Lately, I have been keeping a log of my riding so I can look back and get an idea of what workouts I can pinpoint as riding help vs. riding harm. I usually just ride when I feel like it , but never try to make any sense of it all because I want to keep it fun. After all, it's bike riding, not work. However, since I have several races lined up this year, I thought I should at least try to keep track of what I am doing and when to see how it affects my fitness. Good grief this is all starting to sound very official now that I type it out. Oh no!! I am becoming one of "Them"?
Anyhow, two weeks ago I did an endurance ride. I'll call it ride "A". I felt strong and kept a very high average pace with the group. A week later, I did the same route. Again, I felt strong, and kept my average not quite as high, but finished with energy to spare at the end as opposed to panting like a dog. Something I didn't experience the week before on the higher average pace.
Yesterday I repeated that same ride and I felt tired, weak and lethargic. My legs felt like lead and my average was creeping lower and lower as the ride continued. Before I even was halfway through, I was feeling so exhausted that it felt I had done twice as many miles than I actually had. I was confused. What had changed from one week to the next? Why wouldn't I be getting stronger on the same ride I'd done 3 times now?
So I went to my ride log to see if I could glean some perspective. And that's when I discovered the real importance of rest between rides. My fastest pace was with the week with the most rest in between rides. My most energetic feeling at the end of a ride was the week where I did the most varied riding on varied types of bikes/terrain, (fire road, pavement, mtb hill climb repeats). My worst week so far, (a/k/a yesterday) was with back to back days of riding the same terrain. It was very enlightening to see this and gave me a new appreciation for "rest" days. Sure I've heard of them before, but who actually rests? If the weather is good, I want to be outside riding my bike. Rest is for the rainy days isn't it?
This Sunday is my first 30+ mile endurance "race" of the season and I want my legs well rested but, prepared. It is expected to be about 22 degrees and with the wind chill will feel like 17. I want to make sure dressing warm enough is my only concerning variable and not dead legs.
So for today and tomorrow, I have vowed to do no riding. Not a stitch. I can't tell you how hard this is. The weather is great, albeit cold and the trails are dry and frozen. I even have to walk past my bike trainer to get to my car. It kills me to miss even a day of riding especially in exchange for "rest". However, I know in the long run (Sunday), this will benefit me. But, I gotta admit it. Right now REST just feels like a four letter word to me and I am sure my bikes aren't too happy about my choice either. *Sigh*