Christmas, Cycling & Calories: Cycling tips for the festive period

Yes yes to my cycling friends...Happy Christmas! Ok, so I was sitting down at the dinner table on a Christmas eve drinking some coffee and cream, chilling out and listening to some Christmas songs. I thought I might as well put together a quick blog to help anyone out who's thinking they're going to pile on the pounds and lose any cycling fitness they may have built up over the last number of weeks or months.

First of all, RELAX bro. We're all going to eat at least x3 Christmas dinners this week. That's not the problem actually. Christmas dinners are usually healthy even if they are packed with calories, it's what we eat around our Christmas dinner that obliterates the cycling gains. This isn't going to be one of those blogs where I say you have to count your calories for christmas or eat little or any of that nonsense. BUT..... there is always a but. We just have to think of what we have built up over the last number weeks and months. This is hard earned back, believe me. (eating 3 stollen bites as we speak)

Right, this is where the tips start:

1. You already know tip no.1 ... RELAX bro

You have been working hard at your job, in college and maybe have been sacrificing a bit of family time, whatever it may be. This is valuable time to sit back and relax, switch off from the crazy covid scenes and just enjoy the time with friends and ..... oh wait sorry we can't (thanks covid). Enjoy the time with your family and don't be thinking about how many calories you're going to eat and how much it will affect your god damn FTP. Make sure to eat a good desert after dinner which will fill you up for the eve so you won't be munching relentlessly. If you are tempted to start eating bucket loads in the evening, a good trick is to have a small glass of wine with a few chocolates first as it reduces that temptation considerably.

2. Recovery rides are good

You may be asking what would I be recovering from? Well let me tell you this.... Christmas dinners is what... oh and morning fry ups. You know that whale like feeling in your stomach by the time christmas dinner is finished ? That ain't good when built up over a few days of inactivity. So what I suggest is a short spin, 30 - 60 mins zone 1 and just enjoy the scenery. If the club is going out at the weekend, even better. If you don't want to go on the bike, a walk or easy jog is just as effective. The turbo ? ...Nah , boring m8.

3. Less structured training at Christmas

With my clients I take Christmas and New Years week day-by-day. There's too much going on in peoples lives in the lead up to Christmas Day. That week and the week after can be stressful at work. It is also an important time to be with family so in that regard I would always suggest leaving christmas week more down to the athlete to determine when they are free and how energised they are for training. Though I would suggest getting in 3 easy sessions over a 7 day period, this can be anything from a very easy zone 1 ride to a walk for 30 minutes (yes I know I am emphasising that again!) Anything to offset the 3 day period of inactivity, typically 24th, 25th and the 26th of December.

The importance of some sort of training during christmas week cannot be stressed enough as any inactivity for a period of 3 days or more can lead to some significant decreases in fitness. Especially combining this with an increase in the amount of food we consume compared to normal. It can take up to 21 days to overturn a period of 3 days of inactivity and return to previous levels of fitness. This is unnecessary and should be avoided if possible.

4. Reminisce about how good cycling was in 2020

Ok so this might sound a bit strange but let me explain. This year was clearly one for the history books, you know those shit ones from secondary school?! Cycling in 2020 however, was one of the best in recent memory. The performances during grand tours this year were insane and a new generation of cyclists have broken through. Pogacar, Martinez et all. Oh and just to remind you, Sam Bennett won the green jersey in the Tour de France.

Cycling for me in 2020 was in a way competitive but far less than when I was full-time. This year I used the bike to escape Garda checkpoints (more on that in a min) and smash strava KOMS (really m8) and a few time trials.

Me happy out in a field during lockdown

Cycling back home via the greenway. I felt naughty af

Yes, I used my bike to visit my girlfriend during lockdown when I was too scared to get caught at a checkpoint driving the car. The greenway came in handy and a few back roads too.... the weather wasn't too bad either back in April. I cycled my fixie over to see my girlfriend... had our 18th month anniversary in a field. The wheels of my fixie were red and there was a mad bull in a field who nearly went for me. These are things we remember and the memories the bicycle helps us create by giving us a sense of unique freedom. I felt like a kid again during the early months of lockdown. Keep cycling, whatever way it may be. Have a great Christmas you filthy Freds! Cheers for reading, G

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