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Superman days?(14 posts)

Superman days?DougSloan
May 1, 2002 5:58 AM
Ever have what I call a "Superman Day?" Every so often, maybe just 2 or 3 times a year, out of the blue, I'm able to ride far beyond my normal abilities.

Last night was one. Despite doing almost exclusively long distance training for 6 months, on the local team Tuesday night at the races I was able to easily maintain speed with Cat 1's (I'm an also-ran 4) on a 3.8 mile loop with a climb doing 8 laps. They weren't fooling around, either, as we were dropping people left and right constantly. I would pass strong Cat 3's huffing and puffing while I was almost conversational. I was bridging up to breaks at 28 mph. I wasn't even barely stressed. Even afterward, I felt fresh, like I could go again.

Last summer I had another day like that, where I set a PR without even trying up a 2,000 foot 18% climb, doing it in 33 minutes when my prior PR was 38 -- a huge difference. At the same time, I held pace with a strong climber that normal beats the pants of me, and his PR on the hill was 32 minutes. I could not figure it out then, either.

When these times come, it is with no apparent cause and effect, and I can be worthless a week later. It's like I just borrowed someone else's body for day. I don't get it.

Anyone else experience this phenomenon, or have any potential explanation for it -- like biorythms, alignment of the stars, something in the water??

Doug
re: Superman days?brider
May 1, 2002 6:41 AM
This is where having a detailed training and racing log comes in handy. What were you doing in the couple weeks before those "Superman" days? Can you find a commonality between them? There's probably SOMETHING in there that you're missing. But, yes, we all tend to have days where we transcend ourselves.
re: Superman days?hrv
May 1, 2002 7:32 AM
My Superman days this year were of a lot lesser scale than yours, but it's all relative anyways.

In February, during the group ride where I normally am struggling to keep up, I was almost the strongest rider, and had to slow down for the others to keep up! I never got tired, climbed with ease in harder gear than normal, took way longer pulls than ever. Man did I wish it was race day!

Has to be some sort of mini-peak, don't you think? Haven't been able to duplicate it since, but also haven't taken detailed notes on how I ate/slept/felt either.

Just like those days when I go to shift into the big ring and realize I had been in it for who knows how long. That's right: I'm the man!
Had one in a race once.allervite
May 1, 2002 8:34 AM
Showed up to a MTB race that I was training through. It started out on a fast downhill and I lost my spare tube and pump. I rode a little ways trying to decide what to do. I decided that the 30 mile + course was too far to walk out of if I flatted so I went back for the tube just as the climb began. I lost a ton of time and just put my head down and chased as hard as I could. I figured I'd blow and just limp in, but I kept recovering. I past rider after rider until pretty soon I had a group about 50 yards behind me on the climbs. As they gained ground, I would go harder. We had the rubber band thing going on for miles then I never saw them again. I came upon a lone rider and we rode together for a while then that rider sat up on a false flat. As I was approaching the finish I thought I was off course because I was not seeing many tire tracks on the course. I rode up and a few people clapped, and there were only a few riders milling around (DNF's). I walked over to the results table and there was my name at the top of the list. I beat a guy who just had a top 20 at a Norba National. I never came close to him again.
you betchalonefrontranger
May 1, 2002 8:38 AM
I've definitely had those days.

Didn't you just recently post on the General Board (followed by your re-adoption of your old handle) that you had a really bad event experience? Following that, didn't you kind of decide to back off on your training regime? The kind of mental apathy you described is the classic "burnout" phase of overtraining.

My guess would be that you were somewhat or very overtrained, and as soon as you "tapered" your training back, your CNS and muscle systems got a chance to recover and catch up, to wit, you have now "peaked".

Am I right? If I am, the next step is to take 7-10 days or so to go hiking with the spouse or ride your mountain bike, then start back with the road thing. I'm sure you already know this, but you'll be amazed at how fresh this keeps you.
Is that what the mysterious "peak" is?DougSloan
May 1, 2002 1:03 PM
Let's see, a week ago I started the 24 hour timetrial, yet dropped at 130 miles. However, I was really hauling butt up to that point -- a pretty good workout.

