Like an old saying in the cycling world goes: “it never gets easier, you just get faster”- Greg LeMond. What it means is that we all suffer on our limit to finish the race, but if you prepare better you will conquer stages and finish the race faster and with far less suffering. You can decide if you go full speed or stay in your comfort zone, but remember: If your fitness is not in line with the demands of the course, you are forced to go in the red zone. With that you are also less safe on technically demanding routes as you cannot concentrate on what’s on your path. The red zone is not somewhere you want to be for 5 days.
With better fitness levels your time on the bike is reduced and you’ll experience less fatigue, not to mention you’ll finish earlier in the day which offers you more time to recover and take in the amazing surroundings.
Designing a good training plan and scheduling sufficient rest are the two most important factors when it comes to cycling improvements. Athletes, top-level or amateur, find a grand portion of motivation for hard work and success inside (intrinsic motivation). There is no training plan hard enough or pain deep enough to stop our motivation. We would cope with just about anything in our desire for progress. But this type of motivation can get us in trouble on our path to the desired level of fitness. With that motivation in our training routine, we quickly end up with a hard training session when we should have done as easy one followed by another hard day… You know where that will lead.
That kind of unstructured and unwise combination of training loads is not effective, it is a waste of our precious time and just not smart. Athletes trapped in that kind of a vicious circle make progress in the beginning but soon end up on the same fitness level with lots of plateaus and fatigue issues.
A good training plan is bases on an analysis of the current condition, pointing out weaknesses, structuring training load and rest and that brings us to making progress. All that is left to do is to train in line with that plan, follow instructions and employ good recovery strategies that will prevent injuries and possible illness that can be a step back in achieving our goals.
It is the coach’s task to make a training plan, analyse its execution and adjust the plan in case of unexpected events. What is most important is the coach’s objective, non-emotionally driven perspective on the entire process. That is a huge difference and advantage in comparison to self-coached athletes.
I can assure you it is worth giving a coach a chance to change your training, from my own twenty-year long experience as a self-coached athlete. Every year I wanted someone to revise my training objectively and make decisions on how to proceed, as I was always over motivated and subjective towards myself, self-pressed with my goals and dreams of good results and prone to overtraining in that motivation.
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