[This month in the Not like a wussy series is Jay Moglia of Route 1 Velo / Arrow Bicycle. A bicycle messenger, writer, musician, and inveterate competitor, Jay is a true warrior poet. You'll find no better wheels to follow than his, particularly when staring down some of West Virginia's most ruthless climbs surrouding Jay's Lost River Barn. If you're not fully motivated to train hard right now - and you wish you were - read the entire article, then quickly clear your schedule for the entire afternoon. The open road awaits.]
How to not attend a training camp like a wussy
by Jay Moglia, Route 1 Velo / Arrow Bicycle
Note: this information is aimed toward racers and folks who like to call themselves racers, factoring in for the deep degrees of difficulty sacrifice and abandon implicit on the quest towards higher performance. There is a paradox that as one builds their body’s strength, they also increase their body’s vulnerability, so leaning too hard to one side or the other is apt to snap the branch, while never delving across the spectrum will leave areas unused unexplored and thus unknown, or ripe for exploitation. It is obvious balance is desired, but less obvious how to lock it down and dial it in.
I will present a few informal ideas or notions collected from years of doing my own training camps and more recently leading some of the top teams in the MABRA region on the challenging slopes of West Virginia at the Raw Talent Ranch. Beside the enriching social and physical aspects incurred, it has been an education to see the wide range of operational modes. The distance between what folks try to do, what they think they should do and what actually ends up transpiring.
If you happen to be a serious recreational rider and come across this article take solace in knowing you can bypass much of the minutia and nit picking worry and simply do your thing--ride your bike, stay in shape and have fun--pretty much what all the racers SET OUT to do in the beginning!
Ok, here goes.....
1. EAT THE DAMN CHOCOLATES!
You have come to training camp for three days with your teammates. You have brought the gels, powders, fuels; the pastas greens and grains; the rub down ointments and the muscle aids. You are away from distraction and temptation and are poised to tighten down your program.
There is a bowl of assorted chocolates. Assorted mini chocolates! Bite size tasty morsels but lots of them. There they are, right in the public sector (there may also be homemade cookies and muffins...), staring at you on a nice stone table in the middle of the barn. Shiny and inviting. Luring you in.
Don't be scared. Remain calm. Assess the situation. Take a step back. Don't plunge in mindlessly and end up in a bulimic stupor five days later with your bike dreams dashed.
Eat the damn chocolates! Then, if like me you have a powerful choco jones (and it seems most folks do), walk away. Savor the taste but draw the line. First cross the line then draw the line. Sounds like a conflict because it is, but you need to let yourself in so you can let yourself out or you will forever be banging on doors with bloody knuckles and unmanicured hands.
Build "chocolate firewalls" if you cave to temptation easily. Fill the void with less sugary health bar versions of the dark confection.
These are things you can do if you really don't trust yourself, but don't deny a basic pleasure. Remember, you will be riding massive miles on massive hills. If one bite leads to two bites and beyond, well then simply plug the data into all the other data you chose to plug. I.e., ride a little harder to carve shape and sculpt. That is literally having your cake and eating it too!
See this as an opportunity. You are in an area of elevation that is going to bring many changes to your body. You are going to work and burn calories in a big way. Take advantage of the eating benefits this fosters.
Though slightly different and little more sensitive, the consumption of alcoholic beverages should be approached in a pragmatic grown up fashion.
If there is a serious addiction situation this is most respected and not taken lightly, but for those who fall in the middle of the "party" equation, casual training camp consumption may be the ingredient that keeps a program on track and healthy rather then cold and stringent. Training all Jan/Feb/March in strict profile may get the engine tuned up for the Apr/May/June onslaught but could also leave one socially primed to detonate at the slightest excuse and derail, in a big way, all that hard effort.
That is why a more even approach is called for. Like a valve release to counter the hard training blocks with a controlled dispensing of measured stress.
Doing this away from any racing proximity makes sense. The parameters are wider early on. The point isn't to be abusive, it is to, like with the chocolates, enjoy something now in a low quantity rather then deny yourself long term and risk binging later.
Again. Firewalls! Pay now or pay later and the later usually has interest attached.
Training camp - Work hard play hard sleep hard. Eat hard. Rest hard. Do it all evenly and have an enriching experience.
I want to stress that I am not advocating substance abuse. If one has achieved a Zen like distance from temptations be they alcohol, food or even reality TV programming, and can wander and navigate the broad portals of our cultural miasma clear of the techno trance siren songs that fly way below the radars of consciousness, my hat is off to you. (And, if you can pedal five hour rides, 70 to 100 miles long with plus 7000 foot elevation gains and still have productive evening yoga sessions, please feel free to apply for an RTR ride leader position. The wage earnings are low but with your Zulu qualifications, economic stimulus by osmosis would be a small feat!)
For the rest of us look at the big picture. Fuel up and roll strong.
