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Winter Training!

by Sarah Storey
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on Jan 17 in Training Blog
My return to racing at the end of November last year was a welcome hit out on the boards of the Newport Velodrome. I was, like any new Mum, nervous I could produce a performance that would be respectable given I was balancing the demands of looking after a 5 month old baby and training. I needn’t have worried, the race went quite well and although I had hoped to ride faster [I think as an athlete that is a common theme!], I was able to post a time over the 3000m that would still have won me a gold medal at the London Games. [below: Louisa and I with my gold medal from my comeback race!]

Sarah Louisa NewportIt was a satisfying way to return to winter training on the road and just before Christmas we travelled to Club La Santa for the first of three camps I have planned over the winter period. This first camp also had the added bonus of being labelled the “Dame Sarah Storey Bike Week” and as well as being out there for my own training, I was hosting a bike week for Club La Santa as well as leading the riders on the camp through the 3 day, 4 stage Club La Santa Cycling Trophy.

This training week also marked the first camp for the Pearl Izumi Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Team and the girls joined in with the camp, did some independent team training and also took part in the Cycling Trophy, alongside our manager and DS, Barney. Being able to race as a team within this first training camp was a huge bonus and the field was a mixed field including some former male pro’s, so the competition was quite tasty.

Katie Archibald proved too strong for everyone, including the men over the 5km prologue and it was great to see her in the leaders jersey as we started the second stage later the same day. Back in the day, Barney had been an elite road racer, specialising in the bunch sprints, before turning his attention to the track and ultimately his career as a tandem pilot. Having lost none of his ability in a bunch, and having regained a huge amount of his road form over the past nine months, it was great for the girls and Barney to be in the same bunch and trying to win the same race.

Normally a DS will sit in the car and attempt to support his riders from afar and ultimately this is what Barney will do as the race season starts off proper, but to have the opportunity to direct proceedings from within the bunch, was really useful and Barney will undoubtedly be able to support our race plans better now that he has a feel for the way we ride. As a rider coming back to form, it was a brilliant week for getting my head kicked in by my own team mates! They are such a strong group of riders and looking forward to getting the season underway.

My over-riding memories of the race include being paced up the climb of the 3rd stage by Charline Joiner, so that I didn’t lose touch with the race after I had done my role for the stage of taking the first part out super fast. Then the second memory is working as a windbreak for Katie Archibald and Ciara Horne in the first part of the final stage, before getting dropped at the start of the final lap, only to claw my way back to the front and then without a moments notice for a breather being instructed by Barney to attack into the crosswind before the turn so that I made the men in the race chase again! It was great fun and brutal all at the same time and without doubt the springboard I needed to be able to move up the fitness ladder.

Hosting a camp alongside the team stuff was also fantastic and meeting so many cycling fanatics was superb. Everyone on the camp approached cycling from a different angle, be it as a means for getting to work and back, as a charity challenge and fundraising activity, as a racer or just for fun at weekends. However the common theme of loving to go about on two wheels meant that everyone had a great time and that was never more evident than on the final evening when we all came together for a celebration dinner. That is another great thing about Club La Santa, the camaraderie of the people you meet. There are bike weeks and other events throughout the year, so it’s well worth checking out the website and seeing if there is something you could join in with. Also keep an eye out for my next camp out there, as we hope to announce that in due course!


As 2014 rolled round, the weather in the UK seemed to do its best to ensure we wouldn’t be seeing much sunlight and so I was glad to have booked the second of the 3 winter camps to start on January 7th. We are now just a few days from finishing this camp [view from the apartment in the photo above!] before returning to the UK for a couple of weeks to start altitude training in the Environment Chamber at Manchester Metropolitan University. The reason for the altitude work is because the ParaCycling Track World Championships are being held at 1800m in Aguascalientes, so it will be fantastic to be able to acclimatise to the conditions somewhat before our departure in early April.

This past two weeks in Lanzarote has been a fantastic opportunity for me to build on the great work I did with the Pearl Izumi BOBC girls in December and now that Louisa is past six months and on solids there has been a little less demand for breastfeeding, especially during the day. My time out here has allowed me to reacquaint myself with the longer 3, 4 and 5 hour rides and see that the power is returning the sort of levels I would expect during the early part of the winter. From a “being a Mum” perspective, the baby weight I gained [all 24kg of it!] has virtually all gone and I am back at a weight I would normally hope to be at during the winter.

