It’s that time of year again
It’s that time of year again when we start back training after a well-deserved break. It’s not the greatest time of the year for training.
The days are shorter, colder and you have to wear an uncomfortable amount of kit just to stay warm.
Long gone are the days of throwing on shorts and a jersey and heading out on the bike on a warm summers evening.
Dressing alone for winter rides seems to be a training session in itself; cap, base layers, winter jacket, rain jacket, gilet, tights, gloves, overshoes.
Aside from the hassle of simply preparing for going out on a spin these days, mentally it becomes a strain too.
That climb you once skipped up during the summer months is now a lot harder than it used to be, your pasty white legs lack the definition and tan they had only a few weeks ago and that training partner you used to drop on every climb is now putting you under pressure when climbing.
It leads to a sense of self-doubt. We’ve all been there before. It nearly keeps you awake at night. You think back your performances throughout the season and wonder if you will ever be able to achieve those highs again.
Your wins, your PB power numbers etc. they all seem like a distant memory and a level that that you will never reach again, as you look down at your slightly chubbier than normal legs.
As I said, it’s not the most glamorous time of year but it is essential.
It’s all part of the process.
It is essential to take a break, for both physical and mental reason. It’s the time of the year to get the hunger back for cycling after months of hard training and strict dieting.
The repercussions of putting on a bit of weight and losing your fitness are a slim price to pay.
That hunger you regain is simply priceless.
If you need reassurance, that look at the pro’s at this time of the year. They tend to stay out of the eye of the media at this time of the year, but when they do make an appearance they aren’t the lean, tanned machines they once were.
Even lads who have won 30 stages in the Tour let themselves go a bit.
Unfortunately a winter break does come at a cost. You end up at square one again.
You’ve a choice to make; you can feel miserable about it or you can embrace the process of building up to full fitness again.
Use your lack of fitness to go training with friends that once couldn’t hold your wheel out training for example and get encouragement from that pain in your legs because you know it’s for a good cause.
Most importantly, it’s a very important time of the year to trust your coach. The training sessions you once thought were easy are now close to impossible, you don’t reach that lamp post you used to after a five minute capacity effort on your favourite climb and you feel like you’re not progressing in any shape or form.
Your goals for next season seem next to impossible. That is what winter will do to you. It blinds you from what is possible.
That is the beauty of a coach. They can stand back and tell you that you’re more than capable of achieving results if you stick at it.
It’s simply a matter of you applying yourself. Trust in the sessions they give you, do them to the best of your ability and the results will follow.
It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
There is no doubt about it, those cold dark winter rides, those painful gym session and strict diets seem like torture at the moment.
I can guarantee you will look back in a few months’ time and wonder what all the fuss was about.
You will be dropping that training partner up hills, setting power PB’s and getting results in races again.
However, the road to getting back to those moments is tough, but it is worth every minute of suffering just to get back to that level again.
Your friends and family might not understand, but it’s one of the many joys of cycling!