No matter how long anyone has been in the sport, I'm sure they're still looks for quicker and easier ways to get fit quick (I know I am). For now, I'd like to throw the following 'top-10 tips to get fit quick for 2018' in to the pot. If you've got anything else to offer ... please DO let us know ;-).
Number 1: You've got to be a (sort of ) 'not very nice person to know'
If you REALLY want to get to the top in domestic time trialling (well … win a few National Championships or BBARs like me) you need to be selfish, totally committed and regimented. You also need to have a positive attitude, be confident (almost ‘bullish’), believe in yourself and be mega-single-minded. In short, you're not going to be a very nice person to know!
Luke Durbridge seems ok though! So here's five for the price of one :-)
Number 2: Get help – listen to what everyone has to say and sift out the bits that suit you.
Although I’d class myself as having been self taught (for what it’s worth), there’s little doubt that over the years I’ve benefitted from the experience of others. I’ve always listened to what people have had to say and trained with people faster than myself whenever the opportunity has arisen (although I don’t do that too often these days because more often than not I find myself on the wrong side of a good kicking!). For me … Pete Wells was good to train with and Phil Griffiths always had a lot to say (quite a bit of it being worth listening too). Even having someone just to bounce ideas off helped.
So you should maybe get out more? Talk to people and listen to what they’ve got to say. Train (properly) with people who have something to pass on. Do a bit of reading. Maybe even get a coach? Coaches have never been more popular and if you need someone for encouragement, advice and ideas then that might be the way to go.
Even I’ve been known to ‘mentor’ (on occasions), but there’s nothing worse than trying to help people who don’t want to listen or who think they know better . (Yes there is … protégés who give you are a hard time in training, which is why I’m not helping out too many people at the moment!).
I thought things had moved on, but you don’t have to look far to find people who sit on turbos for 2 or 3 hours in one go or still do solo rides of 6 or 7 hours in the middle of winter (even I never used to go out for that long). Do they really believe 7 hours is any better than 6 … or that 6 is any better than 5? Surely there’s a stage where enough is enough? Good luck to them all … but I’m sure there are easier ways to go fast. In my opinion it’s all about getting the right mix of miles / quality / rest and if there’s someone you can rely on there to help, then take advantage of it … but listen and learn otherwise you’re just wasting your time and your money.
Of course if it’s just a hobby and you’re happy with the results you’re getting for the time and effort you’re putting in then that’s just fine.
Someone once said 'British Cycling has got more coaches than Wallace Arnold'.
Good job they have isn't it? We've got a Tour de France winner out of it!
Number 3: “At the end of the day if you didn’t get what you wanted … you can’t have wanted it enough”.
I’ve said that since the year ‘dot’. When I started cycling I thought the more miles you did the better you’d be. So I did lots. If I didn’t go fast enough I’d do even more. Of course we all know now that BIG mileages aren’t necessary. There are many ways to achieve the same goal and with all the technology out there today I’m sure my results wouldn't have been much different with a more structured approach to my training ... just a lot less time consuming.
Be critical in your own training programme and see what ‘short-cuts’ are available to enable you to reach your target … because there are some. Turbo training, interval sessions, rest and diet are all enormously important to maximise potential, so don’t be blinkered in your approach … be open-minded and flexible.
If you REALLY want something, you’ll go the extra yard to get it … if that means one extra interval session, an extra 1 mph to your average speed in training or even cutting out the booze then so be it. But at the end of the day, if you fall short of your expectations there’s really no-one to blame but yourself.
Number 4: Be brave – but not stupid!
The more you put in to it, the more you’ll get out of it. Completing a time trial at 30 mph or riding up Alpe d’Huez isn’t going to be easy … for anyone. It’s going to hurt! So if you’ve set your heights high, be prepared to suffer. If you’ve been realistic about your objectives there’s no reason why you shouldn’t achieve them though.
But don’t be fool-hardy (pronounced 'stupid')! I used to ride to and from work EVERY day regardless of the road conditions. On more than one occasion I’d complete the whole ride to work in the dark but only realised how dangerous the roads had been (with ice, fog, whatever) when it was light enough for me to see! How stupid was that eh?
These days there’s more than one way to skin a cat. We never had turbos for a start … use yours sensibly and you’ll hit the ground running when your season starts.
Argh!!! The Kurt Kinetic rears its head again. Use yours sensibly though and you'll reap the rewards come the start of the season
Number 5: Progression is the key.
Jumping straight in with 300, 400 or 500 miles a week is NOT the way forward. Everything has to be progressive if you’re going to maximise the benefit of your training. If you do too much too early, the chances are you’ll just burn out … either mentally or physically.
At this time of year it’s probably just best to build basic core fitness after sorting out any long-standing ailments you may have. Visit your dentist and see your doctor while you’ve got the time. That way you can start the serious training knowing your body is ready and able to cope with what you’re planning to put it through.
Once you kick in with the training, periods of work followed by shorter periods of recovery is the way to go. I call it ‘surging’. In the longer term (say over the period of a month) you could try training hard for three weeks then have the fourth week ‘recovering’ with easier rides. In the short term I’d liken it to team time trial training where the work period is when you’re doing your turn on the front and the recovery period is when you’re sitting on the wheel.
Training very hard or going into the red all the time, is NOT the way to go. Be progressive ... WITH A PLAN!
Number 6: Get in to a routine.
