Address any lingering issues and injuries & New Training Approaches
This second part of how to make next season your best ever encourages us all to deal with lingering problems, whilst at the same time aims to get us thinking about other activities that will complement your cycling to make you a better, faster and injury free cyclist next season.
Don't Let Your Season Get Derailed
Have you ever been in the position where everything is going well with training towards your goals and then bang out of the blue an old injury or ailment flares up and keeps you off the bike? If you have you’ll know that this can be one of the most frustrating things going and lead to a lot of stress which can be avoided. If you have taken the opportunity to take some down time as discussed in part 1 of this series then why not use some of the additional time you have available as a result of dialling back the training to deal with any lingering issues that may derail progress during the season.
If you have any discomfort on the bike things may have changed, you may have become more or less flexible or changed your riding style and could be in need of a bike fit. In fact if you’re about to step up your training efforts next season having a new bike fit is a worth while investment to ensure you are set up optimally and stay free of injury.
If your goals for next season are different to the last then your current set-up may also not be optimal for you to achieve next seasons goals. With any changes in position, or equipment it usually takes a good amount of time (always be patient and allow 3 weeks for any signifigant change of more than 5mm) to become used to them which makes it important to make any changes early in the season so that we’re at home with them as the intensity of training increases.
It may come as a surprise but dental problems can really cause issues mid way through a season and you wouldn’t be alone in having your primary event of the season wrecked by a toothache. Take the time to go and see the dentist if there are any niggling issues that can be dealt with before you get into the full swing of things. There’s nothing worse than something flaring up during a key training phase or right before an event.
Is Something Missing From Your Training?
It’s easy to focus purely on the cycling aspect of training but is there something else that you could introduce to your training regimen that would really help your cycling next year. Now is the time to have an honest review of this years performance. Has everything gone to plan? Perhaps you trained harder than ever on the bike this season but have not seen the gains you did in previous years?
There may be good reason for this, you might have reached a level where you need to introduce new things into your training routine to continue to progress. Perhaps introducing core conditioning work into your weekly ritual would really help you. With Pilates & Yoga being easily accessible these days at gyms and studios this can be an excellent way of improving our on the bike performance whilst at the same time helping to fend off unwanted injuries throughout the season. This really is an area that is neglected and you might find yourself surprised at how good you feel on and off the bike by doing this frequently. More power, better flexibility and increased powers of concentration, what’s not to like!
I always recommend getting started with a professional yoga or pilates instructor. It's so important that from the outset you learn the correct form and techniques so that you reap the rewards. There are lots of Apps and web sites for these activities, but none can yet provide feedback about your positions. They are valuable but it's important to get going with a pro.
Strength and conditioning training can also really pay dividends especially as we move through our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s when muscular atrophy sees the volume of lean muscle fibre we carry diminish gradually year on year. Following a structured strength & conditioning plan in parallel with your cycling sessions is a sure fire way to enhance performance especially when it’s aligned to the demands of your seasons goals.
Nutrition plays not only an important role during cycling but also in how we recover and adapt to the training loads we place on bodies. Now is also a good time to have a think about your diet. Is it suitably balanced? Does it have a density of high quality nutrients or are there a lot of junk calories that could easily be replaced by something more beneficial? Have a think and make a plan of things that can easily be added or subtracted from your shopping list to ensure you fuel up in the best possible way for the season ahead. Making the right food choices really does underpin your performance and it’s one of the easiest things to change.
If you do decide to introduce new things to your training soon it’s essential to get started in the right way. Learn the techniques correctly, make sure there’s progression in the programme and importantly ensure that it’s aligned to your seasons goals - you don’t want to be putting on a huge amount of muscle in the gym if you’re going to be spending lots of time in the mountains next year. With this in mind it’s always recommended that you start anything new with a qualified professional in that field and this goes for the nutritional side of things as well. A few discussions with a good sports nutritionist about your seasons goals and current dietary habits can be surprisingly beneficial.