I've been preaching the benefits of aerobic base building for a while now and we are 5 week in to it. I feel great! I'll tell you later the tangible benefits I've already seen but let me share with you what I'm seeing out on the road. Friday after noon we climbed Suck Creek Mountain. Suck Creek is about 6 miles long but had a nice and easy grade of 6%. We had about 8 miles or so to warm up so when we got to the bottom we were ready to go. Typically I climb this mountain as hard as I can. I've only climbed it a couple times for training, the other times were in 3S3M Challenge. As we started the climb, my friend set the pace a little too high. My HR went up to around 170 which I didn't want to do because of base training. Although it is expected that your HR exceed your base training zone while climbing, I still wanted to keep it down as much as I could. I told my friend I was going to back off and let my HR settle in. We both agreed and did so. What happened was very encouraging. After I let my HR settle down to about 160bpm, I started focusing on my pedal stroke and breathing. before I knew it my hr was well under control and I felt incredible. My legs felt stronger than normal and I was still maintaining an average speed that I normally keep at a lot higher intensity. The bottom line is, I was able to climb this mountain at the same level of performance (speed/time) but with much less effort. What this means is that my heart, my CV System, my aerobic system is getting more efficient and stronger.
Sunday afternoon we went for another base ride. This time with 4 other folks, two of which are known to try to push the pace even though we are doing a base ride. Here's what happened. We rode for 2 hours at a pretty good pace. I averaged 139 but often times found myself at 25-30 mph. Granted, some of that was while drafting (another post later) but for the most part, I know it was because of the time spent in base training. My heart is getting stronger and my body is adapting to the low intensity training. It's becoming very efficient at burning fat as fuel! This is huge for a former Zone 3 Hero. I can't wait til base is over and I can start adding intervals and some LT work. In the mean time, I'm committed to the "Fat Burning Challenge", thanks to Melissa! If you are doing it, hang in there. It works and if you go to another instructor's High Intensity class, don't fall victim to the madness. Stay disciplined! You'll be glad this summer when you are hammering down the road with a low average HR because you can!