Words: Kenny Wilson
Embarking on the winding, multifaceted journey towards cycling performance, you'd better have packed patience, perseverance and far-sighted perspective.
Though every rider craves swift tangible reward for their hard graft, progress never hurries and offers no shortcut to bypass consistent effort. In this post, we will explore how understanding and embracing the true nature of athletic gains will boost your long-term performance.
Physical adaptation – Cycling is a demanding sport that stresses various physiological systems; including cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, and power output. Adapting these is a gradual process at the cellular level, requiring consistent training and adherence to a structured plan to stimulate the body's response. When new demands are placed upon the body, it needs sufficient time and rest to adapt and grow – a process that cannot be rushed.
Skill acquisition – Without technical skills and honed bike handling, all those physical adaptations could go to waste. Cycling tests far more than the legs! Mastering skills like cornering, descending, pack riding and sprinting requires practice, repetition and self-analysis. Progress will be gradual, mistakes will be made but your challenge is to apply a growth mindset to each test. By staying committed and consistently working on your technique, you lay the foundation for long-term cycling gains.
Mental adaptation – The mind plays a defining role in cycling success. Mental toughness, focus and comfort within discomfort are like muscles, toned by time. As challenges and setbacks arise, the lessons within them build resilience. Trusting the process and maintaining commitment, even when results seem distant and elusive, will protect your progress from a counter-productive mindset. But never neglect mental wellness and personal growth in favour of cycling. A healthy head is the basis from which to absorb the harsh tests and lessons our sport presents.
Avoiding overtraining and injury – By panic training and pushing beyond existing limits, the risk of overtraining and injuries arises. Building a solid foundation before steadily and methodically increasing training volume and intensity minimises the risk of such damaging setbacks. A consistent and thought-out program protects the body from overuse injuries and burnout. Remember: patience and consistency are key to sustainable growth.
Long-term athletic development – In the pursuit of athletic excellence, it's important to keep your eyes on the horizon. With consistency and trust in your process, the groundwork is set for your growth to maintain and gather momentum. Celebrate small victories along the way; knowing that each step forward, no matter how small, contributes to long-term success.
Conclusion – While we may be eager for our sweat and toil to grant immediate improvements, it's crucial to recognise that progress doesn't happen overnight. Cycling, like any sport, requires patience, consistency and trust in the process. By understanding the need for physical adaptation, skill acquisition, mental development, injury prevention and long-term athletic growth, you can navigate your cycling journey with resilience. Keep the faith, embrace bumps in the road and celebrate small victories knowing your consistent efforts will bring deeper and more meaningful athletic gains in the long run.
"I think the human element on top of Kenny's scientific approach made a big difference. I wouldn’t have anyone else in my corner." Jack Wilson, former U23 Irish champion.