No, it’s not a misprint…its performance “allowers,” not performance “enhancers.” We are all too familiar with performance enhancers in the sport of cycling. Cycling is one of the top sports in the world to guard against their athletes using “enhancers”, but it still remains a problem that receives an incredible amount of press coverage. I am referring to what I call “Performance Allowers” which can be defined as the common sense things you can apply to your training program (and life) that allow you to be the best rider you can be and function at 100% of your current fitness level.
Remember that being fit or healthy is not just about the hours that you spend on the bike each day. We’ve talked a lot over the past year in Toolbox about how important all the extra things you do off the bike can be in maximizing your potential and reaping the benefits of that hard training, so let’s take a little time to give ourselves a mid-summer refresher:
• Hydration – So simple, yet so many people do not hydrate themselves properly. I’ll bet you that Lance is now a believer after running dry in the big TT and then suffering badly not just that day but for two days afterwards! The problem is once you have dehydrated yourself, it is very difficult to get that back. It can take days and even weeks to repair the damage. Sip water and fluids all day. One thing I do is put bottles in common locations I go during the course of the day. In the car, in the office, in the kitchen. When I pass by, I take a sip. Check out Stephen Cheung’s series on hydration.
• Nutrition – Can be complicated given our lives these days. We don’t have the time to prepare the correct diet, but it is so important. So many athletes that come to AthletiCamps have questions about proper nutrition and how they can get the most energy out of their bodies, given their complicated lifestyles. It takes time and in most cases, a lifestyle change that does not happen over night. But given the proper attention, proper nutrition can be achieved. Check out Frank Overton’s article on weight maintenance.
• Stretching – Probably one of the more time consuming extra activities, but the benefits can be enormous, for both your cycling and quality of life, especially as we get older (that’s just Bruce; Frank and Stephen are ageless wonders). Injury prevention, less tension and less aches and pains are just a few of the benefits from a proper stretching routine. Check out Bruce’s article on stretching.
• Recovery – This includes both enough quality sleep and recovery from hard workouts. Most riders know when they are not sleeping enough and how it affects everything in their lives. Sometimes it can pay off to take a very easy day on the bike and get caught up with your sleep versus traveling hours to and from a race. With regards to recovery, it’s always better to be over rested than over trained. The body needs time to recover from hard efforts. I always tell my athletes, that when in doubt – rest. Do not push it and take a chance of digging a hole. Take what the day gives you in terms of how you feel and come back to fight another day. Do not force workouts when you are tired. Check out Frank’s article on recovery and also Stephen’s article on planning recovery days.
In cycling, it’s the little things that you apply to your program that can make the difference between a successful program and one that treads water. Pay attention and focus on these performance allowers, as over the course of time, you will be amazed as to how your training program improves your fitness.
Bruce Hendler created AthletiCamps to provide cycling-specific coaching and training to cyclists and athletes of all levels. Find out more at www.athleticamps.com.