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Getting Back into Fitness with Helen Garcia

Getting Back into Fitness with Helen Garcia

So it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling this year, I’ve not been well since early December and as a result, have been unable to train, my fitness has obviously suffered and this has been a bit of a tough time for me.

However, for the last week or so I have been feeling a bit better, I feel brighter, my body is responding better and I haven’t been feeling like I have been run over! Therefore I am making the most of the days I feel better and getting out to train when I can.

In 2019 so far I have cycled a grand total of 304 miles, of which 106 of those have been ridden in the Easter week!

On Easter Monday I joined the London Phoenix CC Easter Classic sportive. 70 miles through the Essex countryside. A big ask from my body as I haven’t ridden anywhere near that distance so far this year, but with the Primal Two Ton Tour fast approaching I am determined to make it to the start in my best possible shape. We all have to start somewhere so this weekend proved the perfect opportunity.

For those of you who read my blog post about this event last year, you might remember that there were flooded roads, many punctures, torrential rain and it was a thoroughly miserable affair. This year the weather was glorious! The roads were dry, the sun was out, and I barely recognised the route.

This made the whole experience a lot more pleasant. There were a large number of cyclists from RomfordCC riding the event (my local cycling club) and a couple of the ladies had offered to ride with me and keep me company as I was worried about surviving the distance and being rather slow. This is a great benefit of being in a club, the members become friends, and all help to look out for each other. I was incredibly grateful to Joanne and Nadjie for riding with me.

One thing that has become apparent whilst I work to regain my health and fitness is I need to learn to pace myself. This often means taking things slower and limiting my effort to ensure I manage to complete the sessions. This event was no different, I knew that if I pushed too hard at the beginning I would be broken and stranded by half way around the course. So it was more important to set out steadily and be sure of making it to the finish.

This was easily done on such a pretty course in the sunshine, the views were gorgeous and the miles passed quickly. Although I was really pleased when we made it to the mid-way feed stop and had a chance for a flapjack and a cup of tea! Many of the RomfordCC riders had already made it to the feed stop so it was nice to be able to say hi and get some extra encouragement, a quick hug goes a long way for some additional motivation.

Personally, my motivation for the second half of the course was knowing there was an ice cream van in the car park at the finish line.

So, my tips for getting back to fitness after an illness or injury are these:


  1. Pace yourself, it's so frustrating to not automatically be back to where you were before your break, but it's better to build up slowly than to break yourself again, build in rest days and easier days to help recover.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive people, it really makes all the difference having a bit of support, people to encourage you to head out and try to train, the miles pass quicker training together, the pain seems less and for me especially a little chat helps to take your mind off the task in hand, and also people to help you celebrate your achievements however big or small.
  3. Set a variety of goals, short term, mid term, long term.
    Short term might be a short distance running or cycling without stopping or at a specific pace.
    Mid-term might be a longer distance, a ride or run you know you used to enjoy, but a bit tougher than your current capabilities can cope with.
    Long-term might be an event you want to participate in, for me it is the Primal Two Ton Tour.
    For all of these remember to set a realistic time frame, give yourself adequate training and recovery time, don’t set yourself up for failure, nothing is more of a set back than failing to reach an unrealistic goal. For me this goal had been the London-Wales-London Audax, I was trying so hard to aim to be on the start line for this, but I know it would be a step too far, so I have withdrawn from this event and will try again next year.
  4. Be kind to yourself – this for me is the hardest one, I am so frustrated if I get up and my body hurts too much to even get out of bed, I get upset, angry and disheartened. I forget to be kind to me. My body has accomplished wonderful things in the past and I am hoping with some gentle persuasion it will do so again in the future.