Wake Up Call

“If you’re going to make loud moaning noises could you please do it with the door closed?” The words of my long-suffering brother. Before you ask the noises in question were in fact muffled screams of agony emitted upon attempting to foam-roller my legs. I knew from past experience that recovering from a Half Marathon is not an easy task. For three days afterwards I dreaded walking down the stairs. Running induces a level of fatigue that I’ve never experienced after even the longest and hardest of rides. My feet too were suffering, the blisters spectacular in a mildly twisted way. For purposes of later in this post slow recovery from the half will be designated excuse number one.

An advantage of my temporary immobility was that it finally gave me some time in which to sit down and plan my season. A Half-Ironman in June was the original target but after the off-season from hell it was no longer a remotely realistic option. After six years of Cycling being the main priority I’ve decided to take a bit of a sabbatical, focusing primarily on running. I’m hoping that in doing so I’ll set myself up for a strong return to Triathlon next year, running having always been my achilles heel.

Running a full marathon has long since been on the bucket list. To that end I’ve entered one in ten weeks time. Currently I’m doing my level best not to think about how sore my legs are going to be after 26.2 miles when 13.1 managed to completely nuke them. Fortunately in terms of training it’s not rocket science, in fact my plan can be summed up in two words, “run lots“. Having been unable to run any longer than 10k in the run up to the Yeovil Half due to niggling foot injuries my endurance is in need of some serious work.

By far the most significant downside of having prioritised running is the pronounced loss of performance on the bike. Having done next to no riding in the last two weeks the Sunday club run was set to be a character forming experience. In all honesty it would have been sensible to avoid it and instead go for a long steady slow ride. As per usual the possibility of unofficially racing up the hills won out.

It started out well. For the first time in a fortnight the weather was borderline pleasant, it wasn’t raining and from time to time there was a small glimpse of blue sky. Sadly the roads haven’t cleared up yet, they’re still covered in mud, gravel and various other substances that I don’t want to think about. Here comes excuse number two – I was on my winter bike. It’s all of 2kg heavier than my summer ride, which must explain why the hills took so much out of me. Nothing whatsoever to do with the easter eggs, brownies, cake and pizza that may or may not have been consumed in generous amounts during this last week.

Unable to help myself I ended up spending a great deal of the first twenty-five miles of the planned seventy mile route on the front. Here comes excuse number three. Caught up in the adrenaline rush of a fast group ride I completely failed to take into account the fundamental truth, my distinct lack of fitness. For a brief time it was as if nothing had changed, my legs like their old selves, sprinting up every short incline and trying to keep up with the more powerful riders on the flats. However, as you can probably imagine it wasn’t too long before this exuberance started to catch up with me.

My final excuse for what happened next revolves around the terrible weather we’ve had to endure for the past few months. My hatred of the turbo trainer¬†coupled with the desire to try something new lead to Mountain Biking providing the solution. This year I’ve spent a great deal more time on my MTB with it’s upright riding position than on the Road Bike. At 21 years of age I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that after two hours on the road bike my back was completely done in. Reaching the cafe stop was an achievement in itself. I hoped that the chance to stop and refuel would rejuvenate me to the extent that I’d at least mange to make it home.

Unfortunately it was no such luck. Five miles after the Cafe stop I was gone, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced what is traditionally dubbed “the bonk”. For anyone who doesn’t know that’s code for when your legs completely stop working and you physically can’t carry on riding. In my case it’s usually accompanied by nausea and an overpowering sense of humiliation. I resigned myself to what was going to be an agonisingly slow ride home, shouting for the others to go on as I watched the group riding off into the distance.

Fortunately I only had to ride for a further five miles before reaching a nearby village and calling for a lift home. Only once had this happened before¬†, this time round it wasn’t quite as bad due to the absence of torrential rain. Nonetheless it wasn’t the way I planned the first club run of the spring to end. If nothing else it’s served to motivate me to get out on my bike and properly push myself again. Running will be given priority but I’m not going to stand for getting dropped on club rides.

Thanks for reading.

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