Avoid These Fitness Pitfalls
After surviving the endless polar vortex, developing an unwelcome layer of fatty warmth in your midsection, and spending countless hours on your tiresome trainer, it's no wonder you're feeling desperate to hit the road. But don't let your excitement about kicking off the cycling season cloud your better judgment. We asked world-class endurance coaches at Carmichael Training Systems, most of whom have more than a decade of experience training novice to elite athletes, to explain the classic mistakes riders make when coming back from a long winter break—and how to do it right.
Here's how you know when you're doing it right: 7 Signs Your Training is Working
Mistake #1: Cutting Calories Like Crazy
Getting back in shape is often code for losing weight. After all, the leaner you are, the faster you'll go. While it's tempting to dramatically reduce your consumption as you ramp up training, this can really mess with your energy levels, sap your mental power, and leave you with too few nutrients for recovery.
Riders' Rx: "Eat to support your activity level," says coach Jim Rutberg, coauthor of The Time-Crunched Cyclist. "Continue eating as you have been (keeping portion sizes normal, of course) when you add cycling back into the mix. If you add calories to your day, start with just a small preride snack," he says.
Mistake #2: Eating Too Much Before a Ride
Remember how much you stuffed in your face to power through long rides last season? Well, back then, your muscles were a calorie-burning furnace. Since then, you haven't really cranked up the heat, except for your home's thermostat. So taking in extra fuel before an easy workout may backfire. It can actually drain your energy rather than amp it up—not to mention increase weight gain.
Riders' Rx: "As a general rule, aim to supplement only those workouts that last more than an hour and a half," suggests coach Ivana Bisaro, a strength and conditioning specialist and certified sports nutritionist with 12 years at CTS under her spandex. (Not sure what'll best fuel your workout? Try these Foods That Make You Go Faster.)