Saturday, 17 January 2009

The appliance of science.

My approach to getting fit has always been pretty haphazard. Do enjoyable physical stuff and make moderate fitness gains as a spin-off. Clearly this won't do for the Transalp. This will need a proper, structured approach and a good understanding of the principles of training.

I've been reading "Mountain Bike Fitness Training" by John Metcalfe. After getting over the initial disappointment of reading the review on the back cover "You won't get fit just by reading this book...", I delved inside and got stuck in. After a few pages of what sounded like common sense advice, it suddenly got difficult. All this talk of HR zones based on percentage of HRR left me feeling like I imagine my pupils do when faced with the prospect of learning the difference between partial and non-key dependencies in database normalisation on the night before their exam.

My sketchy understanding is that one needs to vary the training intensity throughout each training micro-cycle whilst keeping sight of the overall macro-cycle. But then there are meso-cycles as well... WTF? I have enough trouble deciding which cycle to go riding on each day.

Feeling baffled, I decide to take it a stage at a time. I need a route where I can control the exercise intensity. It turns out I have the perfect run almost literally on my doorstep - the West Fife Cycle Route from Dunfermline all the way to the Hawaii of Scotland, Alloa. Today's ride is very enjoyable even if it is almost completely flat and entirely on smooth tarmac. There are inevitable clashes with dogs and horses and over-fed families too stupefied by crisps and shite TV to realise that they need to get out of the way of a speeding bike.

Apart from giving in to the urge to chase down a roadie who overtakes me, I keep my heart-rate pretty constant for both legs of the journey. Average 168bpm, which after some Excel wizardry, I learn is in the Aerobic Power zone. Cool.

I need to be more disciplined though. I find it easy to go out for a couple of hours and ride as hard as I can without resting or easing off, but I find it very difficult to go for a recovery ride. That might be tomorrow's experiment.

Distance: 38.14km
Ride time: 1:42
Av. speed: 22.4 km/h
Average HR: 168
Calories: a big fry-up and half a packet of digestives with stilton. And a cream egg.

The next chapter in my book is "Nutrition".

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