Wednesday, January 21, 2015

So How Do You Train for 100 Mountain Miles?

Bicycling Magazine's Selene Yeager recently posted an article, Cycling Tips: Train Your Brain that mentioned a little about the physical aspect of preparing for a race and a LOT about the mental fitness needed to finish.  That mental preparedness goes into the physical training too for any event you are training for.  From the very beginning of my active lifestyle, if I "thought" I could, I did. I couldn't swim, yet I wrapped my brain around learning to swim at age 42 and landed myself in the pacific ocean at the world Xterra competition.  I "thought" I could finish 7 days straight of mountain biking, riding over 5 hours each day at the age of 50 and low and behold, I did.  I thought I could stand in whitewater rapids on a paddleboard and I do.  But for every one of these adventures, the attitude is what makes it happen.  And that's what it takes to start the training process for 100 mountain miles.  I think I can, I think I can.  It sure helps to have a solid training plan either by hiring a coach to help you out, or purchasing one of the many canned plans on-line such as former professional mountain biker, Chris Eatough's plans which are specific to many mountain biking ultra-endurance races.  There's a method to the madness of training and it's not just about riding a lot.  Easy days mixed with harder days, endurance and specificity (climbing!) weeks building upon each other then ending with a rest week, and monitoring your heart rate during training sessions are all key elements of a good training plan. Then we get back to the head games.  There are tons of days that you won't "feel" like riding and if you'd let that attitude take over, you'll never cross the finish line. The exception is actually being ill or overtrained -- then you listen to your body and stay in bed.  But if your health is good, just tell yourself to do it.  It will be cold, it will be raining or snowing, and it will be hot and humid.  Your brain will play games with you.  You simply have to train your brain .... be positive and focused on the end results.   CBS News correspondent Anderson Cooper did a story in December on Mindfulness which basically is being the present moment.  That's the kind of focus we are talking about in training your brain to focus on the task at hand and to be ready for that 100 miles in July.  It's 12 degrees outside and the indoor cycling trainer is the only way you'll get in that 3 hour ride on the training plan.  Your heart may say stay in the bed but the head says grab the best movie or pedal-pushing music you can find and get in that saddle.  That's training your brain.  While in the saddle, be in the moment watching Will Smith and spinning those legs at exactly 135 beats per minute and you'll get that job done.  The brain said you can, and you will.