This morning I threw on my jersey, knicks, socks, shoes and clipped into my pedals. And off we went, with a satisfying, false pretence-ing (excuse my double negative) tail wind. I felt strong, happy, and alive. Like I just had a delicious and highly restorative 12 hour sleep, the sort of sleep that when you roll out of bed you feel like you are some sort of pyjama model (picture neat hair, no bags under the eyes). Then we came around the round-about and BAM. Reality hits. Like the 6 hour sleep that WAS had, and the eyes that are each packing their own bags for an extended summer holiday.
2016’s finishing line is coming into sight quickly. It is that time of year when race entries are starting to open, and everyone is talking about 2017. What races you might do? Where you might travel? What are you going to do more of next year? Those things that you were going to do this year, but time somehow slipped through your fingers.
Whenever anyone asks me what my goals are, be it for a race or for a season. I almost always provide a fake goal and fake target times for races. My goals aren’t usually defined by a season, or a period of time, or a specific race. And I don’t like telling people my goals, because they are personal things that I want to achieve. My real main goal is to just improve, get stronger, feel stronger, enjoy it more, push myself a little longer, and the most rewarding goal of all to help others to also enjoy this amazing lifestyle.
So this morning when I went riding, and was hit by the horrible head wind, I started to assess my personal goals. I shrugged off the elements and focused on how fast I was going into the wind. Or maybe more to the point, how fast I was NOT going into the wind. Have I gotten stronger this year? Have I extended myself? It probably wasn’t a great topic to think about while riding into strong wind.
And this got me thinking, how is it that we actually get stronger on the bike? What is there that we can do today, that will make us stronger tomorrow?
After rubbing shoulders with some coaches over the years it comes down to a few areas. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It doesn’t need to be fancy or technical. It can be summarized using three words. Those three words are intervals, strength, and endurance. These three components of training are what I personally incorporate into my training/riding each week.
I.N.T.E.R.V.A.L.S. S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H. E.N.D.U.R.A.N.C.E.
Intervals or speed work can be timed using your bike computer to keep you on track. Or you could use physical objects on your ride as start and finish points, example: from the big tree to the light pole (a couple of hundred meters or 1 or 2 km’s apart) I am going to put in 80%-90%-100% effort, then recover and repeat.
Strength work is where you get into the hills. Pick a climb to do repeats on. Or find a hilly circuit. Load gears on going up, or spin as fast as you can to get to the top. As long as you are going up and feeling the burn you are making a difference. You should be singing “my quads are on fire” by the time you get to the coffee shop.
Interval and strength work doesn’t necessarily need hours and hours to achieve a decent session. Unlike the endurance/long ride… Someone wise once said that if you want to get good at something, you actually need to do it. So the more time you immerse yourself amongst it, perhaps the more you will gain. For me, long rides don’t necessarily need to be about how fast you have gone over a certain distance. It is about the time spent on the saddle. And let’s face it, it’s about exploring the roads a little less travelled with fine company. So grab some girlfriends and have a great time! You could even throw some sprints and hill climbs in your long ride to make it a little more challenging.
So maybe you are stuck in a rut and you feel like you aren’t moving forwards or backwards? Is there an element/session to your training/riding that you have skipped for a few weeks? Keep coming back to the FUNdamentals of training, and the most important part is to keep it FUN not monotonous! Variety is the spice of life.
Happy training lovely ladies xxx