Coach Potato’s Tuesday training part 7 - Bike Magic

Bike Magic - Mountain Bike News, Videos and Reviews. Keep up with the latest Biking Gear, Events and Trail Guides at BikeMagic.


**How To

Coach Potato’s Tuesday training part 7

If you’ve been on the plan since the beginning you should hopefully be starting to feel some springtime sprightliness in your legs as the winter rains and blows itself empty. If you’ve only just joined us then not to worry, just have a quick skim back through the previous features and we’ll have you gambolling like a lamb on tartrazine in no time.

Now back to the matter in hand with specific advice for firing up infrequent riders and a continuation of our summer speed training plan. Don’t worry if you don’t have anything in common with this week’s rider though, as we’ll still be keeping you on line with the basic training schedule in the second half of the feature.

So let’s meet our next guinea pig, one of the originators of BIKEmagic way back in 1998.

Name: Jeremy Tapp

Fitness aim: “I want to race Beastway down in London again this summer, and I have a burning ambition to ride the big events – Red Bull, Kona/Big Pack (ex Schwinn) 100 and Newnham 90 – this summer.” He hasn’t admitted it here but he’s also determined to catch his brother Robin who gained some serious speed last year, but has just nipped off to Australia.

Circumstances: Jeremy is mired in central London and spends far too much time working, so time is extremely short. He can maybe get one night in training a week, but any other commute would be through heavy traffic. He can possibly manage a ride in bigger terrain (Devon, Dorking or Wales) every other weekend, though often that will be a social with his good lady Lucy.

It doesn’t take a genius (luckily) to realise that Jeremy doesn’t have a whole lot of time to ride, plus after working very long hours with people like Cullen and Maria he’s going to be very stressed.

He’ll be able to maintain or maybe even slightly improve his fitness on this much riding. We could do him an intensive training plan that had him doing ultra-specific interval training every time he got on the bike, but it’d rapidly ruin any enjoyment he has of riding. Jeremy’s idea of doing half a ride with Lucy and then have her pick him up further down the road might fulfill a secret hitch hiker fantasy, but we reckon it’s more likely to leave them both irritated and spoil the time they do have together.

If he can’t extend his riding time then he should just enjoy the riding he can do to the maximum and not give a damn about how fast he is or isn’t. Trying to find a local weekday night group ride on the forum or down the bike shop is probably the best way to do his soul and speed some good.

There are ways to expand the amount of riding you can fit into even this schedule though. For a start bike / run commuting is how his brother Robin got fit and it would work for Jeremy too. London traffic isn’t the nicest place to wind up your lungs, but research has at least shown that if you’re breathing hard your body filters out impurities a lot better than sitting and marinading in the smog. Given that he’s got a lot on his plate with other commitments, he should be wary of overdoing it.But even riding / running in on Tuesday morning and then riding home on Thursday night will see massive improvements if he wraps it round his weekend and Wednesday rides. If that sounds too deadly, Jeremy has talked about getting a gym membership where he could use cardio machines. With his schedule we still wouldn’t recommend anything more than a couple of extra sessions a week though so he’s unlikely to get value for money.

As for his weekend ride with Lucy then there are several options:

Firstly there’s the ‘yo- yo’ plan, where every time you get to a hill you have to sprint from the top to the bottom as many times as you can before your partner gets to the top. My wife likes nothing better than than dawdling the last couple of yards so I have to put another repeat in.

Another favourite of Mrs Spud is to make me hitch up a trailer loaded with one of our special training picnics. This is generally the usual flask, sandwiches, chocolate biscuits (chocolate mousses have been found to explode on descents). So there’s a hamper full, balanced on top of a big pile of weightlifting plates. By heaving about 40kg into the BOB we both get to the top of the hills in the same amount of distress, and I get a crippling workout without ever leaving her lagging behind and demoralised.

Lastly, you could get up a little bit earlier and put in a hard and fast half hour ride before your ride together. That way your legs will aches when hers do, and you’ll have the benefit of a slower paced recovery ride.

Coaching summary

One session a week is not enough to become a competitive racer.

If that’s all you can manage forget about slavish training routines and just enjoy yourself.

If you do want to improve then fit in at least one more session somewhere in the week somehow. Commuting is often the easiest option.

If you’ve got a killer workload and try and add repetitive hard training then don’t expect to get anything other than very ill. One or the other – not both.

