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Returning from a break in training

What caused you to have a gap?

There are loads of reasons why you might need to or have to take a break from training:

  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Holiday
  • Family pressures
  • Work Pressures
  • Life Stress
  • End of the season
  • After a big goal has been achieved 
    • Just to name a few!!

And within that, the reasons you might take a break vary wildly….changing jobs, moving house, new baby…it could be anything really.

This post has mainly been inspired by my recent absence from training. I’m usually extremely consistent, training between 5 and 8 x per week, every week all year, apart from I usually take 2-3 weeks of an offseason…where I do no cycling!

I’m not a pro rider, so life sometimes gets in the way of what is ideal, but this year, it happened in a big way. The disruption with very limited cycling was in 1 month period, where I didn’t have my bikes for 3 out of 4 weeks! However, the disruption goes a bit deeper than that and will I’d bet be a scenario that is familiar to many riders.

My family and I decided to move to Switzerland. So the disruption started from about May 2021 when the waiting for confirmation of jobs and permits was happening, all the way to the move in July/August training had to take a back seat.

From a training frequency standpoint, looking at my Training Peaks it doesn’t look too bad, the quality wasn’t there.  I was stressed to the absolute limit, I wasn’t sleeping and I was eating all the wrong foods…and for that matter, too much food!


Looking at the PMC Chart

As you can see, there are still plenty of red dots, so I was training for most of this period. However, as I say, the quality wasn’t there and I knew if I pushed harder this would have tipped the balance too far and I would have got ill. 

It’s not just the training stress that counts, it’s the total life stress. So I did as much as I felt I could. It’s easy in this scenario to push to hard, ignore the life stress and compound the issue by getting ill.

As you can see there was a week of no training where my bikes were taken by the moving company. I did a few rides on a training bike while on holiday the following week, then there is a two-week wait for my bikes to arrive in Switzerland (in itself extremely stressful!!).

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Turning the corner

When things settled down my fitness felt like it was completely gone (even if it hasn’t really, it still feels poor). Though CTL is not a pure measure of fitness, it had dropped from 85-90 at the end of my build period, I won a National Title and did my second fastest 10TT ever!! It was down to 40 when I did my first ride in Switzerland.

To compound the issue, the rubbish sleep and poor diet contributed to my going from my normal race weight of 75-76kg up to 83kg…REALLY not ideal when you move to such a hilly country!! 

Returning to training

To test or not to test?

Personally, though it’s tempting to see where you are as you know you’ll get a big boost in the second test…and that always feels good. There’s no real need in my opinion. It’s unnecessary stress both physically and psychologically.

Returning to training in my view should consist of frequent, lower stress, lower intensity training. As you can see on the PMC chart, I did about 2 weeks of training roughly 6x per week, but none of it with any intensity. Just get back to the routine, enjoy the riding and keep the intensity low.

After those two weeks, I added a couple of intervals in my rides 1 x per week and when I got the chance I did a longer ride, but kept the intensity low.

The emphasis when returning to training should be on building what is sustainable. Don’t rush in like a bull at a gate and end up ill or burnt out or compromising more important areas of your life.

If you get back to some nice low intensity riding with good frequency and consistency, the fitness will come, BE PATIENT!

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My training peaks PMC from my return to today

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On the descent from the Col de Romme

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From the top of the Col de la Colmbiere

I was lucky whenreturning to training; once the move had happened there was not a huge amount of ongoing stress, so once training started again it wasn’t really interrupted. This may not always be the case. If there are ongoing challenges, it’s important to factor in that stress and not build training stress too quickly…you’ll just get ill!!

I was in the middle of summer at a. weight I feel is 7kg too much for me. It would be easy to try and crash diet and force the weight back down. I would advise caution with this approach, that is another added stress you really don’t need.

I find that as training gets back on track I’m more able to be consistent in other areas, like nutrition. Consistency is key, get back into good habits around your eating, but don’t deprive yourself or consistency and sustainability will suffer. Cutting out the things you know you don’t need and some consistent training and things will start heading back in the right direction.

