It has been an interesting fall training transition during my offseason, if an offseason from biking actually exists anymore… I should have been indulging in a bit more solid recovery after the Marji Gesick 100, but I really wanted to start sorting out how I was going to train in the future for both running and biking at the same time. I also wanted to see if I could get some relatively decent running distance out of my legs before the snow and deep cold set in.
At anyrate, I am now 9 weeks past the Marji Gesick 100 and my fall training transition period is coming to a close. I plan to start some structured base training on the bike in a week or 2 that will take me through all of the winter months and into May. I will also still mix in the running, although some of it will move to a treadmill and/or I will crosstrain with my other new interest of cross country skate skiing once the trails are groomed.
Below, you will find the last 9 weeks broken down with a few notes on each week. I pasted in a screen shot of each week’s calendar with the notes, so you can quickly skim through the article and just stop if you see something that catches your eye. I will not talk about every workout, but will just highlight a few things that were going on that week with any good or bad lessons from the week, if any. As usual, you will find a short summary of my thoughts at the bottom of the article.
Weekly Breakdown of My Fall Training Transition
Week 1: Sept 26 – 2
I really wanted to start doing some running, but I also knew that I needed some recovery time. I am really terrible at this part of the process. I don’t tend to sleep well, because I am a restless person to begin with and always have a hard time shutting my brain off at night. I didn’t sleep well the first few nights after the Marji Gesick as my mind was spinning from the experience of the Marji Gesick and my body was all around achy.
My 7 mile ride on Friday was nice and I felt good. I made the stupid mistake of going out for a longer ride on Saturday that really brought back some deep fatigue. I was good for the first 20 miles, but the last 10 really started to hurt. I was on my fat bike on the gravel back roads and I just went for too long of a ride. I didn’t hurt, but I could just tell the fatigue was deep within the muscles still.
My Sunday rides were just fun group rides with the kids at a family day that was held at the Woolly Bike Club trails. I didn’t do any hard riding, but I still felt fatigue on the trails. It was nice though to do some easy trail riding.
Week 2: Oct 3 – 9
I was still feeling really fatigued at the beginning of the week and went for a couple bike path rides with my seven year old to keep my legs loose while I was trying to recover. On Thursday, I found out that my Grandmother had died and I ended up taking off on some gravel with my fat bike to have some thinking time. I rode a little further than I probably should have and got caught in some rain and the dark. I guess a bit fitting on the day…
Anyways, I hammered home the last half hour, trying to beat the dark and pushed a little too hard. The good part was that I was able to drop the hammer for some long pulls trying to get home, but I was running over threshold for fairly long periods of time and that was not helpful at all for the recovery that I needed. I didn’t ride again the rest of that week as I had a 700 mile drive followed by a full day at the funeral home on Sunday.
Week 3: Oct 10 – 16
The funeral was on Monday and I went for a short run right afterwards. This, ironically was my first run of my new effort to get into running. I was really tired from the driving and hadn’t slept well the last few days, so the run really took it out of me even though it was less than 2 miles. I took the next day off of any activity. The next 2 days, I couldn’t help but go for a couple short trail runs and then mountain bike rides while I was in Michigan. I was still dabbling, but I was intrigued by the trail running and knew at this point I was definitely interested in the trail running.
Yes, I had actually thrown my bike in the car before heading to Michigan for the funeral. Packing a bike now for any trip has become about as common as packing my socks and underwear. Anyways, I was pretty much toasted after those 2 days of running and biking. They were not long runs or rides and were fairly mild paces, but I was just fatigued from not sleeping well and had a lot on my mind. I took the next few days off of any physical activity. Plus I was standing in a wedding over the weekend and then had to make the 700 mile drive back home. I didn’t really have an abundance of time available.
