Thursday, March 17, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 – Week 3 – Faster is as Important as Farther

Sizzling Century, Kokomo Indiana, 2013
I have to admit, during my first decade of riding, preparing for centuries was all about just riding more miles. It was bicycle touring that drew me into the sport, and I never seriously pursued anything competitive beyond a few citizen races (none of which indicated I had a future in bicycle racing).

Most of my early centuries were all-day events, with lavish food and lunch stops, and long breaks off the bike. Through the early 90’s, most of these bike club events were sanctioned by the League of American Wheelmen (later to become the League of American Bicyclists), and their “standard” for a century was to complete the 100 miles in under 12 hours. (Sadly, September as National Century Month as all but disappeared from the current LAB scope of interests.)

Even after I acquired a used Raleigh Pro, a vintage (road) racing bike made in the early 70’s, (and bike #4), it was more for just riding “light” when I didn’t want to ride my fender and rack equipped touring bike. It was fun and sporting, and let me dabble in sew-ups and those few citizen races.

Shady Sag, Sizzling Century 2013
It wasn’t until my late 20’s and early 30’s that speed became a part of my distance regimen. Riding “Sub-6”( 6 hours riding or even total time became my goal for many centuries, as I also worked on less time off the bike, even riding some solo centuries non-stop.

This was at the same time I was able join more fast club ride, both sport group rides and race training rides. I soon realized that shorter, faster mid-week rides were allowing me to improve my on endurance rides, even when they did not approach the pace of midweek fast rides.

Those short, high intensity workouts were make me stronger, and more rested than my previous “all miles, all the time” regimen. And over time, my average speed began to pick up as well, in line with the confidence and experience of riding with those faster groups.
So use your midweek rides to keep yourself more rested and prepared for your longer weekend efforts as you build up your distance. While you may have small increases in distance mid-week, a regular training loop route that is the same distance each week is ideal for your brisk ride day.

Just remember to add the speed incrementally, testing yourself and watching the overall speed. If you average speed was 14 mph in your talk test, riding to maintain 15 ½ to 16 ½ on short evening ride is fine. And you may want to return to your “test ride” loop again, working to improve from your original time for this ride.

Tips to get faster
  • Accelerate out of stop signs. Don’t just roll away, stand up and accelerate after a stop to get more quickly back up to speed.
  • Shift up and stand on the flats. When there isn’t a hill to be found, it is easy to drop into an easy pace. Shift to a higher gear, stand for 15 to 20 pedal strokes to accelerate, and the settle down at the faster pace. (This is good skill to learn for saddle pain relief too, and we will talk more about that later.)
  • Hold that effort at the top of hill. Once you crested a hill, hold that effort and use to accelerate back up to your higher pace.
  • Use a Tailwind. Don’t just coast along, use a tailwind to learn what your bike feels like going faster.
  • Use a Headwind.  A bit more challenging, but strive to maintain your event pace into a wind.  This is just as good a riding faster!






Week 3 of the #10weeksto100. 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That 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

Thursday, March 3, 2016

#10weeksto100 - Week 2 - The Training Plan

When I talk about my spring riding to prepare for one of my favorite events, novice riders are surprised to hear that I have my first 1,000 miles of riding in so early in the year.  While I start the year with that goal in mind, those miles come about has much by habit as anything else.   A training plan is just that, laying out your weekly preparation so it becomes habit.  By breaking down your training into routine, weekly events, it becomes much easier to accomplish.  And when the preparation becomes a habit, the end goal is much easier to complete.

Our first step in your training plan was to have an end result in mind. With your answers to the 3 questions from week 1, you have given some thought to who you are as a rider and how you want to ride your event. You should also have a MPH base number from  10 mile “talk test” ride. With this information in hand, we can go about creating a training plan.


