Lily Williams Shares Pillars of Performance Routine

In the Human Powered Health team’s new series, their athletes open the doors to their routines to show how they prioritise Human Powered Health’s Pillars of Performance in their daily lives. As a dual-discipline cyclist, Lily Williams knows the importance of getting the most out of an off-season for both her mind and body. Since her last race on the road in September, the Olympic bronze medalist has been on a whistle-stop journey. After moving full-time from the USA to France, she placed third in the Track Champions League and focused on building road form for the season ahead.

Since the writing of this diary, Lily sadly suffered a double collarbone break as a result of a crash during the 4 Days of Geneva track event. Her team at Human Powered Health and her fans wish her a speedy recovery.

MOVEMENT

On-bike training includes mostly endurance riding at low intensity. In addition to doing 1-3.5-hour rides at low endurance (under 186 watts), I was doing some sprinting and gym training as well to activate my body for the track. My main training off the bike is gym sessions two times per week with predominantly foundational strength movements, which will progress until the spring racing begins.

I’ve been racing on the track but it’s important to have fun with it. I’ve mainly been using it as skills-based exercises before Team USA’s final preparations for the Olympics next summer.

I get to race and travel with my boyfriend (USA men’s endurance star Gavin Hoover). He also did the Track Champions League and so we added some fun activities in the cities in addition to the racing. I need that racing to motivate me. I have no trouble training, even when it’s boring, but I love racing even more and there’s a positive repercussion that it helps me stay refreshed and engaged.

We’ve started working with a new coach on Human Powered Health [Arne Dedrie, Belgium]. This is the first time I have a road coach programming my training and I’m really looking forward to having that structure, because I’ve done a lot of my training based on intuition before. It will now be more focused and with the competition in the WorldTour getting harder I need to be more specific.

MINDSET
I work with a sports psychologist all year long. Lately, we have been using the off-season as a time to transition to what I hope will take up the bulk of our work together this coming season: dealing with the pressure of targeting specific races and preparing for the Olympics.

As I advance in my career, I am ready to take on different roles within the team and hopefully the opportunity to be a leader at some races, which comes with an entirely different set of expectations and stress management. Now is the time to start building those skills.

I’ve been enjoying my new home in Aix en Provence, France, where the weather is amazing all year long. It’s been great for my mindset to be able to get out and ride in the sunshine almost every day, just to relax and enjoy being on my bike. Not splitting my time between two continents has also been great for my mental health.

It’s important not to think about bikes too much. I’ve been trying to ease back into training and enjoy being outside. It’s nice to know that you won’t be living out of a suitcase and be in one place.

FUEL

At this time it’s important not to be too strict since it’s a long year and there’s no point in burning yourself out on a diet when you aren’t racing.

This is the first time I’ve been paying a lot of attention to fuelling. Normally I eat intuitively, which I think is really important because it’s about listening to your body and what it needs, but I am pretty committed to starting to be more focused in all the different areas associated with the Four Pillars. Cycling doesn’t last forever, so I’m trying to do everything correctly to get the most out of my time as an athlete. Fuel is a huge part of that, so I’m changing what I eat on the bike and planning calories intake for certain rides.

It’s mostly about getting in the right amount of carbohydrates on rides. This means 30 grams or less for my 67kg body weight and otherwise enjoying some of the things that are harder to have during the season, namely wine.

But not eating an entire bag of Haribo in one sitting. When you do a five hour ride you’re hungry enough to do it, but instead, it’s about making decisions that provide a little bit more value to your body like dried fruit, instead of a bag of Haribo.

I maintain my Thorne vitamin regime of Zinc, Super EPA, Vitamin D-5,000, Basic B Complex, Probiotics, and RecoveryPro® all year long so that I don’t get sick and make sure I’m getting vitamins that are harder to get from food.

RECOVERY

Recovery is about listening to my body. I’m very good at knowing when to push through and when I need to rest. This time of year we have the opportunity to be gentler with ourselves and really lean into opportunities for rest. I love to just relax, read, drink coffee, do crosswords, stay at home, and enjoy wandering through the town centre to people-watch or enjoy a meal.

At least once a week I will spend a few hours stretching, using a massage gun, rolling out on a lacrosse ball, and doing some deliberately restorative activities. For the most part, I don’t mind just sitting and doing nothing.

I’m working on standardising my wake up time. This will make me feel better physically throughout the day and will optimise my recovery time, as it forces me to go to bed a little earlier and wake up earlier. If I don’t wake up early enough, then I can’t do the training I need to do or get the food I need for the day from the farmers market, so waking up at 9 am for instance has been a good way of increasing my recovery between sessions.

I like to spend this time doing my hobbies. I like to go shopping and go for coffee and to have artistic projects like sewing or beading. I’m constantly organising my home space, changing furniture around to be more useful, and just totally normal stuff that’s completely mindless and requires you to be present.

I’ve been inspired by Daria to do my own nails. She’s super good at it and I’m just starting out but that now takes up a lot of my chilling out time.

You too can focus on the Four Pillars of Performance in your daily life with easy, manageable steps, such as Lily’s sleep routine. Winter is notorious for knocking fitness, nutrition and self-care by the wayside so keeping the Pillars in mind, as well as taking that downtime, is a good base for success in 2024. We can’t guarantee Daria-quality nails though!

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