January: Training / Work / Life Balance
In advance of the inaugural Trans Alba Race in July, I thought I would write a short blog post about a different aspect of my preparation and general musings each month.
First of all.. the TransWhat?.
In the words of the organisers:
The Trans Alba Race is a self supported cycling ride around Scotland. Covering over 1,000 miles and 50,000 feet of climbing. Riders follow a predetermined route whilst abiding to a simple set of seven rules.
Having lived in Scotland for nearly three years, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer in terms of cycling terrain. The race should put a few things right there since the route traverses a good chunk of this beautiful country. I can’t wait to explore what has been on my doorstep all this time while I’ve been hermitting.
Starting in Edinburgh, the race rolls out over the Forth Bridge before an anticlockwise loop of Scotland. Distance wise, this will build upon the Race Across France I did last summer, but I know my preparation won’t be totally plain sailing for the next 5 months. The reason I moved to Scotland was to study my Diploma in Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art. And for this final thesis year essentially I have to cobble together .. a thesis(!) amidst my paid work and training. So whilst I have no intentions of slacking on the training side of things, I’ll just have to be more time savvy in order to shoehorn everything in. By the end of May, I should (fingers crossed) be able to release a big sigh of relief and fully intend on pedalling of into the sunset for some two-wheeled therapy and catchup miles.
Yes, I’ll be making much use of Zwift in the coming months and using my 6 mile commute as a warm up/down. In terms of bang for buck, you can’t beat the online platform for training, and did you also know that it’s the perfect antidote for plan-eyes. That is, when you’ve been staring at floor plans for hours on end arranging walls and furniture for optimal human occupancy while making sure everything is a nice round dimension. On zwift, it is all about structured workouts and occasional races, focusing on sweet spot sessions, FTP and HIIT: perfect.
1000 miles is a long way.. I should probably do some long rides too right?
Not quite so. Since diving into long distance cycling in 2015, I have learnt that the positive correlation between miles and fitness breaks down above a certain point. In other words, doing lots of long rides can be a waste of time (luckily for me who has little of it), whereby the time taken to recover impedes the possible effects of further training stimulus. In training for the Trans Alba, it will be necessary to do a couple of long multi day rides in order to test my kit and fitness over several days. At the moment these are taking the form of my Paris-Brest-Paris qualifying brevets, of which I am required to complete a super randonneur series of 200, 300, 400 and 600km. Having ticked off the 200km Yorkshire Grit audax last weekend that just leaves the last three. The 300km and 400km I intend to use as training rides, adding extra miles riding to and from the start points.
The All Points North ride at the end of May will be a key preparation ride for The Trans Alba, and no doubt an awesome ride in itself. If I’m not too sleep deprived after handing in my thesis project the week before, I certainly will be after the 950km route around the north of England. Lets hope I’m not too sleep deprived to forget the pro-plus…
And that will be it: lots of sweat-time on Zwift, All Points North in May plus the 300+km and 400+km Audax rides in June. In addition, a quick 80-100km is a good sweet spot session on the road and I will supplement my training with 1-2 per week from May onwards. A key part of these longer rides will be to pay attention to how my recovery is, particularly for multi-day rides.
The great thing about ultra cycling is that there is always a way to learn, improve and discover something new about yourself all while getting out there exploring the world and meeting awesome people. I hope that the previous few years of riding far have stood me in good stead for the race but there is still lots to prepare for and discus in the coming months.