After an extended post Olympic break including a very belated honeymoon, on 1st December I begun the road back to fitness. (This turned out to be an icy road in the lanes of Shropshire, with temperatures barely reaching freezing that day, and resulted in a crash after 45 mins. Schoolgirl error, should have stuck to the Wattbike.)
In terms of physiology, in a well trained individual after just a week's inactivity you will begin to loose fitness. Changes in your body continue to occur as the weeks and months tick by. I had 3.5 months of downtime after the Games with no structured training. In this time I certainly kept active, including a holiday at Club la Santa which featured a triathlon for fun (yes, really), but this was very far from my usual training regime of 6 days a week, 2 sessions a day for 4 of those days. This post Olympic break finished with 3 weeks in America where I think it's fair to say calories consumed outweighed calories burned.
You'll probably be thinking there is nothing relatable about an Olympian beginning training again, but I've never had a break this long in my whole cycling career so I'm currently learning a lot about myself and how to get back to fitness. But I'm enjoying this challenge and the learning as I go.
My normal training regime pre Olympics left me constantly feeling tired and it wasn't until the taper before the race that I really saw the full extent of all that training come to fruition. Which was the idea. But now I feel the opposite - full of energy and raring to go! Except my body isn't used to training and that energy hasn't been extending to the length of a decent training ride. I am now inefficient at burning fat and it takes some time to adjust. I also wasn't used to sitting on a bike for any length of time and after my first ride of just 1 hour my whole body ached - arms, back, everything! My legs were the least of my worries. (Although as I've previously mentioned I also crashed on this very first ride. So I doubt that helped matters).
December also proved to be a difficult month to begin training. There were the usual excuses of bad weather, short days and the temptations of Christmas but there have also been many awards "dos" which usually mean late nights with free wine and champagne (I had 3 of these dos in 1 week in mid December!) and this combination unsurprisingly hasn't been conducive to consistent training. Unfortunate news but I still enjoyed testing this protocol. All in the name of science, of course.
As we enter 2017 many people will be starting a new fitness regime and my message is STICK WITH IT - the hardest part is getting started and the first month won't be easy. Don't let the excuses win. It will be worth it!
My personal New Year's resolution is to optimise my diet. I love my food and I love eating well but an incredibly busy last few months with plenty of travelling and attending events has left me eating on the go a lot. It's far easier to grab a bar of chocolate and packet of crisps on the train than it is to prepare that quinoa and beetroot salad with flaked salmon the night before, right?! This has been the basis for my excuses for not always eating well recently - there wasn't enough time, I had no fresh food in, I was too tired to cook so got a takeaway.. Any sound familiar?! But I realise this can be solved by organisation. Planning and prepping food in advance and not listening to the little voices in my head telling me to take the easy option. I'm not trying to be perfect, and I don't think aiming for perfection with diet is a good way to live. I believe in balance and that certainly includes treats! I'm a big foodie so I'm looking forward to a healthier balance in 2017 and trying new foods and recipes to keep me motivated.
Follow me on Instagram @joannarowsellshand to see how I get on!