Tuesday, January 5, 2010
After nearly a year of bitching, complaining, debilitating depression, medication for that depression, failed classes, an endless train of cigarette smoking, coffee, and more than a few people's share of alcohol, I have found myself standing at the beginning of yet another year. Because I am increasingly becoming more and more lazy, cynical, irritable and uninspired, I have decided to make resolutions. But that is the only time I will ever call them that. The whole concept of people making positive changes in their lives just because the calendar year changes seems more and more absurd to me with each passing year. I am making positive changes in my life because I want and need to do some things different in my life for my general health, happiness and accountability, and these changes just happen to coincide with the new year.
When I was younger, I was an athlete. I began as a swimmer and swam through most of my k-12 education on both club and school teams. Then I began road cycling after my very talented cousin took an interest in me and offered to coach me and give me a spot on his team. I was pretty good at both, but my favorite was by far cycling. Because I was a wavering angsty teenager I got burned out by the time I was 19 due to overall insecurity of my abilities as an athlete and inconsistent training (which didn't help the insecurity bit)...So long story short I went on a study abroad trip to London and did basically everything that was the opposite of training, and have lived that way pretty much ever since.
Thinking back on my life, the last time I felt special, truly inspired and passionate about something was when I riding my bike. The feeling of euphoria after putting my body through so much pain and agony on a hill climb and feeling the wind in my face on the descent is completely unparalleled by any other event I can remember. Until recently, I never thought I would have the desire to ride let alone train for something again. I thought that time had passed and now I had to just recognize the fact that I was not particularly gifted or talented at anything in life. I know I have done a considerable amount of damage with smoking, possibly even drinking, and living my relatively comfortable sedentary lifestyle, but for the first time in a long time I am feeling up for the challenge. I bought a book "The Cyclist's Training Bible" by Joe Friel which I will post a link to at the end of this entry, and decided to start training myself for this cycling season. I have had mixed reactions after telling people that I intend to start training again, some skepticism, and humoring but generally overall positive feed back.
So here is what I have planned. I decided to start with 400 annual training hours, due to the fact that I haven't been on a strict workout schedule for quite some time. This will make it so the highest amount of hours I will be training for in one week is 11.5. I have decided on what is called a "Periodization Training Plan" which breaks up the training year in to blocks of time. Each block of time focuses on a different element of fitness and eventually produces a "peak", meaning the point in the season where an athlete is at the highest level of fitness and is able to race well. Cyclists choose their most important races and plan their entire training year around them so they can be at this peak level of performance in time for their chosen races . The first block of training is called the base period which generally lasts 12 weeks. The base period is subsequently broken down in to four week sections called base 1, base 2, and base 3. Base 1, which is where I am beginning, is characterized by the "start of steady increases in volume to boost aerobic endurance and increase the body's resilience to large workloads" (Friel, 108). In other words, for the next three months I plan on spending A LOT of time sitting on my bike riding either in the freezing cold or for long insufferable hours on a trainer inside. This is only the beginning though, hours start increasing but they don't peak until base 3, where I will riding the most hours per week for the whole season.
So this is now the purpose of my wayward blog, to tell the story of a former athlete who for the last five years has had no regard whatsoever for athletic fitness, who at least for one year is going to diligently follow a training plan to see how it affects his life. I will post at least once a week with a list of my workouts and updates on my progress.