Its only around 200 days to go now until the Paralympics begins. Its strange, to have your whole life focused towards a few short hours. My main focus is the Time Trial, a race that will last around twenty-five minutes. It will be full-on, setting off at one minute intervals, aiming to catch others and not be caught. So in preparation for it, my training involves quite a bit of heart-racing, arm-burning stuff.
Today I was tested in the British Cycling lab, pedalling like a hamster on a wheel whilst blood samples were taken from my ear and oxygen update measured. I’m just hoping that the results show an improvement from the last test, six months ago, so that I know all this hard training is having an affect.
The winter involves lots of ‘base training’; that is lots of miles and hours of aerobic cycling to get a strong cardiovascular system in place. I’m also weight training to build muscle strength but not size (more muscle to drag around would just be heavier). I usually train twice a day. Every day’s training is dictated by my training plan that my coach puts together. It defines what to do, the purpose of it, and the targets for each session. Psychology and nutrition are important aspects, but perhaps none more so than rest and recovery. R&R is as important as the training itself, but thats a challenge for me, and an area I can get better at. If anyone has any tips for sofa-loafing when it doesn’t come naturally, I’d love to hear them! (a subscription to Love Film and trying to finish my second book are both helping).
The winter has a handful of training camps in warmer climates so that I can get the miles in on the road – Mallorca, Lanzarote, Mallorca again – anywhere is better than Scotland in winter with its snow, salt and rain. The first big race of the season is early April in France. Its a European series race, so many of my main competitors will be there. The Swiss, the Americans and the Italians are typically strong in female handcycling, and until April, none of us will have any idea where we are relative to each other. It will set a pecking order for the season. After that, we have World Cup races in Rome, Segovia (near Madrid) and other races around the UK and Europe which will lead up to the final ‘8 week to go plan’. Thats 8 weeks of pre-Paralympics ‘lock-down’ when we live and breath purely for the races, the 5th and 7th of September at Brands Hatch.
It’s a packed year ahead. Sometimes I wake up with a mild panic about whether I’ll ever get good enough to bring the Gold medal I dream of to reality. Other times, I take it all in my stride, and know that I’m doing the best that I can. My aim is know on the start line of the races, that I’ve done everything I can to be in the best physical and mental state possible. If I know that, then I’ll know the outcome is the best I could hope for.
Thanks to Berghaus for supporting me on this exciting journey.