A wise woman once said to me, ‘you must do the things you think you cannot do’, and it’s only reasonably recently that this has been ringing true. Coming into the festive season, my training plan didn’t back off, but instead led into Christmas with a big swimming block followed by a big week of running and biking before having a taper week in early January to race a half marathon.
I’ll be honest, during those two weeks, there have been a lot of days where after dragging myself up the stairs to bed, I’ve checked the training plan for the next day and simply thought ‘FUCK. OFF. No way can I do that.’ Swim sets with what felt like improbably fast target paces. Bike rides that I knew would be long and tough in the windy, wintery weather Yorkshire has been blessed with recently. Run sessions I’d only usually tackle well-rested and on fresh legs, but where I knew I wouldn’t have that luxury. You get the picture.
The good thing about having a coach is, that you don’t want to give up on a session before you’ve even started it, for no good reason other than a lack of self belief. So this is how even after thinking ‘no way!’ to several sessions, early alarms have been set, carbs have been guzzled and the miles have been ticked off.
One of the things I really didn’t think I’d a) complete or b) enjoy, was 4 consecutive swim days in a row- some easy drills, some strength work with paddles and a pull buoy, and some flat out speedwork. This also meant 4 alarms on the wrong side of 6am in a row, which is never tremendously fun in anyone’s world. But still- coffee exists for a reason, and this increased swim volume is working already, in that my stroke feels much smoother and stronger. I’m told the next step is a Tempo Trainer which seems to be a beeping instrument of torture which goes under my cap. Yay!
I’m very lucky, too, that at weekends and most recently Christmas, I have a very understanding family and a mostly patient partner in James. He’s been kind enough to join me for my last two long rides, a flat 86 miler in Yorkshire to our favourite cafe in Easingwold with a few club pals, and a century ride through the Trough of Bowland just after Boxing Day, despite the fact he is much faster than me, and far better at hill climbing (as most people with any quads are).
On both of these long rides, there’s been points where I’ve paced it badly, not eaten enough or just been generally fed up of riding uphill with no respite, and have been miserable and grumpy. But when there’s someone there to have a laugh with, to stop you being a diva and help you see that the world might not be ending, you might just be hungry, things never seem quite so bad. I’m well aware in time, these long rides will need to be solo and with a pace focus, but for now, whatever gets me out of the door onto cold, filthy roads to get the miles in will have to do!
A particular highlight was our century ride. It was chilly, and thanks to James’s route planning, certainly hilly in the middle section, but after a few days of Christmas excess, family bickering and too much TV, nothing could have been better than testing myself against some serious climbs (by my standards), whizzing over the tops onto the moors and enjoying the glorious descent down the Trough of Bowland.
Well, not having a 10 minute brick run to do off the back of 100 miles would probably be better, but nobody said ironing was going to be easy, hey? Especially not when your long run in the same week includes threshold mile reps *vom*
So other than in need of a serious afternoon on my yoga mat and a long. hot soak in the bath, my December has tried me and tested me, but also left me stronger, more determined, and (importantly) once I’ve eased up and absorbed the training, hopefully a bit faster!
What’s your Christmas looked like training? Supportive family and lots of Lycra time, or resting up, entering races and plotting for your 2017? Let me know!
All cycling photos in this post taken by James over at Pedals and Pain.