When the woodcutter got his job, he showed up on the first day ready to go: his axe was brand new, in pristine condition, his body was rested and ready for work. The first day, he met all his goals, and life was good. But as the weeks passed, he produced less and less. He grew tired, frustrated, and couldn’t keep up. “Why?” he wondered. Then he was asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?”
Training is no different. When was the last time you sharpened your axe? What I mean is…when was the last time you a) checked your equipment, b) checked your body, c) checked your mind.
We all begin fresh, strong, and ready. But often we get lost in the weeks of training and our axe becomes dull. We plug away anyways, pushing through, not realizing we aren’t getting all we could from our work, because we haven’t taken the time to keep the blade sharp. So how do we do this? How do we keep our bodies, minds, and gear, sharp and ready for every day?
Nutrition – Eating clean, drinking enough water, and giving your body what needs for a proper recovery. We recommend seeing our partner, Performance Fitness Concepts and Dr. Phil Goglia, and following his individualized plans to maximize your performance needs. Everyday is important. As Dr. Phil as told us, one day off takes three days to make up for. Fuel your body, don’t hinder it.
Massage – This isn’t your relaxing spa vacation, this is working through knots, releasing tension, and digging into your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors, which can be painful and excruciating..but necessary to breakdown and rebuild. We recommend once a week, built into your training phase, to give your body a hard reset to be the best you can be, and as sharp as possible going into those training sessions. At BPC, we have our favorites across the country. Need a recommendation? Just ask. You want at licensed sports massage therapist, and the more certifications in A.R.T. and years in the game make a difference.
Injury Prevention – One single pain can turn into a big injury, if not dealt with correctly. We take injuries seriously and recommend resting, icing, and seeing a therapist prior to its development into something serious. Ultimately, it’s up to you to take care of these and address them when they flare up. Don’t let a small injury derail your entire season.
Mental Toughness – Maybe the one area that takes the most work – becoming mentally strong. It isn’t just about being able to dig deep in a hard workout. It’s also making sure to rest when you’re scheduled to rest. Pay attention and don’t miss any of the little things. And “keep it together” on race day. If you’re executing training properly, then racing should just be like training with a number on your back.
Education – No we’re not talking about what college you went to. We’re talking about being knowledgeable about your equipment, race tactics, nutrition and so on. But most of all, being educated about your own body. Knowing and identifying warning signs of injuries and too much fatigue. Not that you have to learn how to periodize your own training plan. But enough knowledge that you’re able to efficiently communicate with your coaching staff.
Talking – This goes hand in hand with the last sentence above: communicating with your coaches. While it might seem like your coach can sometimes read your mind, we’re pretty confident that’s impossible! This is where consistent quality feedback and open dialogue are key. But beyond just the coach/athlete communication, it’s very important to have good communication in all aspects of your life. A simple convo with a good training buddy can be a great sounding board for ideas or whatever is on your mind.
Your Bike – It’s your bike, it’s your responsibility. Never blame a friend, relative or mechanic if something on your bike isn’t 100% for 100% of the time. If you’re not sure how to do something, just ask. Unless your training in Siberia, chances are there’s someone around you in the next day or two who can answer your question and will be happy to teach you what you’re looking to know. And if you do live in Siberia, there’s always instructional videos on YouTube. Take pride in your equipment and pay very close attention to detail. You rely on your bike to get you down a hill at 50+ mph, always be sure it’s 100%.
Race Gear – Our best advice here is plan ahead. Don’t wait till the night before the first race of the season to give your race equipment a once over. We always advise going over race equipment 6 weeks before the first race to see if you need new tires, cleats, etc. This way you have plenty of time to find and order what you need, get it delivered, install it and test it with plenty of time before your race. Same timeline applies for readying equipment for a big event like Nationals or Worlds. Nothing stings more than having to pay full retail and rush shipping and installation for something you could have done much more cost effectively weeks ago.
Helmet – This is arguably the single most important piece of equipment you own. It is the only thing that’s going to protect your head should you land on it. Because this is so important, we always check our helmets before each ride. Be sure to take care when transporting your helmet as well. Even too and from the group ride, throwing it in and out of the car can be enough to compromise the integrity of the helmet. And when it comes to race/TT helmets, same rules as all your race gear: plan ahead and test it out. The last thing you want is to be distracted by the sound of the wind your TT helmet causes as you wind up for your 200m TT. Don’t over use, but always be familiar with all your race equipment well before race day.