As I typed the title to this post, I wanted to punch myself. And while you read the title, I assume you wanted to punch me too. But at the end of the day, coach really does know best. I have already let you all in on the secret that I, as a coach, am incapable of coaching myself and thus have a coach of my own. It is through this ever undulating relationship that I am learning some very powerful lessons to share with my lucky clients. Over the past two weeks, I experienced first-hand being in a calculated experiment by coach. And it worked.
My race season anti-climactically ended 16 minutes into the Las Vegas Pedalpalooza Criterium with a spectator being hit my a racer. My hopes of earning back my entry fee were dashed along with any late-season fitness I had been clinging to into the depths of September. I was ready for a break and thank goodness the $50 buffet was just a taxi cab ride away.
My husband and I experienced quite the hectic October with weddings, family gatherings and work, work, work. We have historically dubbed this month our free and fun month filled with home projects, hikes, and down time. As these activities alluded us and the days began to sift through our fingers, I started to get antsy. I was super agitated thinking I was behind the 8 ball, not prepared and not focused. To self-medicate, I cross trained. I ran the hilly single track behind our house. I sweated through a myriad of TRX classed that left me hobbled and quads unable to push a pedal over. I felt like I needed to do everything faster, harder and stronger.
Since I wasn’t fulfilling my off season to-do list, this caused stress. I should have unplugged from social media because watching friends far and near binge-ride didn’t help matters either. It just made me run harder and farther, breaking my already taxed and broken-down body further. Rest and recovery was becoming elusive as my official back-to-the-plan training date of November 1st ebbed closer and closer. I was screwed.
Last Tuesday, I had a phone conversation with my coach that set the tone for 2015. I knew it when I answered the phone, so I actually laughed out loud (real LOLs don’t happen often) when he said, “you are off the bike. Until Monday. Five days.” I was super mad, but I knew it was coming and I knew it was right.
How The Coach Knows
The coach listens. Not just to your words, but we have the unique opportunity to read your ride and race reports where we see between the cracks and learn a wealth of knowledge about what makes you tick, and what makes you tock off your rocker. Paul, as my coach, listened intently to my verbal and non-verbal feedback which had a thick undertone of stress and exhaustion. I hadn’t allowed myself the chance to purge my mind, body and soul of 9 months of solid racing. All neon signs were flashing “STOP” but I just needed to be told to stop. So that’s what he did.
I could have cheated. I could have gone for hike that turned into angry stomping up the dirt trails. But I decided to take Moto for a walk. I chose to read my book “Rusch To Glory” by Rebecca Rusch in my newly minted reading corner. I brewed fantastic local coffee, and watch funny nonsense movies and TV shows on Netflix. I rested. Oh and I worked a ton! I took the extra hours in the day to do training research for my diverse athletes and go above and beyond with several of them that needed a little extra TLC.
I cooked extra food for the week and my parents came to town and we had the chance to sit down to eat breakfast and talk about life and family. I even drove down to the coffee shop to meet Brian and our friends after their group ride on Sunday so I could grab some coffee and get caught up with all the latest and greatest. Although being there in street clothes was weird, I kind of liked it, and I tried one of their special treats. Why not!?
I don’t believe I touched my bike, although I think I worked on my TT bike to ensure it was set up for training to commence. I went to yoga to see what these hip flexors are, and I challenged myself to tackle a headstand and handstand, something I have not done since the 5th grade. After several days, my spirit was calm and my mind charged by being stimulated differently and I was excited to know what the training would be like!
Stopping is Superior
Despite the fact that I was training my body and mind differently through October, I was still hunting down ways to kill calories. I was noticing that my legs were heavy and that my body was holding onto that Vegas buffet a bit longer than expected. I also saw that even though I was working at full capacity, my heart rate hovered in the 120’s. I was fatigued. And overtrained. By stopping completely, my body was finally allowed to soak up all the hard work I had done and let it take hold. I didn’t gain any weight over the 5 days of zero cardio – shocking I know. I also found that with a more clear mindset, I was making better food intake decisions, thus having an overall positive affect on where my body was storing adipose for whenever winter hits.
I was so excited when Monday came around, I think I called Paul three times before he picked up. What’s the plan man! What can I do? Where can I go? I gotta tell ya, that 1.5hrs of easy riding never felt so good and my legs have not felt that light in months. All I can compare it to is true refreshment and rejuvenation. Something minty-fresh for sure. And guess what! My workouts have been strong, potent, and powerful. My energy levels are high and what eclipses all of that, is how excited and motivated I am for each workout that is in store for me. I also found that being allotted the time to collect myself, I was able to navigate the non-cycling stressors seamlessly and sort things back into order. This was much more important than training for 5 days.
How to Achieve This with Your Coach
Communicate often and openly with your coach.
Tell the truth, how you really feel. And not just about how things are going on the bike.
Accept the high impact your real life has on your cycling, both positive and negative.
Be OK with a change in the plan.
Trust that several days of rest will reap much higher rewards than banging your head against a wall, just to get the workouts done.
Count your blessings. It is just riding a bike after all.