100 miles

7 Things I Learned Training for a Century

7 Things I Learned Training for a Century 

Things didn’t necessarily go as planned this summer. Despite that, I am happy to say I did my first Metric Century, the Salem Peach of a Century ride, and I’m happy I was able to end the summer with a biking event. I learned a lot of things this summer and wanted to share them with you.

1. Sign up for the event as soon as possible.

The last year or so I’ve been wishy-washy about my goals. I wanted to do the Hood River bike ride last spring and drug my feet until it was too late to sign up. I wanted to swim across the Columbia River in the Roy Webster Channel Swim and I’ve worked myself up into a panic over open-water swimming to the point where I don’t want to do it anymore and I have anxiety about doing a sprint-tri. This year, Michael and I planned on doing the Covered Bridges Century ride and I procrastinated signing up for it all summer long. This did NOT help my motivation for training.

Having a specific date on the calendar, paid for, registered for, and planning for has helped me train for so many events. I realized I NEED THAT. I need it written in stone otherwise I flake out. The fire I need to fuel my training is “I’ve signed up for this and I need to be ready by this date.”

2. Life WILL get in the way.

The weather, summer plans, busy schedules, equipment malfunctions…life will always get in the way of training. The trick is to figure out how to get around the crap life hands you. This summer was fraught with jam packed weekends, family events, and flat tires. It also seemed that the weather would not cooperate with my riding schedule early in the summer. Too many rainy days discouraged me from getting out there. As a result, my mileage was not great.

If you want it badly enough, you’ll find the time to fit in training.

3. It WILL be hard.

Training for a Century ride is a difficult thing because it’s easy to talk yourself out of it, or psych yourself out. It’s the same reason that I vowed to lose 50 pounds instead of 100 when I first started my journey. 100 pounds was really overwhelming, yet 50 seemed doable. The same goes for mileage. Start planning for 50, 60, 70, and stop getting freaked out about the number 100!!

4. You need to know how to change a flat tire.

I wish I could say that I can successfully do this. I’ve only done it once and it was in my kitchen after I took a class on bike maintenance–where there was no pressure or stress. I’ve had many, many flat tires and it’s so frustrating, especially when you feel incompetent. Note to self:  take another hands-on class and practice, practice, practice.

5. Food and Rest make a difference.

I can tell when I didn’t eat the right food the night before I ride my bike into work, or when I haven’t given my body enough rest. My body lets me know on those hills I have to bike up to get to work. My heart will be pounding, my legs will feel like they are on fire and I will feel like I won’t make it up that hill.

Like with anything (weight loss, running, etc), exercise is only one part of the equation. The food part is probably even more important. Eating shitty junk food will not get me to my goal.

6. The clothes make the (wo)man.

Having good gear makes a huge difference. If you are planning on riding your bike more than 20 miles at any time in your life, invest in some bike shorts or bib shorts. Seriously. Your butt will thank you. Cycling clothes may be unflattering spandex, but they also serve a purpose. They are skintight to prevent drag and they are made of material to wick moisture from your body and keep you comfortable and cool.

Speaking of gear, take your bike to a professional to get a once-over and make sure you are properly fitted. It makes a world of difference when it’s adjusted correctly and will prevent injuries.

7. The challenge is so worth the sweat, tears, pain, suffering, sore muscles and fatigue.

Seriously–it’s so worth it. Doing things like Reach the Beach, Hood to Coast and the Portland Century have made me a stronger, healthier person and I’ve never regretted challenging myself.

Challenging myself to fitness goals makes me happy. There will always be set-backs, things will rarely go as planned, but that won’t keep me from trying.

QUESTION: What have you learned from training for big fitness events?

Let’s Get Serious

Okay, I’m starting to get a little nervous about the Century ride. It’s about 3 weeks away and I feel like my training has not quite been what it should have been. In the past, Michael and I spent most of our weekends doing the 40 mile loop, or trying to get in a 50 mile bike ride. That plan seems to have been thwarted this year. I am biking to work much more than I ever did last year, so that’s something. We’ve just had things come up to prevent us from being consistent. Michael recently had the flu and was not up for going on a long ride, and then the weather got in the way, and then my bike tire exploded… Hence, my worry.

Sunday –

Sunday morning I planned on going for about a 20-30 mile ride. It was most likely going to be solo because Michael was still feeling under the weather. Even though I was nervous about biking alone after my bike tire incident, I was ready to do it. It had to be done. I woke up that morning to rain. Seriously? In the middle of July?! The day after a gorgeous, clear summer day? So not fair. I headed to the pool instead, angry at the weather for getting in the way, and of course when I was done in the pool it was clear skies and sunshine.

I decided to just do it. I got on my bike after lunch and went for a short ride–something was better than nothing. The skies still looked a bit iffy in one direction so I decided I would ride in our neighborhood. My training ride ended up being all hills. There was one hill that in the past would kill me and leave me delirious from fatigue and heavy breathing. I was SO happy when I rode up that hill without too much issue this time! Conquering that huge hill made me feel confident and happy! Like I said, it was a short ride but all hills so that was definitely a good way to practice for the event.

Time: 41:49
Calories Burned: 381
Distance: 9 miles

When I got home from my ride, we made dinner together–lettuce from my garden, grilled chicken sliced on top with avocado and croutons. Michael also made queso from scratch (he gets the weirdest cravings sometimes) and I had some queso with tortilla chips.

I felt like SOME miles were better than no miles. And I spent the next few days obsessively checking the weather in preparation for my next commute.

Tuesday –

I wasn’t sure if I’d be biking Tuesday because the weather was forecasted as “iffy” but it happily didn’t rain so off I went. I felt really strong during my morning ride, hills that used to have me breathing hard were easy, I burned less calories. All in all it was really nice.

The afternoon ride home was hot and humid and felt like I was breathing pea soup. So nasty. But my body felt fine and my tire didn’t explode! It was kind of weird that both my morning and afternoon commutes burned the same calories–it never happens like that!

AM Miles: 12.38
PM Miles: 11.02
Total Mileage: 23.4
Calories Burned: 972

And then it rained for a few days and I could finally bike to work again…

Friday –

I love it when I can tell my fitness level is improving for a specific activity. The way it shows itself first is that I start to notice my heart rate doesn’t get elevated as high doing the same activities. The most obvious one is swimming–it used to leave me breathless and panting and now I rarely get my heart rate over 140 unless I’m swimming with fish as big as my arm! With cycling, I notice it when I don’t burn as many calories on the exact same route and when I also climb hills with ease.

Friday was like that. I felt strong on the hills and didn’t get fatigued. Progress!

Total Mileage: 23.39
Calories Burned: 933 

Total miles for last training week: 55.79

So not even close to 100 miles. 🙁 It’s frustrating that I set this big goal for myself and then the training just kept getting sideways. The rain. The scheduling issues. Being out of town. Sickness. Injury. Not having a consistent training partner. Not really doing long rides on the weekends. The list of excuses is long and I’m angry with myself for letting them get in the way. Right now, I doubt I am ready to do 100 miles. I could technically do it, but I’d probably hurt myself those last 20.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the next few weeks. I am going to keep training and trying to fit in longer rides whenever I can. My hope is that I can at least get up to the ability to do 75 or 85 miles in the event I want to do. Time will tell.

QUESTION: Have you ever quit an event or race because training didn’t go as planned?