As of this am, I’ve lost 3kg’s since getting back to training, so a nice improvement in this time frame. Continued consistency will get me the next 3kg’s in time.

Different needs depending on why?

Clearly, when returning to training, everyone’s circumstances are individual. And the reason why you had to take a break will influence how you return:

  • If it was due to injury, your training frequency and volume may have to take into account the adaptation of the injured tissue.
  • If it was an illness, a longer, more gradual build-up may be required to avoid a relapse, which no one wants.
  • A particularly long break may also require a more gradual build-up.
  • If there are ongoing life stresses, you may need to prioritise and though you start training, you keep life in balance with lower frequency, volume and intensity…a bit like I did in the build-up to my move to Switzerland.


Summary of key points

There are plenty of mistakes to be made when returning to training and plenty of traps to fall in to during this really tricky time for a keen athlete:

  • Not recognising the stresses and pushing too hard, making yourself ill.
  • Trying to jump back into training at the same level you left off!
  • Being too hard on yourself for things like lack of fitness, increased weight, inconsistent training…you have to be kind to yourself here, adding more stress doesn’t lead anywhere good.
  • Make small, short term goals that are achievable.
  • Enjoy being bike to training and be patient.

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3 parts

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3 Ways to Solve Knee Injuries in Cycling – Part 2


In part 1 we discussed why knee injuries are so common in cycling and how one of the first steps you need to make is to get out of denial and acknowledge there’s an issue. Then we looked at our first strategy in solving the issue; Load Management.

In part 2 we will look at the next step in solving your knee pain, strength and mobility.

2 – Strength and Mobility

This may not be what you think it is…it’s not ‘strengthen the 

Cycling is a very limited sport when it comes to movement skill and movement competency. Considering the enormous range of movements and skills our bodies are capable of, cycling in no way pushes us in this way. As a result, it’s really important to push your movement when off the bike to maintain a strong, healthy body.

There’s no one simple answer, it’s for the long term and not just the occasional trip to the gym. You need to find something that is both interesting to you and convenient to do regularly enough.

Good options are:


  • Yoga
  • A varied gym/home-based strength training routine
  • A varied stretching and mobility routine
  • Other endurance sport like running, cross country skiing or swimming can help
  • Another sport that does challenge your movement boundaries (tennis, badminton, football, rock climbing, etc)


These are by no means the only options and you don’t have to choose just one. Mix it up, challenge your body in multiple directions and a variety of ways and you will be rewarded with a body that is more robust and more resistant to injury.

Like any type of training, the benefits will be varied. The main benefits as I see it are:


  • strengthening of muscles you don’t stimulate adequately in cycling
  • Maintaining bone density
  • strengthening and stiffening of ligaments and tendons
  • Increased neuromuscular control
  • stimulation of joints through a greater range than achieved through cycling
  • Strength and stability of joints through a greater range of motion


Like your cycling training, you don’t do the same thing all year round (If you do get in touch I can make you a lot faster!). So you can vary what you do and how much through the year. No harm in having periods of more cycling focused time and then other periods of more off-bike work.

I think strength training is important for almost everyone. But you could argue it is even more important for females and gets increasingly important with age for everyone. It’s beyond the scope to go into detail about strength and conditioning here, but I would suggest getting help with strength and conditioning as it pays off in avoiding mistakes and injury.

If you have questions, leave a comment or feel free to email –

In Summary

Like most things in life and training, there is no one solution. Also like most things in life and training, finding a way to do things that are consistent and sustainable is the best way to achieve success.

Find something that works for you, that pushes your body in a different way to cycling and varies the loads and ranges that are imposed. Find something you enjoy, otherwise, the likelihood of it being maintained is greatly reduced!

HOw does online cycle coaching work?

Communication is key. Our coaching is set up to make sure both coach and athlete can understand each other and communicate easily. The cornerstone of this is establishing  clear goals and your time available. 

Communication will be done in a way that suits the individual, but will primarily be through the coaching calls and through the online training diary with both session plans, session reviews and feedback.

Progress will be monitored through the calls, the diary and scheduled testing sessions that will let us know we are on the right track.

