|Rapha Condor Sharp rider - Andy Tennant|
"What's your heart rate doing Andy?" As we rode the back ten home of a chilly forty five mile run out yesterday, I glimpsed down at my heart rate monitor to see my ticker beating away at around 155bpm (HRZ4 for me which would be described as an intensive zone).
"120" came the reply from Andy Tennant, road racing professional for Rapha Condor Sharp, 24 years of age with a heart rate maximum of 210bpm. Effectively, he was at about 55% of maximum heart rate, I was nearer 82%. It gave me a good chuckle as my high intensity workout was Andy's recovery ride! Let's put it this way, my base mile ride would probably see Andy walking alongside me in his cleats :-)
Preparing for London 2012
Andy is part of the six man squad currently competing for four places in the pursuit team at London 2012. He's been bouncing back and forth from Majorca over the last couple of months on training camps, working on technique, fitness and strategy to deliver the big prize at London 2012. Seems all is going to plan and without giving any crown jewels away, the team are performing well and where they need to be at this time.
On our three hour ride out, we talked extensively about training, preparation and rest both in the context of Team GB aswell as Rapha Condor Sharp. Outside of the glamour of racing, the life of a professional cyclist can be pretty boring when it comes to time off the bike, particularly when considering rest and recovery.
Rest is of critical importance if you are wanting to get stronger on the bike. Andy Tennant will tell you that when he is declared to "rest" by the coaches at Team GB, they mean total rest. Not to go shopping, catch up on errands and do some non-bike running about, they mean feet-up plus minimal energy usage to allow the body to repair and renew.
What that means at training camps is long periods in hotel rooms with DVD players, laptops and game consoles, mmm - perhaps it doesn't sound too bad after all!
Translating that to everyday cyclists, what this means is to ensure that you give your body the time to rest and recover if you've had a big day on the bike. It's always recommended after a long ride to have a recovery drink and a good stretch post-ride but to also flush the legs out with an easy recovery ride the next day. Don't think that getting on the bike and hammering it, ride after ride will make you a stronger cyclist. Training + Rest + Recovery will.
Back to tickers (hearts) then. Clearly, you can't compare a 43 year old businessperson with an interest in cycling to a 24 year old professional and GB squad member. However, the principles of training are similar. You need to understand your zones, to understand what intensity to train and recover at. I'd recommend anyone coming into the sport to buy a trip computer with heart rate monitor in order that you can make the best use of your training, relative to your own body, capability and age.
By getting to know what your ticker is doing, you'll get quicker, stronger and be able to achieve greater things in a shorter period.