10 hours

That’s my goal.

Not my resolution, my goal.

And it will be a hard one but that is okay. I like it hard.

A couple of weeks ago I was riding with a pro woman cyclist. “How much do you train these days?” I asked. I had known her when she took up cycling and logged huge miles.

“About eleven hours a week,” she said.

I waited for her to add the “just kidding” part. “Eleven hours?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But they are eleven very hard, high quality hours.” And she began speaking Trainese, a language spoken by real athletes who ride bikes for a living. I understood none of it.

In other words, I know there is a lot more to it than eleven hours.

But here’s something else I know. Although I don’t track all my rides, I’m guessing that I spend about 15 hours on my bike each week. And you know what? That’s a lot of hours. I’ll tell you something else. Anything more than that and I cannot recover. More to the point: I’m not really even recovering from that.

Here is how I know I haven’t recovered:

  1. Tired.
  2. Can’t concentrate.
  3. Legs ache.

In the last three or four years I have accepted the grinding, relentless reality of time and slashed my riding back a lot, going from 12k to 10k to 8k miles annually. Each year has brought with it more rest. I’ve stayed at about the same level of mediocrity simply by riding less.

Fact is that my body, never fast, is getting ever slower. Fact is that I like to ride hard and my body can’t recover from it. Fact is that if a pro woman cyclist trains eleven hours a week, then fifteen hours for a leaky prostate, worn out old shoe like me is nutso.

Last week I did thirteen hours. Knowing I was shooting for ten made me try to squeeze out quality instead of logging saddle time. Riding four days instead of five or six meant I was more productive everywhere, not tired (much), and able to pound through my daily Practical Chinese Reader homework quickly and efficiently. I memorized the lesson vocabulary for “fraud, swindler, and leading man” and even got the tones right. It is pretty practical; I’m hoping there will soon be a lesson on porn.

It’s hard to look at all the monster hours and giga-miles that my friends throw up on Strava and not feel like I’m slacking, but I have to remember THEY’RE NOT ME.

My legs feel super and I can already tell I’m on course for another mediocre year with flashes of uncontrolled delusions. But at least I won’t be tired.

END

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29 thoughts on “10 hours”

  1. I always repeat what a friend told me: Graeme Obree trained 10 hours a week for his hour records.

    1. I think that a power meter is necessary even if you don’t ride a bike. How many watts am I using to change the remote? How many watts to sleep?

      Big data is key.

  2. Today is the 30 year anniversary (I know because I kept diaries back then) of my intended retirement from bicycle racing. I had a job and i wanted to keep it..I got sent to Ireland the previous August, where I promptly got dropped five or six times in the kermesses (fall of ’86) and I just could not do this fuggin’ shite anymore. So I rode about eight hours a week for two months…and whaddya supposed happened in the first 10-mile tT of the year for the Dublin Wheelmen…PR…that’s what happened… so I stayed with that program all through 87 and 88 and found out that I felt a whole lot better at work without riding most days and didn’t get dropped as much on the weekends. Wow…who woulda thunk?

    1. Yeah, that’s happened multiple times during my “career” – quitting competition followed by breakthrough PRs a few months later. Another telltale sign is when you come back from a brutal 2-week bout with the flu and go faster then before you had the flu.

      The biggest struggle of the profamateur is avoiding getting into so many group ride alpha-male pissing matches that you’re half-assed racing 4 times per week instead of training.

  3. If you ever need tips on how best to non-recover I’d love to share some of my favorites. I’ve also devised a number of methods for induced exhaustion that don’t require a bike and provide ZERO cycling related benefits!

  4. That was my goal for 2016; to learn to recover. Failed miserably. And I can do relate to the being tired all the time. Maybe 2017.

  5. Maybe a suggestion for all of the free time and non tiredness would be to start looking for more 100% carbon fiber parts to replace on your bike, as a reward for resting more.

  6. As Coach says: You don’t get strong doing your workout. You get strong recovering from your workout.

    I’m listening (again) to the Freakonomics podcast where he interviews Anders Ericsson about his theory of “deliberate practice”. Quantity does matter, but quality matters more.

  7. If 10 hrs of structured workouts is good, then more is better! Right? I mean, 15 is surely better than 10. 20 is better still! It’s mathematics!!

    Don’t tell anyone using Training Peaks and Carmichael doping systems that 10 hours is sufficient. More == Better

    1. I couldn’t agree more. If you are a 53-year-old worn out shoe and you want to get the most out of your saggy old bag of skin, you need a lot more intensity, a lot more distance, a solid powerlifting routine to complement the leg work in the gym, daily core exercises, and then 30% more of everything than the biggest number-thrower-upper on Strava. This is how you win.

      And I can prove it to you. Which number is bigger? A billion or 1? QED.

  8. 2017 – the year I got back on the bike after 2016’s disastrous shoulder incident.

    I rack up over 10hrs a week just commuting.

    Lets just call that training for now and not worry about those MTB races for another month or so. Let the legs reacquaint themselves with pedaling squares and the heart rate drop down to a sub 190 bpm max.

  9. Michelle landes

    Trainese lol seriously hilarious!!! I must be pro i ride 21 hours a week lol

  10. Man Mr. Wankski, I learn something just about every time I slow down long enough to sit at this gathering. Thanks so much

    -Greg

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