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Cycling Festive Survival Guide 2019

Cycling Festive Survival Guide 2019

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Knowledge Level: Intermediate

The festive period can run right from the start of December all the way through to the New Year. If you’re trying to build your cycling fitness it can be a tricky period to negotiate and you can often find yourself frustrated, demotivated and feeling as though your hard gained fitness is slipping away. Follow our tips to get through the festive period with minimal impact on your cycling fitness.

Accept the limitations

The reality, for most of us, is that maintaining consistent training over the festive period is likely to be a struggle. If you accept this and recognise that anything you manage over those 4 weeks is a bonus, it’ll really take the pressure off. It’s unlikely that you’ll do nothing and, although you might lose a bit of fitness and maybe put on a little weight, it’s not likely to be significant and, especially if you’re aiming for a spring or early summer event, you’ll still have plenty of time to prepare. Also, if you have trained consistently through October and November, you might find backing off a bit actually gives you a bit of a form and motivation boost.

Select a plan

Find a structured training plan that gives you plenty of flexibility and doesn’t try to pack too many sessions into the week.

Our 12-week “Real Life” Winter Training Plan would be a great option for December, January and February. Based around three key cycling workouts, two midweek and a longer, but not excessively long, weekend ride, it offers a lot of flexibility.

If you’re even more time starved and limited mostly to the indoor trainer, take a look at our 8-week Indoor Time Efficient Training Plan.

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Limit snacking

There’s no real harm in having a blowout on Christmas Day but it’s the constant snacking that can do the damage. Avoid sitting in front of the TV with snacks in reach as this just facilitates mindless eating. If you’re going to have snacks out, put them in the kitchen so at least you have to get up each time you fancy one.

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Adjust your plan

If you are following a structured training plan, look ahead and see what will realistically be manageable. Tweak your plan accordingly and, if in doubt about the feasibility of a session, take it out. If you leave too many sessions in and end up missing them, you’re more likely to become demotivated and fall off the training wagon completely.

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Maintenance rather than progression

View December as a month where you’ll maintain your fitness rather than build it as this takes a lot less effort to do. For example, if you’ve been following a training plan with three main rides each week, take the two main workouts from your final week in November and simply aim to complete these each week through December. You can then pickup your plan in full again from where you left off in the New Year.

Something is always better than nothing

Don’t slip into an all or nothing mindset. Even if you can’t do the ride you wanted, you can still get some benefit from a 20-30 minute on the turbo or rollers. Just working through the British Cycling 20-minute Warm-up is well worth doing. If you can’t get on the bike, you’ll definitely notice the benefits if you do 5-10 minutes of mobility work each day.

British Cycling 20-minute warm-up
British Cycling Mobility Routine

Riding home for Christmas

Driving around to visit friends and family is one of the biggest time drains over the festive period. If it’s an option and you’ve a willing other half to ferry your kit, setting off early and cycling one or two of these trips can be a great way to get in a couple of rides.

Alternate drinks

Get into the habit of alternating each alcoholic drink with either a soft drink or water. You’ll find this results in you drinking far less and you’ll stay more hydrated.

Stay well

Travelling to see friends and family can expose you to new bugs and viruses, making colds and flu over the festive season commonplace. There’s also little doubt that late nights and over indulging can also lower your immunity. Taking a probiotic can boost immunity and aid digestion, don’t forget your Vitamin D and be fastidious about washing your hands.

Cycling and illness

Honest appraisal

Sit down on New Year’s Day and review what you did manage during December. If you managed to stick to your full training plan through the festive period, great job and crack on.

If you opted for the maintenance option or found yourself missing a session or two of your plan, re-start from where you left off at the end of November.

If you really struggled or just opted for a bit of a break. Go back to the last recovery week of your training plan, repeat it to ease yourself back into training gently and work back through your plan from there.

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