Training with a Difference

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We’re celebrating my mum’s 80th birthday this week and so I’m staying in the seaside town of Monifieth where I grew up. It’s lovely to spend time with family and friends but I am also aware that I can’t afford to miss a week’s training for our Brighton to Barcelona challenge. So, I arranged to borrow a bike that is exactly the same size, make and model as my own.

On my first morning, awake early, I was on the coastal path that runs from Broughty Ferry to Arbroath by 6.30am. How far? How fast? How many personal bests can I achieve? These thoughts that usually fill my mind on a training ride, never materialised this morning. They didn’t matter. This was a training ride with a difference. The sun was low in the sky as I cycled between shadows and the chinks of intense sunlight that instantly warmed by body and cheered my soul. I didn’t pass a single person for the first hour of my ride. Having grown up beside the sea, but having moved away, I still miss the sight, sounds and smell of the beach, the salty air and the rhythmic sound of the waves. I had it all this morning and it was breathtakingly beautiful. I stopped frequently, just to embrace the moment, the calm and the tranquility. I didn’t break the magic by attempting to retrieve my phone from my rear pocket, an increasingly difficult challenge. Much as I wanted to capture these moments, I knew they would be lost if I tried to. So I simply stopped and absorbed them, embedding them in my memory. The strong winds that were forecast evaded me so far and the whole experience was magical.

A couple of hours had passed almost unnoticed and so I started my return journey and this turned out to be an entirely different experience. The advancing hour brought out numerous dog walkers, golfers, cyclists, a few workmen and destabilising strong winds. I could no longer simply immerse myself in the beauty of my surroundings but had to concentrate hard on weaving my way past other cycle path users. This poses a real challenge to my balance at the best of times, but in this morning’s strong winds, required my full attention to remain upright. Something I daren’t take for granted!

It was during this return journey that I began to ache all over. My mindful experience interrupted by a painful reminder of how important it is to fit a bike properly and the importance of having the right saddle. As the bike I was using was the same as my own, I had paid no attention to these when I had set off. However, by now, I had an ache in my neck, shoulders and back from an overextended reach which was only overshadowed by the intense discomfort of an ill fitting saddle.

Today’s cycling experience reminded me that there is so much more to training than simply clocking up the miles. Essential though this is, it’s also important to test our bike and kit over decent distances, well in advance of setting off to Barcelona. What may feel comfortable over the first few miles may feel entirely different after a long day in the saddle and there is nothing more uncomfortable than an uncomfortable saddle.

This challenge is not just about the destination but very much about the journey. There will be so many new experiences along the way and I hope to absorb and enjoy as many of these as I can. Of course the best way to ensure this is to prepare well and continue to train hard – as soon as I can sit on a saddle again!

Image Source: Clipart Library

PS: Mum, Happy 80th Birthday!

2 thoughts on “Training with a Difference”

  1. Switching off is so important, glad you got to enjoy some quality time in a space that’s so important to you.
    Would love to cycle with you soon. Love reading your blog, always inspiring, Chris xxxxx


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