Intervals: A Misunderstood Practice

In the Science fiction story of, “Ender’s Game” a kid is chosen to lead the human race (through a group of elite students) to battle an potentially deadly alien race. Through his cunning abilities and heightened sense of awareness Ender is able to study and understand his enemies on such a deep level of understanding that he is able to find their weakness and exploit them to become victorious. While he is moving through the ranks and training to become the leader everyone wants him to be, he begins receives subliminal messages from alien race and begins to question the motives behind the decision to exterminate this unknown species.

*Spoiler alert

In the end he realizes that this alien race was misunderstood from the beginning and thanks to Ender, they have become a victim of genocide (or as future stories in the series call it, “Xenocide.”) Due to the misunderstanding of the alien demeanor, they are seen as enemies and must be removed as a threat to ensure the safety of humankind.

After some deep thinking and some reading, including this article  I then noticed a resemblance to Ender and I. I’ve had the exact same relationship with intervals as Ender and the alien species. A basic misunderstanding has classified this concept as a despised enemy in my eyes. This is an ugly quality I have seen not only in myself, but of our society as a species. What a self-destructive way to inhibit growth and understanding to further prosper in our own success.

Towards the end of the first book and towards to the beginning of the second in the series, Ender finds one last fertilized alien egg with a queen that is able to reproduce on it’s own and vows to find a suitable planet for it to live on (since he blew up their home planet) and finally understand them and form a relationship. I have decided that I will go this route and attempt to understand the purpose of this training technique.

First I had to realize and figure out a genuine reason that made sense to me as to why I was going to incorporate intervals into my riding. After reassessing my riding, there was a sense of isolation and disconnect with my reasoning to do intervals. I thought it was what got people to win races. That is was the key to success and as redundant as they may seem, they kept the fast twitch muscles conditioned for the arbitrarily fast then slow pace of a race. What I failed to do was to include myself into the reasoning. The zen side of me is perceiving intervals as a way to further progress in self-awareness and being aware of one’s capabilities for the future.

I still want to ride fast, which is what enticed me to further explore the missing links in my lack of progression over the past years of racing. For those of you who I’ve broken my racing decision to fact-to-face, this is the biggest reason why I am choosing the hiatus rate. To include my, “Ride everywhere” philosophy, I tend to favor longer, sustained efforts over that of explosive sprinting, which would be justified through my interest in incorporating climbing into my riding as much as possible.

After reading the above mentioned article multiple times, I was able to not only identify what my strengths were, but what my weakness were. From there I was able to piece together just what it was about intervals that I thought were not necessary. After my ride on Tuesday, I was able to sustain an effort for an increased amount of time leading up to a short but steep hill climb. I had timed things so that once the hill got steep, I would break off and try to recover on the downhill. This never happened. I ended up getting dropped from the pain pack and latching on to a group that was almost one minute behind. On top of that, I ended up taking multiple pulls beyond my threshold just to close the gap I myself had created. This entire 10K stretch was spent anaerobically to which I had never fully recovered from until the last quarter of the ride. The article has made it clear that I need to work on the speed at which my body is able to recover from oxygen deficit.

After identifying what my strengths, weaknesses, and goals are, I am slowing considering getting back into the more focused aspects of bike riding. I never realized intervals worked for both rider types who had more of one muscle type than the other. I just thought they were for meat-head sprinters who mostly rode the track and criteriums that were pancake flat. Which also explains why I showed such negative feelings towards that type of training. I’m beginning to realize that it wasn’t the intervals themselves that got on my nerves, it was the personality types tied to the intervals. The arrogant racer types that love bragging and boasting their training plans their coach has put them on. Since I have taken up racing I have heard at least one hundred different training itineraries from a large amount of racers and can’t seem to remember a single instance in which I asked what their secret to success and progress was. The point I am trying to make is that not everyone wants to hear your workout routines, bro.

You can share with me riding recaps of how you scaled some mountain that was so steep, you went through the atmospheric layer and the Earth’s gravitational pull to get some rad shots for your collecting.

Like the one's I got today
Like the one’s I got today

On the other hand, I don’t want to hear how you did one 2x3x4x5x6 and the rest of your week’s schedule your coach has planned out for you. I want the story, not statistics. I want a learning experience, not binary code and numerical values.

Getting back on topic, I have a few short term objectives I will be incorporating into my weekly routines instead of just trying to ride at a sustained pace through out the entire ride. Don’t get me wrong, I still would be found driving to a remote location to ride for a hour, only to drive back home and be done for the entire day. I still will commute to work and don’t plan on decreasing my riding time very much. It keeps what little discipline I have alive. If a ride/route has an average gradient of 8% or more, or is pancake flat, I will consider that an opportunity to do oxygen deficit training of short efforts with short recovery time. If there is more personality to a route, I will consider this an opportunity to strengthen my aerobic intervals. With the overall goal to have the short efforts compliment the aerobic intervals by trimming down the time it takes to recover from said efforts.

So that is my plan. This seems to make the most sense to me so until otherwise mentioned, please keep your advice to yourself. I am not saying don’t chime in with your thoughts, just think a little more about the message you wish to present and what it is I am asking of the reader (to listen.) That’s all I got for now. The next time you see me will probably be on two wheels trying to figure my life out. Until next time….



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