Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How a distance-averse athlete trains for a long-distance event

Me and Tiffany racing together in the Team Time Trial in the August Eastern Ohio TT series

I love a fast, short race.

My best days on the bike happen when I have to ride until it feels like my legs are going to fall off and my heart is going to explode, which is usually about half an hour or so into a time trial. 

And because I'm a speed junkie, most of my training efforts are focused on developing power and speed, but not necessarily endurance. Endurance is what my IM friends are out pursuing while I'm back home lounging in the kiddie pool with a cold beer because my race ended at 10 AM that morning.

Now, of course, I've had to change up the plan a bit. The 508 is going to be a slog and a sufferfest, even if I can employ some of those speed-trained muscles to shorten the duration just a bit. Even if Tim and I (Team Hellhound!) have an ideal race, we're still talking about almost 20 hours in the saddle inside of 48 hours - for each of us. (And I can't even imagine doing this as a solo rider). 

The endurance crazies are quick to offer advice, and I know its well-meaning but I also think it's scary and often misguided. One friend suggested I sign up for a nightmare of a ride in southern Ohio called 'The Frank', which promises 100 of the most hellacious hilly miles or your money back. I was appalled by the suggestion. Who would DO that to themselves? It sounds like needless suffering to me. 

My coach, Rob, adheres to the 'Training Bible' philosophy: there's no need to do more than you need to do to accomplish a goal. He's got me doing mostly my same workouts I would be doing to train for shorter distance time trials and duathlons: lactate intervals, long tempo rides, aerobic threshold builds - just a lot more of them. This week starts a two-week 'crash cycle'  for me, which means more hours on the bike this week than I even have time for - but I'll make it work. What I need to train my body to do is to ride hard for a few hours, take a break for a few hours, and repeat a few more times. 

I bumped into Sarah Harper the other day at the Velodrome. Sarah is a RAAM vet, and has competed in other distance events and actually seems to like them. She suggested I may be thinking about getting into distance riding/randonneuring, but I assured her that I was not. The 508 is a once-in-a lifetime thing for me and I am only doing it because it may be my only opportunity to ride with Tim on a 2-person team. I asked Sarah's opinion about training, and she verified what I already knew: there are things you just can't train for. Among these things are sore feet, sore ass/other parts that we won't mention, sore neck/shoulders/back/pretty much everything, numb hands, sleep deprivation, hallucinations, and decaying attitude. All of these will happen during the 508. There's no need to 'train' for them. I already know how they feel and I don't wish to be reminded until absolutely necessary.

In fact, I don't like to think any farther out than what I need to do right now. I have a plan,  so all the thinking has been done ahead of time. All I need to do is follow that plan.

Wish me luck as I start a few training days of long rides and back-to-back workout days. Chamois butter, do not fail me now!


  1. Sounds like a really great plan of attack for the 508. Go Pam!!

  2. You are going to be amazing as always! I will never ask you to do an endurance event ;-)

    1. I'll be happy to do an endurance event with you anytime, Dannette (OK, maybe not just ANY event - I'll be selective, of course) - just not as a training session for another endurance event!

      Have fun riding 'The Frank'. I want to hear all about it.

  3. That would be wonderful, and of course your choice! Xo