Stepping up off-season training

After a slow start for the road cycling season 2014, I've slowly managed to make progress in my off-season training. The days at work seem to be way too long and it often feels impossible to find energy for training. Afterwards, once you make that decision to hit that workout, you will thank yourself for doing it.

I often motivate myself by going back in time, thinking about those races and special moments when I just couldn't hold on to that wheel in front of me, or when a breakaway attempt wasn't strong enough and just drained my energy, that feeling when I failed. If there is something I hate in cycling, that's failure, especially failure because I just wasn't good enough. I couldn't execute my plan as I wanted because I wasn't in good enough shape. I have experienced several failures and I remember most of them really well, remember exactly how I felt when those seconds hit me, when I wasn't strong enough to perform as I wanted.

These moments I remember so well, will help me move forward. To hit those intervals on the trainer, to go out cycling even if it's freezing and dark or to head for the gym early in the morning. I want to be better. I want to progress, I want to be better than last year, last month or even last week. I want to outperform myself, surprise myself. And most of all, I do not want to give up, at least not without giving it my best. Limits are created by your mind, giving up before giving it your all is not an option. If you then however fail, that's ten times better than a "what if". 

Doing intervals while watching ice hockey, easier said than done!

During the weekend I had a great, almost 3 hour outdoor workout, mostly just easy pedaling. Made some minor adjustments on my position on the bike, and darn those changes were good. The position now feels perfect and no pressure on the knees anymore. Below some pictures from the weekend:

Cashew - Tea break

Sunday morning

Sunday morning coffee

Orange juice in the making

A Finnish breakfast?

Sunday evening

It's already Wednesday tomorrow, almost weekend that is. Try to hang in there, not more than 5-6 weeks left of the winter!

Pace, the motivator and the killer

I recently read a blogpost about training and the difficulties to make progress. It all comes down to finding the motivation to jump on the bike even though it sometimes would feel better to stay on the sofa, getting over those "bad leg" days. It's all easier said than done. 

When I read this blogpost The Intensity Trap , I recognized myself. Pushing and pushing, and in the end of the day I couldn't see any improvement. Even though the results from the beginning of the season have improved, I now feel that whenever I'm on the bike, my legs just don't feel as good as they used to feel. No power, no endurance, just pedaling and feeling I'm going nowhere but back home sitting on that couch. And no, it's not about overtraining. 

Living in Finland, with really short summers I even feel bad every day I'm not on the bike. This is what I want to do, this is what I can't do during 6months of the year, this is what I love to do. So what's the problem? Why do I find myself here, writing this when the sun is shining outside? I've been reading the book by Chris Carmichael, and the theories about having to only ride 6hours a week to improve your riding. It's interesting, and I'm probably going to try it out during winter on the trainer. But as for any sports, everything is really individual and there are no blueprints that would fit everyone. 

The Intensity Trap was therefore a good reading for me. It's not always going full gas, going slower is also important (even though Chris Carmichael says quite the opposite). Like any other sport, half of the stuff you do depends on your mental state. If you push too hard, you easily find yourself fatigued, after a long day at work, you don't have to push full gas if you feel you don't have the legs. But with the extremely short season here in Finland, then how do you do this?

I have no idea, but finding other people writing about similar topics, makes it a bit better. I'm not the only one finding it difficult sometimes to jump on that bike. I just have to stop feeling bad about the days I'm not on the bike, or just jump on that bike and allow myself to take it easy, whatever the feeling, getting the those miles in the legs is better than blindfully stare at those average speeds.