Getting back into the rhythm…

It’s now 3 weeks since the marathon. Where did the time go?!? Running this week has felt more normal, indeed my last couple of runs have been at a decent pace with no after effects. I guess my body is pretty much recovered now.

Tuesday was my first head-torch run in a couple of years. It was also pretty windy out there, with some light rain and I can’t say I really enjoyed the experience. The 3 miles from Castle Huntly back to Inchture, into a block headwind and unable to see more than 10m in front of me, weren’t a lot of fun. So on Thursday I re-joined the gym at the University – one of the perks of my part-time teaching role! Me & the treadmill are going to reacquainted this winter.

I have one more week left of Greg McMillan’s marathon recovery plan, then I move onto base training as we start to look ahead to next year. I’m excited about this, as although I ran for a full season in 2015, I got back on the bike mid-December that year and the running pretty much stopped, so I never got to see the benefit of taking a full season’s training into the next year.

We fly out to Lanzarote two weeks today and I’m looking forward to getting some good miles in. I love running in warmer weather – something we don’t get in Scotland too often – and it’s currently averaging around 28C in Peurto del Carmen where we’re staying.

Bex is flying out from London too, so I’ll have a running buddy for some of my morning runs. I’m excited to run with my girl.

I’ve spent a week in Lanzarote before, but that was at a training camp back in 2014, when I was still racing my bike. I’d come off a winter of cyclocross racing, so was a bit behind some of the others. It was a week of hard training, the most professional camp I’d ever been on (thanks to coaches Gary Hand & Davie Lines) and on the back of that I went on to have my best season ever, so I’m hoping the Lanza magic will work again.

Training Camp – block two

The weather improved for the better after Sunday. It was wall-to-wall sunshine for the rest of the camp.

Our rest day was an easy spin down to the Marina for coffee & cake, then back to the villa. I spent the rest of the day lying by the pool, stretching & snoozing. Lovely.

The first day of our second block would see us doing the climb of Tabayesco again, followed by 2 x 15 minute threshold intervals. I was a little worried about how my body would cope after being so tired on Sunday, but it seemed like the rest day had done it’s job and I was never in difficulty. I’d go as far as to say that it was one of the best days I’ve ever had on the bike!

Day two was all about tempo work. We road the hour or so to the circuit, up to Femes & down to Playa Blanco, then we were split into our groups for 2 x 50 minute efforts. Riding in a chaingang, taking 30-60 seconds each on the front, this was another exhilarating and exhausting session. I loved it, even though I was hanging on in the second interval when our group was down to three riders. I dug deep & made sure we finished together.

After that it was a loop through the lava fields to El Golfo and back to the brutal climb of Femes. That would be our last hard effort of the camp, then we rode back down to Puerto for coffee.

We flew home last night and now it’s all about rest & recovery and letting the training soak in. I’m really excited and motivated for the season ahead!

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Training Camp – block one

I can’t believe how quickly the first 3 days of our training camp here in Lanzarote have gone! It’s been a hard block. Day 1 was a 4 hour ride with a threshold effort up the climb at Tabayesco; Day 2 was 5 hours which included 2 x 40 min tempo efforts in small groups followed by the brutal climb up to Femes; Today was an endurance ride of almost 6 hours covering 95 miles and 7,500ft of climbing.

Day 1 I didn’t feel great, but got through it. I loved day 2 – it was one of the best days I’ve had on the bike, but today I suffered like a dog. I got through it thanks to cans of Pepsi, energy bars & gels and most importantly the wheel of Davie Lines.

Tomorrow is a rest day, with a one hour cafe ride – I may treat myself to a wee cake. In the afternoon I’ll have a chat with Gary about my race plan for the first part of the season.

Then it’s block 2, which promises to be tough. But I’m not thinking about that tonight, I’m just stretching and thinking about that coffee & cake tomorrow.

Adios for now!

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2011 Mallorca Training Camp in Pictures

Packing the kit

Day 1 - cafe stop in Port de Pollenca after riding up to Formentor

Drowned rat! At Petra after a 30mph chaingang in the rain. Loved it!

 

At the top of Lluc, just set a new PB of 25:25 for the climb

The view from the top of the San Salvador climb

Found these World Champion jerseys in the old monastery at San Salvador!

Some of us modelling the new Total Endurance kit

Recovery ride to the bike shop in Binnisalem

Getting ready to set off on a damp morning

Cafe stop at Bunyola on Wednesday. Then we raced up the Orient, on the descent I crashed!

My left knee after the crash. My hip, forearm & shoulder are the same. Ouch!!

At the top of the Puig Major, ready for the descent down to The Shack and coffee!

