The actions you take between now and Sunday could spark the different between ‘Gold’ and ‘Just Got Round’. Get your training right in the week leading up to the Struggle Dales Yorkshire sportive by tapering like a pro.
1. Flush out Fatigue
The week before a big sportive is all about flushing out the residual fatigue brought on by weeks of volume training and endurance riding.
Last weekend was your last long ride. It should have consisted of a shorter ride and completed at a steadier pace. That doesn’t mean it's time to ditch the bike until Sunday…
2. Activation Efforts
The goal of a taper before a sportive is to lose fatigue, freshen up and deliver yourself to the start line at your fittest. Spend the whole week off the bike and you’ll potentially turn up feeling sluggish and slow.
Instead, swap your midweek turbos, club runs, chain gangs and hill reps for shorter, steadier spins. As part of your ride, introduce short activation efforts of around 20-30 seconds. These short efforts aren’t enough to fatigue you, but the change of pace is perfect for activating muscles and keeping your top-end tuned into event day.
Top Tip: Don't use a big gear! Keep your cadence high as a way of raising your heart rate while avoiding muscle fatigue.
3. Glass Crank Ride
Saturday before the sportive should be your 'Glass Crank Ride': a super-slow spin requiring minimal effort to turn the pedals. You can add in a few activation efforts if you’re feeling sluggish or have spent time in the car driving to Harrogate for Express Sign-on.
4. Sit - even lie
As the old saying goes: “Why stand when you can sit. Why sit when you can lie.” Don’t spend unnecessary time on your feet. Avoid walking about - especially the day before the event; no visits to the supermarket or digging up the garden.
Plenty of pros also spend time lying on the floor with their legs up the wall as a form of recovery. That said, just flick on the Giro, stick your feet up on the sofa and relax. Rest is best.
5. Carb Right
There’s arguments for and against carb loading in the lead up to a big event. Some athletes reduce their carb intake in the weeks leading up to the event, in the belief the body will soak up and store carbs more readily in the days before the sportive, having been starved of this invaluable source of energy.
But the muscles can't store an unlimited number of carbs as fuel. The remainder is soon turned into fat. From personal experiences at Struggle HQ, carb loading only leaves us feeling heavy and sluggish on the start line.
6. Never Get Hungry
Annie’s advice is to snack often and keep sipping. We never see Annie without a water bottle in hand. We throw in an hydro tab (one per day), keeping our body's electrolyte levels in check to ward of cramp.