It’s around this time of year that coaches start banging on about the importance of goal setting for next season so I thought a (brief) ‘beginners guide’ might help explain why this is important and how to go about it.
I had a really good day last Sunday (25th October). I really like really good days…
I ran the first ‘Introduction to circuit racing’ session at Stourport for those riders aspiring to give the Mamil Cycling ‘Woolly Mamil’ winter series in January and February 2016 a bash. Of course, it’s useful for any rider who needs to improve their technical skills, not those just entering the series.
We cut down the Stourport circuit for coaching purposes. It means I can keep everybody in sight and give them feedback on their group riding skills. We used the ‘top’ 180 degree corner nearest the club house to practice and improve cornering technique. Honestly, if you can get around that at race speed you can apply the same principles to pretty much any corner you need to tackle.
We had a mixed group of men and women, including a youth rider and a National Vets road race champion. It’s skills focused so physiological differences don’t matter – in fact it makes it more fun and a better learning experience. Similarly, there was a split between riders who focus on time trials and road/circuit races. Fair play to the testers – it something I enjoy as a discipline and I’m constantly surprised that riders will happily pay two grand on a disc wheel to go faster but won’t invest an hour of their time learning how to go around a corner, which would, of course, make them faster. Personally, I’d do both!
We had a great bunch who felt free to share their experience and feedback. Without fail, every rider progressed with the common theme of technique improving confidence which supported better technique we gave them more confidence... you get the picture. We were also blessed with a warm dry day which doesn't always reflect the reality of racing, but put a smile on everybody’s face.
The class of October 2015 are below. If you’d like to join us for the next session on 15th November, please drop me a line here or take a look at the Coaching page on the Mamil Cycling website here and use the contact form. Group size is limited to 16 – that way I’m able to give you some proper individual attention – so spaces are limited.
Like I said, a really good day…
Everybody knows what a football coach does, right? Shouting at players from the touchline, sheepskin coat, red face, impending heart attack, retaining the full confidence of the Board then immediately being sacked etc. Tennis coach is pretty easy too. If you’re really successful, it’s your Mum doing mini fist pumps when you win…
Cycling coach. That’s a bit more complicated. If you’re a student of the sport you might see grizzly tracked suited people pacing up and down around a velodrome or guys shouting out the window of a car during the Tour de France. They might be coaches, they might not be. Who knows?
Simply, what I (and many other British Cycling qualified coaches) do is either help groups of riders on a circuit or track to improve their cycling technique, commonly group riding, cornering, attacking, counter attacking etc. and/or provide a program to individual riders that includes technique but majors on how hard, how long and how often you need to ride to achieve your goals. This will vary depending on the time of year and the facilities you have available.
It may include riding on the road and track together with indoor static trainer/rollers work and even, dare I say it, off the bike training on occasion. Equally importantly it will prescribe rest and active recovery – you get fitter when you’re resting, not training. It all depends on what you, the rider, want to get out of your cycling and what spare time you have to dedicate to achieving those goals.
The prescription is pretty detailed stuff – you’ll know every day precisely what you should be doing on and off the bike and when you need to put your feet up. I use a software program called Training Peaks to prescribe training to the riders I coach. It’s a diary system that allows a rider to upload data from their training sessions and events so I can adjust the training as we move along.
A good cycling coach will also be able to advise you on tactics when racing and, to a great or lesser extent, look after your head. To remain motivated and focused whilst training and racing is a really important psychological aspect and, of course, different people respond to different things.
If you want to know more, get in touch.
PS. I’d look awful in a sheepskin coat.
The ramblings of a cycling coach...