The ‘New Year, New Me’ narrative of January is all well and good when you’re able to get out and log those winter miles that will reportedly yield summer smiles.
However, if the cold weather, mince pie excess and perhaps a little burning of the candle at all ends has resulted in a white flag of surrender from your immune system, then it’s hard not to feel left out.
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It can be tempting to train through illness, and many riders will just go out anyway when symptoms are ‘above the neck’. But ex-pro and director at Dig Deep Coaching Stephen Gallagher warns against overdoing it when the sniffles strike.
“I don’t really subscribe to the ‘above the neck’ rule. I always advise three days off the bike straight away with a cold.
“In most cases, if you think you’re getting ill, don’t train. Better to focus on nutrition, hydration and sleep than going out training and wrecking yourself.
“Unless you’re healthy, you can’t be fit,” he warns.
To fight an infection your body needs rest and lot of bike riders struggle with that, but busy hands and minds are less able to do damage. Here are some suggestions to help keep you busy…
Plan your event calendar
Scrolling through images of your friends out training is not helpful when you’re feeling motivated, but not able to ride.
Instead, channel that motivation into a bit of admin. Check out sportive calendars, familiarise yourself with the upcoming road race leagues and locations of the events.
If your season goal is to ‘get fit’, sitting at home will be hard. If it is to be in terrific form for a target event on March 2, 2019, it’s easier to accept that to hit that ‘A’ goal, your ‘process goal’ right now is to get better, so that you can train effectively sooner.
Write a training plan
Well, if you’ve chosen your events then this is the next logical step.
If you’re not working with a coach, getting your training plan can take quite a bit of brain work. Check out Gallagher’s advice to getting this right, here.
Focus on your nutrition
If you’re feeling a little bit weighed down after mince pie season, then the way to fix that is not through training but through taking a look at your diet.
Training burns calories, but it’s what you replace them with and how much that influences the number on the scales.
Your body needs adequate fuel to get better, so don’t try and put yourself in a calorie deficit whilst you’re ill. But focusing on getting into good habits – eating lots of fresh fruit and veg, will help you in the short term (getting better) and the long term (hitting race weight in time for the season).
If you often find yourself snacking on fast food when you’re squeezing training in with working life, why not use the spare hours you have on your hands to do some batch cooking?
Keep hydrated too – the lymphatic system transports immune cells around the body, whilst mucus protects nasal, mouth and gut linings from infection. Both processes need water.
Tinker with your bike
Bike been squeaking, rattling or crunching its way through the miles of late? Well, get your workshop trackies on and give your bike an MOT.
Replacing cables is a fiddly and low intensity job which will require all of your attention and should result in perfect shifting when you’re ready to get back to it.
Shop for bike parts
A 10-watt improvement on your FTP after 10 weeks of training would be considered an excellent outcome if you’ve got a fair degree of training history.
Well, CeramicSpeed claims that opting to upgrade to their blingy hubs, pulley wheels and bottom bracket could save you between six and nine watts. A CeramicSpeed UFO Racing Chain could save a further two to five*.
*We can not be held responsible for any credit card bills accumulated from this advice.
Plan a cycling holiday
The UK weather might be cold and miserable, but there are parts of the world where it’s actually sunny. Right now.
Jetting off for a spring cycling holiday is a great way to get some miles in your legs before the season really kicks off, and it gives you something to look forward to.
Use the winter evenings to sort out your accommodation and flights, so you’re not scrabbling around looking for last minute deals in March.
We’ve refrained from the obvious ‘spend time with family and friends’ – mainly to save the population from contracting your particular strain of lurgy.
However, other pass times of ‘normal’ non bike obsessed people including reading, listening to music, and this incredible web of watchable viewing called ‘Netflix’. We’re sure you’ll find something you like.