Thursday, August 04, 2011

Going at it Alone

I have read many articles pertaining to the virtue of running/cycling/swimming in a group. The pressure to keep up. Training with people better than yourself. Getting outside your comfort zone. Learning from others with more, or different, experiences.

My group training has mainly consisted of two or three other people. Sometimes even a group of six. Now we are talking about a party.

Group running has been out for me because I am slowly getting back to a respectable load. Then some friends are ramping up for A races and are churning out some speed work. I'm still not looking for speed right now. I've been working on tempo runs instead.

One the bike I have been out more often with several people. And yes the efforts have been good. Chris is training for IM Florida and has a great base. Last I rode with him I was just trying to hang on. It was a good 55 miles but I was toast. I also rode with some other Snakebite teammates for 40 miles. That was fun because we contested some city limits and had some hard pulls.

But for the most part I have been a solo trainer. Mainly because my schedule is sometimes chaotic so I train when it's convenient for me. When I was being coached I usually had specific workouts for specific goals. It's hard to incorporate specific workouts in a social gathering.

Well last night was one of those times I needed to go at it alone. I called Mike and asked if he wanted to go because we have been riding together on Wednesday nights. Our schedules weren't matching up very well and I wanted to go pretty hard.

With a good amount of cloud cover, steady winds and the threat of rain I set out for a 40+ mile bike ride. My goal was to warm up and then hit it hard on West River Road. This is a great 8.5 mile stretch of rollers where I wanted to bury myself. Unfortunately there are two major roads that break up the road. It was the last 1.5 miles that forced me to drop below my average due to one long steep uphill.

Getting into Valley City I had completed 20 miles in 1 hour. I knew where along my route I would push the pace and where to spend some time in recovery. The wind would be smacking me in the face but I never got rained on. I got wet mainly from a misty rain and the road spray.

I was very happy with the results from my ride. I completed 44.64 miles in 2:15:35.

But the most important aspect of this solo could be done, and done well.

As great as it is to be pushed and motivated in a group training session..I find more satisfaction when I go it alone.

It is a mental test to push yourself to the edge.

Fighting the urge to slow down despite your legs screaming at you.

Your response....."Shut Up Legs."

Your mouth is hanging open to get as much oxygen into your lungs as possible. Partly to feed your muscles but also to keep your brain from stalling out.

Suppressing the queasy feeling in your stomach as your body redlines....."Please don't puke."

Being on a lonely stretch of road with no one around. No one to prove anything to...except yourself.

Never knowing when your legs will blow up and you get yourself.

Struggling to get home from the furthest point of your ride at a pace you feel with make you fall over.

Knowing that this suffer fest will simply make you a better rider down the road. Surprise your friends the next time you ride together.

Mainly because it shows you have Game. And tonight it was On.


Trisaratops said...

That kicks ass. Well-said, tri sage. Well-said.

Coming from someone who is pretty much forced to have to do almost all my workouts alone, I think you summed it up pretty well! When I do train with a group it's a treat, but there is something about wrecking yourself, too--just you and your head. Good stuff!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Great post, Its ok to puke, you get rewarded for it

I learned last season the value of training alone, especially on the bike, I would ride in a pace line, zipping along, feeling like a million dollars, come race day, I struggled, didnt know why till I figured out that i was racing without the help of a 15 person pace line.