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?