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Training and Rest
By Mark Jun 28, 2017 5:40:25 PM Comments

Training, rest and recovery are all important factors that help us go faster when racing or out cycling. In today’s entry I want to talk about training and why I think rest is the most important aspect of any training plan.

Cycling is a hard sport and there is simply no getting away from this fact. Even if you’re a good cyclist, it’s still hard. You just simply go faster for longer. Cycling is also unusual in that elite level riders will often train 6-10 days consecutively before having a complete rest day (and this means no riding). In other sports such as weight lifting, running or football the athletes rarely train this heavily. While I agree that for most elite riders the races and competitions that they do are run in this format (stages races) I do tend to wonder if we have missed the boat a little in not having more rest. The UCI has recently put a limit on the number of race days pro’s can do now and I think this is a wise move. 

Training is by definition teaching your body a skill and it takes a long time to get to a high level and if you compete it can often take several years to reach your full potential. Many pro riders have ridden since they where schoolboys and as such have come through each stage of the progression cycle. The good thing with having progressed through the ranks like this is that you become incredibly in sync with you body. Former tour winner Bradley Wiggins once said that he knew from the moment he turned the first pedal stroke on a certain day he knew if he was going to be on a good day. This sort of honing takes many years and a lot of practice.

When I speak to riders now, of all levels they are always obsessed with data, numbers and doing more. Recently I was talking to a rider and he has many years of riding in his legs and he has had to have some time off and he’s worried he will lose all his form and put weight on. I reassured him, from experience that form is temporary and class is forever. What I mean by this is that you don’t just lose your natural ability. You may lose your desire or motivation due to fatigue or illness, but your ability will always be there.

A good reference for enforced rest is pro’s who have come back from serious injury or illness. Think about Greg LeMond, he won the tour before and after his horrific shooting accident. Johan Museum of Belgium, he came back even stronger after breaking his knee in Paris Roubix. Dare I mention a certain American? Lance Armstrong came back stronger after his cancer, although now we understand there where things going on. Often with high-level athletes they have trained so hard for so long that in my opinion a forced rest may actually be a good thing.

Training is an accumulation of efforts, sessions and work and it’s only during rest days that the rebuilding in your body takes place. It’s during these days off that you actually get better and stronger.  Once you figure this out 100% in your head, I am sure that you will become stronger and faster. There is often an associated guilt felt with missing training and this is 110% a mental thing. After all, your body doesn’t know what day it is so if your feeling tired take it easy, it's your body telling you that you need some rest.

I hope you have enjoyed my entry today, it more a lighthearted way of saying don’t be afraid to take time off. If you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions on my entry then please do reach out and get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you,

Until next time,

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