Since my last race in Ojai I put in HUGE miles - 2450, to be exact. No kidding. So maybe 2100 miles of that was driving, but still, I was really getting in the necessary volume to be ready for the Tour of Georgia. All that driving prepared me for the potential boredom of six-hour days on the bike. But are those long days really what I needed?
At this point in the season, if I dont already have the base miles put in to give me the endurance needed for a race like Georgia, I don't think a little training block two or three weeks ahead of time will magically prepare me. Stacking five, six or seven-hour days on top of each other would only crack me mentally. Some people love to do those long days on the bike all season long, seeking solace in their surroundings. I have reached my quota of long days and now would rather do short quality workouts and surround myself with the four walls of a bedroom and the television remote control or my laptop.
And that is exactly why the TargeTraining approach is a perfect fit for me. You put in the long (SLOW) days, your base, early when you have a lot of motivation going. For me that was December and January. Then gradually you decrease the volume and increase the intensity. It sounds simple and basically it is. Of course there are details to be observed, for example altering the plan when the typical early-season illness arrives. But getting ready for the season is not rocket science.
What is more complicated and what I have not fully grasped yet is what to do now, once the race season is underway. And that's what my coach helps me to understand. What to do before a big race (Georgia in my case), when I have a limited amount of time to get myself physically and mentally prepared for some hopeful success. The recipe he prescribed is short, high intensity intervals mixed into steady 3-4 hour rides. A group ride or motor-pacing would be close to perfect examples of this workout. Quality over quantity.
That doesnt mean I cannot do a long ride if Im feeling it, but it's not necessary. Too many long days at this point in the training will catch up with you and lead to a lack of motivation to get on the bike when you really need to, like in May or June when the racing is full-on for all of us. Group rides right now are great because they are such a stimulating environment. When I finish one of these workouts, I may be physically exhausted but I can tell myself truthfully (sometimes I lie to myself, but that's a different issue I dont want to get into) that it was a great workout. If I keep the training fun, my attitude stays positive, and before I know it success comes along.
For me, as a rookie at the TdG, success may be measured in small amounts, but you've got to do the right amounts to get there.