Sometimes I really envy elite athletes. So far my year of being a Wiggle-sponsored athlete has seen me become very accustomed to the lifestyle of your average pro, being given boxloads of free kit and lovely Focus bikes to race on, having a blog and being recognised wherever I race as “that jammy git who won the 220/Wiggle competition.” However, that’s largely where the comparison between me and the elites ends.
This is never more evident than at this time of year when elite athletes are encouraged – nay expected – to push off overseas to somewhere warm like Australia or Lanzarote to train. How nice it would be to be rolling carefree around some sunny roads instead of freezing my nads off here in the UK. This was particularly noticeable on New Year’s Day when I took part in the Coventry Godiva Harriers five-mile race around the icy paths of Warwick University. Given that parts of the course were as slippery as your average MP just getting round without busting another bone felt like an achievement. One corner was so treacherous that it had Commonwealth gold medallist and 5,000 metre world record holder, Dave Moorcroft, standing on it to direct people safely round – how’s that for service!
Despite the conditions, a nasty head cold and a crippling lack of talent I managed to get round in a shade under 30 minutes, urged on by my coach, Dave Watson, who encouraged me with shouted instructions like “stride out!” which is easier said than done when you think every step you take is going to see you go flying and land on your arctic circle. In truth this was a rare trip outdoors for me.
I made my comeback after my broken arm at a 10k cross-country league race down in Gloucester and managed to come in as one of the first six counters for my club, tucking my still fractured elbow into my vest for maximum sympathy and to make everyone who finished behind me feel doubly wretched. However, apart from a couple of freezing forays out on my bike before the snows came, I’ve been mostly driven indoors to the pleasures of turbo training, swimming, weight training and circuits. Regular readers of this rubbish will know I’m no fan of turbo trainers. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great for training but I wouldn’t put anything that makes you sweat spinal fluid in the category of “enjoyment”. That said I’ve just bought a new one that measures my power output as well as heart rate and cadence, adding a new dimension of pain as I cripple myself to keep my watts up and my breakfast down.
Hopefully the glaciers will retreat soon in time for the various cross-country races I have coming up – I’ll take mud over ice any day. Having witnessed my cycling club’s Boxing Day cyclo-cross race I’m also keen to go out and have a go at that. It looks like a new and creative way to hurt myself so I’m anxious to give it a try. Either way it’ll be good to get out and train – its probably a good idea to spend less time in the pub now that I can recall the sequence of flashing lights on the fruit machine from memory.
This is, of course, the time for New Year’s resolutions. I’m not a big one for having “life goals” or anything like that because nothing says “you’re a loser” more than having a motivational phrase about being a winner. However, I have some plans for the season – two hours 55 or better at Stockholm Marathon, 10 hours 30 or better at Ironman Florida (where I have a BIG score to settle), 55 minutes or better for 25 mile TT, 22.30 or better at 10 mile TT, 36 minutes or better at 10k blah blah blah. I’ve also signed up for the very first Outlaw Triathlon, an Ironman distance race in Nottingham in August. That lot should keep me busy!
Apart from that I’ll be trying to live up to my usual resolutions of not breaking any more bones, resisting the urge to knock a policeman’s helmet off, and trying to look good naked. I’ll let you know how I get on.