What do you think of when it comes to effective cycle training? Hard hills, tough times, pedalling purgatory, all just to find a little more speed or fitness? Actually, to be a successful rider it doesn’t require any of that . . .
We’re not trying to make a new you. All we want is for you to get as much enjoyment out of your cycling as possible, and most importantly, improve.
The good news is, it’s not that hard to achieve, and providing you follow a few simple words of advice and use some common sense, the time you spend on your bike will be better than ever.
There shouldn’t be a limit to what you can achieve on a bike. Providing you want it enough, you can ride whenever and wherever. That’s the great thing about cycling — the more you put in, the more you get out of it.
But you do need to figure out what you want. This is the first step. It could be a 50-km summer ride, it could be to speed up your commute to work, it could even be to do a race. Whatever it is, remember there is no one stopping you.
Should you really train like a pro?
Goals are good things to have. Without them, you’re just floating along. Don’t be ashamed at how small or big your goal is. Providing there is a plan in place, then there is no reason why you can’t get there.
OK, becoming a Tour de France rider in the space of six months is a little optimistic, but don’t be afraid to think big. On the other hand, if your goal is to ride to the cafe once a week, then go for it. Remember, it’s what you want to get out of it.
When setting goals, the tried and tested method to follow is the acronym, SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-specific. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow, and pretty self-explanatory. By asking yourself, SMART ensures you know your goal inside out, what it involves, and when you should be reaching it by.
Some people feel a little embarrassed about jotting down what they want to achieve, as it may seem a tad serious. But it’s extremely useful. It shows that you want to take your cycling seriously, you want to become fitter, and most importantly, you want to enjoy it more. Putting something in your diary makes it much more likely to happen and research even states that those who set goals are more likely to stick to what they set out to do.
Once you have identified your end goal, the next step is to set some smaller in-between goals. Some call them stepping stones or ‘process goals’. Whatever you want to label them, having them in place will help provide structure and ensure you are going in the right direction.
For example, your main goal for the year is to take part in an entire day ride. Great. Now think of what this entails (stepping stones). Take the mileage. You aren’t going to be able to bash out 100 miles straight away.
This will need progression and a slow increase of rides that build up the miles. Nutrition is another thing that needs to be taken into consideration. What to eat to ensure your body is fed well and is recovering properly.
How far would you go to be a better cyclist?
Then bike fit, that will make your riding comfortable, and possibly the introduction of sport masseurs to iron out any ache or soreness that may occur from lengthy riding. These smaller goals you may not think of straight away, but are vital in order to achieve what you have set out to do.
Set the end goal and work back to this moment, thinking about what needs to be achieved to reach the chequered flag.