December, a month stuck at the end of the year, predominantly cold, wet, windy, and filled with too much of this and that right? I said to myself no matter what happens, weather wise at least, I would carry on training. Just progressing, nothing too major or specific to help increase my base.
I made myself an achievable weekly training plan in November covering the winter months, so that everyone at home that could understand could see the reason why I was letting my side of the bed get cold in the mornings. For November for the most part it worked great.
Mondays – Rest day.
Tuesdays – AM Run HIIT / PM Swim HIIT
Wednesday – PM Bike/Turbo or outside
Thursday – AM Run Mid distance Tempo/ PM Swim – Drills/Tempo 1km
Fridays – Bike Endurance/Distance
Saturdays – Run Endurance 10k or more
Sundays – AM Bike Turbo or Group 25mile/ PM Swim Endurance 2km or more.
Come week 2 of December that was it Man-flu, arrghhh!!!! I hate being ill, and fought of all the bugs going around the household previously with some pride, borderline smugness, but boy oh boy did this feel crap. I convinced myself 1 or 2, maybe 3 days off resting would do the trick, along with virtually taking out shares in Lemsip Max Strength meds. 4 days later and a loo roll was still my best friend. By Friday I became humanized again, and was already planning a weekend of training, starting with a gentle ride around the Shire with fellow MAMIL Dean. (Middle Aged Men/Maiden In Lycra). Apparently, although I deny all knowledge of this of course, I was like a bear with a sore head because I couldn’t train.
That Saturday Morning I agreed to meet him and head out through Watermead Park to Syston, then out to South Croxton, Queniborough, East Goscote, Cossington, Rothley around to Cropston Reservoir, back into Cropston and down and up through Thurcaston, then finally back to Birstall. Some nice hills to get the legs and lungs working, some nice descents, all good stuff, so it seemed in theory.
After 2 coffee’s, a bowl of porridge and a banana I dusted of my wheels from the garage, and as my lungs inhaled the chilly sub-zero air, I immediately had a nice wakeup call as I struggled for the next breath. After about a minute of trying to compose myself, I contemplated if this was the right idea, but then quickly realized that letting a mate down is poor show, and I had been itching to do something, anything, to stop the frustration within, so I cracked on.
I met Dean and off we went at a placid pace, discussing the week’s activities and impending move as we pootled along. 13km in and the climb on Croxton Road started, so being weary of not blowing a gasket before we even got to the top, I took my time relatively speaking. 800m later I was panting like chain smoker, another 100m and I was sounding like a cat coughing up a fur ball. Oh this was fun I thought, never-mind if it cleared the cobwebs off then it’s got to be good. The icy downhill was a welcome rest though, but had to be treated with respect. No setting a PB on a downhill sector today. We continued on at a steady pace and managed a steady 30km/k on the A607 which thankfully had been gritted. As we neared Rothley and the A6 the view that greeted us was breath-taking. So much so we stopped for an obligatory picture. Winter wonderland at its best!
We continued on, and as we progressed I continued to feel better with every Kilometre. As we passed the Reservoir we saw a few other crazy assed individuals who had the same idea as us, and I was quiet please I hadn’t lost my marbles completely. Through Thurcaston on Leicester Rd I knew the double dip hills lay ahead, so I blitzed it as fast as I dare going down so as to carry momentum passed the pub and on the first ascent. It felt good, no repeat of the earlier incident, and the legs felt like they had worked a bit. Now came the second hill, same again, carry the speed, and dig deep, rhythmic cadence and I would soon be at the top. As I looked back I could see Dean had dropped off somewhat, but I couldn’t stop halfway up, so as the legs felt the burn, I carried on to the top, pulled in and waited for him, and apologised for leaving him when he caught up. We got back to Birstall and parted company to thanks for a great spin round. The rest of the day I felt amazing, good with myself, legs a little tired, but otherwise chipper – the endorphins had worked wonders.
By the following day I was back to square one. Que Lemsip and now cough medicine too… marvellous. The week before Christmas and I was still feeling pants, on top of which we were going to be moving over the New Year and now had a house to decorate before we moved in, which included getting rid of miles of Woodchip, a lot of steam, which one would be forgiven for thinking it could help the cough, but no not I. Something had to give, and it was training. Instead of getting up at 4am to go for a run, I would go off and either strip a wall, or paint it. Instead of going to the pool in the evening it was more stripping, painting, crack filling. I even tried convincing myself I was getting a good nonspecific upper body workout. Yeah right. All the while the little devil on my shoulder was screaming loud “you’re missing too much training”, it was getting seriously frustrating. Was I the only one who could see? It would have been great to fit in the decorating in the day, around reduced training intensity, but as a stay at home Dad priority has always been to look after our 18month old, and as great as she is at helping me do things, I couldn’t very well expose her to the hazards of decorating the new place.
