By Jane Rynbrandt, Tough Girl Cycling
When I found out at our Tough Girl “Kick off the Season” meeting that we would be writing a blog geared toward women on 303cycling.com website, I was really excited. First, it’s a hard world out there for us women on the Front Range; we are surrounded by intimidating landscape, challenging races and events and let’s face it, a lot of male racers and riders (who can be both intimidating and challenging). I have a lot of experience both on and off the bike with cycling. I have been with Carmichael Training Systems for almost 5 years as a coach and racing bikes for 8 years.
I found it increasingly difficult to decide what to write about. Obviously I want to share some coaching/training advice to help everyone enjoy riding and racing their bike more. I’ve learned so many things over the years, from professors, books, research articles, fellow coaches, athletes, my own triumphs and failures. It’s hard to just pick a few tidbits to share.
There are two things I have found myself consistently coaching my athletes (and myself) through the past few months. One is helping them find balance and the other is recovery.
What does balance have to do with riding your bike? Everyone rides for their own reason, exercise, weight loss, stress relief, a competitive outlet, to enjoy the outdoors, or as a mode of transportation. Most of us are not professional athletes; we’ll never make a living off riding our bike. It’s something we do for our own personal enjoyment and satisfaction.
We want to put our best efforts into riding, training and getting better at our sport. When embarking on a goal or training, I see so many people thrown themselves into their training and new found passion. They compartmentalize cycling from the rest of their lives. I’ve found the best way to succeed is to work cycling and training into your everyday life. Balance is the key. Be realistic with yourself on how many hours a day you have to ride or workout. Most people fall into 45 minute to 60 minutes a day during the week and longer rides on the weekend category. You don’t have to put in the big volume weeks like the pros do or to gain the benefits you want from cycling.
Be creative! When does cycling fit into your schedule? Before work, after work, can you get out during your lunch break? Can you commute to work or ride on the trainer at home? It’s healthy to ride, but make sure you have time for your family, work, friends, home and other social obligations. Talk to your family and friends and create a support system to help you achieve your goals. It’s amazing how motivating it can be to have people hold you accountable for workouts and goals.
Remember that everyone is different, what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Keep some kind of training diary; it will provide perspective on your ups and downs. Your journal will help you differentiate between your good rides and bad rides and allow you to piece together the patterns. Eventually this information will maximize the things in your life that lead to good rides.
Ask yourself these questions: When do you start to get tired? Do you feel better when you work out in the morning or in the evening? Do you feel better if you take the day off or do some type of light active recovery? How many hours of sleep do you need? What was your nutrition like? How is your stress level at work? At home?
Just as important as your training is the recovery from your training. The basic and best training principle to keep in mind when you’re working toward a goal event is overload, recovery, adapt. You’re creating an overload (from the physical activity) and in order to get stronger, faster, fitter, you need to rest and recover from this overload. Its okay to take days off! This is the hardest thing for me to coach and get athletes to understand. You’re not being lazy by taking a day off, you’re letting your body get stronger by allowing it to rebuild and recover. We all get addicted to the endorphins and the thrill of riding, but allow yourself take a day off one to three days a week. This will also help with balance and make you a better cyclist.
To recap- One- find your balance with cycling, it’ll allow you to enjoy the sport more. Two- allow yourself to recover, it allows you to adapt to all those fun, hard rides you do. And have fun! We do this sport because we love it.