Comparison is the death of joy, they say. If you started your season by looking at last year’s watts and average speeds, you know what they mean. Wanting to beat your old records is a good motivator, but it has to be applied correctly. Let’s take a look at how to avoid these early season cycling mistakes.
Be realistic about your current fitness
There’s a lot you can measure as a cyclist, and we all have our favourite metric we are constantly trying to improve. It can be fun to track your power output, heart rate, course time, power-to-weight ratio, or number of kilometres per month. The problem is that it’s very easy to focus on the past, the stats from last season. And that takes focus away from how things are and what needs to be done to get you to your new personal best.
Solution: Take an honest look at where you are with your fitness at the start of a new cycling season. It’s normal to start your season in a different place than you ended the last. Maybe you managed to resolve some old injuries and pains and got stronger in the off-season, but you likely didn’t spend the same amount of time in the saddle. This means that you will need some time to regain your endurance and power output. Take that into account and work on your base kilometres, gradually include intensity, and watch the numbers improve each week. This approach is going to yield better results and motivate you more than trying to match last season’s numbers right away.
Don’t copy other cyclists
Some cyclists are all about comparing themselves to their own stats, while others can’t stop measuring themselves against other cyclists. It could be your training partners, friends, members of your cycling team, or your local racing rivals. Every time you hear about what they are doing, it’s far too easy to think that you should be doing that too. It’s easy to doubt yourself and skip over some important elements of training. Every cyclist has to focus on something different in their training to get better. That’s exactly why looking at others and adjusting based on what they do won’t help you most of the time.
Solution: Have a training plan. It’s the best insurance against getting off track with your training. If you’ve never had one, try our beginner 50k training plan. And if you have some experience, you can check out our guide on how to build your own cycling training plan. The next article in this series will also help you avoid some common early season training plan mistakes.
Another thing you can do is get a coach. A coach can help you stay on track with your training and keep you focused on what’s important. You can discuss those cool new things you see your friends and competitors trying because a good coach will also help you identify who you should be comparing yourself to.