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Have you made a new year’s resolution? Is it to train harder, get fitter, ride faster? Every cyclist and every active individual confronts desires such as this as each new year or training phase begins. But deciding what you’re going to achieve is an awful lot easier than making it happen. We’ve drawn together some top tips and products that will help you to make the most out of your training in 2017.
1. Set Realistic Goals
It’s no good starting out on January 1st with the goal of riding 10,000 miles in a year if you only managed 3,000 the year before. This goal is, while easily measurable, pretty unrealistic and is more likely to make you miserable than offer the satisfaction of success. The best objectives take you just a couple of steps out of your comfort zone; just enough to have to push yourself and maybe even to evoke a sense of guilt from time to time. A great target to optimise training efficiency and motivation would be entry to a sportive event or several. This way you have a set timeline to observe and attainment is far more likely.
2. Cycle Computer (+ speed and cadence)
Investing in a cycle computer is a great way to measure your training and even to analyse it once you’ve built up a few weeks of data. The Garmin range are leaders of this industry sector, with the most popular being the Garmin 520 and 1000 for road cyclists. Paired with speed and cadence sensors, this device will accurately measure speed, time and your revolutions per minute. Cadence in particular is a brilliant training aid, enabling you to visualise how hard you’re working compared to other rides.
3. Heart Rate
Your next port of call once your cycle computer is sorted out will be a heart rate monitor. These used to be the sole way a cyclist would measure their training effort, and continue to be a favourite among amateurs for whom a power meter is a little out of reach. Products like the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor can be paired easily with a cycle computer and provide an indication of health, recovery and effort on the road.
4. Power Meter
More popular, available and affordable than ever, power meters are the primary training and racing aid for professional cyclists and super keen amateurs – although they are still a considerable investment. A power meter will complement your heart rate monitor by providing absolute figures representing your output. It is different to heart rate in that it is not affected by external factors like temperature, fatigue or a slight runny nose. A power meter doesn’t lie and it is considered to give cyclists the most accurate representation of performance.
Recovery is both the easiest aspect of nutrition to get wrong, and perhaps the most important thing to get right. It is all too easy to get back from a ride and stuff your face with chips and pudding, without thought for proper recovery. There are a couple of ways you can optimise this vital part of cycling. One is to prepare your post-ride food so it’s ready for you on your return, the other is to take recovery shakes. Torq makes nutrition and hydration from natural sources, offering a range of natural flavours which taste as advertised. The mint chocolate milkshake recovery drink is particularly good for a delicious post-ride snack which will actually do you good.
You will not need all of the above to succeed in your quest to achieve your goals, just one will help to push you a little further towards success. And besides, we all know that new kit is the best motivation, right?