Is my cycle training obsessive?

What self respecting mother rolls her eyes at her son when he enthusiastically announces Saturday is a “big training” day but does she fancy a café recovery spin Sunday?

Mid-turbo session after a 60 mile road ride, mine didn’t get the most accommodating response. Then I thought back to a feature on anorexia on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this week and to most normal humans, my strict training regime and food measuring is probably something to raise alarms.

Two low carb days, three medium, one high and one cheat day per week, over 800 miles on the bike per month and weight session a week in the gym – measured portions, calculated carbohydrate intake calculated for every mile on the bike and all the protein shakes and bizarre eating habits to boot.

My defence (an arrogant one): I’m a champion – that’s what it takes. So at eight per cent body fat and weighing two lbs less than my mother who looks seven and a half inches up at me, am I healthy? Sadly many of the people interviewed on the radio couldn’t identify they had an issue until it was too late, so I’m going to give cyclists a few tips to keep themselves in check.

Thankfully I’ve got heart rate and power output statistics to prove it, although after Woman’s Hour I’ve now realised it’s important to check I’m mentally sound as well as physically fit. I have been guilty of training myself into misery, made unreasonable sacrifices and felt like my sport, hobby and passion is becoming overwhelming.

The first step is admitting you have a problem and in the same way I have certain power and heart rate tests to keep on top of performance, I have little mental checks to make sure I’m not getting obsessed or addicted to the pursuit of success.

  • You don’t say no to free food (at business networking today it was a bacon bap)
  • Celebrations are for letting go (girlfriend’s pay-rise warranted cake this week)
  • If a better offer comes up, train another day
  • Make one ride a week just for fun – they don’t all need a catchy “Threshold/Vo2/Power/HR/FatBurn splits” headline on Strava
  • Hobbies have their place, don’t let them overcome work, family, downtime and fun.

I work to training cycles that vary throughout the month and over the course of the week. These also go with corresponding nutrition targets but these all work around social life, work and rest. It’s OK to have a big blowout meal out with friends and it can even work in your favour if the following day is a big training day.

After a day out with friends clashed with a fairly big local road race the fuel for the 65 miles at 27.5mph average the day before was a McDonald’s breakfast, go-karting, Big Mac meal with McFlurry and Strawberry milkshake and steak and chips at night – my result, a very well earned 6th place. Not something I’d advise every week as race prep but not something that cost me a great performance.

The key, make sure you can let yourself go and remind you and everyone else, you’re not a maniac next time you measure your nuts on the scales (to go in fruit and yoghurt – nothing crude).

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