Better Days

Today is Physio Day. I’ll need to make this reasonably quick as a result as it’s still taking a while to get dressed. However, last night in bed, there was some movement in places where it has not existed since last week. Hair can now be put up (but its still painful) so in that regard, it is definite progress. However, I doubt I’ll be lifting anything for at least another week, possibly more. That means watching my diet like a hawk, doing extra cycling to keep the calories in check, and not getting depressed.

My biggest concern is that my arm still won’t fully straighten: it’s definitely more mobile, but until I can lock my elbow without pain, a lot of exercises simply aren’t doable. My wrist is also being problematic so I might have to fork out for a full hour today to get everything looked at. I should probably get in a bit earlier regardless to see if I can locate my PT, and see if she’d like a coffee tomorrow so we can start planning some kind of rehab programme.

See you in a bit.

Run for Home

The last couple of days have shown that even if I’m not able to lift heavy shit for a while, my legs still work fine, and I can continue to train on the bike without (too many) issues. Therefore, this morning I entered my first group event on Zwift.

sportif

The first item of note here is that this is not a race against anybody but yourself. I can tell you for a fact that a bunch of people did make it a race, at speeds that frankly I’d be lucky to maintain for a minute, let alone ninety. There’s an important fact to be registered too, whilst we’re here: cheating a cycling simulator by lying about your weight and power in order to increase speed, or using other means to drive your trainer to give the impression Bradley Wiggins is a slowpoke… who are you fooling, exactly? Cheating a virtual game’s a waste of time in exactly the same way cheating is wank everywhere else. You don’t get to go and cry in front of the cameras as catharsis either. Seriously, nobody cares.

For me, this is the longest I’ve ever cycled virtually, and it has taught a lot about how physical strength has improved in the last three months.

310318

The killer was there’s a hill (actually a volcano because FIERY DOOM IS BEST DOOM) in this route, twice: brain and legs did it once and then decided between them that the second time would be easier, albeit about thirty seconds slower. I used gears effectively, rested between the hard bits, and as there was enough in the tank left to sprint for the line there’s the understanding that pacing rides is beginning to become a habit. Once it became obvious that I’d be doing the whole thing alone, too, I stopped stressing about other people.

Mr Alt was a star and stayed with me for the first climb, before pushing up to finish a very impressive 75th (the field ended up as 180 people) He’s taught me a huge amount around gearing and planning hills, all of which was massively useful this morning. I could find myself wanting to do that route as enjoyment, once I’m able to hang onto both handlebars and stop worrying about weight on my left arm. Before, that gradient of hill would be a concern. Now, I’m wondering how much time I could take off the climb. There’s a change from three months ago.

I have two benchmarks to hit in terms of recovery that matter far more than being able to lift again. I want to be able to stick left index finger in my mouth, and put up my own hair. Once those two things are possible, I’m honestly not fussed how long it takes to get everything else up to scratch. I’d also like the pain in my right thumb to bugger off too, and then we can never be that fucking stupid and trip over our own feet again.

I blame BST for all this stupidity. LOOKING AT YOU GREENWICH.

Not Enough

250318

However good you think you are, it’s a lie. Look at Lewis Hamilton’s race this morning in Australia as conclusive proof that anything can happen, and does, and the only way to deal with that is to be as prepared as possible. I’m not dumb enough to compare my training to the world of F1, don’t worry. However, I’m well aware of what complacency can do for your mental state. This is one of the reasons why I’m on this sixteen-week training course, being summarily schooled in what my legs can and cannot do. Yesterday I began what the Guide refers to as Neuromuscular Power training.

neuromuscular

I have only briefly trained like this before, and the hour session completed yesterday made it apparent that I’m severely lacking. After a brief warmup, body was asked to do 15 sets of 3.30 ‘intervals’: 3 minutes at my comfortable cycling pace and 10 seconds right up in ‘owowow’ Zone 7. In fairness, I did manage ten of these before my legs started complaining, and the last fifteen minutes was the most uncomfortable I’ve been since any kind of training began. BUT IT WAS FINISHED. Today’s workout is Anaerobic Capacity and I’m already pretty nervous for that, too. However, we’ll do it.

At least I hope that’s the case.

Understanding the science of what is going on in my body has been incredibly helpful in order to grasp why all these numbers and zones have a relevance. Understanding how muscles tear and strengthen, what exercises benefit which parts of your body, why rest and stretching matter so much… all of this contributes to enlightenment and understanding, which in turn makes me a better athlete. It also gives me a chance to plan and organise everything else with a level of certainty. Even if I don’t make the Ride London Ballot, this is body strength that will set me in good stead for the years to come.

Eventually, my legs might even stop hating me and begin to enjoy the journey.

Wednesday Week

header115
When I look back on this point from the future, there will be the understanding that 2018 was where everything changed: not just exercise, or mental outlook, or even the ability to discern truth from deception. This was the year when, driving to pick up my daughter, Brain successfully informed Body that we’d done enough and it was time to stop. I turned off Social media, came home and spent a couple of hours looking after myself. There was no cycling (I have two days worth of tests to run starting today) and no exercise (which will happen after I’ve written this) but what there was included writing novel and organising next week.

