Putting in some training to build up your strength, agility and endurance ahead of the big day will help you get the most enjoyment out of your ride – so read on for our top tips…
1. Tailor your training to your fitness levels
The amount of training you’ll need to put in before the event will depend on your current level of fitness and your cycling ability.
If you’ve got good fitness – you cycle regularly throughout the year, either to work every day or long rides at the weekends – you’ll probably already have a good training schedule and you should be fit enough to tackle the ride without too much extra training.
If you’ve been cycling intermittently over the years, perhaps by cycling to work in the summer or regular Sunday rides with the family, you’ll likely have some basic fitness and confidence for cycling, so a few months should be enough time to prepare.
If you haven’t ridden a bike for years – or ever! – then the sooner you get training the better. Build up your mileage gradually so you don’t over-exercise or get injured – this will also help you get a good base fitness so you can build your stamina up from there.
2. Structure your sessions
When you’re training, it’s important to structure your sessions and training schedule properly so you get the most out of them and you don’t get injured.
Warm up for at least ten minutes at the start of each session, and don’t forget to stretch after your session as well. The rounded shoulder position that you use on your bike can lead to overstretched upper back muscles and a tight chest, so by spending a few minutes stretching after each ride you’ll help prevent this from happening!
Make sure you plan recovery time into your schedule – whilst you need to cycle at least twice a week to retain your cycle strength, you should give yourself time in-between to recover. Between two and four outings a week is enough. One of these outings every week or fortnight should be a long ride, for more than hour, to build up your endurance.
Also, the weather might not always allow you to get out on the bike (although some would argue there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing!) – but that needn’t be a bad thing. As long as you’re getting some outdoor cycling in, it can be good to mix it up with spin classes, swimming, yoga, core strength exercises – find what works for you and stick with it.
3. Make sure your bike’s in good condition
If you've already got a bike, you're already halfway there! But if your bike’s been gathering dust and you’re just taking it back out now for your training, it’s a good idea to take it along to a good quality bike shop, where they’ll be able to give it a thorough service.
Once you’ve got your bike in good working order, don’t forget all the kit: you’ll need a good quality helmet and cycling clothes. Remember, you can earn our lovely cycling kit by hitting your fundraising targets.
And make sure you stay safe by getting reflective clothing and lights if you’re training after dark.
4. Eat right
Cycling burns more than 300 calories per hour, so as you’re training you’ll probably find that your appetite increase as you burn that energy off! To make sure you’re looking after your body, you need to be eating well so that you give your muscles fuel, repair any muscle or tissue damage, and replace lost electrolytes and nutrients.
Your training diet should include:
- Carbohydrates: a high carb diet is recommended for anyone involved in an endurance sport such as cycling, as carbs give you the bulk of your energy.
- Fats: fats help breakdown food to give you enough energy and help store the sugar and energy you’ll need. Around 20-30% of your diet should be fats.
- Proteins: proteins are the building blocks of tissue repair, so it’s important for cyclists to consume 15-20% of protein in their diet to help rebuild muscle and tissue fibres.
- Vitamins and minerals: these, alongside other micro-nutrients, have an important part to play – by eating a variety of fresh fruit and veg, you’ll be keeping your immune system healthy and helping with tissue repair.
- Water: this is just as important as food. Even when you feel you don't need it, drink plenty. It’s just as important to keep your fluid up after exercise to help you recover.
5. Ease off before event day
To be on peak form for the day of the ride, you’ll need to taper, cutting down on the intensity of your training in the run-up to the event. Three to four days of tapering will be fine for shorter routes. If you’re doing a 100 miler, you may want to taper for up to a week.
Good luck and happy cycling!