Neil Poulton

Head Coach

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National Para road race champion 2019


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national Masters Track champion 2019

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What is Time Trialing?

Time Trialing started about 130 years ago when bunch racing was banned in the UK. Competitive cyclist instead met up in secret and raced pre-determined courses, individually. Usually starting at 1-minute intervals, riders were then ranked in time order. 

Time Trialing is a contradiction…on the one hand, it is probably the most accessible form of cycle racing; a club TT is only £3-4 to enter and you can do it on whatever bike and with whatever kit you have. This is brilliant, and a great way to get your competitive juices flowing. On the other hand, it can be extremely technical, expensive and obsessive!!

My first TT’s were done while at University on a road bike with some borrowed clip-on TT bars. I. think it was 10 miles and took me about 26-27 minutes; I was hooked!!! I went faster every week for a few weeks as I learned to pace myself better and suffer more.

I loved going hard on the bike and this gave it meaning. I also loved the kit, some of the club members had really fancy bikes, wheels, skinsuits and aero helmet…I had none of that, but you are only racing yourself and last weeks time, so it didn’t matter.

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Getting Started

To start with all you really need is a serviceable bike. Can actually be any kind of bike, hybrid,  road, time trial…I remember my brother doing them on his mountain bike many years ago. Though clearly, some bikes will be quicker than others, as I said, you do it one week…then come back and race yourself, so the bike really doesn’t matter.

When you turn up to time trial

To race, make sure you are there early, sign on with the organiser. This basically means signing the start sheet and paying the fee to get your race number and start time. If you are new, you’ll probably be off early. The general trend is to put the slowest riders off first and fastest off last. It means the overall time of the event is as short as possible.

Then, you go get ready, bike, kit, go do your warm-up. I use a turbo when allowed, but road warm-up is fine, just don’t get in the way by going on the course/past the start-finish line. I like about 30 minutes warm-up and then get to the start for about 5-minutes before your start time. DON’T BE LATE!!!!


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Your start time and race

Your number will correspond to the minute after the hour that you will start. So if the event starts at 7 pm (common for club events on weekdays) and you are number 5…your start time is 7:05 pm….like I said, DON’T BE LATE!! 

Most of the time you will queue up in starting order, starter calls you up after number 4 has left, you have a minute to go. Make sure you double-check you are in the right gear and your bike computer is set the way you want it and on the right screen.


You’re off!!! 

Adrenaline pumping, full of energy and feeling fresh…It is crucial you don’t go too hard here…it’s the easy mistake in the world to make, almost every time trialist has done it!! It’s probably a trap you will fall into at some point…it hurts, but you learn!!

One of the more famous phrases in time trialing:

“Don’t go looking for the pain, it will find you!”

This is very true, be patient, especially in the first 3-5. minutes, you won’t know it was too hard until it’s too late. The key is to start relatively easy, there’s plenty of time to work harder later…once you get into it you can find your rhythm. It’s a big advantage if you know the course and wind direction ahead of time, but it’s not essential when you are starting out.

Pace yourself as best you can to get all your effort out by the finish. You probably won’t get it right the first time, you won’t get it right every time anyway, no one does. Just learn from your experiences and you’ll get better each time.



TT’ing is hard because you are trying to get it all out. So doesn’t matter how fit/fast/strong. you are, it’s going to hurt!! So just dig in to the finish, you soon recover 🙂

Once you’ve done, return your number and. sign out. Pre Covid, there would be a big times board for Open TT’s or a clipboard for club TT’s and everyone gathers around to see their times and discuss the efforts of the day and the conditions etc…for me, this is a nice way to learn and ask questions. This opportunity maybe a little limited until restrictions ease.

All that’s left to. do then is change, pack up your kit and head for home…usually thinking about how you can go faster next time.

Add your thoughts, comments and questions below 🙂

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What makes a Great

endurance athlete?


Key Terms:

  • Robust Athlete
  • Durable
  • Metabolic Control


When you start. working with an endurance athlete the reasons they do it may vary, the goals may vary and the time they have to train will vary. However, there are things that stay the same;  things common to all great endurance athletes.

