Knowing When to Push and When to Restrain

by Arleigh Jenkins from Bike Shop Girl

Moxie Cycling is partnering with chic women cyclists to bring you tips, stories and healthy recipes via our blog. Arleigh Jenkins, founder of the website Bike Shop Girl, has more than twelve years of bike industry experience, is currently a pro level bike mechanic living in Denver, CO and has shared her best advice on how to approach training when you are looking ahead to a new race season.

 July is a month of excitement in the bicycle world: The Tour de France is streaming multiple times a day, summer hours may be letting you get outside more and maybe you have kids that are out for the summer and can go on bike adventures. When you are training year-round, this is also a time of year that you may be taking a rest period to gear up for the race-heavy months of August and September.

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 For me, July is one of planning for the future; July 1st is historically the start of cyclocross training for races that start in late September. I’m starting to switch over to my slow-and-steady training efforts, which means putting the brakes on most of the high-intensity efforts that I have been doing for mountain bike racing.

Starting to dial back in the middle of the summer is difficult, because the weather is gorgeous, there are tons of events and group rides to tempt you, and to top it all, my legs (and my friends legs) are feeling fresh. It is hard to turn down group rides and chasing green lights when everyone else is out taking advantage of the summer weather.

Knowing Your Personal Matchbook

But, as an athlete, you need to know yourself, your goals and your short- or long-term wins. Be it between pacing your energy during a race, or planning for a successful season, we only have so many matches in our matchbook and lighting them all too quickly will burn you out before your season even gets started!

I’m a big fan of conserving my matchbook. In a race there are three key places that I’ll light my matches: the start of the race, for what I call the “hole shot” – the burst which gets me up to speed; the portion just prior to a technical area on a course; and then one more final push 15 minutes from the finish line. If I’m feeling good, or the competition is stiff, I may try to push myself at different times, but in general these are the points when I dig deep and throw everything I have onto my pedals.

And when it comes to planning, I take that same matchbook concept and apply it to my training season. I start with a strong base training during which I fully commit myself to establishing good habits and getting back in the groove.

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 I’ll stick to my healthy eating choices, I’ll be consistent through every work out and I will push myself to stick to this especially during the first two weeks. After those beginning weeks, I’m in a routine and feeling confident. Maybe I’m stronger at the gym or maybe the scale is showing I’m losing some weight, either way, pushing through to get that “hole shot” into my base training is important.

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When I get to the point of starting to focus on timed interval training and my workouts begin to look like a math exam – this is when I hit it hard again and light another match. I am completely focused and ready to do what is needed.

And finally, I up the ante when entering the season of racing. Normally 9-12 weeks long, I put my head down and give it all I have, using all the matches I have – as you know, that’s what you’ve been training for!

What does your matchbook look like and do you know when to conserve those matches?

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