Barely one month ago as I sat in front of the computer tired from a mere 1 hour ride with numb, lingering aches from my right knee and lower back I thought about if I’d succeed in getting fit enough to enjoy long rides again without pain and chronic fatigue. I had my doubts but five weeks on I’m sure those doubts can be put to bed.
Just after the festive period when all the excess food had been consumed and days in the pub exhausted I decided that it was time to get properly fit again and try and get back to a level I saw 4/5 years ago. I hadn’t become sedentary and still rode and on occasion raced but also went to University (…) so didn’t maintain what I’d consider a good level of fitness but enough to hopefully mean that getting started again wouldn’t be to uncomfortable.
I started out in mid January getting in a number of 1hr rides in each week aiming for consistency rather that big rides, lots of fatigue and generally overdoing it to soon. Slow and steady, finish rides strong, not dead and other sensible training phrases come to mind. I didn’t feel great and greasy, slippy roads didn’t really enhance my enjoyment (although did add excitement on occasion) but in the back of my mind I just was telling myself to keep plugging away, which I did.
January turned into February rather sharply and I was still plugging/sliding away on the bike, never really doing more than 1.5hr at a time but old problematic injury areas were kicking up a fuss, namely lower back and right knee. These injuries and weaknesses were my major concern when choosing to get fit again having held me back in the past. They occurred due to a number of reasons such as bad saddle position, seized vertebra, overuse and poor core strength. I had been working on core strength and stretching but still my injuries weren’t happy. My saddle position still wasn’t ideal so set about putting that right first, I knew it’d take a while for my body to adjust but thought in the long run it’d mean less injuries and better leg efficiency so stuck it out.
So it got towards the end of February (where the intro to this post sits) and I still felt pretty pathetic and achy on a bike questioning my aims and goals but then it all began to fall into place. My ligaments got used to the new position and no longer felt like fully stretched bits of elastic, my legs instead of feeling like lead started to get a bit of light zippyness to them and to top that roads were drying out and so less chance of dying as a result of riding on a skid-pan. It was all looking good and even more so after some more advice, kicking and clicking from the bone doctor. All I had to do now was attempt a big week.
This was the plan from the start, a few months of very gradual build up and then a big week to test how I was going and to work out if early season goals were possible. The weekend before the big week was a family do away from home and away from the bike giving my body time to adjust to the final bone clicking session and recover from any possible fatigue. I was a little apprehensive before the first 4hr session as I hadn’t ridden for that long at that pace from a long time as well as wondering if my knee and back could take the pace. Luckily for me though was that this week coincided with some excellent weather making the task less daunting.
First day and I rode out to the hills and managed a number of hill intervals at endurance pace that were pretty consistent and felt strong on the flats but the best thing was that neither my knee or my back caused me any trouble, to say they were perfect would be a lie but it was only a month or so ago when I’d get into trouble after only one hour! If this single, strong 4hr ride wasn’t enough to be over the moon about the fact I did 3 other similar rides as well as a couple of shorter ones this week is simply amazing to me. I was fatigued for them but it was a type of fatigue that still allowed me to ride at the desired intensity or even higher if I wished too. Now that’s something I haven’t felt for over half a decade 🙂
I think its safe to say that this first big week of training was defiantly a success. Time for a recovery week before repeating and building towards my first goals of the season.
Bring it on!