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Training tips: How to train for your first 50km or 100km cycle
With cycling growing in popularity year on year, it’s no surprise that there are loads of new and exciting cycle events to try. If you feel tempted to give one a go in 2017, here are some tips to get you started.
Taking on a cycle challenge may seem daunting at first, but pick the right event for you, make sure you train adequately and we’re sure you’ll be hooked.
How do you train?
Training is all about progressively asking your body to do just that little bit more than it can already comfortably do. Then giving it time to adapt, recover and come back stronger. The real trick is to do that steadily.
Unlike running, cycling is a low impact sport and once you develop a basic level of endurance and get into a rhythm – as long as you provide your body with adequate fuel and hydration – you can happily keep going and going.
Each time you ride you’ll improve and you’ll develop something called ‘muscle memory’ as your muscles will start to get used to the action of pedalling and work in a much more efficient and coordinated way. Before long you will be able to glide along at a reasonable pace without it feeling too hard at all.
The best way to develop this muscle memory and then to work endurance into your legs is to steadily build up your mileage and spend more and more time in the saddle.
Start your rides very gradually to allow your muscles to warm up and become supple, this will help to avoid risk of injury. At the end your ride, a few simple stretches will help prevent stiffness the next day; focus on gently stretching out all the muscles in your legs as well as your lower back.
Initially, try to ride on flat, quiet roads to help you get used to the bike without the distractions of too much traffic. As you get more confident, you can start to vary the route.
Cycling is a safe sport as long as you keep your wits about you, are aware of your fellow road users and always wear a helmet.
When you are endurance training – meaning do long sustained efforts – you should work at an intensity that feels challenging enough that you are starting to breathe a little heavier. It is important, however, that you feel you can sustain the effort for the duration of your ride – this is called pacing yourself, the aim is to finish your session, not run out of steam half way.
Avoid riding so hard that you are out of breath, then having to ride very slowly to recover. This makes for a very unpleasant experience on the bike and won’t do much to develop your endurance.
A good way of checking that you are at the right level of intensity is to make sure you are capable of having a conversation. If you can only utter a few words before gasping for breath then ease up!
During the course of a bike ride, your body will require fuel. A good diet is essential to completing the ride comfortably, ideally with some energy left at the end!
It is not uncommon to use 1000 calories or more during a moderate 30km ride, so you need to take on sufficient fuel to be able to cope with this output. How you do this is very personal, some people like to use energy bars and others prefer a sandwich. Eitherway, you need to drink at least 500ml per hour and eat at least one bar, gel or sandwich
If you are trying to lose weight, don’t think that you shouldn’t refuel and replace some of those used up calories – you won’t be able to train efficiently unless you do. If you are depleted you can’t train, so it’s counter productive.
The training plans
The training plans below are based around gradually upping your mileage so that you find yourself at the start line of either a 50km or 100km ride, confident that you will see out the distance.
The plan works by gradually upping your weekly mileage over three weekly cycles. You should make the fourth week an easier one to allow your body to adapt and come back stronger.
Midweek rides are shorter and can be done at a slightly quicker pace, though still at that nice endurance intensity, with a longer ride at the weekend to work on your ability to just keep going.
Keep these efforts steady, remember it doesn’t matter how quick you get there, just that you get there. Don’t worry if you miss the odd session, what matters is that you keep that week-in-week-out consistency going, as that’s what gets results.
You can always add swimming, running or other aerobic exercise to your training to keep it interesting and ensure you maintain a healthy level of fitness.
The Women’s Sports Magazine