I turned 30 last month, so I now think of myself as an experienced cycling coach (before the 8th of November, I was just talented). So I want to share five techniques that can make a difference in your cycling career.
These techniques are not concrete training advice but more about acting and thinking as a serious cyclist. If you implement these principles in your training routine, I’m sure you will improve your performance rapidly.
1.Every ride should have a purpose
I have always asked my riders to have a purpose with every training session. Therefore, it’s evident that interval training sessions should be targeted specifically for the physiological skills you want to improve.
That’s not as easy as it might sound, but most serious riders have (at least) an idea of why they do interval training every week.
I recommend my riders to have a purpose with all their rides, not only interval days and races, because I want to make them stronger and better cyclists every day. If it’s a recovery day, it’s a great chance to practice technical skills that do not require physical power. For example, improve your cornering and recovery in the same ride.
The most talented rider I’ve trained has used this method for years now, and one of his best skills is the technical part of cycling. He’s a mountain biker, so he enjoys these training days, and they certainly make him a better rider.
2.Eliminate everything that does not make you stronger
If you perform training that doesn’t make you a stronger rider (e.g., junk miles), try to eliminate this from your workout and do more of the training that takes you closer to your goal.
Junk miles steal focus and don’t significantly improve your fitness.
When you reduce training time, you increase your attention to the workout you perform. Doing shorter workouts make it easier to complete the training program as you’ve planned it, or maybe spend additional time on the training that helps you reach your goal.
3.Be proactive – not reactive
It’s tempting to blame other people when things don’t work out the way you like. However, you are being reactive, and that is a negative attitude that will not help you closer to your goal.
Being proactive is about taking responsibility – taking action. It is common knowledge, and it certainly makes sense.
When you take responsibility, you will achieve a lot more success because taking action yourself has several positive side effects.
For example, it’s much better to try to make your group rides attractive instead of just complaining about why few people join them. Does that make sense?
4.Hire a professional cycling coach
Professional coaches can develop better training plans and help athletes reach their physiological potential. I know many of you enjoy investigating exercise physiology, training tips, and training programs (that’s why you are reading training4cyclists.com…)
But there is a vast difference between knowledge about exercise physiology and coaching yourself. When you have a cycling coach, positive pressure helps you perform every single training session as scheduled.
If you coach yourself, it’s easier to skip a session because your “coach” is more likely to accept your excuses. Athletes at all levels can benefit from having a coach or mentor for sparring.
5.Read articles and books about cycling training
The best way to continue your progress is to gain inspiration from other riders and coaches. There are many different strategies for reaching your peak performance, and most riders make up their own.
As a medical doctor (currently working with clinical physiology), I use my knowledge and keep updated about exercise physiology and training principles. In addition, I read evidence-based scientific articles and books.
When you read less scientific material, you quickly realize many opinions on training. It might sound counter-intuitive, but less scientific material is often more convinced about its theories than heavy scientific studies.
This is important to remember:
We don’t know everything about cycling training, and we never will. So there is no perfect formula that fits all.
Here is what I do when I read non-scientific articles about cycling training. I listen to the arguments that sound reasonable, modify the best ideas, and integrate them into my evidence-based training programs.
I hope you will use a similar approach to achieve the knowledge and results you are looking for.