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But I'm not an enduro

by Carl Brewer last modified 2011-04-07 20:33
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Dealing with peer pressure and isolation - forewarned is forearmed

(a page from The Book)

Unless you're lucky enough to be in a dedicated sprint squad with a coach that understands sprint, you're probably almost daily having to deal with well meaning sabotage.

We all identify as cyclists, we race bikes.  Our enduro friends go on long rides all the time, they get out on the road, they drive the bunch, they roll turns at high power outputs.  They're not happy unless they've clocked up a gazillion training stress points in their power meter analysis software, averaged 85% or higher with their heart rate or some other metric that they care about and will brag about at the post-ride cafe or on Internet forums, facebook and the like.  They want you to do it too. Peer pressure will be high, you'll want to pull turns, not get dropped on the hills, eat the pasta at the club dinners and so on.

If we go on road rides, they're mainly for recovery, we should be riding them easy, REALLY easy!  We do our intensity in bursts so short that an enduro hasn't even worked out what's going on before we're sitting down recovering half the time.

Probably 99 percent of cyclists (racing or otherwise) are enduros and what they do is wrong for us if we want to be the best sprinters we can be.  Our clubs have club rides, we're pressured to come on them (but do the enduros come to our sprint sessions?!).  Our clubs and coaches run camps, again, we're pressured to go on them, sometimes the pressure is just to be with our friends, who, most likely, are enduros.  It's important to keep our friends, but it''s also important that they realise that we're not aiming for the same goals so our training is very different to theirs.  So are our dietary requirements.

Our club racing programs are almost entirely enduro focussed, it's rare for a club or regional track meeting to have any pure sprint events.  The organisers probably don't 'get' sprint, they might throw you a bone every now and then with a short scratch race (10 laps! that's a sprint, right? NO!) or if you're really lucky a keirin or a sprint derby.  This is doubly difficult if you're a junior and many well meaning cycling people will be telling you not to specialise.  In our opinion, they're wrong; if you want to be a pure sprinter, we suggest you specialise as early as possible. Especially if you're a girl.

Even well meaning and experienced club coaches and experienced riders will apply pressure on you to race road, or longer endurance track races and to do long, hard road rides, because that's what they did in the old days and it worked for them.  Current thinking is that road racing and lots of road riding is a speed killer and we're all about speed.  You're going to need to stick to your guns and be prepared to be a bit special.  You're a sprinter, that's par for the course, all sprinters are a bit special.  We're at the pointy end of the sport and our lives can be a little lonely.

So what to do?  How do you deal with this pressure to be like the enduros when you're not?

The most important thing is to accept that you're not the same and to set limits.  If the club ride happens and you want to go or feel as if you have to, tell everyone you're not going to pull a turn and that you're going to either noodle up the hill or wait for them at the bottom.   The smart ones will respect that.  Stay off the high-carb stuff they eat after their rides. You, as a sprinter, do not need to carbo load.  You're not glycogen depleted.  It just doesn't happen to sprinters.  Be strong, you're a rare breed.  Stick to it, and the next time your enduro mates ask you to help them move heavy stuff (they will, you're the strong one!) they will appreciate your differences!

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