So 6 weeks to go until we embark on our Lands End to John O’Groats End to End cycle – time to get a training plan in place if you haven’t already got one. In this blog we’ll go through how to create a bespoke training plan and counter limiting beliefs to create a mindset conducive to cycling and cycling and cycling some more.
6 weeks to go…creating the plan.
In building a training plan it is important that you cater it to your own specific lifestyle and scenario. The first stage we’ll be looking at in design is our Survey Stage. A useful tool used in permaculture design is the ‘client interview’ – gleaning as much information as possible that may affect the design. In this situation the client is you. The main things you want to ascertain are what are your limiting factors and the resources? These could be things like; time, money, knowledge, limiting beliefs, positive peer pressure, old injuries, low base fitness levels etc.
This survey stage should help us in getting a realistic overview of where we’re currently at. Loads of times in the past I’ve adopted other peoples training plans for events or learning and haven’t managed to stick to them as I wasn’t being honest or realistic with myself about what I was able to give in terms of time and resources to make it happen.
Also included in the survey stage would be to clearly defining our goal: In 6 weeks I’ll have reached a level of fitness where I’m able to cycle an average of 50 miles a day for 3 weeks.
Some permaculture principles that can help in our design:
Design pattern to detail – expressed by the common idiom ‘not seeing the woods for the trees’. Get the overall design worked out for the next 6 weeks rather than getting caught up in the specifics of one aspect of training. However don’t get caught in the trap of over-design as a means of procrastination from actually training. Think incremental design.
Minimal change for greatest effect – what are the small changes that could make a massive difference!? Perhaps spending 10 minutes to set your bike up correctly could make all the difference and prevent injury. Here is a video if you’re unsure how to do this.
Integrate rather than segregate – How can I fit this into my current lifestyle? What niche time periods can I make use of? Maybe I can cycle to my job, fit a spinning class in after work before I get home, meet up with fellow End to Enders for team training or find a similar group in your area via Meet Up.
Apply self regulation and accept feedback – I’d highly recommend keeping a training diary, I use Joe Friel’s which basically consists of a weekly goal, total hours, resting heart rate, a 1-10 score for how you slept, energy levels and muscle soreness, distance for each training session, time, effort level, and notes for anything else you want to mention. Here is a snap from mine.
You might not want to go as detail as this or you might want to include more details. It can be a really empowering thing to keep and to look back through to see your improvements jotted down. There are also apps such as Map My Ride which track the distances you’ve travelled and your time.
Another useful tool is to consider the Minimal Effective Dose (MED). This is taken from a chap called Tim Ferris. What is the minimal amount that is going to get you to where you need to be? When water boils the MED for boiling is 100oc so best not waste time and energy boiling it at 120oc. Imagine you had half the time you actually have to train, what would be the most effective way of getting you to your goal?
On the End to End once basic fitness has been achieved, it is not often your cardiovascular endurance that might let you down – that is to say, you’re unlikely to stop because you run out of puff – but your muscular endurance that struggles. So focus on that. If one of your resources is you have some expendable income and one of your limiting factors is that you don’t have much spare time, then spinning classes could be a good option. You’ll get a lot fitter a lot quicker through an hour of intensive exercise then 2 hours gentle free wheeling. However you train consider having a few sessions a week with increased intensity. Here is an interesting talk by Dr Jeff Banas on muscular endurance training – he is talking about Iron Man training which is a lot more intense than what we’re talking about, but the principles are the same.
You may have heard it said that endurance training is all in the mind, well a wee bit of it is in the legs, but being able to recognise negative thought patterns when they begin and having some tools to enable you to re-frame them is hugely valuable.
I recently came up against some mental blocks in my training and done the following exercise to help so I thought I’d share. I wrote down all the negative things I say in my mind to procrastinate from or to not give it my best during the session – having a training diary is again a useful tool in bringing these to light. Here were some of mine:
Common excuses I make…
I haven’t got enough time/energy/commitment to do it today
I haven’t planned it out properly
If I have a rest and recovery day today, I’ll be better focused to really go for it tomorrow
I’ve woken up too late and missed my chance for today
I’ll just ease off and enjoy the ride building up my time rather than intensity. It would be difficult to go intense right now because of…(busy roads, people on the path, tired legs, strong winds)
Ah I’ve done quite a lot today already, doing these lengths are boring, I’m not gonna get much out of the ones that are left, besides I’ve got loads of other stuff to do so lets get out the pool and crack on with the rest of the day.
If I do strength training now, I’ll be too nackered for social event later
Next step is to show these as emotional rather than logical. (Quick note that there are sometimes factors that could affect your training, when you do need to listen to your body – like over training and ensuring that you have adequate rest time, however when I was saying this to myself, I knew deep down they were just excuses).
I used the ABCDE from a book Learnt Optimism as a tool to break the negative patterns and show that they were emotionally driven and illogical. Here is an example:
Adversity (What’s the issue)
I’m telling myself that I haven’t got enough time today to train and talking myself out of it.
Belief (What’s the underlying logic/belief)
That the training it going to take a lot of time. That I’m so busy I can’t possible have time for it. That its going to be hard and unenjoyable.
Consequence (How does that make me feel)
I feel low energy levels. I don’t even try to go for a shorter intenser training session but cancel it completely. I tell myself stories about an ever receding tomorrow rather than being in the present. I feel dissatisfied, lethargic and that I can’t organise my time.
Disputation (Is this actually true? Can I out logic it?)
The training doesn’t need to take more than a few hours a day and there is ALWAYS time for that no matter what I am doing. Even when I have been working full time I was able to fit it in, so now I have the luxury of being able to organise my own time, I can definitely always fit it in. It’s hard but not unenjoyable, in fact many times I have been training have been the times when I have felt most alive, grateful and connected. Recording data and seeing improvements is excellent too.
Energisation (How do I feel now?)
I feel more upbeat and excited for it. I feel I’ve shown this belief about time to be a nonsense one. Better to do something rather than nothing, so going intense.
I have a copy of the most reoccurring beliefs with me whenever I train and can bring them out if I’m thinking about cutting corners to get back on the plan.
Good luck creating your own plans, any questions or comments please you the comments below, feel free to share your plans too.