Dancing for the Stars (and Stripes) – A Masters Racer’s Tale by Lee Waldman
While we know many of you like reading about the top Elites, we all know the masters racer represents a big percentage of the cyclocross community. Colorado’s Lee Waldman aims to bring more exposure to the masters racer and content for our masters readers through a regular column this season as he builds towards his goal of a national championship. His installment #2 is below. Installment #1 is here.
by Lee Waldman
Here it is, less than a week till the first cross race of the season and I’m living in lactic acid Hell already. Not a good way to begin a season that I’ve put so much sweat into already. As many of you can relate, cyclocross for me is an year-long preoccupation. Immediately on crossing the finish line at the end of the season I begin analyzing. What worked and what needs tweaking or tossing so that I can improve? I’ve researched many training programs, using various bits and pieces that work for me physically and mentally. I also combine the traditional training methods with the not so traditional ones.
Don’t laugh, but lately I’ve incorporated ballroom dancing. Yep, you read it correctly. In Cyclocross Magazine, you’ve read how exercises like yoga, Pilates, and even windsurfing can help your cyclocross fitness through improving core strength. But for another way to achieve similar results and improve technique through corners, mounting and dismounting, and general position on the bike, take yourself down to your nearest dance studio and sign yourself up for some ballroom dance lessons. And who knows? By doing so, your significant other might start to appreciate your cyclocross.
Combining the two all seemed bizarre at first. Cyclocross is blue collar, down and dirty. Dancing is about women in gowns and men in tuxedos. The two just didn’t seem to fit together, but they did.
After I started ballroom dancing, I started riding better. Nothing else had changed: Intervals on Tuesday and Thursday, skills on Wednesday, easy days on Monday and Friday. But my technique improved. I glided over the barriers, flowed through the corners, and in general sat more comfortably on the bike. It wasn’t my fitness level that was being impacted but my sense of where my body was in space had improved tremendously. Dancers are hypersensitive to where their bodies are in space. The more I learned about that the better I felt riding. I’d found something new to add to my training that helped but wasn’t as hard on my body as some of the other training regimens I’d experimented with. Most of them had resulted in my being tired and slow half way through the season. Unfortunately the only one I had to blame was myself. I have this little problem…when it comes to training, I tend to overdo everything.
I’m famous for overtraining. If a training program says to do an hour of intervals, I’ll do an hour and a half. I tell myself that I’ll only go “easy”. Yeah, you’re all sitting there reading this and thinking to yourself, “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt”. And if you have, you know what happens, don’t you. You’re flying at the beginning of the season, tearing the legs off of everyone. And then . . . you crater. You can’t even get out of your own way.
This year I’m trying something really radical – rest days. It seems like such an easy concept doesn’t it? Let your body rest and it will come back stronger, but yet rest days are harder for me than intervals. Oh, the guilt. I should be training. Everyone else is going to be stronger than I am. It’s bike racing and I’m competitive.
It’s going to take a lot of discipline, but I think I can do it. I know it’s the right thing to do. This week is my first big test since our first weekend of cyclocross is coming up and already my legs are aching from two hard days on our cyclocross course last weekend. They hurt just walking up the stairs to my office, and I know I need to rest, I should rest…yet my instinct is to go train.
See you all in a couple of weeks after the first few races. Wish me luck.
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