With my 2019 being largely focused around events on two wheels I am keen to make sure my winter training contributes to giving me a good base for the beginning of the season and that is not just about training on the bike.
Pre injury this year I had worked hard on the bike and the results showed in some of my events. To compare to the previous year I could easily see the changes I had made that I felt contributed to this. They were as follows:
- I introduced more structure to my cycling. My husband is a qualified cycle coach and so he set me sessions to complete that made sure I was getting in a range of riding including recovery, tempo/at pace, intervals and working on my cadence. Cadence is the number of revolutions per minute and at first I found the cycling to cadence really tough – I generally push a big gear and I know this is not efficient but working to different cadence sometimes felt like I was spinning like crazy. It became a bit of a joke in our cycling club as you would randomly hear my husband shout ‘Lisa, cadence!’. The main point is that I was not cycling simply for cycling and what some would call ‘junk miles’.
- I gave strength and conditioning training a priority. My best friend is a qualified PT and she set me sessions and trained with me knowing the goals I had in mind including a lot of core work. Before I took part in my first triathlon relay a fellow tri club member predicted I would get sub 3 hours for the 56 miles, which I thought was out of reach and he said to trust the strength training I have done. I finished chuffed to bits in 2:56!
- I made sure I stretched! I am useless when it comes to stretching before and after exercising and really have to build this in to my training to make sure it is not missed. Post injury I needed some massage therapy and was recommended someone who is amazing though a sports massage is not the luxurious treat you may think – it hurts but it so worth it afterwards and just highlighted to me the need to stretch the muscles properly.
From the above I have learned what to make sure I focus on over the coming months including the following:
- Core workouts – a strong core is essential when cycling. A weak core can lead to poor performance (a lot of movement side to side/rocking) and even injury as a consequence. Gripping the handlebars (something I am guilty of) is a sign of a weak core also and can contribute to back pain and also neck pain. When cycling your power should come from your legs and this can be lost if you are moving too much from side to side. There are many movements to help strengthen your core, you don’t need a gym and it doesn’t take too long either. Why is this important? The core is what is keeping the body stable whilst cycling and is put under a lot of pressure when in the saddle. When I first started cycling I would suffer from back pain and this can often be a result of a weak core so I knew I had work to do. Some exercises that would help your core could include mountain climbers, Russian twists, leg raises, plank, abdominal crunches, scissor kicks, boat pose and bridges.
- Strength training – my workouts tends to include both core and strength exercises and focus on specific muscle groups. For cyclists a focus on the muscle groups used when on the bike is beneficial. Some exercises that would help could include squats, reverse lunges, deadlifts, push ups, shoulder press, renegade rows, kettlebell swings and burpees (I know no one loves a burpee sorry).
- Yoga/Pilates – cycling can lead to tightness in certain areas of the body especially the lower back, neck, hips and pelvis. A strong core will help reduce this especially if your spine is lengthened and low abdomen engaged, both of which will support your core. Some poses that would help with this and in turn maximise your potential on the bike could include cat/cow pose, downward facing dog, bridge, camel, chair pose into forward bend, sacrum stretch, hamstring stretch, quad/hip flexor stretch, child pose, reclining bound angle pose and not forgetting legs up the wall.
I will be trying to get out as much as possible as I much prefer getting outside whenever possible though sometimes excessive rain, ice, snow and similar weather conditions can make cycling dangerous so will also need to incorporate some targeted training on the turbo (a necessary evil).
As they say winter miles equal summer smiles so here we go!