Once you’ve done something twenty times or more, it becomes habit. That makes it much easier. So rather than cycle to work (or even just train) as and when you feel like it, how about committing yourself to doing certain things
on certain days of the week? (You might gather I’m a fan of commuting … see Number 7 below!).
It doesn’t even have to be riding your bike … not at this time of year anyway. How about circuits or weight training at your local Gym? Spinning classes? Swimming? Running? These are all excellent ways to keep fit during the winter and are ways of building good core fitness ready for more cycling specific exercises as the season approaches.
Be flexible though. There’s little point in going out on your bike in 3 inches of snow on a Monday morning simply because that’s what you’ve ‘got to do’ on a Monday morning. Be prepared and be willing to move what you’ve got planned to suit you, your circumstances and the elements.
Number 8: Set some realistic and achievable targets
If things didn’t quite go to plan during 2012, what was the reason for that? Did you have achievable and realistic goals in the first place? If not … why not? If you did (good boy / girl) and you still failed to meet them, were they too ambitious or were there justifiable reasons why your performances fell short of your expectations? Sit down now, and be honest with yourself.
What would you REALLY like to achieve during 2013? This is important! Make it a realistic ‘goal’ ... not just something like ‘I want to go faster’. Aim for a specific ‘National’ … or a 25 mph ‘25’ maybe.
Once you’ve got your goals you can set about achieving them. I’ll tell you how shortly.
Number 7: Assess how much time you’ve got to train ... and use it wisely!
Again … be realistic. There’s no point in aiming to complete, say, 500 miles a week if you’re holding down a full-time job, working away from home with a wife and young family to consider. If you work a reasonable distance from home, have you considered basing your winter’s training on a daily commute by bike? I always used to base my training on riding to and from work and used to wish I could pack it (work) in and become a full-time cyclist. When I eventually did, my yearly mileage dropped by 4000 or so!!! So be careful what you wish for … ok?
My BIG tip therefore would be to use your time as efficiently as possible and if you can commute to and from work … do so. It’s healthier and in some cases quicker too!
‘They’ say train SMART too…although that should maybe really have been included in No 8 … setting goals!
• Specific … be specific in your goals … a particular National or a 25 mph ‘25’
• Measurable … make sure your gains or targets are measurable ,,, don't just aim to 'go faster'
• Attainable … don’t aim to win the TdF unless your name is Wiggins
• Relevant …no real point in sprint training if you’re a time triallist (although it WILL help)
• Timely … Rome wasn’t built in a day, so aim for a few 'small steps for man' and the 'giant leap for mankind' might result ... eventually.
Number 9: Get prepared
Although winters were always longer, colder and darker in the olden days (well they would be wouldn’t they?), they can still be a bit of a pain these days. There’s nothing worse than suffering a ‘mechanical’ when the weather’s at its worst and ‘sod’s law’ says you’re bound to have something break, or fall off your bike, when you least want it too. Although there’s not much you can do about punctures (I’ve been known to ride 15 miles or so on a ‘flat’ rather than get cold, wet and dirty changing the tube) you CAN check over your bike to ensure everything else is mechanically sound.
The ideal time to get all this 'sorted’ is during your winter break (see No 10 below). Of course you’re snookered if you’re already back into training on a winter hack that’s past its sell-by date and unless you’re prepared to wave your magic wand to conjure up a few spare hours to get things sorted, let’s face it … you’re doomed!
So you’ve been warned!
So far this winter the weather hasn’t been too bad but it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Once the colder weather arrives, the roads will get covered in salt and grit which will play havoc with your transmission - so a new chain, cassette and cables wouldn’t be a bad idea for starters. If you’re a regular commuter, you’ll need a good set of lights and mudguards too. Lighter training tyres will need to be replaced with something more reliable and for the first time in months you’ll need to start looking at winter clothing. Generally speaking, you should be looking at ‘layering up’ as opposed to donning one thick item. Layer up according to how cold it is … but don’t overdo it. You should start your ride feeling slightly cool but by creating your own heat you’ll soon warm up. Keeping the extremities warm is particularly difficult … but highly important. Gloves and overshoes are therefore a must!
Well that wasn’t too bad was it?
Bernard Thompson once described my winter hack-bike (right) as ... 'having seen better days and resembles a trampoline super structure ... odd coloured handlebar tape adorns each grip ... tattered pannier bags sag dismally , giving the machine the look of a dejected prospector's mule ...'
Don't do as I do ... do as I say or you're asking for trouble.
Get it sorted!
Number 10: Rest up … a bit!
Here’s some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that once a year you’re allowed time-out from (intensive) training so that you can recover mentally as well as physically. This period of the year is where you can relax and ‘slob-out’. Let’s face it, an extra set of intervals or another hard session on the turbo in the middle of winter isn’t going to make a scrap of difference to how well you’re going to perform next season. So take some time out to recover and reflect on what did, and what didn’t, work for you during 2012 and start to plan your training programme for 2013 accordingly.
The bad news? Well if you haven’t already had your rest-up period it’s probably too late to have it now - you should have had it over Christmas! If you’re particularly keen, you could be racing in 4 or 5 weeks time so you need to get fit … quick.
Keep 'tuning in' to find out how. (Nos 9 - 1 won't be quite so 'bolting the gate once the horse has bolted ... ish')
One of my team-mates 'resting up'. The title of 'I'm a smart-arse' goes to whoever correctly identifies who it is ... and where / when the photo was taken. 50p says no-one will get it right ... ever!