cycling · fitness · Guest Post · injury

A letter to my bike (Guest post)

Dear Ernie,

Wow. That was awesome, so much fun and so easy. Just like I remember.

Can you believe it was almost a year that you sat gethering dust under the stairs? I guess you can hey? You were back within days after the crash, having had your check up at the bike shop and gotten the all clear (and a chain clean for good measure). I, on the other hand, was pretty busy with the surgery to fix my elbow, dental for the teeth, the rehab, the healing, then life got pretty hectic.

If I am honest though, I avoided you. Physically I probably could have ridden without too much discomfort about 4 months ago. Possibly even 6 months ago. But mentally, I just wasn’t sure I could get past the notion that we might go over again. Which at the same time feels a little silly as I don’t remember going over last time. So I just let you sit there, your tyres flat and dust accumulating on the freshly oiled chain. What if it wasn’t easy any more? What if my hand, elbow or shoulder hurt too much? The fitness we had going last summer was gone. We literally crashed back through square one.

Fortunately the square root of one, is one. So wherever we start, it’s the new beginning.

And what a perfect beginning.  A warm summers night, the crit track at Victoria Park just outside the city. A girls rugby team training in the middle, the smell of lush grass rising with the last of the day’s heat (with small children a dog and balls going every which way to keep up on our toes). Around and around we went, spinny drills, some  sprint drills and  a few tempo ‘efforts’. Acknowledgement that we really need to do more sprint drills and maybe find a hill or 5 million to climb. Your form was great, my legs were a bit light on. But the ease, it was there. After 3 laps of the circuit it was like it always was.

I missed  you Ernie. I missed our adventures. Blaney to Bathurst through the rolling countryside of central New South Wales. Fitz’s 105km out the back of Canberra and the slowest ascent in the history of cycling, no – I didn’t think it was possible to ride at under 8km per hour and not fall over either, but there we were.  Beach weekends to “race” in triathons. Early mornings in the dead of winter with the development squad girls cutting laps of Old Parliament House in the dark. Sunday rides with Linda and the Piglet.

We’re not in Canberra anymore, but there are plenty of adventures in Adelaide too. In fact, all your fancy rich cousins from all across the globe come around in January every year for the Tour Down Under. I’m sure they’d love to see you! We’re going to have to do quite a bit of  work on getting up the hills out of town to watch them. But there’s plenty of time.

In the meantime I’ve just signed us up for Criterion training again. You’ll love it. It’s with a group of beginners. Yes, I know you know about Crit racing mate, but I think it’s best we take this chance to get going slowly.  Get out confidence back and make some new friends too.

Well, I’ve got to go. I guess I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for waiting for me. Thanks for not forgetting how we roll.


fitness · Guest Post · swimming · training · triathalon

Swimming to beat the heat (Guest post)

Not a bad way to spend weekday mornings

Mid-December I was struggling with the seemingly enormous task of returning to some semblance of my previous fitness level when I read here about Sam’s run streak. I thought it was a great idea and the concept of ‘little runs’ consistently is quite appealing.

I think on any day I could get myself out of the house to jog for a mile. Multiply that distance by 3 and all of a sudden I build a wall of expectations (too far, too slow, too tired) that create a barrier to getting out the door.

Backing up a little. I was cleared by my GP to return to exercise in August after a long hiatus. Starting slowly I began with regular sessions in the gym, returning to swimming when my local open air pool re-opened in October, occasionally cycling with a local club and becoming a semi-regular at my local ParkRun on Saturday morning.

My long term return-to-fitness goal is a long course triathlon. But for now, I was lost. Standing at the bottom of this fitness mountain looking up and trying to develop a program that would fit all my expectations and needs it was all a bit overwhelming.

My fears were exacerbated by the searing heat of the Adelaide summer. We have already had numerous spells over 40C degrees (104F) and can expect several days over 45C (114F). I am not a little person and I find I get distressed running and cycling in the heat (anything over 30 degrees really). In fact, just thinking about it makes me anxious. So all in all, I didn’t know where to begin. But I knew I wanted to start.

One morning, shortly after reading Sam’s post I was in the pool and I thought to myself. “I should break this down, I always work better with a plan. Breathe, is my stroke okay? Stretch that right arm out. Where was I? Oh yes. Break this down. Breathe on the left, oops, cough, ugh, I really have to work on that. Yes. Break this down. Breathe. I should remember think of this in more detail when I stop swimming.”

Swim-uary was born. My commitment is to swim every weekday in January and February 2016. Focussing on improving my swim technique and endurance through summer seemed like a pretty good idea when starting down the barrel of a scorching summer.

I joined up with a local training group and we have swim squad on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so that will give my fitness and technique a good kick. Most other days I hop in with a tentative aim to swim for 30 mins non-stop. Ultimately my goal here is to swim sub-30 minutes for 1500m. Like running a 6 minute kilometre, swimming 2 minutes per 100m is a benchmark for the also-swims among us.

But I’m not pushing for that every day. The first step each day is to get to the pool, get in and start swimming. In the first few minutes I check-in with how I am feeling. Some days I know that it will be a cruisy 30 minutes and I just enjoy it. Others I’m checking in each 5 minutes – am I still wanting to go on? And reminding myself it is okay to stop if I am tired.

Not setting a specific time, distance or even a program beyond “swim” or “get in the pool” takes the pressure off. On days where I’m just not feeling up to it I can play around and relax or work on something specific. Yesterday was one of those days, so I worked on my tumble turns. Maybe by the end of Swim-uary I will have them mastered? Maybe not.

Breaking my return to fitness down to something manageable has already helped. I no longer feel I am circling the bottom of that fitness mountain looking for the beginnings of the “best” path up. I’ve turned face-on and every day I take another step, however big or small, up.

I already have the next step in mind too – “Run like the win-ter” has a nice ring to it don’t you think?