Liberating yourself from the grind of a training program.

I used to be a slave to training-peaks. I had a coach, a great coach. I hardly missed a session. Five times a week – a highly structured program. I did this for years, week in and week out. I had anxiety attacks if I missed a session. I used to do my endurance rides through the winter, in Scotland in the poorest of weather. If it snowed, I put spiked tires on my mountain bike and still went out, I usually ended up on my ass. I remember my toes were so cold I cried. I remember one year riding after biblical floods. All the roads were flooded and the water was frozen. I misjudged a section of frozen flooded road, went through the ice up my knees, soaked my feet and carried on riding for another two and half hours. I remember sitting on a bench at minus five degrees Celsius with shoes and socks off, wringing out my socks watched by bemused onlookers.

Then I realized something, I was not enjoying it. So I decided to change it. To do this I wrote down all the things I do not enjoy doing, and all the things I do enjoy doing.

Things I do not enjoy:

  • Riding outside when it wet and cold
  • Feeling guilty when I missed a planned session
  • Training when I do not feel like training
  • Always doing the same thing

Things I do enjoy doing

  • Riding my bike in nice weather
  • Riding my bike in new and interesting places in nice weather
  • Cafe stops
  • Riding indoors on Zwift
  • Zwift racing
  • My Wattbike Atom
  • Coaching kids to ride and race bikes

Turns out the solution my malaise of not enjoying riding my bike, was to do none of what I did not enjoy and all of what I do enjoy. I quit my coach, stopped planning stuff in training peaks.

I now ride when I want to ride. I purchased a dedicated Smart trainer (Wattbike Atom). I do social rides on Zwift. I race on Zwift in a lower league than I used too. I love racing on Zwift. joined an e-race team (KRT). I train when I want to train. I still do High Intensity Training, but I pick a session I would like to do, rather than a session I have to do. I try and pick interesting training sessions I have never done before. I try out other people’s training formats on Zwift. Most of all, I only ride my bike outside on sunny days, and I try and pick sporting club rides with a cafe stop somewhere in the middle or end of the ride. I occasionally join a chain gang, but only if I am in the mood for a smash-fest.

I still follow some basic principals

  • No matter how much I ride in a week, I aim for 80% at low intensity and 20% of HIT. I do this naturally, I do not plan it out.
  • I try and race on Zwift once a week as part of my HIT
  • I choose training sessions that will benefit my weaknesses
  • I still get in gym and do a bit of weight training, maybe one or twice a week, but only if I really feel like it.
  • If I do not feel like doing a session, I do not do a session and I just move on to the next day.

I now really enjoy riding my bike indoors or outdoors. I enjoy my training sessions like never before. I have developed a real passion for Zwift racing. I even run my own Zwift race and league and have found new friends doing it. I coach kids three times a week and support Youth racing at the highest level.

And the the result, I am happier and an unexpected outcome of this new freedom is that I seem to be getting fitter and stronger. Almost to the same level as I was when I was a slave to program, but now I have a smile on face.

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