Saturday, December 19, 2009


Training is highly specific. There is no such thing as "being in shape" as a general category. Usually what people mean when they say there are "in shape" is that they can walk or jog a certain distance without being out of breath. In essence that means their cardiovascular system is used to a certain amount of stress that exceeds lying around on the couch all day, or working in an office.

Those people would be surprised if they suddenly were asked to perform above average in a sport that they did not train for. Then they would say, "I don't know why I feel so trashed, or why I got dropped, or why I was out of breath, I thought I was in good shape." And the truth is they may well have been and be very fit.

This post was triggered by two events. First I read one of my favorite blogs and found out the author, who is an ironman athlete and distance runner/cyclist, reported he had trouble finishing a marathon, despite having run ultra marathons in summer. It turns out he did very little running since those ultra-events and has been cycling almost exclusively. So while his cardio was good, his run fitness was not.

Then, yesterday I was out on my regular 10.5 mile hilly run (the Shepherd loop) and I too was suffering despite just completing a super power test on the bike, that put me solidly in the Cat2 power range. I.e. my cycling fitness is near its high, but I suffered on a run that -until recently- I used to run on a weekly basis. And it wasn't because I was tired from biking. It was simply because I haven't run much for about a month.

In some sense, this situation is even worse than having no training. One is fit when it comes to cardiovascular output, but the mechanical system is not on par. At best that will mean a lot of suffering, at worst, an injury. So I will try to remedy this situation before it gets out of hand. I just installed a new treadmill and will do some running on that.

On Monday I rode 20 on my mountain bike. Redwood was very muddy and I looked pretty dirty when I got back. There must have been five pounds of mud on my bike too.

On Tuesday I rode on rollers for 1:20 and on Wednesday again for 1:10. Both pretty intense workouts with a power test to boot.

On Thursday I rode my roadbike for 30 miles. I broke my rear wheel on Tunnel and had to come back and switch it out. First I thought it was just a spoke, but it turns out the rim was cracked in several places. Not good. I think I need a new wheelset for Christmas.

On Friday I ran my 10.5 mile loop -and suffered.

Today a one hour run on the treadmill. More suffering and more evidence to the specificity of training. I had trouble holding my pace at 8 mph. Not too long ago I could run 8.25.

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