Login Register for free news, tips & videos
 
 
 

Cycling Festive Survival Guide

Home / Physical Preparation : Planning for Performance

Knowledge level: Beginner

All Cycling

Article posted: 10/12/2013

Share |

If you’re following the British Cycling Training Plans, Christmas falls right in the middle of them. It’s not just the Christmas week that’s a problem though if you’re trying to stay healthy, avoid piling on the pounds and keep training consistently.

You’ve got to be prepared to be flexible with your training over the Festive period and avoid slipping into an all or nothing mindset.

Office Christmas do’s and other non-family socials can all start in early December and, by the time you wake up bleary eyed on New Years Day, you’ve been at it for almost a month. Our bodies can cope perfectly well with occasional unhealthy blips but a full on four week onslaught is simply too much. Minimise the damage to your cycling fitness by following our top ten tips for surviving the Festive period.

The turbo is your friend

For a short, sharp, focussed and time efficient blast, your turbo, rollers or indoor stationary bike are hard to beat. If you can’t manage to fit in your longer rides on the road, then slot in one or two indoor workouts. If you’re really short of time, a Tabata session is a brilliant high intensity blast that can take under 30 minutes to complete. Tabata training is named after Dr Izumi Tabata who was the primary researcher looking into the impact of high intensity training on aerobic/anaerobic performance at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Warm-up well for at least 10 minutes or, if you’ve got more time, with the British Cycling 20 minute warm-up (2-3 times through this is also a great session). Select a medium gear and resistance and then sprint all-out for 20 seconds. Recover for 10 seconds and repeat for 7-8 reps. If you’re not use to this form of high intensity workout, it’d be a good idea to start with just 3-5 repeats and then build up to the full 7-8 protocol. Warm down with 10 minutes of easy spinning.

Pace your Festive build-up

In the run up to Christmas try to alternate “bad days”, where you might have a party and eat badly, drink and not exercise with “good days”, where you’re teetotal, eat well and do some form of exercise. If you have two or three unavoidable bad days on the trot, try to get back in credit with an equal number of good days. Keep a tally on a calendar and, although you might not quite break even, it really helps curtail a continuous assault on your body.

Ride part of the way

If you know you’ve got a round country trip to visit various friends and relatives, do a bit of forwards route planning, butter up your other half, pack your bike and cycling kit and ride part of the journey. Even if it’s only the last 20-30 km, it’ll still be an hour or so of riding and you’ll be making the most of otherwise wasted time.

Battle the booze

Not only is alcohol empty calories but, after a few drinks, you’re much more likely to make unwise food decisions and far less likely to get out on your bike the next day. Your body will deal with the toxins going in better if you give it the means to flush them out. Try to match every alcoholic drink with a glass of water or an alternative low sugar soft drink such as lime and soda.

Dont go mad

With time off work, for some people the Festive period presents an opportunity for more, rather than less, time in the saddle. If you’re fortunate enough to be in this group, keep an eye on your training load, stick to your plan and don’t suddenly ramp up the miles. If you have got the time for some extra rides, monitor intensity, fuel and hydrate well and pay particular attention to your recovery.

Avoid the grazing

The Christmas dinner blow out is something to enjoy and on its own isn’t a problem. The constant snacking on chocolates and other treats that are permanently laid out is what does the damage. Be mindful of your eating outside of meal times and don’t just let your hand reach repetitively for the sweet tin. If you’re sat watching TV, keep snacks out of arms’ reach so you have to stand up to get them or, even better, make a rule that you’re only allowed to eat in the kitchen. Small self-placed barriers can make a real difference.

Avoid an all or nothing mindset

You’ve got to be prepared to be flexible with your training over the Festive period and avoid slipping into an all or nothing mindset. Just because you might not be able to stick 100% to your training plan, don’t fall completely off the wagon and give in to complete lethargy and binging. Something, no matter how little, is always better than nothing. If you haven’t got your bike, consider cross training options such as going for a run. Even working through a short flexibility routine each day will have some benefit.

Wait for seconds

Before piling on another plate full, give yourself 20 minutes and have a drink of water to see if you really do want that second portion. The body's feedback system (that let us know when we’re full) often lags a bit behind what we’re actually putting in and thirst and hunger are often confused.

Dont let yourself get starving

Putting off eating in anticipation of a big Christmas dinner until late in the day will lead you to over eat. Nuts and seeds are a great healthy snack to keep you going. Imagine a hunger scale from 1-10 with 1 being feint with hunger and 10 being full to the gills. Eat when you fall to 4 and stop when you reach 7. Avoid overeating on party snacks by making sure you have a proper healthy meal before heading out.

Give your bike a present

As well as trying to look after yourself this Christmas, show your bike some love too. It will have almost 2 months of solid winter training and is probably in need of a bit of an overhaul. Either give it a complete once over yourself or book it into your local bike shop for a service. Check that it’s winter ready for January and February or maybe even put a winter training bike on your list for Santa.

Hopefully these tips will help you to emerge from the Festive Season ready and in shape to carry on with your training. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at British Cycling.

features

Missing training sessions

Posted: 15/04/2015
What happens if you miss the odd training session or...
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Intermediate / Advanced Modular Training Plans

Posted: 15/04/2015
Training in the lead up to an event and through the...
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Gluten free cycling

Posted: 08/04/2015
Cycling on a gluten free...
Knowledge level: Intermediate

latest content

Missing training sessions

Posted: 15/04/2015
What happens if you miss the odd training session or...
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Intermediate / Advanced Modular Training Plans

Posted: 15/04/2015
Training in the lead up to an event and through the...
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Roger Hammond's Sportive Tips

Posted: 15/04/2015
Roger Hammond’s spring and summer cycling...
Knowledge level: Beginner

most popular

How to lube your chain

Posted: 17/05/2013
How to lube your chain and keep you bike running...
Knowledge level: Beginner

Getting your ride position right

Posted: 22/03/2013
How to set up your bike for on bike...
Knowledge level: Beginner

10 steps to improve your climbing

Posted: 12/02/2014
10 steps to improve your...
Knowledge level: Beginner

meet the experts

DIY road and mountain bike fit

Posted: 07/01/2015
Expert advice from Rëtul founder Todd Carver on getting the...

Andrew Evans

Posted: 12/05/2014
Andrew...

Ask the Experts: Threshold test pacing and struggl...

Posted: 09/04/2014
Ask the Experts: Threshold test pacing and struggling to hit...