A while ago I did something kinda shit, and because I'm still not quite sure of my motivations, I'm going to try to rectify it here, in the hope that some kind of epiphany will occur mid-paragraph. JKLP got in touch with me and asked about track coaching, and I was kind of negative in my response. Sure, I gave him a few names, but instead of offering encouragement and phone numbers I chose instead to perpetrate the Brendan Bailey myth - you know, the one that goes, "I didn't get a coach til I was in A Grade on a Tuesday night (it also goes, "I rode a one of the shitty club bikes til A Grade on a Tuesday night," or, "I made it to A grade on the road riding a 90s steel bike with 90s Campy Record," or, as Casey likes to put it, "Me Me Me Me Bikes....."). This isn't entirely true, of course - I was training with Alf from Brunswick twice a week, and Nath had mocked up a training outline for me. I guess what I was trying to do was tell JKLP not to get ahead of himself, but really, that's bullshit. In fact, that's the worst cycling advice I've ever given anyone. If he writes me another message, I'm going to tell him to get way ahead of himself, to bite off more than he can chew and chew like hell. And I'm also going to tell him to get a coach. Because it's the best thing I've ever done for my cycling.
The other piece of advice worthy of consideration is this: you are a cyclist twentyfour hours of the day, seven days a week. It's kind of unfair, in a way. When I played football I'd train twice a week, for about two hours a session, then play on the weekend. That's probably nine, ten hours a week, tops. When I was a runner (sprints, if you're interested) I'd train four nights a week, again for about two hours a session, and then compete on the weekends - probably about ten or eleven hours of my time. Outside of these hours I wouldn't think about competitive sport at all - partially because I was fifteen and found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than girls and how my parents and school and the cops were totally oppressing me, but mostly because I didn't have to. But cycling demands way more of my time - I'm currently doing twenty hour weeks, including gym, and it's not even road racing season yet - and, more importantly, way more of my concentration. Because I know that if I stay out late one night eating pizza and talking shit, my training session the next day is going to suck. There's just no way I can get the best out of my body on five hours sleep. And I know - and this has been a hard lesson to learn - that if I eat Lord of the Fries at any time, any where, I'm not going to be able to get the best out of my body the next day. And I know that if I spend a lot of time on my feet at work then my legs are going to be tired training that afternoon. And that if you train shit, you race shit. It's as simple as that.
I'm not saying that you don't ever get to relax. Of course you do - hell, I go out for dinner and movies and (very) occasionally parties, just like anyone else. But while I'm out, I can't have a 'cycling day off' and lose my shit. It just doesn't work like that. Bodies just don't work like that. No matter how many programs your coach draws up.