The festive season is often a time you can ramp up your training – but there can also be hurdles that make it hard to keep a weekly riding routine.
With Christmas just around the corner, Dr Stephen Lane has a few tips to keep your your training on track during the holiday period.
What if you can’t take your bike on holiday?
The Christmas and New Year period is often a time to pack up the family and get away to your favourite spot for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Depending upon how well you have negotiated with your significant other, you may or may not be able to bring your bike along with you. In the case that you are going away and you cannot take your bike there are a few things to consider.
If you are going away for no more than one week, you have nothing major to worry about. Yes, your fitness will decline slightly but it will come back pretty quickly once you are back on the bike and you still have plenty of time to build the fitness through January and February.
A few days to a week off the bike can also be a great way to freshen up mentally and physically and leave you motivated and raring to go. If you know you will be having a forced break off the bike then plan to ramp up the training a little more in the weeks leading up to the break so you deserve the rest and body can use that off period to adapt and freshen up.
Look for other modes of exercise while you are away. Walking, swimming, hiking – anything that works the cardio will help to keep some fitness and slow the rate of de-training. Just be cautious though. Many people start running, but if you are not accustomed to it, it can very easily leave you injured if you over do it.
Are you free to ride as much as you like?
It is time to train like a pro! If your Christmas and New Year period is a chance to clock up some kilometres there are few things you should consider to optimise your training and make sure you come out the other side fitter and not injured or over trained.
Don’t go over-board. Keep your weekly riding volume within reason. Try to push the boundaries and increase the length of your long rides but keep the intensity low. Often it is only on the weekends that you get a chance to ride the long endurance rides of three or more hours, while holidays are a great chance to try and string together a few longer days in a row. Often for my athletes I will set a goal like four days in a row of four hour rides, then a good rest day or recovery ride. Adapt this to suit your own ability, it may be more or less, but the purpose is to string together a good little training block.
Don’t be afraid to stray from the set Peaks Challenge training program during the holiday period, but if you do intend to ride more than prescribed, remember to keep it aerobic. You can still get the key components of the prescribed sessions done, but just ensure you keep it easy for any extra volume. Keep in mind that as the ‘mini-training block’ progresses, your ability to do any quality training will deteriorate, so try and get the more intense sessions done early in the week.
A great motivator and challenge for the festive season is the Rapha Festive 500 which runs from 24 December to 31 December, giving you just over a week to ride 500km. For some this may be a challenge, for others it may be in the realms of your typical week but adjust it to make it a challenge for you. A good way to challenge yourself is to add some climbing into it and target 500km and 5,000 meters of vertical gain.
Keep an eye on the scales
Achieving a fast time at Peaks Challenge is all about watts and kilograms. If you are watching your weight then the festive season can present a few temptations that can get that weight trend going in the upward direction.
If you have been good, then cut yourself some slack over the Christmas period. Enjoy the typical Christmas feastings but be mindful and keep it in moderation. One big day on the booze and chocolates wont wreck your progress but try and limit it. Let loose, but get back on track as quickly as possible.
Keep in mind that it is not just food that has the extra calories. There are 7 calories per gram of alcohol which is not far behind fat which has 9 calories per gram. Meanwhile carbohydrate and protein contain 4 calories per gram. Be cautious of sweet alcoholic beverages like beer and pre-mixed drinks that contain high levels of sugar as well as alcohol.
Finally, if you are determined to lose some weight you had better ask Santa for jocks and socks instead of chocolate this year.
Take care on the roads
The roads become busy with people travelling all over the country during the holiday period, so please take care when riding and remember that your favourite routes and loops might have more traffic than usual.
Some people feel more comfortable wearing bright and reflective clothing when riding near people driving cars. As well as using lights, the best way to increase your visibility in dark conditions is to wear reflective material on your lower legs, ankles and feet. As your pedalling legs move up and down, the material catches light and is in the line of sight of people sitting in a car.
I also love using my Garmin Varia radar light, which as well as acting as a rear light, can detect cars coming from behind and sends an alert to my head unit. It might be something you’d like to put on your Christmas wish list.
It can also get extremely hot when riding during the holiday season, so remember to always wear sunscreen and try to avoid riding in the heat of the day.
Heat adaptation can be a good thing for performance if Peaks Challenge does turn out to be a hot day, but there is a fine line between adaptation and cooking yourself. The harmful effects of dehydration and sunstroke can wipe you out for days and ruin your goals of a good training block so please be careful out there.
Merry Christmas and happy riding!
The festive period can be a great time to focus on your fitness and get you confident and motivated to smash your personal best effort at Peaks Challenge. But if that isn’t the case and instead you find it hard to cram in the riding around all the other commitments then don’t dismay. Do what you can, plan ahead and make time to ride when possible. Try to avoid over-indulging too much and please remember to take care.
From everybody at Bicycle Network and Team Bicycle Network that will have your back at Peaks Challenge, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.