Monday, March 23, 2009

"Training is overated" - The Myth

Ok, so this is a long thought process so bear with me.

Here I am clocking 14 hour training weeks which isn't bad for laying the groundwork for the big event. This means early starts, a couple of hours on the road bike most days and longer rides on the weekend.

I've always been disciplined about training as I lack the genetic gifts that allow some athletes to do the bare minimum in training and still complete long endurance events successfully. This is where The Myth comes in.

A lot of people know about The Myth because I mention him all the time but few have actually met him. But his exploits are legendary for their scope and minimalistic training.

Now I've been pretty consistent this year in training and I went riding with The Myth on Saturday only to see him chase other cyclists up and down the hills leaving me far in his wake. Annoyingly, his legs didn't hurt afterwards either. The sum total of his riding this year? Probably 300km if that? If he trains for longer than 6 weeks, he gets bored so sometimes it doesn't even make that time frame.

Last year, he "trained" for the 500km Bull of Africa adventure race. This comprised of about 6 weeks of riding 2-3 times a week. His sole running training was an exploit in the Drakensburg where he and a fellow mad man left Witsieshoek at midnight and finished at Cathedral Peak some 16 hours later - in mid winter!

This year in early Feb, not having run one step (no exaggeration), he and the same mad man ran from Primrose on the eastern side of Johannesburg to Krugersdorp Hill on the western side taking all of Jo'burg's highest peaks - about 60km. His legs were only sore on the tar sections...

Then two weeks ago, with no running since the last epic, he took part in a 24 hour trail run race but then he was hobbling afterwards. The man is human after all. Now he plans to ride in a 350km cycling stage race in six weeks time which is why he hit the road this weekend.

So I ask myself. Why, oh why do I do so much training and not seem to get anywhere. I understand The Myth is genetically gifted albeit damn lazy but his exploits really rub my nose in it.

I wonder if we do not over train in general. We allow ourselves to panic when we hear of miles and hours put in by other competitors. We feel the pressure to put in our time and log every minute and kilo. We take pride in logging the time committed to our preparation. I did that..proudly listing how many hours I have ridden in March.

Sure there is conditioning required and sure there is some preparation to ease our way through our events but when is it enough. I try to resist getting sucked in to other people's programmes and every now and then, I have to remind myself that more is not better. If I try to do too much, I will hate the training. This is about enjoyment not employment and other such mantras.

One thing I do know, I only have to be fit enough for the first 6 days of RASA because those will set me up for the next 6 days and the cumulative riding will then launch me into the final 8 days of the event.

And if I keep that focus, I won't panic and I will enjoy the build up far better than having a piece of paper dictating my life until June when I line up at the start.

So The Myth may have a point after all.

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