Commute to Success
It is an old cliché but quite often in this case, less is most definitely more.
Sometimes in this kind of situation, my job is a case of stripping it all right back and starting again. We need to look at the days and times available to ride and train on, and also the different terrain or routes that can be used. Do they need to ride the commute every day and both ways? Are there other alternatives or some flexibility to it?
You can then start to piece together a programme that will get the most out of every session available. Could they go further one day, but cut it shorter on another or even take the day off altogether? What type of training do they need to include? What are they training for? Do we have suitable terrain for specific efforts?
Of course it is important to take every individual’s situation and treat them uniquely. My angle is always to work out what will work best in each person’s agenda and time frame and not force them into a preset formula or schedule. Life just isn’t that easy; plus my job would be boring if it was!
People often forget how important rest and recovery is as part of the whole training and progression cycle. We have all been in the situation where we get into the groove of riding and training, hammering away day after day, feeling great, like nothing can stop you. But what exactly is that doing to your body? Is it constantly progressing or actually slowly chipping away at any form that you already have?
To simplify it slightly, think of exercising as being bad for your body. Think of exercising with proper rest and recovery as being good for your body. The hard training and exercising will gradually tear or break down your muscles. The muscles will be rebuilt, and rebuilt stronger when you stop and let your body catch up.
Also think about what you can do to help this recovery process. Eat and drink a good protein snack or shake in the 15-20 minutes after exercise to help your body along. This is the most important time, so try and think of this part as a continuation of your training session.
The same obviously applies if you are commuting to work in the morning, don’t just sit straight at the desk and starve yourself thinking that you are being hard-core by not eating. Get something inside you!
When you are training hard, your body will be shocked by the intense workout and look to repair itself quickly and prepare for another ‘attack’. This is when you improve as each time your body repairs itself, it becomes stronger than before. Having no rest period equals a slow spiral of deconstructing muscles and eventually your body will just say ‘whoa, that’s enough’ and shut down. You will then need a longer rest period to let your body reset and start again. This is often classed as over training and is not easy to spot.
Start to listen to your body. It is all well and good having accurate HR and Power data, but also listen to what signs your legs are giving you. Yes, walking up the stairs after a hard ride is a good sign to how much you have hammered your legs, but should that sensation still be there a day or two after; or even when you are sat on the sofa watching TV, then you may have pushed them a bit too hard or too often.
But where is the tipping point? Don’t push yourself hard enough and you won’t stress the body enough to stimulate the muscle growth; train too hard and you risk overdoing it. Of course you read reports and training logs of people knocking out 5 hour training rides day after day, but what is not always reported is everything else – or more importantly the lack of anything else – going on in their day. Do they have a full time job? Family? What other drains or commitments on their body and mind’s resources do they have?
Think about what you are doing to your body, what you could do to improve things, either by training harder or maybe also by training less but in a more structured way. If you are unsure then speak to a coach to help try to get a good balance on your training and workloads.
Look out for part 2 coming soon.