Whether you’re training for your first Sportive, a Century ride, a Gran Fondo, or anything else. Whether it is for your own self-belief, for charity or because you enjoy it. This guide will give you all the basics you need to go out and design a plan to make the day a success.
Getting started – before you start training you will need the right kit and equipment. A bike is a good start! Make sure it is safe to use and road worthy condition. You might want to track your training and progression using a cycling computer (like a Garmin), you can then link this to a Strava or TrainingPeaks account. What you’ll wear will make a massive difference. Bib-shorts over regular, go for quality padding (will make a huge difference – despite the expense!), if you still get saddle sore maybe try different saddles or adding chamois cream. An indoor trainer might help if you don’t want to ride in the wet all winter!
Setup your training – know your goal, figure out what you will have to do to achieve it, correlate this to what training you’ll need to do and how to structure it, then factor in enough recovery and progression. For example, you are training for RideLondon and want to do it in 7 hours, you will need to be able to ride a bike for 7 hours to start. You’ll also need to be comfortable riding in a group, climbing and descending. Tailor this to your event. For more info, see my How to Set your Training Plan blog.
Become recovery focused – ensure you make every decision based on you recovering quicker so your next session will be stronger; for example, cooling down after training, stretching, replacing fluids and carbohydrates, getting quality sleep, focusing on healthy daily nutrition and making changes like taking the lift/elevator instead of the stairs – just while you’re training for this event at least 😉 – for more info on this, please see my Ultimate Recovery Guide!
Do some core training – even a small amount, such as two half hour sessions per week, will make a massive difference to how you produce and apply power on the bike. Your comfort and stability will improve too. If you’re unsure how to even get started, take my Core Challenge.
Keep motivated – find ways to keep yourself motivated when times are hard; music, visuals, mantras and affirmations can all be used to get you in the zone, or keep yourself there when training hard. For you this could inspiring music before you need to start training, maybe a picture of your target event near your bike or even on your fridge if you tend to struggle with diet. Reminding yourself that you’re doing this for a worthy cause will really help. Once you’ve made the decision to raise money for charity, announce it to the world, this might keep you accountable and the more money you raise the more you’ll be compelled to stay on track. During your sessions you could shout power words when you’re starting to hurt, anything will do!
Think outside the box – other than training and the event itself here are ten factors that will affect your performance on the day; hydration, feeding, sleep, pre-race routine, weather (for more info on how to ride in extreme conditions see my How to Ride in Heat… or Top 10 Winter Riding Tips blogs), motivation, course, data (how your Garmin is setup), post-race routine (cool-down) and review (this one is useful for any smaller events you do towards your overall goal, example, identifying weaker areas before your main event). When training you should be looking to develop these factors as well as overall physical and mental performance.
Become Nutritionally Fit – try out different foods in training, what works and what doesn’t. Research what the event will have at feed stations and try this too (better the stomach upset now than on the day!). In daily life, you don’t have to be perfect but the closer you get the easer it becomes. There’s no quick fixes, just eating enough of the right foods, at the right times. Focus on getting as much quality produce and protein in, clean and healthy fats, plus a good source of carbohydrates. For more info, check out my programme Nutritionally Fit or my Ultimate Ride Fuel Guide…
Pack a bag – for a list of all the items you might need check out my checklist, but get this done early! The last thing you want is to get to your target event and have forgotten something. Do this and test your bike no less than a week before. Don’t leave anything until the last minute! Plan for every possibility, rain, wind, sleet and snow, leave nothing to chance.
Don’t mess up in the last few days – you’ve done all the training, don’t make any mistakes in the last few days; do your day before routine as normal, eat healthily, hydrate well, get a good night sleep, do not adjust your bike or your kit, don’t forget your bag, remove stress from your life, do not drink or take drugs (even prescription – unless you have to!) and don’t deviate from the plan you’ve been training for, unless you absolutely have too! Check out the full list of my Top 10 Things NOT to do the Day Before Your Key Event…
Armed with this information you should be able to tailor your training plan to what you need and have a successful day in the saddle. If you do have any questions, please get in contact!