Little things matter.
More doesn’t always get you more.
Riding more miles doesn’t necessarily make you stronger.
I learned this last year when I plateaued at 1100 miles: I just didn’t improve the rest of the season. Talk about frustration!
Exercise brings improvement because our bodies adapt to higher demands. In the beginning, the fitness gains come relatively fast because the demands are new. But when adaptation occurs, the same intensity of exercise doesn’t result in an increase of strength, aerobic capacity, etc. This is the point where we need to increase intensity… not just duration.
Today, for example, I did some hill and sprint work over 32 miles. This distance in itself is not challenging for me at this time of the season. SO…I upped the intensity by doing three 500 meter sprints, and climbed several hills out of the saddle. By doing this I’m challenging my body to adapt to higher demands. The fact that my average HR was 135 during this ride tells me that there’s still more room to kick up the challenge.
The weekly long ride is still a priority, and important preparation for the 100 miles and 3800′ of climbing in the upcoming Superior Vistas Tour. Strangely enough – because it’s counter intuitive to a MORE IS BETTER philosophy – the rest of my fitness goals won’t require more miles, as much as they will call for harder work over the same distance.
Though I’m tempted to do more long rides because I just love being in the saddle, I’ll need to embrace 55 minute rides of gut-popping, thigh-burning, lunch-hurling intervals. When I ride the length of Vermont’s mountains in August, I’ll reap the benefits: 223 miles and 11,113′ of climbing.
Here’s to lunch-hurling [?]