Published on14th May, 2019, in Support
It's a Marathon not a Sprint
I remember the first time I got back onto a road bike since school days. It was only 15 miles but I distinctly recall walking down my stairs at home the day after feeling my thigh muscles cry out in pain. Like anything, if you suddenly subject your body to some new exercise then it certainly feels pretty tough.
But guess what? Building up that exercise slowly and gradually generates strength in the muscles that previously didn't get such a good workout and increases your stamina.
So if you're considering riding LEJOG (or any other long-distance cycle ride) it's important to have a training schedule or plan.
Adaptable Training Framework
There are lots of generic training plans for LEJOG out there on the web, which are in part to blame for many people not undertaking such challenges, as they are overly time intensive, complicated and fail to consider individual circumstances.
Pedal Britain's advice is based on a very simple but adaptable assumption:
If you cycle 100+ miles per week which must include longer rides and plenty of elevation in the 16 weeks leading up to the tour > you should be fit enough to complete LEJOG.
This 100+ miles should fit around your life and anything that you do beyond this, just makes everything that bit more comfortable.
The Key to Success?
Your plan should incorporate these important training principles:
- Adaptation: Train your body to get used to physical and mental aspects of such a challenge.
- Specificity: Most of your training needs to be cycling specific it's a cycle ride you're tackling
- Progression: Gradually build up your training so that, week by week, you become fitter.
- Variation: Undertaking exactly the same kind of training routine repeatedly won't reflect the actual circumstances of your journey.You therefore need to make sure your training plan incorporates different types of routes and ride at different intensities. This also helps overcome boredom!!
- Overload: To improve, you need to push your body beyond its current limits. This process of overload is closely linked to progression and adaptation.
- Recovery: After any intense activity you need to give your body time to recover and build to a higher level of fitness.
Do not worry if you cannot ride 100+ miles every week. The key is you continue to ride regularly and with a purpose and where possible track your progress. Be aware that it is possible to overtrain which means you start to cycle 'empty miles' that do not actually contribute to improved performance.
Riding on consecutive days - At least plan to do this a couple of times before the tour if you have not done a multi-day cycling event previously. It is important not just from a 'can my body cope', but critically it provides a psychological boost that you can manage riding high miles day after day - as you cannot exactly replicate your tour!!
Success Requires More Than Just Physical Training
I think it's also important to remember that training is only one part (albeit a vitally important part) of feeling that a long-distance cycle ride will be a pleasure rather than an endurance test.
Don't neglect the 'Ride Management' techniques that will help you succeed:
Pacing yourself: It's not a race. You're allowed to stop when you feel tired then continue after a break, even if that means cycling into the long summer evenings. Choose a pace you're comfortable with and keep it up. On the tour you'll be stopping several times during the day - perhaps try replicating that in your training.
Breaking down the challenge: The thought of a 1,000 mile ride, for example, can be daunting. It's important to think about splitting it into 14 day-long rides, and then each of those days sub-divided into a couple of hours in the morning, a brew stop, another couple of hours, a lunch stop and so on. When things get tough, just focus on the next town, the next ten miles and sit on the wheel in front.
Eating and Drinking Enough: In training you get used to a usually one quick stop for a banana and chocolate bar - or a coffee and cake stop. On tour you MUST eat and drink much more than this. Do not wait to become hungry or thirsty - our brew stops will help with this. Your metabolism goes crazy after the first week which can if not managed through correct food intake can lead to the dreaded 'bonk'
Taking appropriate gear: You'll not perform at your best if you're too cold, too wet, too thirsty or too overladen. You must take lightweight gear but make sure it's up to the conditions you're likely to face.
Treating yourself: If a nice evening meal, a bigger than normal slice of cake or a few beers is going to lift your mood, then why not. These boosts help to keep momentum going when things get tough.
Preparing yourself mentally: Being nervous is natural. A lot of people beat themselves before they even reach the start point be it worrying about every hill or riding too slow and holding people up. Be positive, you have put in the hours training, you can and you will do it at your pace.
Life, weather, injuries will all get in the way, everyones training journey is different. Just be prepared to be flexible. Plans can change. Your new plans might even work out better!!
Once on the tour Pedal Britain guides are on hand to encourage, motivate and advise to the end. However we are here from before you even sign up to talk through anything that might be preventing you from undertaking the cycling adventure of a lifetime.
Pedal Britain Training Plans
If after reading this blog you are still not confident enough to create a training plan yourself, Pedal Britain has developed with Grant Goodman (Pedal Britain guide and Training Expert) a range of exclusive coaching packages to help build a bespoke training schedule to meet your needs.
But if all you want is to discuss training and get some reassurance on what you're doing or plan to do, then please just email us with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. or to book an informal chat.
To find out more on the options below and how we can support you, just click 'Training Plans'