Friday, January 30, 2015

Tip #1 - Endurance Fitness is Cool ... Hang in there.

From: Jim Logan []
Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2013 11:22 AM
Subject: Fitness is cool ... hang in there

Short version:
A time capsule message to send back to riders who struggle with riding ultras now as I did in 2007.

Back when I started riding brevets in 2007, I thought a lot about comments about endurance and the body’s reaction to ultras I read on randon that didn’t seem to apply to me.   And since I lived 5 hours from the nearest series, everything I learned about riding ultras I pretty much learned from randon.  After riding myself into endurance fitness over the years, I found my original hypothesis correct.  The bodies of people with endurance fitness do react differently than an ex couch-potato riding into fitness – how my body reacts to recovery both on and off the bike is different now than 7 years ago.

Bottom line – endurance fitness is really cool.  It took me 3-4 years to obtain it.  This is a time capsule message being sent back to riders in their first year or two of ultra-riding, for which it is doesn’t feel natural, you are only finishing with a goal-focus and grit, and you wonder if it will ever get better.  As long as you use the suffering to spur you to training and education,  I can say yes.

One metric – how long it takes my body to recover from long brevets:
2007 – three weeks
2008 – two weeks
2009 – one week
2011 – days

Another metric is distance to first pain meds.  My progression was something like this:
                2007 – 75 miles
                2008 – 125 miles
                2009 – 400 miles
                2011 – only to sleep

The pain medication metric is analogous to how long it took my body to start to irrecoverably break down in some way.  Except my body broke down after 600 miles in 2011, though I didn’t need pain meds for riding that year.

While I learned the mechanics of sports nutrition early on, it took 4 plus years to feel sports nutrition, and make it a natural part of me.  Ditto for equipment choice becoming a non-issue.  Ditto for training.

There are some lucky people for which ultras are a natural experience and who’s first reaction is to post wonderful travelogues about the countryside and people you encounter.  This post isn’t for you.  This post is for riders who focus the entire ride is on the minutiae of surviving to the finish.  That while it never gets easier, it does get more familiar, and your body does learn how to recover better as the years go by.

Happy new year and happy riding.

Jim Logan
Ancien 2007, 2011
RAAM qualified 2012

Jim's Randonneuring Tips

I got this request last month:

>>As much as I like reading your travel logs (and I do, especially when you get lost or pedals fail), I'd be really grateful (truly) for a "Jim's Randonneuring Tips" series.  What to eat.  How to train.  Gear.  Problems to look out for.  How to navigate. 200K is tough but look out when you try 400K.  This stuff breaks but don't worry about…..  Stuff like that...<<

My first advice to anyone looking for lessons learned is look to two place first:
- - The international email group for randonneurs
- The RUSA Handbook.  The latest edition was just published.

Nonetheless, I was asked again.  I am warming up to the request.  My thought is to write some comments before each brevet this year, about either the distance or the route.

This being the off-season, I'll post some comments about off-season training this week.

To be clear, I wasn't asked to write about what will necessarily will work for everybody.  I was asked to write about what worked for me.  Perhaps that will inform your choices.

Jim Logan
RBA, Pittsburgh