Follow your body’s signals in striving for elite fitness

Here are more tips, whether you are a seasoned cyclist or a beginner, whether you are a top iron man triathlete or a new rider contemplating your first testing sportives. We have learned our elite fitness training methods through many hours and days on training camps with some of the world’s top bike riders. Here are some more points that we feel make the difference.

Take ALL your body’s signals VERY Seriously – as a serious cyclist or triathlete, you are really pushing your body. Regularly you are pushing your heart and lungs and legs into areas of fatigue that normally improve your fitness, but sometimes cause levels of strain or fatigue that you should heed and respect. Overtrain, and your body will pay you back. Don’t stretch and warm up properly before interval training and you can easily pull a muscle. Check your waking, morning pulse and recognise when it is higher than average. Then make that day a rest day. Respond to aching knees or strains by immediately checking your riding position with an experienced coach; plus remember to check the alignment of your pedal cleats and riding shoes.

If you regularly suffer lower back pain, learn some key yoga stretches, for before and after your rides. In your training, spend more time riding up out of the saddle “in piedi” and lower your gears. But do see your doctor, chiropractor and sports physiotherapist – and deal with the causes rather than the symptoms. Also try to get at least 30 minutes of massage therapy when your muscles hurt, to improve blood flow to the sore muscle tissue and release micro-adhesions and toxins associated with muscle repair. This can be a painful but a technique to reduce soreness. Ask your senior teammates, club coach or doctor to recommend a good sports physiotherapist and chiropractor.

Make sure you get at least eight to 10 hours of sleep to help with body recovery. Muscles that have been adequately repaired will hurt less. The body repairs itself at night and important hormones are triggered to signal repair to muscle tissue. Failing to get eight to 10 hours will decrease the response and recovery will be slower. This means the muscle tissue will be sore for longer.

Never increase on your previous week’s training quantities, in training hours or kilometres, by more than 20 percent above the previous week (including competition) – this is essential. Gradual improvement must be the key. Increase on the previous week at a higher level and then you will be straining your system much too far. Remember there is no quick fix. So you have to plan in time, backwards from your end distance or racing goals, to make sure you keep to this rule and start your initial build-up, early enough.

Build a roster of your favourite training routes, with minimal traffic, over one, two, three hour circuits – or more; some hilly and some flat. Again, variety is the key. Circuits are preferred instead of out-and-back. Just find routes that you feel good and comfortable on. And never risk local busy roads, for the sake of some easy flat kilometres. Sometimes do your easy day on a hilly circuit. Sometimes use those hills for your cardio interval training. Observe the routes that sportives follow or the top races use. These are often testing and fun. Measure your own preferred variations on these courses, for distance and time. Then, on your own tempo rides, try to improve your previous times.

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