Three Peaks Challenge – four weeks to go!

Last week’s post revolved around endurance and a little help from my friends to get through a 225km ride with 4000 metres of elevation. This week was all about recovering sensibly, yet maintaining the gains that I have made in my fitness. In exercise science, we call this concept “overreaching”. An athlete is knowingly pushed past their limits, but not to the point of doing physical damage. During the recovery period, the athlete “super compensates” for the added training load, resulting in an increased level of fitness. My volume of training halved and the farthest I rode was 100km. I am very lucky to have a great barometer in Coach Liz, whose experience and gentle questioning helped confirm that I was in exactly the right place, allowing my body to slowly return back to a balanced state.

Whilst coaching South Bank Tri Club on Wednesday, I was lamenting a lack of pep, which was confirmed physiologically by my heart rate not being particularly responsive. However,by Saturday, the fatigue seemed to be lifting and I surprised myself with a good hard effort up towards McAfees. When Liz suggested a detour via the back of Mt Coottha, I was surprised to find that although it was hard, it wasn’t the struggle it would have once been. On Sunday’s ride, Liz swapped volume for intensity and I found myself digging deep. Part of the ride involved a forty kilometre time trial through the rolling hills of Brookfield – and Anne, Kim and myself teamed up to slay the dragon. We marvelled at the strength of Nicky, Gary, Cherie and Liz as they sped off in front of us. The scenery is spectacular, but I didn’t notice it – my lungs and legs were too busy burning with effort! However, the intensity party wasn’t quite over as we rode hard for another five to ten kilometres towards the Moggill ferry. It reminded me of when I was last racing, that fight to stay with the leading wheel and the feeling that your heart was about to explode out of your chest. Again, Anne and I teamed up to take on the road to the Moggill Ferry, Liz hot on our heels and yelling, “go, go, go!’ Once we reached the ferry, I was overcome by the feeling of slight nausea that occurs after a super hard effort. Spent, but happy, we wound our way home via the local service station, indulging in cold water and jelly snakes (thanks Cherie!).

Overall, I was delighted with how this week of training went. I recovered well, and then was able to extend myself on the harder ride yesterday. Mentally, I’m grateful for the changing of internal narrative from, “I’m injured and broken,” to “hey, bring it on!” Recovery from my hamstring avulsion hasn’t been easy, but I’m so glad I’ve persisted.

The “take home” message for this week is that “recovery is where the magic happens”. Don’t be afraid to back off and smell the roses after rides or exercise sessions that really extend you.

Looking forward to checking in next week. Ride happy!

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