MARCH TRAINING HINTS
By now you will have done a few miles (I hope!) and your basic fitness level will be on the increase.
If you have achieved last month’s distance target of a ride in the 50 – 60 mile region, it is time to press on to a more demanding target, as well as building some other elements into your training program. A good target for March, assuming reasonable weather, would be a 60 to 80 mile ride. If you have not yet done a 50 miler, though, now is the time.
As you may have noticed, we are training for a ride of over 100 miles! A good target will therefore be a 100 mile ride in April. March rides will be a stepping stone to this. We are on the way!
Audaxes are an ideal way to increase your distance in the company of others.
HOW ABOUT SOME HILLS?
Up to now we have been concentrating only on distance. By now you will have probably attained a good basic level of fitness, and it is time to start including some more hills. If you are using a heart rate monitor, the recommended level up to now was around 80% of maximum heart rate. While this is still a good level if you are extending your distance, when you are repeating a given distance, you will not need to leave as much in reserve, and on the hilly sections you may want to ride at 90% or even 95% of your maximum heart rate. And with climbing comes descending practice!
March is not the time to train for the mountains (except on skiis!) It is a good time to think about some mountain training though!
We will be facing some seriously long climbs in July, so if you have a chance to try out a few mountains before hand it will stand you in good stead. Even in the British Isles, Wales and Scotland provide some good climbing opportunities later in the year. The North Wales training camp and Etape Reconnaissance listed on my Events page are ideal.
When you tackle a new distance for the first time, you may prefer to keep your heart rate down to around 80% of maximum, and stop several times for refreshment. On the second attempt at the same distance, raise the pressure, and attempt it at a more competitive speed. This will give you a good feel for long distance pacing. As the distances increase, nutrition becomes more important. However your body will also adapt to burning body fat rather than sugars, so you may not require such a high food intake, and you will also be able to loose some weight. This is particularly true at fairly low riding intensities. Do bear in mind that champion racing cyclists, though lean, do have a reasonably high BMI (Body Mass Index) of around 22.7 (see the “weight” item on this web site to measure your BMI). Healthy women generally have a higher amount of body fat than men.
The frequency of your training sessions will obviously depend on the time you have available. The two training sessions a week recommended in February is still a reasonable figure, as it allows plenty of time for recovery between sessions. If like most people you are working during the daylight hours, a session in the gym mid week and a long weekend ride may be sufficient, though if you are able to occasionally find time for three sessions a week, this should yield dividends. Roll on the light evenings!
POWER AND FORCE
Power and force are two different things. You will need a continuous power output of around 150W to 200W on the climbs to complete the Etape climbs successfully. While in the gym or on the turbo trainer, increase the power level you work at slowly from session to session. There are several months to go yet though remember! If you are an elite rider already, you may have a continuous power output of 250W or 300W already, but the same principle applies.
Force is a different matter! Many a strong rider has faltered on a steep climb through having excessively high gears. The lower your gears, the less force you need to turn the pedals. While an elite rider may be able to climb a 10% mountain several km long with a 39 x 27, a triple changer leaves more in reserve after 10km or 20km of steady climbing!
Don’t forget to record your progress in terms of lengths of rides and speeds in your training diary for later analysis. If you are doing gym work, take time occasionally to test your fitness using the Fitness Calculator.
Soon you will see your mileage increase towards that magic 100 mile mark! Enjoy your training!