As I type this the weather forecast for next week looks to be sunny and in the mid 60’s all week (unless you’re reading this from New England in which case. . .ha ha ha). Now, with the harsh winter we’ve been having so far you may be tempted to call in sick next week and get in a bunch of hours. And while it may be fine to put in a bigger week next week, you should be careful to avoid overdoing it. If you have been riding between 6-8 hours and all of a sudden you put in a 16 hour week, you will probably have physical and mental fatigue that can affect your training for the next month.
That doesn’t just go for this coming week either. Any gains in fitness are going to come gradually. Don’t expect to go from little fitness to peak shape within a couple weeks or even a month. The reason why pro riders have been training hard since November is because they need to gradually ramp up their fitness level over time.
A good way to do this is by taking a 3 week on, 1 week off approach to training. This is where you gradually increase your training for three weeks, and then take a rest week. The rest week is extremely important as it allows your body to repair the muscle that you broke down while riding hard. More importantly it allows you to mentally recover from going hard (there’s that mental word again, where’s he going with this?).
Now, during a rest week you should not take the entire week off, sit on the couch, and eat potato chips. Go out and ride easy, when you feel like it. If you feel like you have to put in a couple of efforts, go ahead and do so. The rest week is more important for the mental break (seriously. . . again?). When you start back on your three weeks of “on” you want to come back in gradually. Let’s say you can average 10 hours per week riding. If your first week you do 8 hours, followed by 10, then a bigger 12 hour week you will see those gradual increases in fitness.
Now, time to get to this mental thing I keep talking about (yay, finally!). Cycling can be a very hard sport, but that is why many of us love to ride. We are constantly pushing ourselves, but because there is no impact to our bodies like with running, we can go a lot longer and harder without realizing how fatigued we really become. Many times you’ll see riders brag about how they rode 4 hours when it’s in the mid 30’s in January... but a few months later they decide not to ride because it’s 68 outside and they thought it would be 72.
Over the course of months of riding we are far more likely to feel mental fatigue much sooner than the real physical fatigue sets on. This will lead to decreased motivation and you’ll find yourself skipping rides; overall your fitness level will start to decline. By taking some rest every once in a while you’ll “recharge your batteries.” Your muscles will recover and you’ll want to get back on the bike again.
Train hard. Rest harder!
High performance wheels and accessories