There and Back Again

Five weeks ago I watched forlornly as my training partners disappeared up the hill; yesterday, on that very same hill, I set my all-time PB.

2013 fitness

It’s been an odd last few months. After a big push leading up to the Byron Bay Triathlon in May, I took 3 months almost completely off. I ducked out every now and then for a jog, but I barely touched the bike.

The main reason was my year-long niggling injury, which I self-diagnosed as a High Hamstring Tendinopathy (self-diagnosis, you ask? Well, that’s another story!). The niggle had been getting slowly worse so I decided to give it a good break.

I’ve always blamed the bike for this injury, as it first occurred after I started doing long rides for Ironman NZ. So my main goal was to get off the bike for a bit (never mind that I’d tried a month off the bike in January with no improvement at all – never let the facts get in the way of a good theory!).

By August, my fitness was at an all-time low. Well, as low as it’s been since I started recording fitness data anyway! And the real loser was my cycling fitness.

2013 bike fitness

By this time I’d realised that my injury still hurt just as much as it did before, even though I wasn’t training! So I donned the lyrca and headed back out on the bike, for my regular Wednesday morning hill ride. The first of these was very entertaining. I tried to power up the hills and watched as, one after another, my old training companions rode away from me. The only way from there was up! With each ride there was a steady improvement, culminating in yesterday’s ride where I had my best power figures for 2013 (over the 20sec to 1min range), and also set a new PB for the Guineas Creek Road climb.

This is puzzling because, according to the lore of fitness, fatigue and form, of power meters and Performance Management Charts, my current CTL of 12 (down from my peak of 43 in May) should not enable me to be performing all-time best efforts. According to the numbers, my bike fitness is crap!

So I reckon that must have been a soft PB – even though I’ve ridden that hill 70 times before!

But still, there is another, even more important factor at play here: mental freshness.

After a long break from the bike, I came back expecting that I would hurt on the bike; knowing that I would have to push really hard; knowing that I would inevitably blow-up. There was a willingness, almost an eagerness, to suffer. But once you’ve been on the bike for a few months, grinding out the same hard sessions, the desire to push beyond your limits, even when going head-to-head with someone, diminishes.

I’ll be interested to see how long this mental freshness lasts. I don’t have any key races planned this year, but I’d like to build my bike up to two rides/100km per week. I also have a vague desire to get my parkrun (5km) PB down below 18 (currently 18:11) by Xmas. And knowing that I’ll be in NZ over the Xmas holidays, I’d like to get my long run up to 3 hours, so I can explore some of the beautiful kiwi trails.

So that’s the plan of the rest of 2013: ride more, run longer, run faster. Too easy!

The Tararuas

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