How to train for a cycling event through the winter

Posted by William 11/02/2019 0 Comment(s)

Happy new year everyone!

As a 54 yr old veggie 24hr ultra mtb with previous experience of madness in the world of 24hr ultra walking I enjoy talking about my journeys and experiences.
Winter training tips for me which are working very well in close liaison of course with my fab coach have been quite a departure from my normal modus operandum. Its always important to keep things mixed up to keep your body guessing too.

I have invested in a super smart Tacx NEO turbo, thoroughly learnt to use it and for the depths of winter training be it maintenance or smashing it after a bit of back end of year downt time I now use this for my big winter efforts. This way I am really maximising my quality efforts with nowhere to hide either. I constantly hark back to my time management and keeping family life sweet by not disappearing for hrs on end on dark winter nights. 1hr max turbo sessions also give you time to catch up with all those jobs put off over the summer when competing/training and holidaying.
So big efforts on the turbo and then road at the weekend for some daylight social or recovery rides, this way I can go out at the weekend properly dressed for the weather and not stressing about overheating with big efforts, juggling poor lighting and bad road conditions and other users. Plus I have noticed that going out and completing a lot of big efforts over winter seems to tax the immune system a lot more, which is never going to end well. Result: I feel really sharp and fresh and as has been documented in older athletes, we really benefit from HIIT sessions. What sort of sessions do I use… 

BIG ONES…… talk to your coach and fit in some taxing stuff, big intervals after a good warm up of course (BC cycling one works a treat). Use these to really find out your limits and push them, concentrate on excellent form and spin those pedals, stay in the seat where 

you can and get all those muscles engaged. Set up the pain cave to keep you cool, one or two fans, drinks, music/DVDs, whatever works but be comfortable and not bored and be prepared to suffer, always ask yourself are your competitors doing this too. I like to think an hr on the turbo is worth two on the bike. No brainer really. I know a few top athletes who use this principle to max family time and still be on it training wise especially over the winter when time seems to get eaten.

As always don’t neglect your recovery and be scrupulous on hygiene and sleep when there are naturally a lot more bugs around during the winter and of course all those new year handshakes. We can take a lot of tips from the pros on this point. You are bound to end up with a cold or something but as before if you get ill, deal with it, rest, gentle 20 min effortless spins if up to it and the doctor agrees then as you feel the heaviness go from your legs build up again. You will get ill unless very lucky so don’t stress about it. If you get ill a lot have a look at your lifestyle and training etc and see where you might be slipping up. As always listen to your body.

REMEMBER; Overtraining (or as more than one experienced top flight coach says, under recovering) is a spectre that I think can really haunt the keen amateur and set you back months…. I stick with a mantra of I would rather arrive at an event, healthy but 80% fit than ill having in theory hit all my targets. Starting an ultra feeling sh#t is not guaranteed to be a pleasant experience 25hrs later. 

REMEMBER; LISTEN to your body, but it’s not easy when you’re committed to being the best you can, I still have to take myself in check and constantly remind myself of this. Luckily I have a great coach who lives this point and gives great support when I have to sack off the occasional session due to whatever crops up. If you get ill then recover first, there is much anecdotal info on what time to give yourself to recover from illness and what training you should or should not do when ill or under the weather. So so hard though it is to rest, turning a head cold into a raging chest infection could knock your plans out for the whole year. Enlist one or two of your peers to convince you to rest up. 

REMEMBER; Finally and MOST important of all keep factoring in your nearest and dearest. I don’t think any of us could do such an ultra based sport without home support, but this takes me back to your time management, be realistic and super-efficient with your training, NO junk miles, quality all the way. Live with the reality of not being able to train like a pro all the time. The odd 5.30am alarm may have to be put up with to get certain targets in at times if necessary but not to be constantly compromising recovery, sleep is one of the best performance enhancers ever…. 

Happy training Adrian.

Tags: Cycling