Lemonade

I’m back. You’ll all be thrilled to know, in my head anyway. Just to warn you, this is going to be another one of those philosophical posts. Life by its very nature is full of mystery and the outcomes of our choices can’t ever be fully predicted. If I’m being 100% honest with you I’ve made a few ‘questionable’ decisions over these past few weeks. Hindsight has left me beyond exasperated at the scale of my ineptitude. Exam season is never an enjoyable time and this year for all sorts of reasons it’s been particularly challenging. Ordinarily I’m training in the pursuit of a physical goal but at the moment it’s about something entirely different – keeping myself sane.

At times like this I try not to think of exercise as training. I ride, run and lift purely for the sake of doing those things. As an aspiring Sports Scientist I’m very much a numbers guy however the conclusion I’ve come to is that just as there are times when you should be meticulously analysing your performance there are also those when that’s the worst thing you could possibly do. It’s important to recognise that we all have a limit when it comes to the amount of stress we can tolerate regardless of the source it comes from. Therefore in my case as an example I’m not going to waste any energy worrying about whether or not my FTP has gone down.

The sole upshot to this tricky time has been a surge in motivation. The thought of that days planned ride, run or gym session is the primary motivator for getting out of bed in the morning. It’s my opinion that once you start doing any sport competitively it’s very easy to lose sight of why you picked it up in the first place. Personally my greatest downfall has been comparing myself to others, feeling bad because I lose a Strava KOM or can’t match a friends’ time on a local climb. Stripping it right back to basics has seen the return of that early enthusiasm. I ride a bike because I love it; the sense of freedom that it brings, the thrill of seeing what I’m capable of and the sense of satisfaction that comes with getting off the sofa and setting off to the middle of nowhere.

Rather than selecting the routes which are best to train on I’m choosing them based purely on how enjoyable they are to ride. Trips to some of my favourite destinations have truly done wonders for my morale. This morning for example involved a memorable outing to Dartmoor. Not glancing down at my Garmin every few seconds allowed me to properly appreciate the beauty of the place and when I felt like stopping and taking a break because my legs were tired that’s exactly what I did. Perfection.

Somewhat ironically, now that serious training has been paused I’ve inadvertently succeeded at achieving one of my long term goals namely the sub 20-minute 5K run. In the spirit of enjoyment over numbers I decided to forego my usual long run on a Saturday morning in favour of trying out the local Parkrun with a friend of mine. It’s something I would now recommend to anyone. There’s something very heartening about a free event that’s run largely by volunteers, seeing people of all ages and abilities finding common ground in the pursuit of fitness.

Those of you who know me well (Hey Mum) won’t be surprised to hear that despite telling myself I was going to take it easy I decided to try for a new PB within about ten seconds of starting. Despite the fact my legs were sore from the previous day’s effort on the bike I managed to push on, setting a respectable time of 19:36. In the grand scheme of things that’s nothing special but considering I was once so unfit that walking up the stairs was a hard effort it’s nice to be-able to remind myself of the progress I’ve made during these last six years.

I’m looking down guiltily at my watch every few seconds as I write this. Sadly I have an exam tomorrow and contrary to my wildest dreams the material isn’t all going to learn itself at the last minute. To that end I’m going to sign off and leave you to what I hope is an enjoyable and non-revision filled day. I’ll finish with this; many times I’ve heard it said that when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. I’m going to do that very cliche thing and come up with my own version. When life gives you revision, go and ride a bike.

Thanks for reading.

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