Have you incorporated strength and conditioning training into your training schedule? I have, and there are a number of reasons for this including seeing many people around me who do and how it has benefitted them.
I recently took part in Outlaw half Nottingham as part of a relay, completing the bike leg. This was 56 miles and I completed it in 2 hours 56 minutes, there is a separate post about this you can read more on here, but it is safe to say I was really proud of myself for that result. I have, however, had several people congratulate me but also ask what I think saw me achieve that time. I should note that the previous year I did ride the route, not as part of the event, but just for myself the day before as my husband and friends were preparing for the event. I rode the route in 3 hours 29 minutes and so in one year I achieved a PB for this of 33 minutes over the 56 miles. Hence why I was so pleased with the result.
So the questions of how I achieved this made me reflect on what had I changed in my training? Three things:
- More structure to my cycle training.
- Strength and conditioning training.
- Healthy eating.
I am lucky that my husband is a qualified cycle coach and so I have him on hand to tell me how I should be structuring my rides rather than just putting in the miles, that are never wasted, but to just ride with no structure is often referred to as ‘junk miles’. So I have tried to make sure I include slower recovery rides, hill training, tempo rides, concentrate on specific cadence levels over structured intervals and on top of this I now commute two or three times a week covering 28 miles per day.
I am also lucky that my best friend is a qualified personal trainer and we do a lot of training together that is geared around goals I have. Her sessions are invaluable and I truly believe they were a huge part in the result I achieved.
With my strength training I have found that:
- I am able to maintain a higher intensity during continuous exercise than previously.
- My core strength is hugely improved.
- Aside from my knee injury, which was caused from a trauma, I have been injury free and am sure that the improvement of my mobility plays a part in this whilst also increasing my power, as I am working muscles that I had not concentrated on before.
- The sessions I have on a weekly basis concentrate on specific muscle groups allowing them to activate fully. A good strength and conditioning coach knows what muscles are used for what sports you take part in so they know how to activate them, where to target them and help rehab any injuries.
- Technique is key and every session ensures that movements and exercises are done so with correct technique for maximum benefit.
- I feel stronger and incorporating weight training into my routine has seen the weight I can lift increase relatively quickly with the correct guidance.
Healthy eating – its a no brainer that when you eat rubbish you generally feel rubbish and I feel so much better when I eat well. I am eating to fuel myself and it feels great!
I am also not alone in my thinking about strength and conditioning training. I am surrounded by many friends who also incorporate this into their training and have seen huge results from it. Last year my husband took part in his first full distance Ironman event in Austria and completed in a time of 11 hours 19 minutes and he is absolutely certain that a main contributor to this time is down to his strength and conditioning training. He is one of many from our triathlon club who complete this sort of training in addition to their swim, bike and run sessions and also one of many who train with the same trainer as I do (she’s that good!).
One of my closest friends is a Specialized ambassador and we were recently discussing this very issue. She compared the difference in her cycling from this year compared to last year, when she was completing three strength sessions per week and felt much stronger whilst on the bike and so is incorporating this back into her schedule this year.
So in short train smart and train strong!