If you're as much of a fan of cycling as we are here at Sundried, chances are there'll be a few things we have in common. We take a look at some of the things we do as cyclists that might make us seem mad to outsiders.
1. 5am starts are the norm on a Sunday.
Nothing compares to the peacefulness of a Sunday morning ride. No cars on the road, no pedestrians, just you alone with your thoughts on the open road. Bliss.
2. The road is safer than a bike path.
People stepping out without looking, opening car doors in front of you, and dogs off leads are all potential hazards when cycling on a designated bike path. Sometimes it's just easier to cycle along the road.
3. That split second of panic when your shoe won't unclip.
We've all been there; you're approaching a junction or a set of traffic lights and your shoe just won't budge. I've seen it plenty of times myself where cyclists have had a tumble because of unruly cleats. Just brush it off and pretend no one saw.
4. Watts, VO2 max, FTP, and elevation gains are every day speak.
How many watts did you put down up that hill? What was your max elevation gain? These are all things we love discussing with fellow cyclists which probably make no sense to anyone else and frankly, they probably don't care!
5. You can convert miles to kilometres easily in your head.
Some of your friends prefer miles, some prefer km. Some races use one or the other and now you don't even think twice about converting the distance. Oh you cycled 80km this morning? That's 50 miles, nice!
6. When people talk about going on trips, you wonder if you could cycle it.
Why fly to Amsterdam when you could cycle it in a day! Family holiday to Europe? You bet I'm taking my bike! It took you how long to drive to London? I could cycle it in 2 hours!
7. The hillier, the better.
There's something strangely satisfying about destroying your legs up a 15% incline only to be able to whizz down the other side at 40mph. Oh, sorry, you prefer km? 64kph then.
8. The soreness is worth it.
The curse of the numb bum, achy back, sore shoulders and neck after being on the bike for 5 hours is all worth it for the stunning views, sunrises, sunsets, and spending time with like-minded enthusiasts.
A quality training plan brings structure, routine, and accountability to your training. Removing the guesswork from each training session, allowing all your effort to be focused on training, rather than having to think about what exercises to do next. At its core, a training plan is a detailed roadmap outlining every aspect of training required to improve performance and achieve a specific goal.
Track Workout Analytics and Progression
Tracking your workout analytics (weights, lifts, run times etc) is critical to progressing in your training and staying motivated. Seeing continued progression is arguably the largest factor in staying motivated and energised when following a training plan. However, without tracking the analytics of each workout, it’s impossible to say with certainty whether you're progressing in your training or not.
At a minimum, the key analytics to track are your performance for each of the plans assigned exercises (weights, reps, distances, times etc). Venturing further, additional factors to track could include; time of training, mindset/energy level and technique observations.
There are a few tools that can be used to help improve the efficiency of logging your workout analytics. For resistance-based training revolving around weightlifting, the app FitNotes provides an intuitive interface for logging sets combined with graphical displays to visualise progress over time. Alternatively, an old-fashioned logbook and pen can be just as effective – it all depends on personal preference.
For distance/time-based training, there is a multitude of popular apps/smart devices that can be worn during training to measure distances, times, heart rate etc. A few popular options include Strava, Google Fit and RunKeeper. The key point is to find and use a method of tracking that works for you, be it a logbook, app or wearable device.
Tracking your workout analytics should be efficient and not serve as a distraction from your training. It’s worth experimenting with a few options to find what works best for you.
Plan When You're Going To Train
A quality training plan has been designed with thought and purpose, every single session builds into your development over the course of the plan. With this in mind, it’s important to set time aside and plan when you're going to train. This aids massively in staying consistent and committing to the plan, it shouldn’t be a surprise or a last-minute decision to train, it should have been scheduled in advance.
Planning your training session in this way is ultimately freeing, allowing you to schedule in other important aspects of your life, to ensure there’s no conflict with your training that could set you back.
Train With A Partner
Training with a partner is a great way to stay accountable when following a plan and provide a boost in motivation during sessions. Additionally, having an element of healthy competition during training can help give that extra push when the session is getting tough, with each party holding the other accountable.
A good training partner is not just someone who can help motivate you, but a critical eye to watch over your technique and form whilst training. The best training partners are those that are honest about your performance and can offer constructive methods on how to improve, be that in event preparation, technique, nutrition, or recovery. A training partner should be an asset that helps get the best out of you and the plans programming.
Good nutrition is essential to ensure recovery from previous training sessions. Your results from training are only as strong as your recovery afterwards, of which your nutrition plays a critical factor. However, finding time to cook after weekday sessions can at times be problematic. It only takes a late finish at work, or an unexpected commitment to find yourself short on time to prepare and cook a nutritious meal.
Preparing your meals in advance is an effective way to combat any potential obstacles to your nutrition and recovery. Typically conducted at the end of the week, meal prepping consists of bulk cooking a large quantity of food, to then be portioned into separate meals to consume throughout the week. If you’re not keen on the thought of bulk cooking yourself, and are prepared to pay a premium, there are companies that offer a done-for-you meal preparation service delivered to your door.
Stay Committed and Consistent
A quality training plan isn’t a guaranteed promise of results, it requires determination, commitment and consistency to improve athletic performance. It does, however, provide a clear roadmap on the training required to reach your goals, removing the guesswork from training and keeping you accountable. Following a training plan is a long-term commitment, it’s important to appreciate it’s a journey, one that will require time and effort.
The key to getting the most out of your training plan lies in focusing on small continuous improvements throughout the duration of the plan, all of which will build into large improvements over the lifetime of the training plan.
About the author: Alexander Nowak is the founder of Workout Depot, an online platform for PTs to sell their training plans. He is a keen surfer and weightlifter.
