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Training, and all that goes with it!

As I sit here, waiting for Holby City to start (I know! But it’s a guilty pleasure!), about to tuck into a Wispa and waiting for my coffee to cool, I’m feeling guilty.

Guilty because it’s Tuesday night and I should be doing a sprint session on the turbo as that’s part of my routine, guilty because a Wispa really isn’t part of a healthy diet (nor is it a well deserved treat – I have eaten quite a few biscuits, a piece of cake and now said Wispa alongside my 5 a day and three staple, carb filled meals), and guilty because my ride last night undid all the good I did in the gym at lunchtime because yet again, I over did it and tweaked my hamstring for a second time, hence why I’m not punishing myself tonight on the turbo.

I’m no expert at this, because evidently, I’m not doing everything or anything right but I can vent my thoughts about mountain bike training.

Last year was a brilliant year for my racing. I podiumed in most local events and exceeded my expectations in the two National level races that I entered; Ard Rock and the Whyte British National Enduro Championships at Tweedlove. But how do you top that? By doing well it gives you further to fall and expectations (your own and those you perceive of other people) to at least do as well next year.

I felt last summer that I’d completely lost my nerve and come winter I felt fat and extremely unfit. After a period of regular sports massage with Chris at CC Professional Fitness for two separate injuries, I was coerced into signing up for weekly PT sessions through the offer of a free t shirt! I needed to do something to shift the weight and so it was either PT or Slimming World. I’m convinced I made the right choice for me.

It’s amazing how paying someone to gruel you in the gym makes you commit yourself to other activities. For 6 weeks I did eat a very healthy, chocolate and cake free diet and started myself on a five day exercise / two day rest routine. However, six weeks in, it was apparent that as the weight was falling off me, I was now lacking energy and needed to up my calorie intake to fuel the exercise.

Once I’d broken the chocolate seal, despite my best intentions, I couldn’t leave the stuff alone. And here lies my current state! I think it’s probably the story of my life; I try to eat well but I am often tempted by bad things. And despite my current feeling of guilt, I am starting to believe that as long as it’s not every day, it’s ok. Whether My Fitness Pal agrees, I wouldn’t know, but it was a good way to get me thinking about what I ate.

As for the exercise, it all seemed to be going so well! I was training in the gym with Chris on a Monday lunchtime, then riding with my Monday Night XC group in the evening. I spent Tuesdays in front of Holby on the Halfords £99 turbo trainer using a GCN video off YouTube (none of these fancy smart trainers). Wednesday lunchtimes I was running 4 miles or so with the dogs and Thursday nights I met up with my “enduro” mates for a fairly relaxed tour of Grogley. Latterly I added in a lunchtime run on a Friday, work permitting and I tried to get at least one ride in on the weekend.

However, the racing season started and I may have underestimated how much even the shortest race takes out of you. I convinced Chris that I could still train and… snap… a tweak to my left hip flexor. Two weeks of recovery in the gym and then snap… something in my left bum cheek went ping! Then an off last Wednesday… snap… something funny happened to my hamstring as I left my leg behind.

So for the last 6 weeks or so, my gym sessions have been based on recovery, mainly because pretty much every weekend has seen me racing or at least riding. It doesn’t feel proactive at all but I guess I’ve got to listen to my body. I’ve added in 20 minutes of yoga off an app that I try to do 4 times a week just before bed (not ideal but I cannot sacrifice a night of ride time to go to a class) to try to loosen my body up. Having said that, we were treated to an evening of yoga and mountain biking last Friday at Woodys Bike Park, hosted by Jay Williamson and Casey Gemma. An awesome mix of both that ticked all the boxes and was a proper laugh as well! I’m just hoping that this becomes a regular occurrence, although it does rely on my parents having the kids.

So back to the guilt. It’s hard work balancing work, family life and bikes without adding in extra hours of training, even if it is in my “spare time”; lunch breaks and when the kids are in bed. I worry that by adding in that extra thing I’m permanently a little bit knackered and as a result, just a little bit more irritable. So then I question whether it’s helping my mental well-being or not?

Training is helping my strength and fitness on the bike and so it is, in turn, making it more fun. I gave Chris the task of improving my jumping as a joke but I honestly believe that, although he’s targeting my gym work to every aspect of mountain biking, it is having a positive effect on my jumping too. After two years of trying, it’s so satisfying to finally get it! That feeling whilst your in the air is just amazing!

Attention to technique is so important in the gym and not something that I’d ever been good at consistently on the bike but it does seem to be having a positive effect. That and some on bike training from my mates and Jay.

So, even though I’m slightly knackered, a little bit irritable and battling with sore bits for most of the time, I do feel the best I’ve ever felt. For once in my life I’m happy in my shell although I will forever suffer with guilt. Time on my bike is time away from my family but as it’s my drug, I’m not sure they’d want to be around me if I didn’t get my fix!


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