Whatever the weather, I'm always smiling! 🙂

Training Camp Update

Over the past few evenings we’ve been sharing tales of previous camps. There just aren’t the characters coming out here anymore. Over two weeks this year there’s been 60 people, down from a peak of about 100 three years ago.

Simon’s been regaling us with tales of people such as Asda-Man and Billy Big Ring. These guys have gone down in cycling folk-lore.

This year’s bunch are poor by comparison. We’ve got Rapha Nick, dressed head-to-toe in Rapha (google it – nice kit but very, very expensive), who doesn’t speak in the bunch (he’s too serious a racer you see!). There’s Shaftsbury Claire, a very good racer, and our favourite, Captain America or the Chattanooga Choo choo. He & his mate have travelled all the way over from NYC to train in Europe. That alone deserves respect.

However, the revelation, and the characters of this years camp, are Team Brick. Three lads from Swindon, all out here for the first time, and so christened because they’re the size of a brick shit-house!

The lads are having a blast. We’ve all just had a beer in the hotel bar after dinner. Team Deeside are off to bed. Team Brick? They’re off into Alcudia in search of whatever delights it may have to offer.

It’s a hundred mile ride in the mountains tomorrow, but Team Brick are off larging it up.

You have to admire their spirit!

Training Camp

Tomorrow morning, at 6am, we fly out to Mallorca for our annual training camp. It’s a great week, possibly the highlight of my cycling year, as we prepare for the season ahead in the Mallorca sunshine. Hard training miles are coupled with good company, lots of food and the odd glass of wine.

However, this year we’re flying from Manchester as there are no flights from Scotland until April. So we’ve had to travel down from Aberdeen. Most of the guys are staying for 10 days, where as I’m just out for the week, which means that I’ve had to travel on my own.

Rather than set-off at mid-day I decided to take a leisurely drive down and avoid the worst of the traffic. I dropped Andy off at school at 8.30 and then made my way south.

Twitter helped me find my first coffee stop – Clive’s in Bridge of Allan, where as well as carrot cake & coffee, I also got free wifi, so managed a good hour of online activity.

I’d also downloaded a new audiobook – The Accidental Billionaires, the story that the film The Social Network was based on. If you’ve seen the film it’s actually quite similar albeit more focused on the relationship between Eduardo & Mark. Gripping stuff.

My second stop was the fantastic Tebay Services. A community owned & operated service station, it was a refreshing change from the un-cared for and sterile motorway services. However, this was where my first bit of frustration kicked in – my roaming wifi service from Boingo wouldn’t work, so I couldn’t upload the Vblog I’d recorded earlier. Many tweets back & forward with Boingo, but I got fed up and decided just to get in the car and head for Manchester.

I’m now at the hotel (The Hilton) and killing a couple of hours before the rest of the guys arrive with a coffee & some online time. May even go have a snooze soon, as we’re up at 3am!

I plan to blog & Vblog daily whilst we’re away, so watch out both here and at my Moviecom channel at http://www.moviecom.tv/alimcgill

Winter training 2011 style

This has ben an odd winter. Normally we don’t see snow here until the new year. This year it arrived mid-November. On top of that I broke my collarbone on 13th November, so it’s been anything but normal.

It’s now been ten weeks since the crash, and that’s meant a lot of training indoors (I only missed about ten days after the crash). As anyone who trains for cycling knows, indoor training on the turbo is a form of purgatory. A necessary evil, we do it but loath it. Training sessions are short, sharp, and always painful. At least they are if you want them to be worthwhile.

Doing four or five sessions a week, normally the monotony is broken by getting out on longer rides at the weekend. But I’ve not been allowed or able to. So when I heard about The Sufferfest training videos I was immediately interested. Anything that could make indoor training more enjoyable had to be worth a look.

The videos are made up of race footage, combined with great music, so you’re immediately engaged. Each one is a different style of intervals. Each one is brutal. You couldn’t do them every day, but building a couple in over the course of the week has made my training so much more enjoyable.

My favourite is The Hunted – you’re out front in a small group being chased by the bunch. Can you stay away to the finish? There are attacks going in all over the place, it simulates real racing very well. You automatically find yourself chasing down an attack, or sprinting to get on that wheel. I’m impressed.

So as we head into February, and my return to the road gets ever closer (5th February since you ask), my thoughts start to turn to our training camp in Mallorca in early March. My focus once I get back on the road will be on building up my mileage so that I can cope with the six or seven hour days in the saddle in the Mallorca sun.

Training camp is, for me, the best week of the year. I’ll write about it as we get closer to the date, however I’ll close today with this wonderful piece from pro rider Michael Barry of Team Sky. He captures it beautifully. Enjoy.