October ~ Recovery & Analysis
Well that's it. The
Duo Normand, and
the 5 Mile TT and Hill Climb Island Championships
are over for another year and our season here in Jersey, unless you're a
mountain biker, is as good as finished.
Well, as ever it's been a long season
and you're probably happy that it's drawing to a close, but it shouldn't be over
There are a few technical, administrative and physiological loose ends you
should tidy up before you hang up your best
wheels for the winter.
Ideally you should measure your current fitness through a wVO2max test with
us (or your nearest qualified coach if handing over money) or you can
get a half decent result by doing it yourself. Take a look at the separate factsheets for the low down on what
Once that's out the
way, three things need your direct and immediate attention; reflection,
recovery and rest. We'll deal with the easiest one first; reflection.
Take time today, or this weekend
at the latest, to sit back and reflect on the season you've just had.
Get a pen and pad, I know you won't but just try it anyway, and take five
minutes maximum, to write down
the answers to the following questions:
▼ did I race to my pre-season
▼ did I meet my season's key objectives?
▼ did I enjoy my season from
beginning to end?
▼ did I race with my training peers on an
▼ did I balance my training & racing with real life
▼ do I feel as strong now as
I did in May?
Only you can truthfully answer these
questions and only you can address the issues that arise from them.
If you don't write the answers down now, and reflect on them, you may
well not remember later how your season went and miss a learning opportunity.
If you leave your reflection
too long, the clarity of your answers will drift away with the passage
of time and so will your ability to benefit.
The quality of your sustained and continued progression
as a racing cyclist relies heavily on the accuracy of your answers to the above questions.
So please, fight your natural, but healthy cynicism, and give it a go.
What's the worst that could happen?
Trust me, it works!
Success & Failure
The saying goes, that you learn
more from your failures than your successes. But that isn't
necessarily true. It's just that most people are conditioned to spend time dwelling on their
failures rather than spending time enjoying their successes.
Remember at school when you got nine out of ten? The teacher spent
ten-times as long telling you where you went wrong rather than
applauding the fact that you got nine right! No wonder we're all
Celebrate your success and
analyse why things went so well. If you don't know when, how and why
you succeeded how can you hope to replicate success in the future?
Record it now before you forget or it gets blurred with time.
Also, if you don't make a note
in your training diary (you do have one?) about what didn't go so well,
you could fall in to the trap of repeating the same drills as this year, only
making them harder.
Doing the same thing harder, to chase the success that previously proved
elusive, is not always the answer.
Without a true, measured, reflection you could actually make
worse! Don't expect different outputs from
more of the same inputs.
Different outputs require different inputs. Reflect on both, don't
just look at the results; whether they be good or not so good!
reflection, you may well forget what a great season you've just
had and fail to enjoy your successes before you start training for next
you did well reward yourself, or what's the point of thrashing around the
Island for ten months of the year?
Recovery & Rest
Whatever your answer to the
above questions, our recommendation for you now is exactly the same.
You must rest and recover; and recover fully, before entering into a
training programme for next season.
To perform at your best next year, your mind and body needs full recovery
you get older you need a quality recovery period, not just a short rest.
Full recovery from this season is the key to a successful
race programme for next season
and you can only achieve that by scheduling in resting time.
Below is Mrs Flamme Rouge getting some quality rest at Lake Como.
Your body has to rest sometime.
The clever bit about a structured training programme is that you get to make sure you choose
the time of the rest
period and not let your body or, worse still, some infection choose. Because when your body
chooses, it does so in an instantaneous and unglamorous way at the most
Very quickly you can become run-down, lethargic and ill; severely compromising your
ability to perform training of any kind.
To perform at your full
potential sometime in the near future, you need to slowly back
out of last season and slowly move in to the next. And that's what
we call October. In the old days (the 70's & 80's) it used to last
until January but now it's just a month or so.
interval, top-end and high speed riding. You can retain about 75% of
your peak season aerobic fitness by maintaining week-end club runs and
some mid-week activity. The other 25% can be brought back in January
and February which will then allow you to develop your anaerobic
capacities back to and above your previous seasons levels. But for now rest,
quality intensive rest, is the key to future success.
Proper rest, will help your
body recover, repair and prepare itself for the forthcoming winter
If you don't think and act now to incorporate some proper rest in to your
end of season preparations your body will call it's own halt to
proceedings at a time that'll be most inconvenient to you.
Paradoxically the problem is that at
the moment most of us are
screaming fit. We may be mentally jaded but we still think that if
we hang on to
the fitness we now have, we can build on it for next year. If it were
only that simple.
If it was, people who have just
started cycling would never be able to compete against those that have
been racing for many years. But we often find people turn up out of
the blue, do a winter, and mix it with the best come April and May.
How does that work?
Expanding the principle further; if we
trained and progressed every single day without a break, surely we'd be good enough to go
to the Olympics after four years? In case you were wondering, the answer's no! The only
place you'll be going with that principle is the hospital. So
recover and rest is the order of the day.
Nutrition management during your recovery period is also
important. That phrase is a fancy way of saying you've cut your
activity make sure you cut your food intake. Don't go on a diet or
anything daft, just make sure you eat the right things in the right
quantities and make sure you treat yourself to something nice at the
No one eats like a cyclist,
except perhaps a locust.
It's so easy to forget to throttle back on the quantity of food as you
throttle back on the mileage.
In my opinion, you need to
gain at least a kilo, possibly two, during the winter months but not
much more. You need to keep a little body fat on to help you
through the winter. It's nature's way.
Staying at peak fitness and your leanest race weight is
for the summer only and is very stressful on your body. Don't go
berserk and start piling on the bulk, just gain a kilo to give yourself a fighting chance when
the winter infections start doing the rounds.
Eat sensibly but treat
yourself to the things you've left out during the year. For me it's
rhubarb crumble and custard! I'm sure yours is more exotic and less
For the winter give your body a rest from
maintaining racing weight. You're not racing so why add stresses you
don't need? For now we should be
actively resting, intelligently eating and slowly riding. Preparing
ourselves for a faster, more powerful and successful new year.
That's it, short and sweet. Look back, think about what you've
achieved and start to plan and think about next year. However next
season is five months away. So relax, ride slower, ride shorter and
treat yourself, but not too much, with a nice after dinner pudding at
Cruise through the next few weeks
and start to feel fresh again. Get out the winter bike and start
thinking about fitting mudguards.
Go for a swim or a run but
whatever you do do it non-competitively, do it slowly and get plenty of
rest. The time will soon come for some heavy work and you and your
body need to be ready. Get your body, your life and your health back
See you in November when it
all kicks off again.