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Get better by getting out of your comfort zone.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

Miles per week: April 9, 2012 - November 4, 2012

Miles per week: April 9, 2012 – November 4, 2012

I thought this chart showing the number of miles I’ve ridden each week was interesting (I didn’t start using Strava until April of this year, so that’s all the history I have). Up until the end of August my highest weekly total mileage was just 42.4 miles; it was at the end of August (right after the ~10 days I took off when Loki got sick) that I flipped the switch and started getting serious about my cycling training.

This was about the time I started riding with Mike Simmons, and as I think back there was a key event that triggered the change in my training. That event was the 42-mile Epic ride at Santos that Mike, Jim Beyer and I did together in early September. Mike invited me on this ride right after I’d taken 10 days off from training to deal with my sick pup, and I only had a week to prepare for the ride. 42 miles, at the time, was a new MTB distance PR for me, and I knew it was going to be a challenge to complete the ride–especially due to the 10 days I took off from exercise (and my diet sucked during those 10 days, too). I came through and completed the ride, but it was tough.

I came away from that Epic inspired (both by Mike and by Jim), and I decided to get serious about my training. I started putting in more miles on the trails, I trained harder and I started riding with more people.

Then my training took a direction I never anticipated: I bought a road bike, got a Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer and added an all-new indoor cycling training area to my home gym.

The original idea was to use my road bike primarily to improve my cardio for mountain biking, but turns out I quite like road cycling, too. Even though I’m new to road cycling, I think it plays to my natural strengths and abilities. With just a couple of real road rides under my belt, I’ve placed surprisingly high on some of the Strava segments around the popular and highly competitive Sugarloaf/Buckhill area. I feel with a lot of hard training and more experience I could be a pretty tough roadie.

Of course all those miles and all that hard training will only improve my mountain biking.

True story.

True story.

I’d have to say that the single largest factor that has improved my riding is forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone. For me, this meant checking my ego and riding with people who are better than I am. Once I started riding with people with more experience and better bike handling skills, my riding improved by leaps and bounds.

Now that I’m hooked on road cycling, I’m going to be going on regular group rides with people who have many years of experience under their belts. There’s a metric Century (62 mile) group ride this Saturday, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I know I’m going to learn a lot on that ride.

As they say, “If you want to get better at something, do that something over and over.” That’s true, but it’s not enough. Another axiom that I think is even more important is represented in the graphic to the left. Putting yourself in challenging and uncomfortable environments is the fastest road to improvement.

John Stone Fitness Comments

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