Intervals after dark

I love my job most days - I get to see my patients make real progress towards their goals, hear some really cool stories about history and usually have some very motivated people to work with. I also get to set my own schedule - and when I'm done with work, I'm done. Usually, that's a good thing - I can set my schedule and try to have easier days when I've got workouts schedule. But I'm also the only PT in the building, so when it get busy, I'm working late, regardless. The last few weeks have been late and long weeks, which was fine during goof off time. But now the real workouts have started and working late isn't quite as appealing, especially when it's been so nice out. Running in the morning before work has never been an issue for me, but riding? Still not sold on that one, despite the great lights we have. It's more the worry about animals and such when riding early in the morning, although since I'm out running at that time, it shouldn't be an issue. For my first workout, I slunk to the garage, only to have a (in my mind) poor workout. I didn't want to repeat that for my second set, so I was dead set on riding outside - regardless of when I got off work. Of course, it turned into a super long day and I was scrambling to get home before the sun set.

Luckily, Nick had everything ready when I got home - Fate tires pumped up, water bottle on the bike and my Exposure Lights mounted up. All I had to do was change and we could bolt for the workout. The sun was disappearing behind the mountains as we left and we were quickly plunged into darkness. I would be doing my workout under the lights instead of with the sun. A short warm-up with a few minor technical practice sessions to get used to my hard tail, then it was time to work. I noticed right away the differences between daylight and darkness intervals. During the day, I can keep my focus on the trail, but steal decent glances at my Garmin to keep the power where I want it. Not so at night. I can only see where my lights are pointed. That made looking at the Garmin a deliberate movement and also meant I had to take my eyes off the trail. I did a lot of the workout on feel, trying not to stare at my Garmin. Every time I took a peek, I liked the numbers I saw, but I couldn't focus on that when there was a thin ribbon of trail under my lights. I had to keep my attention where it was needed, especially on the icy sections! There weren't too many, but enough to keep me on my toes.

A little fuzzy iPhone photo - riding up Gold Camp Road. Man, those lights are bright!
In the end, I was happy with the workout and with getting outside. It solidified my awareness of effort levels and where my perceived effort meets with the power output. I had to rely on my perception of the workout and how hard I was working because of the darkness. Having the toys and the gadgets is nice, but mountain biking isn't constrained into the narrow world of power. I have to trust how I'm feeling and workouts where I can't constantly monitor the watts actually improve my ability to ride. Night time is also when most riders slow down during 24 hour races. The more workouts and hard rides I can do after dark will make the night riding easier for me and allow me to keep up my pace on the night laps. It also eased my mind about the workout last Tuesday - it might not have been as ugly as I thought!

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