Missing in action, apparently! Well, I’ve been chugging through January, enjoying some rare days of outdoor riding, chugging away on my trainers (plural because I jumped into the headache world of smart trainers… that’s another post for another time), working, and trying to rebalance my life.
I had a building breakdown come to a head right around New Year’s. My health, family, work, relationship, and cycling worlds decided to work together to bring everything to a boiling point, and I had to really step back, and refocus and rebuild. It was a scary time because I have never really had that much stress from different angles attack me at once. But I found a happy place returning to the world of yoga, which I look forward to going to weekly, and have refocused and calmed my life.
Around the time of critical mass I decided to make a major change in my cycling life and training, and stepped away from having a coach in 2016. Personal and financial reasons played a part, and it still scares me, but I am slowly learning every day how to plan workouts and schedule blocks around key races. It’s not perfect, nor will it be, but I’m learning as I go. I’m finding myself about as motivated as I was in previous seasons – whether that’s a good or bad thing, I don’t know! I do plan on posting a wrap up of my January training next week when I have time (I’m cramming this post in before a shift tonight). During a night of tears and drama (I think January 2nd or so…), I wrote below my feelings on the change to my training… just my thoughts. Maybe it’ll help someone else out there debating the coach vs. no coach thing, or maybe people will just shake their heads. I try to be honest. My life, especially when it comes to cycling, isn’t sugar and candy and victories all the time. I think it’s a lot of guts and tough decisions mixed with smart and stupid decisions, and just persevering through the world’s toughest sport which I decided to give a whirl at age 28.
This is in no way a knock to my former coach, who was with me over 3 seasons as I grew from a beginner cyclist to self-described “very very very slow bottom of the pile” pro mountain biker. It is merely my thoughts after those 3 seasons and some life changes on why coaching might not work for everyone, and why that might be ok. After a lot of soul searching, I decided it was best to part ways for my 2016 season.
Why my life doesn’t work with coaching:
- Incredibly unpredictable work schedule: I do not work a Monday-Friday banker hours job. I am an RN at a hospital who works night shift 7pm to 7am (which is really 6:30pm to 7:30am if I’m lucky that day) varying days the week. On top of long hours and wonky days that sometimes means my “Saturday” is really Tuesday, and my “Tuesday” is really Friday, it’s a mentally and physically demanding job. I don’t like to hype up being an RN like I’m a superhero, as I’m far from it. But very few people outside of nursing understand the stresses and demands of the job. On paper to an outsider, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do a 60 minute interval workout sometime in there. But after a night that can drive some to tears or drinking or a career change, getting home at 7:45am, cramming “breakfast” down my throat, and trying to unwind to be sleeping by 8am (without relying on pharmaceutical drugs, but sometimes slamming melatonin or Ambient in hopes of falling asleep fast) means that waking up at 4pm to get in a workout is mentally, sometimes physically, impossible. I need flexibility in that, and frankly the cycling world just doesn’t get it.
- I’m a stubborn critter that is going to do what I want: Last winter I remember ending up very pissed off when I opted to ride for 30 miles and a handful of hours with my boyfriend. Some former teammates and then the coach jumped on my case for not choosing a longer, harder, less enjoyable to me road ride. It irritated me to no ends. Crazy lives means limited time to see my boyfriend. I had a blast that day, yelling at llamas and cruising along with him enjoying some alone together time that we do not always get readily. Frankly, I can’t do that. I’ve reached the point where cycling can sometimes be miserable to me, and if it means skipping a 4 hour prescribed endurance ride to ride 2 hours with someone I like, somewhere new, on the mountain bike, in the snow, or whatever, then I want to do it, no guilt aside from the guilt I place on myself.
- I don’t have the best health: Yes, I’m too young- 32 – for health problems. But I have them. And sometimes that means working around them and grinning and bearing some time off the bike that once again needs to be guilt free. I can’t control when my kidneys become angry, but I’m working on it. I’m realizing that I’ve done a lot of stupid things that are causing current-day problems, so I’m working on fixing and preventing those so I’m not in the middle of a desert ignoring a UTI by chugging gallons of cranberry juice because a 24 hour race is more important to me at that time anymore.
I’m scared. I’m scared I’ll royally F up my first season as a pro and I’ll waste a lot of time (and money) traveling to my A race to perform crappy. I know I struggle with motivation and my couch is a powerful influencer of my laziness. But then I look back and see how having a coach wasn’t a motivator to me as much as I thought it would be… I would still choose the couch some days. I also look back and see how I would choose to intervals when I effectively went coach free this winter… like, I did threshold intervals all on my own choosing. I’m excited because I see the potential of this season with fun stuff like my team training camp in Fruita, potential trip to Moab for long days riding, and finally a love for fat biking that has me itching to go hammer in 15 degree weather. I finally understand to the most basic extent that blue line that taunts me on Training Peaks and that became an unhealthy fixation this fall and winter, and how it’s important to keep building it up, but not to lose my wits when it dips slightly as I can see that it does that all year long sometimes (and losing my wits = laying on the couch getting so stressed that I end up not riding at all).
I will be using several training plans from TrainerRoad (Sweet Spot Base High Volume II, Short Power Build High Volume, and MTB XCO High Volume Specialty) in order to accomplish my training this season, so I’m indeed not just making this up off the top of my head. Naturally, the plans are in a Monday-Sunday format for those with those perfect jobs without shift work, so I am altering them to stack 60 minute days on my work days, and longer workouts on my days off. Thanks to Sara Kammlade organizing the Women’s Oval Ride in Fort Collins, I look forward to utilizing those rides on weekends when I can for long, 4-5 hour tough days on the bike for a combo of endurance and intensity that in no way I’d ever get on a trainer. As far as conditions stay hero (or at the very least rideable) and especially up to USAC Fat Bike Nationals I plan on being on the fat bike as much as possible as more long, sometimes intense days that also keeps my mountain bike skills sharp over these winter months. I really discovered a love for fat biking this winter that was lacking last year, and I think it’ll definitely help out in a training sort of way, and not to mention it’s pretty darn fun!
Yeah, it’s not perfect, and there’s no way I can make it perfect. 2015, at least to me, was a great season with awesome road racing success and victories on the mountain bike (HELLO, I WON A WOMEN’S OPEN LMBS RACE!!), and I hope I can build on that.