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  • Writer's pictureCoach Will

5 training mistakes (most) cyclists make

I’ve been in the sport of cycling most of my adult life, and I’ve been coaching for a large part of that. Throughout this time, I’ve noticed riders make the same mistakes again and again. I’ve made them too. Below I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 mistakes that cyclists make in their training programs.

1. Pushing when you should rest.

Every cyclist knows this feeling. You’re completing a workout you’ve done a dozen times before, but for whatever reason, this manageable workout is kicking your butt today. You’ve only just hit the halfway mark and the mind games have begun:

“What’s wrong with me today? Maybe I should stop riding. No! Shut up brain. Finish the ride otherwise all your fitness progress will be lost!”

We’ve all been there. If the workout has been manageable in the past, but today seems impossible, your body is likely trying to tell you something. There are a number of factors that could be at play here. Stress, lack of sleep, poor recovery or the beginning of a virus can all have this effect on the body. It is highly recommended that at this point you call it a day, and ride the next 20 minutes in zone 1. Using HRV apps are a good way to monitor your form and help you be attune to your body. (See previous blog for more).

2. Not pushing hard enough when you’re fresh.

In contrast to the above, when you are fit, fresh and healthy, it’s time to get some hurt in! These are the workouts where the major fitness improvements are made. Unless you are tapering for a target event or you’re in a low intensity training block, it is wise to use your good form on this day to push harder than normal. Don’t hold back here!

3. Cramming sessions to make up for missed workouts.

You’ve missed a ride (see number 1) and you feel that you’ve jeopardized your whole program. You alter your training week to complete this ride at a later time. Sounds good right? Quite often this is the wrong move. By attempting to catch up on a missed ride, you risk compromising the rest of your training week, and in turn future weeks as well as potentially over-stressing your body. That missed workout is gone. That’s ok. Move on, don’t beat yourself up and attack the remaining rides in your week.

4. Riding hard on easy days.

“I’m not working hard, so I’m not getting fitter!”

Your coach has prescribed you a ride in zone 1 or zone 2 for a reason. One likely reason is that you’ve already done your hard rides for the week, and this zone 1 ride is for the purpose of active recovery. Active recovery is very important in stimulating your lymphatic system to help remove exercise induced waste from your tired muscles to speed up the recovery process. Another reason you may be riding in zone 1 or zone 2 is because you’re in a base building phase of your season. I’ve spoken in depth about the importance of base training in previous blogs, so I’ll spare you the spiel. Remember, every ride has a reason. Stick to the program, and reap the rewards.

5. “How many km do you ride?”

How many times have you heard this. Usually a question asked of a race winner by their jealous competitors. How often do you get an answer that surprises you?

“I ride 100km per week more than this person! How come they’re beating me?”

Weekly distance is used in cycling conversations as some sort of metric by which success is measured, and we’ve all been making this mistake for a long time. Weekly distance does not equal performance. What if you live in a hilly area? Do people ask you how many weekly vertical metres you climb? What about asking a person about their weekly TSS? Yes, a person can ride further than you and accumulate less training stress. The weekly kilometres chat is fine to engage in, but don’t fall into the trap of being intimidated by those accumulating a lot of distance or be frustrated when someone who has beaten you rides less than you. Enjoy the chat, but take it with a pinch of salt.

Until next time

Happy riding,


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