Best practices for endurance athletes are relatively general daily actions you can take to move closer to your goal. They are not short-term ‘hacks’ or ‘goals,’ but rather long-term actions. Things you do to move forward over time. They are not always flashy or even enjoyable, but the steady progress, success and consistency they create is very rewarding.
It doesn’t matter if you are trying to lose those last 10 pounds, start surviving (and thriving) in that weekly ‘worlds’ group ride or win national championships, these daily actions are central to success.
5 BEST PRACTICES OF ENDURANCE ATHLETES
1. TAKE CARE OF YOUR GEAR
I won’t go as far as saying that every top-level rider I know takes meticulous care of their gear like a professional mechanic, but I will suggest that more often than not, the top riders keep their gear (bikes, clothes, gear bags, etc.) tidy, clean and professional. They may not be great at mechanics but their gear is presentable, ready for the next ride and any issues are quickly noticed and taken care of before it hampers training, or worse, a race result.
READ MORE > 1-MINUTE DIY BIKE MAINTENANCE MUSTS
Find what you like and will actually do! There is not much reason to avoid daily core, yoga or strength training. Even the most time-limited athletes can usually make time to do a few side planks and dead-bugs before bed. This off-bike movement helps your cycling, if not directly in power output, then by reducing time away from training due to back strains caused by muscle imbalances. Even walking helps by providing your body with some variety. This cross-training and maintenance helps your body take you further on the bike without injury. (Try this Anywhere Core Routine.)
That next tweet may be important but not as important as your daily nutrition, sleep and training. Daily training is important to developing efficiency and routine. Make your competition less stressful because it is your everyday mindset. Olympic cross-country skier turned mountain biker Katerina Nash emphasized this focus in this episode of the Consummate Athlete. Making sure you plan your training into your day, especially as a busy age-grouper with a family and work is a way to make sure your training gets done. For many adult athletes, this means early morning workouts and a strong sense of why they are getting out of bed to sweat each morning.
4. PUSH YOUR LIMITS
By taking an interest in training, athletes can make progress. This means keeping a training journal, pushing your skills (i.e., hopping logs or climbing that steep hill rather than taking a ride-around route). Gradually progressing loads (time and intensity) from what you have done in the past is much better than suffering without a purpose or workout goal. This is how strength training is generally done, use the same plan to progress your cycling workouts (e.g. 200 watts this week, 205 watts next week). This doesn’t mean suffering every day, but rather tracking what you did for hours this week and adding a little bit next week or seeing how many watts you averaged for a 3 x 10-minute threshold workout this week and improving it next week by a few watts. Make gradual progress.
READ MORE > YOUR PRE-RIDE CHECKLIST
Become a student of your sport so you can understand the training you are doing and why you need to push yourself to go hard and/or long on a certain day. Athletes who have made progress are ones who take an interest in the factors of great performance. This can mean reading this blog, magazines, books or even following researchers like Yann Le Meur to stay up to date on new techniques and to learn about time-tested training strategies.
These small things add up to a big difference over time. With clean and functioning gear you will be out riding more often, executing workouts you understand the purpose of, and since you are tracking progress in your log, you will see your performance improve. As a result, your motivation and confidence will improve. Then, keep going.