I talked about challenging ourselves to motivate training, but carefully choosing the challenge, in a previous post. I recommended there that shorter challenges are probably best to motivate training that leads to optimal health. I violated my own rule recently when I decided to train for a century, decidedly not a short challenge. I’m glad I did the century as a one time check-off item, and it was nice to see that my old body can still do a brisk 100 mile ride. In retrospect I was looking for an adventure with the century and got that mixed up with a challenge.
For me an adventure is doing something new, like a hike, bike ride, or combination of the two, somewhere you haven’t been before, and perhaps farther than you’ve go before. But it’s not necessary to push the pace, just do it at whatever’s comfortable now.
That started out to be exactly what I intended with the century. Just do an all-day ride, cover a lot of ground, and see some nice scenery. My training rides started out being at a comfortable pace, just adding a bit more time to them each week, and were very enjoyable. Then at some point I decided my average speed, down around about 13 mph, was disappointing. So I started pushing the pace in my training. Now I indeed got faster but the rides were not as much fun. And I do see in retrospect how it threw my training out of balance.
Trying to get my cruising speed higher, while covering continually longer distances, became the all-encompassing goal. I had more difficulty mustering enthusiasm for things like strength training or short intervals to maintain high-end speed, so these got somewhat neglected. I was smart enough not to neglect them entirely. As a rule of thumb you can maintain an area of fitness for a good period of time (as in not letting it degrade, but not improving it either), by doing it about once a week. So that’s what I did with things like strength training and higher intensity aerobics.
Another area that slipped was cleanliness of my diet. It became easier for the little voice to whisper “c’mon, you had a long hard ride today, indulge a little!” This happened often enough that I gained a few pounds during the few months I was training for the century. The problem with “indulge a little” is that I have a tendency, if I let myself, to slide down the slippery slope towards compulsive eating. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve had good success in the past fighting this off by making freedom from compulsions the main focus of my eating choices. The few pounds that need to come off can do so as a byproduct. It’s time to get back to being stricter about that.
No harm done, I caught all this in plenty of time. But I’m glad to be getting back to more balanced training. I’m definitely emphasizing strength training and higher intensity training, and focusing on shorter challenges that will motivate me to enjoy these aspects more. Adventures are also hopefully in my future too, but at a comfortable pace.