Any hayfever sufferer will know how miserable it can be to try heading outside in the summer only to be brought down by coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes. We give you our top tips so that you can enjoy the benefits of exercising outdoors even when the pollen count is high.
Related: Best Relief For Hayfever Symptoms
1. Have a shower and get changed as soon as you finish your workout
Pollen and other allergens which may set off your hayfever can stick to skin and clothes. By showering and washing your clothes as soon as you finish your workout, you reduce the risk of these allergens prompting your symptoms. This does mean no more coffee with friends after a class, but you'll thank us!
2. Don't dry your workout clothes outside
As mentioned above, pollen and hayfever-inducing allergens can stick to clothes, so if you leave your fitness clothing outside to dry it will likely pick up these allergens and cause your hayfever to flare up. At Sundried, we always try to promote the idea of 'wash cool, sun dry' to protect your activewear as well as the environment, but in the summer, an airing cupboard or hanger may be better.
3. Exercise late morning or late evening
Pollen counts tend to highest in the early morning and early evening, so try to avoid exercising outside at these times as much as possible. If you really want to train outdoors during the summer, exercising late in the evening is usually better anyway as it is not so hot!
4. Wear wrap-around sunglasses
It can be very uncomfortable having itchy, watering eyes caused by hayfever and other seasonal allergies. By wearing wrap-around sunglasses, you can help to prevent as much pollen getting into your eyes and this should help to reduce the symptoms.
5. Exercise on the beach or in a paved area
As is expected, a grassy area like a park will be the worst for causing your symptoms to flare up. Especially if the grass has just been cut, you want to avoid doing your HIIT workout or sprint intervals here. Try doing a beach workout instead, especially as this comes with its own benefits, or find a paved area that is suitable.
Getting in cold, open water can hold fear or confusion for many athletes, or others just simply don’t enjoy it. Whatever happens, it’s good to be prepared; follow these tips for preparing for the open water.
When you get in open water, take time to familiarise yourself and if you can't get comfortable, at least get acclimatised. The number one issue for panic is people setting off too quickly, either just to get on or to get warm. This spikes your heart rate and your breathing and will likely set off any anxiety that will become more difficult to control. Let your wetsuit float you up in the water and try to relax back so you can float on your back – and then on your front too.
Identify the struggles of swimming in open water
Going off course. Panicking. Swimming into people. Letting your form collapse. Maybe you’re not being used to swimming in a wetsuit. Unforeseen conditions like strong currents and surf/chop.
The number one remedy to the majority if not all of the above is practice, practice, practice.
It's true that it is hard to get a lot of practice in open water because of schedules, weather conditions, and other commitments. So continue to swim your regular sessions every week. But as the race approaches take one or two of those swims into open water, whether it be a lake, estuary, or ocean. Make it as high a priority as possible.
Swimming in the pool is not completely different from swimming in the open water – but it does have its own vagaries. So to get faster at the latter, you need to do it more. And not just on race day.
Use these swims to test your wetsuit, practice sighting, get used to not seeing the bottom, and practice with others. Also, work on longer intervals at race pace. Some people will benefit from maintaining a more constant rhythm – others will need to readjust from having a rest and a push off at the end of every length!
Prepare as much as you can in the pool
Swimming in the pool still has its place. Even though you race in the open water, you should still keep up your regular weekly pool sessions, especially if your form is still weak. Of course, you can work on technique in the lake or sea, but it becomes more challenging. Pool swims are important to develop speed and improve technique without the distractions that open water provides. Use the pool to focus on your form and drill work as well as a few race pace speed sets for time so that you can monitor your splits.
If open water is simply out of the question, simulate the chop, surf, and congestion by trying to swim in a lane with three to four other people at the same time. It is tough but it will mimic that race start well. Also, close your eyes while swimming to mimic losing your ability to guide yourself with the black line (obviously only do this if you have an empty lane!) Turning before the wall is also a great way to simulate the stop-go of open water swimming, and not resting between lengths.
Swimming in open water – at least with a wetsuit – should be quicker than swimming in the pool. So make sure that you are prepared for swimming in open water. Practise putting your wetsuit on so that it fits properly over your shoulders. Get yourself comfortable entering the water so that your heart rate doesn’t take such a shock to the system come race day.
Read more: Tips For Swimming In Open Water
About the author: John Wood is a triathlete, triathlon coach, and Sundried ambassador.
It took me over two years to be able to run a 10k with no problems from shin splints. When I was trying to get to the bottom of the issue I read every website, visited several physiotherapists, and went to no less than 3 running coaches for video analysis. But what fixed the problem was working with my body and listening to what it was telling me.
My fitness through cycling is good, and it is disproportionately balanced with my running capabilities. Fitness-wise, I could run a lot further and a lot faster than my legs will actually allow me. To this day I feel like I could run quicker but always hold something back. Most of the reading I did said to only add 10% extra distance or speed a week, to build up slowly, and to take it easy. And I think this really is the best advice. Along with changing running techniques.
Top Tips For Preventing Shin Splints
Running in appropriate shoes.
As I was running neutral style I went through several types of trainers trying to find ones that offered appropriate protection. Barefoot shoes, as much as I love them, are not right for me.
This is probably the single best change to my running training; running up and down countless flights of stairs. It doesn't load my shins at all and means I can really work on my core fitness and build my leg muscles whilst letting my shins rest. I can't recommend step training enough.
Where I couldn't run I tried to work on the muscles that supported running like the calf muscles.
I have been working on this for several years and I know if I push it too hard I will be back to square one. This year I completed two half marathons and although my shins did hurt afterwards, it was only for a few days.
Good luck and post below if you have any other tips.