A Cyclist’s Stimulus Package

cycling painWhat’s training all about?

Let’s see…you ride your bike hard so that you can ride your bike harder as you get stronger. Or…you hurt like heck now so that you don’t hurt so much a few months from now when you try to do the same ride.

Well, these are all true.

But how about looking at it this way:  riding hard provides a stimulus that invokes a physiologic adaptation.  Why of course, that’s it!

You put your body into a stress (which usually hurts anywhere from ‘some’ to ‘way much’) and your body changes itself so that if you’re stupid enough to call on it to do the same thing in the future, there will be some changes waiting for you.  The ole body won’t be caught unaware again, my friend.

But in order to fortify the troops, your body needs a bit of time to regroup.  If you’re the compulsive type who just keeps hammering day after day, there’s no ‘down time’ to fortify.

Of course this isn’t new news to just about anyone with a gnat’s awareness of exercise physiology.  It’s just that the folks over at cycling-inform.com termed the whole process ‘developing the stimulus that invoked the adaptation’.

It sounds so simple when it’s stated that way that I’m tempted to forget the butt-load of pain that’s involved.  When I’m training hard my eyesight dims, my hearing diminishes, and legs are screaming.

Now that’s some stimulus!

My old school mentality was not much more complicated than ‘the more you hurt, the faster you’ll ride’.  It certainly wasn’t a mindset of ‘I’m stimulating my body to make some adaptations’.

I think I’m going to change my perspective.  It’s a lot less daunting to start out on a ride thinking about stimulus packages than it is thinking about ‘suffer-fests’.  I know that facing one hard workout after another during the training season sure took it’s toll on the enthusiasm level.

The other tenet we embraced back in the olden days was ‘hard-easy-hard-easy’.  We knew that you couldn’t just keep on hammering your body day after day without tearing yourself up.  Now the perspective is one of ‘body adapting’.

That is another perspective that seems easier to stomach.  Whereas in the bad ole days we had the idea that we were giving our body a day of rest so that we could beat the crap out of it as soon as it got it’s breath back; I can now look at those off-days as the actual time period when the ‘real work’ is being done.

Those are the days when the strengthening happens.  Those are the days when the ‘stimulus package’ has been delivered, and the adaptation (a whole new faster, stronger, higher leaping animal) is taking place.

Now my little pea-sized brain is thinking through this idea of ‘stimulus’.  Is there no way to provide the stimulus without the mind searing pain?

I’ll be thinking it over, and if I come up with an idea I’ll keep it to myself.  I surely don’t want to give up any advantage I might have over my fierce cycling adversaries.

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