The Art of Adventure Training Sessions
The long ride, the track workout, the tempo run, the threshold swim… There are key sessions with very detailed numbers we need to hit when developing as athletes. There is also a piece of development that has nothing to do with numbers and structure. Some of the most influential sessions in an athlete's career have nothing to do with numbers. Let me share with you some that left an impact on me.
- The “Got Your Wallet?” session – I used to turn up at my coach’s house on my bike or for a run and sometimes he would ask, “Got your wallet?” That meant one thing: we are going far enough today that I’m not even sure how long it’s going to take to get back. It also meant I’m not telling you where we are going so you better go fast enough to hang onto my wheel and not get dropped so you don’t get lost. I can remember wondering how long could I keep going this hard when there was no end in sight.
- The “It’s good dirt” ride – I would head up into the mountains on a route that looked like it was going to be good packed dirt for a road bike. I can remember one specific time I was headed up a canyon in Colorado and the good dirt was actually newly laid and grated deep dirt. It was so hard to get up it you couldn’t stand or you’d spin out, you couldn’t go back down because it was too deep to descend. I had been climbing at what was nearly a standstill for hours and there was nowhere to go but up until it ended and I had no idea how long that was going to take. My back was on fire! But it was keep going or never get out. At one point I literally got giddy from fatigue and got Daffy Duck stuck in my head repeating, “This is ridiculous!” with a spit and a spatter. I couldn’t stop laughing and the more I laughed, the more my legs screamed. That was a memorable ride!
- The “Such high altitude that I can’t believe I’m not going fast for how hard this is” brick – I would ride for three hours up a canyon to a lake that was at 10,000 feet. I had my run shoes and run shorts packed in my jersey pocket. The lake that was a little over a mile around, and was hilly but with good pavement. I would do ten times around the lake at race intensity (I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to run hard at 10,000 feet but it feels like death), then change back into the cycling gear and ride back home.
With so much focus on accuracy of execution it’s easy to forget about the art of just hardening up and go out there and see what you are made of. These are the sessions I always pulled from when it got tough in the middle of a big race. Don’t be afraid to get out there and see how much adventure you can handle, I promise you it will make you stronger than you ever imagine and you’ll have good stories for the rest of your life.