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By Columnist Genevieve Whitson – Professional Cyclist:

18525772068_481005e2b5_bPhoto credit: glide via photopin (license)

Cycle training isn’t rocket science. I don’t believe you need to spend thousands to see results. There are some simple things you can do through the winter to ensure you hit the ground running and these shouldn’t take-up too much of your time outside normal riding.

Getting the Base In and Maintaining Top End

There are two major mistakes that people make over the winter months:

1. Doing nothing but long slow base miles

Riding for hours on end at an easy rate (zone 1 and zone 2 or where it’s very easy to breath). Doing this over the winter will keep your aerobic* system chugging along like a steam train, but it won’t ignite your anaerobic* engine and if this goes on for more than a few months, come race season you’ll be slow, sluggish and have nothing more than an endurance engine on you, which will not help in races. You’ll be able to go for hours, but when the peloton speeds up, you’ll be left for dead and wondering what on earth happened.

2. Doing too much top end and treating the dark months like some sort of winter world champs programme

The other end of the scale is getting too excited over the winter months and riding in your upper training zones constantly – a) because it’s fun, b) the ego gets to show off  and c) because we want to thrash someone’s strava time – (don’t lie, we’ve all done it).
You really need to get a grip on those impatient legs over the winter. If you want to see the long-term results in the summer you need to hold back. It’s okay to let Mr/Mrs winter sprinter beat you, because I can guarantee that by summer time you’ll be the one passing them if you get your winter training sorted.

The Key to Winter Training

The key to winter training is keeping a little bit of top end in every 6-8 days so that your muscles and anaerobic* engine don’t get neglected, but still having a good base to work from. It doesn’t need to be a lot, as it’s really important to build a strong base, but if you don’t rev the engine a little in the off-season it sort of forgets what to do later in the year.

The following have worked wonders for me, and are purely recommendations, but this is what I’d suggest to nail the winter miles:

  • Do one session about every 6-days where you’re riding in your lower zones, but bring some sprints in, like 6 to 8 20-second efforts.
  • Do a session once every 2-weeks including some time trial efforts. Not too much! About half of what you might do over the summer months, incorporate them into a bunch rides /long solo rides.

Lastly, remember to keep winter riding social and fun. Meet friends and ride together, rather than enduring hours of cold miserable weather on your own. Also don’t forget to capitalise on post ride cafes – have that cake, you’ve earned it!

* Aerobic – refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism.[3] Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_exercise.

* Anaerobic – exercise intense enough to cause lactate to form. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_exercise.

About Our Cycling News and Review Columnist

Jarlath-Cross-20131-960x576_GenevieveGenevieve Whitson is a NZ born, British/Scottish cyclist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Gen has a raced at the highest level for Road, Cyclocross and Mountain biking, have competed in four World Championships, multiple World Cups as well as riding professionally on the road. Gen has raced all around the globe on the road bike and is currently riding for a Belgium team, Isorex competing in all the major spring classics.

Highlights of her career include gaining a top 30 finish at the World Cyclocross Championships, a stage win in a major USA road tour, and winning the 2015 Scottish National Hill Climb Champs. Gen also loves to ride a rickshaw in Edinburgh for strength training on the side and is heavily involved in supporting/mentoring up and coming female/male athletes to ride to their potential. Her mantra on the bike is: Eat the pain…

Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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