Then, I slept for nine hours. The elimination of caffeine after 6pm and removal of electronic devices which can be read from the bedroom has begun, finally, to bear fruit. It also helps that I’ve been physically exhausted by my new training plan, which is now pushing body in new and interesting ways. I had time to prepare breakfast the night before, and make a list of the things needed to continue to improve my food intake. Once I’m done here it is good enough weather to walk to and from the Gym for a weights session, and if it’s not too busy afterwards, I might even have lunch there.

header95

This is where I’d like to make my home, for a while. However, yesterday I was prompted by an e-mail that I might like to consider the Ballot for the Ride London 47: a shorter version of the main ride, without the killer hills, which would allow me to gain a sponsor and make some money for the time spent. I won’t know if I’ve managed to get in until late April, but it shows willing and is an acknowledgement that there’s a desire to try a ‘proper’ event, rather than the more casually-based Eroica. It will also take place the day before we go on holiday, so I’ll have plenty of time to recover.

Entering myself, however, is a huge deal. I don’t like races, get nervous and itchy at the competition. The psychology of it all will be a bigger undertaking too because I’ll be doing it alone (husband will be on the full ride) and I’ve never had the confidence to do something this complex without support. That’s the biggest leap forwards of all. I am good enough. I can do this. There’s anxiety just thinking about it, typing the words, but beneath all of that remains the confidence in myself, that never existed before. Just as I’m about to finish a novel that’s taken two decades to grasp, I could ride alone and succeed.

All things are now possible, if I just believe enough in myself.

Crying

What a weekend.

I’m on five hours sleep right now, and maybe this isn’t the time to be starting something quite complex and potentially life-changing, but that’s how this works. Today begins a sixteen-week Cycling training course, which is how long before I go on holiday. An awful lot could and might happen between now and then, but this is how major change takes place.

trainings

It’s meant for Ride London athletes, but the whole thing is organised around Zwift’s workout mode, and is linked to your FTP, so (ideally) it only pushes you as far as your body itself is capable. It is a change from just doing a weekly goal and has the potential to fundamentally alter me physically. I have no idea how long I can keep it going, and what the consequences of doing it might be, but this is my plan going forward. I have my starting weight as a guide, and I’ll be able to judge physical fitness by the end in terms not simply of my FTP, but endurance and stamina.

They say everything should have a goal, right?

If all else fails, that’s four month’s worth of content taken care of.

You Wear It Well

I was in the Gym at 9am this morning. There’s the first changes to air quality which, I suspect, is the beginning of cherry blossom and daffodils making my hyper-sensitive lungs splutter and strain their way to the end of July. Ah, hayfever. My weight’s up again but not by much, so, we’ll keep on with the food monitoring and driving myself into the ground under the auspices of Fitness (TM) Don’t get me wrong, I still love all this shit, but on days where my brain is trying to process all the mental stuff that is going on above the priority of physical relaxation… it gets tough.

I managed a significant step forward on the exercise front yesterday, as it happens.

Twenty-six seconds faster is MAHOOSIVE, people. It shows a considerable strengthening of leg muscles and improvement in stamina. There needs to be more hills in my training now and tomorrow an FTP test is scheduled. Improvement is not just about doing the same thing over and over, after all. I struggled a bit with heavier weights this morning so went down a bit to complete maximum sets of everything. It is the hangover from last week’s negatives, but there is strength there which didn’t exist before. It would help if I’d have managed more than six hours sleep last night, but that’s what happens when you decide to change everything pretty much overnight.

It’ll take a while to sort out all the changes I instigated over the weekend, but today is a decent start. I have to hope that fatigue won’t completely scupper everything by Friday, but am already cautiously hopeful. It’s when something unexpected happens that everything goes tits up, so *fingers crossed* the next seven days can be as stress-free in that regard as possible…

The Needle and the Damage Done

My husband thinks I’m too wordy. I need these words to explain what is wrong with me, how I feel and why there is a reaction in the manner that happens increasingly of late. Last night, for instance, what was easy last Sunday was a lifetime away. I managed 60k before giving blood, but the 55k afterwards was as far away from that in terms of confidence and comfort as it was probably possible to get. It doesn’t help that I’ve not been eating sensibly the last few days either and yes, throwing up at 3am is probably the least I deserved. My husband didn’t hear me because he has to sleep with earphones in to help overcome his tinnitus.

I think we should just mark down Saturday to the end of a long, bad dream.

040318

This morning, therefore I dragged my sorry body out of bed and went to a Retail park, because yes, people do buy stuff in places other than Amazon. I have enough cycling shorts to wear every day, which undoubtedly make the longer rides easier on the lower half of my body. I am back to eating sensibly, and low carb, and I’ll leave the weight in the scales as a reminder to myself that I can no longer pretend I’m a teenager and get away with it. If you want to be healthy, just expecting that to happen is frankly unrealistic. You have to do the work, even when you feel awful. In fact, those are the days when, undoubtedly, the real work ends up happening.

earthsong

Last night, I earned a new Fitbit badge. It all happened as a surprise too, but to know I have walked this far (even when some of it is riding…)

training0403

This week, I’ll not make 110 miles, and it will be okay. Instead I’ll get on the bike tomorrow night, and start again. Today is for rest, work and reflection on how far I have come.

As long as I can keep doing, it’ll all work itself out.