As many of you are noticing now, the training is beginning to add up. Your CTL is building and your ATL is accumulating. Additionally, the workouts are getting harder more frequently. You are probably beginning to feel "different" strength and "different" general fatigue. You might even be noticing heavy riding legs early in workouts. That’s all a normal and fun part of the process of training.
However, moving forward it becomes very important to respect the day-to-day work and the cumulative (and acute) loads. You have less margin for error in preparation and recovery, so make sure you're doing the little things to help you recover AND keep your body healthy. What you do today will help tomorrow. What you do this cycle helps you in the next.
Here are three areas to think about:
Nutritionally, remember that undereating is the fastest way to underperformance and overtraining. Dial in your calorie needs and be slow and patient if you are trying to lose weight. (If you've never trained like this before, your body might need a lot more calories than you think!) Namrita’s given some excellent tips and guidelines, so make sure you are following those. Eating is really important for recovery (and for your immune system!).
Remember that Thursdays are day 3 of a mini block, and Sundays are the last day of the microcycle. That means that aside from your rest day, the things you do off the bike for recovery on Wednesday and Saturday are the most important. When we think about training, we often only think about that day’s workout, but everything you do today also impacts tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow! Stay on top of the little things with nutrition and taking care of your body.
And… taking care of your body….don’t neglect your pre-ride (and maybe post-ride) activation and mobility. It’s really important to be moving functionally. You always want to strengthen function. Said another way, you do not want to strengthen dysfunction. As you move through a training cycle, the fatigue adds up. The extra time to activate muscles before a ride gives your brain a head start. It also gives you clues as to where you might be tight. Make those mental notes and make time to work on that area now. Don’t wait until you have pain later. How do I do this? I do some (not a lot) specific stretching. I do lots of self-massage, tissue release, and tennis balls on certain trigger points. Over the years I’ve taken time to understand the big picture connections throughout my body, so I have a better idea of how to source out any problems. That way if I'm tight or feel a niggle, I can get to the source. Think about it like this: If the tree in my front yard has brown leaves, I don’t paint the leaves green; I want to get to the source of the problem.
The details add up! No one is perfect, but be excellent in them as often as you can. Trend better! Think long.