As a Mum with a baby that is going through the gradual weaning process, it has been an exciting time. We have opted for the “Baby Led Weaning” approach, which just makes so much sense to us when we read about it. In a nutshell, Baby Led Weaning is about baby feeding themselves and being in control of what and how much they eat. It does away with the need for pureed food and certainly seems a lot easier now we are away from home and eating out all the time. Basically, food is chopped up into finger food that little hands can grasp and take to their mouth. Louisa has tried everything from garlic bread to grapefruit, meat, cheese, pasta and fruit and vegetables. Babies have a natural gag reflex closer to the front of their mouth, so that comes in handy when she does quite literally, bite off more than she can chew!


We have a really cool portable, play and eat table and this just sits on the table [above; lunch with a view!] we are eating at and Louisa can be given a variety of food to choose from each mealtime. There is no doubt she seems to love the playing and handling of food before she tastes it, and she is definitely becoming very skilled at the way she handles the food she wants to eat. Whether it’s slippery melon, banana or mango, it is fascinating to watch the concentration on her face as she uses both hands to control the piece of food and guide it to her mouth.

I have been touched and humbled since my return to racing, by the number of messages of support and interest from people asking about how I have managed things since Louisa was born. One of the most frequently asked questions is about breastfeeding and how I am managing to continue to breastfeed in and around everything else. For me, there has never been any question that I would breastfeed Louisa for as long as she wants me to. It’s such a soothing and calming thing to be able to do for a baby, apart from the obvious nutritional benefits. When a baby starts on solid food and tries new things this will bring new sensations to their gut, maybe indigestion if they have been so excited and stuffing lots of food into their mouth all at once or perhaps it’s just that horrid pain of teething and gum ache. Whatever it is that unsettles a little one, being able to give them breastmilk or the chance to suckle and cuddle has such a calming effect.

Baby sleep is one of the most discussed subjects of parents and a baby that sleeps through the night [medically this is a baby that will sleep for stretches of 5 hours] seems to be the trophy that everyone wants to have. I have felt quite empowered reading up about the physiology of baby sleep and what is actually normal. The fact that some babies will sleep for long stretches doesn’t mean to say that all babies can or should. I know that a breastfed baby is more likely to wake during the night as breast milk is thinner and more easily digested. Louisa has a couple of feeds during the night now, but I don’t mind at all, despite the fact there are some people out there who will try and tell me that now she is on solids she should sleep for longer.

One of the lesser known things about breastfeeding though is that it also changes the physiology of the mother’s sleep too. This is a really useful thing because it means the body is naturally built to cope with the broken sleep. In simple terms there are 4 phases of sleep, with the 4th phase being the deepest sleep and the phase that you feel worst if you are woken from it. A breastfeeding mother never enters the 4th phase of sleep, therefore her body protects her from the chance of being woken from it. Obviously there will be some mothers who are feeding so constantly through the night they are lucky to ever get a one hour stretch of sleep let alone longer, but when I read about how my body is trying to compensate to help with the broken sleep I was fascinated and grateful that I could breastfeed.

Probably the best known thing about breastfeeding is the fact it helps you to lose weight, and I mentioned above, Louisa is now 29 weeks old and thanks to the feeding and training I have done, my body is virtually back to normal, weight wise. Yet again the body is an amazing thing and although I have to admit I was slightly concerned I had been able to gain so much weight [24kg], yet only have a baby that weighed 3.4kg, my body knew what was needed to sustain the feeding I have been doing.


Above: my little swimmer! Louisa and I in the Olympic Pool at Club La Santa!

So as I continue in my voyage of discovery as a Mum I hope everyone else out there is enjoying their sport and the winter weather isn’t putting too much of a dampener on things. For anyone who would like to meet our Pearl Izumi Boot Out Breast Cancer cycling team, then put March 8th in your diary as there will be a chance to meet and ride with the team. I will be releasing more info on this next week, so it won’t be long before you hear from me again!

Best wishes!


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