Commutering was getting a bit wearing last week, not to mention being at work all day and seeing the sun shining outside (not a problem I've encountered too much when living in rainy Scotland!) but with the sun shining on Sunday and some spare time it was a spiritual tonic to get out on the road and put in some decent miles.
My training plan has been all about building speed and efficiency with the focus being on interval training and longer, steady miles on the weekends to accomodate work, but ever the glutton for punishment even the weekend training miles have tended to be pretty full-on hill fests if not riding actual hilly sportives. The problem with this being that not really having the base fitness to cope, my heart rate is ramped up into the red just by looking at the route map on my gps the night before, which kind of undermines the principle of building up fitness slowly and at low intensity. So... I thought that after a pretty full on working week which involves pretty physical labour in shifting crates of up to a ton about large warehouses, I'd be kind to myself and venture out into flat (?) Essex.
And what a day. Short sleeves. Short eh, shorts. Sun. And a fairy energetic 100k with some moderate climbs, minimal stops and a meager snack bar and fistfull of Haribo for sustenance. Bar the Chelsea tractors that were out in force to pit themselves against some impressive potholes, it was a damn fine day and one which left me feeling a bit more positive about my training so far. Once out the smog and sprawl of London, my pace is definitely creeping up both on-road and on-turbo (to give you an idea, a few weeks ago I'd be struggling to hit a total 23/25km on an hour's turbo workout, now I'm venturing up to 26-28km, with my cadence is going up, and heartrate easing down). Where my legs would feel pretty melted for a few days after a four or five hour, full effort ride, I have a bit more of a spring in my step the next day and can muster a normal turbo session if I want, so recovery time is improving too. My weight is continuing to creep down too, having dropped about 4kg now to 69kg since when I began training in November whilst eating like a horse and really not denying myself too much of anything-and though I'm still aiming for an 'ideal' of 63kg I'm well on my way to a good race weight I think. Add some liberal core strength training courtesy of my new job (too much to be honest as I'm usually so tired when I get home from work I want to do anything but get on the already intimidating turbo) and the fact that I'm earning a bit more and can at least envisage saving up for some new bike-shaped treats, and it's going in the right direction.
This might not be glittering palmares, but as a build-up into longer, more intense rides and events like the Etape, it's going in the right direction and hopefully, with a bit more sunshine to inspire my legs, enough time to peak just before the event-which is now a mere 15 weeks away...