- Your core
- Your bike position and fit
- Using GPS trackers and performance trackers
- Mental preparation for races
- Cycling coaches
- How to find a coach
Most cycle training needs to be done actually riding your bike. There are, of course, other activities that can support your cycling or can replace your ride if there is bad weather. One such activity is core work. Your core is the muscles around the centre of your body from your hips, your glutes, your abdominal muscles and the muscles in your lower back.
When you cycle, your core plays an essential role in providing a platform for your legs to push against. It is also the part of your body that joins the actions of your shoulders and arms to what your legs are doing. If you have a weak core, you will waste energy through your legs during every pedal revolution. The good news is that you can do core strength training almost anywhere!
Don’t underestimate the effect your riding position can have on your performance. You need a fit that is comfortable but that will maximise your efficiency on the bike. When on your bike, you should be in a position that makes you feel ready for action. You should not feel compromised in any way. A correct setup will allow you to get the most power possible into your pedals. If you get the fit wrong, you could end up with annoying niggles or even an injury.
Any would-be serious cyclist will benefit from a performance tracker. Nowadays, most people have a watch or a cycling computer attached to their bike if they want to review their rides and improve their performance.
Computers with GPS function allow riders to track their distance without having a wheel sensor. Some more expensive devices have apps that have street maps and topography.
Watches or separate heart rate monitors can be used to track how hard you are working. This is useful for planning your training according to heart rate zones.
You should always try to maintain a diet that is one of quality rather than quantity, whether you’re preparing for a race or not. To make sure you have the right balance, focus on the quality of your food. Make sure you are eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates. Choose whole grains where you can (pasta, rice and bread for example) as this will give you much more nutrients alongside the carbs.
If you’re wanting to trim up a bit and lose some weight, then eating little and often is a good idea because you won’t have big drops in energy that might lead to binges or overeating. Finally, you should make sure that you are hydrated, even when not exercising – 500ml every two to three hours is adequate. This might seem a lot to some but it is a good amount for maximum hydration.
If you are racing, you need to prepare mentally as well as physically. You should try and visualise the race that you are going to do. Think about what it is you want to do and how you are going to achieve it. Focusing on this will stop your mind wandering and will stop doubts from creeping in with nerves.
Just before the race, when you are warming up, make sure to chat with other riders. This will keep you relaxed and will stop you from having lots of nervous thoughts.
If you find that you’re trying lots of things but aren’t getting the progress you’d like, then it might be worth looking for a cycling coach.
There are lots of different types of cycle coaches available and people need different things from their training. Choosing a coach depends on what you want to get out of your sessions. Cycle coaches address every aspect of cycling including training plans, skills, tactics, lifestyle and psychology. Coaches are really personal and they all have their own style. Some coaches will be really motivational while others will know cycling science inside out or have great knowledge of tactics.
Having a coach means you will be able to challenge yourself to overcome your weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there will always be something to work on.
For many people, having a coach means they have support, a sounding board and more motivation. After all, you will be accountable to your coach.
One of the easiest ways is to ask for recommendations from cycling friends. You could also do a quick search on British Cycling as their website has a directory of all registered coaches. This is a service that coaches opt into though so there might be some out there that aren’t on the site.
Your relationship with your coach is vital. You want to get on well with them so have a meeting in person before committing.