Each of our guinea pigs has individual training aims and available training time, so by looking at each one in turn we can learn what works best in a certain situation. From the advice we give our test riders you can build your own training programme that best suits your own aims and circumstances. 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.Guinea pig number one
Name: Thomas Lovelock
Fitness aim: “To be able to ride 2hrs+/25miles+ without needing a day to recover.”
Circumstances: Tom rides roughly every other weekend (2hrs) and 2 miles every day to college/work, and his local Trent Valley terrain is mostly flat with a few short sharp hills.
What is crucial in preparing for two-hour rides is that Tom trains on a regular basis at the level he can comfortably sustain for two hours (even if it’s only for half an hour or an hour). He also needs to fit in some faster paced sessions to give him the ability to ride fast and have fun when needed.
If it was as simple as that we’d just tell Thomas to take the long route home (ideally about an hour) a couple of times a week and fit in a “Saw Legs” and “Cruise Control” session alternately to build up his steady state fitness.
However as he’s busy and nights are still short he can only fit in one 30-minute ride during the week. To get the most from the single midweek session and weekend rides the most important thing is to keep moving and working constantly. If you’re riding with a group this means going back for stragglers rather than standing still if you get to a stopping point first. If you’re riding on your own it means concentrating and keeping at least a steady pressure on the pedals all the time rather than ending up freewheeling.
On the plus side Tom does ride street / dirt BMX for a few hours a week which is ideal for developing peak power and short sprint speed as each run at the jumps effectively works as a maximum output interval session. However, it’s a very stop-start form of exercise so doesn’t really fit in with building on steady state fitness.
The last thing we want is to stop Tom enjoying his riding, so we aren’t going to inflict a rigid training schedule on his precious and rare ride times: Whenever he’s out riding he’s improving. But the more structured sessions he feels like fitting in like ‘Saw legs’ and ‘Cruise control’, the faster he’ll be fit for those two-hour weekend outings.
As for Tom’s daily commute itself, that’s not far enough to do anything other than just getting the muscles warmed up. Trying to sprint will mean risking injury when he sets off without a warm up, and leave his legs stiff and full of lactate waste for the rest of the day. If the ride can’t be extended it’s best just to spin in gently and concentrate on polishing riding technique on any obstacles en route rather than racing the traffic.Coaching summary
If time is short, then concentrate on enjoying yourself. Fit in as many structured sessions as you can, but don’t let them spoil precious ride time.
Don’t try and sprint very short commute distances – you’ll do more harm than good. However, BMX is a great sprint / power trainer.The weekly plan
If you’ve been following the plan, you’ve already put in two hard weeks of work during the week and weekends. Hopefully you’re feeling slightly tired but still keen rather than exhausted, and that’s the way we want to keep it. So take a leaf out of the school calendar and have a half term break.Yes that’s right, there are no serious training schedules for this week. This is because your body needs time to rest and recover from the shock of starting a training plan. We’ll be running a three-weeks-on, fourth-week-off schedule for most of the year, but as we’re just getting started it makes sense to put the recovery week in earlier.You might still feel frisky and full of it, and we certainly aren’t going to stop you riding hard if you want to, but always be aware that you sometimes have your best days right before a virus hits. Even if you are feeling creaky and tired, don’t just do nothing. Go out on a couple of really gentle half hour rides. Just spin your legs through to flush muscles with fresh new oxygenated blood and don’t give a damn if you get passed by pensioners or paper boys, In training, everything comes to those with patience.
So ride when you want, where you want but don’t go busting a gut. Believe us when we say you’ll be glad you rested next week 😉Coach Potato’s fit chip tips Feeding times at the training zoo.
We’ll be going into training and event nutrition into more detail later but for now there’s one way of making whatever food you eat work much better for you. Quite simply, eat when it will do you most good.
- Never train when you’re hungry. Your body needs sufficient energy to operate efficiently so it can develop efficiently. Riding on empty breaks down protein and muscle faster than it eats fat and you’ll feel dreadful. While it’s OK to cry, it won’t exactly fill you with hope for the next session. So if you’re peckish, chow down a piece of fruit or energy bar before your ride.
Plus it takes days for the body to rebuild muscle glycogen reserves. Which leads us neatly on to…
- Eat when you’re done. Straight after exercise, your body is still grabbing any energy it can find and stuffing it straight into the muscles rather than round your waist. Plus your blood is still pumping fast which means digestion and processing occur much faster. Eat within half an hour and you’ll be fuelled for the next ride double quick.
Even if your pine marten cutlets in an elderflower coulis / pie and chips won’t be ready for another couple of hours, have a small snack now and you’ll recover far quicker.
- Eat when you’ve got time to use it. There’s no use giving your body all it’s food when it can’t use it. If it thinks you’re only going to use it to sleep on then it’ll arrange it nice and comfily between you and the bed, but if it starts using the energy straight away it’ll keep it ready in your muscles and liver. Never ever miss a breakfast –even if that means eating your Cornflakes out of your hat on the tube- and bring your evening meal as early as you can without making it lunch. After all, better to top up with a small snack mid-evening rather than go to bed on a bellyful.