To embark on the road to sportive readiness pick from our top New Year’s resolutions for cyclists and harness your willpower into becoming stronger, fitter and faster in 2017.
1. Shun Sugar
Cutting out sugar is a great resolution for a sportive rider looking to lean up. But nowadays it’s much harder than simply cutting out chocolate and enduring a dry January.
High levels of sugar are hidden in the most unlikely of supermarket foods. Specialists suggest attempting a three day sugar detox: cut out sugary foods including anything with 15g of sugar per serving or more. Replace sugar with good fats likes nuts and lean protein to keep you fuller for longer, regulate blood sugars and stop you reaching for the Quality Streets.
What’s more, it’s proven that cyclists with a low-sugar diet benefit from a bigger kick when they down that emergency energy gel. Perfect when you’re 90 miles into Yorkshire’s unforgiving countryside and about to hit Two Stoops.
2. Ditch Junk Miles
Junk miles are considered to be those brisk rides when you’re cycling too hard to call it base training but not hard enough to get the training benefits of an intensive session.
Although the weekly club ride is a great social blast on the bike, if you’re aiming to get fitter and faster for our epic Yorkshire sportive try to structure you training. Ride your hard rides HARD (intervals on the turbo or local hill reps) and your easy rides EASY!
Junk miles fatigue the body and obstruct you from maxing your power during intensive sessions. With more effective training now, you’ll feel the benefits come the 21st May!
3. Train in Zone Two
While interval training is fundamental to increased sportive fitness, many cyclists overlook the training benefits of long steady state riding.
Zone Two training helps to build endurance. This type of training also enhances lactate clearance to combat fatigue while riding. Another benefit of Zone Two training is it teaches your body to burn fat as fuel to help you lose weight and be a more efficient sportive rider on less food.
Riding with your heart rate or power output at zone two requires a lot of discipline and commitment. If you don’t know your training zones there are two ways to find out. A simple at-home test with a few calculations like this test by Training Peaks or book a test with a coach or a physiologist such as Yorkshire’s OTE’s performance Centre.
4. Up your Mileage
If you’re reluctant to stray from your habitual 60 miler or the idea of a century leaves you shaking in your winter booties, this is a perfect New Year’s resolution for you… and it’s very achievable.
Take a big red pen of ambition and draw a circle on your training calendar around 14th May (one week before The Struggle, leaving you a week to taper). This is when you should be able to comfortably ride 100 miles.
Plot into the calendar a weekly long ride. Whether it’s two miles, five miles or 10 miles, week by week you should aim to up your milage.
5. Become a Climber
Climbing is simply science. Power-to-weight ratio rules. However, there are other ways to climb the Strava leaderboard of your local hills or to smash Park Rash.
Start but hunting out hills. Stop avoiding the steep gradients and seek them out while planning your rides. Try to finish each ride with a climb – when your legs are at their tiredest. This is great stimulation for our gruelling Yorkshire sportive.
Practice hills will not only strengthen your climbing legs but also your mind, pacing and technique. Come 21st May you’ll be cresting the climbs, clicking up the gears and pressing on, while your fellow riders ease off and gasp for air.
6. Get Stronger
Health clubs across the country rub their hands together as society vows to join a gym in January. But joining a gym for the winter can be a great way to keep fit when the weather worsens.
Watt bikes, spin classes and circuits are good cardio options when there’s ice on the roads. But at the gym you’ll benefit most from a weekly structured strength and conditioning program using light weights.
There’s also plenty of body weight exercises you can do at home without joining the gym that will strengthen your legs and core for cycling.
On the road to readiness for The Struggle sportive your biggest obstacle will be injury. To avoid the dreaded DNS (did not start) keep yourself supple and stretched after every training session.
If you are feeling especially achy and sore spend 15 minutes stretching in front of the TV on an evening. For extra brownie points use a foam roller, book a monthly massage or join a yoga class.
8. Turn off technology
And if all this sounds like it’s sucking the enjoyment out of your beloved cycling hobby, then you’ll love New Year’s resolution number eight.
This is perfect for cyclists feeling overtrained, vulnerable to loss of mojo or becoming obsessed with live Strava segments and power meters.
Once a month, go for a ride without your cycling computer! Ride with friends or your local club, stop at a cafe, look up at the views, smash a climb, bimble at the back of the bunch, sprint for a sign and remember why you love riding a bike.
From Struggle HQ we wish everyone a happy New Year!