Winter Training Tips

The mid-winter blues can get the best of just about anybody, especially when the days of abundant overdoses of Vitamin D linger in our minds.

Oftentimes, winter training is not only necessary for our sanity, but crucial for training due to a looming 50 mile mountain bike race, Half Ironman, Ironman, or other endurance event in the spring.  We can fight the good fight logging trainer rides, nordic skiing, backcountry skiing and cross training, but there is no substitute for a week of training in the sunshine.  Our mental state sees immediate benefit, and the memories of training in the sunshine will continue to motivate us as we head back home.  Mental state aside, a weeklong training camp has actual physiological training benefits that can help you gain fitness that will last the entire year.  A selfish week entirely focused on training, eating well, sleeping and escaping the normal constraints of life goes a very long way.  Dr. Rob Amrine, MD, primary care sports medicine at Missoula Bone and Joint says, “Training programs of amateur athletes are complicated to gain success.  Not because we cannot find the time to train, but rather we cannot find the time to rest.  We have mastered training programs nicknamed “dawn patrol” “the hour of power” in ways to justify our tailored programs.  However, the simple fact is the difference between our amateur life and that of the professional is that we have to manage work.  Work, our spouse, our kids, our real obligations hold us from perfecting our training programs as we have allot no time to rest.  Without rest, we sabotage those early morning workouts and high intensity workouts by not allowing our body to recover, adapt, and improve.  With dedicated training camps, we can set aside our real obligations to train like a pro and, even better, recover like a pro.”  Logging countless hours on the trainer, alone in your basement, trying to build fitness is not only mentally challenging but could lead to early burn out prior to your A-race.   Professional cyclists, triathletes and just about every other sport have used team training camps as a major component in their preparation for an event, game or competition.  A turnkey, all-inclusive week of cycling might be just what our mind, bodies and soul need to get us through the winter gloom and ready for spring!

Human nature makes us competitive. The competition has changed from finding food to finding solace in sport, but the drive from within is still the same.  The greatest workout for training does not involve a focused workout with specific intervals, paces and perceived or measured exertion levels.  The most basic form of a workout is going out with like-minded folks and pushing your body, naturally.  A change in the grade of the road, a friendly surge in pace, or a landmark become your focused workout.  A week of training with like-minded folks is the ultimate way to push your mind, body and limits.  The types of efforts you experience at a weeklong training camp will be the exact type of efforts you will need to get you to the finish line in your upcoming race.  This type of workout is hard to come by in your basement staring at the wall or watching your favorite television series.  A week at training camp is usually an over-distance week that pushes our minds and bodies further than we imagined they could go.  The dynamic of the group provides the basis of each workout for your week of training.  I always tell people, “you never remember the easy training sessions, you remember the epic ones.”  Experiencing a week at training camp is always epic for many reasons, but the competitive spirit and motivation provides an even greater, prolonged benefit, even after camp is complete.  Our competitiveness drives us and the physiological benefits you receive go much further than our mental state, feeding our competitive nature.  A week of over-distance training is great for our minds as well as our bodies.  As Professional triathlete and Ironman champion Ben Hoffman, always says, “your mind is always much more capable of pushing itself beyond what our bodies think it can do.” 

Training for endurance events requires discipline, motivation, time and most importantly, consistency.  When I help people train for an event, the most important component of the training plan is consistency.  Stringing multiple weeks of quality training is the ultimate goal.  Unfortunately, life can get in the way, interrupting those quality training weeks and consistency goes out the window for a period of time.  A training camp can fill in the gap and help you get a quality week that can help offset those inconsistent weeks of training.  Brent C. Ruby, Ph.D., FACSM, Director of WPEM at The University of Montana says, “The main benefit of epic oriented training windows (i.e. training camps) is that they remove you from the outside stresses that can interrupt the training process.  When these are removed for even a short period of time, the additional physical stresses that can be tolerated are amazing.  Added physical stress during these short windows of intensified training will lead to countless downstream adaptations.”  Brent goes on to say, “Epic camps provide an opportunity for significant training loads to be added while minimizing the risk for overtraining.”  A week at training camp is great “bang for the buck” and can make up for those less-than-perfect training weeks.  In a normal work week, we don’t get the opportunity to push ourselves on a daily basis.  Most folks are left cramming in the early morning weekend workouts before the family is up.  Adding in weeklong training camp is a great way to offset those normal training weeks and really challenge yourself. 

