You’ve been training methodically through the summer. You’ve done your long rides, your hill rides, and your race-prep work. If your foundation is sound, but your progress has slowed, sometimes what your body needs is a healthy shock to the system.
Work the high end
If you’ve already established a sound foundation of fitness, you’ve earned the right to push the high end of your training ranges and really test yourself mentally and physically. For example, if your training range is 190-220 watts for lactate threshold work, aim to maintain 215-220 watts for the entire duration of your next LT workout. If you can only make it 40 minutes through 60 minutes of assigned work at that training range, aim to increase that to 45 minutes the following week.
Cut gluten from your diet
I’m not an advocate for fad diets; what I do encourage is eating for nutrient density. We’re all susceptible to falling into lazy patterns when it comes to shopping and fueling. It's so much easier to make a piece of toast than it is to prepare a bowl of vegetables with lean protein mixed in. By eliminating (or at least drastically reducing) gluten from the diet, that auto pilot state of reaching for the most convenient (often processed) food is no longer an option, which forces us to get more creative with plant-based foods, lean proteins and healthy dietary fats.
Think plant-based foods aren’t for you? Consider this: endurance athletes are particularly susceptible to elevated blood pH levels after hard workouts, and there’s really only one type of food that can return blood pH to healthy levels: produce.
A healthy meal aimed to optimize recovery and adaptation would look like this:
If the above meal looks boring to you, this exercise will undoubtedly benefit your performance (and overall health!). For any big changes to diet, try it during a training phase rather than immediately before big races.
Go to camp
Sign up for a training camp or multi-day ride. If this doesn’t fit your schedule or budget, create your own training camp:
commute to work both ways for a full week or more
throw in a couple “double days” during your training week
set a big mileage goal for the week and tackle an endurance block
The point with any of these is to train differently. Sometimes all your body needs is a healthy shock to the system.