Effective Training for Busy Professionals
Most cyclists aren’t professional cyclists and I would wager most don’t really want to be either. One of the biggest issues for those with a life full of everything else and trying to fit cycling in on top is that you have limited time to train and perhaps more importantly you have less time to recover! I think it’s that second part that people miss.
So today we will look at effective strategies to manage training when life is really busy.
Have a Plan, but Be Flexible
A plan starts with a goal. I split my athlete’s goals into two parts:
- Performance Goals
- Training Goals
Performance goals could be an event you are aiming for. Could be a road race, crit or time trial. But could equally be a long club run you haven’t done before or a sportive that is pushing your boundaries or a touring ride from point to point.
A training goal could be achieving a particular power output, or consistently doing a certain number of hours a week. Could also be a weight loss goal or body composition goal.
Whatever the goal, it needs to be something that will keep you getting on the bike when the shiny motivation that powers you through the first few weeks has worn off and the training still needs to be done.
Having said that, it’s important to note that blindly following a plan to the letter will almost certainly land you in trouble one way or the other. So being flexible with your plan is also really important.
If the only way you can get your ride in is to get up at 3:30 am so you can do it before you travel for work…you’re probably better off missing it! You are more likely to get ill from this kind of rigidity to the plan that you are to gain any fitness!! This is all part of finding a balance…which I’ll talk about shortly.
Get the Fundamentals Right!
Getting the fundamentals right really is the key. It’s not about the latest kit, or the latest supplement or the latest analysis software…all of those have their place. BUT that place is a good way behind getting the fundamentals right.
So what are the fundamentals?
- Building consistency and frequency
- Good intensity control
‘Balancing your life and training is key’
When you pick your goal and you are all motivated to smash your training and fully commit to being really fit for your goal event, it’s a dangerous time. Motivation is so high it can trip you up by overdoing it and losing the balance of life and training. Then you end up in this weird problem of overdoing it a bit, then having to cut back to recover and make up time doing jobs in the house or spending time with family or work…or simply just catching up on sleep. This leads to sub-optimal adaptation and endurance performance.
Balance means you build your training load slowly. Make sure it fits into your life for a few weeks before further increasing the load. This way you avoid this yoyo of too much and too little.
To start with, map out your week and first plan to train in the times that give you the least stress on other parts of your life. Once you are comfortably fitting this in and life is staying in balance you can increase if you want. Look for other opportunities to train, but again only add a little and see how it goes for a few weeks. Make absolutely sure you have enough time and energy for the rest of your life before pushing on.
Balance is the key!! Anyone can squeeze in extra training for a week or two…but without balance it is not sustainable. As you will see when we talk about consistency and frequency good endurance fitness comes from sustainable training over time…which leads us nicely on to patience…
Keep in mind both the short term and long term
Patience links in with balance. When we are super motivated everything seems easy and we want to train hard and have the fitness RIGHT NOW! But that’s not how fitness works. You have to be patient, hold on to that motivation as long as you can and give yourself time to adapt to the training while keeping life in balance.
You have to be patient to be your best as an endurance athlete. It takes time for your body to adapt and the best fitness comes from consistent training over a long period of time.
There will be times when motivation dips, we’re only human. That’s when you’ll be glad you didn’t burn yourself out in the first few weeks of training. If you were patient your body will still be capable of training and even if you need to adapt the plan, you can keep the consistency going.
It’s also really important to keep those goals in mind at this time. If you have a clear goal that means something to you, you can bridge the gaps in motivation and avoid the yoyo of high training load mixed with training gaps, which is a disaster for performance.
So, we’ve covered the first two building blocks of your training fundamentals. It may come as a surprise as neither looked at any kind of physiological building blocks…however, we’ll be looking at those in Part 2