Whether you’re cycling competitively, to keep your fitness levels up, or for the simple pleasures of a hobby, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your cycling journey.
Cycling in itself is a great way to keep fit. However, you can further maximise your cycling fitness with some tailored off-bike exercises. Deanna Mascioli, Swisse personal trainer and naturopath, says, “Fartlek training, a method which combines continuous training with interval training, is a great way to challenge endurance and allow your body to adapt to changes in tempo. This can help to increase overall cardiovascular fitness, which can assist you when you’re on the bike.”
Not sure how to “do the Fartlek”? Set yourself a series of short distances and sprint one section, then run the next at your normal pace. Rinse and repeat.
Planning is important for long distance cycling if you want to maintain your energy levels and reach the finish line. How much fluid and food do you need to keep your muscles going? How on earth do you eat and drink on the bike? Swisse dietitian, Simone Austin, is here to help:
“It’s easier said than done to eat or drink and cycle at the same time, particularly when going at high speed, so practice and see what works best for you. On longer rides, you will need a fluid that provides both water and electrolytes to keep hydrated, and probably carbohydrate too for energy replenishment. It is generally easier to drink the energy than to eat it.
“On a long ride, also be sure to carry some food that is high in carbohydrate and easy to chew. Moist food works best, like bananas, fruit bars or sandwiches with soft fillings like peanut butter or avocado, cut into quarters to make eating easy.”
It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts while doing a sport like cycling, which is why it’s great for practicing mindfulness. You’ll also find this tool invaluable when pushing your way through a challenging route or a long ride.
During a ride, focus your thoughts on your breathing, paying particular attention to when you inhale and exhale. When negative thoughts, such as, “I’m too slow” or “I can’t do this” enter your head, acknowledge the thought, set it aside and return your focus back to your breath.
It’s important to manage your recovery after a challenging ride. You need to hydrate well for the period after exercising to replenish lost fluids. Think about taking a magnesium supplement, which can help support healthy muscle function and assist with cellular energy production.
And your go-to recovery meal? Simone advises, “When finished, remember to recover with protein, carbohydrate and fluid. A smoothie might go down well here or eggs with avocado on toast.” Sounds like a good opportunity for a post-ride café visit!