Friday, February 24, 2012

Hold On

I need to explain myself. I wasn't clear in my post yesterday about Suffering. A few emails came in asking me if I was suggesting Running was easier than the bike! Absolutely not! Any opinion I share on here is taken from my own experience. I could never race marathons as much as I desperately wanted to. And when I say desperately I really mean it. I was depressed when my body wouldn't let me run, and I will NEVER get over it. Marathon running and the training associated with it is similar to bike racing. A good marathon runner can train close to their threshold for long periods of time. We do tempo runs of 8 - 12 miles or longer depending on the philosophy and these are run at marathon pace or a little quicker. The length of time means that only small drinks from the bottle are needed and the work should be very tolerable. Once you cross the line, the pace slows and the race or training is over. You can't sit in and coast in a draft for a while eating a clif bar and drinking 22oz of thick carbo fuel. Once your done its over (save the few bizarre comebacks). This is the fundamental difference I am talking about. After 3  hours of riding, especially if its hilly and hard, the body is starving for food and cyclists can eat, replenish, and recover all the while maintaining a hard pace and elevated HR. In a 5 hour race a rider can be dropped only to be paced back up in a draft and have enough in the tank to attack.  Throughout the whole experiencee its never comfortable, hence the suffer part. My experience of hard running was like getting hit with a baseball bat really hard for a short period of time while cycling is like being hit really hard and then tapped incessantly for a while with an occasional hard whack again. A different system and one that requires a lot of concentration for a much longer period of time. There is no doubt that when you cross the line in a running race you suffer. My initial point is that this pain is awful and there is no coming back, no drafting, no food, no push of the back up a hill. Its just get to the finish line without injury.

I've heard some people say that the Tour De France is like running a marathon everyday. Complete nonsense, but a good example of what I am trying to say. You suffer for hours in the hills but next day the fatigue is tolerable and the rider can go out and do it again, maybe even faster. Have you ever seen an elite marathon runner the day after Boston or New York? Their bodies are shattered. Its such a deplorable effort for a little over two hours that it can take 2 -3 weeks or longer to recover and start again. Elites run 2 marathons a year, a pro cyclist can ride 3 grand tours and 50 other races. Thats the difference. If runners didn't have the limiting factor of pounding and intense muscle and joint breakdown they would race every week. I know I would have, for sure. Even the Ironman triathlete can do more long course races because its that slower burn. The breakdown is nutritional, physiological, muscular, mental etc. But they can come back and do another one 2 months later. This frequency of hard marathons happens in running but is rare and careers are very short lived. 

At the other end of the spectrum is track work. This is similar to track bike racing. Extremely hard and intense. When I think suffering I think long periods. Suffering in a jail cell for years or suffering from an illness. The mental  and physical toll of track racing is completely different. My good friend and amazing runner Mark Carroll used to have sleepless nights before hard track workouts because they were so hard. It may be a session such as 5 x 1km, meaning the intervals would last 2.5 minutes each and be repeated 5 times for a total hard running workout of 12.5 minutes. But those reps require everything from the body. Very difficult and a completely different system then what we use on the bike.

So in a nutshell, I love the term suffering on the bike. You can just deplete yourself to bonking and do it again the next day with the same vigor. Its a new realm for me and I can approach my free weekends knowing I'll bury myself but feel no real pain in my body afterwards. Unlike after those wonderful track sessions and hard cross country reps I'll wake up and bounce around my apartment. Sure I'll be tired but not sore. And I'll be ready to do it all again.

Great tune by The Chain Gang Of 1974 - Hold On. Listened to it on my trainer tonight and it made me happy.

Peace and love