Science vs Feeling the ride

This week I found my heart rate monitor. I lost it somewhere between moving from Horley and moving to Redhill, so a few data-less weeks whizzed by before I sent out the search party.

I was a bit nervous uploading the weeks riding. Without any data you can happily convince yourself you’ve put enough into every session – but the hard truth comes out when you see your pulse elevation.

Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. The week followed a fairly standard pattern. Easy long commute Monday, with a gym session in the evening full of squats and a variety of balancing acts best not carried out in public. No point recording squiggles there.

Tuesday’s main set looked like this:

I was quite pleased with this one since it was pretty clear what I was [at least trying to] do[ing].
Wednesday went a bit like this: (+ a run which was pretty standard, eg no pretty shapes)
Again – the 2x20min efforts were pretty obvious so I happy there too.
Thursday was like this: (+ a swim – and I don’t have a waterproof HRM)
This one was a bit of a mess. It was meant to be 3x7min microburts with 5min recoveries. Arguably, microburts themselves probably would look a bit undistinguishable – but there isn’t actually any distinguishing marks between the 7min effort and the 5min recovery – so either I wasn’t effort-ing enough, or I wasn’t recovering enough. Either way, I think the week was catching up with me.
I’ve never, ever, in my life been all that scientific. Or that mathematical. I actually did alright in school but I mainly swallowed the text book – I certainly wouldn’t say my mind was inclined towards the technical. I can learn when I really have to – it’s just unfortunately, I never want to. I’ve flicked through ‘The Triahletes Training Bible’, ‘The Cyclists Training Bible’ and ‘Training with Power’ – but my attention span is about that of a small hamster. I read one session that sounds a blast and I’d rather give it a go then read about the effects.
I know a bit of reading on my part might be more beneficial than just putting in hours of ‘x many minutes hard followed by x many minutes easy’ – but if I’m honest it wouldn’t be half as much fun. Following heart rate, I find really useful – but I can’t see myself stepping the analytics up any more any time soon.
Everyone has their own approach, I suppose. I recently read (from front to cover, in a matter of days) ‘The Obree Way – A training manual for cyclists’. I have to say – it was no Friel – but it was a whole lot more captivating – because Obree writes with a whole lot of passion.
He goes into minute detail on the strangest of things. Turbo set up must be Perfect. He gives a several page explanation of how to Breathe. And how to Pedal. (you think it’s easy – it doesn’t have to be!) Yet on diet? Sardines on toast. Stretching? You only need to do 4 types. Recovery? Anything from 1.5 days to a week – depends how you feel.
Michael Hutchinson wrote an interesting article for Cycling Weekly about the ‘key training sessions for time trialists’ – in which he admitted he’d tried every single method he knew of (from many miles, to hard miles, to munching HB pencils..), and still hadn’t reached the holy grail.
From Friel to Obree to the ironic little squirt that is Hutchinson – there are loads of different ways to train. Loads of different ways to measure it, to check you’re doing it right.
When it comes down to it – the racing is the real test. Personally – I like this quote from Obree : “Training is bad for you. Training followed by rest and proper nutrition is good for, and will make you better prepared for, the event you are training for.”
That’s it really – it’s all just preparation, and you can only do your best. I’ll keep an eye on my heart rate, but I’ve got to say, it won’t stop me chucking the book in the bin and getting on my bike when I really want to. I wouldn’t say I was proud of my lack-of-reading,  more that I’m just not eager to change. A bit more knowledge might do my some good – but life is short and I’d rather just enjoy the ride.
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