At the end of November last year I realised I was some 650 miles down on my previous year’s total miles, and I didn’t want to end the year having done less miles, so I got my head down and put in the miles – more miles than I’d ever cycled in a month.
By the end of December I had had enough though – my legs hurt every day, I felt tired every day and I struggled to find time/energy for anything else – I felt like I had spent all my time cycling, eating and sleeping, but I had achieved my target.
I cycle most days, it’s what I do, but it felt like I really wasn’t built for cycling so much – being borderline underweight (according to my BMI) and unable to put on weight (which some people think is a blessing) makes me pretty conscious about what I eat – constantly trying to eat as much as I can, and getting in enough carbohydrates and protein.
When this year began I decided I wasn’t going to aim for such targets again – I would just cycle whatever miles I end up doing, but because I cycle pretty much everywhere rather than driving, and I can’t miss a couple of days out on the bike without feeling not so good, I still found I was heading towards a similar 4,000-odd miles.
However, when Bri announced over on her blog that by the end of August she had already covered that number of miles and was expecting to cover some 6,000 miles by the end of the year, I wondered what I would have to do to catch up!
The answer my spreadsheet gave me was 800 miles a month, for the next four months.
Was it possible?!
To find out I decided I would try for 800 miles in September, and then see how that works out.
I was still conscious of last December’s miles and how I didn’t feel so good by the end of it (even though at the same time I liked the achievement), but my brain was pushing those 650 miles I did to the side, and I thought I would give it a try. I worked out how many miles I would have to do each day, and I set it as my target… if I missed any days or didn’t do enough early on I knew my target would quickly slip out of reach. Actually, I set 30 miles a day as my target as it seemed like a nicer figure than the 27 my calculator quoted me, and as a week or so passed I began to see that it was do-able, and doing the maths in my head on each ride I was aware that 30 miles a day for 30 days would actually be 900 miles… and then the silly idea was in my head that 1,000 was a nicer figure than 900!
By the time I was half way through the month though, my spreadsheet’s forecast hadn’t once indicated I was heading for 900+ miles, and every day, like back in December I was going out on my bike with my legs still feeling the day before…
1,000 miles… was a little out of my reach.
On my longer trips, where I was making up miles I found myself singing, in my head, a new rendition of Head Shoulders Knees & Toes, it went something like…
Neck, ankles wrists and toes, wrists and toes,
Neck, ankles wrists and toes, wrists and toes,
And back and arms and bum and knees,
Neck, ankles, wrists and toes, wrists and toes.
When I wasn’t busy trying to decide which area of my body was hurting the most I was planning what food I would scoff once I got home – I find it funny how such thoughts flood my mind when I start to get hungry… I also found it funny how quickly I managed to gobble down omelette on toast. I read once that after exercise it is important to be eating a good meal within 30 minutes to aid recovery – entering my house via my kitchen helps! Three square meals a day seem to go out the window when I’m cycling so much and I find myself having five, or if I’ve been out all day, meals 2,3,4,5 seem to roll into one long eating fest and I end the day with my tummy hurting because I forced too much food into it! A discussion with a friend recently even compared this type of eating and exercise routine to one of someone with an eating disorder – so to outside appearances, this doesn’t look so good.
Heading towards the end of the month though, and having 900 miles in sight, I looked forward to some days off – I’d not had one. I’d averaged around 30 miles each day – some days were less, and some days were more, like my cycle round Anglesey on World Carfree Day – if I’d already been on target before that day then I could have given myself a day off, or pushed for the 1,000, but I wasn’t. At the end of that trip my bike computer told me I had used up around 2k calories… which is a scary figure considering an adult male should apparently be consuming 2.5k on a typical day… I really doubt I can stuff down 4.5k calories – is my bike computer accurate?! I’m pretty sure I recognise the signs my body displays when I haven’t eaten enough.
Now October is here and I have the 900 miles behind me. Once work trips stop dragging me out on my bike I can have a day or two off, then I can think about what I want to do in October – perhaps I change my method: cycling more than 30 miles but giving myself some days off (whilst still trying to eat as much as if I was going to be out on my bike), so I end up covering a similar number of miles – we’ll see… I suspect Bri has done more than 900 miles though, since she announced her 300+ miles in three days 😉
And now the foggy mornings are here so the ideal weather must be passing…