Friday, 10 June 2011

Lessons from the bike: protein shakes and family life

These days, there are no grueling interval sessions on the horizon, there isn’t even a structured training programme, but I’d argue that recovery is even more important. A 100km ride now fatigues me as a 160km route once did and I don’t have the luxury of spending the day on the sofa when I return. I actually have to function as a civilised member of the society: husband and father, maker of coffee for wife, domestic chef and occasional nappy changer of young son.

In my late teens and early twenties (only six years ago!), I had the privilege of being a full-time racing cyclist. I wasn’t a pro, but managed to scrape enough money together to concentrate on riding my bike. I appreciated the time, as I was aware it might not last, but I still took some of it for granted. I’ve come to realise how selfish I was able to be. Rolling in after a 5 hour training ride, the rest of the day was my own and no-one cared whether I behaved like a human being. Recovery was about maximising performance tomorrow and in the days to come, whether that was training or racing, and that usually meant a protein shake, a few carbs and an afternoon spent in front of the TV.

How life changes. I’m beginning to ride again for fun and fitness, but now I have a wife and 16 week old baby. Following the end of my cycling career I finished my degree in Sports Science. Ironically, I’m probably in a better position to understand training, eating and recovering appropriately, than I was whilst racing. It’s interesting because, whilst my time spent racing full-time was selfish in some ways, riding my bike has equipped me with endurance and skills that continue to serve me well today, be it in a completely different context. I appreciate the benefits of trying to optimise nutrition even when you don’t have much energy, getting enough sleep, managing time and simply carrying on, even when you’re dog-tired. All good reasons to get out and ride your bike and my excuse for walking round with a protein shake, even though I haven’t pinned on a number since 2005!

1 comment:

  1. You can still find a local evening 10TT and pin on a number again for that buzz.