The perfect Session: Get the most out of your training
Maximum training success! If you really want to improve and get the most out of a session, you’ll need to plan it, prepare for it and follow it through with discipline. After all, when you go cycling this does not necessarily mean that you are training. Investing in high quality sessions is worth the effort.
Before the ride
Choose the ideal route: The contents of the training plan determine the route choice, e.g., if you need to ride intervals, you’ll best choose a route that can be ridden without interruptions such as traffic lights and junctions, as well as one without constantly changing winds.
If, on the other hand, a long tour is on the agenda, it is worth looking for unknown routes or destinations. The new environment will make time on the saddle fly by much faster and you will experience something different for a change. Komoot, Strava and the like enable you to quickly find what you are looking for.
Check your equipment: Rider and bike must be equally ride ready. The bike itself as well as the technical accessories such as head unit, bike computer and maybe power meter need to be programmed and fully charged.
If necessary, calibrate the power meter before the ride. It is quite nerve-wrecking if the gadgets don’t collect any or incorrect data. Worst case the training was for nothing.
Adapt nutrition: Without doubt nutrition has enormous influence on the training stimulus! This is not only during the ride, but also in the hours before. So, if you want to get the most out of your training, make sure to take in sufficient fluids and macronutrients before, during and after the ride.
How much “sufficient” is, however, varies greatly depending on the training content. For a classic fat metabolism training best opt for low carb. When tough intervals are to be ridden, carbohydrates are the very basis for maximum performance. Ideally consume your last large meal about two to three hours before training.
In order to avoid binge eating after training, think about your after-ride snack before you go on your ride. It’s best to prepare your post-workout meal in advance to avoid grabbing some quick, but high caloric options like chocolate, crisps and the like.
Warm-up without bike: After a full day of sitting at your desk, make sure to mobilise your body, i.e., activate your musculoskeletal system before you climb on your bike.
Video: Warm-Up-Workout for Roadcyclists
You don’t have to squeeze in a full yoga session though, mostly three to five movement prep exercises suffice to “lengthen” the shortened muscles. A pleasant side effect: they also serve as a little warm-up.
During the ride
Start easy: Even after a movement prep or warm-up programme at home, make sure to go easy on your first few kilometres on the bike. Your cardiovascular system, lungs and muscles need to gradually adapt to the upcoming load. Please go here for some warm-up tips.
Control the intensities: Do it like the pros! Make sure to execute your training sessions at high quality, e.g., when it comes to contents like intervals.
Pro riders don’t care how fast they go before or after an interval. For them it is decisive to keep exactly to the respective intensities (heart rate and/or power) and cadences during the intervals, as it is them that boost your performance as desired. Feeling good in the first interval(s) often leads to the mistake of overpacing at the beginning.
This might backfire, either because you are unable to complete the last interval as intended or because you train something completely different.
Tip: It is easier to find the intervals in your training software after the session, if you use your bike computer’s lap function while riding them.
Nutrition to go: Choosing the right nutrition for your ride is just as important as choosing the right route. It is recommended to drink 0.5 to 1 litre per hour, depending on the training content, and take in energy in the form of easily digestible carbohydrates – between 30 and 60 grams in solid or liquid form, depending on the intensity and duration of the training. Unless it is an explicit low carb session.
Cool-down on the bike: Riding the last few kilometres relaxedly for active recovery minimises the risk of “heavy legs” the next day; some easy pedalling at low intensities also reduces muscle tone and general tension.
After the ride
Recover faster after the session: The first thing to do after hopping off the bike is change into some dry clothes, as getting cold will stress your organism and make it more prone to pathogens.
As soon as athletes are wrapped in dry and warm clothes, they are recommended to compensate for the fluid loss caused by sweating and to eat something – ideally a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Training intensity is decisive for ratio and amount.
Then it is time to lie down – not to rest, but for a cool-down programme. Athletes may either massage their muscles on a Blackroll or do a special cool-down workout.
Video: Cool-Down-Workout for Road Cyclists:
Enter the session in your training diary: Be sure to evaluate the training session either digitally or analogously! Special analysis software such as Golden Cheetah shows how long intervals were, how many junk miles were ridden and whether the athlete rode with a consistent power output that was furthermore according to training plan specifications.
These data are very useful to draw conclusions for future training and to see whether the route choice was ideal for this kind of session.
Also always jot down how much and what was actually trained, and how you felt during the session. After two or three months these diary entries will allow for some conclusions about how the organism reacts to certain loads.
This knowledge makes for better training control. In order to make these entries as valuable as possible, write down resting pulse, weight, riding time, cumulative elevation gain, intensity and how you felt.