When it comes to good training, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Here are five pitfalls to avoid.
Video: Top five cycling training mistakes
Not resting enough
Professional riders do the hardest training in the world – they’re experts at it. But most importantly, they’re also experts at resting, and you should be too. Going out and training hard creates the stimulus for improvement in performance, but it’s during periods of rest and recovery that these improvements take place.
Many riders struggle with the idea of riding less, putting their feet up and having an easy week, worrying they might lose form. Instead they end up riding too much, going too hard too often, which eventually leads to a decrease in performance and the possibility of overtraining. So next time you finish a tough session or a hard week, make sure you rest up properly and you’ll reap the benefits in the long term.
Make your hard days hard and your easy days very easy.
Too much too soon
Whether you’re new to cycling, coming back from injury or have just invested in new kit, your first instinct might be to hit the training hard. But rider beware: a sudden increase in training load or hours on the bike could lead to injury, followed by time away from your beloved steed.
Training should be progressive and build slowly towards an increase in intensity and mileage – this ensures your body can cope with the training load.
Not eating or drinking enough
Training requires a lot from our minds and bodies, so in order to get the most from your workouts you need to fuel correctly on the bike. It’s easy to forget nutrition while you're pounding out the miles, but as a rough guide, you need to be consuming around 60g of carbohydrate per hour for optimum performance.
The same goes for hydration – make sure you stay on top of your fluid consumption with water or a dedicated sports drink.
Some experienced riders set an alarm on their cycle computers which goes off every 15 minutes reminding them to drink. It might sound silly, but it works.
There’s a lot of information out there on training, and riders often look to their professional heroes and friends for workout ideas. While this can sometimes be useful, often it’ll do more harm than good if a rider tries to copy phenomenally difficult sessions.
Training needs to be specific to the individual, so beware of those super-tough workouts used by the top riders. They might seem a good idea at the time, but could come back to bite you further down the line.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of training is consistency; be it long or short term. Consistently doing the work and making the time to train, will always win over manic bouts of extreme dedication or training load.
Everyone has a busy life, with commitments that need to be put before cycling, so finding the time to train can be hard. When the precious free time arrives, many riders go crazy and try squeezing in as many hours as possible.
This can often lead to injury or reduced training performance; it’s better to do half an hour a day than one huge ride at the weekend.
Make a consistent, achievable training plan and stick to it. You’ll soon find yourself becoming a happier, faster cyclist all-round.