On Monday night I had a great run, just 3 miles as called for in my training plan but what made it great was that each mile was run under 8 minutes. This was a huge confidence booster as I’d managed to almost convince myself that I was seriously out of shape and unfit.
I felt comfortable whilst running and suffered no ill effects afterwards. I’ve recently started running in Nike Lunarglides, which are a much lighter shoe than the ones I usually run in. They are less supportive, my usual weapon of choice – Asics Nimbus – has been described as being a “comfy sofa” by a fellow runner, so I was keen to take my coach’s advice and start working slowly towards a lighter shoe. So far I’ve been really impressed with them. I’ve also done away with my orthotics and have not had any problems with my achilles or hamstring. We’ll see if this continues.
So on Tuesday morning I woke up full of the joys of…erm…winter….feeling that although I’m still not where I need to be in terms of fitness, I’m not actually stood on the edge staring into the abyss. So it was with this confidence that I decided to drag myself along to the COLT chaingang cycling session.
Now for those of you that never heard of a chaingang here’s how it works: The rider on the front rides at speed for however long they can, when they’ve had enough they swing out, and the rest come past, the new rider on the front now puts in the effort and the original front rider joins the back and drafts for some “free speed” until it’s their turn on the front. Obviously the more riders there are the more rest you get. Simple eh?
Big Kev ( as in powerhouse not fat ) led us out, I sucked his wheel and Crazy Ian ( apt name ) and two others followed. After a few minutes Kev swung out and I was on the front. No longer sheltered by the 6ft plus wind break I was almost blown backwards as the headwind slammed into me. Head down, arse up and pedal Holgate. I managed to get up to 21mph, my legs were on fire, my lungs were coming out of my chest – a few minutes later I swung out, knackered. The others came through, and Crazy Ian hit the front. Ian is one of the best cyclists in the club, I realise now it was a huge mistake of mine to be one place in front of him. He hit the front like a steam train, I went off the back like a wagon in sidings. There was no response and in the space of 30 seconds they had 100m on me. Alone and in a headwind, the gap just got longer and longer. I cursed as I tried to get my legs to respond but they just couldn’t. I spent the next 40 minutes trying to catch 4 other cyclists working together….it was never going to happen. In a sadistic sort of way I enjoyed it, I worked harder than I probably would have done if I’d been out on my own. And although it firmly put me in my place in terms of my fitness it kickstarted me into wanting to work harder, where I am and where I want to be are still poles apart – but that’s probably the same for most people right? Only one way to solve that, work harder and work smarter.
It was actually the first time I’d been out on my bike in over a month, and it felt good to record my first 20 miles of the year. Next week I shall be there in the dark, on the bypass, with the ambition to at least do two turns on the front. Hopefully it will make me a stronger cyclist.