A new relationship, too much work or moving to a new home – the reasons for giving up a perfectly running cycling program may vary, but getting back is always hard. We’ve summarised the most common mistakes made by people who want to get back in shape way too fast.
Pushing yourself for longer rides right from the start
You may have been a strong cyclist back then, but every hiatus will bring your fitness to its knees. The older you get, the longer it will take you to get back in shape. If you assume that you can resume where you left off a year ago, it is a wishful thinking that might blind you to the fact that you should build up more cautiously. In order to establish cycling habits, it’s preferable to do shorter rides up to 2 hours more frequently than, say, just go for one or two 4-hour rides a week.
Chasing previous outputs and rates
This is similar to trip lengths. People often concentrate on what was their standard in the past, forgetting how long the period of idleness actually was. Be realistic when it comes to your current fitness, but don’t lose faith. If you had good numbers in the past, you can get back to them after several weeks of consistent training.
Hesitating to increase training intensity
This is a complete opposite of pushing too hard. Some cyclists believe that they should do several weeks of low-intensity training before increasing the physical strain. This might lead to slowing down the process of regaining fitness. Coaches recommend adding short intervals of high-intensity training to your program, for example up to 10-second sprints separated by several minutes of normal riding. This way your body should be able to get in shape quite fast.
Changing your cycling position impetuously
After a few weeks or even months without cycling, everything feels strange when you return to the training. Your body hurts in every way, the bike seems to be hostile: the saddle seems to be too high and the bars are too much at the front now. For some reason, however, your recent bike fitting was correct back in the better days. Your body might be just temporarily stiff and your flexibility limited. Take shorter rides and give your body a chance to readapt. If the discomfort remains, see your bike shop fitting specialist.
Trying to eat less to lose weight quickly
Trying to get back in shape after a long break often involves a craving to lose weight. Reducing your daily intake of nutrients, however, is not a good idea when you are steadily increasing your energy output. Training efforts should be supported by calories, and experts recommend sticking to your usual diet. If you’re in doubt, try consulting your diet with a nutritionist.
Underestimating outdoor conditions
After months of cycling, people learn to estimate what to wear just by looking out of the window. Regular cyclists also never forget to pack a rain jacket if there’s the slightest possibility of weather change, not to mention stashing a spare tube, pump, snacks and money to the rear pockets. Cycling revenants, on the other hand, usually forget at least one of the indispensable items and inevitably regret it later.