Training for a long ride for female cyclists


Smiling after 160 km in January 2012

I’m not sure how other cyclists define a long ride but for me it’s anything over about 100 km. For others, it could be many hundreds of kilometres or even as short as a 50 km ride like Sydney’s Spring Cycle.

In planning my training program, I firstly factor in that I ride on a regular basis, usually about four times per week with a total of around 150 km so I’m fairly ‘bike’ fit. However the ride I’m undertaking in about four week’s time is 160 km (or a century if you’re from the US) so for me that means I have to undertake some extra training. I’ve done the same 160 km ride a year ago so I know what to expect but this time I’d like to do it better and improve on my time.

Most things I’ve read on this subject and other more wise individuals say that you don’t need to ride the full distance in training but you do need to up your kilometres and get some extra ‘kms in your legs’.

For me that means adding an extra ride mid-week and lengthening my weekend rides. It also means that I have to go a bit harder on some of my regular rides.

I have a great book called Bicycling for Women by Gale Bernhardt and she devotes several chapters to training. I recommend that you get a copy and have a read for yourself. A few things I took from it were: you need to vary your training program and not ride at the same pace all the time; you need to have a clear goal and you need to use a method like heart rate or power measurement and keep a record of it.

So here’s my rough program for the next few weeks:

Monday        Rest

Tuesday       Ride 25 km with intervals

Wednesday Ride 35 km

Thursday     Ride 25 km with intervals and attend one hour personal training session

Friday          Rest for riding – Jog 5 km

Saturday     Ride 50 or 60 km

Sunday        Ride 100 km (week 1), Ride 120 km (week 2), Ride 130 km (week 3), Ride 80 km (week 4 tapering).

This program is all recorded in an excel spreadsheet including my Garmin data. I’ve been keeping this spreadsheet up to date since I started riding four years ago. It’s great to be able to go back and review it and to see how I’ve improved.

I’ll probably stray from my program a bit over the Christmas/New Year break but I won’t slacken off. If anything I’ll get a few more rides in.

If I was more serious about it all and I had the money then I’d hire myself a coach. Read my previous post about hiring a coach if you want to know more.

The key thing about training is to make it individual and to fit around your other commitments. This is particularly important for women who juggle so much – family, work, study and blogging in my case.

Above all else be kind to yourself. Factor in some rest time and reward yourself.