Race morning starts with the same conversation every week. The team director breezes through general greetings and then asks the question en Francais: “forme?”
They excitedly await your reply, hoping it’s along the lines of “yes, I’m on fire!”, regardless of whether it’s been 2 days or 2 weeks since your last race, whether you were flying or creeping. In their eyes, form is apparently something that can happen miraculously overnight.
Form, however, is just not something you randomly wake up with one morning. That magical feeling in your legs that lets you tap into endless power, ride yourself out of any bad situation into a good one, and make you feel basically unbeatable is no miracle. Form, or great condition, results from a series of planned steps that attempt to balance training and rest. It seems like a simple equation…
Hard training is the easy part. Getting out there on your bike and putting in the essential hard work is what most of us love to do. But with every hard session you need an easy one to balance it out and, for me, that’s where it gets tricky. Hard training takes discipline, resting takes more. When I get the balance wrong and the team director asks, my response of “pretty average” can be code for “I’m creeping so badly I shouldn’t be on the start list.”
There was no hiding the fact that I wasn’t on form last weekend. As the team director made his round of morning interviews, I knew he would be surprised by my answer but I wasn’t. I had suffered through a tough 4 week training block but, when my legs weren’t coming right and the yawns were regular, I knew I had got the training and rest balance wrong. With tired legs, the race was a world of pain. No matter how hard I pushed, I was maxed out at every key moment. If there is any indication of not being on form it’s a climber climbing among sprinters.
Regaining balance takes time. It means laying off the hard training and taking a few extra rest days. Although it won’t happen overnight, I’m hoping the next time I’m asked the million dollar question my legs will be able to speak for themselves.