It has certainly not felt like a vintage cycling year and the stats back me up.
My 2019 cycling stats did not make for pleasant reading. There is a clear correlation in the graph with when my children were born...
In 2019 I only clocked up 1990.4km of cycling through a mixture of commuting and squeezing some longer rides around the busy family schedule. Compared to my 2016 high of 5497.8km this is way down and the noticeable shrinking of the thighs only serve as a constant reminder.
On the flipside my running has seen a sharp improvement in 2019 with a total of 431km. I have spoken in other posts about the time efficiency of running and I guess the 2019 stats back this up.
In an effort to stay fit and healthy my running has had to make up for my lack of saddle time. You can see that there was a period when running was the very last thing on my mind and was only a distraction from getting on the saddle.
September was by far my best month for cycling and running. I managed to squeeze in a few longer bike rides as the Scottish summer made a late reappearance before dramatically and finally turning to winter. I was also able to commute often to and from work to help get some time on the bike.
It is not really surprising that my worst month in terms of cycling and exercise is also pretty much the worst month of the year in general; November. Aside from the weather (or because of it), I picked up a niggling injury when doing some high tempo sessions that was then compounded by a cold that refused to go away.
I also happened to be doing a bit of travelling for work and so this impacted the amount of miles I could get in the legs.
Despite the overall lack of miles in 2019, that doesn’t mean there have not been epic cycles that come along and remind me why I love it.
Top of the list has to be the late summer cycle with the kids along the old Deeside railway from Ballater. Cycling fast is great but cycling with the kids and the missus on a rare beautiful Scottish summers day cannot be beaten.
A close second would be the only time in 2019 the Three Man Breakaway group managed to get together in one place long enough to contemplate a quick morning spin. I say quick but in reality it was not. Some members of the breakaway had significantly less miles in their legs. The lack of speed just meant there was more chance to have a long overdue chat.
My ride to the top of Petrova Gora whilst in Croatia has to be on the list also. I tried to crack into the top ten for the climb and fell just short. I blame some poorly timed gear changes and some rough surface but really it was my legs after a week on the coast drinking beer. I have a target for 2020 though!
There was nothing spectacular about my route on the 26th June. It was a loop that I had long tested the condition of the legs on but on this particular day I managed to squeeze a few hours on the bike in the evening. A combination of an early night for the kids and the late evening sun meant that this was a guilt free cycle.
A special mention to the cycle to the cafe at the beach with Luka to get some chips. Cycling with my eldest son and eating chips outside is one of life's great pleasures.
Cycling and chips with my son. The best kind of cycling.
Without doubt my favourite run of 2019 was along Copacabana beach as the sun began to rise. My times were poor in the heat and the jet-lag but I was happy just to take in the sights, reflect on the intervening decade since I last strode this sand, and join with the rest of Rio in seeing in a beautiful new day.
Running before the conference in Brasil.
On the 19th October I managed to tick-off my longest run (probably ever) of 16.5km as I built up the miles in preparation the Edinburgh half-marathon in May 2020. As a runner I have always focused on short, fast runs so it has been more of a struggle than I thought it would be to build up the endurance. Mostly, I like to run fast to get the running over with as fast as possible. These bigger distances are much more of a mental battle!
What Have I Learned in 2019?
My main take home from 2019 is that I am definitely getting older. I thought for a while, like most young people, that I was ageless. As my running has increased and with it additional stress on my body I am finding that I need to take recovery more seriously. The same goes for warming-up effectively before a run, especially if I am planning some high intensity intervals.
I have also learned that my old age is making me softer. Although I have been able to commute to work more often thanks to changing jobs this year I still have difficulty getting on the bike when there is even a threat of rain.
I have also learned that I am not a pro-cyclist. This should be obvious but in previous years I used to get depressed when I couldn’t get out on the bike and felt like the power was visibly draining from my legs every minute not spent in the saddle. I have made peace with the fact that as an adult with responsibilities, cycling should be further down the list of priorities. There will always be time for cycling.
Have I made progress?
Compared to previous years, when I was getting in big miles on the bike, my cycling average speed has been slowly decreasing. I have been pleasantly surprised though that it has not completely fallen off the cliff and so I see room for some quick improvements. I have found myself able to look up more often on my bike and take in the world around me, which is always a good thing.
My running has certainly improved in terms of endurance although I have not really troubled my 10km PB that I set in the days before having kids. I have it in my sights and hope to tick it off in 2020.