Starting from “Scratch”

A New Years “word” from Coach Steve

You know the how the saying goes, ‘the older I get the faster I was’? Well I am that person. I am that person who tells others how to ride but has been slipping further and further from form over the last few years to the point where I struggle to ride the distance at any speed never mind a tempo pace with a few competitive youngsters. It just sort of happened and any blame would merely be an excuse. I am the only one responsible for this situation so I am the one who has to do something about it. Time for a bit of my own medicine. 

How did I come to this realization? Well, I got a proper wakeup call this last week when I went out to join Daryl Impey, Casper Kruger and our junior team for their December training camp in Hazyview. The idea was perfect and I was pretty certain I would handle just fine. I didn’t handle just fine. In fact I was seen as the old guy who was deserving of sympathy and encouragement. Not a situation I am used to. It took less than 10km of beating before the realization dawned that I needed to regroup. The old adage came to mind as a motivator: “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” – I have no idea who to accredit that to. 

Daryl Impey and Casper Kruger on a 5 Hour Training Ride

So with the distaste of humiliation in my mind that evening I decided to make sure I worked myself back from the brink of absolute uselessness using some advice I would have given others. 

Consistencyis probably the most important factor in maintaining health and wellness – both needed pillars of support for performance. I had let this principle slide by telling myself it is okay to miss a session and I would make it up. Bottom line is that once you give up a single session you are far more likely to give up others.

So from there on I made sure I got out and did my bit every day. My goal was 2 to 3 hours of consistent effort with my heart rate at no higher than 85% of max but preferably sitting at 70% none stop for that time. I got those sessions in. Just me, my bike and a few hours of Podcasts for company (I like history so I might as well get my dose of The British History podcast while passing the time pedaling and breathing). I managed to tick this box for 5 days. Horay! 

Next up was the dietwhich has been about as disciplined as my training has been over the last year or so. Staying at a hotel and being with friends and family this was a long ask. I needed to bring my eating under control in a few ways. Total quantity per meal, total number of meals and what the meals consisted of. My plan was the following. Eat 3 meals a day with everyone else but try get into a calorie deficit but increase fibre. Simple. 

I would ride with having had a single coffee but eat a nut/seed bar on the ride with hydration covered with my PTS Performance Fuel. On returning from the ride (I was not exhausted but I was tired) I would join the family for breakfast where I would have another coffee (1stone black) and some muesli and yoghurt. This would round off the start of the day. 

Lunch would be a meal (and it always seemed to come quickly) with friends and family. It would typically be a salad with no dressing. Water would be the accompanying beverage just to keep it clean. 

Dinner would be a bit more indulgent. I would try do healthy and light but usually ended up being healthy only. 

How did I fare on this task? I would give myself 75%. It definitely could have been better but I am happy to have got the process of control started. The bad 25% could be explained with terms like “Harry’s pancakes”, “Belgian chocolate” and “snack platters”….

My last focal point was around life. I had to keep in mind that I am not a pro or even remotely close to it so I should give myself a break. More than that I was on holiday with my family and it was selfish to not have energy to enjoy the time with them too. So we did the touristy things and made the most of the opportunity with the environment for the kids to have a great time. The kids got to ride, run, swim, play and generally be kids. They also got to ride quad bikes, pet an elephant, see hippos and explore. 

No, I’m not hanging on, Im discussing tactics with Coach Bosseau

So in conclusionthe end result remains to be seen –it is early days yet but my mind has been drawn to the need to clean up my act. The process has started. And this is exactly what it is. To be an athlete (or in my case to aspire to get a little bit closer to being an athlete) I would need to engage the process without an absolute goal. This needs to be about lifestyle. I got out of shape over a long period so now I need to give myself a long period to get back into shape. 

I will report back in a few weeks with how the rest of December has gone. For now I am off to the gym to test my fitness (MMP) and then a jog with the dogs down by the river. 

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