Riding right as rain

After about a week of my legs feeling pretty dead, they felt pretty good this morning.  So I decided on my first up-tempo ride in a week.  And while my speed wasn't great, my power numbers were up, much closer to where I want them to be (plus, I have yet to have problems with my replacement power meter.  *fingers crossed*).

My one surprise was that I didn't set any PRs on Strava.  I was feeling good, so I thought it likely (and was certainly hopeful).

The closest I came was tying my PR on one segment down near Shirlington.  In a way, it was surprising I was close, as I wasn't standing up for any of that.  In another, it wasn't, as I was going faster than a car on the road below me.

The point of all that is that the gentler rides I've been doing for the past six or seven days finally paid off.  And my heart rate was well up (avg 160, which is 9-10 bpm faster than I'd managed over the last couple weeks).  Rock on!

I'll definitely be coddling myself tomorrow.  Saturday, it'll depend.  I'd like to do the group ride where I always get my butt kicked, but we'll have to see if the timing works out.  If it does, I'll go as hard as I can.  If not, I'll do an easy (if long) ride, and maybe push it a bit more on Sunday.

Either way, the plan is for easy rides Monday and Tuesday, then another hard one on Wednesday.  Let's hope I feel up to that.

One interesting thing about the ride this morning is that I put down my camelbak, finally.  I got a little under-seat bag for my tools, and was going to use a water bottle (but forgot).

I have mixed feelings about it.  My left shoulder definitely appreciated not having the pack up there (it never even occurred to me that that could be a factor in that chronic problem), and I certainly felt more aerodynamic.  But it's certainly tougher to get a drink from a water bottle, so that might be enough to push me back that way.  For sure, I'll keep using the camelbak on very long rides (where, so far, I've used the camelbak for water, and a water bottle for gatorade, to good effect).

I should also point out that I recently ran across this video on training polarization.  The idea is, instead of pushing as hard as you can, as often as you can, you mostly go at jogging pace, or thereabouts (I wish he'd discussed it in different terms than lactate concentration.  I'm sure it's less ambiguous, but it's not terribly helpful if you don't have a way to measure that).  And then, a couple times a week (10-25% of your overall training), you go as hard as you can.

The goal, I think, is to be well-rested when you want to go hard, so you can go really hard.  That way, you get your heart rate more elevated, and get more benefit out of your hard workouts.

For me, that was a real eye-opener.  And that's why I was willing to do five or six easy workouts in a row and keep resting my legs.  I'm certainly going to be thinking about this for a while (I wonder about a couple factors related to the studies mentioned), but I won't be trying to hit zone four every day now, for sure.

Trying to do that had led me into what is described, at the end of the video, as the black hole.  Where your "easy" rides aren't easy enough, and your "tough" ones aren't tough enough.  I'm hoping it'll help me get over a hump.  Plus, I need to start doing intervals; that one's mostly a question of figuring out the mechanics.

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