There is only a week to go until the Mallorca312 and the training I have been doing has transformed me as a cyclist. I moved out to Mallorca six months ago after falling in love with cycling in the mountains.
I remember visiting Mallorca as a teenager and feeling astonished by the determination of the cyclists in masses going up Sa Calobra, as my Dad negotiated the rental car down the mountain. I feel privileged to be one of those cyclists today. I can appreciate the suffering when climbing the mountains, but also the relief and glory as I conquer them. I am happy to have escaped the long antisocial hours that my job as a personal trainer posed in London and feel grateful I can do a job I love with this environment on my doorstep.
Time for a challenge
I focus a great deal on strength training to improve my cycling. As a Personal Trainer, I am already strong and I assumed that my performance would improve by just being here in Mallorca. Three months ago I did an FTP test and was shocked to see that it was exactly the same as nine months ago. I realised that my motivation for cycling had plateaued. Other commitments had got in the way and I was not making time for the things that I loved doing and the things that I want to improve on. I had to up my game, so decided to enter the Mallorca 312!
The distance and elevation scares me, so does the 14 hour cut off time in which you have to complete it. I feel really grateful to have the opportunity to experience such great cycling and to make use of the strength I have built up through hours of training in the gym each week. This fear combined with the confidence I have in my potential has driven me to get out on my bike more and challenge myself to achieve great things.
Mind over matter
It has been a long time since I completed something so challenging. I used to run marathons and got quite fast. Not through any knowledge, but through sheer determination to improve my time. To me endurance sports are a solitary game of the mind. The winner is the one who can keep going for the longest in training and in competition. Generally it is the mind that often gives up first. I appear to be at the other end of the spectrum. Unfortunately my body shuts down before my mind and I cannot run for long periods now for risk of fractures. I have learnt the hard way. There is so much importance between communication of body and mind. I have dedicated the last few years to understanding and respecting my body with effective training and nutrition.
Consistency is key
Whatever challenge you do, ensure training is appropriate for your goals and that you are consistent with it. The difficult part is understanding how much stress through training your body can sustain consistently. Being strong and having good nutrition can help relieve some of the stress. Your body can sustain prolonged training more effectively and recover more rapidly. I have learnt that effective recovery is something that we all need. We are human after all. I see it a lot in myself and in my clients. There is a need or desire to keep going and there is confusion between rest and laziness.
I have loved the training process for the 312. I have been in the gym regularly to maintain strength and help my flexibility and posture after hours on a bike. To ensure I get regular training on the bike, I do five sessions a week on my turbo trainer and follow an online plan that is progressive towards the event. It can get quite boring at times, but I am confident it will help me on the road. It’s quick and I don’t have to think about what to do, where to go or worry about the weather or daylight. It gives me time to do things in my life other than cycling. Plus, I can get things done at the same time, like listen to podcasts. I am a woman, I can multitask! Moving the trainer around gives a bit of inspiration too.
A cyclists paradise
The best part about the training is that I am experiencing so many beautiful places around the island. At the weekends, I head outside and I feel so inspired by exploring new places after a week cycling stationary. As a result of regular trips to Sa Calobra , the man in the café now knows how I like my coffee and I have visited lesser know climbs such as to Betlem Monastery. I meet great people along the way, passionate about their love of cycling and the beautiful and challenging environment the island poses, whilst they leave the stresses of their work lives behind.
A mental game
I have had and expected some darker times. Last week was tough. I died half way through my ride. I was peddling and it did not feel like I was moving. I was still 80km away from home. I could have given up and taken the train home or a shorter route, but I stopped for some food and carried on as planned. I reminded myself that I need to get out my comfort zone to improve. I felt energised as I reached home. A sign that a lot of it is a mental game. Quite often I don’t feel like getting on that turbo trainer again, but I get on with it and it’s paying off. In six weeks my measure of performance in my FTP improved by an astonishing 19 watts. I enjoyed my 230km ride more than ever that weekend and I learnt from mistakes of the previous week and incorporated more food stops.
Sign up to a suitable challenge
Anyone that is keen to challenge themselves as a cyclist does not need to start with the full 312-there are shorter distances. As long as it is a challenge it will pose adventure and glory once accomplished. My first challenge as a cyclist was getting up the hill (without having to get off and walk) to my house as I commuted home, about 10 years ago now. I was not always fit. We can all set challenges to help improve our fitness. Events are a great way to do this as the buzz and energy of the other riders and supporters help get you round. I see it as a party to celebrate the hard work that has come before it. Motivation, planning, consistency and a little knowledge are the key ingredients you need to achieve your challenge.
To find out more about Elspeth’s training visit www.coachelspeth.com or follow her journey on instagram @coachelspeth
Written by Elspeth Storrar
About the author
Elspeth Storrar or ‘Coach Elspeth’, Personal Trainer and keen cyclist relocated to Mallorca from London six months ago after falling in love with the island and what it has to offer those with a passion for fitness and cycling. She is committed to helping her clients achieve their goals through strength training and nutrition.