Back when I was training for Mitchell, a friend and mentor warned me about peaking too early. He didn’t want me to over-train and be burnt out before the big ride. I trained quite a bit, maybe a little too much, but I felt like I knew my limits. As long as I continued to enjoy it, I felt comfortable continuing. As it turned out, I peaked around the right time. I felt great for Mitchell and have felt slightly sluggish in the weeks afterward. That is exactly how it should be.
I have been loosely following Joe Friel’s periodization training. He suggests that you choose your target events for different times of the year and revolve your training program around them. That makes sense. He says you should train to peak at the time of the event. In the case of Mitchell, I stumbled my way to peaking at the right time and succeeded. Now that Mitchell has passed and I have some time before the next major challenge (probably Bridge to Bridge), I am able to prepare a little better for my next peak period.
At this point I should be training less frequently, but harder, and giving myself time to recover. While I have not been attacking like I used to, I have still found ways to challenge myself. Now I will make a conscious effort to push myself doing something difficult when training, whether that is some sprinting, intervals, or hill repeats, just something that gets the heart rate up. I will then take the following day off or ride at recovery pace. Those days in between will make me stronger. Right now, with the longer days, I am able to put in more miles and push myself harder on weekdays. If I need to rest, I have the option of sitting in with the B groups and riding slower. A few months ago I had trouble with riding a slower pace, but that comes more easily now. I almost appreciate it sometimes.
As the big event gets closer, I will be engaging in similar events and less regular training. This works out perfectly since there are a lot of organized rides around the time. Some of them have a good bit of climbing, but none are as challenging as the ride I am preparing for. That is a good thing.
Even though I don’t feel as strong as I did a couple months ago, I have a plan in place and am confident in my training that I’ll meet my expectations.