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Staying motivated through the autumn

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Knowledge level: Intermediate

Training

Article posted: 21/08/2013

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If you’ve been following the British Cycling Training Plans and have had a hard summer of sportives or racing, you can be left in Autumn feeling tired and wondering what to do with your time. Here are some suggestions to help keep you fit, focussed and ready to hit the road rolling when you knuckle down to winter training.

Rest, recover and relax

Even top pros and GB riders take time out from structured training and racing and November is the traditional month for this break. It’s a great way to recharge your batteries, build motivation for the winter and, most importantly, spend some quality time with your friends and family who have undoubtably made sacrifices while you’ve been training hard.

Use the time to overhaul your bike and equipment and, if necessary, prepare it for the winter. Look back critically over your season to see what you did well and what you feel you can improve on. Make it a goal through the month to have a massage a week or to focus on working through a flexibility routine every day.

Look ahead to next year’s sportive and racing calendar and start thinking about your targets and goals. Are you wanting to go faster at an event you’ve already done, ride a longer or hillier event or even give racing a go. Work back from the date of your main focus and tailor your training accordingly.

Join a club

If you’re not already a member of a club, use this month as an opportunity to sample your local ones by joining a few weekend club runs. Riding with a club will take your cycling to the next level. You’ll gain valuable experience riding in a group, be able to learn from more experienced riders and be shown great local routes and roads. Find out what to expect here and clubs near you here.

Ride the rollers

Indoor trainers form a key component of the British Cycling Training plans and, although turbos and stationary bikes are great for building fitness, they do little for your bike handling skills or pedalling technique. Using rollers in your winter training to compliment turbo and stationary bike work can provide an ideal blend but they do take some time to learn to ride with confidence. Use this time to develop this skill.

Hit the gym

Although the jury is still out as to whether gym work directly benefits road cycling performance, a solid block of it is a way to build robustness, which can help prevent injury and keep you riding, and stimulate lean muscle mass, which can aid weight management.

Check out this top strength routine from Phil Burt, Lead Physiotherapist at British Cycling and Consultant Physiotherapist to Team Sky, and Martin Evans, head of Strength and Conditioning with British Cycling.

Get Cross

Cyclocross is one of the most fun and accessible ways to get into competitive cycle sport. With races and leagues happening throughout the country during the winter months, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find one near you. Most events allow you to enter on the line and even to compete on a mountain bike. The 45-60 minute high intensity races are a great way to challenge the endurance base you’ve developed riding sportives and cross is a fast track way to better bike handling skills. Get more information about the sport and races near you here, find some video tutorials on essential cross skills from multiple National Champion Nick Craig here and tips on making the transition from sportives to cyclocross here .

Try the track

With five indoor velodromes nationwide and a sixth opening soon at Derby, the opportunities for riding the boards in the UK have never been better. For developing group riding skills, a smooth pedalling technique, top end speed and confidence on the bike, track cycling is hard to beat. All tracks will offer novice taster sessions on hire bikes and, if you get bitten by the track bug, you can work through their accreditation programme which will then allow you to take part in SQT (Structured Quality Training) sessions and Track Leagues. Find out more about track riding here.

Dabble with duathlon

If you already do some running as part of your training, the run, bike, run format of duathlon could be an ideal focus through autumn and early winter. Road duathlons typically take place during the autumn and spring but off-road events take place all through the winter. The standard distances for a road duathlon are 10 km first run, 40 km bike and 5 km second run. Strong racers will take under two hours to complete these distances. You’ll also find half-distance sprint races, variable distances in between and far longer long course events. The majority of road duathlons are non-drafting. This means you’re not allowed to ride in a bunch, have to leave a specified gap to the rider in front and effectively ride an individual time trial. Off-Road events, combining mountain biking and trail running, tend to be shorter distances, especially the bike but, because of the tougher terrain, the race duration will be similar. Find events here.

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