Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recovery Is Hard Work

Anyone who's ever followed a training plan has been there.  The calendar has active recovery on it and like many others, I have to make a conscious effort to not push too hard and take it easy.  I get ready for 90 minutes of easy spinning on the bike and then ...... the world happens.  Perhaps it's Mother Nature throwing elements at you like rain or wind.  Perhaps it's other people, cars, or animals on your route.  Perhaps it's your own foolishness exploring and finding rougher pavement or a hill you didn't know existed.  Either way, it's gonna be hard work staying relaxed.

The way the wind felt.
I just had one of these rides.  Part of it I knew to expect - after all, it's been windy out every day this week.  Still, whether you expect it or not, any ride in steady 15mph winds with 30mph gusts is going to require a little work.  Frequently I found myself riding on a lean fighting the crosswinds.  I even managed to keep my heartrate down and stay fairly relaxed on a couple mile stretch directly into the wind.  Well, that is until I got to the end of the street.

You see, on a recovery ride I don't ride anywhere new.  Familiar streets and surroundings usually means I can relax more.  On these streets I'm very aware of where all the dogs are and which ones give chase.  On this street I had already passed the only potential problem spot.  There's a dog kennel at the end that sometimes has a dog laying out front but she never even bothers to get up when I pass.  Today for some reason there were 4 dogs out front and they all wanted to chase me.  Add in the fact that I had been fighting a headwind for a couple miles and therefore was not moving at a great rate of speed plus the fact the kennel is on the corner by a stop sign and I was in a precarious spot.  Luckily, the dogs seemed content to chase and not attack and the traffic was clear so I was able to get out of there.  Lost in that was my nice, calm recovery heartrate.  So now I've got to let myself calm back down while still clenching the handlebars fighting a gusty crosswind.  There was relief ahead though - I'd soon be turning left and have the wind at my back for a short bit.

With my heartrate recovered thanks to the brief tailwind, I turned left onto one of my favorite farm roads to bike down.  It's fairly flat, scenic and only one house that ever has dogs loose.  The dogs at that house tend not to chase except for the collie.  Only problem is if the collie chases then the rest will follow.  Everything keys on that one dog.  Before getting there I pass a house that has 3 monstrous dogs, all of which reside behind nothing more than a low to the ground electric fence wire.  It can be a scary site sometimes as these 3 beasts run quickly towards you but they never cross the fence even though they wouldn't even have to jump to get over it.  Today something was different ..... one of the beasts was outside the fence.  By the time I noticed one was on the wrong side I had no choice but to ride by.  He didn't do anything until I passed him and then the chase was on.  As he waited so long to make a move I thought I would probably be fine just continuing my pace and that he'd give up quickly.  I was wrong.  No need to look back - that monster was gaining on me!  Darn it, gonna have to push it again.  He finely backs off as I round the corner to the house I mentioned earlier ..... and there's the collie watching me approach.

In the end my 90 minutes of "recovery" riding consisted of lots of 30mph wind gusts, 15+mph headwinds, and 3 separate chases by a total of 8 dogs (all large).  I managed to end my ride with an average heartrate of 143bpm (79% max) so I did a good job managing the excitement, but it was hard work trying to avoid working too hard.  So what elements challenge you on your recovery days?


Michael said...

Just found your blog. Very cool that your whole family is into fitness! Sounds like a very interesting "recovery" ride!

Mike said...

Wow, dog chases are scary and do spike the hr. Too bad they can't be timed for interval workouts vs. recovery workouts.

Lesley @ said...

That's why I treadmill recovery. Consistent, easy pace. The wind has sucked for all my long runs.

Next time, just let Scooby out and be chased down your own street and get it over with. :-)