Winter Training : The Long Road Of Ups And Downs

I have started the year off strong, after incorporating my Cycleops virtual cycle training into my schedule . I have noticed huge improvements in, not only my overall health and conditioning, but also in my mood, which is a huge part of trying to balance my training schedule, with my family life. So far in 92 days I have managed to log 1,850km’s in 74 rides, with 15500 vertical metres of climbing in 59hrs of ride time and averaging 5 training days and 2 rest days per week, all while battling severe sciatica, which stems from my lingering, permanent spinal condition. A very special thank you is in order, to Sportchek and FGL Sports for providing me with my Greenshield benefits. I would not be able to afford to seek the treatments that I do, nor would I have been able to continue to shape myself, the way that I have over the last 4 years. It has been one heck of a journey.

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I have been using the Zwift virtual training program (greatest thing ever invented, for cyclists like myself, who need to be visually engaged while riding). Check it out! At this pace I’m currently riding an average of 136.5 Km’s a week, which by no means, has been easy while fighting the constant lack of motivation an athlete will encounter during the winter months, not to mention the temptations one has to deal with when training at home. I really, cannot wait to be able to do my daily 60km rides, in the early mornings alongside the beautiful, Welland Canal. There is nothing quite like the outdoors, even though Zwift is an unbelievably, realistic representation, with simulated gradients that I would never be able to train on, in my area.

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I’ll be the first to admit I got a little too excited after Christmas and hit the trainer way to hard, leading to a gigantic crash in performance towards the end of February. I even gave myself quite the scare one morning. After a very hard effort, I had gotten off the bike too quickly and ran into the washroom to get ready for the rest of my day. I did not have my breathing and heart rate under control and passed out, hitting the ground and waking up a few seconds later wedged between the tub and toilet, distraught and shaken up. I was fortunate enough to not have any injuries and I had never had anything like that happen to me before, it scared me a lot. It really changed the way I approach my training and I cannot stress enough the importance of a cool down during any form of exercise, after experiencing the consequences first hand. I took me nearly 4 days to feel normal again from the episode and I definitely learned the hard way, what intensity my body can handle.

Once I had returned to training, I now found myself over analyzing my heart rate and keeping my efforts below my threshold, while worrying another episode could happen at any moment. Talk about another mental challenge on top of the already difficult urge to end my rides early with a bag of chips, or a bowl of ice cream and curl up on the couch with my wife and daughter. I knew this needed to change if I was going to continue to mold myself into the athlete I’m driven to become. I started off slowly, riding more and more everyday, slowly inching the intensity, higher and higher, until I had my confidence back and felt in control again.

March, proved to be my most challenging month of training, as I worked through my issues, but once everything subsided, I started to feel the benefits of my months of hard work. I creeped closer to my goal weight of 150 lbs, tipping the scales at 162lbs from the 195lbs I weighed after my daughter was born in March of 2015. My Sciatica had subsided enough to tolerate and my strict, nutrition plan had done a world of difference. On a daily basis, I consume servings of First Endurance: Ultragen for muscle recovery, Optygen Hp for vO2 max and oxygen ultilization, Pre Race as a pre workout mental stimulant, Multi V for general health protection and EFS for electrolyte replenishment. I also consume between 4-6 Powerbar Powergels, 1 Powerbar protein + bar and 2 Nuun active electrolyte tablets, daily. In addition to my supplements, I eat a healthy, balanced diet as well as a ton of carbohydrates and constantly making fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies for my daughter and I.

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With both my time trial bike and road bike, still being built, I was itching so bad to get outside and ride. With my daughter turning 1yr old, I went shopping for a dad mobile that I could use to take my daughter for rides, commute to work with and use to transport my her back and forth to our parents, when they watch her during the week while we are at work. Needless to say she’s in love with bikes, just as much as daddy and we are both able to be outside, in the fresh air and cruising around!

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Had I been asked 5 years ago, if I would be a Duathlete and cyclist on a competitive level while dealing with my constant roller coaster of back pain and injuries, I would have thought it was insane. I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish personally, in such a short amount of time and look forward to pushing myself further and further as I chase my own aspirations, as well as continue to inspire others to do the same!

Stay tuned for a full breakdown of what my season will look like and I will have some very exciting news to share with you all. Thank you all for your continued support! Get outside! Train Often! Race Local! Shop Local!

One thought on “Winter Training : The Long Road Of Ups And Downs

  1. We are so proud of you Mark. Can’t wait to to see all your accomplishments this year again. Love you.💗 Mom and Rick..xoxo

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