I've ridden over 1,000 miles in the last two weeks and 2,300 miles for the entirety of May. I quite often get asked how I manage to ride so much without getting tired. So I thought, seeing as I've just ticked off a pretty epic month I'd share a bit around what I do to make sure I'm in a good place for riding. I've had a few weeks off work and a little 'staycation' at home which allowed me to get in a few more miles than usual as you can see below, but ultimately, I've ridden similar miles throughout all of May.
So what do I do to try and keep as fresh as possible for all those miles?
I joined Strava a couple of years ago to log all my rides and see how I was doing against the guys that were riding better than me. As I started to up my mileage I decided to pay for Strava premium so that I could get access to the fitness and freshness graph. If you use either a power meter or heart rate monitor then Strava gives every ride a 'Suffer Score' based on how hard you work and this translates into fitness and fatigue points; take the fatigue away from the fitness to get your "Form". In essence it's a tool that you can use to help understand how tired you are from riding. Like any graph of it's kind it's not going to know how you actually feel, but I find it's usually a good indicator of when to back off or go harder. Below is an example of the fitness graph:
I can't find a good enough log of my calorie expenditure over the last two weeks but lets be honest, it's going to be an awful lot. It's important to fuel each day appropriately because if you end up in deficit and 'bonking' one day, it usually has an adverse effect on the next day too. I start every day with solid breakfast, often porridge or similar with some nuts and a coffee to wake me up.
When I'm on the bike I tend to fuel pretty much just from bars and gels that Science in Sport provide me. I eat from mile zero all the way through the ride. One of the things we got taught was that actually, on long rides, we neglect to take on enough protein. There is nothing to stop us looking after our muscles during the ride, rather than solely afterwards. Therefore I've started taking a WHEY20 gel or two out and eating these in-between the gels and Go Energy Bars I use to fuel the ride. My bottle(s) will usually have either energy powder or electrolyte depending on the session. I aim to eat before hungry and drink before I'm thirsty.
Once home, I have a Rego protein shake and a solid meal to replace any remaining calorie deficit. You have to remember that even when you finish a workout, your metabolism is still raised so you're burning more calories than usually for a while after activity.
Rest and Recover:
Whilst I'll be the first to admit you can never fully recover if you're riding ever single day, there are things I did to try and recover as best as possible. Obviously, the joy of being on holiday meant that after a ride and some light housework, I could simple stick my feet up and barely move for the rest of the day; if you're riding everyday you really do need to rest as much as possible in-between. I hate foam rollers because I'm lazy, but some stretching is definitely necessary to make sure things don't get too tight and you avoid as many niggles as possible whilst out riding.
Ultimately you can only get away with so much and no matter how well you look study a graph or rest there will always be one day you simple feel horrific. If that's the case you really do need to just have a day or two off and recover. I know i'll be having a few days off this next week to do something other than riding my bike.
I'm always interested in hearing what works for other people so let me know if you have any ideas...