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Training & Nutrition

5 Signs You Should Take a Break From Your Cycling Computer

It's December - so is it time to take a break from the numbers?

The way we monitor our rides has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. Cycling computers don’t just track distance and speed but cadence, heart rate, power – giving you instant feedback and even a suggested window for recovery and more.  

All of that is great, and if you’re training towards specific goals it’s good to have that information available to you. If you’ve got a coach, you can easily transfer all the lovely numbers over to them, too.

However, it’s currently December. For many cyclists, the goal events of summer are far away in the distance right now. So is it the right time to take the numbers off your handlebars for a little bit?

Here are a few signs you need to take a holiday from the data….

You can’t stop chasing targets

Some people are relaxed about their riding anyway – they simply enjoy getting out for a steady pedal around the local lanes. Others struggle. Even when it’s not necessary, they’re prone to shooting for a specific distance, a certain average speed, heart rate or power. You can’t push yourself all year – your brain and body need a little break at some point. If you simply can’t help yourself from staring at the screen and trying to hit goals, then the only way to ensure you get that necessary brain-break might be to turn it off.

You’re not taking in the scenery

TWC Motivember winner Lina’s image shows some of the beauty of winter riding

Cycling allows us to see some absolutely stunning sights. Even though it’s cold over winter, we do get the benefit of enjoying frosty landscapes; sunrises and sunsets that set the sky ablaze and light a fire in our hearts (something like that).

#TWCMotivember Hall of Fame: Reader Pictures 

If your eyes are fixed on the screen ahead of you, sometimes you miss all of that. If you’re using your computer for mapping tools to guide your way – well, if you’ve got a full day ahead of you, why not wing it and enjoy getting a little bit lost?

You’re being antisocial

These days, you can even set your computer up to tell you when a Strava segment is ahead. But seriously, there are few more antisocial actions than sprinting away from your ride buddies every time your screen flashes up with ‘segment coming up’! The only exception is if you’re all chasing the segments, together.

9 Ways to Ensure a Harmonious Group Ride

You don’t even need real time Strava segments enabled on your device to be guilty of this – most people know where the challenges are on their regular routes. So if you just can’t put a lid on it, then turn it off!

You’re constantly riding to impress

You can’t always ride your best, and be at your fastest

You only have to look at the ride titles on your average Strava activity feed to know people are often riding with the fact that everyone is going to see their route and data in mind. Excuse laded titles often include references to headwinds (that seem to travel in circles, apparently?!), slow flats, hangovers and lack of sleep. But really, why does it matter?!

7 Most Common Strava Personalities 

You can’t ride your bestest, most fastest, smasheyest, all of the time. In fact, pretty much every coach will tell you that’s one of the greatest errors amateur riders make. To improve, you need to push yourself hard on specific rides, and take recovery rides in between to spin your legs. So if you can’t stop worrying that the world is going to judge your ride, then just stop uploading.

You’ve resumed training and need to reset your training zones

Image: cpsinmotion.com/thescience/

If you’ve been training using heart rate or power over the course of the year, it’s easy to get very ‘set in your zones’. For example, to believe that you can only hold a certain power or a certain heart rate for a set amount of time. If you’ve resumed structured training, and are riding intervals such as 5 minute Vo2 Max or 20 minute threshold efforts, it’s easy to just keep riding to the same numbers. If you’ve improved – or lost a little fitness in your off season break – those numbers won’t apply anymore. You need to re-learn what your very best for three, five, ten and twenty minutes feels like. So switch it off, and ride on ‘feel’ for a little while. Then return to using data, perhaps re-testing your zones (heart rate testing explained here, and power here) before you start so you know where you’re at.

Getting back in to your training? Check out this post on how to plan your training – AND stick to it!

When you’re ready to get back on the structured training, check out how to ride with heart rate and how to ride with power. 

If you just want a little pretty ride inspiration, take a look at our TWCMotivember gallery. 

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