Doubt. Self-doubt. It’s horrible.
I’m sure you all want to hear how positive I feel about my abilities but sometimes that’s not the case. I’m going to put it down to riding with a Cat 1 racer on Saturday morning’s fast group ride with Stirling Bike Club. Another soon-to-be Cat 4 club mate is also a lot stronger than me; he’s made a fantastic transformation this year by dropping around 7 stone and getting really bloody fast. Well done Andrew!
So what’s my problem? Nothing really, I’m at the start of winter training and I’m still recovering from a cold; every hill on the Saturday’s ride had me coughing up a lung like it’s 1348. The ride also featured 1,300m of climbing over 70 miles - this time last year I wouldn’t have even considered going out with the fast guys in the club, so there are positives. It’s still demoralising going backwards on the climbs though…
The knock on of pushing myself on Saturday was sore legs on Sunday but this morning’s 22 mile ride into work was done at an average of 19mph, a quick check of Garmin Connect shows I was averaging 16.5mph over the same route this time last year, at the same heart rate.
And that brings me nicely to my winter training. I use 3 heart rate zones, many people use 6/7 but I must be simple because I have no idea what they mean. The 3-zone training came from Joe Beer, who coached me over winter last year, the theory being that you train for endurance in winter months by keeping a low HR which increases your aerobic base then build on that in the spring with speed sessions.
What has happened is that I’m quicker, but my body is doing the same amount of work. I had hoped that this would step me up to pro-level over one winter of training, but it seems that there’s more work required if you’ve spent 12 years sitting on your couch eating junk and supping beers!