Week one of BaseCamp training only has two days left, but these days include the first "long" rides of training: a 2 hour FTP test tomorrow and 2 and a half hour ride Sunday. I already struggle with spending more than 2 hours pedaling without going anywhere, and I struggle with the FTP tests as well, mainly because I always question if I really went as hard as I could. The reaction I seem to always have is, "Could I have pushed myself harder—to the point of needing to collapse after the ride?" Is that healthy? Or even practical? I wonder if there is something more I can tap into if I just dig a little deeper.
I think curiosity about unrealized potential is healthy, and probably appropriate for tomorrow's ride, but today, my guided meditation included this quote:
Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased. -Jiddu Krishnamurti
So is there a way I can dig into my potential without drive, pressure, anxiety, or judgement? Can I finish and feel satisfied with my result regardless of my number? That should be my goal for tomorrow; don't fear the ride and certainly don't approach it as something I need to get out of the way.
What the FTP test means to me
The FTP test, very simply, is a 20-minute, all-out effort embedded in a 2 hour ride. It is a way of creating a baseline metric of my aerobic capacity based on my average wattage during that period. That number is used in subsequent workouts to mete out the effort for different segments of the ride. But the most important thing to understand about FTP is that it is merely a reflection of my current state. Those are the sage words of advice from the BaseCamp coach and are actually pretty assuring for someone like myself who has a bit of an imposter syndrome when it comes to cycling. The whole atmosphere of the training program is well balanced in terms of tempering motivation with the procedural (bordering on mundane), effort of building and progressing through 16 weeks of riding. Maybe that's why I like the program so much; I've never been one for the "rah-rah" technique of coaching. To describe BaseCamp, and more specifically, this first week of BaseCamp more specifically: it's about an evaluation of my current state and then working within that state to elevate that state. (The word "fitness" may seem like a more appropriate word, but I like the non-judgmental neutrality of the word "state".) That approach seems so logical, but also counter to everything we are taught about achieving and being competitive. We see it all the time in movies. I blame watching Rocky IV when I was a kid and thinking a few weeks in a remote Russian cabin would make me awesome.
Preparing for tomorrow
I have no idea when I'm going to do this ride tomorrow, and I think that's a good thing. I'll get up, have coffee, look outside and try to be happy about the absurd lack of snow on the Wasatch, maybe work on a few creative projects, stretch, and then get on the trainer when I'm ready. This is not Christmas Eve—this isn't even garbage night. It's just another ride with a different format. If I keep that in mind, I'll have no anxiety or dramatization, and likely feel much better afterwards, regardless of how exhausted I am.