I feels like things are starting to feel very normal again. By that I mean, I am no longer getting any pain from my pelvis and the dizziness has gone away.
It has been 5 months since I came off my bike, doing a bit of damage to myself, but I’ve been quite shocked by my progress if I’m honest. And I think a few other people might be too. I am at a pretty decent level of fitness. In fact, in many ways I feel stronger than before.
But it’s has not been an easy process. It has not been simply “just riding my bike” and, oh look, I’m strong again. No. It has taken, and is still taking, a lot of work and taking up a lot of time.
On top of “just riding my bike” I have 3 clinical pilates classes per week to build my pelvic floor back up. This means two nights during the week of going straight to pilates, doing an hour, getting home, cooking, eating and getting to bed. On a Saturday, I also have a class midday. So I have to squeeze in a ride and get home, eat and get to pilates. So, that’s been going on for about 5 or 6 weeks now, but I feel like it’s really helping. In regards to cycling, my glutes feel stronger and my movement patterns feel more solid, but mostly, I feel like I am much more stable and solid on the bike. Especially through the core. Much less body wiggle than before. That’s the movement your body makes when you start to push hard on the pedals. The core struggles to hold you still and you lose power through the core and try to use your upper body weight to help push the pedals.
Clinical pilates. Highly recommend it. It’s expensive but if you’re worried about cost, do a couple of weeks of it, learn how to control your pelvic floor and carry out the movements correctly. Then ask you can always ask your instructor for mat work exercises to continue doing at home. I do a lot at home on the days I’m not at the clinic.
The thing that has made the biggest difference for me is my motivation levels. And probably through this, I’ve been able to commit to a structured training plan. A self built one.
As soon as I got the all clear to ride indoors, I got straight into it. Actually I sneakily did so the day before.
I decided, seeing as I had to keep things easy, I’d work on zone 2 training. Real base training. Basically working on making some physiological changes that usually I wouldn’t bother with because it’s a bit boring. So for the first couple of rides were really short and easy. Then I went pretty easy during the week to build up some sense of fitness. I think I rode about 3 times, light and easy.
Saturday I did a Zwift Race, as this would be a good way to find out my numbers. Surprisingly, they were a little better than expected. But still a long way from my former self. I managed to hold 226w for 20 minutes. This equates to a 214w FTP. I could now at least train with power. Although I decided to focus on my HR zone 2. Which I think has helped me build up my endurance.
After 3 weeks of rides in zone 2—which is a fairly uncomfortable zone to sit in for an hour. It’s neither hard nor easy, just kind of on the edge—I started to build up a bit of power. Here is where training gets hard.
Thanks to Zwift, I was able to train in a very structured way. Hard rides and purposeful efforts every other day and easy recovery/zone 2 rides the other days. I did this for about 3 more weeks, including some Zwift races. I have to say, Zwift races are extremely good for building up your muscular endurance. Or at least building up your ability to sit at a high power output for a long time. Unlike normal criterium racing, where you can sit in and measure your effort. On Zwift, to keep up, you have to constantly push a high wattage to stay in contact. You get some fake draft help, but you don’t really feel it. And you CANNOT stop peddling, like you might in a race. It’s all out for 40 mins+.
After all that I was allowed on the road. I got officially discharged from hospital. Actually, once again, I took things into my own hands and went out on the road a day early! It was amazing. You can’t begin to imagine the joy. After 4 months of spending the majority of my life indoors or not on my bike, watching my friends post pictures, and talk about rides, I was finally able to join in. Just imagine that one thing you do often and really enjoy. Imagine not being able to do it for 4 whole months.
So now I’m allowed on the road, I’ve been out almost every day. Having just 1 day off the bike in the first 12. I’ve now had 2 days off since I was allowed back on. But like I said before, I am feeling stronger than ever. There is a St Kilda ride on a Wednesday that I used to do, and just before my crash I was starting to be able to finish the ride with the main bunch. It was really hard though. I decided to give it a crack a couple of weeks ago, and kind of found it a lot easier than before my crash. I’m not sure if it was just a fluke or an easy week, or maybe I got a good wheel to follow, but I made it to the end, which I was not expecting.
I think what really happened is my overall power might be lower, but I’m able to hold it better than before. For example, if I was able to hold 293w (my last FTP level) for 20 minutes, I’d be at the limit. I might have been able to hold 250w for 30 mins but be gone after that. Whereas now my FTP might be lower, let’s say around 250w. But I can hold it for way longer and with more ease.
I have noticed that my top end is very far from my best. I have yet to break the kilowatt barrier since the injury. Whereas before I would easily hit 1000w every ride. I actually made it a thing that I would make sure I did. Maxing out at 1356w. That’ll make winning any sprints much more difficult. So I’ll have to think of another strategy to win races until that comes back. Actually, I have no chance of winning a race for a while.
Which brings me to my first race. The first race of the season is an 85km monster up in Metcalfe. The last time I raced here, it was stage 4 of the 3 day tour, and I was dropped with about 10km to go. My goal is to simply hold on until the end. Beyond that, I’m just using it as a training race. My first major goal of the season isn’t until September, at Amy’s Gran Fondo. So I am getting some early racing to build my fitness up before easing off and then building up again.