By Arnie Baker
Follow these training principles to keep yourself on track and motivated as a cyclist.
Follow your own program. Some of us are relatively new to riding and some of us have been racing for years. Get hints and advice from others, but remember your training program is not the same as everyone else’s.
Build up. You are at a certain place now. You may know where you want to be. Get there gradually, building up your miles and speed to reach your goals. Do not expect to get there in one big step.
Challenge yourself. We get stronger by challenging the body. As our body adapts to training, we can continue to improve by taking on new challenges.
Be organized. Have a program. Organize your schedule to allow you to stick to your program. Think ahead. Keep lists. It is tough to ride home from the office if you have forgotten your bicycling shoes. It is tough to ride Wednesday evening if you have forgotten to clear the decks and you have to take your child to softball practice.
Do the same stuff and do different stuff. By repeating the same or similar workouts you will learn how hard you can go and how and when to work harder. However, changing your workouts every month or so keeps you mentally fresh and trains different aspects of fitness.
Be flexible. It rains. You get sick. Adversity strikes. Do not brood or get uptight about it. Modify your program, if needed, and get on with your training.
Track your progress. Keep a record or log of how you are doing. Review it every week or two. It will let you know if you are on track and whether your program is working or needs adjustment.
Keep it fun. Do not be a slave to your training. Keep a perspective of your overall goals. If your schedule calls for intervals but you are sick of them, do something else.
Take it easy. It is tempting to be caught up in any program. Your program is important. However, keep it in perspective and make sure you allow proper time to recover. Avoid overtraining. Undertraining makes it difficult to get to the finish line. Over-training can make it impossible to get to the start line. If you think you need recovery, you do. If you are sure you need a day of recovery, you need two!
Reward yourself. Consider other rewards along the way. Completed the first six weeks of your training on track? Maybe reward yourself with a new pair of cycling shoes. Or with a dinner on the town to thank someone for putting up with you!
The Training Curve
Don’t forget that the way from point A to point B is not a straight line. If you do not anticipate training curves, you may become frustrated and lose motivation.
Training is not linear. Consider an athlete who is at a relatively low level of fitness, point A. The athlete would like to progress to a higher level, point B.
Training will not bring that athlete in a straight line from A to B. With the onset of training, the initial gains are great. However, as training progresses, plateaus are usually observed. Sometimes fitness even decreases.
Gains are made in spurts, in steps, rather than in a straight line.
Expect and anticipate these steps. You will be less discouraged by apparent lack of progress.
This general rule applies during relatively short cycles of weeks and months, as well as with training over long cycles of years.
It applies to many other things as well—for example, it would also be typical for a weight-loss graph.