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How best to rest

best rest for cycling
3 Aug 2016

Use a week out of the saddle wisely and you'll be staggeringly good when you get back in it.

One of the key ways you can be better on a bike is by going nowhere near it. No, we haven’t lost the plot. We all know that having a rest day is an essential part of any fitness programme, as this is the time when your body can get around to repairing all those muscles tissues you’ve broken down while exercising. But sometimes having a week off the bike can do wonders for your body and mind, too. Here’s our quick guide to getting the most from your days away from the bike…

Get your mojo back 

Overtraining syndrome is a thing. It comes about from going at something too hard for too long. As cycling, by its nature, is highly repetitive, it’s easy to see why it can leave you feeling flat, fatigued or even depressed if you’ve been overdoing it. For some people, it can take months or even years to recover from an overtrained state, so use a week off to treat your brain to something completely unrelated to cycling. Something stimulating that you’ve never done before. It doesn’t have to be skydiving, either, it could be trying a cookery course or signing up for a Pilates class. 

Catch some extra ZZZs

According to one study, if you regularly get less than six hours of kip a night you’re functioning as poorly as someone who hasn’t slept at all for two nights, even if you think you feel fine. So if you only sleep six hours a night but spend two hours cycling a day, use those extra two hours to catch up on some much needed sleep. You’ll feel like superman when you finally do return to the saddle – we promise you! 

Get Stretching

We’ve said this before but we’ll say it again – foam rollers rock. If you don’t own one, get yourself down to Argos and buy one (the ProFitness one they stock for £21.99 is great). It’ll help you get those tight muscles and even tighter hamstrings stretched out. Alternatively, treat your to a massage or a sauna or sign up for a spot of yoga.

Restock Your Kitchen 

Diet plays an essential part in how well you ride, so use a week off to restock your kitchen with healthy essentials that you can then easily reach for when your life returns to hectic mode. That way you’ll ensure that your basic diet is always a healthy one. 

Sort your flippin’ life out

Your bike is a great stress-busting machine but long hours in the saddle mean less time to deal with real-world responsibilities. Neglect these for too long and you’ll end up with even more stress. So use down days to focus on these areas of your life, whether that’s spending quality time with your family, sorting out overdue bills, or crossing a couple of DIY jobs off your to-do list. It’ll mean that when you get back on the road, you can ride guilt-free without these things bothering you.   

Address your body’s gripes

We’ve all got them – niggling little pains from a tight lower back, to sore knees or stiff shoulders. We can live with them – in fact, that’s precisely what we do most of the time – but a week away from the bike is the perfect chance to do something about living without them. So take the time to book yourself in with a chiropractor or to see your local GP . Get the irritating blighters  sorted once and for all! 

Go Shopping

A key motivator in sport is the investment a person makes in it. So invest a little more by hitting the shops! OK, buying a new bike may be beyond your budget but there’s no harm having a look at what’s out there and chatting to bike-shop staff will only improve your knowledge. Plus you can always treat yourself to a cool new jersey or bit of kit. You’ll be itching to show off it off once your exile is over! 

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