Saturday, March 7, 2009

February Blahs?

It's funny that February is the shortest month of the year, because for athletes prepping for the upcoming race season, it can sure feel like the longest. For this reason, February usually ends up being the month to pack the bike into a box and head to warmer climates ... with palm trees, sun and lots of climbing if you're lucky. Changing the routine on the monotony of base-miles shakes things up and sets up the next phase of training perfectly. 

Never one for the conventional, I threw caution to the wind and instead of loading up on miles, took a refreshing jaunt across the country on a snow mission. 

While the obvious drawbacks to skipping a training camp are, well, obvious -- I'd argue that the mental benefits help make up the difference. And it's not like I lazed around the whole time. For the seven days I was away, I did what I could without a bike around (although now that I know what Squamish -- home base -- looks like in February, I won't make that mistake again!). Skiing and running kept me well maintained. With almost 80cm of fresh snow on Whistler and Blackcomb, I was rudely reminded how hard skiing can be on the ol' quadriceps. 

But the most enjoyable time I had to myself were the hours I spent running in Squamish. Coming from the -20s of Toronto, imagine my surprise to be overdressed in just a light jersey and trackies. The sun was shining when my running buddy, Timber, and I set out. At first, my view was narrowly focused on my HRM and ipod. Then my gaze widened to include blue skies, mountains, thick brush, rocks and a river. Eagles flew over my head and Timber showed me the way to the mountain bike trails. I was grinning like an idiot. 

Back at the house, I found out I can still do lot's of pushups. Next time I won't make the mistake of leaving a bike at home. 

So after a week of relaxing and some light maintenance I was a little apprehensive about returning to spin class with the RPM crew. My first night back, the rest of the class was gearing up to complete a 20 minute time trial at full power. I had completed mine before I left, but I felt so good being back on the bike, I jumped in and improved my score by almost 10 beats on my average heart rate. Not only that, I did it feeling like a million bucks. 

So while I would never knock an opportunity to hit up training camp, a week in the mountains of BC to clear my head and rest my body doesn't seem to have done any harm either. 

A morning run by the river

Blue skies

Some moss by the trail side

Timber, my new favourite training partner

Hip-deep powder for the quads


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