I bought my first proper road bike back in Spring 2005. Within 6 months I would do my first road race, and in the following 10 years bike racing became a huge part of my life. It’s a sport that demands commitment – if you’re going to race, you need to put the training effort in. I raced in road races, time trials and cyclocross. I never got into mountain biking – I think the fear of crashing and injuring myself was too much.
Training has always been the thing I’ve enjoyed most however. I could lose myself in the effort, me against myself. I never enjoyed the racing as much – I found it too stressful, particularly after a few crashes and broken bones. But I could happily spend time training without a care in the world.
The bike has got me through a few tough times. It was there for me at the end of a particularly unpleasant business relationship a few years ago. Getting out on the bike, pushing myself to my physical limits, and other times just riding for the sheer enjoyment of it, lifted the gloom.
My last season of racing was 2014, when I had a pretty successful year in terms of results and performance, however by the end of the season I felt worn out. I needed a break. So I started running.
I’d been doing a bit of running as part of my cyclocross training, and with a bit of coaxing from my friend Julie Ramsay, I found myself signing up for the Winter 5k race in Edinburgh around Arthur’s Seat. The snow that day was ridiculous, but I loved it! Before I knew it I’d entered the Edinburgh Half Marathon, found myself a training plan, and started training for a new sport.
That’s always an enjoyable phase, you’re getting better all the time, beating PBs on a regular basis. There were other 5k & 10k races, a 5 mile and 10 mile race. The adrenaline of training and racing had me again.
Since then I’ve gone back and forward between the bike and running. At the end of 2015 I decided to get back on the bike. Trained solely on the bike for 6 months, then switched to running for a couple of months. Back and forth.
And so it’s continued. I’ve realised that training is my addiction. I love it. It makes me feel good, happy, content. I love nothing more than getting up at dawn and running as the sun rises. Or getting out for an hour on my bike while everyone else is asleep. My breakfast always tastes sweeter on those days.
My days of racing are behind me (for now). But I’m still training as hard as ever. Pushing myself, feeling the burn, getting fitter and stronger. This winter I’ve added HIIT sessions into the mix. I feel better than I have in years. My power on the bike is as high as its ever been, but I no longer feel compelled to pin on a number and race.
I’m content to just do this for me. That’s not to say that I won’t race again, it’s just that for now I’m doing what I love without the pressure that racing brings. And I’m cool with that.