Tags: advice, beginner, biking, cross, cross-training, cycling, diary, tips, training
So, remember all that remounting practice? I bashed my shin pretty hard on the pedal a couple of times, and thought that was why my lower leg and ankle hurt while walking afterwards. But I went for a run on the Sunday and ouch. Ow, ow, ow. Ankle pain. Had to walk home. Iced it and strapped it up and, well, it’s getting better slowly I think but, urgh. Very frustrated as I don’t dare to run or jump, so ‘cross practice (never mind racing) is off the agenda for a bit. Bah!
And what of you, poor blog readers, anxious for the next instalment? Well, it’s a well-kept secret, but if you look away for a moment while I nip into this Portaloo, I’ll emerge as… Training Tsarina! Here, this week only, to answer your training and injury queries*. Fire away!
Dear Training Tsarina: I know everyone says cross-train, but do I have to? I’m a cyclist! Running is for nutters! And if I swim, people might think I’m a triathlete! Thanks, @HeadDownIntoTheWind
Dear HDITW: Think again. Not only does monomania make HDTIW a dull boy, cross-training lessens your risk of overuse injuries. It also means that if you pick up an injury that stops you cycling, you may still be able to run or swim instead, so you won’t go nuts. And I know you hate the gym, but if you can find something you can bear to do indoors this is a real bonus, as you can still do it when it snows.
Dear Training Tsarina: Stretching is for wusses, isn’t it? Yours, @BunchedCalves
Dear BC: Many people shun stretching, thinking it is only for hardbody gymnasts and attention-seeking minor celebrities. But stretching helps to avoid weird aches and pains brought on by tight muscles pulling your body about, and also means you decrease your chances of having to walk sideways down the stairs the next morning.
Hey, Training Tsarina! I’ve discovered running! It’s brilliant! I’m doing fifteen miles a day! I feel great! Marathon next week! Love, @KeenAsMustard
Dear KAM: For you, the golden rule of training: Try harder, but just a little bit harder. The guy who ran my Uni circuits class used to bellow at us, ‘If you want to get FITTAH, you will have to work HARDAH!’ This is true. But suddenly doing loads more than you are used to ends in tears and pulled muscles. Add a little extra loop to your run; do a few more lengths of the pool. Don’t go mad.
Dear Training Tsarina: I’ve got my routine down pat now. Treadmill Monday and Wednesday; weight training Friday; long run Sunday. Trouble is, I’m bored stupid. And I don’t seem to be getting any fitter, or losing any more weight. Yours, @CreatureOfHabit
Dear CoH: Surprise your body. If you always do the same stuff, week in, week out, your body gets good at it, and stops adapting, and you stop getting fitter. Do something different: go for a hike. Or a swim. Or try yoga, or Pilates.
Dear Training Tsarina: Pilates? You’re joking, right? @NotGwynethPaltrow
Dear NGP: Be open to ideas. One of the best things I ever did was take up kung fu. I was the only girl in the beginners, and I had somehow overlooked that the main point of martial arts is hitting people. Ouch. But it was brilliant: I got stronger, and faster, and had a laugh. Even just a small change can be fun, like leaving your iPod at home and reading on the cross-trainer instead. Give it a go: it might work.
Dear Training Tsarina: All the training manuals say you should get out first thing in the morning. Trouble is, I can’t function before I’ve had poached eggs on toast and two cups of tea and read the paper. Do I have to? It’s making me miserable. Love, @NotAMorningPerson
Dear NAMP: Here’s the most important principle bar none. Work out what you and your body like, and do it. Don’t feel like you have to go running every day if it makes you grumpy and tired, even if Shirley from no. 42 does it and she seems fine. If you like short bursts of effort, but keeping going for hours on end makes you sad and lonely, don’t feel you have to do Audax riding. Be nice to yourself. Enjoy what you do.
*Of course, you are thinking to yourself, ‘Why should I take training advice from @accidentobizaro? Isn’t she, well, a bit crap?’ This is true. But as @spandelles points out on his blog, Proper Training Advice from Successful Athletes can be enough to make you hang up your SPDs in despair. No doubt you have lots of tips for me, too; I’d love to hear them. There’s a comments box just down there for them. Ta.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to my virtual training buddies, @mmmaiko, @CycleHermit and @stuckinoregon, for fun and thought-provoking conversations on these topics. All errors and idiotic pronouncements are my own.