May 29, 2008

I won the National Ten-mile TT championships last week. I am well aware that most of you don?t care. But I don?t care that you don?t care. It matters to me, and that seems sufficient justification to write about it. I won, and it made me happy. So there. If you?d rather I was unhappy, that?s your problem.

If I?m being honest, I was a little surprised just how happy. I?ve won the event before, and I know it ain?t the Olympics so don?t write in and tell me, but it was my first target for the year. I planned for it, I did the training, and it all worked out. (Clamps cigar between teeth: ?I love it when a plan comes together.?)

I even set a new PB (18.07), which was not something I expected. I didn?t even notice when I crossed the line. I had seen the one-mile-to-go sign zip past when my watch said something like 16.10. You might imagine that would have been a clue, but at the time I didn?t really think much of it. I just wondered why someone had put the mile-to-go sign at two miles to go.

I?ve suffered this kind of stupidity in races before ? something to do with the blood being in my legs, not my brain. I know it?s something to do with that, because I?ve suffered from the reverse phenomenon as well; I once sat an unexpectedly difficult exam, and found I couldn?t walk afterwards. (Curiously, the numbness in my legs didn?t set in immediately ? I managed to get to the student bar first.)

The only problem now is that on Sunday week it?s the twenty-five mile championships. So after a delightful period of tapering my training down before the ten, the last few days have been time to get my ass off my laurels and back on my bike.

Michael Hutchinson National 10 2008In action at the National ’10’

Since I?ve only got a week before I have to taper down again, every session suddenly seems to matter more than it did a month ago. The biggest dilemma is a session when you?re tired, and you know you ought to take it easier than planned. A month ago I could promise myself I?d make up the lost ground some other time. Now, there isn?t space in the week.

It?s hard to just let it go, and easy to end up doing too much. You have to learn to relax, and if you have the kind of personality that takes training seriously in the first place, relaxing is not something you?re good at.

Personally, I find relaxing very, very stressful.


Michael Hutchinson writes the ‘Dr Hutch’ column for Cycling Weekly every week. He is a British time trial multi-national champion, author and athlete’s hour record attemptee.