MARCH TRAINING HINTS
We have had the usual February weather in the UK. Bands of rain followed sunny hoursÖ.. and this year we have endured some particularly high winds!
March is here now, with longer days, warmer temperatures and hopefully drier weather! Far better weather for training (at times anyway!)
Maybe you have been keeping a record of your mileages? You have probably done a few 30 mile plus rides? In bad weather this is somewhat exhausting!
Perhaps you will have a chance to increase your mileage in March Ė perhaps a 40 mile plus ride, or even a 50 mile ride!
Doing a longer ride for the first time may leave you exhausted afterwards. How do you keep this up? Well, respected sources tell us that around 3 or 4 rides a week is the optimum. This does not mean that you need to do 3 or 4 long ones necessarily! After pushing yourself more than usual, it is wise to take a day or two off training, or do some easier rides.
One tough ride a week will maintain your fitness.
The body repairs itself and gains strength on the rest day or days. To do this it requires the correct fuel!
You will be building muscle. This requires extra protein after a hard ride. Meat eaters will probably enjoy chicken or similar to supply the needed protein. Iím sure that vegetarians will also have their favourite source of protein.
Hard training requires extra calories. It has been estimated that a Tour de France rider burns around 6000 calories a day. Our training rides donít need all that of course, but personally I enjoy a few extra biscuits after a training session!
Good health is of course essential, so a balanced diet with the fruit and vegetable content is obviously important.
HILLS and MOUNTAINS
Not many of us are lucky enough to have mountains on our doorstep! Most of us will have hills nearby. In the Chilterns for example there are plenty of hills 100m or more high, and areas such as the Cotswolds or Exmoor are even better. Hill repeats are fine, but longer hilly rides are more satisfying. Even when cycling in rural Dorset you may clock up 800 metres of climbing on a 40 mile ride!
You may be able to book a trip to the mountains for later in the year!
There are, of course, numerous cycling events in the UK and elsewhere, especially Audaxes and Sportives, not to mention club rides, which will provide good training for the Etape du Tour.
MEASURING YOUR FITNESS
How do you measure your fitness? There are two main methods: performance and physiological.
If you keep a log book of the lengths of your rides, and features such as average speed, height climbed etc. it is possible to see the improvements in your performance.
The classic measure of fitness is your resting heart rate. This has the advantage that it is easy to measure, but the disadvantage that it varies quite a lot with how relaxed you are!
It is more valuable to record your heart rate at different power output levels on an exercise bike, and draw a graph of power output against heart rate. If you do this from week to week you may find that your power output at a given heart rate increases as you get fitter. You may do this at your local gym, or on some turbo trainers.
Iím looking forward to heading for the mountains when the weather gets warmer Ė and in the meantime enjoying some nice hilly rides!