Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

If it came in a can I would be first in line

Despite my confidence at telling my grandkids that all the cool things are hard, sometimes the hard things are depressingly hard. 

After a healthy recovery from the one-two-three, wait, four punches of the Leavenworth Fondo followed by the Ellensburg Fondo and then capped with the Rhonde of West Seattle and the “day after” throw down I waved the white flag and declared an out-of-sequence easy week. 

Hottie and I did some hiking on the weekend and I mixed in some volunteer trail work (using a Rogue Hoe which is among the coolest fit-for-purpose tools I’ve ever used).  I did a gravel ride and while I didn’t doddle I did not dig deep either.   Thus I completed a solid week of recovery.

Rested and ready I returned to my training plan which naturally includes intervals. 

For illustration purposes I shall herein summarize Joe Friel’s books:
1. Make a plan with Intervals
2. You gotta do them
3. They gotta hurt
I shall now add the addendum which is the summarization from his last book aimed at older racers:
4. You gotta rest more than when you were younger

Just like losing weight or cutting the grass at a football field; it isn’t the complexity of the task that is challenging; it is the difficulty of the task that is the challenge. 

I can ride 200 miles at a low to moderate intensity and I will be tired when I’m done but at no point will I hurt as much as I do when I’m doing hard intervals.  In case you’re wondering….  If intervals aren’t hard they’re useless.  If you are willing to pay the price, you’ll be faster and able to go fast for longer.

Now that we all know the secret why don’t we all belly up to the bar and order up a heaping helping of guaranteed-to-make-you-fast intervals?  Because they hurt like hell, that’s why! 

It is absurdly easy to tell someone to eat less and do more if they want to lose weight. It is hard as hell to be hungry and also exercise when you feel tired and are starving.  Even those blessed with the rare gifts of speed or endurance will see those gifts fade as they age.  What was once easy becomes harder and harder as we age.  Whoa, kind of a downer Evo….

What does become easier as we get older is the self discipline to make a plan and stick to it.  For the cynics amongst us, I will concede there is a fine line between self discipline and being in a rut.  Never-the-less I’m calling that a benefit.

On the plus side of the equation the high intensity intervals not only boost fitness but slow down the aging process in general.  I’ve been doing intervals on a bike for thirteen years.  My max heart rate hasn’t dropped a beat over those thirteen years.  Max heart rate isn’t an end unto itself, but an indicator of good health that says that my body isn’t THAT much different now than it was when I was forty years old. 

Yes it sucks that the benchmark is a forty year old body.
Those benefits are far from my consciousness when I am cross-eyed in zone five.  My body resists going to zone five by complaining all the way there.  Once my body knows it can’t get out of it the fighting stops and I do my time in the pain cave.  I do rejoice when I get to leave. 

Despite all the knowledge of the benefits, the familiarity of the routine and even any carryover fitness it is still hard and it still hurts every time.   I am shocked by how much it hurts. The lunacy of riding down the street at six in the morning in a skin tight superhero suit at my age and station in life, hits me between the eyes.  I was doing intervals on the track in high school forty years ago.  I can’t imagine that many of my high school teammates are doing them now.  What kind of an idiot does that make me?

I guess I hope it makes me a faster idiot.

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