As a married man, I somehow decided I needed a second woman telling me what I can, and can't, do. So I hired a (female) cycling coach. I took this step after believing the competitive cyclists who said it was the single best and quickest way to get stronger and faster. That was actually easy to believe. I had read a lot, and quickly realized "I didn't know what I didn't know". But I held back, because finding the right coach proved much more difficult. There are a couple of dominant 'mega' coaching companies, centered around the two most successful training guru's: Friel and Carmichael. But I felt like, if I went that route, I would become a little fish in the tank of the company, looked at now and then to see if I was still swimming, but with a strong likelihood I could end up floating upside down at the surface, only to be picked out with a net and flushed down the toilet.
But then, trying to figure out a little more of what I didn't know I didn't know, I had a long lunch with a racer friend. He also happens to be my sort-of boss, so I came prepared with a discussion outline and a set of questions, ranging from bike logistics, the local racing scene, and of course, training. My last question was... "So, given the importance of coaching, how do you find a GOOD coach?!?" His response was "That's easy, you just call my coach DeeAnn. I'll send you her contact info."
Long intro... sorry. I get long-winded on anything cycling related. Otherwise I pretty much STFU.
So I've been following her directions for a week now. The first thing she did was to slow me down and limit my riding time... :-/ Actually, she would no doubt say that she is "Improving my aerobic system by increasing my z2-3 miles, and also providing adequate recovery time." She has this perplexing idea that you should be able to press on your quads or hamstrings, and not wince in pain. No idea where she got that - I don't know her age, but on hearing her say "I just finished a ride. I'm pressing an inch into my quad, and I feel no pain or soreness", I decided she is 22. I also felt very emasculated by the fact that she can press an inch into her quad muscle.
She also gave me some off-season strength exercises, including squats and lunges (and I'm not supposed to be sore?!?), and insisted I get a trainer asap. I borrowed one from my sorta-boss/friend, since his wife refused to use it when he bought it for her. That "saying what you can and can't do" thing never goes both ways, does it? Anyway, I think cycling coaches' obsession with trainer work is tied to their need to precisely control the ability to inflict pain and misery. All while avoiding making you sore, of course. Along with her training manual (and the ubiquitous logo'd water bottle) she sent me two DVD's. One is on Pedaling Technique. It has you start at the leisurely cadence of 80, then gradually spin up as fast as you possibly can, which, for the world-class riders in the video, is something like 200 rpm. I think I saw smoke wafting from a few bottom brackets. For me, it's somewhere "significantly under that". I'm not divulging just how significantly. A man has his ego, you know? Then, you do one legged pedaling. When she had said she was sending a DVD, my only question was "It's not by Coach Troy, is it?".
"No", she said, "but the second one is. How did you guess?" Wonderful.
I managed to cut the trainer work short by telling her my bike's drivetrain sounded like it was falling apart on the trainer, but that I ordered a new one (direct drive, so it replaces the rear wheel completely) on eBay. She believed me.
Sadly, it's true, and it arrives Monday. But I told her Tuesday. :-)
So my weekly regimen is now:
A. 2-3 commutes (instead of 3-4), done while not exceeding HR zone 2 (grumble grumble), and usually the short route instead of the longer route I had been doing.
B. One pedaling tech session per week.
C. One hour long zone 2 trainer session. As she says: "Trainers don't have stoplights."
D. TWO recovery days. One of them the day before my weekly "key workout", which is...
E. A long Saturday ride, solo, of up to 4 hours, staying in zones 2-3, focusing on cadence. No zone 4, or something truly awful will no doubt happen, probably involving a trainer.
I just did my long Saturday ride. I only touched zone 4 three times. Once by not paying attention, once because I chose a route home that I didn't realize included a small hill, and once when I 'had words' with a motorist who stayed behind me, honking, when there were two lanes open to her left.
That one doesn't count.
I averaged a 94 cadence, which is very good for me. I broke a number of traffic laws, trying not to stop, for fear that might make her decide my long rides need to be done on the trainer as well!
Oh, and on New Year's day, I get to ride with my group (yay!), but... never pulling, staying as draft-protected as possible, and I have to drop off after an hour and go solo. She knows that, otherwise, I'd be, well, NOT in zones 2-3; nor even in zone 4.
So, anyway, I've started down a long path to the dark side of racing. If you have nothing better to do, and are bored enough to want to see how I'm doing, I've made my TrainingPeaks profile public at http://www.trainingpeaks.com/aztallrider.
Having only had the road bike for 9 months, I have a loooonnngg way to go, but am looking forward to it.
"Maybe I'm crazy don't ask my wife... My bicycle and me."