Friday, 6 January 2012

Is the winter commute a good idea?

Having had pretty much 2 weeks off cycling over Christmas.  Yes I must admit even the days I worked I decided to take advantage of the quiet roads, the comfy seats and the complete lack of effort and used my wife’s car to commute to work.

However, since the New Year I have had to start cycling again. Yesterday I had to ask myself the question, "Can you really fall out of love with cycling so quickly?" well the answer is obviously no.  Although I was close to it.  With 60 mile an hour winds, horizontal rain and pitch black conditions other than my bike lights I was thinking for the first time, "what the hell am I doing?"

It does remind you how fickle the human mind can be!  The fact that I am limited with choice sometime reinforces why I started and keeps the motivation up. That and the fact I know that when the summer comes and the glorious weather returns I will be faster, stronger and ready for an awesome season of new challenges.  I will hopefully also keep off the belly spread which in 2 weeks managed to attached itself to my waist line like a starving leach! Imagine a whole winter off?

 I read an interesting article which made an interesting point about maintaining your fitness, especially during the winter if you are not able get out as much as the summer.  It suggested taking advantage of the shorter rides by adding some strength and flexibility training at the end for 25 minutes.  All of the below can be done at home with little or no equipment: 
Simple exercises such as;

Squats, Lunges, Box steps, Press ups, Plank, Calf Raises

Cycling is an all round body sport, dont simply concentrate on your legs.  A weak core (stomach and back) will lead to more problems than weak legs so make sure you wokr you way through the major muscle groups.

2 sets of 12 for each exercise is enough

As in one of my [previous articles make sure you stretch as well.  Cyclist suffer badly from tight hamstrings, calf's and lower back - give your body a fighting chance and improve you flexibility

Or for additional simple cycling training workouts that can be done in a short period of time try:

Strength Session:
First ascent - Climb comfortably, freewheel down and ride easy for 5 mins
Second ascent - As above but move the gear into the next smallest sprocket, freewheel down and ride easy for 5 mins
Third ascent - as above
Fourth ascent - as above

Speed Session: (hard section should raise heart arte above 85% of your Max (MHR)
1 min hard, 1 min easy

2 min hard, 2 min easy
3 min hard, 3 min easy
2 min hard, 2 min easy
1 min hard, 1 min easy
Ride easy for 5 mins
1 min hard, 1 min easy
2 min hard, 2 min easy
1 min hard, 1 min easy

Some tips:
To work out your maximum heart rate = 220 - your age.
Use a heart Rate monitor to try and keep within range
For Weight loss look to train within 60-70% of your MHR (for a min of 20 mins)
For improved cardiovascular fitness look to train 70%+ of your MHR
To improve fitness you need to train for at least 150 minutes a week.  Although to make a serious impact it is suggested 4 45 minutes sessions are required.


If you’re out training on the roads make sure you are prepared.  Have a drink, repair kits, layered clothing, lights and your bike is well maintained. Oh ye, if you can in this weather, have some FUN!!!

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