>It’s a funny old time of year

>I started January today. I began my training programme a little late, so I’m running off a different calendar to most people.

It’s a difficult time. The pain and disappointments of last season have faded and the new season is just over the horizon. The numbers are going up (as they should be) and it’s tempting to push on – to do too much too soon.

Keeping the intensity down is an issue for me. Few people now subscribe to pure ‘Long Slow Distance’ work, but there’s a consensus that this time of year is about building up endurance and working on skills. The trick is to allow enough time between training sessions (and real life) to recover. Going too hard, too soon can lead to over training.

Over training can lead to irritability, depression, aches and pains, insomnia, and headaches (hmmm). It’s a chronic condition that can take a long time to fix. That’s why it’s important to get the intensity right and recover properly (and each person’s response to training is different – you have to know yourself and be honest about what training load you can healthily sustain). Good nutrition and hydration are important as well. I’m useless at the nutrition side of things.

It can be a physically dangerous time of year as well. The days are (slowly) getting lighter and I’m desperate to get out onto the road. But several people have reported falls this weekend, caught out by the ice. An accident like that can wipe out any advantage I might gain from a long road ride. I looked out of the window on Sunday morning and decided to substitute a long turble session for the day. Not much fun, but safer.

There’s a lot of illness around at the moment as well. Pat has had really nasty flu this past week. I’ve been wearing a deep sea diving helmet around the house, so I hope I don’t get it. I think it’s made my hypochondria flare up again. I try to keep my immune system in good order by taking vitamins C and D, zinc, omega 3 and by touching wood on a regular basis. I wish I could avoid using public transport at this time of year.

I suppose the other January thing is motivation. Sometimes it’s lacking. I just don’t feel like training. The good news is that I don’t need motivation, I just need to get on the bike and ride. If it’s raining, icy or dark I use the turble. I don’t have to like it (see above). I have a plan for each session and try to execute it. If I do miss a session, I forgive myself and move on. It’s not the end of the world.

I still haven’t set goals for the season. The house move is progressing slowly. It might be two months or more before we move. I hope it’s less than that – we’d hoped to before Christmas. Whatever it is, it’s likely to take out the early season. Until there’s a bit more certainty around, I’ll hold back on the targets.