Winter training is a test of your perseverance, commitment and motivation for every cycling race. With the 10 tips below you will make sure you reach your goals for the new cycling season!
Exercising in the cold and dark winter months is sometimes seen as a necessary evil, but it doesn't have to be. Although you would sometimes like to, unfortunately you cannot hibernate in the winter and get back on your racing bike in March. So you'll have to find a way to keep cycling (and that's kind of fun). Whether you have a goal like an event or want to improve your level for the new season, here are 10 tips to help you race to success.
1. Make a plan that focuses on your goals
Training without direction is probably not going to get you much, aimlessly floundering on a Tacx. Fortunately, this is not necessary: give yourself a clear goal to work towards. First, decide what you want to get out of your winter training. That could be something specific, such as increasing your FTP ( read more about what FTP is here ), your five second power, or working towards a bigger goal, such as an event a few months later. First, find a measurable benchmark that will help you determine where you are right now. To track your progress and to make sure that your work has the desired effect. Write down your results, this is your 0 measurement. To keep track of your progress, you need at least a heart rate monitor. Training by feeling alone is not that effective. A power meter for outdoor rides and a smart trainer or smart bike for indoor rides provide accurate power data. This way you can keep track of your progress. You can hire a coach, but we suspect you're looking for a do-it-yourself solution. :-) Fortunately, we live in the era of 'there's an app for that', and there are quite a few options to keep track of everything. The 'Training Peaks' app helps you plan and track your training load. Apps like 'The Sufferfest' or the 'Wattbike Hub' offer training sessions and short training plans. With the plan builder of 'TrainerRoad' you can map out a detailed training plan.
2. Periodize your plan
If you're making your own training plan, it's best to work backwards. Start with the date you want to complete your goal - maybe a competition - determine how much time you have until that date, then fill in the spaces. A typical block for an experienced cyclist could be three weeks followed by a week of recovery. For less experienced cyclists this can be reduced to two weeks with a high training load, followed by a week of rest. A typical plan focuses on endurance first to build your base fitness level, then add intensity as your target date approaches. These HIIT workouts may only make up two or three four-week blocks, with the rest of the workout consisting of endurance work.
3. Test yourself and track your improvements
Day one of your plan should start with a fitness test. The purpose of this is to calculate your threshold, be it power or heart rate. Once you have this number, you can calculate the rest of your training zones to make sure you're working at the right intensity to get maximum gains. The most common threshold test is a 20-minute max effort, but even experienced cyclists struggle with the pace of these intervals, so the threshold test is a more foolproof method of calculating your zones. Schedule a new test at the beginning of each training cycle, after the rest week, to reset your zones for the next block. Try to test yourself under the same conditions each time. Factors such as diet, caffeine and fatigue can have a major effect on your performance.
4. Don't forget to rest
The whole point of working out is to stress your body into adapting. During rest periods, your body recovers and improves, making you stronger for the next training block. Sustained stress without taking time for recovery will lead to less good results. Overtraining can lead to a suppressed immune system. Because you are more susceptible to respiratory infections during the winter months, in combination with the current pandemic, recovery is very important to stay healthy. In fact, if you get sick, much of the training you've been doing will no longer work, and you'll be back to square one.
5. Make it fun
Make sure you make your workout as fun as possible for yourself. Think about listening to your favorite artist or a good podcast when you're cycling outside. Or put your Tacx in front of the TV with your favorite series.
6. Train smart, not hard
We understand that you already have endless obligations, so your training needs to fit somewhere between family, work and running errands. That is why you should make a well-thought-out plan. Instead of pedaling aimlessly, you can use your time as efficiently as possible to cycle. By training indoors you can make a stable plan and train structurally. But do go as soon as possible: go outside! Then don't forget about the maintenance of your bike. When you go outside in a wet, wintery weather, your racing bike will get dirty faster. Therefore, clean them well after every ride to prevent premature wear.
7. Train your weaknesses, stay strong in your strengths
Theoretically, you should become better cyclist if you focus on your weaknesses. But forget that your strengths will also help you further. If you no longer properly train the area in which you excel, it will no longer remain your strongest point.
8. Don't be afraid of the weightlifting room
Many cyclists see the world as their gym, and their bike as their training equipment, but pumping iron for a few hours every week can have huge benefits on the bike, and in your everyday life. During the off-season, you can work out in the gym two or even three times a week, but if you spend more hours on the bike, make sure you have one session a week that focuses on strength and conditioning. Time in the gym will not only increase your overall muscle strength, but also help you stay injury free. Improved flexibility and stronger muscles, ligaments and tendons lead to flexible joints and fewer injuries - especially when you cycle.
9. Eat well
Your body cannot survive without fuel. A poor diet will hinder progress in your fitness. With apps or your phone or smartwatch you can easily keep track of your calorie intake and burn. The goal is to refuel your body enough so that you are ready for the next session. Aim for full-fledged meals with a good balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Eating while cycling is just as important. Not eating during a few hours of cycling will not go well for you. In other words, less results, a lesser session and a worse recovery.
10. Find a routine and eliminate excuses to avoid missed sessions
When planning your training blocks, consider how your workouts fit into your daily routine and try to fill the gaps between your real obligations and responsibilities with training. A routine where training is a structural part of your week will help ensure that other responsibilities don't overshadow already limited hours, but be realistic; there are only so many hours in a day. That said, at some point life will get in the way of your workout, and flexibility and adaptability are key to ensuring a session can be moved, rather than skipped altogether.