LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along
One man's junk ...
I came to a startling conclusion the other day.
I was reading an article about cycling training in some magazine or another and was chastised yet again to “cut out junk miles.”
Junk miles are the bane of many an endurance athlete. As any serious cyclist (or runner or triathlete or cross-country skier or volkswalker) knows, junk miles are those rides/runs/swims/walks that don’t improve at least one aspect of an athlete’s performance.
That is, if you’re not honing your sprint, or improving your lactate threshold, or bumping your VO2 max, you’re wasting your time.
My epiphany: Just about all my miles are junk miles.
I can’t remember the last time I strapped on a heart-rate monitor. I can’t recall trying to ballpark my LT threshold or calculate my wattage. I don’t do hill repeats or tempo rides or intervals.
Basically, I just get out and ride.
There’s a saying in cycling.
Actually, there are a lot of them, and I’ve found the bulk of them are annoyingly redundant, like, “If you want to ride faster, you have to ride faster,” or, “If you want to ride in the mountains, you have to ride in the mountains.”
Thus the formula for a pithy cycling-savvy saying is simple repetition: “If you want to grease your bottom bracket, grease your bottom bracket.”
Along those lines is this old saw: If all your rides are leisurely, you’re training your body for nothing but leisurely rides.
Back when I was preparing for a 100-mile (century) ride, I stretched my longest rides so I’d be ready to go long. When I was preparing to ride in the mountains, I did more climbing. Before I headed off to Texas in the middle of the summer, I did more rides in the heat of the day.
But now that I don’t have a target event — no races, no epic rides — on the horizon, I just ride. I might throw in a sprint every now and then for good measure, or I might push the pace on a hill, but really I’m just rolling up junk miles.
And I’m OK with that, but I do take issue with the term.
Junk miles suggest there’s no benefit at all in the saddle time, and that’s just wrong. I might not be getting faster. I might not be going uphill better, or capable of riding longer.
But junk miles? If what I’m doing is junk, I wonder what to call sitting behind the wheel of a car, cursing gas prices and traffic and vegging out on talk radio.