In the month before that I was doing 200-250 mile rides no weekends at 19-20 mph, and timetrial type workouts in between. Before that, I was doing long mountain rides of 100-130 miles.

Did some awful road racing for a month or so before that.

Since last week, I've done 3 rides only, each around 35 miles, but at around 85-90% of max hr.

I never really knew what a peak was. I thought it was just working out then resting up.

I guess the key here is peak when you want to, rather than at some unexpected, almost arbitrary time during a meaningless workout.

You know of any way to extend a peak -- continue hard work or continue resting?

Thanks.
Bingolonefrontranger
May 1, 2002 2:45 PM
"since last week I've done 3 rides only, each around 35 miles, but at around 85-90% MHR"

That is EXACTLY how you'd taper to bring on a peak; by dramatically lowering the volume and upping the intensity.

I taper for crits by going from 6 to 3 days a week, 45 minutes to an hour max. During that time I only do something like short sprints or speedwork, maybe 6 short max bursts, just something to keep the snap in the legs.

As far as how to extend? I am told that you can carry a peak for around 10 days max, then you will go "over the hill" pretty quickly. Keep your workouts to 3-4 days a week max, short and intense. Once you find you are falling over the edge, let it go, and start the "recovery" phase - this is where you have got to go back to base type mileage for a couple weeks before starting back on a build cycle. I typically start riding the MTB at this point to help myself lower the intensity without getting too bored.

Welcome to the real world of periodized training!
oh, and another thinglonefrontranger
May 1, 2002 2:59 PM
Whether or not you are overtraining, you will feel like absolute $h!t on a brick during the last and hardest part of a proper build phase; similar to what you described at the 24-hour. This is because you have deliberately put all your systems into overload and they're crying for a break - which you then provide during the taper week. The pros talk about this as "dead legs", and Carmichael once mentioned in a training article that he actively seeks to have his riders crying for mercy at this point.
thanksDougSloan
May 1, 2002 7:02 PM
Thanks, that's good info. I appreciate it.

Doug
I had one two weeks ago . . .ChrisA
May 1, 2002 8:56 AM
at the 1st mtn bike race of the year. I usually finish in the top 25% in expert class, but had never finished in the top 3 or within a couple of minutes of the winner. I was always 5 minutes back or more. Well two weeks ago against 60 other guys I went out hard and rode with the lead group of 5 guys through the first of 5 laps. Then it was 4 guys, and 3, and 2, and on the last lap I put my head down and put a 45 second gap on 2nd place.

I chalked the performance up to throwing caution to the wind and not caring whether I would recover from that hard effort. I think I was always tentative about going too hard up a climb for fear of not recovering. During the race I attacked the course at certain points without caring about how hard I was going. Personally, I think it was the 100 hours of base miles I put in. Prior to that race, I had done exactly 2 intensity rides. Go figure.
re: Superman days?Len J
May 1, 2002 9:51 AM
Mine is always related to rest & nutrition.

If I'm training particularly hard and don't ride for several days, the next ride is always (for me) way above normal. Maybe it's caused by overtraining & recovery.

The other thing that I notice, particularly as I get older is that if I hit the perfect nutritional balance (which I can't seem to capture), I ride dramatically stronger.

Len
Unfortunately, they're never on race days...greg n
May 2, 2002 6:10 AM
They usually come on the Tuesday night or Saturday morning group rides. And like you said, I feel burnt the next week.
There's a good book on Trascendent experience in sportsColnagoFE
May 2, 2002 7:04 AM
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140194924/qid=1020351906/sr=1-12/ref=sr_1_12/103-6083054-5671866

Interesting book about how many record breakers and such feel a sense of effortlessness when they do incredible feats.
emphathizeDuane Gran
May 2, 2002 8:14 PM
I've had a few of these happen. This year I did a training ride and felt unstoppable. It was mysterious. I averaged something like 37 km/h over a 2 hour ride at a tempo HR (about 2 km/h above normal). At one point I was climbing a hill and actually decided to breath through my nose for the hell of it because I was feeling so strong. I can't explain it, but some days the blood is thicker or something.