Tag Archives: Winter Training

An “and” day

Recently I’ve been trying to be more of an “and” person rather than an “or” person…

We spend a lot of time and energy making difficult decisions, forcing ourselves to choose between different options, working around the constraints.  Often we forget that there may be an option that allows us to do both…  “and” rather than “or”… all we need is to be positive and think a bit differently.

Working on the principle of “and”, today was my first double exercise day…

Monday’s have become my designated rest day – I’m always tired after the weekend.  It takes me a day to properly get back into the swing of a working week.  So, I don’t do any exercise on a Monday.  Hopefully this allows my body to properly recover and set me up for the rest of the week.

A cold, dark and very frosty start to the day!

Having had a day off, I set my alarm early this morning so I could swim before work.  I left the house to be greeted by a heavy frost, the first of the winter.  As well as double exercise, it turned out to be a double scrape day – I had to scrape the windshield before I could head to the pool, and again after my swim before I could head off to work.  Great!

Louise (my wife) was also faced with a frozen car as she set off to take the girls to school.  I have agreed to clear the garage to create space for her to get the car in, making the school run as straightforward as possible.  Unfortunately the arrival of winter has beaten me to the punch.  I now need to pull my finger out and clear space for the car… space that is currently occupied by my bike and Turbo Trainer.

It did turn into a beautiful day… if a little chilly!

Using the principle of “and”, this does not mean that I will lose the use of my bike.  I just need to find the next best place to locate it.  Fortunately, there are a couple of options inside the house.  The main considerations will be (1) to keep it out of the way and (2) to minimise the chances of me over-heating when riding.  There’s the minor consideration of sweat and oil pollution too, but I’m hoping a couple of towels and some carpet offcuts will do the trick there!

In the immediate term the bike will stay where it is.  Shifting the kit around can be something to look forward to doing at the weekend.  So, I successfully completed my ride, and my double exercise day – a ride and a swim.

The Joy of Winter Training

When I was in my youth I used to do athletics fairly seriously.  For a few years I trained up to 5 days a week, trying to build strength and speed to enable me to run faster and, in particular, jump further.

images (11)It was an exciting time for me.  I was blessed with the physical attributes to allow me to compete at the National level.  It helped me build self-confidence and it also taught me that the world (or the UK at least) isn’t that large a place.  Being the fastest runner in my school, or even my home town suddenly wasn’t such a big deal.  I was very lucky.

As I was growing throughout this period, my athletic development was also assisted by my physical development.  As a result, I was almost guaranteed to improve year on year.  If all other things had stayed equal I should improve over time because I was getting bigger and stronger.

If I had been competing continuously throughout the year it could have resulted in a slow, steady improvement requiring patience on my part.  As it was, the annual cycle of training and competition created natural breaks that generated the potential for “Step Changes” in performance.  A few months could make a big difference.

There were some key milestones during the year that were always eagerly anticipated.  They included:

  • My first competition of the season – always a highlight although it was slightly nerve-racking as my expectations were always set on the high side,
  • The major competitions / events (notably County & National Championships),
  • My final competition of the season.  The last chance to make an impact, and the start of a well earned rest.  The final effort before a few weeks off training.  Often the relaxed atmosphere produced unexpectedly good results.

Possibly the most notable, and least heralded milestone was the start of “Winter Training”.  This marked the end of the “rest” and the beginning of a long, cold and often miserable period of training that had the potential to make all the difference to performance levels for the following season.

imagesCAWG5BI0Winter training was different from the summer.  It was much more focused on strength and endurance  rather than speed and technique.  “Favoured” sessions included Circuits, Weights, Hill Runs, Fartlek Runs, 300m Repetitions.   Most of this was designed hurt, and it was often  completed in cold, miserable weather adding an extra reason not to do it.

We worked in a tight group.  Pushing each other to dig deep and push harder.  You had to believe you would reap rewards for the effort you put in, but there was also the sadistic satisfaction of completing each session.


Today, for the first time in twenty years, I started a Winter Training campaign.  Having returned from work and changed into my cycling kit, I left the warmth of the house and braved the chill of the garage to get on my bike.

It was a low key event, but significant.  A strong winter’s exercise will play an important role in my on-going rehabilitation.  Given my general physical neglect over the past few years I have high hopes of significant improvements in strength and stamina.  I don’t have any real points of comparison against which to measure performance, however I have a clear goal… to cycle into Brussels on 11th May 2014.