Trust your gauges

Why it’s important to stick to your training plan — come what may

[content_box type=”with-header” title=”StartConfident Summary” text_color=”dark” color=”default” animation=”fade-in”]
  • You’re aiming to peak for a specific future event — not before
  • “B” and “C” races are training rides. Don’t expect to be a contender
  • Flats, illness, and other life-delays have to be dealt with in training
  • Pick your peaks. Build training for them. Then hit your numbers.
[/content_box] [dropcap style=”default”]Every pilot[/dropcap]

has been taught the phrase, “trust your instruments.” This is not always easy to do, especially when your nerve endings are telling you something different from your gauges.
However, your gauges are there to give you guidance when everything else you believe is telling you something different. A training plan is very much like the gauges on an airplane when you are flying in complete fog.

This is true for me, even though I am only a couple of races into the season.

Let me explain.

My training plan for this year has three peaks. One in the late spring, one in late summer when my state has its championship road race and championship time trial, and one for the beginning of autumn when I go to Europe to write the Haute Route Compact event.

As of this writing, it is still very early spring. I have only competed in two races, and according to my training plan, those races simply serve as very hard group rides. At this point, I haven’t even done the hard interval training, yet. You don’t have to be associated with coaching or training to understand that, at this point in the season, I am not expected to be a factor in any competition.

But like a new pilot who feels as if he is losing altitude despite the fact that his gauges say he is flying straight and level, I am tempted to pull up on the stick.

I mustn’t. I have to stick to the plan. I have to trust my gauges.

[callout]But like a new pilot who feels as if he is losing altitude despite the fact that his gauges say he is flying straight and level, I am tempted to pull up on the stick. I mustn’t. I have to stick to the plan. I have to trust my gauges.[/callout]

Don’t let mishaps discourage you

A couple of weeks ago, in this seasons first race, I experienced a flat. It was the result of a section of road that was riddled with potholes. Despite my best efforts on the second lap, I couldn’t Bunnyhop a significantly large hole, and boom. Just like that, I am out of contention.

IMG_4317

Notice the lack of nuts in the lower 2 holes? Kinda hard to attach your cleats this way…

IMG_4321

This is all that remained of one of the nuts. There is supposed to be a square flange all the way around the threaded hole. #disintegration

Oh well. That’s racing.

The day before the second race of the season, during a standard reconnaissance ride, I learned that my favorite pair of winter shoes had sustained damage to its cleat fixing mechanism. I was hours away from home, and was forced to scramble, sending up pleas for help on Facebook. A very kind fellow racer from another team came through with a back up pair of shoes and booties. Despite his kindness, however, I was dropped during the most difficult climb of the final lap. I ended up completing the race in a solo time trial. I finished 21st out of 25 competitors.

I had allowed the stress of not having my warm winter shoes on the start line, with the temperatures in the mid-20s. I did not sleep well the night before. It even affected my breakfast digestion prior to the race.

During the long drive home, I then realized that I was fighting illness. I was running a temperature, and had unusually high fatigue. So. What to make of all of this? Should I adjust my training? Should I be putting in hard hill repeats, when I haven’t yet scheduled those during my training? Should I spend more time doing “sweet spot” rides?

The straightforward answer is: no.

Stick to your season-long plan

At the time of this writing, I am in my last week of base. This is so despite the fact that it is early April. The reason for this is simple: my first peak does not occur until early May. I have plenty of time to ramp up, and have already built that into my training plan.

It’s hard to watch other riders pull away from you, but if you realize that they have been putting in the intensity that you have not, and that you are scheduled to peak later, your only option is to soldier on. Stick to the plan. Put in those solid miles. And when the time comes in training to do anaerobic intervals and hill repeats, then you have to hit your numbers. You have to ride at the zones that you have prescribed based upon your functional threshold power test.

Now, if you have been putting in the hard efforts, and your races are B or A level races and you are not being competitive, you have some adjustment to do. Have you been training up to your functional threshold zones? Have you been doing the right kinds of workouts? Did you build an appropriate base?

You may be well served to look forward in the season, and shoes and event or events that you can peek for, giving yourself enough time to put in the proper training for those events.

Once you’ve laid and of course, follow your gauges.

See you on the road!

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Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

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