The training cycle, a game of “Snakes and ladders”.

FTP, VO2 max, RPM. These are now the acronyms that fill my life. I know when I was a nurse I first became how much acronyms are used and how much marketing, training and planning professionals love them. The only thing that actually bugs me about them is when someone uses an acronym and then looks at you as if your dumb if you have no idea what it stands for. Also for some reason I hate it when my wife says “FYI” to me, drives me nuts that one.

Anyway back to training. I see improvement as a cycle of events.

First I struggle to complete each days interval training sent by Julie my coach. Often I have to actually take a few minutes break to get my heart rate down, catch my breath, get a snack for energy and/or rest my legs a little. After a week or so I start to do each days session none stop and start to think, oh this session is ok and easier to complete, ah this is the tough one but I know we can do it. While these 3 or 4 sessions are repeating weekly, I’m also out on the road a couple of days for endurance riding. The rides grow by time, one week it’s 2 hours, the next it’s 2:30hrs or 3:00hrs, then 4:00hrs etc..

All of a sudden, when I’m comfortable with my 5 days riding and I’m starting to feel good, Julie tells me my FTP has increased. This is both good and bad for me. On the one hand it shows me I’m improving, the training is working and my goals are a little closer. Now the other hand smacks me, with a new higher FTP and once again my intervals are going to be hard. So this game of mental “cycling snakes of ladders” starts once again.
Mentally you have to keep reminding yourself of where you started from and where you want to get to. The journey is not just the exciting rides, it’s the hard days, fun days and long days working towards the big days. Enjoying the process, for me is the key. All of those old wise words my Mother and Grandfather told me in the past certainly help me now.

“If it was easy, everyone would do it”. (or nobody would care).
“It’s all about the journey, not just the prize at the end”.
“You will never know, if you don’t try”.
“If your going to do something, do it the best you can or don’t bother trying”.

I have lots of these one liners in my head, which push me when it’s hard and I’m thinking “why am I even doing this?, who cares if I do or don’t do this?” or “it’s tough, do I really need to spend my time doing this?”.

My ultimate motivations to train when I’m tired or just not into the idea, come from athletes.

Lance Armstrong – pain is temporary, quitting is permanent.
Searle brothers – if not now, when? –  If not you, who?

So this is my cycling. A cycle of training workouts each week, a cycle of improvement over time and a cycle of thoughts pushing me forward. Yes there are bad days, hard days and even the odd missed days, but there is something wonderful about dealing with these days, which you feel good about later. Enjoying the good days in the moment, is great at that actual time. Finally when you stand at the completion of your original goal, the pain has gone, the hard days turn into proud days, good days, worthwhile days and the whole journey becomes part of your continued story and lifelong memories.

I have felt all of this a few times, in fashion, nursing, golf and now cycling. When I stood in Boston and ended my first big cycling adventure, that began with a lymphoma diagnosis, my story had a new chapter and lifelong memories I’m proud of. I hope there will be many more. I’m sure I will enjoy each new journey and not just the odd great final day.


Finally on this subject.

My lymphoma and cycling have sort of become bonded together. With the help of doctors, new drugs and staying healthy, I try to keep certain blood, chemical and cell numbers down.

With the help of my coach, training and daily effort, I try to keep FTP, fitness and mileage numbers going up.

The “Snakes and ladders” of cycling with lymphoma.