Emma Cachemaille’s been working with athletes, both professional and recreational since 2004. With K2 and Taupo fast approaching, she’s been getting a lot of questions from keen cyclists who want to conquer these events for the first time, or who want to simply improve on previous years.
Here she gives you her top 6 key tips to help you have the best training year possible.
- CONSISTENT TRAINING
Without a doubt, consistency is key in achieving most goals in life, be it saving a deposit for a house, losing weight, or becoming successful at a skill. The 10,000 principle says it takes that much time & practice to become a master at your craft; i.e. a lot of hours in the saddle. The best way to accumulate those hours to get yourself around the lake on two wheels is with consistency. Get in touch with a good coach who can show you how to use your time effectively to be consistent. It may mean fitting in some commutes to work, or some rides during lunch, but with a plan and organisation anything is possible.
2. HAVE A PLAN AND BE ORGANISED
It can be hard enough juggling all the tasks that life throws at us, without fitting in training for a cycling event. The best way to approach this is to sit down with a qualified coach and work out the windows of time that you can train in, then make a plan to get you from where you are today to where you would like to be. Don’t beat yourself up if life takes over every now and then, but if you are repeatedly missing sessions it may be time to ask yourself if your goals you have line up with the time you have available. By having structure so your support network (family, bosses, significant others) can see your goals and upcoming sessions, you can best decide how to approach these days with an organised manner.
3. ADEQUATE TRAINING AND ADEQUATE REST
A proper mix of stress and recovery in all physiological zones will ensure the right training occurs at the right time. A generic programme will bring about some changes if it is adhered to, but to gain the best results, a good coach will look at your overall life load, strengths and weaknesses, goals and available time. It’s important to have easy weeks and hard weeks, easy sessions and hard sessions, and easy phases in the year as well as peak phases. I think the most important key here is to do your hard sessions hard, and your easy sessions easy. If you are a competitive person, you may need to do your easy days with someone who’s a bit more casual and isn’t going to buy into your “pedestrian crossing sprints”. This is particularly important in your taper phase – we all know that person the trains like Tarzan and races like Jane.
Ever wonder what elite athletes do when they aren’t training or doing press conferences or promo work? I’d say sleeping and ensuring they are recovered for the next session. Every extra hour of training you do requires an extra hour of sleep a week, so if you’re managing a 7 hour training week, that’s an extra hour a night you need for your body to repair and stay in the black. A weekend mid afternoon nap can do wonders for your recovery. If you are getting up early to train, you may need to go to bed earlier at night. Work out what time you’ll need to be in bed by and try to adhere to it. As my mother once said “you can’t burn a candle at both ends”.
5. STRENGTH, FLEXIBILITY AND STABILITY
These components are missed amongst many recreational cyclists in both the lower and higher grades. Mostly it comes down to not having time, or rather, using that spare time to log more hours in the saddle. And that makes great sense – but what if I could tell you that 2×30 – 45 minutes a week could improve your riding ability? The key most coaches are missing is how to programme this in without wrecking athletes, and how to time it with the race season. As a qualified coach, physiologist and physiotherapist I place emphasis on the body’s systems and how we can get them working the best. Not all genetics are created equal, but you can work as hard as you are able with the ones you have.
Lastly, nutrition plays a massive role in your performance for many reasons. The main four are speeding up your recovery, improving your immune system, giving your muscles the correct energy to race, and getting your body to race weight. If you’ve ever done any reading on how to get up hills better you have probably heard of the “power to weight ratio” or more simply, the less fat you have the faster you’ll go up hills Taupo and K2 are riddled with hills so getting to a manageable racing weight, without losing your mind or forcing people in your life to turn on you, is an easy way to gain speed. My job as a nutritionist is to ensure all of the above.