Saturday, February 27, 2016

#10Weeksto100 - Week 1 - Three Questions to Answer First

Having a clear picture of what you want to accomplish is the one of the to keys in setting, and achieving, a goal.  So before you begin to train for your first (or next) endurance event, here are three important questions to ask yourself.  Your answers will guide your training, and help in setting a realistic expectation for your ride.
  • What type of rider are you?
  • How do you plan to ride your event?
  • What pace can you maintain today for 10 miles

What Type of Rider Are You?
The first question: “Which type of rider are you?” Besides the competitive cyclist (or the serious cyclist/runner/triathlete), cyclists new to endurance events tend to fall into two broad categories.  Don't confuse these with fitness levels, these are as much about where cycling fits into other time commitments and pursuits.

A Social Rider
  • 40-60 miles per week
  • Ride 2-3 times per week (you ride somewhat regularly, but don't make your schedule around it)
  • Occasional rides of an hour or two.

If you are just a social rider now, the weekly miles you will be adding will be bit more challenging. You will need to find more time in your schedule for riding to meet your longer distance goals. You will need to learn some new habits for comfort during your riding.


A Sport/Fitness Rider
  • Regularly over 60 miles per week
  • Ride 4-5 times per week, and riding is regular part of your weekly schedule
  • Your weekend rides are regularly a couple of hours or more, and regularly ride an hour more in morning or evening

Some Sport/Fitness riders may find they have to changes habits to ride the time and distance of longer  endurance events. Those with a running or spin background may also be surprised by the longer time commitments, especially with event times of 6-7 hours or more.  

How Do You Plan to Ride Your Event?
Your expectation and how you want to ride the event will influence both your training, and what to expect the day of the ride. For the first time, recreational endurance rider, consider these two broad categories.

A "Social" Century Event
  • Total Time of 10-12 hours
  • Riding Time of 7 to 10 hours - average speed between 10 and 14 mph 
On a social century, you are riding to make the distance, while stopping to smell the flowers. You are enjoying the scenery, riding alone or in a small social group, taking breaks and eating a sit down lunch or snacks.


A "Fast" Century Event
  • Total time - Under 8 hours
  • Riding time - under 7 hours - averaging 14 mph or better
On a fast century, you are riding with a specific time in mind, and you are training for that goal. You may be riding in a group for the pace line advantage. Any breaks from riding are short stops to pick-up water and snacks.


Which sounds like you? Which matches your expectations? There is no right or wrong way to “do” a distance event; that is part of the beauty of cycling. I have done both kinds of distance rides, and enjoy each for their unique rewards. I have ridden for the challenge of a personal best time, or for the variety of scenery you can see in 60 to 100 miles of Michigan coastline. The choice is yours to make, however, it is important to have the right expectation during BOTH your training and during your event.

(I have deliberately left out the competitive event. Endurance competition is the next level, and this series is intended for novice and recreational riders.)

What pace can you maintain for 10 miles?

Your final last question is “What Pace Can you maintain for 10 miles?” This is not your fastest 10 miles, but at the best speed you can comfortably ride while still able to maintain a conversation. This time trial (ride against the clock) helps find a useful base-line for your training plan.

There are 3 reasons knowing your pace is important. First, it will help you set a realistic expectation for your event. Second, it going to be an important base number for training rides over the next several weeks. And finally, it will also provide you a measure of your improvement over time, a great motivationally aid.

Ideally, this simple test can be the middle 10 miles of a ride of about 15 to 20 miles, and on a loop or route you know. Don’t worry about the effect of traffic signs (obey them). If it looks like a windy day, try riding 5 miles out into the wind, and then 5 miles back to even out the effect.

It is also very important that you are able to maintain a conversation, (sometimes referred to as the "talk test"), during this ride. Passing the talk test is the simplest way to insure you are staying aerobic, and riding below your anaerobic threshold.  For the recreational rider, almost all of your endurance riding should be using your aerobic capacity.

We all have limited amount of time we can spend at our “best” or fastest effort. Our aerobic pace is what we can maintain for a much longer period of time. A recreational endurance rider, needs to stay at an aerobic level of effort as much as possible.  

Over the next 10 weeks, you are going to be focused on improving your aerobic fitness and endurance.  While you are going to see some improvement in your speed over time, your success in long events is going to be while you are riding in your aerobic range.


Weekly Riding Goals: 4 Rides and your 10-mile pace test

You should be riding about 4 times a week now; a couple of weeknight evening rides and a couple weekend rides, with one focusing on riding a longer distance. We will add more details with next week.

Include your 10 miles pace ride, and in week two we show you how to include that information as you build your training habit.


With my son Tyler and our tandem, on TOSRV 2008.



Week 1 of the #10weeksto100.

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy.

You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century


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