The Daily Grind: Starting the Day Off Right...with Yoga!
As I enter my fourth year of being a coached athlete (and I use the term "athlete" loosely) and my second under Cycle-Smart, I am pretty well versed in how my body feels under a rigorous training regime including what works for me and what doesn't. This year I've finally come to grips with the fact I cannot do on-the-bike workouts before a certain morning hour. Over the last five years of racing I've tried, believe me, but as I've gotten older I've gotten stiffer, creakier, and more off balance especially when waking up early. I have scientifically proven to various coaches that my performance is not nearly as good in the morning versus later in the afternoon or evening. I say scientific because typical coaching feedback on my early morning workouts has been along the lines of "what happened here?" and "I don't know what was going on, but you missed all your numbers" or my favorite "what workout did you do because this isn't what I prescribed."
This year I've been trying something different. Cycle-Smart strongly advocates off-the-bike workouts utilizing weights, body weight, and/or a yoga mat to exercise your core, legs, upper body, as well as stretch and gain flexibility. With my return to cycling, I wanted to mix it up for 2018 and try something different. I recently began replacing my early morning trainer sessions with an early morning espresso followed by a 20-40 minute yoga session. Over the last few months I've found that the following order of operations works best for a cheap household yoga regime:
Find an old Krups "espresso" machine at your parents house.
Spend an inordinate amount of time using white vinegar and descaling solution in an attempt to make the water bladder "smell less like their cupboard."
Passively aggressively text your parents about how the free coffee machine you took from them smells like their cupboard and how it's their fault.
Buy Segafredo ground espresso beans off Amazon because, ya know, Trek Segafredo.
Get a cheap yoga mat. Or if you're like me, ruin your yoga mat by using it as a trainer pad for years, and then resort to using an old foam camping pad as a next best option.
Download the Habitica app on your phone to set daily "do your yoga" reminders as well as a "wake up early" habit in order to level up your little fantasy character for no particular reason other than it feels better than checking a box on a piece of paper.
Search YouTube to find a yoga regime that works best for you. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to find an instructor you like. Someone you like from both a personality perspective as well as from a longevity perspective. I have 3 cycles that I run through depending on what the prescribed workout for the day is - links are at the bottom of the article.
Get to it!
Now that I'm a month in the results are clear. I leave my apartment feeling energized and loose from the yoga...and the caffeine. I'm leaning less on the bars during my on-the-bike time as I can better support myself from my core, and the typical aches and pains (i.e. hip flexors, low back, IT band, glutes, hamstrings, etc.) I've traditionally felt both on and off the bike have greatly subsided. In short, my new found yoga regimen has become essential for my physical and mental health both on and off the bike.
Recommended Yoga Links
For days where stretching and flexibility are your goals:
Yoga with Kassandra - Search for her "Yoga for Cyclists" videos
Yoga for Cyclists - Postures with former Olympic Athlete Ditte Kotzian
If you're looking for a good 30 day series with a mix of it all:
Yoga with Adriene - Start with Day 1 and build from there
If you're looking for intensive, cyclist specific core and leg work:
That's a secret, and you'd best sign up for Cycle-Smart to gain access to their proprietary training and content!