For the most part life is, and always will be, a juggling act of priorities versus time. Fitting everything in can often have you feeling like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, dangling from the ceiling and not knowing which way to swing.
With the right planning and preparation it should be possible to find a balance that keeps the ship afloat and also ensures that you make the most of your time in the saddle. Read on for our top tips on making your training time count.
The saying “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” could never be more true. To make the most of your time in the saddle it’s imperative to plan in advance, setting aside enough time each week to build towards your goals in a structured and methodical way. If you haven’t got a plan then it’s likely that your training will be less effective, plus it can be harder to maintain your motivation when you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing and why.
Be realistic about your available training time and make each session count.
Make an initial break down of your week so that you can get an idea of where your time goes and how it’s possible to best use it.
Subtract work, family time, social and sleep from 168 hours and it’s likely that you’ll still be left with a chunk of change for training.
Subtract work, family time, social and sleep from 168 hours and it’s likely that you’ll still be left with a chunk of change for training so it all comes down to what you’re goals are for the season and how much time you can realistically commit to making them happen. With this written down it’s often easier to then efficiently plan your training around all other commitments, making your time in the saddle a priority within the working week.
Depending on your overall goals, and for the time starved, intervals can form the basis of a solid and constructive workout that packs a lot of punch for the hours invested. Sessions can vary tremendously, from intervals of just a few seconds to build explosive power through to longer intervals of several minutes based around improving aerobic efficiency.
Doing intervals indoors means you can control the environment and maximise your training time.
There are a few key points to consider when undertaking interval training. Firstly, identify what your end goal is and tailor the session to try and meet these objectives. For example if you are looking to improve your overall capacity as a rider then it’s likely that longer intervals will be more beneficial than very short explosive efforts. Make sure that you have built up an adequate base fitness in advance of starting your interval training.
Intervals can form the basis of a solid and constructive workout that packs a lot of punch for the hours invested.
It’s much harder to tune your engine without this base and you may find going too hard too quickly leads to overtraining and a decline in form. Always make sure you’re well recovered and able to give 100% in your interval sessions. It’s all about quality and there’s no point investing the time if you can’t do them to the level that their intended. Although they can be done out on the road, often it’s easier to do these sessions on the indoor trainer where there are no distractions and you can fully control the environment to maximise your time in the saddle.
Variety of Routes
Motivation plays a big factor in getting the most from your training therefore it’s good to have a few different route options available, from longer endurance based rides through to shorter more intense sessions and recovery spins to keep the legs ticking over, all should play their part in your overall training schedule.
If you plan to do a European sportive then training in the mountains in advance can certainly help with your preparation.
Get to know your local roads but don’t be afraid to venture a little further afield to explore. Often this feeling of ‘unknown’ can bring another stimulus to your training, keeping you fresh and alert as opposed to just going through the motions.
Motivation plays a big factor in getting the most from your training therefore it’s good to have a few different route options available.
Map your routes in advance and check to see if there are any roads that you can add to make an extra loop, or subtract should the weather turn. Having this knowledge will give you extra confidence and put you in the right frame of mind from the start. If you’re looking for completely new roads then plan some time away, either another location in the UK or if budget allows further afield. If you plan to ride a European sportive then a few days in the mountains in advance can really help prepare you in the right way.
Distance and Terrain
Getting the balance right in terms of volume and intensity is subject to a number of factors including your main goals as a rider, strength or weakness, your training environment and time available. On top of this comes experience; knowing how your body feels and reacts to certain loads is fundamental in really getting the most out of your training time and overall sporting performance. It’s important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you on a daily basis with the flexibility to adapt your schedule around this.
Often the winter months, out of the main season, are the best time to work on your endurance capacity with longer rides geared towards building a solid base fitness from which to work from as you come into the season. Tracking your training in hours as the main measure as opposed to miles is another point of consideration.
Often the winter months, out of the main season, are the best time to work on your endurance capacity with longer rides geared towards building a solid base fitness.
Naturally if you live in a flatter part of the country you may get in more miles, as you’ll have a faster average speed, than when on hillier terrain. Likewise a nagging headwind can easily scrub your speed compared to a still day. Time never lies, therefore if you’re expecting to take 6 hours to complete your main ride with 2,000 metres of elevation then keep this in mind and aim to mix your longer rides and hillier routes accordingly to bring your endurance and climbing efficiency to a level that builds towards this.
Without a shadow of a doubt the most important element of any training program is the recovery time. This is when the body repairs and restores itself, adapting to the training loads that have been put on it, to become stronger and more efficient as a result. Without adequate recovery time no matter how much training you do, and even with the best will in the world, you’ll never see the progression that you’re looking for. Making the most of your time in the saddle means realising this and factoring in frequent periods of low load activity or complete days off the bike.
Less hours and low load sessions keep the legs supple and are a time to relax and enjoy the ride.
On easy days, turn the legs over in a small gear for an hour to keep them supple. Use the extra time available in the week for stretching, yoga or massage. Remember, it’s not just about the body either, recovery should refresh your mind and give you the motivation to get back on the bike at the start of your next block eager and excited to push your fitness to the next level. If you don’t feel like this when you resume to training then it’s likely that you haven’t had enough recovery time.
Recovery should refresh your mind and give you the motivation to get back on the bike at the start of your next block eager and excited to push your fitness to the next level.
Never overlook how crucial sleep is either, getting enough is fundamental for the correct function of every process of entire the body. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a recovery week is a time to kick back and party. If you really want to bring on the effects of all your training hours then you’ll learn to love your sleep.
Good luck with making your training time count. If anyone needs further ride help or advice then feel free to contact me on Twitter @cottydale.
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