Rescuing your winter cycling

Rescuing your winter cycling

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For many cyclists, a solid winter of training lays the foundations for their riding year. However despite good intentions, the weather, illness, Christmas or struggling with short days, can mean not quite managing what you had planned in the Autumn. However all is not lost and you can still have a successful 2018 on the bike. Follow these tips to recover your cycling mojo, kickstart your training and be ready for the spring.

There is still plenty of time

Although, for whatever reason, you might be not where you wanted to be in terms of your cycling fitness, you’ve still got time to make significant improvements before the season starts. Assuming you haven’t been completely sedentary, you won’t have lost all of your fitness and a consistent block of focussed training could get you back on track. If the winter has been a complete cycle write-off so far, there is still no reason why you can’t be in great shape for spring, you just need to act now. Check out our and, with most lasting 8-12 weeks, it is definitely not too late to start one.

…so, don’t panic

Avoid the temptation to crash train, or worse, combine the two. It is always better to do three focussed rides each week consistently than to ride every day one week, hardly at all the next and to keep yo-yoing like that.

Also, if you are looking to train well and consistently, that is not the time to be severely restricting your food intake. You need the energy to fuel your riding and, without it, you will be compromising the effectiveness of your training.

Be realistic

Be realistic about the amount of training you can consistently manage each week. Give yourself too much to do and you are likely to fall short and then risk slipping into an all or nothing mindset. All of the British Cycling Training Plans prescribe three key workouts each week, two shorter mid-week sessions and a longer endurance ride at the weekend. Although there are bonus sessions on some of the more advanced plans, try to consistently nail the three key sessions before being tempted to add more.

Shift your goals

If you had set yourself unrealistic, overambitious or now unobtainable early season goals, take the pressure off yourself and shift the goal-posts. Rather than beating yourself up and setting yourself up for failure, accept where you are, find a new goal a couple of months later in the year and re-focus on that.

Be kind to yourself

There is a macho mindset in cycling that glorifies suffering but, if the idea of riding in atrocious winter conditions or heading out into the dark doesn’t do it for you, that doesn’t make you any less of a cyclist. If the conditions aren’t your idea of fun, choose a turbo session or head to the gym for some strength training. Especially if you are not planning on racing or targeting early season events, there is no reason why the spring can’t be your winter.

Don’t neglect intensity

Although the winter is often seen as the time for long and steady base miles, don’t make the mistake of not including some higher intensity efforts and workouts in your training. For amateur riders, including higher intensity efforts is essential to make the most of your limited training hours, especially if you are playing catch-up after a poor start to the winter.

It is pretty much pointless, if you are riding 5-10 hours each week, to just do low intensity work. Whether the intensity is achieved by harder midweek workouts, intervals during your weekend endurance rides or by racing cyclo-cross or track, you will need to push the intensity to be ready for spring.

Hit the turbo

Having an indoor trainer set-up and ready to go can be just the thing to get your cycling going again. Whether you opt for the high tech option of a virtual set-up or one of our indoor trainer sessions with some great tunes to motivate you, you won’t have the dark or the weather as an excuse.

Something is always better than nothing

If you have really fallen off the wagon, set the bar low initially and don’t feel that you have to go out for a 2-hour ride for it to be worthwhile. Get on the turbo or rollers and do the British Cycling 20-minute warm-up or spend some time working on your mobility. Once you have got back into the habit of doing a little bit regularly, building up the volume will come easy.

Stay healthy

One of the most common reasons for missing training over the winter is getting ill. Find out what you can do to avoid the seasonal plague of bugs and viruses with these tips from Great Britain Cycling Team Head of Medical Services Dr Nigel Jones.

Head for the sun

If you are really struggling to get going and the weather and dark is getting you down, think about booking some warm weather riding to get you going again. Riding with the sun on your back can give you a real mental and physical boost that you should be able to carry through to your riding once home.


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