7th January, 2017
If you read Part 1 then thank you! From this it was obvious I cannot be my own coach as my training always ends up as last on my 'to do' list and as my day fills with clients, paperwork, endless emails and juggling family commitments quite often the training never actually happens as before I know it is time for dinner and bed. If I have cycled to, from and with a client I will do a decent mileage, but of course this is not specific training for my goals.
Whilst in Manchester at The National Cycling Centre attending Training Peaks University and gaining my Level 2 Training Peaks Certification I had the good fortune to bump into Rob Lee who I haven't seen for over 20 years (a real blast from the past, from before I even owned a bike, but that really is another story!). It was clear his coaching ethos is similar to my own and his performance based, data driven coaching might be just what I needed.
My embarrassment at my poor 2016 training strategy meant it took me a few days to ask for his help with my preparation for Transalp and I am already delighted that I did. After encouraging me to think more clearly about my 2017 goals and drilling into exactly what I want to achieve and what is important to me, Rob has taken me on as a client. It is such a relief to hand over responsibility for the planning and structure of my training and a great motivation to know he is supporting me, challenging me and of course checking up on me!
I did a talk recently for 50 women at a Bella Velo CC evening discussing the benefits of coaching and said:
"It is so difficult to make objective decisions about your own training and racing, not least because such decisions are often emotional as well as physical. A coach will help you focus on your priorities and give you impartial advice and honest feedback on your choices (even though it might not be what you want to hear!)."
It wasn't until Rob challenged me to think clearly about my riding that I realised just how strongly tied to my emotions my riding really is and hence these recent blog posts!
In the previous post I said I want to feel and train like an athlete by having structured, focussed training so I have agreed with Rob my key training sessions will always happen in the morning to ensure it takes priority. This will mean some diary juggling, but I am committed to mornings even if it means training at 5am.
I am a great believer in the benefits of training with power and have been using on my ‘best’ bike for a few years. Black Friday gave me the opportunity to add power meters to both my winter bike and mountain bike which will mean we have accurate and consistent data to work with ensuring I really do maximise my training.
Another of my goals is to increase my pace over technical terrain. With this in mind I booked a trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain for 3 days of technical terrain in November and a place on the Club La Santa MTB training camp in January. However if you follow my social media feeds you will have seen I managed to break my arm while in Spain! Prior to this I was riding well and enjoying the trip! I would love to say I did it on an epic gap jump or while practising a new trick, but it was a slow motion fall and instinctively I put my hand out to save myself.
In the week following the accident the pain and swelling meant it was not sensible to ride, but I used the time productively and ensured I had the turbo and Zwift set up ready to resume training. I also used this time to start considering my other goals of improving my nutrition off the bike and improving flexibility.
After two plaster casts I finally had surgery just before Christmas and am now working hard to regain strength in my arm.
As you can imagine I have been slightly frustrated at being stuck inside, so I am conducting a very scientific study, of one participant, into the benefits of SAD lamps! Like most people I am often less cheery in the doom and gloom of winter, but this year the effects have been magnified! My gut feeling (very scientific) is that it is helping, in fact it is on right now. I am using it every morning when at the desk replying to emails etc to ensure I get the recommended 20 minute concentrated dose of 10,000 lux into the corner of my eye!
It is vital for me to improve my power to weight ratio to meet the goal of finishing higher up the rankings this year at Transalp. To do this I need to both train hard and reduce my body fat percentage (hopefully reducing my weight by 5Kg in the process to get back close to my lowest racing weight). My nutrition is not terrible, but there is definitely room for improvement and this again tends to slip down the ‘to do’ list. With this in mind I spoke with Sally at fitnaturally who’s sensible, realistic, non faddy approach to fresh food and the benefits of fresh air and exercise I have always admired. With years of experience Sally and her team of qualified nutritionists offer bespoke weekly meal plans aimed at everyone from athletes, shift workers, students, busy parents, workaholics or in fact anyone keen to be lean, fit and healthy for ever (no faddy diets here).
Sally’s plans have been hugely successful for many of my clients and, having negotiated my first weeks plan with two fussy teenagers, I am super excited about starting on Monday and being an advocate for fitnaturally in 2017.
Flexibility and stretching properly is another of my 2017 goals. My body tolerated over 14,000km on the bike in 2016, but I am aware this is not good for my posture or flexibility. The lovely Lucy Day owns Windsor Warrior Yoga Studio offering stretching for both mind and body which sounds perfect! Once my arm can take my body weight (of which there will hopefully be less of soon!) then I will be joining some of her classes.
This process of really thinking about goals properly has really helped me, but the big learn for me is that I don’t have to do everything myself and that it is ok to ask for help! I have always put immense pressure on myself, in all parts of my life, and have a tendency towards perfectionism which is great for my clients and work life, but not always so good for me as my needs always come last and consequently I become frustrated as I do not make the progress in my own life and training that I desire. It will always be a juggle with family, life, work, training as it is for any amateur athlete but this year, with a little help from my friends, is going to be a good year!
Bring it on!