What is truth?
It seems these days that you can find evidence to support any training methodology. Don't eat carbs (LCHF anyone?), wait that is wrong you should eat lots of carbs. Structured training needs intensity (HIIT), wait no actually 90% of your training rides should be easy (Polarized training). BCAA's are good for muscle recovery, oh wait they actually don't really do anything... A vegan diet is the answer, so is paleo, or Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian, and what about Matt Fitzgerald's DQS (a.k.a. eat everything)? It seems like everyone has the right answer and everyone else's answer is simultaneously the wrong answer... So what is a budding endurance athlete to do!? How about you just go riding...
It can be down right maddening sifting through the mountains of data, all backed up by convincing opinions, conjecture, and suppositions. Does anyone remember last year when dentists actually said that flossing was bad for your teeth? A wise person once said: "Torture the data long enough and you can get the answers you are looking for." So I venture the question:
What is worse? Spending countless hours googling all the ways you can die, negatively impact your performance, or get fat? Or - go for a ride?- A really smart person, circa late 20th century
Earlier this week we had an epic thunderstorm. I live in Southern California and so I am most certainly not used to rain, especially thunderstorms. We turned off all the lights and for hours my wife and I sat on the sofa and watched the lightening and listened to the rain. The next morning I went for a gravel ride. The further inland I got the heavier the rain got. At one point the mud got so bad that my wheels stopped turning. I had to carry my bike 1.5km till I came across a puddle deep enough to clean the mud off.
During the mud fiasco my Wahoo BOLT kept pausing the workout because I was going so slow (you try carrying a bike caked in 20 pounds of mud) and my heart rate was barely at tempo. By all accounts is was hardly a workout, but the next day wouldn't you know DOMS set in. Maybe those Polarized folks are onto something...
When I was in high school I started training for my first cross country mountain bike race. I put together a training plan from articles I read in Mountain Bike Magazine (no longer in print). My training schedule had me riding four to six days a week where I focused on endurance, standing and sitting sprints, climbing, and technical skills. I had no heart rate monitor and ate a metric ton of food with no supplements. Cross training was also on my roster with activities like mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, and running. I was in great shape and ended up taking 3rd place in my age division on my first XC race.
Fast forward two decades and it seems like you cannot get fast without dropping a few thousand dollars on training equipment (e.g. a power meter, heart rate monitor, a blood lactate monitor, smart trainer, supplements out the wazoo, a small library on nutrition and training methodologies, a Zwift membership, GPS head unit, cadence sensor, speed sensor, $200 jersey made from some low drag material, and twelve bikes). What is a budding endurance athlete to do? How about you just go riding...
Don't get me wrong, all those things can make one faster and/or stronger. I am certainly not knocking them. If I were suddenly to win the lottery I would probably go out and buy most if not all of those training/performance aids. However, since the odds of that happening are very low I have to be a little more selective in my buying choices. This leads me to bike trainers. I am a stay at home dad, which already cuts into my riding time. Factor in the rapidly shrinking availability of daylight and I am now jumping on the bike trainer route.
I have decided I am getting a smart trainer (I put together this spreadsheet of my options). My budget is around $600 which, pretty much removes the direct drive types. I have a subscription to Trainer Road, their podcast, forum, and calendar are outstanding. I use all three almost everyday. Once I get my trainer I will begin with their training plan Sweet Spot Base I.
So, that is my goal for October - to just go riding either indoors or outdoors. Is indoor riding a slippery slope? Perhaps, but only time will tell.