This week was awesome. I finally felt as if I had some real energy, for pretty much the first time since I got sick AND I had enthusiasm. I did everything I had planned to do AND even got up for a swim before work one morning! (Just a short one, but still).
But it’s the off-season. I should be resting, hibernating, right? Well – yes and no. Firstly, despite the fact that I had a big race just a few weeks ago, I hadn’t been ramping up my training prior to that. Sickness, a bike accident and then a horrible cold meant it has been over a month since I was doing proper training. BUT – when you’re ill, your body is working super-hard to repair itself and so, while I haven’t been doing any training, my body hasn’t really had a proper rest.
So the off-season needs to be about taking a break, mentally and physically, but not about doing nothing. It is the perfect time to work on strength and conditioning, to iron out all those niggles. So that is what I am going to do. It still meant 8 hours of exercise this week though.
I didn’t even contemplate running. Although I had arranged to meet up with a friend at our local park run, on Tuesday morning my physio told me no running! And so I obeyed. And I will obey until he gives me the go-ahead. Instead I worked on the exercises he gave me – ten minutes every day working on activating my upper bum muscle (I think that’s the technical term) as apparently I don’t use it at all. It’s pretty tricky, it’s a mental battle as well as a physical one as I don’t really know what it should feel like to use that muscle so it is quite hard to tell that I am doing so!
Instead of running, I volunteered at Brockwell Park Run for my second ever time. I love volunteering at ParkRun, love watching the speedy runners come past, those that are so fast they have left by the time I cross the line almost 10 minutes later. Love watching the mums and dads with kids in buggies, or older children raring to go and run the race themselves. Love chatting to those who have come along for the first time, finishing flushed, smiling and happy. It’s such a great thing.
In the spirit of improving my core strength, with the aim of making me an overall better swimmer, cyclist, runner, I also went to one Pilates class and two yoga classes this week. The Pilates class was great as it wasn’t really Pilates…. The teacher was sick and at short notice the gym couldn’t get someone else who was a qualified Pilates teacher. Instead my yoga teacher took the class and it was just like Pilates except with a few downward dogs, cat/cow stretches and pigeon thrown in. So it was perfect!
For consistency, I cycled to work three days last week, the most since I came back to the UK from Madrid. That’s where I really felt like I had energy again. First, on Monday evening, where it was pouring with rain but I was ready for it, and despite the rain I was so happy, enjoying myself so much, grin stretching from ear to ear as I zoomed along. Then on Tuesday evening, I cycled home the fastest I have ever cycled home! And I am pretty sure I have cycled harder and it took me longer, last year before I went to Madrid. It was good corroboration of the fact that I am fitter and stronger now, even if races over the summer haven’t necessarily shown that. I was hugely over-dressed though, taking of layer by layer every time I had to stop at traffic lights – first the sleeves of my jacket, then one arm warmer (I did think people must have thought I was a bit odd, cycling along with one arm warmer!) and then the second one rolled right down. I was home before I had time to remove that one, buzzing with energy and trying to catch my breath after the last sprint home.
On the rest front, I took Wednesday and Thursday off from cycling to work as on Wednesday night James and I went for dinner with my dad, his wife and my sister. It was the first time my dad, sister and I had all been in the same place since Christmas! Dad took us to a very posh restaurant called the Greenhouse with 2 Michelin stars. As you might expect, the food was absolutely incredible but the best thing by far was the huge cheese trolley. As Jilli said, “if it comes on a trolley you know it’s going to be good”. Four bottles of wine were drank between five of us with cocktails to start so Thursday was a slow morning and my restorative yoga class was just what I needed!
Along with rest, comes socialising. We often say no to things during the season, only go to restaurants that serve lots and lots of carbs, don’t drink, miss out on seeing our friends as we are on a long ride or with our feet up against the wall in compression socks (although to be perfectly honest I have done absolutely none of those things but blog-reading gives off the impression most triathletes have!) It’s therefore important in the off-season to do ALL the things. With that in mind, I had a lovely lunch and catch-up over a few hours with an old school friend on Saturday, without worrying about when I would get out for my long ride. James and I went to Bubbledogs for hotdogs and champagne on Saturday night (blog coming on that cos it’s awesome!) and then on Sunday we tried out an Escape Room called Time Run.
This was my first go at an Escape Room and I loved it! We were in two teams of three, time travelling through the past to find a magical lance and bring it back to the present day. There were three separate rooms and each you had a number of puzzles to solve and things to work out before you could move forward. All against the clock as you had to finish within an hour, and all against the other team as obviously we wanted to beat them!
Another point of the off-season is to give you a chance to try something new. Especially for triathletes who spend so much time swim-bike-run-yoga-strength-and-conditioning that there is barely any time for a lie-in, let alone a new physical activity, trying something new is great to switch it up a bit. This week’s new activity was bouldering! Post coming on our morning there soon but it was great fun – check out The Arch Climbing Wall in Bermondsey.
As you can see, I am buzzing with energy at the moment! Back to full health, working on those niggles in my knee and hip, enjoying all the workouts I am doing. More of the same is planned for next week!