SEVEN STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL WINTER OF CYCLING
1. Enter an early-season event
Your target events might be later in the year, but keep yourself focused by entering an early-season event. The prospect of pinning on a number (OK, flattening it out inside your Endura pocket) can be a great motivator when you’re cranking out another 20 minutes of threshold on the turbo in December and wondering if it’s ever going to end.
It doesn’t matter if you’re still in your build phase in February or March – just use it as a warm-up event, try out any new bits of kit or fuelling/nutrition strategies in a race situation and refamiliarise yourself with The Fear! We all know that even if you’re not going for the win or trying to PB, racing can still be intimidating: get used to dealing with the pressure so that you can stay calm and pull out your best performance when it really counts.
2. Hit Zwift
Forget about the Festive 500, accumulate family brownie points by staying in! Some people might want to get away from their families at Christmas but we reckon it’s best to keep them on side. You might need their goodwill later in the year when you wake them up at 4am grinding some coffee beans or crashing into the bathroom door in the dark.
The roads and the weather can be pretty nasty in December too, so get your turbo set up and ready to roll if it isn’t already.
3. Keep a lid on your booze intake
Of course everybody is going to have a drink in the festive season, and it’s important to be a normal member of society every once in a while! At the same time, too much alcohol can affect your quality of sleep, your ability to recover and it can inhibit the hormones associated with muscle growth. It’s also extra calories that you don’t need and, even worse, can make you consume yet more calories in the form of unhealthy foods that suddenly become irresistible once you’ve had a glass or two. And even though you might be eating plenty, alcohol can restrict your gut’s ability to absorb certain nutrients. And you don’t need us to tell you that training while hung over and dehydrated the next day is not optimal.
So, make sure you’re well hydrated before you drink alcohol and try not to overdo it.
4. Tuck into the turkey
Sometimes it might seem like Santa is determined to drive his reindeers and sleigh right through the middle of your plans to keep your fitness on track during the festive period, but it’s not all bad news.
Turkey is an excellent source of protein – over 30g per 100g – and as long as you go for the lean, white breast meat it is very low in saturated fat at under 1%. It’s also low in calories – 150kcal per 100g. You’re also getting your B vitamins, selenium, and phosphorus.
Brussels sprouts contain plenty of vitamin K and B vitamins, and carrots and parsnips are also full of vitamins and minerals.
So Christmas dinner is not unhealthy in itself – just take it easy with the portion sizes, especially roast potatoes, and definitely give the pigs in blankets a wide berth.
5. Hire a coach
Of course we would be saying this as we’re coaches ourselves, but coaching works. Not only can we create an individualised training plan for you that is designed to give you the best possible chance of meeting your goals, but the very fact that you’ve decided to take on a coach proves that you’re committed, you’re taking your cycling seriously and you are determined to succeed.
Your coach can also see you more objectively and can give you feedback. You might not be able to recognise your weak spots, but we can.
And finally, nobody wants to let their coach down. Being accountable to another person helps you stick to your training plan.
6. Go on the club run
‘Winter miles, summer smiles’ is something we’ve all heard. Training has moved on a bit since, but the basic principle is the same: you’ve got to put the work in during the winter if you want to hit your targets come the racing season – and a club run is a great way to get some steady level-two work in. The club run has the added bonus that because you’re riding with others and chatting instead of looking at your computer, the miles pass much more pleasurably.
In addition, just as you don’t want to let your coach down (see point 5) you won’t want to let your club mates down either. If you’ve told them you’ll be on the club run, you’re more likely to be there.
7. Treat yourself
Investing in a new piece of kit is a sure way to keep your enthusiasm up. Spend your Christmas money on something to make yourself faster – check out our shop here for some top ideas and you won’t be able to wait to use it in anger once the racing season starts.
If you’d like to learn more about the cycling coaches and coaching packages we have available at Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching, please get in touch via the ‘Contact Us’ button below and a member of our team will be more than happy to help.