#GetCycleFit – It Never Gets Easier
‘It never gets easier, you just get a faster,’ A cycling cliche, yes, but a belief I’ve been clinging to with both hands since beginning this challenge a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been finding it really hard to complete the short, intense interval sessions, though in my defence I actually have completed them without intentionally backing off or shirking any of the efforts. That’s not to say that I’ve managed to sprint non stop for the required amount of time or got my heart rate into the zone it’s meant to be in – I’ve pushed as hard as I can for the allotted amounts of time, but often ‘as hard as I can’ includes some segments where I fizzle out for a few seconds before pushing on again.
I have to believe that these efforts are doing something, just stick with it and trust I’m improving. It can be hard when there’s no tangible proof any of this is working, but all I can be sure of is that doing something is better than doing nothing!
Another thing I’m continuing to struggle with is these damned ‘rest days,’ where James insists that I recover from my training. I know full well that the rest periods are when you’re body adapts to the workouts you’ve been doing and so are actually when you build your strength and fitness, but I still really dislike not riding my bike whenever I want to. If there’s one thing this process has taught me, it’s how much I love those long aimless rides undertaken on a whim. But it’s also reinforced my love of a challenge!
Day 13 was a recovery ride, which means a really gentle roll to get your legs spinning and flush lactic acid out of your muscles. Feeling like I’d hardly done anything after a boozy wedding weekend and a really disappointing Zone 5 interval session the day before, I decided to ignore the heart rate monitor and my instructions to take it easy, instead going out went for a reasonably fast ride. I’d decided not to go all out and push it hard up the hills and stress my legs, but to get spinning quickly on any flatter sections.
It was my fairly first fast ride outside the velopark since I’d begun this regime as the previous week I’d actually obeyed James and done the slowest recovery ride every, where even grannies passed me on the hills, and I absolutely loved it. The sun was shining, my legs felt strong and I felt energised and happy and it may have been purely psychological but goddam it, I felt speedy! It was just what I needed, not least as Tuesday was another bloody rest day! In the evening I went for a few runs at the local mountain bike trails.
Looking for ways to mix up my sessions and keep motivated I’d suggested to James that I ride Mid Devon Cycling Club’s 10 Mile hilly Time Trial on Thursday evening, figuring that a full on all out effort would be good workout.
I’ve only ever done one Time Trial before and it was painful and not much fun, but riding out to the start through the pretty South Hams on a summer’s evening I felt really happy to meet up with my club and ride fast in the sunshine. I’d been told that the course was pretty hilly so I went for a bit of a route recce whilst doing my warmup and found that the return leg of the course was a lot faster than the way out.
I decided I’d give it everything on the way out and set off like a bat out of hell, only to realise there was no way I’d be able to keep it up. The whole thing was extremely painful, physically and mentally, and at points I was really questioning what the hell I was doing. It was not fun at all, and honestly I can’t see how Time Trials ever could be, because surely if it’s not torturous, you’re not pushing hard enough, and if you’re not pushing to your max then what’s the point in being there? I did feel a great sense of accomplishment afterwards – I came first out of the women – but it was accompanied by a bit of confusion… I could have been riding trails instead or my mountain bike instead, which is 100% fun rather than some pleasure/pain combo. Actually, thinking about it, I’m not sure time trialling even is a pleasure/pain combo, I reckon it’s just horrid!
TT photo: Oliver Twigger