Training Plans

How to Prepare for a Long Distance Cycling Event

Do you have a big cycle challenge lined up this year?

Any cycling event requires proper preparation, both mentally and physically. Long distance rides require stamina and endurance which takes a time to craft. Commitment, motivation and training are the basic ingredients you’ll need to get yourself sailing through the miles.

Training for such a feat of strength won’t be easy. You’ll have to work hard, train hard and most importantly, train safely. It’s easy to get carried away with passing the hours at the gym or on the bike, that you can unknowingly cause yourself an injury.

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To get your training on the right path, and prevent any delays, we’ve put together a helpful guide to get yourself physically prepared for an epic long distance adventure, either on road or off. We’ve teamed up with Tom Astley of TA Physio who specialises in sports rehab and injury prevention to help with this guide.

Long Distance Cycling: Functional Training

This diagram shows the muscles of the leg and how they are used whilst pedalling

Functional training is a key component in many prehab and rehab programmes. The therapy behind this approach to training is quite simple, train the muscles and respiratory systems to do what you want them to do.

It’s important to put the time in on the bike to feel the benefit when it comes to race day. It’s not good enough to just pootle around to your local shop, you need to put in the hours on your bike including things like repeated hill climbs and have a plan of steps to keep you on top of your game.

Other than wearing out the tyres on your bike, you can do some functional training at the gym too. Kettlebell training is a good example of functional training that trains all over the body as well focusing on the large muscles group that extends the hips known as glutes.

During cycling, the glutes play a massive role in producing the power phase, this is demonstrated perfectly in the diagram above with the red muscle group (A).

Long Distance Cycling: Tapered Training

If you want to succeed at long distance cycling, the importance of training is obvious – muscles don’t get built up by sitting in front of the TV. However, it must be remembered that training needs to be tapered and graduated.

Realistically, any true endurance cycling event is comparable to running a marathon, so gradually incremental training is key. The best way to monitor your training increments is by totalling the mileage ridden each week, but training is not just about miles.

As well as distance and endurance, training for these types of events needs to include speed sessions on hills. Not all biking is downhill, so get on those hills and push yourself to the limits and you will notice ascents become easier.

Long Distance Cycling: Restful Training

Restful training does not mean sitting in front of the TV watching mountain bike videos and wistfully thinking that’s going to make you a better rider. It’s equally important to get rest days, to give your muscles a break, catered into your training routine as it is intense training days.

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During these rest days, even consider daily activities as a work out i.e climbing stairs, going to work, walking to the shops. Rest is important for recovering muscles as well as a balanced diet and nutritional intake.

Long Distance Cycling: Race Prepared

Being race prepared is vital, do not underestimate the power of the mind. Have a strategy in mind that will help you complete the race, pace yourself to save some energy for the final push.

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Another key element in race preparation is ensuring your bike is set-up to give you that extra advantage, it’s worth spending money to get a professional bike fitting, it may just help you pip your mate to the post. And finally, don’t be afraid to attempt an event before the main event, this will enable to put all these race preparations into practice and iron out any gremlins.

Above all else, have fun because that’s what cycling is all about. If you train effectively for your long distance event, you’ll gain the strength and confidence to smash your time goal, and those miles.

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