Sometimes in life, and in cycling, it happens that you don’t feel good enough anymore. A method that was giving great results until that moment becomes unsatisfying, old. This is a common situation for amateur racers who are used to train autonomously and at a certain point they got beat by athletes previously slower than them.

The answer is obvious: What happens?

This is the moment in which you understand that the others started to train in a more modern and efficient way, maybe even with an athletic director.

What are the practical differences? Is everyone just training more? We asked these questions to Giovanni Gilberti, a professional trainer who can guides us through this topic.

What happens when an amateur cyclist contacts a trainer?

As we are working with a person, first of all we have to understand him. We can easily measure his current condition. An example: if an athlete tells us that he is training thirty days per month we should worry already. He needs someone to guide him, and we should be that person. Often amateurs are training too much, ending up with an overtraining situation. Usually they can be very fast while they train, but they are disappointing while racing.

Let’s make a step back for better understanding. How do we correctly analyze the athlete?

First of all a sport doctor evaluates the blood tests, supported by a nutritionist to highlight deficiencies in vitamins B, D or iron. We should also keep in mind parameters like hematocrit or Cpk (creatine phosphokinase) which are telling us about muscular weariness. Then we should analyze white and red corpuscles. Even the cholesterol must be measured.

After the screening we perform a physical evaluation test using heart rate and Watts produced, to be compared with older ones.

If the athlete doesn’t have historical measurements, we try to use his old trainings and we analyze them using specific software tools (the one provided by SportPlusHealth is called Training Analysis) so that we can understand if he has properly recovered from the previous season, following a correct path of weekly rests and micro-cycles of load and unload.

Once the physical conditions has been investigated, what happens?

If the athlete is already in overtraining we must reduce his load and the intensity. It could be necessary to stop him and restart the preparation from the ground. The difficult part is to understand how chronic is this condition. It may happen that it is there since some season thus we could need months to properly recover. In the worst cases the athlete could also miss the entire season.

It seems incredible but this happens if you never unload.

Between the amateurs we can see this phenomenon happening even if the cyclist is not realizing it. There are different reasons for this. For example he could blame the bike, identifying a wrong reason for the problem.

Are there other parameters to understand this situation?

Sure, the doctor could measure the cortisol or the testosterone. Otherwise there are symptoms like chronic weariness, bad mood, weight swings and sleep problems.

These are heavy news. How the cyclist is reacting to them?

Most of them doesn’t accept these data as they feel themselves like superheroes. They should take a more scientific point of view. We cannot rely on people without the right knowledge.

It is very important for the trainer to show data which cannot be disputed. This is the new idea growing now, giving more importance to the quality of our job.

These new methodologies are deeply changing you approach. What happens inside of one athlete’s head?

The first idea is: I am training less, thus I will become slower. The key point is when you realize that you conclude your training being less exhausted. This brings a better condition which will bring better results during the race.

The psychology of the cyclist is very important, and it depends on the trust he feels for the trainer. The results are immediate if you use the meter, as you can directly start producing higher Wattages.

How long does it take to learn the new technique?

If I am good enough in showing to the athlete these concepts, in three months we already have some result. But if he doesn’t follow me at 100% it will take more time. Often, an additional hour of training is useless.

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