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GETTING READY FOR WINTER – Phil Sheehan

This time of year – the end of summer and the first days of autumn – has never been my favorite as a bike rider. I can never quite settle on what to wear. One day it’s mild, no rx the next it’s fresh. And the skies generally turn from blue to lead-Grey with the lurking menace of a good soaking if you venture too far from home.

My season has gone pretty well and so I’ve enjoyed a few weeks off the bike. It’s good to think about other things for a bit, remedy enjoy the extra glass (or two) of wine with your evening meal and generally relax a little. This can only go on so long.

For me the turning point was the delivery of the new Inverse Racing/Cyclaim kit I’ll be racing in next season. The design is great, purchase the colours bold, and the whole look is very professional. Time to think about doing the kit justice then and begin the process of sharpening up for the 2011 season.

The first thing I do when I get ready to train through the winter months is plan. It’s no good rushing into your training and exhausting yourself physically and mentally in the first month. The first thing I do is to make an honest assessment of where I am now, and where I need to be come March.

That involves standing on the scales and taking a good look at myself in the mirror. I know that a good racing weight for me is around 68 kilograms, and my mantra when I look at myself in the mirror is that unless I can see all of my muscles then I have work still to do. Right now I have plenty of work to do!

The next thing to do is to start working out a consistent training plan that increases gradually and above all consistently, rather than in fits and starts. Sure, I could probably go out and ride for five hours this Sunday. How will I feel on Monday and Tuesday, though? Probably not good enough to put in a half-decent training day, so there’s no point trying to be a hero straight away. After a few years of trying different approaches I know that what works for me is a consistency of effort, where I gradually whittle away the rough edges. I also need to have a strong motivating factor or series of objectives for why I am doing this – maybe a general perception of how others will view me next season as a danger man in races, or targeting a series of races that I aim to do well in.

So the turbo trainer will be wheeled out again, as will the single speed winter bike with mudguards, hi-viz stickers and bright lights. Indoor training most weekdays, outdoors over varied terrain for two to three hours at the weekend. Each week I add a bit more intensity or a bit more time – or both. I make a record of everything from my weight first in the morning (which is then averaged at the end of each week) to everything I’ve had to eat and drink – I only do this for the first month to get into a good routine and kick bad habits. And importantly I make a record of how I feel when I am training, how easy or hard I am finding it, and I download all of my recorded heart rate and speed data. These are all parts of the larger jigsaw puzzle.

The 2011 season may seem far away but I have a few boxes to tick off before

I’m ready to hit it. Bring it on!