The 10 Commandments of Cycle Training

When you get to the point where you want to take your cycling to the next level—going faster and/or farther—you need to train. As you go forth in your training, remember these rules.

To get results, follow these cycling training commandments.  
1. Have a Plan. Winging it is fine sometimes, but it doesn’t quite cut it when you want to achieve something great. Truly remarkable accomplishments, whether finishing your first century (100-mile) ride or lining up for your first race (yes, it could happen), require careful planning and execution.
2. Be Prepared to Scrap the Plan. You’re scheduled for three sets of high-speed spin-ups, and your legs feel like they’re churning through wet cement. Try a couple efforts to see if they come around. If they do not, your body is telling you it hasn’t recovered from your latest effort. Take the day easy and hit it hard tomorrow instead. Your plan should be etched in clay for molding it to your needs, not in stone for hammering yourself with.

3. Ride at the Extremes. Many cyclists never go hard enough or easy enough to make big gains. Instead, they spend most of their rides going comfortably hard. Once a week, go so hard your eyes hurt. Follow it with a ride so slow the snails yawn. The combination makes legs strong.

4. Be True to Thyself. Most cyclists are pack animals by nature. Enjoy the camaraderie, but don’t let your training goals get trashed by the constant KOM (king of the mountain) contests, town line sprints, and all-hard, all-the-time mentality of the group. If you can’t trust yourself to sit in and go easy when you need to, ride alone.

5. Do What Sucks. You hate climbing because it’s hard for you. You should climb because it’s hard for you.

6. Think Progressively. Do more than log miles. Don’t leave behind the drills just because a training plan has ended. Do intervals, cadence rides, and other specific workouts designed to progressively challenge your body in different ways from week to week. Give every ride a goal.

7. Maintain the Human Machine. Keep strengthening your core and other stabilizing muscles. Keep stretching. By keeping your supporting muscles strong and joints flexible, you can avoid an achy back, tight hip flexors, and other overuse injuries that can weaken even the strongest cyclist.

8. Train Your Brain. Your body can do more than you think. Convince it using your brain, through positive self-talk and visualization. You’ll be surprised by what you accomplish when you say you can.

9. Eat. Fuel is everything for accomplishing big goals like 100-mile rides or multiday charity rides. Train your belly like you do your legs. Fuel your workouts with the same foods you eat on event day. You’ll ride faster in practice and digest better when it counts. Don’t be afraid to experiment. There are dozens of different energy concoctions for a reason. No one diet works for everyone.

10. Enjoy the Ride. You have a job. Presumably, riding’s not it. Work hard at it. But never make it work.