Dedicated speed and power training is far more demanding on your musculoskeletal system than regular running. You’ll realise this the day or so after your first couple of sessions – we guarantee your legs will be sore. This soreness isn’t a bad thing, as inflammation and subsequent recovery are what stimulates muscles to adapt and become stronger. However, this recovery has to be fuelled, and the key ingredient is protein. You can also manage the inflammation by ensuring your diet is rich in omega-3 oils, found in oily fish and seeds. It’s important to make the distinction between managing inflammation and preventing it, though. Inflammation is essential for adaptation, so you don’t want to actively try and prevent it by taking painkillers or icing. If you’ve got sore legs, one of the best things you can do is go for an easy cycle. Another reason why protein is essential is that you’ll probably be trying to combine your speed and power work with endurance sessions. Known as concurrent training, the endurance workouts can have a detrimental effect on speed and power gains. But, by providing your body with adequate protein, these negative effects can be reduced.
British Cycling’s dietician Nigel Mitchell says, “Day-to-day hydration is as important as that during training and racing. Drink plenty of water and monitor your urine colour; aim for straw-coloured. For shorter sessions up to an hour, you can get away without drinking,
but re-hydrate little and often. For longer sessions, also drink little and often; set a reminder on your watch. A great DIY sports drink is 50% pineapple juice, 50% water and a pinch of salt.”