Winter Training: Setting Goals
How to train well through the winter to reap the benefits in the new season. Holly Seear, British Cycling Coach from Spring Coach Cycling, shares her experience and advice on how to invest in training over the Winter to optimise your performance in the Summer.
For the full cycling focused blog click here... or read the more general approach to training highlights below.
THE GOAL DIFFERENCE
Autumn is a really good time to reflect on what you’ve done this year in your chosen sport. Think about what you enjoyed, what went well, what didn’t go so well, what you are most proud of. Then it’s time to start thinking about what comes next.
Your goals don’t have to be massive. But you’ve got to know what you’re aiming for. It helps to plan some stepping stones. Your big, main goal is your A goal, but you also need some B and C goals – smaller events or milestones. If something goes wrong with your A goal, circumstances out of your control mean that it doesn’t happen, you’ve still achieved your Bs and Cs so you’ve still got something to be proud of.
Once you’ve set your A goal, tell the world. Tell your friends, post it on social media, stick it on your fridge – anywhere you’re going to see it all the time over Winter. So when you are in those dark, cold months and things are getting hard, you can remind yourself why you’re actually doing this.
Quick Tip: Make sure your goals are yours and not because someone else wants a buddy. You need to be 100% IN or you’ll be more tempted to back out.
You’re highly unlikely to meet your goal if you just wing it. Don’t wake up in the morning, look out the window and think, “It’s sunny out there, maybe I’ll go for a ride/swim/run....” Spend some time planning your training.
It doesn’t have to be hugely complicated. If you’re training for an event in 20 weeks’ time, break that down into five blocks of four weeks. Then make sure your training progressively builds to reflect the demands of the event you’re aiming for. This is called periodisation. The closer you get to your event, the more like the goal the training needs to become.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Constant high intensity and/or high volume training will eventually lead to burn out and injury. It is important to build some rest and recovery into your training plan. Many athletes base their training on a four-week cycle. Three weeks of building fitness, then a week of rest and recovery when volume is significantly reduced – allowing the body to repair and adapt to the training demands. Complement training with Pilates, Yoga or similar stretching and core conditioning workouts.
And if you’ve had niggles, aches or pains this year, now is the time to get that sorted.
Luckily at The Training Works they offer Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Sports Massage to get your fully functioning again.
It’s perfectly normal to have a dip in motivation come Winter. You’ve probably done loads of miles this year, all your exciting events have finished, and it’s getting dark and cold. Don’t panic. Even professionals take a break at this time of year. You’re not going to lose much fitness if you take a couple of weeks off, but you may well find that it’s enough to bring you back to training. You’ll be mentally and physically refreshed and ready to crack on.
Find a group or club as training together can give you the impetus to 'get going' on a cold day. If you are training outside this also provides safety and visibility in numbers and means that, should you have any issues, you are not on your own in grim conditions.
Plug here for cyclists.... Richmond Cycles have group rides you can join including Friday flats and Sunday climbs. They always involve cake.