From decent cyclist to indifferent runner, where does the Doc go next for his competitive fix?
These bleak, chilly days are the perfect time to plan your goals for the season. Reality is far enough away that it won’t impinge on your dreams. You can think big in early January, and you should. I mean, if you put on five kilos in two weeks over Christmas, it stands to reason that you can get rid of them, and another five as well, by the start of February. Win the Tour? Why not? After all, it’s got to be easier than the Giro since you’ve got an extra six weeks to train.
Soon you’ll have to calm down a bit, of course, and adopt realistic ambitions. And this is where my problems will begin. I used to be quite a good bike racer. I was dedicated, I trained both hard and intelligently. In short, I used to win things, and not just because no one else turned up.
Now the way I look at it, from my retiredfrom-racing position, is this: I am still every bit as good as I was back then. I have lost not one sliver of my greatness. The only threat to this point of view would be making any sort of attempt to prove it.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been getting my competitive kicks from running rather than cycling. Running had the outstanding advantage that I wasn’t much use at it. It was perfect. Because I was starting from a low base I could see improvements pretty easily. I could set mediocre targets, achieve them or miss them, and best of all I could reassure myself that whatever happened I was still a star, just not in this particular sport. Like a politician playing football with a group of children, I felt it was actually pretty decent of me to even have a go.
No more running
But now my running career seems to have come to a premature end due to an injury sustained at last year’s London Marathon. “You going running won’t end well,”