3. SELF ASSESSMENT
This is another area of point counter point balance etc. The yin and the yang of it. That well known idea and symbol. The two sides to the situation. In the melodic harmonious ode to light and dark the graceful curvy line goes through both areas. One could switch to the other very easily and sometimes it is hard to tell when where and how.
We are talking about training camps. Groups of riders riding together. Teams. Trying to stay together. Various points of fitness and skill. "How not to have training camp like a wuss" implies pushing hard on the bike but pushing hard on the bike also means knowing when you've pushed too hard and when you need to notch it down now so you can push hard later.
A training camp is several days of riding and each day has many sequences with players who are depending on each other. For the group dynamic you need to be honest with how you are feeling and what is going on with your body. This doesn't mean it has to be a rolling Dr. Phil type breakdown. There is a process and sometimes, by being stoic and poised, you can ride through some internal ripples, but when that no longer appears to have dividends, not squaring off with your teammates does not make you a hero.
When during the course of a ride it becomes evident your fitness and health are seriously sub par you need to recognize it. There can be bail out points but once you pass water in the desert claiming ‘not thirsty,’ your dehydration later becomes less sympathetic!
When there is a ride pause with these two answers to, “where are we?"
A. Back to the barn is 16 miles with 13 miles of climbing.
B. This road "here" is 4 miles down hill to the Lost River General store where smoothies and sandwiches await.
Regardless of how your body is feeling and especially because of how your body is feeling you need to seriously appreciate the difference between those two scenarios.
If you continue and collapse you probably negate the next days training AND your teammates, along with much worry concern and distraction because they’ll have to come back for you anyway. But if you bail to the store you end your suffering, can recover/reassess AND your teammate still has to come back for you, but this time you can buy them lunch and prevent their worry.
This may sound a little harsh. Sometimes stuff just happens out there. The conditions external and internal can take unexpected side trips. It happens.... But if it is impending and the "temperature" is being taken, try to be clear with your readings if you really want to be a hero.
4. TRAIN LIKE THE MUSCLE
I am about to blow the lid off "secret" training and a jeopardize any of the "secrets" I have accrued but being no stranger to conflict and having witnessed some of the progressions first hand I feel obligated to reveal what I know as a service to MABRA cyclists and their pursuit of greater cycling glory.
First off our region has been producing big name riders for a long time. Top level pros and National Champions on a regular basis; Erik Saunders, Jonathon Hamblen, Jonathon Wirsing, Scott Wizanski, Ryan Dewald, Matt Decanio (before he went on a 'quest'), Kyle Wamsley, Bobby Lea, Matt Cooke, Tom Soloday. A pretty impressive roster for an area that is many miles from Boulder.
The Muscle falls firmly in that continuum. He has been clocking NRC results since '99 and in '08 at 34 had one of his best years yet. He is a former ‘Rite Aid’ Pro who rides for a motorcycle dealership and last year as an ‘amateur’ was ranked 46th in the professional NRC rankings. He also won his second NRC race, The Priority Health Classic.
The thing is, the secret training really is secret since he doesn't ride with anyone except his own dreams and demons. Obviously two powerful compatriots..... Good wheels to follow, maybe.
I see him arrive for blocks of RTR training. Serious base building in the cold February period and even more serious periodization sessions usually two weeks before major objectives like the CSC invitational or Fitchburg.
There are no downloads and no charts. It is all there inside the head locked down by the ipod headphones and probably the rest of us are better for that!
The programs and experience of monitoring the body are all in play. In an abstract version of a very detailed complex system, he goes through his paces.
The work ethic is evident. Punching the clock regardless of conditions. When it is time to train it is time to train. Loading up on gels and food and setting out at ten am.
Finding the long routes linking up all the fire road climbs; the dude shows back up after six hours in wet cold conditions like out of battle with a pause to eat a sandwich then go to sleep. Wake up two hours later for dinner and maybe a wind down bourbon or ale perhaps. Some would say good work if you can get it, but the focus is on the work. The peripheral are the ingredients that make the dynamic work for one person. The setting, the contours and the crowds or lack there of.
It is maybe about finding the sweet spot. Your sweet spot and then hitting it hard. If you are hitting something hard and it isn't the sweet spot your energy will be used up pretty quickly.
I have offered no tangible "training" methods. Intervals. Speed work. Zone sessions. Hill repeats. Strength work. Leadouts Emphasis on spinning. On and on. All this is a given. Stuff to incorporate into a program or training camp, or not......
At its most basic, how to train/have training camp means to just ride. That includes being prepared physically, emotionally and mentally.
Everyone is wired so differently and then deluged with a wash of techniques and methods all designed to approach a similar goal of fitness and success.
For a training camp you benefit by already settling certain issues in your head so you can get down to the business of the bike itself. The scenery surrounding it is the carrot on the stick. That is why teams have camps in Tucson, Majorca and Solvang. To work out what needs to be worked out with vast backdrops that clarify and focus, and ultimately transfer thought and idea into primal race instinct.