If you ride with a slower partner at the weekend be creative with making things hard for yourself, but make sure they don’t get left feeling like the tortoise while you hare off.

Don’t do too much too soon or you’ll go backwards not forwards.

Right that’s hopefully Jeremy sorted out. Now for a simple weektime programme for the rest of you trainers out there.

The weekly plan

Last week was a hard week and while this week is slightly lower intensity it’s still strenuous. Look on the bright side though – it’s getting lighter at night.

This week’s key session is a repeat of “The not quite ‘Ow!’ hour” which was the first session we made you do, but we’ll go through it again:

“The not quite ‘Ow!’ hour”


This is a classic session for training mind and muscles, giving you the confidence to really make riding pals suffer towards the end of a ride.

Warm up gradually for ten minutes until you’ve got a bit of a sweat on and are ready to rock.

Then increase speed until you hit your maximum sustained. If you need a clue – it’s somewhere between the point at which your legs start to really burn and the point where you start having to think about trying. You shouldn’t have enough breath to hold a conversation, but your shouders shouldn’t be rolling and you shouldn’t have gritted teeth.

If you go over hills, don’t blow your legs up over the climb, but make sure you keep the pressure on down the far side.

Don’t let your mind wander, keep thinking about the task in hand and concentrate on smooth pedal strokes and even speed. As you pass the 30 minute mark you should hopefully have settled into a good rythmn and fast cruising speed. Try and concentrate on what the speed feels like in your legs and your head, and what gears you are using. If you have a heart rate monitor note what it’s saying. Even if you are using the same loop as the first time don’t try and accelerate as you get near your previous 40 minute mark, you may find your slower after last weeks training efforts anyway. Just maintain the pace to the end of 50 minutes and then ride home gradually reducing your effort.

If it helps write down what it felt like, Heart rate (if available) and where you got to in 50 minutes.


Now you’re getting used to training pace, you can ride more varied terrain. Ideally find an off-road loop you can ride several laps of hard in the appropriate time. This has the added advantage of letting you practice corners or other technical sections repeatedly, increasing your speed and smoothness through them each time. You’ll soon be railing the singletrack ready for race day. Just one word of caution though, don’t include anything too steep – either up or down – or it’ll be hard to keep your pulse rate steady.


As it’s a hard session it’s best to get this one early in the week so you hit it fresh. If you’re running multiple sessions per week we’ll leave you to play the rest by ear. If you’re tired then use the cruise control session, if you’re raring to go fit another of last weeks “Quite Saw legs” session in.

Keep concentrating on your base fitness with firm continuous rides rather than short sharp shock sessions. You’ll have plenty of time to sharpen up with them later in the year, and pushing too hard now will leave you a spluttering, coughing wreck by Easter.


You might be able to go hard for a few minutes, but few people will be able to push the pace much over half an hour. As a result the speed you can sustain at the end of 40 minutes is a good gauge of the speed at which your body stops burning fuel efficiently and starts to struggle as you run out of oxygen.

This “Aerobic threshold” is the keystone of any training plan to improve speed, power, long distance capability and all round fitness. Identifying what it feels like is therefore essential for gauging the rest of your training.

Coach Potato’s fit chip tips Calf stretch


The calf stretch elongates the bundle of muscles at the back of your lower leg.

Stand about four – five feet from a wall or something else solid and upright.

Stretch out your arms to lean on the wall and then bring one leg forward.

Keep the heel of the back foot firmly on the floor and bend your arms to lean forward.
You should feel the stretch all the way up your achilles tendon at the back of the heel, through your calf and possibly into your hamstring too.

Hold for 15 seconds, relax for five then repeat twice more, taking the stretch slightly deeper if possible.

Swap legs.


You can do a calf stretch anywhere, and the more you do it the more flexible you’ll get.


Ideally straight after a ride before you cool down. Standing poses can be done in the shower, or even out on the bike if you start feeling stiff. If’s also worth having a quick stretch whenever you get the chance at work or home, though make sure your muscles have been doing some activity at least or you risk tearing them.


The calves and achilles tendons are extremely strong and are vital to transferring upper leg power to the pedals. If you don’t keep them supple, your pedalling will suffer and you’ll build up tension in your lower back, shoulders, neck and hamstrings as they lose the slack they need to relax and work properly themselves.

Next week

Next week we’ll look at another of our guinea pigs in more detail as well as peaking the 3 week work phase of our training plan.


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.