Struggles: bitter lessons, stronger outcomes.

This past week has been difficult. I’ve been tasked with by the most difficult set of papers to read and understand by far. Made no headway with it as the dots did not seem to connect at all for the first 3 days. (I wrote about this earlier on in the week, in fact.)

But finally, after countless bouncing back and forth PubMed and Google, bouncing from the main article and its accompanying supplementary information, and then to another article (boing, boing, boing, boing…) Finally, I’m seeing how the dots connect.

As an student, the professors/lecturers/older students never guided me on how to read. I’ve found out only very recently that reading is a skill, and not just simply a tool/something you do to obtain information. (very noob, very naive.) Reading between the lines, and where to find other information/who to talk to/what is the author implying…is an artform in itself, like a master painter’s unique brushstrokes.

I suppose to some people, this skill is second nature. But to me, it’s not. So when I was shown the devilish realm of reporting/publishing, I realised that it’s not all facts, figures. They can depict the story that they want you to see, whilst concealing the big ugly parts (“tip of the iceberg” metaphor is apt here).

Connecting the dots was never an easy task. But time spent, hard work and practice ultimately gets you through. Struggle made me better. During the struggle, it sucks. But after you triumph, there’s a new level of confidence, and a new level of strength.

NTS is in the third week. My body is slowly getting used to the training load. It’s slowly getting used to the level of pain that I’m putting it through. 5 min averages increased about 20 watts since last week. But if I want to stay, I’ll have to dig even deeper. Target: 340W by the end of September. 60W to go; about 10W per week. Now that I break this down, doesn’t seem too difficult. Probably some adjustment to the diet and sleeping patterns would help.

The psychological barrier is still going to be the hardest to overcome. I’ve never done this kind of effort before. A combination of unwillingness and form. But I know that if I really wanted to, I will make it happen. I pray for grace and strength. Focus is going to be key. And Lord knows I have hypersensitive senses…

Becoming a real bike racer requires so much more than just good physiology. You need skills too. Riding no-handed, eating on the bike, navigate tight corners, track-standing, turning tight corners to get out of trouble, bunny hopping over road-islands… Talent accounts for much. But for average Joes like me, there’s only one solution: practice.

After last Sunday’s criterium race, I realised I quite like the race format. Fast-paced hour long races. I’m not quite sure if I would like those 3 week-long races. My mind might become so bored, I’d just crash because of attention lapse. Watching it and riding it is a whole different story.

Perhaps that’s why I still prefer watching the Classics. Whether it is Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne or the legendary L’enfer du Nord, the one day races requires much more tactical prowess, guts, and of course, a huge engine.

Another week of training coming to an end, seeing the numbers improve and feeling good myself is an important indicator. Struggling through, biting through the pain in the legs, and the searing pain in the lungs will only make me stronger.

I have a lot of people to thank, for placing me in situations to struggle. From the depths of my heart, thank you.

Until next time, godspeed.

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