With the race and sportive season fully under-way, training plans, dieting and preparation is all systems go amongst cyclists.
The importance of being prepared for any event should never be underestimated. Everything from your bike set-up, kit, fitness and health should be carefully considered and conditioned so you can achieve your best performance.
With the hustle and bustle of race days, a commonly forgotten role is the warm-up and cool-downs of the process. Ensuring your muscles are soft, flexible and relaxed will help prevent injuries. Not to mention topping up and staying well hydrated before and throughout the ride.
How you get ready for a race, and how you end one can make all the difference for your recovery. We spoke to Wiggle High5’s Lucy Garner for some top tips.
Pro Tips: Wiggle High5's Lucy Garner
Words by Beth Hodge
Lucy Garner is an impressive rider. Double Junior Road Race World Champion, she has ridden in the professional peloton as a senior since 2013.
Garner signed for the number 1 ranking UCI women’s team, Wiggle High5, in January 2016. We spoke to her a day before the ground-breaking Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire race, where she took an impressive 2nd place in a bunch sprint for the line over what she described a ‘punchy’ course.
We asked Garner for her advice on training, and in particular what to do when warming up and cooling down on tough riding days, whether that be hard training or racing.
Garner stressed to us the importance of taking it seriously, and admitted that as a junior she would often “sprint and then stop, and then the next day would feel absolutely awful".
"It’s definitely good to have warm legs going into the start" - Lucy Garner, Wiggle High5
We all know that it's important to warm up, but how many of us actually do?
Garner emphasised that “going into an event such as a time trial or a criterium, it’s definitely good to have warm legs going into the start". Warming up decreases the risk of injury and sets us in a better position to tackle whatever challenge lays ahead, whether that be a 1 hour long crit, 3 hour road race or a hard training ride.
Not only this, but giving some time to focus on a warm up can also get your head in the game and help you focus on what lies ahead.
Thinking about an event like a road race or a hard ride, Garner advises to check the route and see what comes along first. For example, at the Tour de Yorkshire, the riders were hitting the hills quite early on in the race, and in this situation it’s good to be warm to be able to get going early on in the race.
At the other end of the spectrum, there may be races that have a good 10-20km of either a neutralised or a flat start, so there may be enough time to get your warm up in during the race start and no need to do so before.
Before an event, Garner usually sits on a turbo trainer to warm up. For a time trial she advised that she would do a specific warm up, which may of course alter depending on the course: “ I might do ten minutes easy, ten minutes progressive, and then a few sprints at the end." Warming up for a road race on the other hand, Garner would usually warm up steadily on the rollers for 15-20 minutes to “warm the muscles up, but not get too tired".
"If the race didn’t end in a sprint, I may have had recovery time already" - Lucy Garner, Wiggle High5
After a hard effort, Garner explained to us that she would either sit back on the turbo trainer, or just “ride with the girls for five or ten minutes after the race. If the race didn’t end in a sprint, I may have had recovery time already as I may have just rolled into the finish so I would consider that to be my cool down."
However you do it, it’s good to spin the legs either on a turbo trainer, set of rollers or on a flat piece of road for ten to fifteen minutes after a hard effort.
In terms of taking on recovery nutrition, Garner would be given a High5 recovery shake from her team immediately after a race, but told us that she takes on a coke first and then gets to the shake as quickly as possible. “I’m not the best at eating straight away after the race, when I’ve worked so hard and gone all out the last thing I want is a massive sandwich!"
Garner gave us a great 'next day cheat' for catching up on a poor warm down after a race or hard ride. “No matter hard the race is, the next day it’s always good to do an hour on the road, which has definitely helped with my recovery previously. I go extremely slow but it does make a difference ahead of starting the weeks training again."
However you chose to warm up and cool down, the advice is just to do something to get the muscles warmed up, blood flowing and your head in the game. Make it part of your routine, and get into good habits early on to help with your performance and recovery.
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The Wiggle High5 team riders are sponsored by www.wiggle.co.uk the world's largest online cycling and tri-sports retailer