It has been a strange feeling training this year having finished the Chile Challenge, as I have spent just about all of the last 12 months concentrating entirely on swimming, riding &running, and in the process completing as many miles as possible.
This has been great to build up my basic endurance and was enough (just) to get me through the Avenger Half last summer, but it may have come at the expense of some other things such as speed and hill climbing. Towards the end of the year I started dipping my toe into things such as interval training and spin classes which might involve slightly shorter distances and more intensity, but should be better for my racing in the long run.
One thing I have been able to do in the last few weeks has been some weight training. About 4 or 5 years ago that was all I ever did in the gym, but unbelievably I barely touched a dumbbell or barbell in the whole of last year, so it has been good to rediscover a few muscles which I have been neglecting, although the aches the next day reminded me exactly how long it had been
My gym had a refurb towards the end of last year, so I have managed to try out a few of the new pieces of kit, which include:
Water Rowers – I have always fancied a go on these, as they look great and make that cool swooshing sound. It turns out they do not feel too different from the Concept 2’s and still knacker you pretty quickly, plus you can’t hear the swooshing if you have headphones in, but I love using this as a warm up to get both arms and legs going ahead of a cardio session.
Multi-Gym – Although there were already a few of these in place, with pulleys, lat-pull-downs and the like, the new one of these (Synrgy360) is really cool. It looks more like a big red climbing frame, and as well as all the usual features also incorporates a punch bag, trampoline, and various kit such as heavy bags and medicine balls. The best part though is the monkey bars in the middle, which are set at slightly different heights to add even more challenge. Obviously I had to have a go, and nearly pulled my arm out of its socket trying to reach the top one, but managed to make it first time so it was worth it.
Lots of bikes! – In the past we had a two types of stationary bikes: normal ones (I can’t think of a better description) which I used most of the time, and those reclined ones which people who are not training property tend to use. Normally whilst on the phone or reading a book…
Now there are loads of different ones, including Power Bikes which measure the wattage you generate (and make a hell of a racket in the process); MTB simulators that lean from side-to-side and have a video screen that simulates riding through mountains or weaving through traffic; and some standalone Spin Bikes which also have a video screen to simulate a class, just in case you cannot make one of the 2 or 3 per day they run in the gym. Actually, the spin bike is my favourite, although I don’t bother with the class mode, as once you get used to the smooth motion these are actually more comfortable than the others for longer distances.
So there you go, lots of fun kit to get used to which I am sure will all help my training this year. That said, I can’t wait to get back outside and on the road again, as let’s face it: that is what it is all about!