5 Common Spring Training Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

By Jiri Kaloc

As the weather warms and cyclists eagerly return outdoors, there are several mistakes they tend to make every spring. Let’s take a look at the most common five so you can avoid them and enjoy riding in the sun without compromising the rest of your season.

1. Increasing training intensity and volume too fast

We are all excited to get out there as soon as it gets warmer. After enduring months of cold, it’s tempting to maximise the outdoor riding time. However, a rapid increase in both your weekly training hours and intensity can actually cause issues. It’s better to focus on one or the other. If you haven’t been able to build up your training volume yet since the start of the year, that should be your focus. Use the spring enthusiasm to extend the length or number of individual rides, without ramping up intensity. This approach builds the aerobic base needed to safely and effectively introduce more intense training later.

If, on the other hand, you were able to maintain or increase your training volume during the early season, it’s the right time to step up the intensity. You can extend the duration of intervals in your workouts, increase the number of repetitions or add interval sessions. Just don’t go over 2 intense interval workouts per week.

2. Over-reliance on group rides

Some cyclists have the opposite problem. They get so much enjoyment from group rides, the social aspect of cycling, and coffee stops that all of their cycling time gets swallowed by it. Group rides can be motivating and fun and they are one of the best things about those warm spring days. But relying solely on them for training can be a mistake. Group dynamics often lead to rides that are too fast or too slow, which is unlikely to produce the training adaptations you need to be ready for the rest of the season.

Group cycling
Group rides can be motivating and fun and they are one of the best things about those warm spring days. © Profimedia

Make sure you leave enough cycling time in your week for high-quality training sessions where you focus on intervals. And if your group rides are getting too competitive, make sure to include sufficient rest days and easy Zone-2 efforts to balance out your training load.

3. Quitting indoor training

It seems like the weather is becoming less predictable than ever before. There are really warm as well as chilly days throughout spring, and rain always seems to be an option. Staying in the indoor training mindset for a bit longer can pay off in the spring. Indoor cycling is often the best way to add an extra 1-2 hours to your weekly training volume. By cycling indoors, you extend the available hours for training, whether early in the morning, over lunch or even after dark when you’ve finally dealt with the duties of the day.

4. Stopping strength training

Strength training is a welcome addition to spice up the off-season but when the first warm sunny days arrive, it’s often the first part of the training plan to go. Sure, you don’t need to focus on strength training as much during every part of the season but it should remain a part of your schedule in some form all year round, especially as you age.

The goal should be to do a minimum of 1 strength training session per week and up to 2 if you find the time. These sessions should include full-body exercises, incorporating key movements like pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, and carrying.

5. Overly restrictive diet

There is often some level of panic that sets in when you put on the warm weather jersey and it feels unusually tight. All of those climbs and getting dropped flashes in front of your eyes and fast weight loss suddenly seems like the only way forward. That’s when highly restrictive diets look a lot more doable. Unfortunately, healthy weight loss can’t be rushed too much. If it took you several months to put on a bit of weight, it’s not going to disappear in two weeks. What’s more, creating a severe calorie deficit always results in poor training quality, inadequate recovery after workouts, and overall discomfort.

If you accept that it’s going to be a longer process, you can actually lose weight by simply increasing your training volume in spring. If you keep eating more or less the same, the extra calories burned should be enough to create a sufficient caloric deficit to gradually lose weight. If you gained between 2-5 extra kilogrammes, you should expect it to take about 1-2 months to lose. But it will certainly help if you cut back on those coffee-stop treats for a while.