Sunday, 16 October 2011

A fallow period

Just as soil can't be continuously cultivated without undergoing degradation to its productiveness, so athletes can't train and perform continuously. Soil needs a fallow period, athletes need a rest.

I'm being a bit presumptious in calling myself an athlete at the grand old age of 45, but I do need a rest from bike riding and training. I usually have a rest in November and December each year, having a period of running and core work instead. But most years I know that when January rolls round I'll be keen to get back on my bike, and each year I usually am. And I know that I'll want to be back on my bike because I've got events planned, and I want to be in good shape for them.

This year however, I'm confused. I just don't know what I want to do next year. Coupled with not knowing yet for various reasons how much training time I'll have, I can't plan. It's very unsettling. I've verged between moving up a step in Audaxes, doing 300, even 400 km rides, and concentrating on more sprint-based events, like the duathlon I did earlier this year. Or maybe I want to have another go at marathons, half-marathons, fell races. I've counted out sportives, road racing, triathlons (as I don't like swimming), a repeat of Maggies (done that [4 times], been there) but as for anything else on 2 wheels or 2 feet, nothing's out. The only certainty is that there will be some physical endeavour, health and injury allowing.

But as I say, I can't plan. I don't need to have a plan to govern or even motivate training at the moment, as it's pretty generic. Not having a goal, a target, an ambition, something to look forward to, that's what's hard. If I'm honest, the events I do probably substitute for the feelings of achievement and enjoyment others get in their professional lives, so not having those targets makes me feel like I'm drifting. I haven't got an alternative for a few weeks yet though, so I'm going to have to live with it. What I do know though is there's got to be progression of some sort. Doing the same old same old is just dull, stultifying even.

It's a pity the classic 1200 km Paris-Brest-Paris Audax was this year, and so isn't going to be held again until 2015. Entering that would certainly provide the motivation to do some seriously long rides. There is London-Edinburgh-London in 2013, but for me there's no romanticism in that compared to PBP, from which so much cycling history springs.

So a fallow period it is. There's not going to be much by way of interesting rides to recount over the next few weeks, so the subject matter may wander around a bit. Bear with me, I'll try to make it interesting, and as soon as I know what's next you'll be the first to know.

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