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Training programme advice needed to get up to fighting fit

expatboreexpatbore Posts: 53
edited September 2007 in Training, fitness and health
I'm a relative newbie, and have recently been buidling up fitness around Richmond Park (2 laps on the MTB, 3 on the roadbike). I am 42yrs old, 83kg and do 3 laps (22 miles) in 1.07

What I want to do is get up to a level of fitness to be able to do the following:
- manage an endurance / cyclosportive (e.g. Etape) with a small amount of dignity
- do the South Downs Way on my MTB in September
- start low level competing

What I need is advice on a specific training programme - can anyone point me in the right direction? I have looked at books in Waterstone's/library but they give 'generic' advice about training rather than programme suggestions. :?:

Now these may be listed elsewhere on this site - but I haven't found them. I'm sure any suggestions would be of interest to a wider audience too....

Thanks in advance :!:


  • binlinusbinlinus Posts: 305
    How much are you currently riding? How many times a week, for how long and what intensity? Do you do any other sport or exercise?

  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    How much time can you dedicate to training per week?

    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Hi Expatbore

    To ride a sportif or the South Downs Way, you'll mainly need endurance - this comes down to hours on the bike in training. The Etape itself is a very tough event and even to make the time limits, you will need to put in a fair bit of training but there are loads of UK sportifs that go from fairly easy to as tough as the Etape. has a list of all the UK events.

    I rode the 2003 Etape (205km / 4000m climbing) - training wise I did a lot of long solo rides (10 or so 6 hour+ rides in the Chilterns which is as close to mountains as I could find around here). To build up to these sort of rides, I did regular club runs with my cycling club, plus gradually increasing long solo rides.

    You don't say what "low level competition" you want to try - if it's time trials, then no need to hang around, find out if any clubs local to you do an "evening 10" where you can just turn up and have a go.

    For road racing, you could try one of the "Go Race" events organised by British Cycling, but you will want to have a bit of speed in your legs in order to keep up with the bunch even at these entry level events. For speed, you'll need to do some interval training (repeated hill sprints or flat sprints) or find a local club that has a "chain gang" through the Winter.

    Mountain bike races tend to be a bit easier to get into at entry level as there is no benefit in drafting as there is in a road race, so you can race without much initial fitness and build from there.

    Have a look on this website for more info:
  • Thanks all. Currently I'm able to dedicate about 20-30hrs a week max, until I return to work in September. I'm currently just doing either double or triple laps of Richmond Park, 4/5 days a week. Am off this a.m. to do a longer solo, on Bronzie's advice.

    Grateful any 'training diaries' anyone knows of out there....

    Cheers :)
  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    expatbore wrote:
    Thanks all. Currently I'm able to dedicate about 20-30hrs a week max
    I was getting quite excited for you for a minute............ and then I realised you've only got 1 month of that amount of free time. :(

    I suggest you make the most of August by simply riding your bike as much as you can - but to fulfill your ambition to ride something like the Etape, you'll need to think of it as a year-long project. The question is not so much how many hours you have this month to train, but how many hours you can commit week in, week out, through the darkest winter months and into next season?

    You might find Joe Friel's "Cyclists' Training Bible" helpful - it lays out all the basis for a year-round training plan and you can construct your training plan from it. Any novice would learn a lot from it I think.

    But my strongest recommendation is to get involved in a good club with some experienced riders. There's no substitute for simply mixing with people who know what they're talking about................ IMO people who don't join clubs miss out on an awful lot - the breadth and depth of skills, knowledge and experience, not to mention group-riding skills, meaningful comparisons with other cyclists, ideas, inspiration, friendships and social stuff..............
  • binlinusbinlinus Posts: 305
    expatbore wrote:
    Thanks all. Currently I'm able to dedicate about 20-30hrs a week max, until I return to work in September. I'm currently just doing either double or triple laps of Richmond Park, 4/5 days a week. Am off this a.m. to do a longer solo, on Bronzie's advice.

    Well we can turn you into a pro rider with all that training time available :D

    But seriously. You are currently doing about 5 hours a week on the bike and about an hour in each session and you want to ride both road and MTB and you'd like to ride quite long distances, and you have a lot of free time over the next few weeks.

    I'd suggest something like the following for the next month. Get two long rides in a week: one on the MTB and one on the road. Then do one of your Richmond Park sessions except change it a bit.

    For example:
    Sunday -- 90 mins to two hours ride on the road at a pace easy enough to have a conversation with someone all the time.

    Tuesday -- 90 mins to two hours on the MTB at an easy pace (as above) off road (maybe Richmond Park trails or something a little more challenging).

    Friday -- On the road bike 15 minute warm up then one fast lap of Richmond Park, then one very easy lap, then one fast lap. Then 15 minutes cool down. The fast laps need to be as quick as you can. From the times you've given above the fast laps should you take you about 22 minutes or less

    The two longer rides need to be increased in duration over the next four weeks. Start with 90 mins and add 15 minutes extra each week for each of the long rides. At the end of three or four weeks you should ease right off as you return to work and also allow a little recovery after the training.

    Eat well and make sure you get plenty of rest. Have a 30-60 min nap after each ride.

    In September I'd suggest you do a long ride on Saturday or Sunday of two to three hours. One week on the Road bike and one on the MTB. I'd suggest you join a club and go on a club run for the road ride.

    Continue the 2 x 20 minute sessions in the park but make the third day just an easy three or for laps either on or off-road.

    The 2 x 20 min sessions are the ones that will really bring your fitness on but they will be pretty hard on your body. Don't do them if you are feeling ill or very tired or on a full stomach or you'll puke. I'm also assuming you've not got any heart trouble. The fact that you've managed three laps of Richmond park in 1 hr 7 mins sounds like you're ok :) Have a snack or small meal after this workout.

    The longer rides will get you body used to staying on the bike for long periods (obviously) and on the road bike you should try to pedal in a lowish gear at a cadence of about 80rpm. On the MTB you should be improving your bike handling skills primarily -- don't kill yourself :(

    On the longer rides you need to take plenty of food and drink with you. Have a good breakfast, take some fruit with you -- bananas, apples -- and some sandwhiches. Eat little and often.

    Enjoy yourself and don't overdo it. Get back to us and let us know how you get on.

    I'd also second what Ruth has just said.


  • Thanks Bin and Ruth - you really have pushed the boat out to give me some very helpful advice here and I really appreciate it (and don't deserve it!) That Richmond Park interval training should be fun - EEk!

    Will let you know how I get on, and as soon as my next free sunday appears - in a couple of weeks time, I will go down and join Kingston Wheelers' Sunday run.....

  • Just reporting back....
    Well the training's been going well - punctuated by one holiday. Taken your advice and have tended to do one of the interval sessions per week, a couple of other 'round the park' sessions, and one long one - recently on the Kingston Wheelers' Sunday runs.

    The interval stuff is good - steady progress: have manage to get the fastest lap down to under 21 minutes - but it was quite an effort!

    On the Sunday runs with the KWs - first one was hard (35miles) second easier (40 miles) and I just did 50miles with one of the members and that was fast and hard. I find after these long rides I am absolutely wasted for about a day - but I'm getting steadily better at them.

    So I think I'm on the right track - but I'm worried about losing it all - and gaining weight - when I go back to work (boo)....
  • Sounds like you are coming along ok. Will you still have time for a mid-week evening ride in Richmond Park during September and October and able to do the Sunday clubrun?

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