New Starts

Well, I’ve started my new job. The first day was really stressful, I’d been off for 6 weeks so I was getting comfortable at home, and a bit nervous about going back to work. So it’s a good thing I got this job, no matter what. Also, I was building a resistance to going back to work as I was losing my lorry driving mojo. A lot of driving an artic is in having confidence that you can. As soon as you question that, after a bump or a long lay-off, the job gets a lot harder. And it was all new. New is a bit frightening.

Anyway, I had a full week booked, and once I’d learned how to use the agency app (things have changed massively with agencies in the 4 years since I was last with one) I realised it was the same run for 5 days.

The first day was a bit of a nightmare, before I got on the 5 shifts. I got messed about, then sent to a tiny yard in Manchester to pick up a trailer. The yard was so tight a manager came out and stood in the rain to watch to see if I smacked anything trying to spin the trailer. You’ll note that word was “watch”, not “help”.

That was my first day back on the job. So stressed.

After that I had the same run. Over to Warrington Rail Terminal (where Pete, Wendy’s brother works, surprised him) then run over to Birkenhead docks, drop the trailer, back to WRT, then shunt (move trailers around the yard) for the rest of the day. The last two shifts the docks run was cancelled so it was drive 4 miles, then shunt all day. Well, in theory. I was waiting hours before getting anything to move. Easy, boring, money. The first shift was only 8 hours long, then the rest of the week I was on 12 hours with one 12½. I was trying not to lose my training mojo so I was doing 12 hours at work, ride home, up to an hour training on the indoor bike, shower, tea, make up the next day’s rations, have an hour with Wendy, then bed. Which was still giving me less 7 hours sleep.

By the time I got to the 12½ hour shift I cracked and skipped training. To be fair, I was having another (increasingly minor- yay!) bout of plague weakness as well. It just made me want to eat everything and do nothing. Today I seem to be good again. So that’s a relief.

I was getting worried that it might be all stupid long shifts. The swimming baths have opened again now, but there is no way I could get to them; I would only have been able to maintain my bike training so long before my routine broke down, and I want to get back to running. It all takes time. My first 7 shifts were 8 hours, 12,12,12,12½, 12 and I’m planned for 11½ for tomorrow. You can’t train for a triathlon around that.

Then I got my plan for next week. After a 6 day week I can only legally work 5, so it’s 4x 8 hour shifts and an 11½.

That’s more like it. Not so much those shifts, I could do with something in the middle, a 9 – 10 hour shift, but the fact that it’s not all 12 hours. Don’t get me wrong, 8 hours at this place would handsomely pay the bills, but until January it’s all about getting some cash behind us. Some other good news. I was talking to an agency driver, he said he’d been there a year, I asked if it was totally dead in January, and he said you still got 2 or 3 shifts a week. It’s possible I could just hang in here. I can always see if I can get the odd shift elsewhere with other agencies. See if I can get taken on, eventually. Early days, but it’s not the “no work until March” I was expecting.

In other exciting news, today was my day off. I’m a few days off the official 3 month test date, so I thought I’d give it a go. I put the clip in pedals (cleats) back on my pushbike

There is a corresponding cleat on the sole of your shoe which clips in, making you solidly attached to the bike so no energy is lost on the pedal stroke. Down or up. This was a problem as it hurt my poorly foot. So today’s the day to test that out. I did my training session. It was hard. A 1½ hour ride with 4x 12 minute blocks, 2 minutes at 95% of max power, then 1 minute at 105%, four times.

Hard but do-able. While I was warmed up I thought I’d test my foot some more and went out for a slow 3 mile test run straight after. My first run in 3 months and it was a brick session (back to back mixed disciplines). I decided to not be entirely stupid so I did the run in zone 2 (tediously slow and easy) heart rate. The thinking amongst the elites is that 80% of your training should be in zone 2, the other 20% absolutely battering sprint repeats. I hate it with a passion. Joy sucking tedium. But a guy I follow on Twitter, who represent GB in his age group at triathlon, and wins some races outright, swears by it. It doesn’t seem to do him any harm.

The ride was uncomfortable. A: because it was so hard. And B: a bit of foot pain, a lot of bum pain, and some knee pain.

I decided to check my bike fit.

Everything was wrong. The cleats were in the wrong place and the wrong position on my shoes, the saddle height was way out, and the front/ aft position was out by a mile.

You can probable see how long and thin the seat post is. It has 4 holes in the top so you can move the saddle forward. I had it it on furthest forward hole, with the saddle slid forward on the rails underneath. It need to be on the back whole, furthest back. As pictured. Otherwise your knee isn’t above the pedal and you are putting all kinds of pressure on your joints. (Also note the water bottle cage on the back of the saddle. It’s aero as you can fit the bottle -and a few bits- in the hole your body is carving into the air.)

Every setting I thought was optimum was putting undue strain on my legs and feet.

I spent a few hours adjusting according to the online tutorials. I’ll rest tomorrow then try again on Monday. I managed to bag those tri bars for £23 (!) so when they arrive I’ll look at getting a pro bike fit. I’m obviously not to be trusted.

As an aside, I was wrestling with whether to get a lighter bike (by a kilo) or this, aero one. After Twitter advice I got the aero. Then I stumbled across this. I chose wisely!

To put that into perspective my maximum sustainable power (I’m very poor) is 185 watts. So aero is everything.

The good news is my foot isn’t done in. It’s a bit sore, which the other one isn’t, but not done in. And it feels more like a bruising on the top of my foot, not the usual damage area. I’ll not do any running for a few days, try to sort my bike fit perfectly, and hopefully I can ease back into running. If not, I’ll rest up for another month then try again. The healing progress has been substantial, there’s no point in rushing and pushing on into further injury. Not after 3 months downtime.

I’ve been sat for a while writing this. I just got up for a minute and I can definitely feel not-goodness in my dodgy hoof. It was probably stupid to try two new things, and combine them into a brick session, for my first go. As I say, rest tomorrow, try and sort my bike fit on Monday. If I still get any pain I will be taking the cleats off as well. I want to be fully healed before I start again.

Right, a bit of Dino’s and I’m out of here.

But first, a Covidiot getting handed their arse. Always hilarious.

And this. From some scumbag tory rag. Great if it actually happens.

Stay safe until then.