Mistake #3: Going Big Right From the Start
We get it. You've been cooped up all winter long and now you're ready to go, go, go. While your enthusiasm is awesome, good intentions alone, unfortunately, don't get you very far.
Riders' Rx: Simmer down and take note: "The memory of what you used to do, and where you left off last season, sometimes blinds you to the fact that you need to build up more gradually," warns Rutberg, who has been with CTS for 14 years. His advice: "Focus on consistency and establishing the habits that will keep you going." Aim to ride four days a week for 1 to 2 hours versus riding once or twice a week for four hours.
Mistake #4: Readjusting Your Cycling Position
Your first few times back in the saddle have you questioning why your handlebar is so low or your seat's so high, so you decide to tweak your position to make your ride more comfortable.
Riders' Rx: Moving from your couch to the saddle is never going to be a smooth transition. Sit tight and take comfort in the fact that your conditioning and flexibility will come back the more you ride. "Keep your rides relatively short (about 60 minutes or so) and the intensity easy to moderate for the first three to five rides," Rutberg recommends. Also, try to ride at a relatively high cadence (90-plus revolutions per minute) and give your body a proper amount of time to re-adapt to the position, he adds. If after these rides you're still uncomfortable, see a bike fit professional.
Mistake #5: Getting Hung Up on Last Year's Stats
Looking back at your workout logs, including your power outputs, heart rates and course times, from last season may have you thinking too much about where you were and less about what needs to happen next to get back there.
Riders' Rx: "Lose the lament, and instead try to be realistic about where you are now as you start up again," says senior-level CTS coach Dave McIntosh. "The upside," he says, "is that if it has happened in the past, there's a pretty good chance it will happen again with time and consistency of training." Be patient and don't give up. Soon enough, your power will be rising and times will be dropping. Focus on looking ahead with these 6 Steps to Achieve This Year's Fitness Goals.
Mistake #6: Keeping Up With Your Training Partners
There's nothing worse than feeling like you might soon get dropped by the guy who spent last summer sucking your wheel. His recent slew of Facebook posts about his workouts and rides have got your nerves rattled enough to make you want to step up your game and rethink your strategy.
Riders' Rx: Fitness takes time to develop and your hard, steady work will pay off. "Ramping up training too quickly to 'catch up' isn't wise," says coach Lindsay Hyman, a USA Triathlon coach at CTS. Taking on an intense new plan isn't the problem. The issue is when you throw off your training-recovery balance—you may not be able to recover adequately from the increased workload, which can stall your progress and even cause you to regress. "Stick to your program," she says, "and when you're at your strongest that same buddy may be trying to catch up to you."
Just like doing too much too soon, doing too little over time will work against you. Sure, you need to build up a solid base with low-intensity rides before you bring in the heart-rate-spiking work, but taking your time will only slow your return to fitness.
Riders' Rx: You'll be ready to add short HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to your training after just a few rides, says coach Michael Hagen, who, while at CTS for the last eight years, has helped 90 percent of his Ironman athletes PR. "These will build your fitness faster and have the added benefit of improving your efficiency," says Hagen. Start with as few as four to six 10-second sprints separated by several minutes of easy riding. Increase the number of these sprints before increasing the duration of high-intensity efforts.
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