Top 5 Winter Training Tips From Lapierre UK & Saint Piran
Winter is often a tough time for cyclists; the nights are closing in, and the unappealing and component-destroying weather does make getting into a solid training rhythm challenging. With the help of technology and a purposeful training plan, it is possible however to overcome some of the challenges winter brings us.
Here are five winter training tips, with some words of wisdom from the men and women at Saint Piran to help you lay the solid foundations for the season ahead - after all, winter miles equals summer smiles.
Do Some Testing
Not always everyone’s favourite, however it’s always good to see where you’re starting from. The testing doesn’t have to be anything complicated, simply use the tools you have to gauge where your fitness levels are currently at.
A heart rate monitor is an easy option to give you a basic understanding of your overall fitness. However, if you want to dive a bit deeper, it’s best to work with a power meter. If (like us) you invested in a smart turbo trainer last year, these are a great option to give you a much better understanding of your fitness.
Testing methods -
Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or Functional Threshold Heart Rate testing.
Critical Power Test through a number of maximal efforts to get a more rounded profile of your fitness.
Lab based VO2 Max testing. Not necessarily essential for the amateur rider, however, this will provide a more scientific understanding.
Plan Your Goals
In order to plan your training effectively, write down and plan out your goals and objectives for the upcoming season.
Your goals could be fitness related, performance related, or a mixture of the two. Fitness related goals could include increasing your FTP, and performance goals could be anything from entering a race to taking a Strava segment - these are your goals so they can be completely unique to you.
When setting out your goals, it’s always helpful to note down some short-term objectives too. These are a great way of measuring how on track you are and to help measure your progress.
Understanding the Purpose and Trusting the Process
Alongside your goals and objectives, it’s always good to understand the purpose and your reasons why.
Being faced with challenging conditions, it’s easy to get out of your training groove. Remembering the purpose and reasons why you train can be a great motivation to keep you going through the tougher, darker and wetter months.
By heading out in these conditions, long-term, it’s arguably making you a better rider. This being said, it’s equally as important to listen to your body, and put your safety first. If the weather makes it unsafe to ride, jump on the turbo or move your training to suit the conditions.
“The biggest thing really is listen to your body and realise that everyone is different, what works for one may not work for all. Mostly though, ENJOY IT!! As soon as you stop loving what you do, you will resent it.” - Gemma Sargent, Saint Piran Women’s Racing Team
It’s also important to remember that not every training session is going to be PB worthy - and that’s OK! Without getting too philosophical, we need the lows to have the highs. As long as you are showing up to your training and trusting the process, the progress will come.
Schedule in Your Training
Once you’ve got your goals and objectives sorted, and have a clear plan of what you want to achieve, it’s time to start scheduling in your training.
Here, we’re looking for a variety of workouts that are going to specifically help you get where you need to be. By mixing up your workouts, you’ll keep your training interesting and will often give you better results as the body responds when it is challenged in different ways.
There are plenty of plans and workout ideas online for free, or you can always invest in a dedicated trainer to give you a more tailored approach.
To help keep you on track, add your training sessions to your personal calendar so you can organise a good work/life/training balance.
“If you are short on time then jump on a MTB and work on your bike handling skills, or with some great lights and reflective clothing, night riding can be possible but only if you are confident and comfortable with it! This winter I have turned to a bit of off road running, it takes up less of my time on a busy day but still gives me a good workout whilst having fun exploring my local trails! Ultimately, our best bit of advice is ride when you can, try something new, embrace the elements (within safe limits!), and just have some fun!” - Jenny Bolsom, Saint Piran Women’s Racing Team
Feedback and Adjustments
It’s important to tweak your training as you go to ensure that the plan is firstly working for your physical needs, but to also make sure it is manageable and achievable.
Making tweaks will help to avoid missing out on any fitness, and more importantly avoiding overtraining and burnout.
When creating your plan, it’s easy to underestimate work and family pressures and how these factors can impact your training. It’s best to stay on the side of caution with your plan and not to be too disheartened if you’re not hitting as many sessions as you originally planned.
Adding notes or feedback, or even keeping a training diary can help you make any necessary adjustments to your training and also avoid repeating the same mistakes. It can also help guide your training for the future, refining your purpose and shifting your goals.
Top Tips From Saint Piran Women’s Team Manager and Rider, Jenny Bolsom
Make Sure Your Bike Is Ready for Winter
Think about getting your bike ready for winter early, and get your bike checked/serviced by your local bike mechanic. Make sure you always clean your bike after a ride in winter - the salt and grit on the roads will wreck your bike if left to fester!
Get the Clothing Right!
Make sure you have enough layers on for the duration that you will be outside. This does all depend on how cold it is of course. Don't forget to make sure your hands and feet have the right coverage and are warm enough, there is nothing worse than numb hands and ice blocks for feet. I always take a spare pair of gloves and a spare base layer just in case I need an extra layer.
During the colder winter months, as well as getting the training done, your body is trying to keep warm too. Make sure you are fuelling your rides correctly and getting the recovery fuel in as soon as you have finished your training. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables helps to ward off illness.
Even though it is cold, you still need to drink the same amount of fluid as when it is warmer. It is a common mistake to not drink enough, causing dehydration to kick-in, which hinders performance and recovery. I set a little alarm on my Garmin to remind me to keep drinking as I don't always feel as thirsty when it is cold.