January training Hints



For many Etappers, the training year starts in January.


It will start with a few winter rides, increasing in length as time goes by. It is also a good month for planning your training strategy.


Traditionally the winter months are a time for “base training” – building general fitness as a base for more extreme training later on.


The weather is often discouraging at this time of year, though those bright sunny days are hard to beat! Take care though – every year I hear of etappers falling off their bikes on ice, or hitting obstacles on dark evenings. An accident like may sometimes set your training back rather than advancing it!


So how much training will you need in before the Etape? This will largely depend on the time you have available, and training strategically should optimise the time you do spend on your bike. The generally held view in France is that 2000 miles is a good target, though some of us will have to make do with considerably less than that! In the 6 months or so available for training this would amount to around 330 miles a month, or around 80 miles a week. At this time of year, the weekly mileage is likely to be considerably lower!


The old school of thought was “no pain – no gain!”. However doubt recently has been thrown on this maxim – it just rhymes nicely! Certainly at this time of year, plenty of easily paced miles is probably the best strategy – weather permitting! A 20 or 30 mile ride is a good start, building up to 50 miles with a café stop to warm up!



The fun part is planning the training events you are entering! There are plenty of Audaxes and Sportives to choose from, and there is probably a cycle club near you which organises regular rides. Choosing something which fits your level of fitness avoids discouragement! If other commitments allow you to take your bike on a holiday in the mountains – excellent!


There are also a number of training weeks in locations such as Mallorca and the Canary Islands. I’ll probably be organising a few rides nearer home, where you will be able to chat with other Etappers! – keep your eye on the events section of this web site!


You might also like to join us on the Etape.org.uk Snowdonia trip on the early May bank holiday.


Cross training

If you are involved in other sports, you may like to “cross train” – for example by running as well as cycling. It has been proved that Iron Man triathlons are excellent training for the Etape – as they include a cycle section of a similar distance as well as running and swimming, both of which build strength and endurance. However running alone is not really sufficient training for the Etape – an excellent marathon runner may have trouble completing the Etape if he does not train on a bike as well!


Indoor training

Indoor training in an exercise bike in a gym or turbo trainer is valuable when there is ice about, and in bad weather. If you want to splash out, there are sophisticated versions of turbo trainers on sale which link in with a lap top computer to simulate mountain climbs. The Wattbike is now available – it is an exercise bike which enables many parameters to be monitored.


On a more economical level, a turbo trainer which measures power and a heart rate monitor will enable you to train at your chosen level, and to plot power against heart rate to monitor your fitness improvements. See Fitness for details.


Indoor training is not quite the same as getting outside on a bright sunny winter’s day though!


Take care, and enjoy your training!