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Back into Training!

by Sarah Storey
Sarah Storey
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on Mar 01 in Training Blog
Returning to training after a major event is usually planned beforehand, but every four years after the Paralympic Games there is a little more leeway and anything up to 3 months out of formal training is acceptable provided you get back on the straight and narrow quickly enough!

Post London the schedule has been a heady mix of events, awards ceremony, keynote corporate speeches and local visits to schools and clubs as well as some downtime with friends and family. Even before the Games in London I knew retirement wasn’t on the cards for me and so by the end of October last year I was itching to get back on the bike and start planning the winter training.

This year has been a different winter than previous years, not least because there is no major Championships in the world of Para-cycling until the end of August 2013, but also, more importantly, it has been different because I am pregnant and expecting mine and Barney’s first baby in June.

Training during pregnancy has some common sense limitations but is an essential part of staying fit and healthy for your own sake as well as that of the growing baby. The regime of good food, good exercise and plenty of rest as an athlete is certainly advised by everyone involved in antenatal care and that is obviously good news for a sporting nut like me!

The start of my training began at the end of November when Barney and I managed to squeeze in a week away at our favourite training base in Lanzarote. Club La Santa is a place we frequent regularly and this winter has been no exception as we are just returning from our third stint of training out there. With consistent weather all year round there is barely a day unsuitable for cycling and the resort itself has everything an athlete could need for staying in shape whilst training there.

From great food, a superb Wellness centre with sports massage and other treatments available, to areas for relaxing and other activities to keep you amused during downtime or rest days, everything is taken care of, including a very efficient laundry service. It is also a great place to meet athletes from other sports and during the most recent camp I met up with the City of Leicester Swim Team and spent some time watching one of the their final training sessions, it certainly brought back memories from when I used to plough up and down that very pool!

Triathletes are also drawn to Club La Santa as there is a fantastic mix of training opportunities, from open water swimming in the resort lagoon, to traditional pool training as well as a variety of terrain for training both the run and bike sections of the event. Every week the resort run a Mini Triathlon competition which can be done as an individual or in teams and there are other competitions arranged on a daily basis. From windsurf races, to 5 and 10km runs and tennis tournaments, as well as plenty of activities for the youngest members of the family, it really is a place everyone can get stuck in and enjoy their favourite sports.

Our first camp at the end of November was all about getting the legs turning again and reintroducing training to the heart and lungs. It is surprising how quickly you lose the amazing condition you have enjoyed during a major Championships, but as I struggled up the hills and wished every ride was an hour shorter than it was, I also knew that I was well on my way to getting back to a more normal level of fitness.

Being pregnant has meant that I have had to follow some general guidelines to protect the health of the growing baby. Lanzarote is an ideal place for training because the constant breeze means there is never a chance of getting too hot, one of the things you need to avoid especially in the first 12 weeks. Training well within my own capacity is also something that has taken a bit of getting used to but by not raising my heart rate too high I am ensuring I don’t limit the blood supply to the baby, which is of course dangerous to do. So I have adopted what I refer to as “Pregnancy Pace”!

Whilst I didn’t venture on rides longer than 3.5 hours on that very first camp, by the time Barney and I returned to the island for a two week block in January, which also coincided with one of the Andy Cook Bike Weeks, we were heading out for up to 4.5 hours and this meant we could return to one of my favourite routes which takes in two ascents of Tabayesco as well as a loop up to the top of the island and the amazing views from Mirador del Rio. At 4 months pregnant I had already gained several kilo’s in both fluid, additional blood volume and some fatty tissue that is laid down in preparation for feeding, so riding was always going to be that bit slower than I would normally do, especially as I couldn’t over exert myself either. Still, riding at Pregnancy Pace, meant there was more time to enjoy the views and take in the scenery, so it isn’t all bad!

By the end of the camp I was 18 weeks pregnant and needed the handlebars raising from my race position to accommodate the growing bump. My set up at the front of the bike still has room for going up higher and Barney has moved me off my race bike and onto an old winter training frame that will allow for that additional height I will need as the baby grows.

Our third and final camp of this winter at Club La Santa has just come to an end and just as in the January camp we had a two week block which also happened to coincide with another of the famous Club La Santa Bike weeks. This time Geoff Cooke was hosting the February camp and just like Andy, Geoff has a huge background in cycling, having been part of the GB set up since his racing days. The time these guys spend with the riders who attend the camps is really invaluable to their development and there is always an elite rider to support the fastest group, with the Magnus Backstedt out training during January. All ages and abilities are catered for and the fact that so many people rebook year on year goes to show what a success they are.

This third camp was equally as successful in terms of training hours as the January camp, in fact on all three camps I averaged between 3-3.5 hours a day with the longest rides again taking me up to Mirador del Rio. As we head home there is definite progress in my “form” albeit form I can’t test until after the baby is born! For now though I will continue to stay fit and healthy and be prepared for when the time comes for the baby to arrive. There is still a lot going on outside of the training and so much momentum from the Games to enjoy being a part of.

My next stop will be a training camp with the GB Para-cycling squad in Mallorca.

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