Good Sleep or Ride Lots
This post is equal parts observation, confession and appeal. I posted a few weeks back in Rest as Hard as You Train about the necessity of giving your body plenty of recovery time as the miles increase. Ideally, we should all be getting 9 hours of sleep a night and a good nap after long base mile training. But apart from Saturday afternoon family nap time, I find this incredibly difficult. Maybe you do too.
In the 1970’s, when asked what his secret to training and winning races, Eddy Merckx famously responded, “Ride lots.” A great deal has changed in cycling in the past 40 or so years since The Cannibal was winning everything in sight: technology, training methods, and the sheer number of people who have fallen in love with rolling around on two wheels. But the connection between riding lots and success in cycling (however you define that) still has the ring of truth. In reality, if you take out the use of VO2 blood tests and time in the wind tunnel, the pro’s actually train in a very similar manner to you and me. Riding. The only difference is volume. And it’s a huge difference.
Observation: In order to maintain and possibly even improve as an extremely amateur bike rider and racer, I simply need to “ride lots.” Not as much as Eddy obviously but at least as much as Joel Friel thinks I should for my category. My goals aren’t too lofty, maintain some fitness and not get dropped too often.
I can’t think of a more time intensive recreational activity as cycling. A round of golf may take 5 hours but that’s usually not an everyday activity. Cycling takes time. Lots of it. It’s virtually a daily thing. As is often the case in life, when one says “yes” to one thing then one must also say “no” to something else. In my case, when I say yes to riding lots, I also say no to good sleep. I know that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. When you train more, you’re supposed to sleep more, giving your body the proper recovery time it needs.
Confession: But practically, to get the time in the saddle to be competitive in my race category, I need to get 3-4 pre-work rides (group rides usually) in during the week on top of long weekend rides. Usually, that’s between 6am and 8am. Which means a 5:30am wake-up call. Which translates to about 7 hours of sleep or less if I’m really disciplined and we can get our little one to bed on time. Add to that, I’ve been really enjoying this blogging thing but it’s a late night activity (the only free time I have to write). So that’s a late-night activity on top of an early-morning activity. Not a great combo for rest and recovery.
So for now, I have a choice: get good sleep or ride lots. I haven’t quite figured out how to do both and I may never do.
Appeal: Here’s a question for you: if you have a busy life full of work and family duties and privileges, have you figured out how to get good sleep AND ride lots? What does this look like for you? I’d love to hear how you balance it all. Thanks.