“I don’t like to see cyclists making the same basic mistakes that I made when I started out because of lack of information”
article by Anthony Walsh
When I started out cycling, I basically engaged in a really long and drawn out game of ‘trial and error’. As an absolute newbie, I had no source of good advice and had no idea about what kit to wear, what to eat while out training, or what sort of training to do.
The early days threw up some pretty bizarre experiments. One noteworthy experiment on nutrition resulted in a friend and I riding through the Dublin Mountains in a four hour ride. In our wisdom, we decided if we rode without food or water we’d be supercharged with energy when we got into the race at the weekend. To cut a long story short, this proved to be very wrong – but we learned from the experiment!
I don’t like to see cyclists making the same basic mistakes that I made when I started out because of lack of information.
This was one of my big motivations to get involved in coaching.
From my personal experience, and from what we have learned working with the many clients who have come to A1 Coaching for help, I can identify 5 top mistakes that riders make – I hope you will avoid them.
1. Not training in zones
Some guys have Heart Rate Monitors and Power Meters but don’t know how use them properly. Others have prioritized other cycling-related purchases before adopting this technology.
Having this kit and, and learning how to use it effectively, is the single most effective investment you’ll make in your cycling development.
2. Training in tempo zone
There is a range of training zones and each has an associated physiological adaption. We need to spend the right amount of time in each zone to develop as a rider.
This may mean slowing down at times to facilitate going faster later in the week.
3. Training without event-specific requirements
Sitting down and developing your goals for the season is an essential exercise. Once you have these goals, begin to look at the demands of your target event.
We need to train with the demands of the event in mind. For example, if we are an A4 rider we know most races finish in a bunch sprint.
Therefore, it’s essential we develop our sprint ability all through the off-season.
4. No Focus on technique
There are many areas where we can get ‘free speed’.
For example, we can incorporate pedalling drills that teach us how to apply force more effectively through the full 360 degrees around the pedal stroke.
We can also learn to position better within the bunch or corner with greater fluidity.
5. Not having a plan
Today’s training session should make tomorrow’s success more likely.
We won’t stumble upon success; we need to plan for it and every session should have a purpose which is part of the broader plan.
For the time-crunched athlete, we need to make sure that every minute of every session is bringing us one step closer to our ultimate season goal.
Stop wasting your own time if you are training without a plan aimed at clear goals, and start now on that plan for 2016.
Embrace the intensity revolution.
If you like this article and want to know more about building a perfect winter base program, click here for free access to A1 Coaching‘s Winter Training Video Series.
Anthony Walsh is the founder and Director of A1 Coaching.
He grew up in a house enveloped by a love of cycling and it became a core part of his life from an early age. Anthony’s father was a bike mechanic and his apprenticeship began at an early age, working on bikes long into the night in a makeshift garage in the family home.
Anthony’s father was also a true fan of the sport and Anthony absorbed a love and appreciation for the sport that would one day turn into his profession.
Initially the bike was a tool of utility for transport. As a child, it allowed Anthony to explore beyond the boundaries of his local neighbourhood and expand his horizons. This, in time, led to summer-long romances and life-long friendships. The initial tool for transport would later morph into a means by which Anthony would earn his living.
Anthony took up cycling competitively in his early 20s as a student in University College Dublin (UCD) – a string of injuries had ended a long soccer career that included an All-Ireland Winners’ medal with Bohemians Football Club.
After a degree in Economics, Anthony’s academic career changed focus and he turned his attention to Law. He earned an MA in Law and a Barrister at Law Degree from The Honorable Society of Kings Inns.
Anthony excelled on the domestic cycling scene while balancing the demands of full-time study and his performances acted as the springboard to a professional career. He would go on to compete for the Irish National team and sign contracts in France with Division Nationale Team, Super U; in Canada with Jet Fuel Coffee, and in the US with Astellas Oncology Pro Cycling.
Anthony’s academic background gave him a particular perspective which helped him to learn within the professional environment. He fostered relationships, worked with top coaches and respected directors, and interacted with some of the world’s top riders against whom he competed. He soaked up the knowledge gained from these experiences while also studying everything he could find on up-to-day scientific training methods.
The analysis of all this input, viewed through his academic lens, gave Anthony a unique perspective and insight into top athletes’ successful training and conditioning regimes.
By 2011 Anthony had begun to advise friends in a structured way on how to prepare for events. Word soon began to spread about the successes gained on the back of his advice. In this way Anthony had, unintentionally, made the first steps in establishing a professional coaching service.
As the demand for his services grew, Anthony envisioned a coaching and mentoring approach based on the best available scientific evidence, combined with a high-level of practical experience and common sense. This would be blended with sensitivity to the unique physiology, ambition and life circumstances of every individual, and also respect cycling’s rich heritage, culture and handed-down wisdoms.
When his professional career ended due to injury, Anthony set aside his legal career to establish A1 Coaching based on this vision, and to return to domestic racing with his old UCD club.
The results were nothing short of astounding: National Road Racing Champions and Triathlon Age Group Winners as examples. He has advanced the career of every athlete he has touched and riders in his stable are achieving their ambitions and winning races all over the world.
As the business grew, Anthony recruited a team of coaches which would bring as broad a spectrum of expertise and experience as possible. While each coach brings a particular perspective and unique experiences, each shares the vision and approach that Anthony articulates for A1 Coaching.
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