That Saturday enough was enough, I took a day off from decorating and decided I would go and ride the same route as I had the week before, and set off 8:30 that morning, to a less frosty, warmer but overcast ride, it felt really good, my legs warmed up nicely, I was making good pace on last week’s ride at least. I started the same climb at 13km and slowly but surely started to feel the wind pushing me sideways. Oh this is fun! Not! What is it they say oh if you hit the wind just use it to train harder, but don’t over compensate blowing all your energy on a head wind. As I turned into it on the bottom of Croxton Rd to head back to Queniborough, I hit it head on, and it wasn’t so much of a bit of hard work, more of a battle to keep moving forward. All the while I had Sylvester Stallone’s voice in my head going “it ain’t about how hard you hit, but how hard you get hit, and keep moving forward”, I convinced myself as I started the descent on Ridgemere Lane as long as I kept moving forward, I would get a break somewhere. But as I was struggling to do 20km/h when normally I would do 35-40km/h it became clear that there wasn’t a chance in hell. As I pushed on through to the A607 and Cossington I started to bonk, I really had nothing left in the tank. I dropped the gears, and a cog, and started spinning gently, and after 24km decided enough was enough. I knew what nearly 2 weeks of not training, illness, and the stress of decorating had all done. I was so angry. I decided to bug out and gently ride home. Almost an hour later I was standing in a hot steamy shower and was asking myself what have I got to do to shake this bug, get back training, juggle all the balls and not drop one?
Christmas came, and it seemed a welcome relief from everything. It was family time, and my so carefully planned but thrown out of the window training programme had factored in a few days off here and there. It was nice to be feeling better ‘ish’ and to enjoy a glass of wine or three, relax, and above all enjoy the time with our kids. New Year’s week it started all over again, decorating, moving bits, but this time with the help of my brother who came to stay with his family. We agreed that we were going to do something, so as I hadn’t run for nearly 3 weeks, I suggested a nice early morning ride New Year’s Eve, nothing strenuous, out to Cropston Reservoir, up to Beacon Hill, and maybe a bit further if he felt up to it. As we got ready to leave it was icy as hell, but we went for it anyway, taking our time, and being gentle with the brakes.
It actually wasn’t that bad, the scenery was perfect; the roads although seriously iced up by frozen rainfall and snow dusting were “technically challenging” but fun still. Chris was glad he had taken me up on the ride, and loved what he experienced. As we started to ascend Beacon Hill from Woodhouse I sensed him dropping off, so I backed off and let him take the lead, but getting going again a quarter of the way up and trying to get onto the back of his wheel was quite a challenge. However, the agony was worth it as we pulled into the car park.
This was one hell of a way to end the year, and it felt good if not bloody cold.
We headed back, and I warned Chris I was going to give it a bit of a push on the downhill back to Woodhouse, and we set off together. It was great to feel the wind and watch the speed build, but then as I hit 63km/h I started to have a wheel wobble that lasted the best part of 700m down the hill, and boy was it scary, I changed my grip and body position slightly, released some of the tension and gently started breaking on the back wheel, and it started to fade. Damn that was a scary first. Chris caught up and he could see my eyeballs on edge. I explained what happened and he just laughed.
We discussed going a tad further, but as he had lost all feeling in his toes, it was time to head home and warm up. 30km wasn’t a bad day’s work with the very best of company, and great way to end the year, as we had started it. With a ride.
New Year came and passed with a bit too much alcohol, cheese and biscuits, and of course Fireworks, but as for training well that would have to wait another 2 weeks, as the move took place and cleaning the old house to inspection standard replaced all the decorating. I jumped on the scales on the 2nd of January and I had only gained 3kgs from over the whole festive period and took some comfort it wasn’t the near enough 10kg of last year. I had by now accepted I wouldn’t be able to train again until everything was finalised, even if I still hated the idea of not doing anything properly. I came to the conclusion that if you train enough it becomes addictive. It’s true what they say, that people get the off season training blues, I have certainly had mine.