My suggested training plan is very basic, with a focus on maintaining a schedule for your riding for the 10 weeks leading up your event.  The plan is based on time rather than mileage.  Your first step in your training plan was to have an end result in mind. With your answers to the 3 questions from week 1, you have given some thought to who you are as a rider and how you want to ride your event. You should also have a MPH base number from your 10 mile “talk test” ride. With this information in hand,  your plan is almost done.

At the start of TOSRV, 2007

Each week is a minimum of two 90-minute workout rides*, typically during your work-week, and one long ride that will incrementally increases 30 to 45 minutes per week over the 10 weeks.  While most or your riding will be at your event pace, one ride per week should be a “Pace Plus” ride.   When your schedule allows, you can add additional rides, and you can be flexible and change from the 3, 4 or 5-day schedules I have included.  (In fact, if you life is like mine, you probably will!)

Planning Tip – don’t forget to include and pre and post workout time, along with travel to the ride start, when planning your week.

The ride plan focuses on these three goals:
Training your body to maintain your event pace
Exceeding your event pace for an entire ride once per week
Incrementally increasing your longest ride each week, while maintaining your event pace

Each of the goals supports the other.  Learning a consistent riding pace is the to key endurance riding success, while riding over your event pace for short intervals helps build strength and confidence.  Your endurance ride will build upon what you gain from Pace and Pace Plus rides.  Pace Plus riding under normal conditions will also help you to maintain your planned pace on a windy day or hilly route.  Another important aspect of a Pace Plus ride is that it helps to avoid the risk of overtraining, a common novice mistake.

Another work out type is the Rest and Recovery ride, i.e. gong riding just for fun, with no goal in mind.  A short, easy ride, a day or two after your longer ride will help to warm and relax tired muscles.  You will be pleasantly surprised how much better you feel the day after this type of short ride, compared, to just resting for 2-3 days with no activity after a long or challenging ride.

Finally, your workout schedule, like mine, may include bike commuting.  Bike commuting, is typically going to be at or below your event pace.  This is all a factor of the distance you commute, the number of days you can commute, and how much you need to carry along.   My commute of about 10 miles (1 way) is usually 3 days a week, with an easy ride in, and challenging myself more for the ride home.  I then do my pace plus rides on the non-commuting days.  Bike commuting may not work for you for you, but certainly consider it, especially if you feel training time is hard to find.  (See also, How to Find the Time, also in this series.)

The total plan is based on 8-10 weeks.  The number of weeks will vary on base level of fitness, and where you are in your riding season. An early season ride may need the full 10 weeks, but if you are already riding longer distance, you can adjust the schedule, as long as you build up the distance over a few weeks. You may not ride all the way up to your distance, but that is okay.

Here is a quick summary of your different workout rides, and their goal.  With the schedule summaries that follow, you can add these these into your calendar (another important habit).

Your Pace workout goal is to maintain your planned event pace for the duration of the ride.
Your Endurance workout goal is to increase your distance at event pace each week.
Your Pace Plus workout goal is to exceed your planned event pace, by 1-2 mph each week.
A Rest and Recovery ride is a short ride at your event pace or easier, to warm up and relax the muscles you have been training.  I sometimes call these “Just Out Riding”, just getting out for the fun of it.
Bicycle Commuting can be used as fits your schedule and needs, from easy base miles, to a Pace Plus ride home at the end of the day.

When you look at the weeks ahead and laying out your you schedule, here is how the different options might look

3-Day Schedule – Tuesday, Pace ride , Thursday – Pace Plus – Saturday – Endurance Day.

4-Day Schedule - Tuesday, Pace Ride , Thursday – Pace Plus – Saturday – Pace Day – Sunday Endurance  Day
- OR - Saturday – Endurance Day – Sunday Pace or  Rest and Recovery Day

5-Day Schedule – Monday – Rest and Recovery Ride Day Tuesday, Pace Ride , Thursday – Pace Plus – Saturday – Pace Day – Sunday Endurance  Day


(Revised July 27, 2017)

Week 2 of the #10weeksto100 series 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That 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