First off, not much to review last year! 2020 contained four races for me, one an actual race at Gorrick and a couple of virtual endurance zwift jobs amongst a make your own course Trust event (the latter I randomly won). With a lack of races like anyone I was struggling to motivate myself but overall I’m chuffed that I didn’t fall off the wagon gazza style, particularly after the arrival of William the mega baby.
The routine and focus training and riding created was just what was needed to keep some normality during the unnormal times (Thanks Lee @ transition). Plus training with power gives so much clearer indication of progress where the rest of life seemed to be wading through treacle at times. I’d had to reduce riding things down significantly at times particularly in first lockdown with home childcare carnage but I’d still managed to tick over and more importantly want to do so.
A lovely jaunt around Wales was a tough challenge but that alongside helping buddy Alan to break a world record were a couple of highlights amongst the lack of any races.
One epiphany for me within the process of figuring out how to be a good dad, husband, diy bodger and endurance rider extraordinaire was that I have to now think differently about motivations to get do the ‘numbers’ training around the normal riding stuff. I felt like with everything going on that if I stuck to the mostly head down training focus based riding I’d done in the past at times then it was likely that I wouldn’t keep this up. So I thought about how to find motivation amidst the carnage and time pressures that worked for me. For the first time in my riding life I entertained the idea of stopping for a coffee and cake mid ride! I know this is a staple requirement for most but it’s just never really been in my mindset as I wanted to just focus on enjoying the riding and do the cake stop afterwards or whatever. So rides started to include looking at where to get a good slice, well at least when stuff was open anyway!
Another part of finding motivation in different ways was to go on more rides with others. The general lack of human contact in the last year where I’ve previously been in a team office environment has been a hard change and I’ve definitely not enjoyed working at home like others have. Home is home, work is work as far my views on it go and the cycle between the two is the time to switch off. Not having that divide has left me in no mans land in my head at time with the break of what otherwise has been a 15 year routine riding to work most days. I’ve not only been missing the human interaction but also the meditation a regular cycle commute can provide.
Wanting to find the time?
My issue was that with increased pressures on family time and home time, by choice I might add, I had to figure out how to find the time and if I had the motivation to work with the variables involved. I’ve thought for a while that people who say they don’t have the time haven’t really thought about what they mean when they say it. I think in many cases it’s more of just the fact that they don’t WANT to find the time. Maybe that long bike ride isn’t as attractive as staying in bed or having a few beers the night before or staying up late to watch some crap on netflix. The time is there if you want to find it, so for me this was readjusting sleeping patterns to hit the hay super early but get up at 5 and on the bike often by 5.20am. I’ve seen others do this in the past and thought them bonkers, now I get it though. After a 3 hour mid week ride and still enough time to help sort the kids out for the day I feel like a totally different person. This compared to the journey from kitchen to home office (aka the spare bedroom misery). Fortunately I know a couple of other endurance nutters so have managed to drag a few people out on early ones via the now necessary cake stop (challenging to find cake at 8am though!). I’ve massively enjoyed these rides and although at times the pace might not have been training ‘ideal’ (sorry Lee) they have kept my motivation in check for the more focused numbers sessions that I think would have just killed off my enthusiasm otherwise. All this said perhaps doing this stuff is so ingrained in habit I’d probably feel lost without it so the fear of lost in space is perhaps what drives me?!
Ok so brain download complete about the new differently motivated me.
So we’ve managed to more or less keep our shit together in the last year and not worried about the weighing scales what next?
Well to keep a nice number of three things (mates and cake number 1 and 2) the third has been setting a new goal for 2021. I always like a bit of a challenge to keep me motivated and increasingly they are outside of racing, on my own terms and what I’m interested in.
So enter the IRONSHAM. The idea to do a Self Supported, Self Designed, Off Road, Iron Man distance triathlon. The SHAM being a bit of a play with the fact that from the outside looking in, Iron Man looks a bit wanky for want of a better description! The whole tattoo on legs thing, mahusive corporate machine side of thing doesn’t really float my boat but I do like the concept, and well it’s there so… So despite a serious lack of swimming and/or running ability I thought I’d give it a go. I did a bit of googling and to my surprise this doesn’t really seem to be a thing. Sure people have done self made iron man distance stuff but pretty much on road from what I could see and with support crews. I for one love a good support crew setup as much as anyone but in the current climate and in some ways to simplify it, I’m going to rock it solo. I’ve probably used up a fair few supporter cards in the past as well so will let them have some down time in the hope of some future pitting support at some stage again!
The reason for throwing swimming/ running in to the mix is driven by wanting to challenge myself in a different way but also to learn those life skills I’ve never really cracked as such. I’ve never swam for more than say 30 minutes and although having run two marathons and one half these were done slowly and entirely reliant on cycling fitness rather than any actual running form or conditioning (and nearly 10 years ago!). Another reason is that these things for me are quick and easy to fit in compared to the at times faff of cycling. Running is a dream from where we live, endless footpaths to explore whilst the local pool is 10 minutes up the road. I think the bang for buck of swimming/ running is much higher than cycling and also provides some more all round conditioning cycling alone can lack.
So where am I at now?
Well it’s not exactly been easy to start the IRONSHAM journey with pools closing etc but I’ve just been starting very slowly on both and trying to learn how to do them properly. I’ve always had tight calves when running so keen to overcome that with improved posture and flexibility whilst swimming has never been something comfortable with me and I’m even planning on getting some lessons! Swimming is a super foil for cycling as well as it stretches you out in all the opposite directions that cycling lacks so I’m hoping it will in fact keep me from being crippled later in life. Indeed my grandad swam well in to his 80’s and was really mobile late in life so that’s a good incentive.
So if I can manage to figure how to run without injury, swim efficiently and keep the bike fitness at the same time, I’ll be giving this concept a crack over the summer.
If you’ve made it this far down the read then you are already an endurance athlete so if you fancy giving it a go as well then holla? Maybe it could become ‘a thing?!’