The priority as someone starting on an endurance journey is that you focus on the areas that get most gain long term, not short, quick hit, one-percenter gains.

My coach at the time pointed me in the direction of some podcasts by Stephen Seiler (links below). This was the first time I’d heard some of these key terms listed above, and it changed the way I trained forever.

Performance doesn’t come from a miracle interval set, or riding so hard you end up lying in a pool of sweat by your bike after a turbo trainer session. It comes from consistent, well structured, disciplined training over time.

The discipline most people struggle with isn’t actually to push hard, it’s to hold themselves back on the easy days. It’s this discipline that. forms the foundation of a great endurance athlete. Taking the easy. days easy enough means heart rate. below 78% of max (as a rough guide). This can be really hard at first, it takes discipline.

If you stay disciplined, keep your hard days hard (1-2 x per week) and your easy days easy you will get. consistent training over time and that is when you start getting sustainable, high-level gains.

It is this approach that will make you a robust, durable athlete with the metabolic control to go easy when it’s easy and hard when it’s required.

Case study

I used to train for cycling with a lot of Z2/3 riding (in a 3 Zone Model). A typical week of training consisted of 2-3 sweet spot rides on my turbo trainer, 1 threshold ride/race and 1 long ride. I used to get regular colds, particularly after a ‘peak’. Nothing too bad, but it would always knock me back a couple of weeks.

The other issue I had that for 2 seasons in a row I had not progressed my FTP. Towards the 2nd season of seeing this pattern of frequent illness and stagnation I heard a Stephen Seiler podcast and then looked for a coach with a polarised approach to endurance training.

I changed to polarised training in late 2018 and had my most consistent winter and build ever. You can see the difference in intensity in the graph on the right.

I felt fresh almost all of the time and when the racing came I was faster than ever. FTP had been about 305 for 2 years and now it was 328. I beat all my time trial PB’s:

  • 19:57 for 10 miles (down from 20:56)
  • 50:46 for 25 miles (down from 54:55)
  • 1:49.45 for 50 miles (down from 1:56.42)

I didn’t get ill, I was able to train more consistently and I could have beaten those PB’s again if I’d had the chance in 2020!

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Stay Healthy

Meaning both not getting injured and not getting ill.

If your training is too hard or too frequently intense you will get little illnesses and injuries that break your consistency.

Keep. your easy sessions easy, for most athletes this means around 80-90% of your training is below 78% of your max heart rate.

Be Consistent

Once you are disciplined with your intensity, you will stay healthier and consistency will come.

Getting on your bike as much as you can, in balance with the rest of your busy life, will be the thing that impacts your fitness the most.

Sustainable rhythm

All this put together means that you can put together long stretches of sustained endurance training stimulus that creates greater adaptation and performance gains.

It’s important to remember to keep life in balance, fit the training in around everything else and don’t dig too deep into your energy or your partner or families ‘good will’. Find a balance.



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Stephen Seler Podcast Link: FAST TALK Ep. 51 – Polarised Training

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Welcome to Summit cycle coaching

Welcome to Summit Cycle Coaching! We are really excited to be offering online coaching for all cycles looking to achieve their goals.

We are dedicated to learning and improving; working with our clients to build training plans that are based in the latest science of Endurance Training and fit into the day to day lives of our clients.

With vast experience of fitting committed, structured training into a busy work and family life; we firmly believe that building your best results will come from balancing all aspects of your life. That way…when it’s time to train you can really put your best efforts in and get the rewards you deserve.

I’m planning on using the blog part of the website for getting my coaching ideas out there and sharing the great ideas from coaches worked with and learned from over the years. Also, it’s great to see some case studies and practical advice on managing training in a busy life.

Most recently, I sat on a course presented by Dr Stephen Seiler, called ‘Sustainable Training for Attainable Endurance Goals. Highly recommend for anyone with an interest in the physiology of endurance training. 

Check it out here:

If you have any particular topics or questions please feel free to comment on the blog or use the contact us form and I’ll be in touch.

See You Soon,

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