How to train for a gravel race
15 Ways Endurance Sport Can Help Your Mental Health
Working with endurance cyclists and runners I am increasingly aware of the trends towards off-road events, including many of the people I coach who have taken part in off-road events over recent years. I thought it would be useful to write about how to train for a one day gravel race, which is a great way of getting into off-road cycling.
So, how to train for a gravel race?
Self-Hypnosis and mental skills for cyclists, runners and triathletes
There is increasing evidence to show that physical activity can have a positive effect on mental health. I recently read an article which stated how doctors in some countries are prescribing exercise for patients with low mood and depression. Throughout my career I have worked with a variety of people who have used physical activity to improve their mental well-being. So, how does this relate to endurance sport in particular? And when does ‘physical activity’ become ‘sport’? I’ve been reflecting a lot recently about how my own running career has helped me maintain better mental health.
Stop negative thoughts with STOP-CLAP technique
Sports psychology is becoming increasingly popular in the world of sport. This is for good reason, as athletes search for ways to improve and gain the edge on the competition, they realise that a very significant proportion of sporting success is down to having the right mindset. Psychological skills are not just for the elite, as learning to think positively and effectively will help performance at all levels. Reinforcing and enhancing these skills and a success mindset with hypnosis serves to strengthen the power and focus of your mind.
So, how can you use self-hypnosis and mental skills to enhance your performance as a cyclist, runner or triathlete?
From runner to cyclist
Negative thoughts, known as negative self talk is probably the most common way to mess up your confidence and sabotage your performance. One really effective technique to move to more positive thinking is using what is known as the stop-clap technique. I thought it would be useful to explain how it works and how you can use it.
Train slower, race faster
There are many reasons that you may want to transfer from running to cycling as a sport. Making the change takes time but there are things you can do that will make the transition more quickly and effectively. I thought it would be useful to write about my experiences.
So, how do you change from running to cycling? The most effective way at first is to train like a runner and not as a cyclist. It takes time to build up the strength and resilience to cycling, so when you start out you may find
Use process goals to avoid anxiety about hard sessions
Perhaps one of the hardest things to do as an endurance athlete is to accept that making easier sessions really easy is the best way. I have found this from personal experience and from working with many athletes over the years, so I thought it would be useful to write some thoughts and explanations of why and perhaps how to do slower/easier sessions.
So, why train slower to race faster? Training at a slower pace will be less taxing on your system but will still develop your aerobic fitness, it will allow to train more with less fatigue and have the energy to focus on the faster sessions that combine for optimal race performances. Too much faster training can make you slower.
Learn from your past to get fitter and faster
Many people feel anxious about their training sessions and races, particularly the harder or more important ones. I thought it would be useful to explore this a little more and explain how you can use process goals to reduce or remove this anxiety and stress.
So, how can you use process goals to avoid anxiety about your hard sessions? Process goals are steps that you can control that result in a successful session. Focusing on process goals will shift your focus from the outcome, which isn’t completely in your control, to processes that are within your control, which is far less stressful.
Do I need a training camp to get fitter?
When I start working with someone new I always spend some time learning about things they have done so that I understand what has worked for them in the past and what hasn’t worked so well. I thought it would be useful to explain how I go about this so that other people can learn from my experiences.
So, how do you learn from your past to get fitter and faster? Look at hard data first, heart rate, power, pace and any associated comments, don’t rely on memory at least initially.
Use a Wattbike to get faster at long distance cycling events
In my experience, there are pros and cons to going on a training camp. I thought it would be useful to spend some time thinking about these and doing some research to help evaluate the best way forward.
So, do I need a training camp to get fitter? No, you do not need a training camp to get fitter for cycling or running and in some cases, going on a training camp can be worse than staying at home.
How can I get better at cycling up hills?
Many of the endurance cyclists I work with have found that incorporating one or two Wattbike sessions into their weekly training has paid dividends and added interest to their training. I thought it would be useful to write an article on the subject and explain how this works.
So, how do you use a Wattbike to get faster at long distance cycling events? The most effective way to use a Wattbike is to work on the higher intensity fitness
How Do I Train for an Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race
I am often asked how cyclists can get better at cycling uphills, so I gave the problem some thought, did a bit of additional research and decided to write an article to explain my findings.
So, how can I get better at cycling up hills? In most cases, the best way to get better at cycling up hills is to improve your cycling fitness using a combination of harder efforts and endurance rides.
My favourite cycling and running books
I was having a quick scan around the internet at the information available on training for endurance events and thought it would useful to write an article on training for an Ultra-Endurance Mountain Bike Event.
So how do you train for an ultra endurance mountain bike race? The best way is to break your training down into specific areas, here are 5 of the most important:
How should I recover from an ultra-endurance event?
Over the years I have read many books about training, coaching, nutrition, strength and conditioning, etc. Some of these have been very useful and some less useful. This blog provides a review of the ones I have found to be of most practical use along with a few that are just a good and inspiring read.
How should I schedule my strength workouts?
I have been increasingly involved with athletes taking part in ultra-endurance events such as the Transatlantic Way, Transcontinental, HT550 and even a successful Round the World Record attempt. These events put huge demands on competitors’, both physically and mentally and I thought it would be useful to write about my findings on how best to recover from these long ultra-endurance events.
How to train for cyclocross and ultra-endurance cycling
When I was sitting pondering over a cup of tea the other day I started thinking about the various ways that I schedule workouts to meet the needs of the athletes I work with.
How do I become a Fitter, Faster, Better Cyclist or Runner: think better, perform better?
Some of the endurance cyclists I work with like to do cyclocross in the winter to keep fit, add some interest and enjoy a new challenge. One of the athletes I work with wanted to learn more about the background of the training I am setting. I wrote a lengthy explanation by email and thought the ideas might be useful to others, so I have included the details here.
How do I become a Fitter, Faster, Better Cyclist or Runner: the longer term plan?
Chapter 7: Think better, perform better: Here are some practical techniques in sports psychology that can be used to make real gains in performance. Try asking yourself a couple of questions: What proportion of your performance do you think is due to your mind? What proportion of the training time do you commit to training your mind? My guess is that there will be a discrepancy between the two answers…
How do I become a Fitter, Faster, Better Cyclist or Runner: weight, diet and nutrition?
Chapter 6: Longer term (phased) training plans: Once you get into your sport more and more you may start to think about goals that are further in the future. For example you may have done some competitions this year and think it would be good to see whether you can do better next year. To meet these longer term goals it is a good idea to make a longer term plan for success.
How do I become a Fitter, Faster, Better Cyclist or Runner: keeping track of it all?
Chapter 5 - Weight, diet and nutrition: The subject of this chapter involves three related concepts that are important to consider if you want to take part in competitive sport. Whilst you won’t achieve sporting success as a direct consequence of your weight, diet and nutrition, it is certainly true that not eating properly will reduce or even negate your chances of success.
Chapter 4: Keeping track of it all: You now have a goal and a detailed plan to meet your goal. You can access the earlier chapters of the ebook here if you want to review them. In my experience it is useful for many reasons to use some measures to keep track of progress, fatigue and various other parameters. Don’t be scared if you’re not very technically minded, as it's very easy and there are lots of free tools out there that you can use.