Preparing for the Santos Tour Down Under’s Westpac Challenge Tour presented by The Advertiser means ensuring bodies, as well as bikes, are ready.
Professor Timothy Olds, from the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences, shares some well-evidenced advice.
IT WON’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
Preparation for any event should start with general long-term fitness.
“There are guidelines recognised around the world now suggesting adults should get 150 to 300 minutes physical activity a week,” Professor Olds says. “So that’s 30 minutes to an hour, five days a week, every week. For the rest of your life.” That means jumping on the saddle sooner rather than later to increase your
fitness and endurance well before the Westpac Challenge Tour arrives. Even short rides to and from work make all the difference!
MORNING OR EVENING?
Regarding when you train, Professor Olds notes a few trade-offs might be needed. “The best time to train to form a habit is the morning; but the best time in terms of performance is the afternoon. In terms of fitness benefit, it makes no difference.” You may decide to set the alarm an hour earlier tomorrow or leave the office
sooner (if you can) to add the kilometres in.
WIND IN HAIR
Training may be about preparing for the Westpac Challenge Tour, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it too.
“There’s a pretty strong body of evidence people are happier training outside, rather than indoors,” Professor Olds says.
So, boost your happiness by basking in the sunshine while you ride your bike and keep the indoor training for those chilly winter weeks.
LONE WOLF OR TEAM PLAYER?
Grab your friends and set the dates for your group rides. “There is also very strong evidence that people who exercise with social support, whether that’s in a group or with a partner, are much more likely to stick to their
routine,” says Professor Olds. You’ll also be able to celebrate your achievement at the finish line together,
making it twice as sweet.
Finally, know when enough is enough. “The week before the event, reduce your training load dramatically,” says Professor Olds. “Carbohydrate loading, a super-high carb meal the days before the event, used to be very popular. Nowadays endurance athletes tend to have a high carb diet generally leading up to the event.”