As an endurance athlete, you are always looking for that little bit extra speed, comfort, safety and/or power. You want to get faster at cycling. While huge changes, fad diets, and crash-cycles of superhard intervals are tempting, it is often the small changes done over time that elicit the results we want. These 5 areas are relatively simple to change and make improvements, especially if you use them for long periods so that the small benefits can compound. This compounding concept is important to understand when looking at your habits and training. Not every interval will register its benefit immediately today. Often it is the consistent practice at a relatively low and manageable level that gives us results, not one hero day or super strict week of dieting.
Read on for the 5 areas:
1.eat your veggies
Spinach in your eggs or a 5lb bag of carrots for an easy/cheap addition of veggie snacks at lunch (or whenever). This is the common theme in most diets. Add a couple veggies to your day for a longer period and see what changes.
2. check your tire pressure with a digital gauge before each ride (I like this one)
If you don’t have optimal tire pressure then your daily practice is not on a good setup that will let you practice well. If you don’t practice well then on race day you won’t have confidence in your tires, your tire pressure, and your cornering skills (here is a video to help with the latter!)
3. Ride in your goal discipline often.
2-3x a week is likely enough. This can be tough if you are a TTer or a mountain biker in a city but this is our objective. Use what you have to simulate the goal. TT-ers might need to do a lot of out and backs and small loops, while mountain bikers may be stuck in a small area of trail doing hill reps, or even using local grassy hills, which are a big part of many races if you think about it!
4. Figure out what you like about riding
It is rarely the actual race that we are most interested in. It might be the adventures you have in training for a big race like Leadville, or the time you spend with friends training for road riding, or the confidence that comes from learning new skills on a mountain bike. Make sure this ‘WHY’ is not lost as we pursue goals in racing. The goals in racing and your ‘training why’ work together! Your racing goal can feed into learning new things and fueling some of your WHYs (read about how my Ironman did this for me last year)
5. Take a rest day and a rest week
When in doubt rest. We need to work really hard to get better, but this only comes if we also take periodic rests. If you look at your week and you can’t find a rest day where you haven’t really done much other than some walking or light yoga than you might want to spend some time reorganizing your week. The rest day should often come before your harder days. A common related mistake is to put the hardest day of the week after a long day (ie. hard day on Sunday after a Saturday longer-medium-paced-group-ride). Protect your off days and hard days and fill in the fun/volume around that.
The rest weeks traditionally come after 2-3 weeks of training. This can vary depending on your recovery, what you are focused on in your training weeks, your age and the time of year. Most of all, use these rest weeks, which can be shorter or longer than the standard 7 days) to regain your motivation and let your body adapt and grow stronger for your next block. It is very common to need a break like this after a big race, which is typically in the early summer (Late May/Early June for many of my athletes). Taking 3-10 days very light, maybe a few coffee spins, can be hugely performance enhancing.