home      my running story      races from the beginning      talk to me       product reviews      

Wednesday 31 August 2022

It’s enjoyment, Jim, but not as I know it - GUEST POST - Phil Collard


This may be a one-off blog… or it may be part-one of a two-parter. Which of those it is very much depends on my health over the coming days/weeks.

Let me take you back to mid-July - just before the school holidays (I have sons age 15 and 12, so school holidays are still relevant to me).

The weather was hot and my motivation to swim/bike/run was high - I particularly wanted to keep up my 9 year, pretty much unbroken, habit of at least one long ride every month (which, for me, is anything over 200km).

Partly because of the heat - and partly because we fancied something different - a mate and I hatched a plan to do said long ride overnight.

And once a plan is hatched, it just has to be seen through. 

That’s the law.

That 200km ride was probably one of my strongest ever over that distance… not just because the average speed was higher than normal (it’s not all about average speeds, right?) but mainly because of how composed I felt throughout, how much I enjoyed it, and how fresh I felt at the end (I positively jogged up my garden path when I got home).

If you’re really inclined, you can watch a short video of that, here

But my world of swim/bike/run cycling was about to fall apart.

To cut a very long story short, someone flicked a switch and within 36 hours, I was struggling to even ride 5 miles.

It got worse.

Any exercise at all became practically impossible over the course of the next 5 weeks.

Whilst I never felt ill, as such, I developed a persistent cough and an inability to exert myself without getting shockingly out of breath.

And I really do mean “shockingly”.

For context, I was even getting out of breath brushing my teeth… going up stairs became really difficult… riding a bike (even slowly, to the end of the road) became impossible.

Chest X-rays came back clear and a visit to my doctor concluded that, whilst I’d never tested positive for Covid, I simply “must” have had it… and that I was now feeling the after-effects.

It was devastating.

Not least because, over the summer holidays, I had so many plans to be cycling with both my boys.

My oldest lad, Angus, is an established cyclist with a string of achievements already to his name: a few Strava KOMs to show he’s strong in those all-important “segments” - and plenty of “longer rides”, up to and including 250km, to show he’s got endurance sorted, too.

My youngest, Evert, was showing an interest in joining me and had set his sights on us doing a 100km ride together before the new school term had started.

All of a sudden, those plans were gone.

As it turned out, over the last 6 weeks of inactivity, it’s my boys who have taught me a very important lesson.

At my request (because they both seemed to be waiting for me to recover… and I desperately didn’t want them to do that), they started riding 20 mile routes without me.

Yep - they went out on their bikes - two brothers - just getting on with it.

And they got on with it with style, too. Utterly full of enthusiasm and loving every minute.

So what was the very important lesson I learned?

I learned that cycling can be enjoyable even if I’m not the one doing it. 

I can’t tell you how much I love listening to their post-ride stories about the great time they’ve  had.

Even overhearing them talking to each-other about their ride, and where they might go next, puts a smile on my face.

And, whilst I already knew my oldest was fast (I’ve spent over a year watching him ride away from me!), my youngest (who I shall remind you is only 12 years old) has shown himself to be no slouch, either. His last two 20 mile rides have been at comfortably over 17mph average so, in reality, he’d comfortably be able to join a club I ride with on a Wednesday evening (something he’s pushing for). The next step for him is cleated pedals, I think (something else he’s pushing for!).

As I write this, I still find myself laid-up now - although things have moved on a little. 

In a bizarre twist of fate, my ability to breathe seems to have improved but, at the exact same time as I started to recognise that improvement, I started to “feel” really very ill indeed.

I tested positive for Covid - around 6 weeks after, presumably, I’d had it for the first time.

When will I recover?

Goodness knows - there seems to be lots of horror stories out there about “never” recovering (I can’t read those anymore!).

Realistically, I’m taking it one day at a time but you can count on one thing - if I “can” get back to it, I bloody well will.

By Phil Collard

No comments:

Post a Comment