Success is a carrot on a stick…

A week of testing complete, and I’m almost pleased to be done now and heading back to normal routine (please remind me of this as next recovery week approaches and I’m aching for a week of short, sharp tests and fewer miles…).

(Post trial #3 – making a fashion statement having been told muddy trainers not allowed inside the car…)

On Tuesday was swim test. I took to the pool at 6.30am as normal, noted with some concern that my arms had still not recovered from a mixture of the previous weeks swimming and conditioning, but ignored this, warmed up, and smashed out 400m. I absolutely killed myself, got to the end, pressed the pause button and felt my heart sink to realise I was, in fact, two seconds slower than last months trial. So, despite knowing I was fighting a losing battle, I actually had another go. Of course, this was even slower and was never a good idea.

I spent the rest of the day moping and feeling irritable about the whole thing. Then, without telling coach, I went back and did it again the next day. My arms felt fresher, I left the trial a little later, the pool was emptier. This time when I stopped the clock I almost cried with relief, because I’d not only beaten last months time by a good chunk, but I’d broken into a whole new set of minutes. Which of course means I now have to start chipping into the 6’s but I’m happy with that. I probably was grinning from ear to ear the rest of the day.

The bike trial look place on a (slightly) blustery, wet morning, and started at 7am whilst it was still dark. An easy warm up, three laps round Horne, and a cool down. I worked pretty hard, though due to a bent hanger I STILL need to replace on my road bike (the new baby is NOT heading out in this weather – non-cycling friends seem confused my this – which in turn amuses the cycing contingent) I had to mess with my gears every time I wanted to change, and I had a few moments on corners where I’d have liked not to slow down quite so much as I did. But hitting the pause, I was still faster than last month. At a time of year when it barely feels safe to be at full capacity, on a bike that needs a visit to a bike-shop (or a new hanger and a screwdriver..) I was pretty pleased with this.

Now, we come to the run. It was cold. In fact, I’m told it was -1 degrees though I’m not entirely convinced. I shivered to the start line, was shocked into movement when ‘go’ was announced, and from the beginning felt my legs were barely moving. About half a mile in an awful stomach ache kicked in, and with it came my reservations about the whole idea of running anyway. In fact, I even considered just chucking the run in and jogging back or stopping at the half way point where you pass the finish. But I carried on, thinking maybe, just maybe I wasn’t running AS badly as I felt I was. Then I crossed the half way line, heard my time and registered it was slower than it was during the last test week, and as I picked over the icy patches that hid slushy puddles I even realised I wasn’t even telling myself to run anymore, I was actually busy practicing shorthand outlines in my head. Needless to day, my finish time was awful and I’m still trying not to be annoyed.

Coach of course pointed out that 3 PBs in a row would be quite an ask, especially on near consecutive days. I know this is true, but of course it stills nags me.

I could offer you a cheerfully inspiring blog about how every success must be celebrated, and how sometimes it is all too easy to concentrate on failures, something we should never do and blah blah blah.

The truth of the matter is, that regardless how much I might blog this, and pass it on to others, the failures still hang on my mind to a greater extent. And that is what pushes me to keep trying, to keep training, and keep testing. If that wasn’t my nature, I’d have stopped a long time ago – I’d have been happy with my first ever 5k time, or I’d have ceased swimming when I broke into the last set of minutes. As it stands, I’m now another minute faster and I’m still not happy.

Coach, or anyone else, can tell me not to beat myself up when things dont go to plan, and I won’t, but I will beat myself into going faster next time. Three consecutive PBs might be a big ask, and sometimes, as I discovered on Tuesday, it just isn’t your day. There is no point dwelling on this, individual event, but there is every point in striving to be better next time.

When it comes down to it, I don’t know many athletes who finish a race and say “yep -I’m happy with that, it went as well as it could.” They always want to go faster, will always analyse every moment to work out where they went wrong. That is the nature of competing.

So yes, I’m pleased that in two of three sports, I’m seeing improvement, in the other I know for a fact the hold up was not for lack of training, but more because the test was simply not on a good day for me. But no, I’m not happy with any of the results, and if I was, I might as well chuck in the idea of racing the coming season.

Instead, I say bring on the next training brick – it’s time to get faster.

Published by michellearthurs

I'm an NCTJ Journalist and work at Cycling Weekly. Previous to this, I was the Editor at Total Women's Cycling. I've also dabbled in marketing and copywriting - having been Marketing Coordinator and Social Media/Content Editor at Evans Cycles. My first job was working on a local newspaper.  I've written for a variety of titles on a freelance basis, too. I got into cycling when I entered my first triathlon in 2010. I now race crits, road races, time trials, and do a lot of track training for not very much track racing.

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