Discipline is everything. All great sportspeople have discipline, though they may be very different in all other ways. Great sports people do not wonder whether they will get up early during the dead of winter or whether they will just give it all a big miss in humid weather!
They have made the decision to train ahead of time, and this attitude should be our model. So decide now that this is what you will do and don’t give yourself licence to have the internal discussion anymore. What makes good athletes turn into great athletes? In a word, discipline.
Even serious cyclists are human and that is why they need extra motivation to keep on keeping on. The best way to stay motivated, in my opinion, is to train in a group.
The best groups are between four and six cyclists. Don’t let the group become too large as in a big group you will not be as conspicuous if you’re absent one day. You must be conspicuous so that you can be chased up. It’s all about accountability through a sense of belonging and responsibility to the group.
Guilt is not necessarily a bad thing and if you’re feeling guilty about letting the rest of your group down, you are more likely to stay regularly involved. This in turn will lead to greater levels of fitness, strength and endurance in you, which is a huge part of your aim in training.
There are many benefits in being part of a smallish cycling training group. The healthy competition factor can be an incredible booster and help us push the front wheel over the line of comfort, and consequently make us better and stronger riders. As a group, setting a time occasionally to reach a particular destination, or setting a time for a section of the ride, adds variety and keeps the competitive edge alive and well. Be honest with each other, set goals and offer advice to each other. This will greatly aid your development as a cyclist.
When riding in a group, consider carefully the various abilities within the group. Not everybody will be identical in strength, endurance and mental stamina, but everybody can have a useful ride. Make sure the youngest and fittest members of the group are lead wheel and that you are training in a time trial formation. Then go for it!
Weaker riders should stay at the back for longer stretches. Sometimes you can adapt so that the fittest riders reach the top of steep hills first, then turn back and rejoin the rest of you before heading to the top again. This way everyone gets a work out.
It is only natural that there will be differences in the cyclists you train with. Some will be best at climbing, others will be great sprinters and others may do everything consistently well and show great stamina. It is possible to please everybody when training and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, go out of your way to encourage hill-haters and spur on the non-sprinters. Change your route sometimes.
If you’ve never organised a loop circuit you don’t know how much fun it can be when hill training. It works well for cyclists of differing specialties because fast riders can go hard and re-catch the group, resulting in everyone feeling like they’re pushing themselves at their own level. Another way to achieve this is through handicapped sprints, especially useful at the conclusion of your training session.
Fun is really important when training in a group situation. Strengthen relationships within your group by conducting other events with whole families. Partners and children can be brought along to some cycle tracks for a day to remember. Dine out together and discuss training strategies informally. The closer your group becomes, the more accountability you will all feel.
It is commonly accepted that athletic performance (like all achievement in life) is enhanced by healthy relationships and strong bonds with others in the team. Isn’t it interesting that some of the best personal times are achieved by runners, swimmers and cyclists in relays or team events! Even if you are an individual competitor, your performance will no doubt be enhanced by the proximity and encouragement of your training buddies.
Set yourself up to succeed by ensuring that you have all the physical requirements and advantages before, during and after training. Assess individually what your body requirements are by experimenting with differing quantities of food and liquid intake. Amino Sports Fuel drinks will ensure maximum output of energy as well as replacing vital ingredients such as electrolytes that the body has sucked from you under physical exertion.
Use these before and definitely during competition and training. I also cannot stress highly enough the need for a protein shake after cycling. Preferably within 30 minutes after exercise. Protein drinks will significantly assist your muscle recovery, growth and repair. Don’t waste your training! Get the most out of your hard work and sacrifice.
Safety should always be high on your priority list when cycling. You must consider all aspects of your intended route, including equipment needed, transition points, dense traffic areas, weather and communication signals for your training group. Know when members of your training group are likely to become tired and less alert.
Use clear and consistent communication with the others in your group: this is all part of the required accountability. Most accidents occur when cyclists are tired and their reactions are much slower than they should be, so be scrupulously diligent about this. Always organize to return home on a very safe, tried and tested route.
Cycle training is not something you should do solo. It is most effective in a group situation and it is most fun when you share it with others. Never set off on a training regime without considering all the factors involved with training and determine to implement them consistently. Your degree of success will be directly linked to your organisation, and your level of determination. I say good on you for gathering tips and gleaning advice! It’s the perfect way to start on the road to achieving your personal best.