The 8-Week Rule

Some athletes are always fit. They rarely take time off at the end of the season, or maybe don’t even have an off-season in the first place. My impression of some of the hard men of cycling’s glory days is that they would be chucked into this category. When the road cycling season ended in the fall, track racing and cyclo-cross were right around the corner.

I personally know a few people whose Strava account shows little difference in mileage between summer and winter (you know who you are, you freaks), and who hardly gain a kilo in the cold months.

For the record, I’m not any of those people.

I enjoy the off-season, however long I choose to make it, but that means every single year I’m fighting to lose that extra winter layer, plus get the fitness back. Some years (last year, for example) I’m not as disciplined as others and nothing really happens on either the weight or fitness front, but luckily I’ve now got some good, reliable data that I’ve collected over the last few years of being (relatively) serious on the bike, and I know what it takes. What does it take, you ask?

EIGHT WEEKS

For me, that’s about the amount of time I need – if I’m being consistent – to see both measurable improvement on the bike (power / endurance) and a new shape to my body other than a vertical rectangle. That is, the impetus I need to continue making myself suffer for the rest of the season.

Eight weeks is not a lot of time, but what I want to say about this (which I think I’ve said before…sorry, I’ve been doing this blog for 9 years, so bound to repeat myself) is that I can easily understand why lots of people don’t stick to training programs or lose weight.

Most folks want to see results tout de suite and when the pounds aren’t peeling off after a month of dieting it’s simple to convince yourself that it must be in your genes. The same goes for training; it’s all too easy to fall off the wagon if your program tells you to be on the bike 4 or 5 days a week, but you’re still feeling sluggish after a month. It’s a big commitment when you aren’t seeing results.

But I’m the bringer of good tidings this weekend and I’m here to tell you that if you stick to it, you might be ready to join me at the Strade Bianche Granfondo and Paris-Nice Challenge in early March – assuming that I take my own advice, that is.

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