Week 4 – Oct 17 – 23
I took Monday off again. You’ll find that Monday’s tend to be an off day for me when it comes to cardio type activities. This could change though in the future as I fit the running in. At any rate, I got in a 3+ mile XC run on tuesday that felt really good. I call it an XC run, because it was more relatable to High School Cross Country terrain than true trail running.
I only did a short trainer ride with my bike that week and that was it for the bike. Out of curiosity, I went into my previous low cadence hill climb interval routine, just to see how my legs felt. After the first one, I knew I was still feeling some deep fatigue and then I bailed 30 seconds early on the second interval as I knew I was not ready. I did not have intentions of doing a full interval workout, but I thought doing a couple intervals at my previous power settings was a good test of my recovery & current fatigue status. I should have just bailed after the first one, but attempting the second one, told me the fatigue was still pretty deep and maybe I had started running too soon.
We went for a long camping weekend where I got in another nice XC run and a couple of hikes. The run felt decent as I held back on the pace and the hikes were great.
Week 5: Oct 24 – 30
At this point, I was feeling like I really needed to hold back on my intensity levels as I knew I had now delayed my true recovery from the Marji Gesick 100. I make this mistake often and it is an easy one to make. The issue is this… I spent 10 years being fairly sedentary, not excercising much and becoming overweight. I did exercise a few times and/or got a bike out, but it was always a half hearted attempt at getting in shape again and never stuck. I was never obese, but I was a little over weight for sure. Now days, I will range anywhere from 40 to 50 pounds lighter than I once was at my peak.
The point is, I never want to go back to that and I get very restless if I don’t do some type of exercise. I’ll even drop into some depression and some good hard and solid excercise seems to keep me balanced. This is what causes me to overtrain often and why after many steps forward in training, I have gotten myself sick, rundown and ended up going backwards or plateauing out for long periods. I don’t want to dive too deep into this now, but I might come back to this again in a future dedicated article.
Back to the training… I forgot to mention also, that my shoulders were severely bothering me and I still hadn’t gotten back to my upperbody and core activity work. Partly because of the shoulder pain. I was hoping they would heal up from the race and then I could get back to things sooner. At anyrate, I decided to keep my riding to the trainer this week and keep my intensity low. I even kept my running to the treadmill with walking only, but at an incline.
Week 6: Oct 31 – Nov 6
I was feeling a bit rested again and headed back out for another XC run. I went nearly 4.5 miles this time, but probably should have cut it off at 3.5. I wore some different shoes, just to mix things up and they just didn’t work out well at all.
The next day, I met up with some folks from the Woolly Bike Club for a local night group ride on the trails where I took it really easy. I was not feeling like pushing things at all and was feeling the run from the day before.
I went for a night trail run after the ride even though I was feeling fatigued. I knew it was not the best idea, but I also knew I had limited time this fall to try and work out how I would train for both biking and running at the same time. At this point, I was willing to delay my recovery a bit to get this sorted out before the temps dropped and the snow was flying. I knew these type of actions could cost me a descent race performance at the upcoming Solstice Chase fat bike race in December if I didn’t get some solid recovery in before then, but there would be more fat bike races later in the season. I really wanted to sort out how I could structure the running and biking, so I could hit the ground running hard come spring.
I took Thursday and Friday off and then hit Woolly Bike Club Trails on Saturday where I took things fairly easy and then Elm Creek on Sunday where I took things fairly easy again. The weather was amazing and it would most likely be my last single track ride of the season on the 29er. I also rode with my flat pedals, just for something different. It was super weird at first, but by the time I got through with my first lap at Elm, I was really enjoying the flats. I might continue spending time on the flats and write something up about the experience.
Week 7: Nov 7 – 13
I decided to hit some pavement with my running shoes and put in a nice 6 mile run at an easy effort. I was holding back on my pace, but my legs felt heavy at the same time. I was proud of myself though for the fact that I was able to hold back and keep my distance to 6 miles.
