Conditioning, fear, and Garmin step target

I couldn’t run much over the summer due to an injury I’ve been carrying since spring (and done nothing about).

So, to make up for the lost miles, I ended up doing a long step goal streak on my Garmin. I started the streak with a step target of 8731.

With the default setting, Garmin automatically adjusts the step target up/down based on how you did the previous day. So, just achieving the target increases the goal only by a few dozen steps. Go overboard, and exceed the target by a few thousand steps, and the next days goal will jump by a few hundred steps.

As expected, very quickly, I started planning so that I didn’t exceed the goal by much. It couldn’t be managed on many days – Monday track runs, Thursday club runs, and weekend chores meant those days usually ended anywhere from 50% higher to even 2x. Still, I tried on the days I could.

I ended the streak [^1], 74 days later, with a step target of 15,223.

Now that we’re back from holiday, and I’m starting to give running another go, I still wanted to keep up the steps. But, tired of being scared of an ever increasing target, I decided to go with a static target of 12,000 steps a day.

It’s a good, high-ish step goal, yet not one that I’d have to really slog on non-run days to achieve like those 14000+ targets were. 

On 5 of 6 days since starting this new streak, I’ve ended up with 3000+ steps over target. Success.

Also, a problem. 

While the Garmin watch has been configured to keep the target static, my head has not.

Over the long streak period this summer, my brain got conditioned to expecting a higher step goal of I exceeded the target by a lot. So, everyday, once the days steps start heading north of 13-14K, I start feeling mild, subconscious panic. 

The conscious knows that the goal won’t change, but the subconscious has been trained to be afraid of exceeding it by much.

It’s pain from overtraining. Of my brain. In response to a stimuli that doesn’t represent a threat anymore.

Conditioning. Fear. Garmin step target. Buggers all!

Fuck up!

After 57 days of step goal streak…

And doing the hard work of a long walk in the day, distant parking at Tesco, and a post dinner walk…

I missed today’s step target by 38 steps! Fuck fuck fuck!!!

A trip to the loo would’ve sorted that out! Instead I sat down in front of the idiot box and forgot about the target till after the clock had hit 12!

Just 2 days to go for a 2 month streak, and I blundered like that!

Fucking idiot! Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!!!

First encounter with Box Hill

Surrey Downs & Box Hill ride

The original plan was to ride to Brighton but having started really late, it became clear by the 1/3rd distance mark that I wasn’t going to make it in time for a return train. So, after getting over the Surrey Downs, I changed route and headed over to the famous Box Hill.

Frankly, it was a disappointment at first. I kept waiting for a killer climb but nothing came and suddenly I found myself in middle of the Box Hill village. This famous climb into Box Hill is featuring prominently in the road race at next year’s Olympics yet even the couple of Cat 5 climbs (acc to MapMyRide) in Surrey Downs had been much harder. The disappointment (actually, relief) was short-lived.

A quick review of the area on Google Maps in terrain view revealed a sharply rising road on other side of the village called, appropriately, Zig Zag road. At that point, I had two options – to head back the way I had come and just mark Box Hill as conquered or to head down the Zig Zag road and see for myself how much of a challenge it’d be.

Well, when I looked up after the first switchback on the way down to see how high the car I had just passed was, it became clear I may have bitten more than my legs & wheels could chew. Thankfully, I still had an exit clause. I could take an alternate route by passing Box Hill and climbing barely half of what ZZ road required in over 4 times the distance.

Took a short break, had a sizzling hot hotdog, a pepsi and some rest. Also used the time to research a bit and discovered that it was this Zig Zag road clilmb that was to feature on the Olympic road race route, not the easy tweasy route I had taken up earlier.

That bit of info was reason enough, so headed back up the Zig Zag rd.

Thankfully, saw a couple of other riders on MTBs just about 100m ahead of me so put in a bit of extra effort and quickly caught up with them. After that it was just a matter of using whatever of my will- & leg-power I could muster to stick with them. Made the climb without stopping even once and at least half the credit goes to those two fellas. Having them around prevented me from giving up midway or even stopping to take a break. It was the first time I realised how having a training partner, or few, could help one stretch self farther and improve faster.

After cresting the hill and passing through the village, it was a clean, mostly level or slightly downhill, 12 km stretch before I hit civilisation and red lights again. So, gave it a go and averaged, despite three red lights a little over 30kmph in that section. Once I entered Sutton though, it was just another urban ride with the magic of Surrey Downs and Box Hill well behind me. It became so boring that after a short break to buy some water, I even forgot to start the garmin (add 2.6km to the distance in the pic above for actual ride distance). Took a slightly roundabout way home so I could complete 100kms on the garmin and tick off this week’s century ride.

Done :)

P.S.: Just saw that I have totalled 859kms so far in June. Wondering if I should go for a 41-ish km ride tomorrow to take that total above 900 mark :)
P.P.S.: Total for the year, despite the dismal first 4 months, now reads 1200 miles. Still 520 odd miles short of Martin. I had planned to equal his mileage this year. Seems now like a tough ask.

First 100 miler

Failed to reach the target destination but still completed my first imperial century yesterday.

Had planned to ride to King’s Lynn on the North Sea coast in Norfolk. Unfortunately, a late departure meant I wasn’t sure I’d make it in time for the last train to London. So, stopped at a small town (or large village?) about 10 miles earlier. The distance already read 156km so rode around the town to take it over 161km mark :)

SJW To Downham

I’ve got a problem though. Every time I come back from one of these longish rides, the body just refuses to cool down. Like yesterday, though I took a long shower right after getting back, the body stayed burning hot till late into the night. It almost felt like somewhere inside the body was still burning calories at the same rate as while riding at the peak. 2nd consecutive ride this happened and I have no idea how to stop that. Any help is really, really, REALLY appreciated!

P.S.: The sun killed me! The temperature was only 25-27 C but was downing humongous amounts of water and still feeling dehydrated-ish all the time.

P.P.S: Haven’t test ridden the Synapse yet. If I can stay awake, then might test ride it today.

2nd metric century within a week Rode to…

2nd metric century within a week. Rode to Cambridge today, about 102.5 kms, and took the train back. Wonderful ride. No hills (unlike the Chilterns enroute to Oxford) and luckily, didn’t get any rain on me, though the roads were pretty wet in places.

SJW To Cambridge - 2nd metric century

Also, trying the Cannondale Synapse tomorrow. If I like how it rides, might buy it as soon as we’ve moved to the new place.

A century… finally!

1st Metric Century

Completed my 1st metric century today. Am damn happy to have finally gotten this behind me and amused by the manner in which it finally got done :)

Thing is I’d attempted this multiple times last October & November. Unfortunately, the October attempts were marred by the rotten, bent rear wheel and the November ones by sudden rains and (once) snowfall. The result is that I have a dozen rides between 80 & 95kms in those two months.

Well today’s ride was planned to be a 75km straight return to / from Windsor. Despite the strong head/cross wind on the way back, decided to take a detour towards Wandsworth to check out the bikes at the (bigger) Evans Cycles outlet there. As a result of that diversion it was already 83kms by the time I made it to Hyde Park and I wasn’t really feeling too tired. So, decided to take another small detour and do a lap of Regent’s Park and return via Camden Town. Just about made it across the century mark before making it home.

The best thing about the ride – the legs were feeling good even after I’d gotten home so with another small break added, I think I can make it past an imperial century as well. Of course, only if I can find a long enough route without too many hills and am lucky with the rain and wheel!

Shall feel good with this for now :)