Friday, 16 December 2016

16th December 2016 - New Year, New Me!

So, here we are, NEW YEAR NEW ME! Except it’s not the New Year is it, it’s late November, early December, mid-December (it’s taken me a few goes to get this blog out) but we’re all systems go trying to get back to it on the new me part.

My last blog was almost 3 months ago, after the last National of the season. A few weeks later, with the race season all but finished, a group of us headed south for a weekend of fun at BikePark Wales & Forest of Dean. After a season of pushing myself & trying to do everything as fast as possible I was pretty excited to just ride my bike with my mates & have a laugh. 90 minutes after arriving though I was heading back home. Back in July I tweaked my back lifting some flight cases out of the back of the van & I’d chosen to ignore it. With a packed calendar, I had no time to be injured so I kept on training & racing. But on that wet Saturday morning my body just decided I was taking the piss & it’d had enough. 2 of the 4 runs I completed were done so with tears streaming down my face, so I bailed.

Over the next few weeks both the Dr & Physio suggested I’d slipped a disc but I’d need an MRI to confirm. No chance of getting this on the NHS anymore though, unless you’re incontinent. I wasn’t, although the first time I hit the Val Di Sole road gap back in September I was pretty close, but they determined this was unrelated so I was looking at roughly a £1k bill including a consultation. It wasn’t the money that stopped me proceeding (it was agony), more the thought of surgery, which to me is always a last resort & I hadn’t even tried to fix it. Also, the surgery wouldn’t be available on the NHS so we could be looking at anything up to £8k (OK, it was the money) & I wouldn’t be riding for at least a year. Willing to give anything a go I went to see a Chiropractor & started doing some Yoga. To cut a long story short, after many nights spent alternating between Dead Pigeon & sitting on a red spiky ball, my back improved to the point that I managed to start training again a few weeks ago. Massive thanks to Jordan at Dynamic Chiropractic & Ellie at Om Is Where The Heart Is for sorting me out.

So, where to? Well, we’ve pencilled in a Portuguese National as our first race of 2017. Binnsy did it last year & despite obliterating his back wheel on a gap jump in his race run he’s keen to go back. The plan is 4 days riding with RidePortugal & then racing on the Saturday & Sunday. That’s the first weekend in March, so I’d have 14 weeks to get myself together.

So, training. I decided to ease myself back in gently as I really didn’t want to rush into it like a bull in a china shop & end up screwing the back up again. Firstly, the weigh in. During the 2 months of doing sweet FA I’d also given up on MyFitnessPal. The first example of my “100% or nothing at all” character trait; if I’m not training I’m not tracking what I’m eating either. I was pretty surprised to see I’d only put on a couple of KG’s, which made me optimistic about my fitness levels too. The first test I set myself was a couple of laps of my local training loop on the CX bike. Essentially, the loop is a climb up the steep side of a hill & then a roll back down the other (not so steep) side. Sometimes I run it, sometimes I ride it. The first time I ever ran it, a cyclist over took me just after I’d started the climb & we had perhaps the most "Yorkshire" conversation I’ve ever had:

Him: You planning on running all the way to the top?
Me: Yeah, gonna try!
Him: We call it The Pig. You’ll see why.

And then he rode off. No tips, no good wishes. Henceforth I’ve always called it The Pig & he was right, it’s hard work. The up part is 1.4 miles long, during which you climb 540 vertical feet. The descent is obviously the same drop but it’s spread out over twice the distance. If I’m running it I do it once, if I’m riding it I do it 2 or 3 times, a warm up lap & then a fast lap & sometimes a warm down lap. So, brimming with confidence, off I set on the bike... I was soon thwarted. On the warm up lap I stopped twice on the climb & it just got worse, to the point that the warm up lap became the fast lap FFS. Anyway, when push came to shove it turns out my times were 20% slower than they’d been 2 months earlier. 20%. In 2 months. It felt like a whole other person had set those times.

Over the next 3 weeks though I got right back at it, running on some flatter roads before setting a respectable time on The Pig. I also managed to throw in a few PT sessions & I continued with the Yoga, but then work went up a few notches & I’ve done nothing for the last 10 days. Producing events & videos you go through lulls & then intense spikes, usually around the delivery point, where you’re working from the moment you get up until the moment your head hits the pillow. Again, the “100% or nothing at all” gene kicks in & my head isn’t into training & it all falls apart. Add to that a couple of boozy Christmas do's & here we are, it’s mid-December & although I’m not starting all over again, I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be.

The plan was to work on getting stronger in November & December & then try & focus on getting faster in January & February. So, I’m just going to have to do the whole bloody lot together. Over Christmas. On the plus side the back’s feeling good & Portugal is now only under, let me just check, 10 weeks away. Shit. Put the mince pie down George, it’s only 10 bloody weeks, 10 more weeks until we go racing. Woo-ha! :)