The reason I say keep my distance to 6 miles, was because I had to turn around on the rail trail a mile before the end of it in order to keep my mileage to 6. This is a mental hurdle for me. Everything in side of me in situations like this wants me to go to the end, go all the way, go as far as I can before turning around. I know that if I am going to have long term personal success with my own training and that of being a personal trainer or coach for someone else, that I have to be able to rain myself in on these situations and I was able to do it this time.
I hit the trainer the day after for an easy recovery ride and then Friday went out for a 3+ mile run around what I thought my threshold pace might be. I actually felt really good after this run and was starting to believe that I might have a little more in my running legs than I thought. I am still running much slower than what I have in mind, but I am gaining some confidence in what I might be able to do if I structure things right and am smart about my build up throughout next year.
Week 8: Nov 14 – 20
This is the week that I started getting up a little bit earlier, so I could squeeze in a morning workout. I’d rather do all my training at one time, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t always have that kind of time in the evening and if I could knock out some Strength & Mobility work or very light cardio workout in the morning, then I could do my mild or higher intensity work in the evening. I actually exercised every single day that week and even rode my bike 6 of the 7 days without any major disruption to daily life.
I upped my running distance to 8 miles at around an 8:30 pace and then ran the last mile at a 7:10 pace. I was curious what I had left in me after 7 miles and was suprised. I also was thinking there might be something to that style of a workout as I build my distance. However, the hard effort for the last mile really set the fatigue deep and cost me extra time in recovering from the 8 mile distance. In hind sight, I should have just kept my tempo pace and moved on. My goal with the run right now, should be building up my distance/time so my feet, ankles, knees and hips can adapt to the distance running and I should work on the speed in the spring.
Week 9: Nov 21 – 27
I continued my 5 am workouts every day. It’s not quite a habit yet, but it is getting darn close. I have been really tired since that 8 mile run, but I forced myself up for a quick workout before starting work for the day regardless. My downfall at this point, is now I need to force myself to bed earlier.
Anyways, I have kept the running lighter this week with only 1 run. I was actually feeling decent while running and could have stretched out the distance a bit more. I was holding back some on the pace though and just trying to enjoy it. It was actually snowing while I was running and kind of peaceful.
I did change up my trainer workout this week and did a 120 rpm cadence interval workout one morning. I am getting very close to going into some structured base training for the bike, which I will talk about below and thought it was important to kick my rpms up a bit, since I had been doing such mild riding the past couple of weeks. I had the power set at 100 watts, so my heart rate did not spike much and I was able to get the legs moving without over working them.
Closing Out My Fall Training Transition
I have a couple weeks before I start my so called structured base training schedule. It will be something that I put together myself. By all means, you are welcome to follow along on Strava to see what type of work I am doing. I use Training Peaks to keep track and analyze everything, but I still load it all to Strava. I do have a rough idea of how I plan to incorporate the running into the plan and will use the early parts of my base training to bring it together.
My intention is to work it out in a fashion that is also usable by the masses of other age group folks with time crunched schedules. My goal will be the biggest gains with the least amount of work on a schedule that is easily repeated by the general population. That’s partly why I’ve started the habit of a slightly earlier wake up time and squeezing in a morning workout. I believe this will be key to keeping my strength and mobility work moving forward, along with incorporating the running and biking together.
I live for new challenges and working toward the next goal. I have a lot of work left to do across the board, but I have also made some really great gains. I was thinking today about my race performance in the Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival about 2 and half years ago in the spring of 2014… I got it handed to me in that race and finished like 5 or 6 from last place out of a 60+ person field. Aside from a couple bad races with nutrition or knee problems this past year and a half, I have been able to hang in the top 10 to 20% of the field for a variety of race distances.
Anyways, I am looking forward to next year and adding running to the mix of training is more about new challenges and testing myself than anything else. I will not only test myself with some running races, but test myself in my ability to jump into running while still working to get stronger on the bike. Next year will definitely be another year of growth in many ways for sure!