Every day that passes as we steam along toward winter deepens my awareness of the fleeting calendar. It is almost inevitable that the day will come when Aaruba’s conditioning must be put on hold due to inclement weather.
I’m up for workouts in some pretty nasty conditions, but I also remember last winter. We saw more snow than anyone in our corner of Idaho can remember. It stayed on the ground for over a month, crusted with ice and riddled with unseen hazards. If this winter is like the last, Aaruba will get at least a month off.
A month’s rest isn’t too bad, in terms of conditioning. Horses retain their fitness far better than do humans, and four weeks of rest will result in only minimal loss of cardiovascular training. After that, though, aerobic fitness begins to slip, followed by muscular strength. Too long a break will result in detraining of the horse’s supporting structures — bone, ligaments, cartilage, tendons — that were so carefully built by hours upon hours of long, slow distance training. Two months off will generally require a month of conditioning to get back to the previous level of fitness; three months off will require two months’ remediation, and so on.
I am determined to minimize this winter’s impact on Aaruba’s level of conditioning so we can get an early start in the 2009 endurance season. “Early” in the northwest region means April, which means I need to keep Aaruba in the best condition possible until January strikes, because by the time February releases its hold, I won’t have much time in which to rebuild.
Unfortunately, winter is already rattling its sabre here at In the Night Farm. I nearly froze to death getting the photos for last Sunday’s post (my own fault — I didn’t dress for full-on freezing weather!) Autumn is rife with rain and wind. When all is still, morning paints our hillside white with frost. Winter comes, it whispers, and soon.
And so, each ride I take these days is weighty. It prolongs Aaruba’s season of fitness and propels us a few miles more toward our first 50-mile race in 2009. It assures me that, despite the cold, Aaruba is still all heart and strength and wind. It postpones the inevitable.
Want to read more posts like this one?
Subscribe to The Barb Wire