An Ordinary Bloke Vs. An Extraordinary Challenge. Episode One - Beginnings - Pedal Progression


3 January 2018

An Ordinary Bloke Vs. An Extraordinary Challenge. Episode One – Beginnings

As the Christmas period draws to a close for 2017 and the new year begins, it brings with it the daunting truth that in just 7 months, Ollie will be racing a 24 hour solo at Pivot TwentyFour12. December is known for being a difficult month for anyone wanting to keep fit or stay healthy…! Let’s catch up and see how he’s feeling now the new year has begun.

Have you done anything differently this Christmas or was it business as usual in the Cain household?

“In terms of eating, nothing changed really –  my self control leaves much to be desired around anything tasty! There was a definite effort to drink less, although I’m not sure quite how to quantify that! I ran 6 miles, with a hill interval session on Christmas Eve which took around 2 hours and then ran 5 miles on Boxing Day which took 1.5 hours with warm ups and warm downs. It was definitely more exercise than a usual Christmas but I didn’t keep to the training plan.

I had a chance for some longer sessions over the New Year period, a 2.5 hour run on 29th December and long road ride around 4 hours on the 31st’. I am looking forward to getting back into my regular term time routines so I can get some consistency back around my sessions.”

Tell us about your current training plan.

“Well, first of all I should say that everything in my training plan so far, came together from reading ‘Mountain Bike Fitness Training‘ by John Metcalfe. I’ve no idea if the advice in there is legit or dated but it’s all I have to go on for now. Oh, and I’ve watched a bunch of Youtube videos… All the things we warn our coaching customers away from! (he laughs)”

“I’m currently in the ‘Foundation’ stage. This part of my training is all about base fitness and should last around 12 weeks which is loosely a third of my training time. I started towards the end of November so I’m really cramming it in!”

Can we see your plan written?

“Sure, it basically looks like this…

Day 1 – Long sessions, keeping heart rate low. 2-3 hours if running. 3-4 hours if riding.

Day 2 – Rest, short warm up run/cardio, followed by stretching.

Day 3 – Mid length session, approx. 1.5 hours. Cardio with intervals, strength & stretch exercises.

Day 5  – Rest, short warm up run/cardio, followed by stretching.

Day 6 – Long sessions, keeping heart rate mostly low 2-3 hours if running, 3-4 hours if riding.

Day 7 – Rest, short warm up run/cardio with followed by stretching.

I’ve tried to be realistic, although all the research I have done suggests I should go harder than this. There’s a tension in that I’m aware I’m an ordinary bloke and not an elite athlete. If I go too hard at the beginning of the week I will struggle to recover and so be forced to miss out on sessions later in the week. That being said…I am very aware that I will probably look back on this plan and feel like I it was nieve and I should have done more!”

How is the current plan working out for you?

“Yeah it’s alright… As expected I am struggling to fit stuff in. I designed the week as over 7 days rather than naming each day, so if I miss a session I just catch up the following day. My main two barriers are:

  • Being tired at the end of the day and therefore not having time to get out in the evening until really late and so cutting sessions short.
  • Wanting to hang out with family and friends and so missing sessions or missing out on fun, which was especially difficult over Christmas.

I know that the plan has to be realistic. I want to work hard and I expect to make sacrifices but I also know that if it makes my life boring, I will start to resent the training and mentally I’ll really struggle. If my session is going to have a major impact on my responsibilities to my family, I have to think very carefully whether I do it. After all, they didn’t sign up for this challenge, I did, so it would seem unfair if a session negatively impacts them! That said, I know that if I don’t work hard, the challenge remains out of reach.

When I am out riding, I am really focussing on working through techniques that improve my efficiency to ride for a long time, rather than to ride fast for a short time. Broadly speaking this boils down to the same thing, I am focussing on getting my posture (sitting and standing) as good as it can be all the time. This serves to save as much energy as possible and will help to decrease fatigue. During any interval training I have also been working on my handling skills whilst in recovery. So I’ll sprint to the top of a hill, then ride a technical section down before circling round and doing it again. This way as well as getting some intervals in, I am able to simulate riding difficult terrain when out of breath and low on strength…I am expecting to feel like this a lot during the later stages of the 24 hour!

As well as riding I am doing a quite a bit of running, for which there are a few reasons:

  • Practically speaking it is much easier to get out on a run than on a ride, especially when it’s late and the weather is bad. All you have to do is put your shoes on a go and there’s no bike to clean and lube when I get home at 11 o clock at night!
  • From a fitness perspective I am able to push myself harder in a shorter time frame than on a bike. I don’t know how true this is but I’ve read that a 2 hour run is as good as a 4 hour bike ride. This is really useful for me as I often am short on time. It’ll be interesting to get a professional view on this theory.
  • I really enjoy running so it makes a good change when long rides don’t feel appealing. However I am sure there are downsides to running over riding. Perhaps the most significant and obvious one to me is when I am running, I am not always working the right muscles, type of fitness and body conditioning I need to ride for a long time. I’m confident that as I get closer to the event, once the days lengthen and the weather improves, riding will increase as a proportion of my training activity.”

How are the next couple weeks looking?

“I’m really looking forward to meeting Ben (MTB Strength Factory) to get a professional perspective on what I have worked out so far. I think then I will be able to see what I’m doing right and what areas I need to work on. I am hoping it will also give me confidence in what I am doing and so help me psychologically to get out and stick to my program more strictly. I think it will be really useful to see how significant getting professional training can be when setting out to undertake such a challenge…I believe there is only so much we can do on our own and I expect this experience to prove me right!”

In the next blog, we’ll report on what Ben has to say about Ollie’s current condition and if there are any changes to be implemented.


Written by: