• Lisa Christiansen ᎦᏗᏠᎡ ᏖᏁᏔᏗ

THE 8-WEEK, 12 STEP TRAINING PLAN TO RIDE A CENTURY


Train for a 100-mile race with just three rides per week

A 100-mile ride is a milestone nearly every cyclist strives to reach. The roadblock for most of us is finding the time to prepare for a century. With only so many hours in the day, most of which we spend working and sleeping, ride time is limited. This eight-week plan for a century ride will have any determined cyclist ready to hit 100 with just three rides per week: one long, one steady and one speedy. On rest days, remember to do something to keep your body moving.

Long Ride: The Meat. In your first week, you'll want to ride 1.5 to 2 hours, or about 20 miles, and build from there. (If you're already comfortable with a longer ride than Week 1 prescribes, start with 2.5 to 3 hours and follow the same guidelines for mileage building, topping off at about 85 miles.) Do your long rides at a steady, but not taxing, pace--about 70 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Though most cyclists find that Saturdays or Sundays work best for their long rides, it doesn't matter which day you choose as long as you get it done.

Steady Ride: The Bread and Butter. During these rides, aim for two to four longer efforts (15 to 30 minutes in length; 15 minutes easy pedaling in between) that increase your breathing and elevate your heart rate to around 80 to 85 percent of your MHR. Ride at threshold, as if you're pedaling with someone slightly faster than you. These rides will simulate your goal for your century and train your body to ride more briskly while maintaining comfort, so you can finish 100 miles faster and fresher.

Speed Ride: The Secret Sauce. Distance riders often skip speed work because they think they need volume, not intensity, to go long. But riding fast improves your endurance by raising your lactate threshold, the point at which your muscles scream "Slow down!" When you raise this ceiling, you can ride faster and farther before your body hits the brakes. Aim to do four to six very hard or max efforts ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes; in between, spin easy for twice the length of the interval. Do these on a challenging stretch of road, such as a hill or into a headwind.

Make Every Mile Count. Finishing a century means making the best choices for all 100 of those miles.

Space Out. Stuffing yourself full of calories prior to the ride will divert blood to your stomach, which weakens your legs and slows you down. Instead, eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast of 400 to 500 calories two to three hours before the event. Then aim to eat and drink 200 to 300 calories every hour thereafter.

Keep a Steady Flow. Consume at least one bottle's worth of energy drink per hour (more if it's hot) to provide electrolytes and a few carbohydrates. Choose a flavor that will entice you to sip often.

Pedal Your Pace. The biggest newbie mistake is letting yourself be seduced into speeding along with faster riders early in the day, only to crack 60 miles in. Fall in with riders who pedal your pace and avoid going into the red (feeling breathless) for the first 50 miles. You'll finish fresh and strong.

Move Around. Avoid aches and pains in your neck and back by changing your hand position often and standing out of the saddle to stretch periodically.

Keep It Short. Take advantage of rest stops to use the bathroom, refill bottles, stretch and grab some food. But don't linger. A stop that lasts more than 10 to 15 minutes will cause your legs to stiffen up and make it harder to get going again.

By Selene Yeager

You've completed every training ride and double-checked every piece of gear in preparation for your first century. You've even followed a nutrient-rich diet in the months before your event. Just one final challenge remains: finishing on race day.

Don't let anxiety affect your first century ride. Follow these 12 tips to make your 100-mile journey an enjoyable, stress-free event.

1. Pace Yourself

Your first century is not the time to see how fast you can ride 100 miles. Start at a pace that's easy to maintain. Keep in mind that your heart rate may be elevated at the start from nerves or excitement, so pay attention to your breathing rather than your heart rate. A good rule is to ride at a pace in which you can talk comfortably with your fellow riders.

2. Eat Every Hour

If you pace yourself and eat enough food, you'll finish your century without difficulty. Set a goal to eat 200 calories of carbohydrates every hour during the race, including the first hour. If you wait to eat until the second half of your race, it's already too late.

If you're a smaller rider, you can eat a little less that the recommended 200 calories. If you're a bigger rider, you'll need to eat a little more. Be prepared to take enough food with you that you don't have to rely on the food at the aid stations.

3. Drink to Satisfy Thirst

Drink enough fluid to satisfy your thirst, but be careful not to overdo it. If you get slightly dehydrated it won't affect your performance. If you drink too much fluid, you risk hyponatremia (very low blood sodium), a potentially fatal condition.

4. Stick to Familiar Nutrition

Try to find out before the race what will be available at the aid stations. If this is what you've been eating and drinking during your training rides, you won't have anything to worry about. Be careful not to try new food or drink and risk an upset stomach.

5. Be Careful Riding in a Group

Riding in a group, sharing the workload and chatting are part of the fun of an organized ride. However, if you aren't familiar with your companions' bike handling skills, be careful and don't risk a crash.

6. Check the Navigation

Refer to the cue sheet frequently to make sure you don't miss a turn. Don't rely on a group to navigate correctly—double-check to make sure you stay on the course. Riding extra miles if you get lost, can make or break your race.

7. Finishing Is Mental

Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half physical." This applies to endurance cycling as well. If you feel tired or discouraged, ask yourself if you're eating enough. Low blood sugar is the most likely cause of fatigue or a bad mood.

8. Don't Think of it as 100 Miles

One hundred miles seems like a long way to ride—and it is. Don't think about riding the whole distance at once. Instead, divide the ride into smaller sections and focus on one at a time. Give yourself smaller goals to conquer, like riding to the top of a climb or to the next aid station.

9. Get Through the Ugly Middle

Early in the ride you'll probably feel fresh and have good legs. When the middle comes around, fatigue is likely to set in and you'll start thinking about how far away the finish is. Try to persevere.

During a century, it's important to recognize when you're in the ugly middle and convince yourself that you can ride through it. Eventually, you'll get a second burst of energy and you'll be surprised at how strong you feel.

10. When Something Goes Wrong

First, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. Then ask yourself how bad it really is. Is it in your control or not? If it's a strong headwind, it'll just take you longer to finish. If it starts to rain, you'll get wet. If you have an upset stomach or sore butt—keep riding, those will be gone tomorrow. Know what you can control and what you can't, and do your best to push through these kind of obstacles.

11. Commemorate the Ride

Take a camera or smart phone and take pictures when you stop. You'll meet new riders too, so take a small notebook to write down their contact information. You may meet a new training buddy.

12. Have Fun!

This is your first century. The only time you'll ride your first. Relax and enjoy the unique experience.

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