From Eddy Merckx to Chris Froome, the legends of cycling are hardly known for their down time. But the professionals get to focus on two things: riding their bike, and rest from riding it. For the rest of us, training is a juggling act alongside jobs, families and paying bills; making it all the more important to recover well. Here’s how to spot the signs if you’re not getting enough relaxation – and what you can do about it.
Are You Rested Enough?
It’s not just about shut-eye. You might think that sleeping gives you all the recovery you need; but while adequate sleep is vital for promoting blood flow to the muscles and enabling post-training gains, building in a relaxation and recovery routine into your waking hours, too, is key. If recurring injury, picking-up viruses and bugs or a general feeling of near-burnout sounds familiar to you, then it could be an indicator that you’re not getting enough down time. So, aside from sleeping, what can you do?
Find What Works For You
It’s important that you find your own personal taste of positive active rest; what works for the next person won’t necessarily be your thing. Think about what takes your mind away from the stresses and strains of everyday living. Could it be yoga or meditation? Or some simple breathing exercises integrated into your daily routine? Perhaps getting out to the countryside in summer evenings and weekends if you live in a city works well for you. Just avoid the quick-fix vices in answer to this question – truly restorative relaxation comes from the good stuff.
Habit Equals Success
If you’re training on your bike regularly – that’s a habit, and relaxation should be approached in the same way. Once you’ve identified what really makes you breathe out, do it the next day, and the one after that. Get it into your routine, notice the benefits and then set yourself a reminder to repeat. It can take two months for a new ritual to become routine, so it’s important to consciously go through this process for the first few weeks at least.
Hang Out With Good People
While integrating relaxation habits is a great start, it’s not just about recovering from stress, but reducing it in the first place, too. So, in addition to your daily chill time, move away from the negativity in your day-to-day life that you’ve got control over. First-up, let’s talk people. Our fellow humans can have the single biggest influence on how we feel on a day-to-day basis. That toxic person in your life who makes you feel inadequate? The one that leaves you feeling stressed after meeting up? It’s time to think about protecting yourself. It’s said you become the average of the five people you most hang around with, so hang around with people who raise, inspire and celebrate you.
Work. Does It Work For You?
As with your friends, in an ideal working world you’d surround yourself with colleagues who’ve got the cowbell out for you on a daily basis. Clearly, this is not always possible! Commonly, we have no choice over who we work with – nor who we sit next to all day long. If you’re in a toxic working environment, it’s likely having a negative impact on your stress-levels. While it’s not easy to change jobs, it’s easier to change your working situation if you’re willing to change it.
Coaching For Success
Taking steps to integrate headspace while moving towards positive vibes will give you more energy to put into cycling, and for that matter, everything in life that’s important to you. If you need a helping hand, Direct Power Coaching not only improves cycling performance but, with a tailored approach, overall health and wellbeing, too. To find out more about our coaching, click here.