The struggle is real: five tips to get back into shape
In my previous blog I spoke about the joys of the off-season. Swapping the protein shake for a beer, and the bike for a kayak. Well, that joyful month off the bike has caught up to me, and now it’s time to get serious.
I’m just about to complete week two of pre-season training, and let me tell you, the struggle is real. I really understand how and why this saying has come about. I’m currently in the pre-season struggle to get fit again and feel like a “professional athlete.”
To give you an idea of how unfit I felt the first week back: whilst I was dropping off on a hill, struggling along, one of the local punters asked me if I was from around here, and if I was new – talk about a reality check! I was incognito, and to be fair, I look like a bit of a hubbard as nothing at the moment is quite matching with what I’m wearing (Velocio kit, Scott helmet, bike and shoes, Oakley sunnies).
Driving home from the Noosa triathlon weekend, reality always sets in. Two months till Bay Crits, which means nine weeks till Nationals, meaning only 11 or so weeks left at home in Australia before departing for Europe once again.
The summer for me is always a blur, I spend my holidays overseas and basically upon touch down here in Australia it’s back to the grind. The first two weeks are a nice period of settling in, trying to catch up with friends and family, and finding some sort of routine and balance once again. Every year I come home, I feel more distanced from home.
Going into my fifth season as a pro, Europe feels more like home than Australia now. I live there for most of the year, I have my apartment, my things, my community and I’m surrounded by people on similar paths. Coming back to Australia, I always have this lost feeling.
It’s amazing how much life changes year to year, and I find myself calling my roommate, training partner and partner in crime Carlee Taylor and saying “OK, I’m done. I’m ready to get back to Europe” or “how about you come to the Gold Coast?” I know this might sound strange, because quite often you’ll hear Aussie or Kiwi pros comment on how the hardest aspect of our sport is the fact we live so goddamn far from home. For me at this point in time, Europe is home, and Australia is almost like a holiday destination.
So this year, while I sit here feeling lost because it’s week two of being home, I thought I would write some tips on how best to get back into things. I think everyone can relate to how hard it is to get back into a good healthy routine of riding and healthy eating after an awesome holiday of excess and just letting go. It might not even be that. Maybe you’re just bogged down with work, kids or life in general.
Five tips to get back into shape
Tip 1: Set goals.
I’ve gotten into the habit of writing a diary, and one of the things I have been doing is setting small daily goals. Some examples may be: listen to a new yoga podcast, learn something new about nutrition and training, try a different recipe. Anything that gets you excited and motivated to step outside the “norm”.
Tip 2: Find a mate.
Pick up your phone and message around, see who wants to ride. The hardest part about getting back into riding is motivation. It’s easy to find an excuse when you’re alarm goes off at 5am and you have no one to meet. “Is that rain on the roof?”, “I’ll just get an extra 30 minutes, it’s been a long week”. Text or call a mate and set a time and place. You might struggle like hell the first ride back, but man it will feel good once you’re done.
Tip 3: Healthy Catch-ups
For me, I love nothing more than scrolling through Instagram (90% of what I follow is food related) and tagging fellow cycling friends in posts from my favourite cafes, usually with the caption “we need to go here! Tomorrow post ride?” This – the post ride café stop – is one aspect of our amazing sport that I just live for! The last half hour to hour of my training rides I’m always thinking of what I’m going to eat.
It’s almost a goal to get home or to the café faster. So my tip: pick a café you want to try or maybe it’s your favourite one, and set a healthy catch-up ride. Think of it as a reward for getting out there and getting things done.
Tip 4: Get back on Strava!
(Friendly) competition is a great motivator. This ties into goal setting too, and let’s face it, if it isn’t on Strava, it never happened.
Tip 5: Do something a bit different
This is a great time to incorporate some cross training. This is actually an aspect of the pre-season I relish! I decided to mix things up a bit and asked my strength coach Paul if we could step in the ring and do some boxing. If boxing isn’t your thing, then give yoga a go. I honestly swear by it, and once you’re comfortable with the poses, you can do your own sessions at home using podcasts like “yogadownload.com”.
Loren Rowney is a professional rider for Velocio-SRAM. With the team since its inception (as Specialized-lululemon), the South-African born Australian lives in Girona, Spain during the European cycling season