Train On the Hills and Race On the Flats

“The bicycle is a curious vehicle.  Its passenger is its engine.”  ~John Howard

    (The breakfast of this champion.)

I finished up a successful week of workouts on Easter Sunday with a post-church bike ride and a pre-dinner run in Percy Warner Park. Training outside on the bike has proven to be a completely different experience than training on the stationary bike at the Y. At the gym I can flip through channels, return texts and e-mails on my iPhone or if I’m feeling lazy, decrease the size of the hills I’m on with a couple flicks of  a switch. It’s much easier to get a sub-par workout on the stationary bike, than it is outside on hills that won’t flatten out no matter how much I curse them. I’ve been a little unsure of how to tackle the hills from a technique perspective. Do I stay in the saddle or do I stand? When do I shift gears?  Do I keep it slow and steady or do I sprint for all I’m worth until I’m up and over? I’ve been reading some articles on the subject (How To Climb Like A Champ by Fred Matheny)  and am going to be posing these same questions to my coach. I will post his answers when I have them. In the meantime I can only share with you what NOT to do when tackling hills.

1)  DON’T stop at the bottom of the hill, get off your bike or look at the hill and verbally           assault it for being such a b*&%^.

2)  DON’T stop in the middle of the climb, get off your bike and verbally assault yourself for being such a wimp.

 3)  DON’T make it over the hill only to have an embarrassing public display of bad temper when you realize there are 5 more hills just like it between you and home.

4)  DON’T run in the front door after the ride, beeline for your Easter basket and stuff the entire contents of it into your mouth. (See photo below.)


  (Chocolate covered almonds contain protein, yes they do.)

The triathlon I will be competing in is on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola and is as flat as a pancake. My biggest hope is that after suffering through all of the hills on my current training routes, I will be able to knock out the 18 mile course in Pensacola with no problems or emotional outbursts. I will pray for a day with no strong wind coming in off of the Gulf of Mexico. Easy, no breezy, please.

Sunday’s second workout was a direct result of not wanting to completely negate the effects of a strenuous but great bike ride with a basket full of candy. I am lucky to now live two miles from Percy Warner Park in Nashville, which is a great place to run, walk, bike, picnic or nature watch, (both people and animals.) I decided to hit the trails before heading to an Easter cookout with friends, knowing that in addition to the candy, I would most likely be encountering additional holiday-oriented dietary challenges. The stairs that lead up to the trails are a killer workout in themselves even if running them didn’t quite burn off 47 chocolate covered almonds worth of calories. (A small dent is better than no dent at all.) I ran faster than normal, which I am going to attribute to the sugar rush I was experiencing. There is a positive in every negative!

(Percy Warner Stairs from the bottom. They are much steeper in person, I promise.)

(From the top of the stairs)


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