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Spring Training

Errrr wait, what is that?

It’s a daffodil.

Really? Are you sure?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were discussing Winter Training and how to ensure that you were getting enough vitamin D and staying safe on the wintery roads. Now however, we are racing towards the clocks changing at the end of the month, there are some brave early flowers showing their heads and people are starting to emerge with blinking eyes from their pain caves. Yep, Spring is on its way.

What does Spring mean for you and your training?

For many it’s the start of some early season warm up races to see how the winter training has paid off. If this is you then be prepared to not set the world on fire. We are not saying that your winter training has been useless, or that you haven’t trained hard enough! Quite the opposite in fact. When you target a race in summer your coach should have worked backwards from that event to the start of training. They will take you through macro and mesocycles with specific steps to get you into the competition phase of high intensity work before a dedicated taper period ahead of the race. How many people can say they do that for an early season race? Not many would be my guess. Most will just turn up on the day and include it within that week’s training, I am guilty of that myself. It is after all fun to do something a bit different than staring at the garage wall. Did I taper for it? Nope. Did I do a hard session the night before? Probably. Did I give it any sort of consideration other than a cursory check of the course map and a ‘see how it goes’ approach? Definitely sounds like me! Did it go to plan? Well, I didn’t have a plan so who knows. As a coach do we see these kind of exploits as a negative? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If it can be incorporated into that week’s plan and able to meet some sort of goal then we think it is a great idea to give it a go. You will probably learn a lot about yourself in the process and re-light your enthusiasm for multisport after a long winter. However, if that one race takes such an effort that it wipes you out for the following week then what was the point? Your time would be far better served sticking to the plan.

For some it is that moment that they can get the posh summer bike or the race bike down from its lofty perch to give it a loving rub down and an outing in the sun. These bikes are priceless no matter if it’s a 1-year old super bike or a 20-year-old vintage steed. They are for fair weather and you cherish them with a love that your first born wouldn’t recognise.

I for one have my turbo trainer set up in my garage surrounded by the shiny summer and TT bikes belonging to my wife and I all neatly hung on the wall. They look fast even just hanging there obediently waiting until that hallowed time when there isn’t a rain cloud in sight for a week and it’s safe to go outside[1]. I can feel that the day is getting ever closer and after months of gazing longingly at them I cannot wait for it to arrive. I am even going to the lengths of booking a 312km ride around a sunny Balearic island in order to bring the day closer. Despite these machines getting put away in the Autumn nice and clean after a fresh service what are the chances that 6 or 7 months later you can take them down and ride them straight away? Almost zero. It always amazes me how something that worked perfectly and hasn’t been touched won’t hold a gear or shift as well as it should. Think ahead of the game and don’t leave it until the last minute to go over your posh bike before riding it again. If you can afford it, give it to the pros and support your local bike shop. While you are at it, why not take this opportunity to get a bike fit done as well? You will have changed over winter and a proper fit can do wonders for your cycling.

Spring is also that time of year when you can never be quite certain of what the weather will do. This causes you huge dilemmas every time you go for an outdoor session – winter kit, summer kit or some kind of mixture? Give yourself at least ten minutes extra to sort yourself out before the ride or run. If like us, you live anywhere in the UK, the weather you see when you get on your bike after extensive forecast checking will in no way reflect the weather you experience by the time you get to the end of your road but fortunately we can simply wait five minutes and it will change again. Unfortunately, it is just as likely to change to blizzard conditions as it is bright sunshine. Whatever you decide upon you can guarantee that at some point during the session you will be too hot, too cold, too wet and never quite in the right clothes. This repeated shape shifting kit faff will undoubtedly exhaust your supplies of clean kit and quickly over run your laundry department before you know it. What is the answer? I have been guilty recently of becoming some sort of agoraphobic hermit who would rather ride Zwift in a dark garage that do battle with the elements. I find this particularly unnerving as at the start of winter I despised the turbo trainer and scoffed at those ‘fair weather’ cyclists and braved every condition to the point of stupidity. I fear now that I have some sort of weird Stockholm Syndrome relationship with my turbo and I’m never going to ride outside again! My go to solution for this is simple – buy some new kit! Of course, you need that niche item of clothing that satisfies the 0.5° temperature gap in your arsenal of jerseys and base layers. Nothing gets you out of the door quicker than a shiny new toy that you need to justify the use of to your partner/mates/credit card[2].

My final thought for Spring is a slightly more serious one. Cast your mind back to our blog piece on Winter Training…..we talked about seasoned athletes who have tried to get the jump on people by starting to train earlier and those new to the sport beginning as part of a New Year’s resolution, this is equally relevant to each group. Winter training can be a bit dull

and lonely and your A race is likely mid to late summer, that is still 5 months away! If you started training in November, you are not even halfway. If you started in January, you have completed two and a half months and still have nearly twice that to go. It is very easy to lose focus and fall foul of thinking that the mountain you are trying to climb is insurmountable. From past experience, this is where I have had to put the most amount of faith and trust in my coach. They can see the bigger picture and know where they want you to be. To you it might seem like endless zone 2 aerobic work that you can’t see the benefit of. Those sessions have been so important through the winter and form the building blocks of your season but as coaches we do understand that your excitement and motivation levels are probably at their lowest around now. Try not to fall into the ‘my race is months away, one skipped session now won’t hurt’ trap. It is true, it probably will not hurt that much but one missed session quickly turns into two etc etc and soon it becomes a learned norm. If you really are struggling with the training load as it begins to ramp up then you must communicate that, it is far better to arrive at your a race 10% undertrained than 1% over. There are a whole host of things to look forward to, daylight being one of them! Morning runs will become things of wonder as you catch the sunrise, think of all the new café stops you can build into your increasingly longer rides (I am sure that new one 25miles away does excellent cakes!) Give it a few months and you will be longing for a Z2 aerobic coffee spin but for now, have faith in your coach and their plan, keep an eye on the prize in the distance and break the season down into bite size pieces. Summer and racing will be here before you know it!

[1] Yes, they are all locked up. No, you cannot have my address.

[2] Especially if you have used said partner or mates credit card to buy it!

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