Monday, 25 November 2013

Post race season rest and recovery

After Roc D’Azur, the last race of the 2013 season, I was tired. Fatigue, both mental and physical, started to appear after Leadville 100 in August but a short rest period allowed me to train and get in good shape again for the final few races in October. A long holiday after Roc D’Azur was my target, providing the motivation needed to get me through the last hard training sessions.

Adopting holiday mode immediately after crossing the finish line at Roc came naturally to me: I wanted (and needed) to rest, relax my diet ;) and do things not involving bikes! We pretty much drove directly from France to Gatwick airport where we flew to a place that we know well and where we have many friends, Barbados. Flying with an underweight hold bag and a small piece of hand luggage was a nice novelty. Quickly my body relaxed and in doing so I got a sore throat and aches, fortunately the sunshine, sand and sea (and rum) helped me to shake it off in only a couple of days.

Some people like to do nothing on holiday; sunbathing on the beach or chilling by the pool fills their days easily. After such a hectic and tiring race season many people mistakenly put me in that box. Wrong. I get itchy feet very quickly. I need to be doing something most of the time. Travelling far away from my bikes is important; otherwise I’d be tempted to ride. Without that temptation other sports gained my attention. Days were filled with windsurfing (a sport I loved before biking hence my old nickname ‘Surfa Sal’), surfing, stand up paddle boarding, TRX, Yoga and Pilates, and being walked by our friend’s 4 big boisterous dogs which took up to 2 hours! Barbados is great for people who like eating, so it’s great for me! The fish is amazing especially barracuda and dorado. The rum is also pretty good ;)

Five kgs heavier we arrived home in England and in a 3-day turnaround we moved house, unpacked and repacked for winter training. In a blur we found ourselves in Gran Canaria, a place that I absolutely adore for winter training. Picking up the bike after one month off needs to be approached with a little self-restraint – something that doesn’t come naturally to me and my ‘all or nothing’ attitude. Had we of headed straight to my familiar training routes in the south of the island I think I would’ve easily overdone it and/or become despondent with my speed over known ‘timed sections’.  One week exploring the north of the island from our base Villa Del Monte  - a rural bike hotel in Santa Brigida - provided the perfect place to start gradually building the hours on the bike. Our great host (and cook) Petra Wonisch provided all of the local knowledge we needed to maximize our time, she even hosted Ruta del Vino an MTB (or trail running) race with a relaxed approach, celebrating the local singletrails around the bodegas, the produce of which I can happily report to be some of the nicest red wine I’ve ever drank.

Excess baggage ;)
Ruta del Vino
Santa Brigida
Back in the south of the island we’re settled in to a remote rural apartment where our neighbours are horses, cats (including two mischievous kittens, one of which is currently stood on my laptop as I’m trying to type) and chickens. It’s an idyllic base to prepare and recover from hard training and we’re settling in to the routine of sleep, eat, train, eat, relax with coffee and cake, repeat.

A good day biking :)
It always seems odd to take a break from the bike at the end of the season; losing all of that hard earned fitness, strength and power. This year I was in particularly good shape when I stored the bike for a month, which made it seem even more ‘wasteful’. When it was time to dust it off I was desperate to get back on but when I did it was hard, really hard, especially the first week. Having such good shape before the break was a good thing; the level of my returning fitness was good, better than if I’d taken a month off at a time when I wasn’t in such good shape. Some people wait for enforced rest due to injury or illness, but a scheduled break provides an opportunity for more quality rest and recovery, and in doing so, hopefully, limits those times when your body simply breaks down making you stop.   

If you haven’t already, take a break, rest and recover (and enjoy it!) then start training for 2014.
Sal J