Weekend Reading: 13 Ways to Boost Your Fitness and Performance in 2013

Happy New Year and welcome to 2013! Since the world didn’t end in December and Congress kicked the can down the road instead of booting us off a cliff, it’s time once again to focus on the things we have complete control over. A new year means new opportunities to take your performance to the next level, and I have 13 things you can do to help you have your best season ever in 2013!

1. Eat less while you train: You only need to replenish 20-30% of the calories you expend each hour. So, if you’re riding at 600 kilojoules per hour (roughly equal to 600 calories), you only need 120-200 calories per hour. And for sessions under 75 minutes, you don’t need during-workout calories, just fluids and maybe electrolytes.

2. Get used to being hungry: Almost without exception, we can all afford to lose some weight. To do it, you’re doing to have to suck it up and go hungry. Stop gorging after long rides and workouts, eat smaller portions, skip desserts, etc. If you’re consistent, your body and brain will adapt to eating less.

3. Commit to consistency: Training 4 times a week (ie. twice during the workweek and twice on weekends) is good. Five training days a week is great. Six may actually be too much for some athletes, and 7 is generally not a good idea.

4. Sign up for a big challenge: There’s nothing wrong with returning to events you know and enjoy, but it’s difficult to sustain passion and inspiration from those events. Go out on a limb and sign up for something exciting, scary, intimidating, or exotic! If you’re not excited and nervous about it, how are you going to commit 100% to preparing for it? Need some suggestions?

5. Get a power meter (or learn how to use it): The hipsters and knuckleheads who think athletes have to reach a certain skill/fitness level before they deserve to use power are just elitist morons. Power can be a valuable tool for athletes at all levels of sport, but if you get one, learn how to use it! Download your data. Track your progress. Ask questions about it. Here’s a great way to get a power meter!

6. Drink more when you train: Most of us ride the same set of routes, and drink the same amounts on those routes. The “Hannover Loop” is a 3-bottle ride, for instance. Instead of focusing on more ounces-per-hour, add a bottle of electrolyte drink (like a GU Electrolyte Tab in a bottle) to your normal fluid intake for 2- to 3-hour rides. Look at your power meter data and record your perceived exertion. You’ll feel better and your power will drop off less in the final hour of your ride.

7. Schedule a training camp: Eat. Sleep. Ride. Repeat. Carve out some time and make training, recovery, and nutrition your top priority for 1-2 weeks. Come to one of my camps or build your own by taking two long weekends with a few half-days at work in between.

8. Drop dairy: There are some good nutrients in dairy products, but they are also a sneaky source of a lot of calories and fat. It’s not the 1% milk; it’s the ubiquitous cheese everywhere, high-calorie coffee drinks, and restaurant foods made rich with cream and butter. Dropping dairy has proven to be an effective component of weight loss strategies for our athletes.

9. Drop caffeine: Caffeine enhances athletic performance, but to get the biggest race-day impact from caffeine you don’t want a huge tolerance for the stuff. When you consume less caffeine on a daily basis, less caffeine is required to achieve an ergogenic benefit, so the relatively small amounts in gels and chewables will help you more.

10. Fall in love with this workout: 3×10 SteadyState Intervals (3×20 for advanced riders), with recovery between intervals 5 and 10minutes, respectively. It’s not sexy or complicated, but sustained time-at-intensity increases sustainable power at lactate threshold. This the performance marker that leads to higher climbing speed, less taxing rides in the pack, and faster bike splits in triathlons. Intensity: 90-95% of CTS Field Test power, 92-94% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate, or an 8 on a 1-10 exertion scale.

11. Lose your power meter: I know I told you to get one, but it’s also important to lose it every once in a while. You have to learn to gauge your efforts by listening to your body, not just by the numbers on your handlebars. I’ve seen too many athletes sit up and drop themselves from a group, not because they couldn’t hack it, but because their power output seemed too high.

12. Jump into a faster group: You’ll never work as hard as you will when you’re fighting to maintain contact with the back of a group of athletes faster and stronger than you. You’ll improve your drafting and positioning skills, too.

13. Work with a CTS Coach: You spend too much time and energy on your sport to only make marginal improvements year after year. Work with CTS and make substantial, measurable, and noticeable gains in 2013! Sign up in January and take the CTS Lean & Mean Challenge!

Have a Great Weekend!
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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