NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTIONS
We take a look at the things you should be cutting down if you want to speed up in 2017
Your 2017 resolutions needn’t be grandiose or over-complicated to make a huge impact on your riding. From fatty foods to Facebook, there are plenty of things you could be cutting down in order to speed up this year
1 UNNECESSARY EXPENDITURE
Cut costs so you can reward yourself with a better bike. “Keep on top of little repairs and you’ll save yourself a big outlay,” says Richard Salisbury, director of bike fit specialist, Pedal Precision ( pedalprecision.com).
“Clean and lube the key parts of your bike on a regular basis and check bolts, cables and housing to avoid a trip to the mechanics,” says Salisbury. “Keep your chain, cassette and chainrings clean to avoid creating a grinding paste of road filth that will see you buying replacements sooner.”
Neil Holman, mechanic at 247 cycleshop.com, says: “If you get a deep cut in an expensive tyre use superglue to glue it back together. Cut up an old tyre and zip tie it to your chainstay to use as a chainstay protector (especially on mountain bikes), and cut the bead off an old road tyre and fit it inside another tyre to make a puncture-proof setup.”
To save more turn every pair of shorts you own into warmer ‘tights’ by investing in some decent leg warmers, rather than having to buy bib tights.
If you do want to invest in a new bike, hold out until March or October for a ‘nearly new’ one, as that’s when new models are released.
If you’re looking to get lean, restricting your alcohol intake could get you there faster. One US study found that drinking just 24g of alcohol – less than two pints – reduced the body’s fat-burning ability by 73 per cent. Even when it’s swilling around in your system alcohol skews the water balance in your muscle cells and hinders gluconeogenesis – the formation of energy-giving sugar glucose – and relieves you of the energy you need for endurance.
Jonathan Edgeley, addiction consultant at soberservices.co.uk, has ideas for cyclists who like a tipple:
MAKE A SAFE HOUSE
Remove all the booze in the house and keep it that way – this will encourage you not to have a quick drink and lose your challenge. You can decide how best to ‘remove’ any you have.
GET A NON DRINKING BUDDY
Challenge a pal to a non-drinking contest and allow yourselves to hold one another accountable – check in with them on a daily basis to stay on track.
Replace your drinking activities with something else. (Cycling instead of bottle recycling comes to mind). Have non-alcoholic drinks when you’d usually have a wine or beer or add an enjoyable food into your diet to feed your pleasure sensors.
Create an alternative structure to your day and plan your free evenings and weekends differently. If you always reach for a beer when you get home or the football comes on switch to a more constructive habit – taking a shower or having fruit drinks instead.
Break the month down into manageable sizes so you can make a commitment not to drink for one week, day or even just an hour at a time, and repeat this whenever you’re tempted. Treat it similar to a training plan, though this is more of an abstaining one.
WEIGHT (AND KEEP IT OFF)
Step on the scales and make a note of where you are. Take a ‘before’ selfie then follow these golden rules before sending it with your resultant amazing ‘after’ pic to us – see our How Cycling Changed My Life feature (p134).
CUT CARBS, ADD PROTEIN
“A consistent theme in any successful fat loss plan is having a high percentage of calories from protein,” says Matt Lovell. “It keeps you full, which means you are less likely to eat the wrong things, it protects your muscle mass, which is essential whenever you drop calories to lose fat, and it supports wellbeing as the protein is used for hormones, neurotransmitters and your immune system function.”
MAKE A CEREAL KILLING
“Sugar-filled cereals crush energy levels and sabotage metabolism,” says Lovell. Instead make your first meal of the day yoghurt with berries, porridge or peanut butter on wholegrain bread. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a highprotein breakfast consumed fewer snacks throughout the day.
CUT IT UP
There have been studies – like one by Arizona University where researchers watched the eating habits of 300 students – that show how those who cut up their food into smaller portions and chew each mouthful eat up to 30 per cent fewer calories through the day.
Put down the tablet, turn off the TV, sit at the table, serve 8oz glasses of water with every meal and remove serving dishes from the table before you start eating – those who do have been shown to cut calorie consumption by around 30 per cent.
Use wet weather as an opportunity to focus on slower but essential skills
7 MAKING EXCUSES
Put these motivational spurs, from cycling coach Rob Wakefield ( propello.bike), into action to ensure you never miss a day’s riding in 2017...
Have your kit and bike ready to go at all times and warm your kit up on a radiator. Set yourself a short circuit, but one that could extend easily once you’re outdoors. Getting over that initial 10 minutes is key, once you’re through it you’ll find you’ll stay on board.
Wet roads are worse when you’re going fast or descending, so instead use wet weather as an opportunity to focus on slower but essential skills or techniques such as over-geared hill climbs.
Draw up a plan of your week – meeting times, family time, sleep times and so on and identify windows of opportunity for training. Build cycling into your commute and if you can’t do the full journey try cycling part of the way and either locking the bike up at a train station or leaving it with a friend or relative.
8 CRAP CARBS
Sugar’s ability to be more addictive than cocaine thanks to it having a similar effect on the brain’s pleasure centres doesn’t help cyclists with half an eye on endurance stamina or weight management.
“Changing carbohydrate intake so it’s periodised with specific training sessions will benefit your performance,” says Marc Fell, Team Sky nutritionist. “On easy, general rides you don’t need as much carbohydrate before or during and could perhaps try these rides in a fasted state to promote adaptation and body composition. Only when it comes to rides that involve high-intensity efforts do carbs become king and it is important to have them before and during to support the high-intensity cycling.”
10 POST RIDE MUSCLE ACHES
“After a workout, it’s likely that your muscles will feel sore due in part to microdamage,” explains Toby Garbett. “The subsequent healing leads to muscle growth, but to prevent constant aching make a resolution to do musclefocused ride drills.”
Begin every session by building up slowly – with a dynamic warm-up instead of static stretches – then finish with a cool down, reducing the demands on the muscles but maintaining the motion as your body temperature reduces.
Buy into muscle-nourishing recovery food and plenty of fluids. Continue to take on water for the rest of the day and throughout the next day to flush the body. Research in the Journal of Athletic Training links dehydration with a higher risk of DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
Use a pain relief cold spray to cool any muscle strains like a hamstring pull and reduce inflammation. Then use a warming product as the affected area recovers (around 72 hours later) to increase blood flow, providing oxygen and nutrients to aid the healing process.
11 JUNK MILES
“Many cyclists fall into the trap of thinking more miles means better or that it’s not worth the ride if you haven’t totally hammered it at some point,” says sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte OBE. “If you set out to do a steady five-to-six hours as part of your training and stamina work, then smash through the last few miles at high intensity, you’re not sticking to the brief.
“Make each ride count by setting down what your intentions are, give it a purpose and aim to account for every click – be it intervals or tempo or a low-intensity recovery session or a steady endurance session set in a specific heart rate zone. Have a training plan that plots improvement and use a measure – a heart rate monitor or power meter - to quantify your rides. Do the same on group rides so that you’re ticking your own boxes during the ride or by doing your own work around it.”
Bin off the booze and go green for a healthier start to 2017
Don’t let rain stop play - wet roads can hone skills
Start your day with yoghurt and fruit to cut weight
Buy into muscle-nourishing food and plenty of fluids
Ride your own way, it’s not all about beating your mates