Hello and welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING blog. Here you will find weekly updates designed to educate you on strength and conditioning for cycling. Over the coming weeks I will be covering all aspects of conditioning your body for cycling and how it can benefit you in terms of comfort, speed, and improving your riding. So, without further delay. Let’s get right into this week’s entry!
This week I want to talk about recovery. We have spoken about training so much recently we haven’t taken our foot off the gas.
Let me give you a scenario:
Last weekend I had my first cross country race of the season. I have had a few cross events over the winter but aside from training I haven’t had a proper race simulation. Getting back into racing was tough and it hurt. I finished with a 22nd place out of 81 riders so I am reasonably happy with that. I held first off the line and it was a mistake in my riding due to the conditions that dropped me out of the lead. However. It is post-race that I want to talk about today.
How am I feeling?
In short: Shattered.
My body aches, I feel like my strength is a little down and when I’m on the bike I definitely don’t have 100% of my legs back. What makes it worse is that riding conditions in the UK are pretty rubbish too, so riding isn’t amazing. And I haven’t got my road bike out, as I don’t want the salt to ruin it.
So, we have established I feel tired. And I’m sure the feeling above is something you can relate to if you have done long rides or races yourself.
So how do we overcome this feeling of fatigue and how does the gym help, let’s get started:
1. Adapt your training for the week
Yes, change things around. Training pre event is obviously completely different to training post event and while I am a firm believer in continued training after an event, I would never put an athlete through a pre-race session.
What I would do instead is focus more towards movement. Get the bosu ball out and work on your stability with slow, or static body weight movements such as squats, rope whips and standing work (pictured).
This will develop your core and your stability, something that is very important for cycling but also won’t tire you out like a full session would. These are usually movements I put in between my main exercises as “active rest” exercises.
So, adapt your sessions to less intense, and focused more on just keeping you moving.
2. Don’t expect to get right back into an intense ride
We’ve all been guilty of this. We have a day, or two off riding and we think we are feeling fresh as a daisy. When in actual fact we haven’t recovered (there are numerous factors to this that I will explain in number 3). So, going out and giving it 100% from the off will no doubt end in tears and a lack of enjoyment. The key thing with your first-time back is to do it for the enjoyment. We all got into cycling because we enjoy it. And however competitive we get there is always the element of enjoyment to your riding. So, get out there and just enjoy it. Do a route that you know you love for the sights, the decents or the flat pedalling and just enjoy your ride. It may be a slower paced ride, but it will maintain your fitness and you will come back feeling fresh and eager to be out again. Rather than frustrated and annoyed at your lack of power and fitness.
3. Understand stress
This is key. Understanding stress is a huge part of our bodies recovery process and I will say one thing now which should change how you look at training forever:
“Your body doesn’t differentiate stress, it sees stress from training, work, riding and life as stress. It all goes towards dragging you down”.
With that in mind. After a race your bodies stress levels are heightened more so than your regular ride on a Sunday. Racing brings pressure from how much it costs, the stress your body goes under, your own expectations of yourself and more so. All of this is combined into making your day stressful (even if you don’t notice it). Now you race on a Sunday and you go straight back into work. So, your sleep is affected, your mind hasn’t relaxed over the weekend as you must go into work thinking about the jobs you have to do. Stress levels are high, and your body feels like it has taken a beating over the weekend. Put all this into consideration and it is understandable to see why we don’t feel ourselves after a race weekend, or a big event.
And there it is, reasonably short and sweet this week but hopefully very helpful to you if you are feeling a little fatigued on the bike.
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About The Author: Adam Copley
Adam is a self-employed coach based in Sheffield, UK. Alongside this he is an avid cyclist and competes in cross country mountain biking across the UK. He has raced Cyclocross during the winter and is also a huge lover of road cycling. While he's not working on his business, he is usually out on two wheels getting fitter, and enjoying the fresh air and many climbs in the peak district.