I could so easily tell you about all the best parts of this training block. The maple creamee send off, the Eastern Grind at Catamount with a victorious spray of champagne, or the fireworks of color powder and confidence I saw at the launch of our newest Little Bellas Marin Chapter. These are the easy and positive things, and I absolutely love being positive and having fun. I thought I would write about something a little different. I want to go a little deeper and fly a little lower on the blog radar than I might normally fly. I’m going to talk about the pressure and the loneliness of training through a giant block while still loving this sport and what I get to do every day.
Strategy one: Take lots of showers! Lots! You may think that the warm up starts on the bike or in the gym. You are mistaken. When I am so incredibly tired and achy from hours of training the previous day or in the morning, I stand under the shower, just stand there. Breathe in the warmth and sing a little song because it doesn’t get any better than that.
Strategy two: Procrastinate a little bit doing other fun things. I typically like to eat an extra snack or two, lie back down in bed, or dance a little to Beyonce’s newest album. Believe me doing these things are much more fun than being on time for an imaginary schedule that only you have fabricated in your head and training so intensely you don’t have any time for a quick dance party.
Strategy three: Have a ridiculously talented coach who loves to train and laugh with you. It’s incredibly important that your coach match your personality. Numbers often drive professional and even amateur cyclists. Our training, our ride, our goals, our lives can become a mere sequence of watts, heart rate, and cadence undulating with every mile and minute on the road. My coach and I have a hard time seeing the heart and fun in this approach. Let me offer you a peek at the alternative! We trained the last week together, and he would say "now sprint to that mailbox or end of that driveway". When I questioned how long should this effort be, he responded, “sometimes they are just as long as they need to be.” There is a method to what may seem like madness to some. The science is in his head, the heart is in the pain felt in every pedal stroke, and the fun is in the miscalculation of a mailbox sprint that just went a little too long.
Strategy four: Have your parents, or anyone for that matter, make you food. Being an outsider looking into the world of professional sports, people often mistake fatigue for dedication. I skip the movies and dinners with friends not as a conscious choice; there isn’t another choice. I literally can’t get out off the couch because I’m tired or I won’t get enough to eat. By having someone familiar make you food and support you, you will both get enough and ward off loneliness of being too tired to socialize. It works! Talk to your people and fuel up at the same time.
Strategy five: Invite a little chaos into your life (but choose wisely). I really focus on training to perfection, lazer focus. I do everything I’m supposed to do and try as hard as I can during that time because that is the best I can do. It would be absolutely exhausting to apply that type of scrutiny to every facet of my life. So, I let some things go. My room for example does not have to be a room of perfection. There are boxes of unwrapped bike clothes (yes, I do appreciate and feel grateful for new chamois), but they don’t always need to find a drawer or a home right away. I will do that later because I’ve got more important things to do now. Big, exciting things!
In all seriousness, I truly feel like the life I lead is a luxury. I have the ability to train on the schedule I want, I have a coach and family who care and support me in my goals, I have a team that sends me boxes of sweet new kits, a mechanic that will text me at 11pm about tire choices, and a lovely Vermont playground to train in. I am grateful and try my best to embrace the hard parts of this world and life. Ultimately, if I can’t find a way to keep it fun and fast then I’m not living my life as a professional cyclist to the fullest.