Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I kinda sorta really don't function all that well with structure

The Goal: I want to be a better cyclist
The Problem: I hate structure
The Solution: I need structure
In order to be a competitive athlete there are many qualities one must possess. Determination, motivation, some other ‘tions. Maybe a certain modicum of focus and a little touch of perseverance. Oh and a 6-pack always helps but I definitely don’t have one of those.
I ran close to ten half marathons, three 30km races and one marathon. I trained for these all on my own, with little to no plan (except to just run - a lot) and very few friends or training partners. I’m not saying I ran these without training I’m just saying I didn’t have a day planner telling me what to do on what day. It’s not like I didn’t try. I spent days coming up with training plans from books, experience, other training plans and research. This one time I had an exact plan given to me for the race I was doing. You think I followed it? Not a fucking chance. I only loosely followed the long run distances but ignored everything else. Rest weeks? What are those? Tapering? Screw that shit. Hills and speed work? I’ll do that when I damn well please not when the godly schedule tells me to.
Needless to say, I kinda sorta really hate structure.
Okay, I don’t HATE it as in I want it to die, I don’t even dislike it. Actually, I want to be friends with it! It's not like I won't do the workouts I'll just do different workouts.
I'm such a loner.
It’s ingrained deep within my personality to scoff at all authority even if it’s on a piece of paper. Even if it’s my own damn handwriting! My genes are rebels and even though I am smart enough to be the boss, I feel like I’m a schitzo fighting with myself and this imaginary authority. If the paper tells me to do ‘x’ amount of anything I will go out of my way to make it so that doesn’t happen.

It really pisses me off.

Cycling is different from my years of running. When I ran, the goal was simply to finish. It wasn’t competitive with me. Cycling is a forced competitiveness because in order to “just finish” you have to be as good as the rest of them. Besides, there’s no such thing as “just finishing” in a bike race. Cycling is so heavily based on numbers. Functional Power Threshold. Lactate Threshold. Watts per Kilogram or Power to Weight Ratio. I have to be more serious about this if I want to get anywhere. No more cycling for the sake of cycling and ignoring that Garmin data. It's all about the data and I need to be all about paying attention.

I’ve tried and failed countless times to create and follow a training plan. Thing is, I know damn well that with a little guidance I just might get better. Go figure eh?

So this time it’s different (or that’s what I keep telling myself). In fact, I am telling me a lot of things I don’t want to hear. Specifically “shut the fuck up and do what you’re told. If you can stick to this there’s a good chance you’ll reach your goal.” So every day now the blinders come on. I am pushing me to do what I’m told. Sometimes I fight back but it’s okay, so far I have myself in a choke hold.

This time the dream far outweighs my stupid genes.


  1. Try to think of it as liberating. Instead of being mired in the details of what to train and when to do what intervals and worrying about progress on speed and cadence and power and sprints, you can just focus on RIDING A BIKE. You follow directions - work hard, which you do anyway - and someone else can focus on figuring out what kind of work will best benefit you. That helps me. The other thing that helped me was a conversation with Carrie Cheadle, who asked me, "Why can't you give up control and follow a plan or, more importantly, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?" The obvious answers come to mind - suckage, failure, whatever.

    She said, "You are one two people. Either you are the person who believes you won't succeed no matter what because you lack faith in yourself, in which case you need to change the tape in your head. Or you are the person who doesn't trust their coach. If that's the case, you need to find the right person, and then commit." I think you and I are the latter people....

  2. Right there with you Scully. To me, competitive means three things: First, finish. Second, finish in the top half of my gender. Third, top half of my age group.

    But I hate structure. Instead, I try to imagine the toughest training the most hard-ass athletes are doing, and I try to best it every day. I'm not usually successful, but my endurance is usually pretty good. Also, I'm a big believer in tapering, when I can. Take the last two weeks and do less distance, but all of it really hard. Makes finishing the actual event a breeze. Good luck!


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