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Epic Training: Week Five

Oscar Foulkes October 10, 2016 Cape Epic No comments
There could be a life lesson in this. You may think that I’m talking about the mental aspect, in which riders “force heart and nerve and sinew” over the Cape Epic course. No, what I have in mind is the training, which on its own is a massive commitment, or so it seemed to me when I heard about other people doing it.

I print out every week’s training schedule, which gets posted on the fridge. Yes, I’m a digital creature, who lives in the cloud, as it were, but somehow it’s important that every week’s structure takes a physical form. I did the same thing with the schedule for my 33 radiotherapy treatments, except that then I crossed off each session as it was completed.

Having a plan, especially one in printed form, takes away negotiation. It simply becomes something that has to be done, regardless of the weather or how I feel. Being given this value – or, put differently, me having accepted the path – helps me to just do it.

During Monday’s conditioning session I managed to just about deadlift my body weight, which is big progress for me (for perspective, the guys who train at the same time as me weigh the same, but deadlift 100kg).

Tuesday’s ride was a warm-up, followed by three eight-minute climbs in a big gear, and then a cool-down. Thursday’s ride was billed as an easy spin, which it may have been by comparison, but there’s no such thing as a totally easy ride on the City side of Table Mountain. On Saturday, I did a warm-up followed by six repeats of heart rate in zone four for five minutes. These had ten-minute gaps to allow decent recovery. This was on the same route as Tuesday’s climbs.

Sunday’s ride was just two hours on the mountain, with high cadence, but keeping heart rate below zone four.

As usual, the more interesting stuff happened off the bike. On Wednesday night, I was invited to join the Val de Vie management team at the Cape Epic route launch. My connection to Val de Vie is that we are responsible for the hospitality (i.e. restaurant, bar and ballroom) on the estate, which now also includes the adjacent Pearl Valley. I was sitting next to Ryk Neethling, who professed to be getting chills (of awe and excitement) when watching the preview video. Mountain biking may be a different discipline to swimming, but training remains training. He told me about the long distance swimming he did, in which he swam 20km every day for eight years. He started talking about the importance of breathing, when we were interrupted by the next part of the programme. I’ve arranged to get the detail on the breathing, which is one of my top concerns at the moment. Swimmers spend a lot of time facedown in the water; I have no doubt they’d know something about breathing properly.

While on the subject of breathing, during the week we discovered that a racehorse I own a small share of has a paralysed arytenoid cartilage. This causes one vocal chord to block the airway, and requires tie-back surgery. Without this procedure he’ll never reach his full potential (which appears to be significant). Coincidentally, I have an interest in another racehorse – Sergeant Hardy – that also has a paralysis, but is apparently not affected by it (or he is such a superlative athlete that even with the disability he is still superior to many). Breathing appears to be a theme at the moment.

What we’ve learnt about Sergeant Hardy is that he needs to be extremely fit (you can read about him here and here). There’s no such thing as him going into a race slightly underdone. In my case, breathing only becomes an issue at elevated heart rate. In other words, the fitter and stronger I am, the less of an issue my breathing will be.

Process is an uninterrupted sequence of directed actions (much like a training programme).

There is magic in process.

Impaired breathing appears to not have affected Sergeant Hardy, now a winner of four of his five starts.

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