Toils of Training
My move into cycling has not been as easy as I thought. As the Etape D day closes in (July 7th – it’ll be here in no time), it’s safe to say I’ve started to panic a little. Not for one second do I think I won’t be able to complete it – I won’t allow my mind to go there, I’m not one for the defeatist attitude – but I’ve been thrown into this thing with no real idea of how to train for it. I have to get my runner body to operate differently and as I’m learning there’s a technique to riding uphill, downhill, out of the saddle etc. I’m fit, I love my workouts, but as with anything, starting something new is just intimidating.
I have a crack team behind me in the form of Rapha and an excellent mentor in Collyn Ahart, but when it comes down to it, I have to ride it on the day – no one can do that for me. Finding people to ride with isn’t always easy and the more I get into this thing, it does kind of seem there are no newbie cyclists – everyone just seems to be semi-pro right off the bat, like they cycled straight out of the womb. I don’t want to ride with these people knowing I’ll hold them back. So, all through the month of February, I stuck myself on the turbo trainer and tried to learn what I could there. Except I’ve no real idea what you’re supposed to do on a turbo trainer so I’d just spin for a couple of hours at a time, try to throw a few intervals in there every now and then.
I’d been advised not to run and just focus on the cycling, which I did. I understand the importance of a certain focus like that if you want your body to function a specific way. But I felt as though my fitness suffered.
Going out for a run is so much easier than getting out on the bike. With running, you just whack your trainers on and go. With cycling, there’s a check list of 50 things before you can even leave the house. Plus you have to set aside 3+ hours for a bike ride and it’s not every day I can fit that in.
I had an epiphany last week. I just want to be fit for life. It matters to me that I complete the Etape, but it also matters to me that I can run long distances and be strong and have muscles and be ready for whatever life throws at me. I train best when I keep my training varied. So see, I can’t just not run while I do this cycling thing. I can’t not box or do Pilates or try out all sorts of weird and wonderful classes – it all contributes to my general fitness, which I firmly believe will help me on the day.
So, I ran the Paris Half Marathon, I’ve run with my friends since, I’ve worked out at home and am starting to get my Bangs-style crazy workout schedule back on track. And my spirits have been lifted.
I had one hurdle to overcome. I had to get back out on the road with the bike and this time, I had to do it alone. So, on Saturday morning, I got up super early, got all my bike stuff ready and hit the road at 7am. I rode by myself from Stratford to Richmond Park and back. I navigated the streets, fought my fear of riding in traffic, almost got killed a couple of times going around roundabouts, but I did it. I practiced everything I’ve been learning at KX Gym about form and used the exercises they’ve taught me. I powered up hills, tried (and failed – I’ve got some work to do) to keep a steady cadence but most of all, spent four hours getting comfortable on the bike.
52 miles later, I think me and the bike may have just found our groove.
So now, I’ll be riding into work a couple of times a week and riding every weekend, even if I need to do it alone. I’ll keep my training varied and I will cross the finish line of the Etape with a smile.
Now that I’ve got that hurdle out of the way, it suddenly doesn’t all seem so intimidating anymore.