Monday, January 23, 2012

A summary of the 2011 bad bits

It's always hard to write a summary when things didn't exactly go to plan. My 2011 season, my first where I concentrated on road cycling, was a real mixed bag. Sickness, health, national titles and missed targets – a bit of everything.
Things went well for me during the 2010/2011 winter. My job was busy but I was able to consistently get good training in in decent weather with enough recovery. I came into the end of February as strong as I had ever been and as lean/light as was reasonably possible.

My season ahead looked great – I would start racing with Giant/Kenda Pro Cycling (a UCI Continental team) in Asia at the start of March with a Criterium in Singapore, then the 6 day Jelajah Malaysia followed by the 10 day Tour de Taiwan – happy days.

The happy days were pretty short lived – the day before the start of Jelajah Malaysia, the worst road crash I have had left me covered in road rash and aching all over – exactly what you don't want the day before you start a stage race with 200km+ per day in the saddle in tropical heat/weather. I could hardly sleep at night, I stuck to the sheets and on reflection after the stages, my power meter said I was barely turning the pedals. Not so good.

Ouch - and yeah, I was lean
With a week between Jelajah and the Tour de Taiwan, I hoped most of my wounds would heal and the legs would come back – it didn't happen like that. I was fine on any of the mountain stages but the snap, the extra 10%, was never there – it frustrated me – I didn't know what was happening. I was as strong or stronger than a large part of the peleton – but that wasn't what I trained for – I trained to be faster than that.

I came home somewhat dejected from the experience and FOUR kilograms heavier! What the hell happened to me?!? Asian buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner is something to be feared was amongst my take home lessons – I have learnt from it and made adjustments.

I started racing at home and sometimes felt okay but most of the time felt drained. I couldn't train as hard as usual, I couldn't race as hard, and I felt I had to sleep in the middle of every day. Oh, and work was still busy. My next port of call was a trip to the doctor for full blood work and many many tests to investigate what was happening. The result – well, my blood values where 20% below what I would normally see – I was heavily anemic... Starts to explain some things. I went on iron supplements, but months later there was still no change – it was a very frustrating time. I couldn't race as hard I wanted, I couldn't even train hard.

Eventually, my doctor decided that iron injections may help my situation (4 months of normal supplementation didn't do anything for me) – 3 weeks later, bing, blood values shot back up, even before I found the results, I knew things were different – I felt healthier and was able to train harder – the probable reason for my issues: a viral infection picked up in Malaysia. Unfortunately, at this point I was most of the way through the season and I was not as race fit as I should be. A trip to Gran Canaria for 10 days of hard training and I returned feeling much more like myself and finished off my season strong winning a few races and retaining my MTB Marathon National Championship.

A lesson I learn't during the year was to really follow and trust my instincts in relation to my health. I knew when I was strong, and I knew when I was weak – I really should have gotten on top of my health issues as soon as I started to feel weak and really focused on fixing it rather than continuing at 70%. All the signs were there, the power to heart rate ratio changed dramatically, poor recovery, saddle sores, motivation issues. Was it over training? No – I seriously doubt that, considering how quickly I recovered once the iron issues were resolved (without taking a break from training) – it wouldn't make sense.

Defending my MTB Marathon Title

If you have been following my blog over the last while, you'll know that my season wasn't all bad, lots of great things happened (I won my first stage race while still being 'sick') and there were parts that I really enjoyed – it's just, I like to remain honest on the blog and level out the good things with the bad. When things are going well, it is easy to tap down a few words but to be more complete, sometimes you have to write about the tough times.

Next up, a post on my preparation for 2012 (hint – things are going well - I'm feeling good, lean and happy – but I still need a team!)


Steve Shaw said...

This sounds like my "comeback" year in 2009/10 after years of injuries and too much work. I came off the winter being the strongest I had ever been, work was just about manageable and then I got knocked off in a road race and broke 4 ribs and my thumb. I carried on riding and then attempted the southern xc series about 10days later - very stupid, and back to square one. Then work got more busy and everytime I tried racing or training hard it was like hitting a brick wall, you just know when the zing isn't there. I too should have sorted it out, but instead I tried harder and whilst I didn't go backwards, I most definitely was not going forwards. Come the National Champs I had to throw in the towel before I even got there :( Oh well, maybe 2012/13 could be my comeback because this year is too busy and I have a very annoying achilles problem that has reared its ugly head again!

Ryan Sherlock said...

Yeah - it was one of those tricky situations last year. It wasn't that I was *that* bad - nothing extreme, but just not the way I felt I should feel - the blood values eventually showed me that.

Anyway, good luck with your riding - maybe I'll see you at some point in the UK again.