You’ve taken the plunge and signed up for your first 100-mile cycle event and can’t wait to give the cycling training all you’ve got…congratulations! But how are you realistically going to fit cycling training around a responsible job, family commitments, the weather and be in tiptop condition for your chosen epic 100-mile sportive?
By taking a ‘less is more’ approach to cycling training, you’ll find a better balance between work, play and cycling. You’ll start to see continual improvements not only in cycling form, but in all aspects of your life.
To find that balance and successfully finish your first 100-mile event, you need to adopt a quality, yet flexible approach to training. To do this you need to first know how to ‘manage time’ better around training. Then, once you’ve freed up more time, it is then a case of looking at how productive you are with that time to get the best from your training.
For a more detailed read about cycle training when busy, click here!
Here’s 7 tips to becoming more productive in your training around a busy, working week:
Tip 1: Do The Least Amount Of Training For Maximum Gain In Fitness:
When it comes to prepare for your first 100-miles it’s important not to go out and ride every single day. This is because riding every day doesn’t actually get you any fitter than riding 4, or even as little as 3 times a week.
Training when time starved is all about quality and consistency, not quantity. Riding every day will tire you out both mentally and physically. You’ll always get more out of your cycling when you’re fresh and eager to train.
As a basic guideline, you need:
Tip 2: Build In Recovery and Take Recovery Days Seriously:
Building in recovery days, or days off cycling is important to build your fitness. Without adequate recovery days, you won’t get fitter. You’ll wind up tired, stale and overtrained. Remember that training breaks down your body, and it’s only recovery, i.e. a day off the bike, that builds you stronger.
If you are time-starved, then cycling training is not the only stress you have during a typical day. As you know, you’re not a full time cyclist whose only stress is riding a bike. You must therefore identify and take into account the extra stresses you have in a day and train accordingly.
This is why training less days but upping the midweek ride intensity works so well. You then get 3-4 days off the bike to rest – and make more time for your family.
Tip 3: Be Flexible In Which Day You Choose To Train:
When you choose to ride just 3 days a week and focus only on those days training, you become flexibile on your choice of days to train. The advantage is if the weather goes bad, or you have to stay late at work, you can shift your workout to another day without any loss of fitness!
As long as you get your three quality weekly rides in, it doesn’t really matter which days these are. By giving yourself more flexibility during the week on when you train, you begin to become in control of your training, rather than the training controlling YOU!
Think ‘flexibility’ instead of ‘fixed’ training days a week…and soon you’ll start to ‘flow’ and get traction with your training rather than ‘fighting’ it with continual setbacks.
Time Pressed? Think QUALITY vs QUANTITY to progress your fitness so you FLOW rather than FIGHT training
Tip 4: Turn A Boring Commute Into A Supercharged Training Ride:
Cycle to work, get fit and give yourself more family time at the end of the day. You can use bike commuting very effectively to train for your distance events. If you doubt cycling to work will get you fit or ‘isn’t enough’ think again.
Here are a couple of quick tips to kick-start your training into top-gear, – and give you plenty variation each week to get you ‘loving’ bike commuting instead of ‘loathing’ it:
When you start commuting with your 100-mile event in mind, remember not to ride to work every single day – as we’ve discussed in tips 1, 2 & 3, that’s the sure fire way to end up off your bike and back to square one: bored, stale and heavy legged.
Focus-in on pulling-off two superb quality bike commutes a week and one long bike ride at the weekend.
5: Get Clear On What Training You Need To Do [e.g. To Finish 100 Mile Sportive]:
Critical to succeeding in your long distance event is knowing what training to do from one bike ride to the next. To do this, we need to look at your long term event goal, which in this case is to complete 100-miles.
We then need to set medium and shorter term ‘training goals’ to get you there. To get clear on this, we write down and outline an annual training programme periodised into training blocks bringing you into peak form for your long term event goal. It sounds scary but it really is not difficult to do when you know how :). If you'd like some help, my ebook guide may be very useful to you here!
Now, once you get on your bike for a day’s training, you can clearly see and pinpoint exactly what training you need to be doing and at what intensity. By doing this, you save time and energy AND you get fit quicker because you know what you are doing from ride to ride!
Devise a cycling plan so you have an AIM to every ride: saves time cos you know what yer doing!
6. When The Weather Turns Bad Use an Indoor Turbo Trainer:
You need creative, flexible alternatives to ride a bike when you can’t ride on the road. You may only be riding 3 days a week, but consistency in that training is key. You can’t afford to lose one of those training days due to bad weather.
Investing in a simple indoor turbo trainer is a smart move. If you'd like help to get started, please read my Beginners Turbo Training guide + 20 supercharged workouts!
The beauty of the turbo is you not only use it when your can’t get outside. You can combine a commute with the turbo too. By mixing your forms of cycling like this, you can use your time much more effectively, keep consistent, as well as keep your training varied.
Tip 7: Start Doing Some Interval Training to Spice Up Your Training:
To stave off boredom and stagnation with your fitness it's important not to go at one training pace all the time. Instead, up the pace and get into various forms of interval training.
Interval training can give your fitness a needed boost. Remember though, intervals do not necessarily have to be done at killer thrash-out pace. You’ll also find that interval style workouts go much quicker (saving you precious time) and can even become more enjoyable.
An example of an interval workout is below:
Your Quick Beginners Interval Style Workout When Time Starved:
Total time for workout: [between 1hr to 1hr 20]
1. Warm up for 20 minutes..
2. Find a stretch of road, or a hill that lasts 5 minutes duration. This is your work interval..
3. Ride slightly harder than you usually would for these 5 minutes. You can use a heart rate monitor for this, but you should feel it is "moderately hard work".
4. Turn around, or cycle back down the hill easily for a rest interval of about 2 minutes.
5. Repeat the work interval above 3-5 times, respecting the rest interval in between. Start out with 3 intervals to see how you go.
6. Progress each week by adding one extra interval, ideally no more than 5, to accumulate 25 minutes of harder efforts in one workout.
7. Cool down, or cycle home easily for 10 minutes.
Your Personal Winning Cycling Formula:
Once you begin to take a more flexible approach to your training, you’ll be onto a personal winning cycling formula! You’re going to be well trained, well rested and rarely have to feel frustrated when you can’t make a training session.
At the end of the day it’s about finding balance with your training and the rest of your life. This does initially take a bit of trial and error, but you’ll know when you’ve found it when you cross the line in your 100-mile cycle event having had a brilliant day out with all the family.
…if you’d like to learn more about how to implement the above tips and much more on planning your training year, I highly recommend my ebook guide: “The Time-Starved Cyclist’s Training Formula – how to find time to train for 100-miles and not get divorced!”
And, If you found this post useful – do share this post on Facebook with your cycling friends who might need help with completing their first 100-mile event. As usual, I look forward to reading your comment in the comments section below...