Monday, July 1, 2013

Couch-to-Century Training?

Training for my promised-to-self century this summer is underway. I will be the first to admit that it hasn't gone well to date. I'm putting in mileage, and attempting to switch between "power" and "long" rides, but neither seem to be moving me in a positive direction toward the ultimate goal. I've begun to question how I even did a 50-something mile ride last summer because as of this moment, I have yet to go on a ride of that distance.  Many things run through my mind, including simply giving up the idea of the century this year - and perhaps giving it up entirely. I find myself thinking about people who do these sorts of rides on a whim and then see myself completely exhausted after a 30-mile ride. I cannot help but think, "What's wrong with me?"
*Image found here
I titled this post "Couch-to-Century" because that's the way I feel I need to be trained. I don't lay about during the day not doing anything. In fact, I do what I consider to be a decent amount of movement. On just about any given day, I work out 2-4 hours (doing kickboxing, running, cycling, etc), and that's not counting any kind of transportation cycling. I give myself a day off, and an "easy" day as well, but I just never seem to get to a point that I can add to my distance. From what I've read, based on my cycling ability, I should be "ready" to complete a century two months from the start of training. I really don't see that happening.

At just over a month in now to the more focused and serious riding, I feel completely incapable of even covering half the distance. Yesterday, I finished (and I use that term loosely) a 38-mile ride, and thought I was going to die by the end. I was exhausted, could barely pedal, and I'm still not sure how I made it up one of my least-favorite climbs at the very end of the ride (I certainly owe thanks to the family who had just arrived home as I was thinking to myself, "Man, just get off and walk up the hill!" Their "You can do it" encouragement is certainly the only thing that got me to the top). Sure, I was getting pelted by hail for a good portion of the ride, and the seemingly never-ending head wind didn't help matters, and I didn't exactly plan the best route as the majority was constant climbing... but shouldn't this be a fairly doable distance by this point in the season?

The thing is, I have no desire to "race" a century. I just want to complete it. I'd prefer to not be near-death at the end, but as of this moment, I have no confidence that even if I decided to kill myself I could finish the ride.

The plan for the century has actually turned into a potential double century this summer (thankfully, not on the same day). I am still planning on my unsupported ride before the end of August, but I've also signed myself up for the Venus de Miles century in late September. What was I thinking?!? Seriously. I don't know how I let myself get talked into this. With the Venus ride, I can always choose a lesser route, but I'm still terrified that I have talked myself into something I won't be able to complete.

All of that said, I carry on with training, believing that somehow I will be able to add mileage to my rides and eventually make it to the end point. I have days when I wonder why a "transportation cyclist" would want to do this to herself, but I suppose a challenge is sometimes necessary to see what we are capable of completing? Or, maybe I just enjoy a good torture session once in awhile?


  1. You will be able to do it. I'm confident, even though I have personally never ridden that far, as we have discussed.

    This is yet another math problem people muse about, and don't factor in everything else. You are tired, it's windy, nasty hills, breakdowns, etc. It's not a video game, everything comes into play!

    I think the best advice you have gotten throughout all it is, to treat it like a mini tour, it's a 100 mile tour, you stop, eat rest. The goal is to finish, and not in record time (you can save that for the "race", in September). Keep plugging away at the miles!

    1. I think that I keep wishing my "training" would transfer from summer to summer, but even with riding through winter, it's just not the same as I don't get in the longer rides. {sigh}

      I keep plugging... eventually, right?

  2. Well, I was composing all this and then looked up and saw Sam's comments. He can have the credit, but I was going to say the same thing:

    Think about it from a touring standpoint. If you have X number of hours of daylight, that's how many hours you have to ride 100 miles. If it's 12 hours (at solstice) then that's how long you have to cover the distance. That's a pretty leisurely pace (less than 10 mph) and as long as you keep moving steadily you can rest when you need to and adjust your speed according to how you're feeling.

    I will add that to ride that far means you're going to suffer a little. That's just a long time to be on the bike. You have to desensitize yourself somewhat at shorter distances to be able to endure all that time in the saddle. The one benefit to riding hard and finishing faster is you spend a lot less time on the bike. But I'm not saying you should do that. The goal should be to finish. Period.

    Eating regularly is key, and not waiting until you're hungry or thirsty to refuel. Once you start bonking its really hard to turn it around. It can be done, but you lose your best fuel when you let that happen.

    Hang in there! Endure the discomfort that will come, but also know that on the other side of those miles is the satisfaction of having reached your goal!

    1. Ah, eating. I think that is one of my biggest issues. I don't get hungry, so I just want to keep going, but then I feel myself crashing and it's too late. I'm hoping to get it figured out here in the next few weeks so that I can make it through. I'm definitely not looking for speed, but as you said, there are only so many hours in a day... so, I suppose I need to find a nice mix of speed/distance so that I can make it through in less than 12 hours.

      I don't mind a little suffering, but I think my frustration has been that I feel near-death at such a relatively short distance. Then I question if I can make it through this. I suppose if nothing else, I can look at the August ride as a "trial run" and if it doesn't go well, I will have the second try in September. :O)


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