Regardless of age or experience, many competitive cyclists are uncertain of how much time and energy they should devote to training. Unfortunately, there is not one simple answer to that question. However, setting goals for yourself will determine the answer that's right for you.
Before setting goals, it's important to know the difference between dreams and goals. Although dreams are great for motivation, treating your dreams as goals may lead to frustration and a loss of self-confidence if you fall far short. Instead, set goals so that you have to dig deep in order to achieve, but not so deep as to make them unattainable.
If you’re a newbie it will probably take a few years to figure out your ideal mileage. Here are a few pointers to help you map out a training plan:
It is better to undertrain than over-train. If you undertrain, you know that you can increase the mileage next season and come back as a stronger cyclist. If you over-train, you will have no idea what your potential is, and most of the season will have been wasted.
Making sure that you have optimal nutrition and the right training supplements can make a lot of difference in your success. TriFuel is the first sports drink with all your energy and recovery needs in ONE formula. Why spend hundreds of dollars on pre-race, electrolytes, endurance fuels, focus, recovery products? TriFuel is the most advanced and effective endurance supplement you can buy with everything your body needs to perform at the highest level.
Your weekly long ride should be equal in length to the event for which you’re training. Make sure you are totally comfortable riding the distance of your highest priority race. You do not want the race itself to be the first time you have ridden the distance. Even for an event like an Ironman, where the bike distance is 180 kilometers, many athletes prefer to ride up to seven hours for their long ride so that the race itself is nothing out of the ordinary.
Rest is just as important as workouts. Many new cyclists have difficulty resting on rest days. If you don’t rest, your body doesn’t have a chance to sufficiently repair itself, and so you run a high risk of over-training.
Listen to your body. If you start a hard spin session and your legs soon feel very fatigued or you are having trouble even keeping a moderate clip, just call it a day and get some extra rest. Pounding through a low-energy session when you're not feeling rested will only put you at higher risk for injury and over-training.
It will take time to learn how you respond to certain types of training. You don’t need to train 45 hours a week to win your age group at a local time trial, but if that's your goal, then structure your training accordingly. If you’re realistic about your goals, then with hard work and determination you should be confident you will attain them.
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BCAAs were recently shown to reduce muscle damage during cycling, as reported in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (December, 2007).