Today is your day to start training for a cycling event. Before you start, determine a goal that you would like to accomplish. Goals could include preparing for your first bicycle race, riding a triathlon, finishing a century (riding 100 miles in a day) or even aiming for your personal best in an individual time trial. Find a cycling event in your area (racing schedules can be found at a local bicycle shop) and set a date for when you would like to achieve your goal. As you are training, keep your goal in mind. It will help you maintain focus and stay motivated.
One of best ways to stay committed and adhere to your cycling program is to determine how much time you are willing to devote to cycling. Initially, you may only be able to ride for a short period of time before feeling muscle fatigue. The key is to understand that as you ride, you will continue to improve your endurance and stamina. Also, remember that the quality of your time spent on the bicycle is more important than the quantity. If you are time limited, intense workouts will significantly increase your overall fitness. On the other hand, long rides are an integral part of an endurance program.
At first, you may want to try to schedule 3 to 4 workouts per week. As your fitness increases you can add more workouts or increase the time for each workout. In order to get into a routine with cycling, try to schedule workouts the same days each week. For example, you could set aside time for cycling on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. It is important that cycling can fit into your weekly routine.
Every cycling program should include three basic components of cycling physical fitness: Aerobic base. Aerobic capacity is your muscle’s efficient use of oxygen. As you ride, your ability to utilize oxygen within the muscle increases. Aerobic capacity can be improved with continual and consistent movement of the muscles. One way to work on your aerobic capacity is to ride for 1 to 3 hours at a speed that is comfortable for you.
Anaerobic threshold. Anaerobic threshold is the heart rate at which the body switches from burning sugar in the presence of oxygen to burning sugar in the absence of oxygen. To increase your anaerobic threshold, try this: Bike for 5 minutes at a pace just below the point of pain, or the maximum speed you can maintain for the duration.
Sprinting. To improve your sprint, try 30- to 45-second intervals. For the first half of the sprint, maintain a speed of 85 percent of your maximum potential, and for the last half, really push it. Your final pedal stroke should be the fastest.
Although a race will stress all of these components, a training session should contain only one. Here is an example weekly training schedule:
Tuesday (anaerobic workout):
- 15-minute warm-up of easy riding
- 5 minutes anaerobic threshold training
- 3 minutes rest
- Repeat 3 to 6 times 10 to 15 minute cool-down
Thursday (sprinting workout):
- 15 minute warm-up
- 30 seconds sprint
- Rest 2 to 3 minutes or until full recovery
- Repeat 6 to 8 times 15 minutes cool-down
Saturday (Aerobic base):
- 1 to 3 hour group ride, if possible (ask about organized rides at local shops and clubs)
Sunday (Aerobic base):
- 1 to 3 hour group ride, if possible
Keeping a training journal will help you assess your progress. Record what you accomplish during a workout as well as what you learned, what you did well, and what you want to work on next time. It is very important to make a note of where you start and to slowly but consistently increase the intensity or duration of your training from one week to the next.