After riding 4-6 centuries/year for about the last 10 years, I am occasionally asked about my training and nutritional preparations for an event. So I have put them together in this central location. The nutritional prep will be covered in a follow up blog.
The first step is to know the event vitals that you are preparing for. How much total elevation gain is on the course, and where in the event are the climbs located? What will the conditions be? Are there any specific rules, like no drafting for solo riders? Are there timed, king of the mountain segments? Is the whole event timed or is it a more recreationally structured event?
Then, depending on the goals and conditions of the event, I will begin structuring a plan several months ahead. If is a flat, recreational event like the Palm Springs Century I will continue long, flat “base mileage” type training that occurs at about 65% of my max heart rate predominantly. Then as the season progresses to the more aggressive bigger climb events, I will incorporate far more higher intensity and climbing into my training while maintaining at least one longer ride per week.
Training leading up to the event shifts slightly. If it is a more recreational/training type event then my “taper” preparation for the event would simply be 3 days of very light rides at 65% for less then 1 hour. If it is an event I intend to truly peak for and intend to compete at my best, then I would “taper” for 2 weeks. This 2 week period might be as little as 1 60-90 minute ride in zone 2 every-other-day. This is less ideal for over all progress, so I only plan to peak like this for 2-3 events per year typically.
Thanks to the help of Big Red Coaching I have implemented “opener’s” the day before events. Opener’s are done by going for a gentle zone 2 (65%) one hour ride. Midway during that ride I will take 2 one minute segments on a gentle grade where I aggressively progress from zone 2 to as high as I can get my heart rate (zone 6). If I am well rested, which is ideal for a competitive event, I will be able to get pretty near to my max heart rate. If I am poorly prepared and under rested, my heart rate will not get nearly as high. That is a bad sign if I am looking to peak for the event. By implementing these I have found that I can begin riding at a competitive race pace much faster at the start of the event. Meaning I need far less warm up before feeling “all in!”
These same principles work well for marathon and half marathon type training. I hope you find some value in this for your own training and I wish the very best in your pursuit of optimal fitness. Check out the next post which will cover my dieting/hydration shifts prior to and during an event. God bless.