Sharon Laws shares her top 5 training tips to help make you faster and stronger on the bike.
Throughout my cycling career, I’ve been lucky enough to have had some great advice from some very knowledgeable and experienced people. For this feature I wanted to condense all of that advice into the most valuable points – the ones that have really made the most difference my performances. They’re as relevant to triathlon as they are to cycling, and I hope you’ll find them as useful as I did.
1. “Don’t be influenced by others, particularly in the lead-up to races”
Julian Winn, my coach in 2008:
During the Beijing Olympics, Julian found me training on the rollers, where I had been for nearly an hour. He told me to get off immediately. I usually only did roller sessions for 30 minutes but I was doing more because everyone else around me was. Julian emphasised the importance of sticking to your own schedule and not being influenced by what other people were doing. In the lead- up to a big event it is easy to over-train by panicking, when someone else is doing more intervals or longer hours. You can easily undo all your hard work and preparation by joining them instead of sticking to your own programme.
2. “Use energy drinks when training”
Ian Rodgers, sports scientist and my coach from 2012 to today:
I used to save energy drinks for race days only. Or at least that was until I started being coached by Ian “energy in = watts out” Rodgers. With an energy drink I noticed a huge improvement in my interval sessions compared to just having water and food. Now I only use water when going for an easy recovery ride.
3. “Tape notes on your handle bars”
Alex Ritz, Cervélo mechanic:
In the 2011 Giro Donne, I picked up my bike for the fourth stage and found a note on the handle bars saying “use your front brake”. Alex had noticed that my back brakes were worn but the front ones looked new. Now I often put notes on my handle bars, particularly at the end of stage races, telling me to eat and drink or even simply a smiley face to remind me that cycling really is great fun – even when it hurts.
4. “Attack when you feel bad”
Emma Pooley, World Time Trial Champion 2011:
During the Plouay World Cup in 2010, Emma was in a break with three other riders, but she attacked on a climb, got a gap and rode away. Emma said she was feeling terrible but attacking at that moment was perfect as everyone else was feeling awful too. She looked strong because she attacked and this show of strength cracked the others mentally and she rode on to win. In a triathlon, if you can drop an opponent on the run by putting in an extra spurt when you are under pressure, chances are you will leave them behind.
5. “Quality not Quantity”
All of my coaches:
In 2011 the director of my road team commented that I could ride forever but I wasn’t fast. In 2012, training with Ian Rodgers, we sought to address this. I increased the amount of high intensity sessions and decreased the volume of my training. It worked – I was faster. This is really great news for those who have to juggle training and a full-time job. You can be more efficient with your time but get better results on the bike.
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