1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP – At least seven and a half hours of restful sleep. Possible ways of enhancing your sleep quality are: Avoid caffeine after 1.00 pm, turn off your computer and television at least a half hour before going to bed, go to bed at a regular time, black out your bedroom and have no devices flashing away, any worries or work concerns write them down and leave until the next morning, take magnesium a couple of hours before going to bed if you have been training for over an hour in the afternoon or evening, get into the habit of a fifteen minute light read or easy listening to the radio before sleeping.
  2. VITAMIN D – During these long dark days it’s important to get some vitamin D. Getting out in the fresh air during the day will help but you will need more.
  3. PROTEIN AND CARB RECOVERY – After a training session, particularly a tough one, it’s important to get a liquid protein with some carbs in your body within thirty minutes. This will not only speed up your recovery but also restore you immune system which is vulnerable straight after the body has been stressed through exercise.  
  4. KEEP TO THE 80/20 RULE – 80% of your training should be at low intensity zone 2 with 20% at the higher end of mainly zone 4 and 5. Too much, particularly in our winter months, at zone 4 and 5 may result in your body breaking down, as well as not helping you achieve your best result in the coming season.
  5. NUTRITION – Keep it simple, eat when you’re hungry, begin the day with a glass of water, keep to sensible portion sizes, eat a balance diet daily and varied during the week with the odd treat. I have a rule of getting 80% of my nutrition right with a 20% leeway for the odd treat. However, I also know my vulnerable treats which I avoid at all cost. Such as Christmas cake, which I can devour a whole one in minutes and large bars of Toblerone which may only last half an hour in the fridge before I have it eaten. A typical example of my week of dinner and tea meals would be an omelette with all sorts of fillings, chicken, beef stew, fish, avocado, potatoes, vegetables, salad, sourdough bread with natural peanut butter, wraps, nuts, Greek yogurt and fruit etc.
  6. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – Just because your training plan says you should be out cycling for two hours doesn’t mean you have to if you are feeling fatigued. No professional coach would ever expect their athletes to train if they are feeling fatigued and run down. How do you know the difference between just general tiredness we all feel sometimes and fatigue? Well the usual signs are an elevation of your resting heart rate in the morning, feeling lethargic and out of breath when doing simple tasks. When you are like this a couple of days taking it easy and chilling out may just be the answer.
  7. AVOID PUBLIC SAUNAS AND STEAM ROOMS DURING THE WINTER – You just never know who or how many people have had a big sneeze and a cough before you have entered. Enough said!
  8. GET A FLU JAB – I had my first bout of flu last year and had wrongly assumed that it was like having a very, very bad cold with lots of shivering. It was nothing like what I had imagined; it was far worse and for the fist time I fully understood why so many people die from having flu. I was unable to get out of bed, other than dragging myself to the toilet. I couldn’t face eating and as a result lost nearly a stone in weight. I found it very difficult to sleep as I was sweating constantly. Once I began to recover, after a couple of tough weeks, I wrongly assume I could get back training. No chance! However, what I did do was draw up a six week recovery plan which involved a gradual return to training which helped both motivate me and reassure me that I would be back fully fit.

Hope all this makes sense and is of help to all you who are preparing for next season. 


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