerned I might be recruited in their efforts. Fortunately for me and probably for the cow in the long run, the medium size bovine ran off. I had a pleasant chat with the ramblers though. It brought back memories of my face off with a Stag near Macclesfield Forest. Not my chat with the ramblers, but the encounter with the cow.

My return home was largely uneventful. I made it back before the major downpour, success!  Looking out of the window now it was the right call to go early. The wind had changed direction. It felt like a tail cross on the way out. I got what felt like a tail on the return. I am a few days now into base period and after postponing a few scheduled workout sessions for more Aerobic Endurance work to straighten out some niggles, I am feeling a lot better on the bike. I will begin phasing in more of the other workouts, getting back on schedule next week.


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