After cyclocross nationals at Bend this past year, I spent sometime evaluating my relationship with bicycles, bike racing, and my friends surrounding those activities. My intention was to make some changes for 2011 including racing less throughout the year but still focusing on cross. The past few months, I've been riding a bunch but mostly intentionally keeping things very easy, going as far as to ride with a HR monitor to ensure that I'm staying aerobic in my efforts.
For this post, I'm going to try and include all three areas of my target blogging audience:
1. Biochem/science geeks
3. curious family and people interested in my cancer story
First, aerobic base isn't just something for old-school endurance athletes. Developing a solid base as an endurance athlete basically means that you adapt your body for the metabolic pathways that utilize oxygen, mainly burning fat to fuel cardiac and skeletal muscle at alactic, oxygen rich efforts. No matter how many threshold intervals you do, nothing substitutes for base building in terms of the biochemical mechanism. For cyclists, the best way to do this is to ride at somewhere between 70-75% of max-heart rate (zone 2) for a large percentage of riding volume. Doing this while fasting or while eating a diet pretty high in fat and low in crappy carbs also helps (although this can be debated, I remain pretty convinced that a relatively high-fat diet during base-building is where the money is in terms of aerobic progress).
Anyway, after cross season I decided I'd try and spend as much time as possible in 2011 building base prior to the 2011 cross season. I sold my road bike and told myself I wouldn't race on the road. Instead, I'm logging the miles on this beauty:
(please ignore the naked 2-year-old doing yoga in the background)
The nice thing about base building is that I don't feel as burnt-out and have time to climb a bit, eat well, hang out with the family, and and also to work.
This next week is a pretty big one for the Miller's. My wife Maggie is taking a stand towards something which is almost too-hard for the parents of a two-year-old to think about: childhood cancer.
Before I go on, I must re-iterate what I've said on other occasions of blogging, I really am not a t-shirt wearing, lance-worshiping, support-group kind-of cancer guy. In fact, the more I read mission statements along the lines of 'eradicating cancer from the planet' the more I want to crawl into a hole (what I mean by that, is that from a biological perspective, cancer represents the pinnacle of Darwinian evolution, and I don't think it will be eradicated basically ever). In other words, I often find cancer advocacy fund-raising to be slightly dubious.
Despite all that, I'm proudly standing by my wife next weekend when she takes part in a fundraiser for St Baldrick's foundation. Next saturday, she'll shave her head to raise money and to stand in solidarity with those affected by childhood cancer.