Deep in the overtrained hole

May 17, 2017 § 14 Comments

When I got back from my trip I knew that something was wrong. It wasn’t simply the exhaustion of travel and being away from home and a few hard days of riding, but something much worse.

I figured I might be overtrained. Why? Because prior to leaving for Mallorca I had ridden pretty hard beginning in December. Then, about a month before my trip I put in a crazy block of stupid hard riding that included one 60-minute TT workout each week. The icing on the cake was that a few days before flying out I had one of those magical no-chain days.

So, I was leaving town on something close to a peak, or as close to one as I’m capable of getting, more like a gentle bump, or at least a non-acute decline.

In Mallorca there was some hard riding, but what was killing is that the days were so brutally long. We’d spend 7.5 hours to ride 70 miles. On my best worst day, I did 140 miles but it took 11.5 hours. Even Wanky Math couldn’t make these numbers work because I’ve been riding at just under ten hours a week all year, and 11.5 seems plainly greater than 10. Even taking two full days off in Mallorca didn’t help, because each “rest” day was followed by more pretty hard riding, or PHR (technical term).

Back home I vowed to take off a couple of days before testing my legs at Telo Worlds, but instead I took one day off and should have seen the writing on my legs then and there. What were these heavy, cement-covered appendages that rebelled at even the thought of pedaling?

At Telo Worlds it was much worse, sixty minutes of agony followed by a one-hour pedal back through Despair Swamp, up Col d’Defeat, along the Wreckage Rollers, all the way to a glorious pity party at home I had arranged in my honor. I was asleep by 9:30 and awoke this morning twice as tired as when I went to bed.

My morning coffee and fresh Ms. WM Special Homebaked Bread tasted awful, that’s how bad I felt. Okay, that’s a total lie. The coffee and bread were heavenly. But still, it adds significance to my condition to lie like that because apparently one symptom of overtraining is loss of appetite.

Knowing I was overtrained and needed rest I dragged myself out of bed at 5:00 AM sharp to do Internet research on overtraining. It always annoys the shit out of me when people describe Google searching as “research.” Why can’t they just say, “I googled cycling + porn”? Why do they have to say “research?” For fuck’s sake, people.

Another indicator of overtraining is irritability.

The Internet, as we all know, is useless, but it did indicate that I’m not overtrained. Overtraining is actually rare. What I am is something much more ridiculous. I’m a victim of non-functional overreaching. When I first read this I thought maybe that was porn talk for a failed reacharound, but no.

Non-functional overreaching is when you are really old and delusional and ride about 20 years younger than you should. Everything gets saggy and droopy and you hate life. I read a detailed discussion of the Men’s Fitness Warning Signs for failed reacharounds, and also reviewed the scientific literature, read Joel Friel’s take on it, read Bunny McTavish’s Internet Coach Training Tips on Overtraining, and was overwhelmed by the fact that nowadays everything on the Internet that purports to be a substantive discussion is boiled down into a bulleted list, presumably because no one has enough of an attention span anymore to read, you know, actual paragraphs. So I’ve condensed everything ever written or known about NFOR/overtraining below so that you can quickly make a scientific diagnosis without having to do more “research.” In short, you are suffering from NFOR if you are:

  1. Slow as shit.
  2. Irritable as shit.
  3. Tired as shit.

This is kind of problematic for me because I’m 1 & 2 regardless of my cycling regimen, and 3 whenever I work, which is all the time. So I may either be suffering from NFOR or I may just be a congenital dick.

You be the judge. But don’t invite me on a ride. I’m taking the next eleven days off. Sorry, ten. I mean, seven. Until Saturday.

Really.

END

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The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 3: How to Spin (not “Spoon”)

January 13, 2014 § 3 Comments

Aside from age, inability, laziness, drunkenness, and absence of desire — all key qualities for any racer seriously embarking on the Wanky Training Plan ™ — it is important to realize that the main thing holding you back from the fifth or even the fourth step of the ugly wooden podium that someone hammered together with cheap plywood so you could totter on it, arms waving wildly as you try to keep from plunging off the back and onto the concrete in the typical arms-raised-cyclist-in-slippery-cleats-on-painted-wood-pose, is fatigue.

The fact is that aside from the creaky joints, achey back, loose bowels, urinary incontinence, and general systemic collapse that generates discomfort and pain as you rush maddeningly faster down the death spiral of human longevity, your main problem is that you’re bone tired. And please don’t give me that “But I take off Mondays and Fridays,” or “Last week was a rest week” crap.

At your age it has to be a rest month, and you’d better be ready to make virtually every week a rest week if you’re going to succeed on the Wanky Training Plan ™.

Fatigue self-evaluation

The difference between fatigue and being tired is simple. Tired is what happens when you stay up late eating potato chips. Fatigued is what happens when you ride your bike for hundreds of miles every week. But in case you’re unsure, or more likely, in total denial, take the quiz:

  1. After riding, I sit at my desk and stare vacantly at the screen. Yes/No
  2. I do “training blocks.” Yes/No
  3. I do “base miles.” Yes/No
  4. If I miss three consecutive riding days I tell myself (and every wanker who will listen) that I’m “out of shape.” Yes/No
  5. I’ve never missed three consecutive riding days. Yes/No
  6. More is better. Yes/No
  7. I’m a gronker. Yes/No [Refer to Wanky’s Circular on Gronking, #45, in a previous blog post.]
  8. When I’m off my bike, motion is my enemy. Yes/No
  9. No injury or illness is so severe that some type of cycling (trainer, rollers, spin class) can’t be sneaked in. Yes/No
  10. I would ride less if … well, no, I wouldn’t. Yes/No

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, you are fatigued. Fatigue won’t go away with a day off, or a week off, or beer, and it’s different from overtraining. Whereas overtraining simply means you are stupid and cannot be helped, ever, because your newt-sized brain is permanently stuck on No. 6 in the quiz above, fatigue can be overcome. But like the lightbulb, you must want to change.

The Yin to the hammer’s Yang

Hammering is the Yang of cycling. You do it because you can, because you get sucked in, because you’re a chronic gronker, and because no one has ever shown you how to spin. Spinning, of course, is the Yin of cycling. We’ve all heard the same stupid advice for decades. “Spin to win.” “The pros all know how to spin.” “Practice with a fixie.” “Race the track, that’ll get your cadence up.” Blah, blah, blah.

Before you can spin, however, you must truly understand the Yin and why it is so important. It is important because, properly done, spinning will rest your legs, actively recover your legs, and build your cardiovascular fitness. What’s most extraordinary is that you can achieve all these things without ever doing an interval, with the exception of perhaps a Belgian Tripel followed by a stout and finished off with an IPA.

In order to spin, you must first relearn some basic stuff, and the most basic one is this: You gotta go slow. Right. I’m talking to you, Mr./Ms. Hammerallthetimebecauseitsfun. Because you have a hard time with new ideas, this one is going to be very simply stated.

  1. Put your bike in your easiest gear, no matter what the terrain.
  2. Start pedaling.
  3. Do not change the gear.

Okay. That’s it for today. Now go have a beer. See? I told you the Wanky Training Plan ™ was fun!

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