Training camps offer an opportunity to learn while both on, and off the bike.  Picking up a few bike handling skills, maintenance skills or cooking skills are all a part of the experience.  The training camp setting allows campers to learn both from the staff as well as other campers. The house setting gives us plenty of time and campers learn new skills both from organized clinics or while on the road and in the moment as the week unfolds.  In a typical week, we have a descending clinic, bike maintenance clinic and plenty of informal tips and tricks while out riding.  Our goal is to make the week fun, casual and give an opportunity for individuals to learn without making everyone suffer through hours of lectures off the bike.  More often than not, the best skills are learned while riding with a guide or fellow camper.  Most individuals that attend camps have been cycling for many, many years and can offer plenty of advice for those that are eager to learn.  The end goal is to help everyone gain new skills, build confidence and most of all, have fun.  We encourage folks to ask questions or follow our wheel on a descent.  As one longtime camper said, “If you want to learn, do as the guides do – when they eat, you eat; when they drink, you drink; when they coast, you coast.”  Our guides lead by example and love to share tricks and tips that have allowed us to become the cyclists we are today.  For those individuals wanting to test their athletic limits, the staff is always enthusiastically ready to not only motivate, but to push both mental and physical  boundaries even further than thought possible, if that is what you are looking for.  

A week at The Cycling House provides the ultimate training experience that has you covered from airport pickup to drop off.  Our goal at The Cycling House is to provide an experience that allows you to forget the normal stresses of life and focus an entire week on yourself and your body.  The in-house setting provides the basis for a relaxing week off the bike with home cooked meals and plenty of time for rest and relaxation.  Our in-house chef at our training camps provides nutritious, healthy meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  On the bike, our staff has you covered, from on the road guides to van support.  The rides are the focus and we give you the true Pro treatment with nutrition, coaching, motivation and support.  Off the bike, the house atmosphere provides a home base for recovery, relaxation and time to decompress.  A great deal of our time is spent around the dinner table and you won’t find a television that has cable.  Off the bike, we also have opportunities for swim sessions, trail running and hiking if desired.  The staff is comprised of a motivated group of racers, outdoor enthusiast and all around good people.  The staff might be young but don’t let that fool you, the motivation for personal success in our own racing careers extends into our work ethics at the House.  Our staff has plenty of knowledge with a good blend of professional triathletes, cyclists, Olympians, personal trainers and very active individuals.  The big joke at camp is that all you need to do is get dressed, feed yourself and pedal your bike; the rest is taken care of for you.  Most mornings we incorporate a core, stretching and dynamic movement class to wake up the body before pedaling the bike.  The house setting is our staple, but we have also expanded into Solvang, California where we base ourselves out of the Ballard Inn.  The Inn provides a home base with breakfast and lunch and we go out for dinner at local restaurants or have catered meals at local wineries.  Both our Tucson and Solvang locations have exceptional rides that speak for themselves.  The concept for The Cycling House was started 11 years ago by owner; Owen Gue (ex. professional cyclist).  Owen says, “Coming from Montana we knew how difficult it was to get in a good quality week of training during the winter time. We also knew how valuable and fun a week of riding, swimming and running in a warm, sunny climate could be because we had experienced it first hand with our own winter training getaways. Ultimately, we set out to create a home away from home where our guests could ride as much as they wanted and then be able to relax and recover and let us take care of the details and logistics.”  Owen goes on to say, “We saw the big benefits of a week long training camp and built a structure and team to deliver what we felt was the best winter training camp out there. What we didn’t account for was how amazing it is when you put together a group of people from all these different places and house them under one roof. We eat together, ride together, share stories and experience a new place. It starts to become a family and it’s what make the Cycling House tick. It’s powerful and incredibly fun to be a part of.”  The concept that Owen Gue created 12 years ago has not changed over the years.  The Cycling House continues to deliver authentic experiences with the same enthusiasm that people came to expect after one week of training at the house.  For many of us, training and racing is much more than exercise.  The balance of life, training and racing provides many with the exact stress relief that they need from normal life.  Don’t just take our word for it, come experience what The Cycling House has to offer at our weeklong training camps.

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