Patience and Education

Less that 48 hours to go now.

On Monday, the next phase of restrictions get lifted. This will see us allowed to return to non essential shops, restaurants and pubs to enjoy a meal or indeed a pint (or other tipple). This is a big step on the path out of lockdown and one which many of us have been waiting for, for some time. I know of a number of people who have booked time off work, so they can enjoy a number of drinks on April 12th. I know many people who are excited to get back to ‘the way it was’. Even Boris said in his most recent press conference that he will be in the pub on Monday ‘cautiously and irreversibly having a pint.’ And in the words of a wise and astute individual I know: ‘And why wouldn’t you’!

However, unlike Boris, and others I know who will be attending a local establishment on Monday, I will not be in such haste to get to the pub. I will practice exercising a little further patience.

For me, patience seems to be my key theme at the moment. Strangely, It seems to be the main attribute I am developing through my training.

I am delighted to say that I have hired a cycling coach and have been working closely with Kath for 3 weeks now. We have a weekly call scheduled to discuss the previous and following weeks training schedule. Kath sets my training plan based on my goals as well as my current ability. I have probably been cycling approximately 200km a week over the last few weeks now. Add to that 4 hours of yoga and a number of core exercises – a lot of time is being invested. This training is delivering a return on that investment.

I hired Kath because I wanted to spend time training ‘properly’. I wanted to be supported in the build up to RAB by a professional coach who knows how to best get me in the position to be able to recover well, get up and go again.

Before I started to work with Kath, I didn’t really pay any attention to the ‘intensity’ of the session. If my average heart rate was 160-170, then so what, I’m training right? And so it went on, session after session, not thinking too much about the possibility of over training or ‘burnout’.

Now my week training contains some recovery rides where I am supposed to keep my heart rate around the 120-130 region. An easy task one would think. Not quite. I eagerly awaited my first recovery ride, under the impression it would be dead easy. I was wrong. Riding at this level of intensity, on a grey, slightly damp day at the beginning of April, leads to one thing. A cold, slow rider who was easily overtaken by a 13 year old – an annoyance to a competitive person like me. Becoming annoyed at the situation, I slammed the pedals down to try and warm up as well pick up some speed. I spent the rest of the session above the target zone.

Whilst it is acceptable not wanting to freeze, I was annoyed that I had veered away from my training session, trained at a higher intensity and had not followed my coaches advice.

In time, I have learnt how to ride these lower intensity rides, and indeed, become more educated in training within my heat rate zones. To the point I am now thoroughly enjoying it. I am able to see the woods through the trees. I have learnt that the intention of each ride is not to go hell for leather and ride hard until I cry.

Therefore, in recent weeks I have needed to introduce an element of patience into my training. I need to cycle to the plan. This does not mean chase the rider just ahead of me. The plan is bigger than a single ride and the resulting average speed. After all, RAB isn’t a one day race with a podium at the end. RAB is a 9 day event with a tent (and a hell of a lot more in the base camps) at the end of each day, day after day. The plan needs to result in me being able to recover quickly go again. There is no need in being annoyed if I do not do the daily 100 miles in 6.5 hours. This would not be a useful approach.

My training plan has helped provide a strong foundation to continue training and has added another layer of motivation. Without Kath’s input, I wouldn’t have been training as hard as I have recently. Fact. I am no longer considering whether to ride out – if its in the diary, it’s happening come wind, rain or shine.

Cycling in the rain and the wind has also needed me to invest additional patience. I used to get annoyed with it and wound up but now, I have embraced it. It is what it is and I have no control over it. Perhaps this is my yoga and meditation practice taking effect. Why not enjoy it? The result is actually a surprising one. I enjoy riding in the wind and the rain. There is a sense of escape, freedom and freshness. This feels something of a novelty after a year of lockdowns and sacrifices.

So there it is. Boris, and everyone else at the pubs on Monday, enjoy the day. It is a day that we have all been waiting for. I will be with you all there soon. I look forward to a beer and a meal out with everyone in the near future. But for now, I will cycle patiently into a headwind telling myself it is for the best (possibly being overtaken by a child).

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