However hard you train in readiness for an event you can make a real mess of it in the final week by not letting your body rest and recover before the big day. All training works by progressively overloading your body and then letting it rebuild itself stronger to cope with the next overload. If you don’t let your body heal itself and restore it’s energy supplies completely, then the last training situations will actually be a hindrance rather than a help.To make sure you’re fresh rather than flaked out here’s Coach Potato’s guide to the concept of tapering and active rest.The weekly plan
We’ve actually been tapering for the last two weeks anyway. Dropping interval lengths from 5 minutes to minute then 30 seconds then ten was a deliberate pyramid. It reduces the demand on your fuel stores and the speed you achieve with each session increases, so you finish with flat out sprints that make you feel good about yourself. Cunning huh!This means your body will naturally be more rested and ready to go that it has been for a while, even if you’re not used to twice a week sessions. The important thing for this week is not to waste any of this stored energy but to help increase it and keep your body moving smoothly and ready to go.
This is where active recovery comes in. The idea is to flow blood round your muscles and oxygen through your lungs to flood them with fuel, repair any damage and swill out waste products such as lactic acid from the last round of training. To increase blood flow without working too hard, aim to ride at a very gentle conversational pace (approx. 120 on a pulse monitor) and don’t go out for any longer than half an hour. Resist the temptation to chase anything, avoid steep hills, and if it feels a strain at any point just get off and walk.
If you’re riding once a week then put this session in midweek, if you’re riding twice a week either do it twice or put in a gentle sub hour play ride tonight (just so you don’t go stir crazy) and do the recovery on Thursday.Coach Potato’s fit chip tips Ride your own race
We’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating, the secret to having a successful and enjoyable race / ride is to go at your own pace. Hopefully training will have given you a good idea of what effort you can sustain without going pop. The buzz of racing will often mean you can rev yourself harder without feeling it, which is fine for short courses and short events but believe us you will feel it later. For longer events it’s imperative that you control this excitement and keep your effort steady and sustainable. If you find you’re still raring to go in the later stages then that’s the time to start winding the pace up and passing all those who people who flew past you at the start but are now dropping like flies.Next week
Well as this is the last of our regular Coach Potato sessions there isn’t a next week. We hope you’ve found the features useful and you’ve got a bit more spring in your step than you had back in February. Now all you have to do is go and use that fitness to enjoy the rest of summer.
If you’re keen to keep your current levels up, then just use the sessions we’ve given you and alternate them to fit in with your schedule. The key thing to remember is to concentrate on improving your weaknesses rather than your strengths, and always remember to get enough rest.
If you’ve got any questions mail them in and I’m sure we’ll run some sort of regular clinic here. In the meantime have a cracking summer and we’ll see you out on the trails.
Bye for now.Coach P