Essential questions for Cyclists
Whether you’re am experienced cyclist or a relative novice, make sure you’re aware of the answers to the following:
1 // Is my technique as good as it can be?
Poor technique puts excess pressure on your joints, strains muscles and increases the chance of injury. Key areas to consider in improving your technique are:
- Bike set-up – check your saddle height and for/aft position (the 5 o’clock heel-to-crank and KOPS positions).
- Ride relaxed – keeping your back straight, shoulders, chest, arms & grip relaxed, and hips forward
- Cadence – optimised cadence is around 90rpm and nurtures a more efficient pedal stroke, which you can track and fine-tune on the Wattbike performance monitor
2 // Am i resting properly?
The best rest is “active rest” – low intensity, low heart rate – such as a Zone 2 endurance ride or a steady walk. Active rest should be part of every training programme as it promotes recovery by assisting blood circulation and carrying vital nutrients to muscles.
3 // Can i understand what my body is trying to say?
You need to know the difference between hard and soft pain. Soft pain, like breathlessness, can be managed during a session. Hard pain, often caused by injury or illness, is your body’s way of telling you to stop. When we describe “hitting a wall” we’re often experiencing soft pain that goes away once we stop. You wont even get that far if you experience hard pain.
Before you start a training session or ride, decide on your goal and regularly remind yourself of it. Don’t let a bit of soft pain put you off, but don’t ignore it either. Understand your ‘engine’ – such as your heart rate and power zones – and learn to manage how many ‘matches you are burning’ on a climb for example.
4 // Am i training at the right time to match my goals?
If you’re looking to beat a PB, ride in the morning after a healthy breakfast. You’re fresh from a good nights sleep, nourished and mentally focused. Midday training is great to clear your mind – a short session can help you refocus for the afternoon ahead.Training at the end of the day is best for burning extra calories.Losing weight is a simple equation of using more energy than you’ve put in. An evening session will also keep your metabolism high well into the night.
5 // Am i hydrating efficiently, and not just drinking?
People often confuse a dry mouth with dehydration. Then they drink lots of fluids, yet still feel thirsty. That’s because hydration is about how much fluid you have in your cells, not the amount of fluid in your body. Water can’t get into our cells on its own, it needs electrolytes. The key is to be able to tell when your body actually needs fluid (cramping is the most common sign) while maintaining the right balance between fluids and electrolytes by adding electrolyte supplement to your water. Drinking during training also puts stress on the digestive system. In our experience, pre- and post-training hydration is more critical to performance than drinking during the event.
6 // Am i making the best use of available technology?
What gets measured gets done! Data helps you track your gains and reveiwing your achievements can also bring into focus the areas you’ve neglected, such as leg speed climbing intervals. Plan review points every three months and use what you discover to focus your training for the next period.
7 // Have I trained my body to use fat efficiently as an energy source?
A diet rich in fats and proteins provides a stable, slow-buring energy source. Go-to ingredients include; chicken, avocado, spinach and nut butters. Focus on fresh foods, try to eliminate processed foods and minimise supplements, powders and pills. On training days its a good idea to include complex carbs like brown rice and sweet potato.
Initially it may feel like you have less energy but once your body stabilises you should notice an improvement in performance levels. Maintaining proteins and fats before a big event will also prevent blood sugar levels from plummeting halfway through. Despite the popularity of pre-race carb loading, it can actually cause performance plateau and leave you feeling drained.
8 // Have i stopped improving?
If your PB’s haven’t improved you need to consider strengthening your muscles with HIIT sessions. Monitor your heart rate, power and pedal technqiue. Smart training is vitally important. The longer you wait between quality training sessions, the more momentum you lose. Devise a routine and stick to it. Even if it hurts a bit.