…Enough already! Take it easy and contemplate!


Being a serious cyclist (4-6 days a week on the bike), I am always looking for ways to improve.   As I have stated in previous posts, it requires a lot of hard work and commitment.  In order to be prepared for certain races, I have to go through a systematic training program called “Periodization” (An organized training approach, concentrating on certain training aspects during specific periods of time.  It is a way of building fitness, allowing me to peak at the right moment).

I generally concentrate on races known as criteriums, which are better suited for my larger frame.  A criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a closed road course.  The length of the race is determined by time, commonly around one hour.  It is shorter than that of a traditional road race, which can last many hours.  However, generally the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher.

The race season ends in September, I generally take a couple of weeks off, during which I don’t even look at or touch my bike.  By the end of these two weeks, I am itching to get back on my bike!  I then start with what is called “Base” Training, consisting of two to four hour rides, riding consistently at about 75% of my maximum heart rate.  The bulk of Base Training is done between October and December.  The idea here is to build and increase my capillary network.  The result is more efficient oxygen flow throughout the body, allowing me to ride faster for longer periods.

From December to February I start doing more intense shorter rides, mainly consisting of Interval Training.  This type of training conditions the body to cope with explosive efforts.

During the actual race season, which runs from February to September, I do “Maintenance” rides to maintain my race fitness.  The intensity of the rides vary depending on the timing of my races, and how fatigued my body is.  It becomes a balancing act, and requires discipline, with the ability to be totally honest with myself and back off from intensity if I feel tired.  Many racers, including myself, end up becoming “over trained” during the racing season.  Being over-trained can lead to injuries and illness.

I have always done well with sporting activities that require a structured process to achieve my athletic goals.  It suits my personality.  I love the systematic layering process to improve skill, strength and fitness.  However, there is a danger of getting lost in it all, becoming too absorbed in the process, to the point that I sometimes lose sight of the big picture of why I started riding in the first place. I wanted to have fun, enjoy my time on the bike, as well as with others!  But, like many activities, there is a fine line between taking the things you love to an extreme!  Going through seasonal training with the goal to consistently perform better can create an over-the-top seriousness, on the bike, I never intended.

However, recently I have had a series of injuries that forced me to take it easy and just “spin” easy on the bike.  So, I am doing the rides that I would normally “hammer” through, at a less intense pace.  This has allowed me to lift my head, relax and look around at the beautiful scenery I am surrounded by, the ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains, to have coherent conversations with other cyclists…I noticed things that I have not before!  The way the sun hits the water, the morning mist, beautiful trees that line the roads, birds singing, the odd lizard rushing across my path…I know this sounds a little Grimm’s fairytale-ish, but I am serious…for the last four years I was missing, as in not seeing, the simplest things around me while riding my bike!

I also noticed that I smile more, and riding was becoming fun again…my head is filled with bigger picture thoughts, other than those solely focused on performance…And, this is the big one: I started to praise myself more in regards to how far I have come as a rider (versus thinking thoughts like, “Oh shit! Such-and-such just passing me again!” or “are you kidding me!  My power output was much higher the last time I did this stretch of road!”).  I actually have started to pat myself on the back!

When I return to the bike in mid October, after my trip to Germany, I am really going to make an effort to carry this rediscovered enjoyment forward into the new season.  Realistically, if I want to continue to improve on the bike I still need to follow a program to attain my goals.  However, I can still achieve these goals while sprinkling in one or two easy days, when I do not think of heart rate, cadence, power… just ride to ride, ride for the enjoyment of riding, no pressure, with the opportunity to look around me, take in my surroundings, and with plenty of time to smile!  I have a feeling that the inclusion of these days will add to my overall development as a rider.  They will help me become more relaxed about my training, providing me with more balance.

…I have a feeling that the 2012 racing season will be my best yet!


Over the last couple of years, I have made a conscious effort of thinking more about the way I live and have lived my life.  The result of this process is an attitude that pushes me to pursue the possibility of living life to its fullest.  For me this is achieved by developing the ability to learn from the past and applying the learning toward how I live my life now, and intend to live my life in the future.

As part of this process it is so interesting that I now can identify past behavior patterns and learning that mirror my training and “hammer” mentality described above in the SPORT section.

For instance, I would go into work and then work, work, and work!  I would get the work done, meet deadlines, and attain objectives and goals.  I would then go home, then do it all again the next day, and then the next…  Over time I became stressed, unmotivated, tired, and sometimes felt unappreciated.

In order to keep things level and stay motivated, feel appreciated, and to continue to enjoy my career, I found that it was important to sometimes STOP what I was doing, and recognize my accomplishments!  Particularly, if they were not being acknowledged or noticed by others!  Doing this allowed me to put into perspective the importance of things I was working on, why I was doing what I was doing, and consider the things I have achieved.

The bottom-line is that I have enough experience under my belt to extrapolate the positive things I have learnt in the past and apply them to what I am doing now.  It just takes a conscious effort…kind of like adding the one or two easy days to my training!

Stop, contemplate, take it easy…and then re-engage!

…REPEAT often!


~ by Jens Wallrabe on September 19, 2011.

7 Responses to “…Enough already! Take it easy and contemplate!”

  1. Jens — interesting you have arrived at the ‘vita activa’ necessarily coupling with the ‘vita contemplativa’ (in the old Roman Empire and European middle ages, the educated person had to live both lives — the active one, and the mindful one). You can’t effectively or meaningfully live either life without them being in dynamic tension always — your essay is a very nice treatment of this notion — a kind of empirical case study in attaining this wisdom — learned the hard way, but now well understood (perhaps all real wisdom is hard-earned by its very nature)! More understood by me now, too. Thanks. Your friend Sean.

    • You are so welcome Sean! I am one of those pig headed people, who has to experience something, live it, before understanding it. Thank you for reading. I am always interested in your feedback and observations in general. You have a brilliant ability to shine a surgeon’s light over subject material…bringing new ideas and different perspectives.

  2. You’ve stopped to smell the roses. Some might call this the dreaded onset of maturity. But either way, now that you’ve become aware of the larger world beyond your ego. You’ve also realized you are at a waypoint in the journey not a roadblock. You can go on now and choose to look at what you’re passing or to look at the goal. Or both. But can you do it in equal measure?

    • Phil – this change, whether due to maturity, or me banging my head on something hard for too long, requiring change before I drew blood!! (figuratively speaking of course), has given me so much more flexibility both physically and mentally! Really appreciate your feedback and input too!

  3. My pleasure Jens. We are in essence mechanisms. Biological to be sure, metaphysical, spiritual, intellectual… yes. But the body is a construction. And like all things made, entropy tends to unmake. My knees do not do what they did ten years ago. Oddly enough, they are doing more (thanks to a lot of yoga) than twenty years ago, but they are still not capable of flexibility and motion as when we worked together (my kendo, karate, racquetball days). Part wear. Some are restored. even replaced. Some you learn to move in different ways.

  4. Absolutely my favorite of favourite entries!

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