For most of us, winning three Olympic gold medals, a silver and two bronzes would be enough to induce a lifetime of laurel-sitting and grandchildren-storytelling. Not if you’re Team GB cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who explains how he stays motivated for training as he aims for further glory this summer.
What keeps you motivated when you’re training?
I’m getting ready to compete in the Tour de France and obviously there are the Olympics. These goals keep me motivated to do my job – riding a bike and training. It’s an exciting time to be involved in British cycling and Team Sky.
What’s the biggest sacrifice you have to make due to training?
Spending time with my family. A lot of my training takes place away from home; you can be away for weeks at a time training and then racing. Even if I am at home most days, I’ll be out on my bike for 7-8 hours – it doesn’t leave much time for anything else. Even rest days contribute to your fitness, as that’s when the body adjusts to the training loads. It can be difficult, but cycling is my job.
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your training?
Riding through amazing scenery by myself – it’s just me and my bike. I am lucky that I get the opportunity to train in some incredible places.
What work do you do in the gym when you’re not on the bike?
I don’t tend to do much work in the gym that’s not bike-related. Maybe some exercises to work on my core muscles, but that’s about it. Core strength is important in cycling, as that backs up the work your legs are doing. It’s crucial to stay lean and not bulk out too much.
What are the best drills for improving speed?
Short intense bursts of speed followed by a short recovery period – say 20 seconds. Keep repeating this, increasing the intensity of the sprints. This gets fast-twitch muscles going – the ones that provide your speed and power.
What are the best exercises for improving leg power?
Nothing compares with hours in the saddle for building up endurance in the legs.
Do you do any mental preparation?
It’s important to stay calm and logical, especially when you feel like things might not be going to plan. That way, you can react quickly. Emotions have to stay out of the race so that you can concentrate and react appropriately in a measured manner.
What about music – are there any tracks you like to listen to while you train?
Music is a huge part of my life. I listen to a lot of different types. Mainly it would be bands such as The Who or The Jam when I am training, but there are a lot of new interesting bands coming out, too. It really depends on what mood I’m in.
What about hydration?
I drink a lot of water and sports drinks when I’m training. It’s important to have a recovery shake once you are finished.
Do you have ‘cheat’ days? If so, what do you treat yourself to?
Even over the winter, when you are not racing as much, it is important to be stringent about your diet. I’m aware of not putting on weight so that it’s not so hard when you resume training. Weight is so important in racing that I always have to be conscious about what I eat and drink. It’s my life. But I have a balance between being obsessive and having a couple of days off, and that makes me happy in my work.
How important is what you wear during training?
Comfort is a priority when training. If you are not comfortable, you will be distracted and won’t produce a good ride. Well-fitted, padded clothes are a must.