Faster and leaner, something all of us want to be, but, do we recover enough? Do we try and push on when we should be recovering? Jason Marriott found himself over training.
He has shared his recently over training experience with us, it’s really worth the read and something we can all learn from.


I am writing this after having completed my first CX race and the MTB season is almost over.  That said, my MTB season effectively ended  in May.  I was going reasonably well at the Midlands League getting a few 6th and 7th places which I was chuffed with.  At Eckington  (Midlands Race) I started off well but something did not feel right, my heart rate was high and the my threshold power seemed to be low.  That said I still managed a 6th place, but it did get me thinking.  Next race was another Midlands at Cannock.  First lap was ok but I tired massively on subsequent laps, the only upside to this was a great battle between a great friend and adversary Mike Leaney of Bolsover DCC.  We were toing and froing the whole of the last lap.  There was a uphill right before the finish and we were literally shoulder to shoulder, elbows out into the last corner and up the climb. I just about managed to get by him, it was an epic battle and great fun.  But I was now beginning to worry about my health, after this race my lungs felt raw and so I decided along with my coach to lay off training for a few weeks to see if I recover in time for the next National MTB round at Fforest Fields.  Last season I had my best result here so I was looking forward to the race.  With less training I felt much better in myself and after arriving early on Saturday morning I rode the course  and felt ok on the 2 big climbs that dominate the lap, though I noticed my threshold was lower than normal.  The same day we had 2 Army riders (Ryan Nash and Pete Sutton) racing in the Sport Cat  and they both put in sterling performances which inspired me no end.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
Suffering at Fforest Fields

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
Not happy!!


They told me the course was good and reasonably dry.  I was racing the day after so after a good nights sleep I was good to go.  However, on my warm up I could not get my power any where near my threshold again but was still determined to have a go.  We were set off and the pace as ever was high.  Straight away I was loosing places fast after being gridded mid field.  Coming through the start loop I was gutted to find myself dead last and suffering.  On the first big climb I passed a few riders but felt awful.  Heavy overnight rain had also made the course much more difficult.  The descents were treacherous, I crashed a few times but cracked out.  It was the climbs though that really hurt and I felt that I was pedalling squares.  Conscious that something was really wrong after lap 2 I pulled up, very disappointed.  I had a good chat with my coach Graham Whiting about it all and we decided to more or less stop training until I had got to the bottom of what was wrong.  On getting back to Tidworth I visited the MO at the Med Centre numerous times had blood taken explained my symptoms but they could find nothing wrong.  My lungs still felt raw and I was coughing up a fair bit of gunk.  So, with Graham's advice the rest of June and July I just rode the bike when I felt like it and nothing hard.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
Enjoying riding the bike Menai Bridge with Matt and Sam

To be honest this was very refreshing and I have enjoyed riding the bike just for a bit of fun.  I did feel well enough to ride the last National MTB round at Cannock, though not 100% I rode ok to finish mid field and was not lapped by the race winner.  I was on the mend!!  The lungs and gunk slowly starting to get less bothersome.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
On the start line at Cannock, looking abit worried about how I'd perform

I visited the MO again for a review and he determined that I'd been suffering from some sort of virus which seems to be have just about cleared.  With this news I got in touch with Graham to begin training again seriously in Mid August.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
Cannock was better, on the mend!!

Perhaps my take away from this is listen to your body.  I knew something was up, it certainly was not over training but one of those things we all pick up every now and again.  I have now put in place many preventative measures to stop infections.  Lots of hand washing, having a tube of alcohol gel on my desk, even regularly cleaning my office phone.  All sounds a bit paranoid but regular hard training beats up your immune system so any help you can give it is for the better.  I have also  forked out for some better quality vitamin/mineral tablets again to help my immune system.  It seems that even though I have been coached for a year now I am still learning all the time.  I have also focused my diet to eat more protein and less animal fat which seems to be working as well as eating more iron rich food.

Felling better a few weeks ago I decided to give the National MTB Marathon Champs a bash.  It was at Llandovery and was 80km with 3000m of climbing......brutal.  With hindsight it was to much to soon.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
Matthew Marriott at the British Cycling Marathon Champs. The terrain is a brutal as it looks

The 80km was covered in 2 laps of 40km.  Quite literally there was no flat, you were either climbing or descending. It was interval training on steroids!!  I was ok for the first 40km but my lack of fitness for these long distances began to tell and rather than flog a dead horse and with the CX season fast approaching I pulled out.  Matthew did a great ride, after 7 weeks in Canada without the bike to come back and to ride like he did really put the old man to shame!!

My steed this season has been the Momsen VIPA.  Its great on the XCO courses and with the XTR groupset it has been a pleasure to ride all season.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
Momsen VIPA with lovely Shimano XTR!

Bike Swanky who support me recommended this bike to me and I am please they did.  It is designed primarily as a MTB Marathon bike and at the Marathon Champs it  rode superbly. Parts of the course was pretty gnarly but the Rock Shox SID World Cup Forks and Fox rear shock soaked up the trail with the ease.  The geometry is also spot on for long distance riding not once have i had a sore back and neck.

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
The VIPA set to go for the Marathon Champs

That said with the VIPA being very light it is just at home on a XCO circuit, it climbs well and gives confidence descending, its just that its current rider that lets it down in this respect!.  All in all a great bike to ride.

So that's my MTB season just about over. One more race to come which is the Army and Inter Service Champs in late September, hopefully I should be back firing on all cylinders......well 3 at least!!

Summer Sadness, the curse of overtraining
I even got my fizzog into Soldier Mag!!