Don’t you want to jump straight into training when a new season arrives? You’re not alone! All of us bicycle lovers can’t wait to get back in the saddle and explore the great outdoors again. This article is here to remind you of a few simple tips to keep your cycling training schedule realistic.
It’s tempting to set the perfect training plan just like the pros at the start of a new season. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is not very realistic considering work, family, friends, and other commitments. Don’t do this to yourself! It will likely lead to disappointment and stress. Consult a coach if you can and talk to your family about your time limits. Understand what you can realistically and sustainably stick to throughout the whole season. Also, keep the following four pieces of advice in mind to avoid making the most common early-season mistakes and following an unrealistic cycling training schedule.
Don’t improvise too much
Even if you don’t have a full-blown training plan for the whole season, it’s important to have some idea about what kind of training you’re going to do. The second most important thing is to stick to that idea! If you start improvising or trying to cram too much training in because you missed a few days of training, it’s going to backfire. You will experience fatigue instead of rising levels of performance.
Solution: Have a plan and stick to it. If you miss a training session don’t worry about it and simply do the next one on your schedule. Make adjustments to your plan only if you miss a whole week or more.
Ramp up gradually
Getting back in shape can sometimes feel really slow and the memories of last season might be pushing you to quickly increase the training load. This is the perfect strategy for early-season injuries, excessive fatigue, and loss of motivation.
Solution: Take 2-3 weeks to gradually increase the training load. If your plan is to train 4 days a week, start with 2 training sessions and 1 easy spin and take it from there. Focus all of that early-season enthusiasm into never missing a session. Consistency is the most important aspect of your training at this stage.
Add intensity after a few weeks
It’s a bad idea to increase the training load too fast and it’s also a bad idea to wait around before adding intensity. It’s important to focus on building aerobic endurance in the early season. But this doesn’t mean all of your session need to be endurance oriented.
Solution: After those initial 2-3 weeks, you can start adding short high-intensity intervals to your training here and there. They should make up a small proportion of your training at first but you can ramp it up as the season progresses. Don’t get stuck on endurance training for 2 months or longer.
Don’t skip cross training
The off-season is usually when cyclists work on their strength and core stability. If that’s your case, don’t let all of that hard work go to waste. And if you haven’t been doing much, the time to start now is as good as any.
Solution: Aim for at least one, ideally two cross-training sessions per week. This will allow you to keep the adaptations you produced during the off-season.