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Updated: Dec 21, 2018

The road called ‘Endurance’ has once again taken me to new places.

I’ve talked about my last race and what it was like to face a 23 hour head wind from the most Northerly point in Ireland to the most Southerly.

We all know that physical recovery takes time. You purposefully replenish stores both glycogen and nutrient. You sleep. You repair. You eat some more.

To integrate an endurance experience also takes time. Wisdom comes from staying in the rough and tumble of the race, the good, the difficult, the frustrating and the humbling for as long as necessary.

When the experience is fully integrated the race lets you go…and this particular race has just let me go.

So what did I learn?

I’ll say it simply – Age is not a defining factor.

Close up photo of Joe Barr on bike

Yes, I am 58. I could easily use this as my excuse as to why I did not reach the mark.

But wait - All my performance criteria - My wattage, my heart rate, my average speed and my climbing ability are all holding remarkably. So that story line is not going to fly.

It would be easy to buy into the story though… I don’t have the resources a younger man would have, or my body can no longer cope with the load…or…or…or….

If I did buy into those story lines then I should be slowing down and I should be considering hanging up my wheels.

When you are exhausted from a big effort that didn’t go as planned it is excruciatingly difficult to hold a rational place. You forget that you won a world cup race earlier in the year.

It requires strong self discipline to stay out of a convenient or negative story line, no matter how experienced you are.

In the cold light of day I did notice that my recovery process was different. The body-mind impact of this race showed up differently.

Jillian, our team nutritionist, and I looked carefully and rationally at my symptoms over a few days and figured out exactly what was different. We adjusted my supplement strategy significantly to address what we surmised was the gap - an unusually high and sustained cortisol level due to fighting the wind for 23 hrs had lead to deeper levels of adrenal fatigue. In 4 days I am on my way again.

Photo of Joe Barr cycling a steep incline

The lesson – Age is a convenient story at my stage but it is not a true story for me. Not yet.

The more important lesson is to listen, listen, listen to your body, watch your mind, watch the story lines, have good positive people around you that are able to support whatever stage of the recovery process you are in.

When you are deep in recovery and dealing with disappointment, it can be difficult to see a way forward… you have to trust that it will come….forward rational thinking and self belief will never let you down.

Oh and one more thing – The constant exposure to such a strong wind caused my eyes to dry out to a level I have never experienced before, even with glasses on. For all the endurance athletes out there – You might want to consider carrying moisturising eye drops in your medical case. I will be from here on in.

Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I look forward to seeing you at the Inishowen 100 next week, a fantastic run on home roads.

Until then, happy riding and see you on the road.


Interested in learning how-to go further? Check out The Endurance Workshop

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