Train to Improve - Up your game without upping your mileage

Being good at a sport such as cycling doesn’t just come down to spending countless hours on the bike. In fact, there are many ways to improve as an athlete without putting in more hours. The key is to look at the bike riding itself as being a piece of a bigger picture that makes up the whole athlete. Here are a few ways you can up your game without upping your mileage.

Consistency:  Life gets busy and sometimes the things we love the most get put to the wayside. While you may not be able to log hundreds of miles weekly, the best way to become a better cyclist is to ride consistently. Put aside a few days each week where you make an effort to get out on the bike or ride the trainer.  Use the 15-minute rule. If you head out, make it to 15 minutes and still don’t feel like you have the energy to ride, then bail for the day without feeling guilty.

Plan:  Block out a few key races or rides for the upcoming season. Pick ones that you are excited to do – either because they are challenging or because you love the location. This will motivate you to keep up that consistency.

Keep a training journal: Log your activity for the day, you’ll have a record of what you do each week.  Record how you feel, what you ate, and anything else that may affect your training such as having a very stressful week.  

Find a motivator:  Motivation is sometimes hard to come by. Connect with a training partner; inspire and push each other through workouts, no matter how lazy you may be feeling. The ideal partner? One who is a bit faster than you but who still like to make training fun.

Try other sports: When you add cross training it not only helps to prevent injuries, it also allows you a much-needed mental respite. Try swimming, trail running, rowing, a group exercise class or even Crossfit.

Stretch:  Spend 10 minutes in the morning and evening to stretch.  Tight muscles limit your movement on the bike and can cause other muscles to overcompensate. This leads to injury. Buy a foam roller and a few tennis balls and work on your hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and back to keep yourself flexible and injury free.

Sleep:  While our lives are busy and it never seems like there is enough time in each day, the only way to function at your best is to allow yourself the necessary time to sleep. If you cannot get in a full night, try short naps to re-energize.

Practice positive self-talk: Last, but by no means insignificant, learn to speak about yourself and your training with confidence. Rather than putting yourself down for a poor executed workout, find something that went well during the session. Maintaining a positive attitude is key to developing as an athlete.  Talk yourself through a tough training ride, mile by mile, or climb by climb. Break hard efforts into smaller more manageable pieces.

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